"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, December 31, 2010

Bingo the RAD Way

As I sat in Princess's class waiting for the second grade Christmas Around the World celebration to start, I listened to Mrs. C. explain the holiday break Reading Bingo for Ice Cream and thought, frick. Because I forgot.

Buddy had this last year. There are 24 different ways or things to read and one free space. One bingo gets ice cream. Two gets hot fudge. Three, whipped cream. Four, sprinkles, and five, a cherry. Buddy was way pumped about it, and because he is a very fast reader, was done in about two days.

And I thought, frick. Because the only thing Princess loves more than a prize is going out of her way to not get one. So, with strict instructions from my husband, my dad, and Princess's teacher, I entered the holiday break with a shut mouth.*

The first week, Princess burned rubber. She read 12 books, at least. She had strict instructions from Mrs. C. that an adult had to hear her, and she only tried to get around it once. I thought, huh. What a pleasant surprise.

Then I snuck her paper out after bedtime and looked at it. And I thought, frick.

Because, well wait. If you are a RAD mom, you'll be shaking your head (either in agreement or in sympathetic disbelief) along with me, but if you're a neuro-typical mom (nice term for "normal"), you may have to suspend your reality for a moment. Because, there was no pattern whatsoever to the squares Princess had selected to complete EXCEPT that they all brought her within one or two squares of getting a Bingo. So, to clarify, even though with twelve books read she could already have earned hot fudge and be well on her way to whipped cream, she, in fact, has nothing. I want to believe it has something to do with her disorganized way of thinking. And it could. But. Honestly. How could it not be on purpose?


So it's Friday now, and last night I consulted Josh on how to handle this and we agreed that she definitely had not forgotten (she forgets NOTHING!!!) and I'd continue to keep my mouth shut, but have her pack up her back pack (and have her put! it! in! the! car!) Sunday afternoon. That way, it will cue her if she actually wants to eat ice cream Monday to (for the love!) read a recipe or read to Jorge or read to "someone you love," while avoiding the Monday morning scramble and scream fest because it's not done. Hopefully.

Today, actually, Buddy said something about it to her and she pulled it out.
Mom? Didn't we "read in bed"?
I read to you in bed.
But wasn't that "read with someone you love?"
I read to you, honey.
Oh. Are there any more I've done?
You've done the ones you marked and I signed.
(Deep Sigh) Sweetie, I told you. There is no "easy" way to do this. They won't get done by magic. You can't make one book count for two. If you want the prize, you have to do the work.

And she put the sheet in the folder and put the folder away.
So we'll see. I hope she does it. At least one. I really do. Because not wanting ice cream? That's just wrong.

*does anyone else get the sense that other people believe I'm a control freak?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas Unwrapped

This year, it was different; and I am puzzled. Usually for Princess, and consequently me, the holiday season spins down and down and further down until it is over and then there is a brief reprieve until March when other tramaversaries take over. This year, it seems the actual Christmas festivities were an oasis. Which I don't get.

The trip to Grandma and Grampa's was uneventful as usual. But we risked a stop at Rain Forest Cafe, knowing it would be really overwhelming for Princess. She sat down by the elephants, I offered to switch seats with her, she refused. So far, pretty normal. But then after the elephants freaked out about the impending thunder storm, I offered again and she accepted. Which is not normal.

She did overeat (despite all parental attempts to the contrary) to the point of carrying around a puke bucket because she felt so bad, and she did immediately stalk out the biggest gift and walk around periodically announcing that it was for Daddy (because, you know, a grinder would have made all her Christmas hopes and dreams come true, if only it was for her). And she was seriously jealous when the Cuddle Bear got to open her grandma gift on Christmas Eve, because it was the doll necessary to fill the doll dress that came with her Christmas Eve church dress. But she did not do this weird staring thing she does with other peoples gifts. It's hard to describe; it's one of those little cues you only notice if you're looking for it. I think it's an in-depth evaluation of whether the gift is bigger, better, and more sparkly than hers and who the giver "loves" more. And she didn't do it. She expressed excitement about her own gifts, and didn't seem overly interested in anyone else's.

But the real tell was the trip home. The trip home has been so horrific that I actually have an actual traumatized reaction to it. At best, it's been exhausting. This time, though...nothing. It took a lot of intervention, but...nothing.

Which I know is some serious progress. And maybe when school starts back up again I'll be able to reflect on it. But right now I'm knee-deep in gunk from the other side of Christmas.

What's different is that it's not rages. It's just about everything else. Especially food and hypervigilance. Take the Cookie Episode:

Yesterday we had Princess's vision therapy appointment. It's an hour away, it took an hour, and I had all four kids. Mostly, considering, their behavior was acceptable, but Peanut was jealous that attention wasn't on her and ranged anywhere from extremely annoying to way more than extremely annoying. As soon as we got in the car, Princess was fussing and moaning and Peanut and the Cuddle Bear were copying her which incited more fussing and moaning, because I haven't yet been able to get Princess to see that she makes herself a really easy target. On the way home, three of the four kids were SPITTING at each other, Peanut was seriously nasty, and by the time we pulled into the garage, I was furious. Buddy immediately wanted me to work with him on his K'Nex set, but I was really ticked at him too, so I told him I needed a moment to myself. I set the Cuddle Bear up on Webkinz, and Princess was absorbed in watching her. I thought. I made some tea and sat on the counter with my back to everyone else.

I was sitting next to the cookies.

Hmm. Cookies. I really like cookies. Cookies would be good right now. A hit of sugar and chocolate would really hit the spot. I deserve a treat for being the only one who can behave myself in the car. So I ate all the a cookies.

What are you doing?
GAH!!! Having tea.
Because I want to. Listening to everyone whine and fight and spit in the car has worn me out.

And she went back to watching Webkinz.
I thought
And I went back to my tea and cookies.

The order of what happened next is fuzzy. I just know that Princess blew her stack because I didn't give her a cookie, too. That I didn't give anyone a cookie is not a detail that seems to matter. What really freaked me out, though, is that she yelled, "you ate five cookies," and I realized I HAD eaten five cookies. And it made me mad. Partly because she had a better grasp on how many cookies I had eaten than I did, but primarily because now I feel stalked. I knew she was hypervigilant and most of her questions she already has the answer to and she's constantly terrified something is going to happen that she doesn't know about, but now I feel like she probably knows how many pairs of socks are in my drawer and possibly my credit card number.

And all this is outside that, seriously, she followed me around for three hours, FOLLOWED ME, whining about the cookie. I honestly wouldn't have guessed it was possible to whine about a cookie for that long.

Apparently, it is.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

All I Want for Christmas is for Hygene to be a Given

I arrived downstairs yesterday morning to a fully-dressed Princess with hair not pulled back- you know, so the uncombedness was obvious. I said, "Good morning! I still want you to take a shower this morning."
Oh! (bounds upstairs)
A couple of minutes later (seriously, no more than two), I turned around from the coffee-maker, and there was Princess.

Ummmmm. Princess? You could not possibly have washed yourself that fast. You could not have even gotten your clothing off that fast.
Ummm, no.
Ok, well, I'd really love to see which shampoo and soap you used. Come show me?

We truck up to the shower. Wet shower. No shampoo. No soap. No washcloth. No towel.

Princess, take a shower.
I DID!!!!!!

Again Princess appeared. Again in the vicinity of my coffee maker. But this time after roughly 45 seconds. With the top of her head wet.

Deep, morning, pre-coffee sigh.
Ok Princess. I'd really love for you to show me how you took a shower. Because I think you have a magical way of doing it super-fast without any cleaning products that I don't know about. Maybe it would save me some time in the morning if I showered your way, so I'd like to learn how.

I don't think I could possibly detail how the next ten minutes went. But a lot of things got thrown. A shower door got torn off. There was wrestling. And a song about how sad it was that Princess "can't do" so much stuff. And, somehow, Princess got soaped up with all her clothes on. And the bathroom floor became a pond. I think that one had something to do with the shower head being removable.

The rest of the day was just as RADly. Princess spent most of the day sitting right. smack. next to me, complaining about how boring everything was. I think I definitely got the short end of the stick on boring, personally, but I didn't think it would be a good idea to mention it.

Then I started to frost trays of cookies to decorate. And the dawn of Realization That One Cannot Decorate Cookies While Sitting on the Floor dawned over Princess.

Mom? Can I fix things now?
Why, sure honey. Just a minute.

And for a test of intentions, I set out the cookies for the other kids. I left another tray visable, so Princess would be able to see she wasn't going to get left out, but even still I was shocked when I led her away and she did not display any anxiety about the cookies.

So, ok. This wasn't a "trick" to get to participate in something. It was going to be real. On some level, anyway.

We sat down. Princess said, "I told you to shut-up. I'm sorry."
"I forgive you, sweetie. I love you."

And then we sat. And sat. And sat. And sat.

I have an idea, Princess. Let's start at the beginning. I told you to take a shower and you didn't feel like doing it. So you didn't obey me, instead you......
Turned on the shower and sat on the counter.

AAAAGH!!! She actually told me what she DID!!!! Did you SEE that? She NEVER admits what she actually did. EVER. On the pain of death. I about passed out, I tell you.

So I wish I could say the rest of the day was well-regulated and peaceful. But you know it wasn't, because Christmas is this week. At the same time, we had another break-though moment, and I am stunned, because how can this happen during a holiday week?

I was doing the dinner dishes, and Peanut asked if she had any homework. Why yes. Here you go. Then my RADette sensors popped out, because Princess giddily announced she had homework, too, and got out a math paper.

Princess doesn't have any homework over break. And she knows it.

Pretty soon, Princess was snarking about how easy Peanut's homework was. I dutifully did the "normal mom" thing and said, "Peanut's homework should be easy for you. It is first-grade homework. We are not going to tease Peanut about doing first-grade homework. Peanut is in first grade."

Yeah. Didn't work. Princess got more and more disruptive, and Buddy, who can't not bite on bait, was soon involved as well. I sent both of them out of the room, because the poor child wanted to do homework. Buddy and Princess continued fighting in the living room. I finally gave up, and Josh and I made them sit by us and have an intervention. Buddy was spoken to about his behavior and grounded from his Nerf dart gun. And his pop-ball gun. And Peanut's pop-ball gun (yeah. They were involved). And dismissed. Then it was Princess's turn.

But Buddy...
Yeah, I know. Except this didn't start with Buddy. You know when I saw a Big Feeling start?
When Peanut got out her homework. You wanted to do homework too (no). You wanted to do it better (no). You wanted to make sure everyone knew homework is easy for you (homework is easy for me. I'm really good at math). You wanted to hide that homework is hard for you (silence).

We know school stuff is hard for you, Princess. You don't have to try to hide it. It's ok.
Princess's head got lower and lower.
Do you hear me, honey? It's ok. We will never be mad or embarrassed that school is hard for you. It's ok with us. We know. It's ok.

Josh is dislexic, and he told her about how had school was for him. And that he works longer and harder than other people. And that he found other things he's extra good at.

And she listened.

I can tell, becuase usually she'd sit and endure and tune out and leave the room and immediately go back to irratating somebody until they wronged her and she could have a rage, but instead, when I said, "what would make you feel good right now", she thought, and said,

"reading in bed."
And she did.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Evil From the Bowels of Girl Gormet

The weekend dawned bright and early, and before the coffee had begun to course through my veins Princess bounded toward me and said, "I can bake cupcakes today! With you!!! If I have a Good Day!"

Fully not expecting this elusive Good Day, I replied, "Princess, all you need to bake cupcakes is twenty minutes without screaming." And I poured my coffee.

Several minutes later, the Cuddle Bear approached me and asked me something something something basement something something.

Just a minute Mommy. Princess! Princess!
Ummm. Excuse me for a minute. Princess! Princess!

Would you please ask me for what you want instead of sending your baby sister to do it for you?
Sure! Can I bake cupcakes! With the Cuddle Bear!


And, like in all my interactions with Princess, I am left conflicted. Princess has been talking about baking cupcakes with me for weeks. I have been quasi-dreading baking these cupcakes for weeks. And now, with no explanation whatsoever, I have been dumped for the Cuddle Bear.

Someone bossable (at least for the next six months, anyway. I don't believe she will be bossable by Princess much past the age of five. So I hope Princess enjoys it while it lasts).

So how am I supposed to feel? I let sad, relieved, and angry bounce around in my head; I finally selected "relieved."

The confirmation was the strong odor of burnt sugar.

I sat down to my breakfast. Peanut sat down next to me.
Crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch
Wow. Those sure sound crunchy.
Yeah (crunch crunch crunch). Princess lied to me (crunch crunch crunch). She said this was the best one (crunch crunch). And it's not (crunch). It's hard (crunch crunch crunch crunch).
Um, I don't know that Princess lied, honey. That very well may be the best one.
Maybe (crunch crunch crunch).

Then Princess came in, and presented me with a half-chewed cupcake.
Here Mom! Do you want this? It's not very good. I don't like it very much.
I put my head down on the table, and covered it with my book, and pretended very very hard I was alone. Princess walked back out.

Josh moaned a bit about her inability to ultimately pick me to do things with, but I said, you know what? If it were any of the other kids I'd be thrilled she could do this independently.

I spoke too soon.

I walked into the kitchen, and called in Princess. I reminded her that clean-up was part of baking. So she wiped down the counter (good), threw her cupcake maker in the sink (bad), and left.

I tailed her.
Princess, tossing your cupcake maker into the sink for me to clean is not the same as cleaning it.
She ran some water over it and set it to the side of the sink.
Princess, when I do dishes I fill the sink with soap and hot water and rub them with a dish cloth. You've seen me. You've even done it yourself. Your cupcake maker will not get clean if you don't do it that way.
It's good enough.
Ah. And I went into the basement to stare at the storage shelves until I could keep my mouth shut.

Before I was done, Princess came down. With the filthy gooey cupcake maker. And she put it away.
Um, Princess, you're going to have to keep that on a shelf in the garage.
Because cockroaches and rats like to nibble on things covered in old goey food, and I don't want cockroaches and rats inside the house.

And that's kind of where the day died. She deliberately didn't follow any instructions, first trying to store the cupcake maker on the doorstep, and then underneath the suburban.

Josh sent her outside. Where she went. And immediately ripped off her coat, hat, and mittens, went to the back of the house, and paced back and forth screaming in snowpants and boots with her skirt hanging out the back. I gave her three minutes, hoping the outdoors would regulate her like it usually does and she'd put her warm things back on. But it didn't, so I brought her in. Where she raged for an hour in her room. Because she didn't want to wipe goo off her toy.

When she was done, a note was waiting for her:

Cupcake Maker
circle one:
  • Put Cupcake Maker in a sink full of hot water and soap, rub the goo off, and dry it
  • Put it in a box on a shelf in the garage
  • Throw it away

She circled the first and rubbed the rest, including the paper, out with a brown marker. Then she informed me that she needed help because she couldn't remember how to get the toy out of the box.

It's on a shelf in the garage. I don't want to think about it anymore. I'll figure out what to do this summer when it starts to smell.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sabotaged Sabotage

Last night I told Peanut to get showered and into her "pretty dress" for her concert. Josh came home. The Cuddle Bear gave us an ornament she made at school and we made a big deal about it. Peanut gave us an ornament she made as school and we made a big deal about it.

And darkness descended.

It was Josh who caught it in time. Because he is fantabulous. Just thinking about his therapeutic parenting skills makes me want to go kiss him. So guys: you know what to do. Anyway. Ahem.

He said, "she's jealous."
I said, "yeah, no kidding. She's always jealous."
He said, "no. Peanut's wearing a pretty dress. Peanut has a concert. Peanut had a gift to give us. So did the Cuddle Bear."
I said, "ahhhhhhh."

And so it went. There was the normal fussing and moaning and stomping around, and Josh and I were fielding everything nicely and Princess said,

You guys are just trying to be AWESOME.

Wait. What? Really? Did she really say that? BWAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHA! Really?

I did a little double take. And then I said, "Princess, of course we're trying to be awesome! Thank you so much for noticing how awesome Daddy and I are! That makes me feel awesome!"

What? Noooooo! GAH!!!!!

Daddy and I are AWESOME! AWESOME!
Daddy and I are AWESOME! AWESOME!

Noooooo!!! GAAAAAAAH!!!!!

Of course pom poms got involved. And a little dance. Josh joined in (because, after all, he is awesome). So did the rest of the kids.

It did not go over well.

I wrestled Princess into a coat and into the car. I sat in the back seat with her in a hug/restraint, and the entire Suburban sang Christmas carols over the top of her.

She cut it off as soon as we hit the parking lot, so all I actually had to do at the concert was keep my arm around her so she had to sit very, very close to me. Whenever she fussed I gave her hugs and big smacking kisses. She loved it. Not really.

She started up again as soon as we were out of the parking lot, so again with the caroling. When we got inside I set her up on the washing machine, took off her coat and slung her over my shoulder. This is called Using Sensory Processing Disorder to My Advantage. Because, if she's off balance (but safe, of course), she clings on me instead of hitting me in the face.

And put her to bed.

The rest of us had a great time, actually. I just wish it didn't always have to be such a fight.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I Hate My Big Girl Pan.ties

Oh someone please, please help me. Preferably, someone would find a way to get me out of the state by Saturday.

Princess has enough money for a cupcake mix.

This commercial is a LIE!!! Those smiles? Maybe. But obviously the "mom" in that commercial is not an actual mom, because if she were, there would be no smiling. She would be hiding in the corner on the floor on the other side of the counter between the stools twitching while the dad tries to talk her out by holding a martini just out of her reach.

And, all the girls eyes widen when they take a bite and they say, "mmmmmmm!!!" as if eating that cupcake is the most amazing and delightful experience they've every had. If it was realistic, the commercial would show the girl's brother walking in and saying, "what smells like pe.e?"

Because that's the way it happens here.

Princess has enough money for a cupcake mix.

And the WORST part is, she shouldn't.


Princess, are you sure? I think they cost more than that.
No. They're five dollars.

So, of course they were six dollars.

At our house, you get allowance because you're part of the family and you do what you're asked without arguing because you're part of the family. However, one particular family member has a hard time with the "doing what you're asked without arguing" part, and that family member did not get her allowance last week because she was unable to put away Peanut's laundry as retribution for pounding her in the car. Unfortunately, said family member cannot be convinced that she is NOT PAID to put her laundry away, and did not understand why she did not get her allowance, as she left her laundry on her bed and used it until there were two shirts left, and then put away the two shirts, which resulted in more money-docking arguing and consequence-ensuing insults.

And then she &*%&$ found a %(*&&#& dollar at swim lessons.

And now she has enough.

So Saturday, after six (so far) days of not being able to say ANYTHING to Princess without having something rude and hurtful spat back at me, I have to suck it up and use a toy I hate more than anything every created. Besides speculums. And eat something that smells like pee.

Get me out of here NOW!!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Annual Post-Fight Photo

Here is our Christmas picture:

You might have noticed some important things. Like the distinct lack of attention to detail. Princess's pa.nties, for instance. Or that everyone's knees are in their chins. Or that everyone but Princess looks distressed. Or like that there are apparently no adults in this family. These details should only lead you to one conclusion:

at the taking of this photograph, I was furious.

In fact, if memory serves me, I had locked myself in the basement and was crying while trying to scream, "what's the use of pretending we're a normal family? How about we send out a picture of three kids fighting and one kid screaming and punching everyone?"

By this point, Princess had capped off the past four hideous days with such gems as, "I did talk nice to you. One time last night at the party," "I did say sorry. To that little girl," and my favorite, "yeah, well, you slammed me into the wall." For that particular beauty, I think she's referencing a time earlier that day when she flung herself into a wall. But she hadn't meant to, so by default it turns into me doing it.

For the entire weekend, I was not able to say even one thing to her that didn't provoke an onslaught of Mean. Before Princess, I was pretty sure I'd just laugh when my kids did the "I hate you" thing. But I was thinking of regular kids. This child has so much anger and hurt trapped inside her that she refuses to acknowledge or let out, that it's really hard to not take the seepage personally. Most of the time, I think I do ok. But when someone works THAT HARD to the sole goal of Making You Not Like Her, well, it's really tempting to give in. And my armor cracked.

Josh gave me a big "you're the reasonably mentally-healthy grown-up, so act like it," pep talk, but it HURTS! I'm stumbling on better today (thankfully, since it's a snow day, oh horror of horrors), but I did lose it a bit when Princess told the Cuddle Bear she should say she was sorry for something she did to Buddy. Oh really? She should say what? That she's sorry? For making someone feel bad? Princess, I don't think you're ready to teach that one yet. I think you'd better learn it yourself, first.

Of course, I should talk. I am not exactly practicing forgiveness, here. I'm trying to remind my self how horribly frightening it must be to not trust anyone enough to say even, "Someone said there's no Santa. I'm upset. Please help."

Horribly frightening.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Santa Saga

I knew it would happen this year. Second grade. First year at the upper elementary. Bus ride.

Last night we went to a party with a guest appearance by Santa. The Cuddle Bear and Princess were very excited. Buddy and Peanut just wanted the special candy cane that went along with the sit on Santa's lap. The Cuddle Bear turned to me and said, in a threatening-sounding voice, "is that the real Santa, Mom?"

"I guess you should ask him."

Parenting rule Number Three: take the pressure off yourself whenever possible.

The Cuddle Bear marched right up to Santa, shoved another kid off him, poked her finger into his nose, and said sternly, "are you the real Santa, or WHAT?"

He said he was. I don't blame him. I would've said whatever I thought she wanted to hear, myself.

So anyway. This morning Princess was pretty jacked up about Santa.

Dad! Someone on the bus said Santa wasn't real!
I've heard people say that before (isn't he a champ?).
But I know he is! I checked his beard last night! Sometimes you can tell by their ears if the beard's real! And this one was!

Incidentally, it was one of the saddest Santa beards I've ever seen. It didn't even fully cover his mouth. And I'm not sure how she justified Rudolf. The elf, now he was pretty realistic. But the reindeer was a woman dressed in an elf costume with fabric antlers and a blinking nose identical to one the Cuddle Bear owns. I suspect Princess is going with the If it Doesn't Fit in My Paradigm, It Will Now Officially Not Exist theory.

And I know he's real! Because last year he gave me a boot ornament!


Mom! I checked! And Santa didn't bring me a gift today!
Well, no, I imagine not. From what I hear, he only does that on Christmas Eve.
But not sometimes! Sometimes he comes early! Or late!
Hmmm. I don't know about that. (Mom makes quick exit. Mostly because Mom is not in a good mood from behavior yesterday. All yesterday. All of it)

Also, she has colored Santa a copious amount of pictures, but to my knowledge there is still no actual letter asking for anything in particular, so I don't even know how to paint myself further into my corner.

On the bright side, I think I have a good idea what this week's behavior has been about. Because heaven forbid Princess to say, "hey Mom! Someone said there's no Santa! And I hadn't thought about that before! And I think she maybe might be right! And I'm kind of upset about it!"

Only in a world that doesn't exist yet.

Defective Oatmeal

Into the days a every healing RADling, a little regression must fall. And fall, it is. The days following Princess's rash of Christmas fun acceptance have not been pretty. All was well, and I was taking some deeper breaths. The Wednesday morning arrived.

Good morning Princess! What kind of oatmeal do you want?
What's "oatmeal?"


Then Peanut explained to Princess what oatmeal is. Which Princess hates, since being "taught" by a younger sister is not her goal in this game. Then the Cuddle Bear said, "why do you have your angry face on?"

It went downhill from there.

A sampling of joy:
My oatmeal's cold
My oatmeal's too hot.
There's too much water in it.
There's not enough water in it.

Then she threw it away.

I haven't quite figured out this reaction- throwing away food and treats when she's mad. She doesn't hoard, but she does have food issues. Any time she knows a snack or meal is due, she hovers, as if she thinks there's a good chance we'll all sneak off and eat without her. She will carb load at any opportunity until you'd swear she'll explode. Which she will. In the middle of the night. So the best I can figure is she does it to punish herself. Or me.

Anyway, that was the high point of the day. She crabbed and fussed all the way to school about how I don't take care of her because I don't feed her, and I don't love her because I don't treat her the way I treat everyone else. I hummed my "Different Choices Make Different Things Happen" song softly to myself. She stopped two blocks before school and had an uneventful school day. Of course. Then she had a hard time at swim, so she beat her sister up in the car all the way home. For shouting in her ears. Which in Princessese is apparently translated as, "singing Christmas songs."

It carried over into the next day. And the next day. And the next. And now there is a very tired Mommy around these parts. I don't even know what the trigger was, so I can't get at it.

My therapeutic parenting needs a brush up. Or I need to go shopping. Not sure which.

Monday, December 6, 2010

More Christmas Merriness. Or Something.

After a special family Christmas service (and hearing a history of the Christmas tree that I hope is true, anyway), each child received a tree-shaped lollipop. Three of my four children asked for help opening the stubborn, difficult, *!@# wrapper. One announced repeatedly she could do it herself, she could do it herself, look! she was doing it herself because she could do it herself and


The lollipop was in a thousand shards on the floor. We steeled ourselves for the torrent of anger and blame that was sure to follow.

I dropped my sucker!

After a stunned moment, I got her another lollipop. I held it out to her. She stared.

What will you do differently this time?
Will you please help me?

And right there was the first time she's broken something and not acted as if she didn't care or blamed someone else. She acted like a regular kid.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Oh, Christmas Tree

Saturday was Tree-Getting Day. Everyone knew it. I had an early morning meeting; everyone waited for me to get home. Josh made a phone call. Then another. Then another. Everyone waited for him to be done. All that waiting can make a person anxious. In the midst of all this waiting, no one thought to comb her hair or brush her teeth. Until, that is, Buddy used the bathroom in a manner not conducive to retrieving hair and teeth supplies. Ahem. I was the one who discovered this intrusion, so Buddy knew I was waiting to care for the Cuddle Bear's hair. So, when Buddy was, ahem, finished, he came downstairs to let me know the bathroom was open for the Cuddle Bear's and Peanut's use. And Princess instantly vanished. We all knew quickly to where, however, as the strains of Princess shouting at the Cuddle Bear and Peanut for "being in her way" were to be heard from the vicinity of the second story bathroom.

I called Princess downstairs, and stomping she came.

You went upstairs because you heard Buddy tell me Peanut and the Cuddle Bear could use the bathroom
and now you're yelling at Peanut and the Cuddle Bear for being in your way
so why don't you come sit here on the steps with me while we wait for them to be done.


Hmmm this is interesting. I wonder what your big feeling's name is.
Oh, I bet I know! I bet you think you don't deserve to go get a Christmas tree. So you're going to make sure you don't.
(silence. stillness)
I don't want to get a Christmas tree. Christmas trees are boring.
That's it, isn't it. Ok, you just told yourself a lie. So I'm going to say the truth. You deserve to go get a Christmas tree. You deserve to do fun things. You are good.
No. I don't want to. 
Oh. There was another lie to yourself. Ok. My turn. You deserve to go get a Christmas tree. You deserve to do fun things. You are good.
No. I'm not. 
Let's change this game. How about we both say the truth together. You deserve to go get a Christmas tree. You deserve to do fun things. You are good.
Ummmm I couldn't hear you. Try whispering. I deserve a Christmas tree.
I deserve a Christmas tree.  
Now try a regular voice. I deserve to do fun things.
I deserve fun things.  
Can you shout with me? I AM GOOD!

Her  whole face changed. It had light inside it. We shouted together a few more times, and a huge smile spread over her face. We put on our coats. And we got that Christmas tree.

We deserved it. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sweat and Tears

I've semi-given up on the whole pe.e thing. As in, I'm here if Princess wants help, but I'm not trying to "potty-train" her anymore. If I notice she's wet herself, I tell her to change and she does. If she asks why, I remind her she deserves to feel clean and dry and she changes clothes. If we're going somewhere that doesn't jive with urine, I help her pack a bag to carry and she carries it. Annoying, very very annoying, but not a big deal. I figure either she'll use the toilet before she's married, or she'll marry a very understanding man.

But two days after Thanksgiving, she had wet through several layers of clothing three times that day. The fourth time she announced she was going to use the bathroom, and came out soaked through. Again. I told her to change. She did. Then she bounced off the walls.

-Hmm, Princess. I think I spy a big feeling.
-I wonder if you know what it is?

Continued wall bouncing.

-Princess, I noticed you started having that big feeling after the last time you wet your pants. Maybe you could even write why!

Paper and pencil.

Here Mom.:
When I'm exsided I get kind of shy when we have (company) like when tells someone that I pe.e myself.

-Oh. So you don't like that you wet your pants, and that people can tell you wet your pants.
-It makes you embarrassed.

-Hmm. You know you don't like to wet your pants. And you know the only way to not wet your pants is to pe.e in the toliet. But you're not pe.eing in the toilet. Something is keeping you from using the toilet. I wonder what it is?

Paper and Princess exit room.
Paper and Princess return:
"I'm  (thinking) a bout when I pe.e my self it  (makes) me qiet all  and wheerr (weird?) that I have to (clean) my selv."

-Oooh. I bet it does make you feel that way. I bet it does feel pretty bad. Something seems to be keeping you from using the toilet...I wonder what?"

Here Mom:
It makes me exided when we go places then I pe.e my self.

-Hmm. That sounds true, too. But you won't solve this problem until you figure out what is Keeping You From Using the Toilet.

Notice the deflection? She used a lot of "feelings words;" likely she was trying to find just the right one, the "magic feeling" that I would believe, even if it wasn't real. She had one last-ditch effort:

I'm sad that Uncle Pood and Aunt B and Dee left. I don't like it when they leave. And a tear dropped into my lap.

I am sure this was a true feeling. And tears are almost unheard of. So we sat and talked for awhile about missing them and how fun it was to have them here. But I am really pretty mystified, because, that was likely the reason she was wetting through her clothes instead of the usual m.o., really, what about the other 364 days??? So I rounded the conversation back to, "but you don't use the toilet ANY days, so, even though you're really sad they went home, that can't be What's Keeping You From Using the Toilet."

She went back to the table and wrote something about having wet pants making her shy (again), and I said hmm I wonder what's keeping you from using the toilet (again). I could tell whatever reason was sitting right up there in the front of her mind. She might not be able to verbalize it, but it was definitely RIGHT THERE. She actually broke into a sweat, and she looked panicked. She said, "can we stop doing this now?"

Absolutely, Baby. I do not want you to get stress out about this. It's ok.