"Mom, how does the Tooth Fairy fly through the air?"
"How do YOU think?"
"I think moms do it."
"But how can a Mom be a Tooth Fairy?"
"Good moms are lots of things, Princess."

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Practice and Processing

Last night I had the misfortune to notice that Princess laundry box was turned on it's side with her day's clothing stacked on top of it. Made note of it. Went to bed. This morning I told everyone good morning, had my coffee, got myself mentally ready, and walked into the bathroom.

"Oh Princess! Thank you! Thank you so much." (That ensured everyone would come running.)

"What? "What?"

"You used our secret code to tell me that putting your clothes in the box is too hard! Thank you for letting me know that way!"

Princess's face changed to a scowl. Everyone else cleared out like the bathroom was on fire. "But it's the Cuddle Bear's fault! I didn't do it! The Cuddle Bear did it. It's too hard."

"How much time do you think you need?"

"One minute."

"That doesn't seem like enough time. If it doesn't work, I'll choose the time. Deal?"


"Ok, you come up with the plan."


"Well, we'll stick with mine, then."

I set my timer and shut the door while she ranted and raved and stomped around. I came back in one minute and she said, "look I did it" (although since there's no sarcasm font, like Miranda suggested, you'll have to do the snotty voice tone in your own mind). I said, "wow! That was fast! I'd really like to see that!" and I started counting seconds. She stood and pouted for 40 seconds, then stomped to her box, opened it, picked up the clothes, and dropped them back in. I said, "but that's not really taking them out and putting them back, is it. So it's not really practicing. Do you think five minutes is enough, or do you need more time? (Silence) Do you need some extra time to think about your answer? No? Five minutes is good? Super."

The first two "practices" she spun her head around for most of the five minutes, but then she started to do it quietly. Each time I'd go in and say, "wow, you're getting faster. Let's try (one minute less)." Finally, since there was no grousing or mother abuse, I sat in there with her while she "practiced." By the end, she seemed abnormally well-regulated* for such a situation, so I said, "hey, you practiced so well that I think putting your clothes away correctly won't be so hard next time. Let's go talk." We left the bathroom and sat on the stairs.

Let me preface by saying the following conversation is huge progress. Processing a situation is very difficult for Princess, and we hadn't been able to do it at all until about six months ago. We sat down and I said, "so, what were you thinking when you set your clothes on top of the box laying on it's side?" Notice I did not use the word "why." The word "why" is the death knell of any radling conversation. She actually said, and here is the impressive part, "I didn't think you would notice."

"I didn't think you would notice."

"Hmm. Tell me about a time where you did something the wrong way and I didn't notice."

"My laundry yesterday."

"Do you remember me not noticing you did your laundry wrong yesterday? Five times?"

"You noticed."

"Yep. Tell me about I time you did a job the wrong way and I did NOT notice."

"My laundry."

(Pause to rub temples). "Do you remember when you came in the living room yesterday and I asked you how many times you thought it was reasonable for me to tell you to do your laundry right and you said two and I said how many times have I told you to do it right today and you said five and I said I'm glad you recognize you are being unreasonable?"

"Oh! (loooooooooong silence). You always notice."

"I always notice. Yesterday you asked to make those ladybug cookies in your library book. Can you tell me what I said?"

"You said I don't have time because I have fits."

"No. I said you don't have time because you use your time to do your jobs wrong. How much time do you think you spent putting your clothes away wrong and practicing?"


"Yep. That's about right. So we have about seven hours on a Saturday to do stuff, and every hour has sixty minutes. So you spent almost ONE WHOLE one of those hours not putting away your clothes correctly. And that was ONE JOB. Everyone has more than one job, so if you use an hour to do each of even four jobs, you've used almost HALF your day on only doing things wrong. If you want time for FUN things, you're going to have to make time for them yourself. Now. I see you left me another secret code in the dining room (art supplies all over). Let's go practice so that gets easier too."

This time she stomped around a little and said it "would be too long," but amazingly, when I whipped out my timer and said, "ok, how much time do you thing you'll need," she said, "oh, I mean it's ok." She practiced putting away her things ten times with only minor scowling. I hugged her and said, "look at that! Not only will it be easier to pick up after yourself next time, but you got it done in two minutes! Now you have lots of time to make fun choices! Good for you!"

* "regulated" is a fancy term for "can accept a direction like someone you'd meet in a local kindergarten room as opposed to someone who's head is situated in such a way that is spins 360 degrees whenever she is spoken to." I do believe that is the scientific term.

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