When the doctor at the walk-in clinic gave this diagnosis, I felt panicked – it sounded very serious! In fact, all you needed was a course of antibiotics to get back on track, and within a day or two you were back to your normal bubbly self. Which was too bad, because we still had 4 days to quarantine you away from other kids! A bouncy energetic Gwen who is confined to her house … well, it wasn’t an easy few days. Your face just dropped when I told you why we couldn’t have anyone over for a playdate, even though it was a “Mom and Gwen day”. However, we did lots of fun stuff on these days: we turned the kitchen table into a fort, we set up your mini tent in the living room, we watched lots of movies and played lots of board games and spent lots of time online at pbskids.org. I’m not sure if you were about ready to hit this developmental stage anyway, or if the enforced isolation actually made it happen, but right around this time you got in touch with your inner introvert (for which I am REALLY grateful). You started being able to – and interested in – spending 20-40 minutes playing by yourself, whether in your room with your dollhouse, at your craft table with your art supplies, or in the living room with your ponies and other playthings. I had started to think that you were never going to be that kind of kid, but I’m really thrilled to be proven wrong!
Along with this new development, you and I have had some discussions about boredom. Like every other human being on the planet, you dislike and/or fear boredom. But I am trying to help you understand that your boredom is no one’s responsibility but your own. You are forever flapping around underfoot asking me, “What can I DO right now?”, so the guideline we’ve come up with is that if there is a job to be done – getting ready for school, eating a meal, brushing teeth, etc – then I will tell you so. And if not, then it is up to you to figure out how to fill your time. As I have said several times recently, “I am not in charge of entertaining you. This is YOUR time.”
An amusing side note to this is on the very last day of your quarantine, you had serious cabin fever and were very tired of entertaining yourself. Rather than point out all the things you could play with (seriously! There are so many toys in this house! HOW CAN YOU BE BORED?), I asked you to open one cupboard and point out every activity/toy/game inside, while I wrote them all down. Then the next cupboard. Then the drawer. Then the shelf. Then each basket. And so on. Until I had a huge list of things like “play a board game”, “do Hello Kitty crafts”, “colour in colouring books”, “do stickers”, etc. Then I cut up the paper so each activity was on its own slip, and told you to pull one slip out of the jar and do whatever was on that slip. Because you are externally motivated, this totally worked, because now you were being “told” what to do instead of figuring it out for yourself. Some activities lasted three minutes, some lasted 25. But I never had to tell you what to do, and that counts as a win for me!
This past weekend we had your birthday party, with a record-breaking nineteen kids in attendance (counting the birthday girl), ages ranging from almost-three to six-and-a-half. A great time was had by all with a piñata, goodie bags, time in the gym to burn off energy, and an amazing Pinkie Pie birthday cake. I really loved having your many friends from different areas of your life come together to celebrate with you. It brought me a lot of joy to see all these people who love you gathered together to make your day special.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013 | Posted by adequatemom at 7:48 PM
Today you are fifty-nine months old.
I am writing this letter almost two weeks ahead of time, because we will be in California the day you officially turn fifty-nine months old. I can't adequately capture the awesomeness that is you in this in-between fashion, so instead, I'll just get to the good stuff, the stuff that everyone wants to see when they open this blog ... the pictures of my beautiful, charming, bursting-with-personality girl.
Sunday, March 24, 2013 | Posted by adequatemom at 8:00 AM
Today you are fifty-eight months old, also known as TWO MONTHS AWAY FROM FIVE. Wow!
Your dad and I went to a workshop last week about encouraging you to manage your feelings. About 90% of the things we learned there, we are already doing - and have been doing since you were a wee baby. One could view this as encouraging ("We're already doing all the right stuff, yay!") or the opposite ("We're doing everything right and IT'S NOT WORKING!"). We did learn a few more strategies that we can put into practice, though. One thing I have been doing in the past few days is giving you the message that any kind of feeling is okay to have, but certain expressions of your feelings (hitting, shouting, hurting words) are not okay - and that if your feelings are making you want to do those things, you have to remove yourself, have some alone time, and come back when you feel ready to use kind words. I have to be disciplined as well, giving you the consequence of being sent to your room immediately and every time when you do any of the above things or, a perennial favourite in our house, you shout "NO!" at me when I am trying to get you to do something. This might mean that we get out of the house a little later, or have to cancel plans with friends at the last minute, or otherwise disrupt our day - but the hope is that short-term pain will mean long-term gain if you are able to improve your emotional outbursts.
Your teacher said something the other day that really struck my heart. She told me about an incident where you had wanted a turn at the art table, but the table was full and you needed to wait. Although you should know by now that you will eventually get a turn, and that there are lots of other things to keep you happy while you waited, you had a very emotional (and loud) outburst. "When you go to the big school, you're going to meet lots of new kids and even new teachers. If you yell and cry and get upset all the time, they are not going to know what a lovely person you are." I guess that comment really resonated with me about my own past, where I went to school for 13 years with the same group of children, all of whom decided within the first week of knowing me that I was not worth knowing, and none of whom ever changed their minds - despite the fact that I was clearly not the same person in Grade Ten as I was in kindergarten. I don't know if your school career will echo mine - we do still plan to move in the next few years, though the theme of our last several years has been HA HA GOD LAUGHS AT YOUR PLANS - but nevertheless, I do know it's true that kids make their first impressions very quickly and don't often change them. So it made me really sad to think of you not being able to make good friends because of your difficult behaviour and your big personality.
But enough with the doom and gloom! Lots of other stuff is happening. We discovered that a local gymnastics facility has a Saturday afternoon drop-in for $5, and we have attended this a few times - you love it, as it is totally unstructured play time where you get to do whatever you want for however long you want to (at least until the hour is up). You have almost finished ballet class and will soon be moving on to swimming lessons. You are doing really really well at your piano lessons: you have learned to play C scale and are getting quite adept at reading and playing the songs from your book. Practices for the upcoming Sunday School Talent Show have begun, and you are participating in a "tableau" and a group song - your Sunday School teacher was thrilled to point out to me a few nights ago that you know all the words to the song already! Pretty impressive for a girl who can't read yet!
Our trip to California is coming up pretty quickly - only three weeks away. And then right after that it will be full-swing into birthday party planning time! I feel like March and April are going to go by really fast.
You continue to really impress me with your crafting abilities. This year for the first time you designed your Valentine's cards for friends and family all by yourself. I gave you one suggestion - to use a punch to make hearts - and you ran with it. You did often ask for help with certain aspects of construction, such as rounding the corners of the cards, but the majority of design and assembly was all you. You even wrote your name in all the cards. And you enjoyed the whole process, which is just as important!
One of the best things about your creative streak is that when you show off your work, chances are that you will say one of my favourite Gwenisms: "Lookat!" It's all one word, and it is always said in the same jubilant tone. You have outgrown some of your learning-to-talk habits - for example, crayons are no longer "cunnins," - but "Lookat" and "breffikt" are still in the lexicon, as is "restaronnit." And I have no plans to teach you otherwise.
Sometimes your empathy and love astound me. On Valentine's Day, you opened a package from your Grannie and Grandpa, and a card from your Gramma and Grandpa, and a box of treats from us, and then suddenly realized that we were not opening similar piles of stuff. "Where are your presents?" you asked us, and when we replied that we didn't have any, you immediately handed us some chocolates from your own package.
Well, I guess that's it for this month, my girl. As always, I love you a million, billion, kajillion, and very-close-to-five, and I always will.