Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Disneyland and Fear of elevators

The benefits of early reading can be great and sometimes cause a little more trouble than expected. For instance, Mark took Margo to Costco to purchase their dinner while I shopped. She read the sign...meaning, "Dad, I want the the hand dripped chocolate ice cream please." Of course she got it, because she read it, and dripped versus dipped was not too far off. Heck I would love a hand dripped chocolate ice cream too...sort of reminds me of my candle making days.

Monday we drove down to Anaheim and the Worldmark Anaheim Hotel, which is about a 20 minute walk from Disneyland. It only took us 7 hours to drive here, and yes we had several stops. Now Margo had no complaints what so ever during this part of the trip. She drew pictures, made grandmanma and grandpapa a card, drew a landscape, played with the etch-o-sketch and even her 'my little ponies'. Not a single whine out of her. An amazing feet for a 5 year old I would say. But then, she really was excited to go to Disneyland.

Back to the fear of early reading....we are staying on the 10th floor. Yes I said 10th floor, and no I did not opt to take the stairs. After our first elevator ride up, little Margo started talking about taking the stairs. What is she thinking? Then she started talking about fire's in the elevator, and how scared she was to ride the elevator, because we are supposed to take the stairs to avoid the fire. Where is she getting all these crazy ideas. Ahh it is that early reading I mentioned earlier. You all know the sign, in case of fire do not take the elevator but use the stairs. She was reading this sign, and decided since it was posted, fires must happen all the time in elevators. Thus her request to take the stairs at this hotel.

Today was our second day at Disneyland, and Margo had passed the test of doing the daring rides, so we brought her to the 'Hollywood Hotel'. I figured she would enjoy the drop zone of the activity. She said she wanted to go, so Mark took her. (I was not taking any ride that was fast, Mark was in charge of those types of adventures.) I sent them up the stairs to the entrance to the Hollywood Hotel, and that was that. I observed the sides of the building opening with screams of riders coming out the building. Oh what fun that drop can be...but wait, what if little Margo undid her seat belt in the midst of the drop. Would she know, not to touch it once it was set. Panic set in, and I ran to the entrance to find out about the safety of this ride. Ok, they assured me she would be fine. I sort of relaxed, and found the exit to the ride was a gift shop on the bottom floor of the ride. I went in, and discovered the experience takes about 25 minutes or so because they meander through the 'scary story of the twilight zone'. I know I screwed up, she will never want to ride an elevator again and I will be stuck walking the 10 flights of stairs with her at the hotel. What was I thinking encouraging her to go on this ride. Heck I saw other little girls younger than Margo go on the ride. But they were not Margo, with her big imagination.
Little Margo exited the gift store telling me, "Mommy, I will never, ever, ever, ever, never ever, ever ride that elevator again!" Then she proceeds to tell me all about the twilight zone, and being taken out of this world into another world...etc...etc...etc... Bottom line it was very scary. Now what do I do? I decide to encourage her to talk about this ride all day long. Yes whenever she brought it up I would listen and hope she would talk the fear of riding the elevator right out of her. We took her on simpler rides, which she enjoyed, and then she would talk about the Hollywood Hotel. Prior to leaving California Adventure, she wanted to go back and take a picture of the Hollywood Hotel, which had been struck by lightening and yes she would tell me the story again. We ended with the soaring above California flight, which she loved. I loved that ride too. And bit by bit, as she talked about the scary elevator ride, we would tell her how brave she was to go on the ride. And then we would tell her our hotel would not be struck by lightening, and that our elevators were not broken or in another world.
Right now, Margo plans on drawing a picture of the very scary Hollywood Hotel elevator ride, to show all her friends, so they will 'Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ride that elevator'. And thank goodness she has been distracted about the fire and elevators, because of the twilight zone, she visited today. Now we don't need to walk up the 10 flights of stairs to our room. At least as long as there is no lightening. If there is lightening, we may have a problem with staying at any hotel with elevators.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sometimes they say no, we say yes, and then there is compromise.

I never ever imagined I would compromise with a 5 year old. Really, she does not know better, she has not been to school, although she swears she can doctor me because she graduated from Explorer Preschool. I mean really, why should I compromise with her; let her negotiate with me? I am the parent! Yes I am the parent and 'mother knows best'. It is my way or the high way. What other nonsensical statement can I make to support my sense of absolute authority? It drives me crazy, regardless if I agree or disagree. Actually I feel crazy because I can't do it my way. I have now decided that song is bogus! Old blue eyes was blind to the reality of today's child, or any child for that matter.

How would I have felt if my choices could have been better negotiated? Would that have left me with a voice as a young adult? I did have a voice for sure in the area of politics and social justice...and even where I would go to college. But was it a voice grounded in security, or only in the differentiation every adolescent and young adult is to go through? Was my voice grounded in rebellion, the calling of youth or simply wise understanding. I have been told by my siblings, I have always marched to my own drum beat. I have also been told by many other adults, and teachers, that Margo has her own perspective about life. Her Occupational Therapist says her perspective of physics with regards to her body is wrong. Meaning, movements are done to her rather than her doing the moving. I suppose such an understanding would explain why I had to put the street in time out, two years ago when she tripped while walking. It is very difficult to put a street in time out. I had to make the appropriate finger wagging at the street, and use a fierce and authoritative tone as I said, "ok, time out!" to the street. It worked, she was satisfied that the appropriate punishment was meted out to the street for tripping her. And yes I did this with all authority and seriousness. That was the hard part.

Will giving her a voice now; encouraging such a voice, be a benefit to Margo while she grows up? Or will it cause her difficulty because she may find it difficult to conform. Or will she become some incorrigible little spoiled brat....and its all my fault???? Yes? No? what is the truth? I think if I can do this with some sense of boundary for her, it will all work out for the best. She already has a different way of looking at life, and the physical world, because of how her brain and body work together. This different perspective will affect how she moves through life in social settings and friendships. She observes groups and situations before she jumps in and participates. Right now she is comfortable with this type of action. She plays with the girls and the boys too. She loves her best friends Aria and Lilly...and I think a few more from school are developing along those same lines.

What are the boundaries I set? She reaps the consequence of not receiving a gift because upon its presentation she said she did not like it and did not want it. So I gave it to her daddy. That was at valentines, today, 8 months later, she now wants the puzzle to belong to her. But I stood firm, even in the midst of her complaining and whining. I explained, next time she can say, "thank you for thinking of me," set the gift aside, and decide later in private if she wants to keep the gift. "Yes Margo, the puzzle belongs to daddy, but he likes to share it with you." Of course there is still more discussion on her part requesting ownership of the puzzle, but, it is too late little one. And she will wrestle with this and eventually understand a lesson in learning graciousness. Margo still has a voice, its just she must learn the consequence of a quick voice.

I so wanted her to join the swim team this month...but she felt she was not ready. Margo said perhaps when I am 6 or 7 years old I will be old enough to join the swim team. I know, she is just very anxious to follow directions from a coach standing outside the pool giving directions. After much listening, to all the pieces of her complaints in choosing not to join the swim team, we have created a compromise. She will take swim lessons on Tuesday and Wednesday to garner more confidence. She will also do 10 sit ups and 10 push ups every day to help her core gain strength. I am hoping this will be enough for her physical development. Me, I will struggle for a while because I did not get my way, and see her get fit through swimming on the team. Yes that was important, but perhaps the compromise will work, and then I can allow her anxious heart to slow down and gain confidence in her abilities.

To be honest I find it a lot of hard work to negotiate and compromise and listen to her needs. But I am gambling, in the long run, it will make for a balanced little girl who will be able to take on the world as she gains in age and wisdom. So perhaps I am doing it my way???

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mom, my brain is pregnant.....

We were driving not too long ago, when little Margo announced to her daddy and I, "Mom, my brain is pregnant." Silence filled the car, again she said those words, "Mom, my brain is pregnant." "Mmm-hm," was my simple reply. We waited a little more and then the truth came out. "I have a baby brain, and the baby brain wants some candy, mom." "Mom, the baby brain wants to eat junk food, and my brain wants the healthy food, but the baby brain is really wanting the candy, mom." "Well honey, you need to let the baby brain know we don't have any candy." Ah silence, end of conversation, and now my own wondering begins....

Is she a little crazy, having two brains and all, or is she just creating a logical way to ask for candy? It seems whenever Margo wanted to do something a little off, it was the baby brain telling her to do it. Now I am thinking, gee this kid does not want to take responsibility...But STOP, remember she is a kid! Oh yes that is correct, she is a very sweet kid, with two brains driving her to mischievous choices in life! Woe is me the mother...But really I just laugh and address the questions and requests from the baby brain. I suppose I could say this is all about self actualization, you know, 'my brain' is telling me such and such to do or say. She has thoughts, I have thoughts in my head too, I just do not express them like she does.

Back to driving in the car...I love driving in the car, it really is becoming a confessional of sorts for Margo. "Mom, my body put the red candy in my sock." Now I am really confused with this statement. "What Margo, what red candy???" "You know, when Mr. J was here. My ears heard him say not to eat the candy, so my ears told my body to not open the candy and put it in my sock. But my body did not listen to my ears. My ears said again and tried to tell my body what to do...but it was an accident body did it."

I tried really hard not to laugh because she was so serious about this conversation and the struggle of choosing between right and wrong. You have to understand dear reader, the initial incident took place in August one year ago I think. Perhaps it has taken her this long (one year later) to figure out a way to articulate her struggles. She actually continued to retell the entire discussion her ears had with her body for about 5 minutes. It was hilarious, and I wish I had had a tape recorder. In the end, her dad and I both said it is OK about your struggle between the listening ears and the not listening body.

I am guessing this is a step in the right direction for little Margo's maturation into the knowledge of right and wrong. I think a big part of me is glad she does not mind sharing these struggles with me now. I only hope I continue to grow as a listener for her, in the now and the future.

I struggle like every parent does with wanting our child to excel and reach their potential. And like every parent, I get a bit pushy, perhaps way too pushy and need to dial it down. My friend Victoria reminded me "Margo is a kid, this is what kids do." Yep you are right, little Margo is a kid with a great imagination, and I will learn to listen and support you little Margo in the midst of your struggles. This is what I need to be concerned with, not that my daughter was pregnant with a baby brain. :)

Friday, September 4, 2009

I am not doing what I am supposed to be doing....Oh Oh!

I have just signed an agreement to write for another blog...not sure when I will be posted, however that is ok. The blog is called Silicon Valley Moms blog or for short. It is the fault of Lindsey and Victoria, my two friends who encourage me on a regular basis to write. What a wonderful gift to have friends who encourage you to follow a talent or should I say an untapped talent. My hubby is part of the regular cheering team too; he reads my blog regularly from work and asks, “Where is the next installment?” So here I am writing when I should be doing the books! Books for my budget that is, so the big Oh Oh in the title. Perhaps I will tell him all is well in the world of high finance for our little family? At least until I complete the books. Yes tomorrow I will do the books, or perhaps late tonight, but only after I complete my blog.

Here I am trying to be an example to little Margo about following directions and doing what 'You are supposed to do", I am so glad she cannot read enough to catch, that I am not following directions. But this following directions thing is driving me crazy with her. Really, she follows the directions at school, gets her work done and gets to play. But with me, it may be another story. Margo really wants to just play with me after school. However, she has a little homework assignment. She needs to learn how to write her name starting with an upper case letter followed by the rest in lower case.

Oh, and did I mention it needs to be both her first and last name. Thus far we are seeing some success with her first name, and now I am introducing her last name. Because she really wants to play with me, she is not motivated to print nicely or follow the strokes. Instead she will write a letter, perhaps in two parts, from bottom to top, when it should be, start at the top and complete the letter in one stroke. Then she looks at me with a giggle to see how I will respond. Margo has just discovered a new button to push with me...I did not realize this would be my new button, she must read minds or something. No, she just knows me better than I do sometimes.

So what do I do to grab her attention and provide the "correct" motivation, I pick up one of her little books she had been reading, (it was a little board book), and I say, "Ok, Margo, I am going to throw this book away, unless you start to try and write your name on the lines....". She looks at me and laughs a very joyful laugh, so now I grab a little toy, a metal noise maker that a friend gave to her, and I say I will throw this in the trash and do so. She looks at me calmly and says, "Mom, I only need some help".

Ahhh, she is right, she only needs some help and I am freaking out because she is not doing it right. "What is going on," I ask myself, "Why am I feeling so angry and frustrated?" And then it hits me...I have become a perfectionist of sorts. Ok, I am a perfectionist when it comes to effort. Meaning, whatever I do, I must give it complete effort. It has nothing to do with the letter shapes; it has everything to do with "real effort", in making those letter shapes.

When I was told last year that Margo will say "I can't" to some new physical skill at preschool, I was worried she was giving up. So we read and re-read the story, The Little Engine that Could. Believe it or not, her new mantra started to be, I think I can...but this is really hard, or this is really hard work. She started to say it was hard, but still keeps trying, that is real effort. She acknowledges the difficulty yet, keeps giving the effort. Now I know effort is in her, but I need the motivation to draw it out. Believe me the best motivation was not, "I am going to throw your toy away."

When she said "Mom I only need some help," I heard I should now use encouragement, instead of my anger. It meant coaching her with every stroke of the pencil. Now I was still high strung, but I did try to make it fun by complementing what she did do correctly. And at the same time I kept muttering to myself, I cannot home school, I cannot home get the picture. (Perhaps I need to re-read the book, The Little Engine that Could.) Eventually I will be able to lighten up regarding home work, and her writing. I know she is only 5, actually almost 6 years old, but she is in Kindergarten.

I know that eventually her fine muscle movement will develop with all the OT, and playing with clay we are doing. I know that with continued swimming her core will strengthen and she will be able to sit up and hold the paper down while she writes rather than hold her head. Really, I carry this last paragraph in my heart as I watch her write, and go to school. And what I really need to remember, and exercise real effort in, is that she is growing bit by bit; her dyspraxia is being minimized and there is a whole world of adventure she will be able to run to and enjoy.

So just like me, she may not be doing exactly what she is supposed to do because, there is some fun to be had, a laugh and giggle to be given, a full life to be lived.