For the first time in the past year, our house has experienced a relatively even keeled week. [Quick! I request you knock on wood immediately!] In the spirit of a student I had once who thought, "What are the goods and the bads of your job?" was a good question to ask in an interview (and, yes, I was a college professor then), I now bring you the Goods and the Bads of our family since the last post.
After a relatively bright therapy appointment last week, we experienced what will forever be known in our household as The Day Granola Died.
To make a long story less so, I will give you the nuts and bolts of this fateful day.
M3 has a tendency to obsess about something, ask questions about it until I create a new rule or other way to negate that line of questioning and then moves on to something else.
Not long ago, she was obsessed with pillows and her desire to have a special one. Before I knew it, that one was gone and we were on to granola bars. Now, we're on lunchboxes and packing them.
M3 decided she would like to have a granola bar in the car while taking M1 and M2 to school. This flies in the face of the "We shall have toast" each morning breakfast routine we created to remove the choices that M3 had been using to try to sit in the cat bird seat a little too regally. I had very clearly informed her that granola bars in the car were a "No" and that we would be eating breakfast each day as we normally do--at the kitchen table before the bus comes.
M3 apparently did not find that answer satisfactory and told M1 that I had said it was okay for her to have a granola bar. I'm sure it went something like this:
M3: "M1? May I please have a granola bar?"
M1: "No. You know that M2 and I don't give you food. Mom is here and Mom gives you food."
M3: "But Mom said I could?"
M1: "No she didn't."
M3: "Yes! She did! She said I could! She said today I could have one in the car!"
M1: "She did?"
And the games begin. Unfortunately for M3, she is not that great of a liar nor is she all that adept at being sneaky. She thinks she is and, on occasion, she may actually make it past me, but I always catch up in the end.
As we are driving down the street, I hear a distinctive crinkle of a granola bar wrapper. I look in the rearview mirror and M2's hands are in her lap, devoid of granola bar. I said, "Who is eating a granola bar?!" It was M3. I very quickly learned of the game and within 2.3 seconds had my right hand firmly beneath M3's chin, awaiting the granola bar's remains. She spit out what I thought was all the bar, but when I looked in the rearview mirror, she was smiling like the cat who had eaten the canary and was still chewing.
For the first time in twelve years of being a parent (I say this A LOT where M3 is concerned), I pulled over the car. I unceremoniously relieved M3 of the remainder of her granola bar (who knew that child CPR/choking class would come in so handy--fish hook sweeps rule) in a very business-like, unemotional manner. Basically, we don't eat granola bars in the car. And now? Because we lied to sneak a granola bar, we don't eat granola bars. Period. Awww. The Day Granola Died.
The weekend that followed the granola incident was difficult as well. My husband had his drill weekend and M1 visited her dad so M3 was disregulated, which is never pleasant. Try as I might, I could not remove the ick. Finally, the weather broke and I could send her outdoors with a light jacket and a baby doll in a stroller. That lasted only a bit after she chose to shove her doll stroller into the path of M2's oncoming bike and nearly topple her sister. This is especially not nice because 1) M2 took a nasty tumble from her bike a little less than a year ago and broke her leg and 2) M3 smiled and laughed about what she had done. Sigh.
We had our 9-month post-placement visit with our social worker that evening and she talked to us very seriously about whether or not we will be able to parent M3 to adulthood. Needless to say, the ugly cry reared its ugly head. HATE when I do that.
And then, we made it to Monday and the clouds parted.
M3 acknowledged her behavior in therapy on Wednesday. The therapist pointed out to her that even after she did all the sneaky, mean things and even lied, that Mommy still took care of her and loved her, M3 said, "Yes. I still like her then too." Like is good. We'll take like.
M3 apologized for the first time. Well, she has said, "Sorry." before, but it's never of her own volition or sincere. Very hollow words that were said because she was either told to or because she recognized that is what was expected of her at that moment.
I'm learning to tell the difference between when M3 is having a cognitive processing problem during homework and when she is having a RAD moment during homework. I can then react accordingly and help her. This week we had great success with jumping jacks and other methods to remember what comes between 69 and 71.
M3 has been more genuinely affectionate--not really noticing the former affection-for-food-and-other-inappropriate-reasons behavior anymore. We just try not to overdo it or worry too much about it. And, I provide affection when I think she needs it. I'm the Mom. That's my job.
And those are the goods and the bads...