"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."

Friday, November 12, 2010

Stuck in I Don't Want To

Princess has been raw since her last therapy session. Because the good news is that Princess is having some predictable rages. But the bad news is that Princess is having some predictable rages. At therapy, we discussed one of them. And by "discussed," I mean that Dr. S. and I talked as if Princess was joining in while Princess played with a car looking decidedly uncomfortable.

The predictable situation is this: Sunday morning. We picked it apart down to the catalyst: the God Time Card. Every week, I'm given a paper for each kid that breaks a theme into four days of study, mainly one Bible verse to look up, a four-sentence devotional, and a little word game. They are meant for about a third-grade reading level, so Princess and Peanut can't do it independently. Princess, however, won't even try. Every time I encourage her to work on it there is a bloody battle, culminating in a war Sunday morning.

As Dr. S and I worked through the scenario, we figured out what is happening. Princess has a visual processing disorder. What she sees doesn't necessarily make sense to her. So she looks at the God Time card (or a page of math problems), and immediately tells herself, "I can't do this." Which is followed by, "I am stupid." The daily tantrum works nicely to deflect from the frustration: she's letting us know (CLEARLY!!!) that it's not, of course, that she can't do it,

it's that she won't. She doesn't care to.

She doesn't want to.

But this philosophy has a problem. And the problem is called: My Teacher Will Give Me a Prize If My Paper is Signed. And this problem has a co-problem called: My Mom Won't Sign My Card if I Didn't Do It. And not getting a prize causes Princess copious amounts of anxiety. And copious amounts of anxiety cause our family to have to listen to screaming trapped in a Suburban for 30 minutes every Sunday morning.

So good. Now I'm clear what's going on. Dr. S then talked with Princess, and I was slightly astounded at the conversation. In response to a question, Princess said that she was not good at tap. Strangely, out of all that is difficult for Princess, tap is not one of them. She is excellent at tap, and she's gotten a lot of praise and attention for being excellent at tap. So Dr. S asked her why she thought she wasn't good at tap, and listed some tap components. After a lot of shoulder shrugging, Princess said, "I'm good at all that stuff. I am good at tap." So Dr. S asked her what she was good at in school. Princess said, "I'm good at everything. Reading, math, writing." She listed all the parts of school that are a deep struggle for her. She did the denial thing for a while longer, and then looked down in her lap and mumbled that she gets confused and then frustrated and then angry.

Wait. You might not have noticed that. Let me say it again.

Princes SAID, "I get confused, and frustrated, and angry."

And Mom expels the breath she was holding.

Then, Dr. S talked with her (at her? for her?) about how she looks at a paper, gets confused, and doesn't want to try, but still wants the prize. Princess is seeing the "I don't want to" and the "prize," but is skipping over the "but I have to the get the" part. Dr. S said to her, "you are stuck in 'I don't want to.'"

She is stuck in "I don't want to."
And that is the raw nerve that is still sticking out.

Since, we've had a cycle of bad evenings that lead to bad mornings. We have those a lot, but something's different. I don't want to say it out loud, but it's almost like she's about to let something out.

For one, she's acting more hurt than angry. And she's letting me soothe her.

This morning she wouldn't go out to get the back pack she had left in the car. The back pack that held her lunch box. The lunch box she needed to carry her lunch. She kept putting her shoes on to walk though the house (which the kids are not allowed to do- with all their mud and filth and all) to get the coat that was not there (because it was in her back pack). And she insisted there was no other alternative. And that I was keeping her from getting it. So, by the time we needed to leave, she was irate and high anxiety. Her lunch was still sitting on the counter. Usually this means a bad, bad, bad car ride.

But when I went and got her, I said in mock excitement (but without sarcasm, which is a trick, especially for someone who loves sarcasm as much as I), "Guess what! I know a way to get your coat without wearing your shoes in the house! You won't even BELIEVE how magical it is! I bet you didn't even know you could do it that way!" The whole time, I kept making a big deal about how amazing it was. I sat her down and played baby games with her feet and shoes, having her name the parts, getting real excited whenever we got a shoe on.

Another child would be offended and furious. Princess would usually be irate and furious. But she quieted and softened. She played along. And a few minutes later, she made a plan. She said, "I will not talk in the car, so I don't end up with trouble.

And she did it.

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