Monday, August 24, 2015

Dear Gwen: Month Eighty-Eight

Dear Gwen,
Today, you are eighty-eight months old.

It's been a hard month. We've been in our new house for a full month now, and the last week has prompted your dad and I to realize - and to admit to each other, and ourselves - that you are struggling. I guess we didn't allow ourselves to understand how massive these changes would be, for you, or how rocked you would be by them. We told ourselves - and others told us, too - that once we were in our new home, you would be so happy and everything would get back to normal. It hasn't. You are one stressed out little kid, and you have no outlet to deal with your stress and anxiety except by yelling at us. And throwing things at us. And hitting us. Which you do, just about every day.

Every attempt to discipline you - even things as innocent as asking you to put your lunch box away, something you have been asked to do every day of school or camp for the past several years - can send you into fits, and have you screaming about how we don't love you, and we are terrible parents, and your special favourite, that we are stupid idiots and that everything we do is useless. If you rant for long enough, you stop making sense entirely, which makes me think that you don't actually know what you're angry about. In calmer moments, we talk about what's bothering you and try to strategize for next time - but when you start freaking out, all those strategies hold no interest for you, and you'd rather proceed on your chosen path to blowing the hell up. You've never done anything halfway, so why should your meltdowns be any different?

Anyway, after finally realizing that your anxiety and anger weren't going away, and seeking guidance and support from some knowledgeable friends, we are going to start family counseling. Hopefully we can learn some ways to help you manage your emotions more constructively. With the start of the new school year only two weeks away, time is of the essence as we certainly don't want you having any meltdowns there.

There are still lots of positive things to update about, however. Just a few days after we moved, you had your very first sleepover! I've always told you that you couldn't have any sleepovers until you were eight years old, but friends of ours were in a bind and the only way their daughter R - who happens to be your very best buddy - could attend a birthday party that the two of you were invited to, was if she slept over at our house. So I agreed. You and R had so much fun together, and, as is typical of sleepovers, didn't go to sleep until hours after bedtime.

Another milestone this month is that you got your first sunburn. You went to a friend's house and though I'd applied sunscreen before you left, you then changed into your swimsuit to go in the pool and didn't add sunscreen to the newly bare areas. You came home with a very red back, with the pattern of your bathing suit straps perfectly showing as white against the angry burn. You poor thing! Aloe vera gel gave you enough relief to get a good night's sleep, and hopefully now you will know why I always insist that you wear sunscreen.

We also got to have a great weekend with Grannie when she came to Nanaimo to see our new house and visit the Sandcastle competition in Parksville. We even got to have a brief, surprise visit from your cousin Scotty, as he flew over from the Sunshine Coast to have his week with Grannie! You sure do love spending time with your cousins. I'm excited that they are coming to visit us in Nanaimo on Labour Day Weekend!

Last week you and I got to go on a week of adventures together, which was great fun. First we went to Victoria, where we visited the museum, Miniature World, and a selection of playgrounds. We also went to Munro's Books, where our friend Sarah picked out some new treasures for you. One of the highlights of the trip, for me, was watching you read through an entire graphic novel (Lumber Janes) in one sitting, while Sarah and I visited. It makes me proud because I, too, used to lose myself in books at your age (heck, I still do!). It makes me so happy that you are learning to love books this way.

We had a wonderful visit with our friend Janice, who fed us pizza and ice cream, took us to a playground, and then shared her amazing collection of sharpies with you for an impromptu art session. So fun! 

We stayed with Uncle Mikey and Aunt Alison, and had great visits with them as well. It was neat to hear Alison talk about how she manages her ADHD. I could see the wheels in your head turning - I don't know if you've ever had the opportunity to meet someone else with ADHD, let alone someone who could talk about her strategies and experiences in managing it. I was really glad you got to spend that time with her. Our trip to the lake with Uncle Mikey was lovely - what a beautiful, secret swimming hole he's found! You built a neat sandcastle in the wet sand, which you were really proud of.

When we arrived back in Nanaimo, we went home for a quick bath and regroup, and then up to VIU for you to participate in a photo shoot. Remember a few months ago when you were part of a video at VIU to encourage people to sign up for the Canada Learning Bond? Well, the director of that video enjoyed your performance so much that he suggested working with you again, as part of a group of multi-generational, multi-ethnic models, for the cover of VIU's upcoming "Report to the Community". Here you were, the lone child working with three adult strangers - naturally, you were a bit shy and awkward at first, but you warmed up quickly and soon started to shine. The shoot took place at three different locations, and we'll have to wait and see which of the many photos ends up on the cover. Here's one that I took of the proceedings - not nearly as great as the professional's photos, of course!

The next day, we headed up-Island and hopped on the ferry to Powell River, where we spent a few days with Grannie and Grandpa. We went to the Blackberry Fest Street Party, and even stayed up super late to watch the fireworks! They were amazing. The next day, after a good sleep-in, we packed up what we needed for a day up at the cabin. The lake was lower than I've ever seen it, and the cabin was nearly on the shore! You were, of course, unfazed by these changes, and did your usual thing - puttering around in the paddleboat for most of the day. We also cuddled in a chair and read a Geronimo Stilton book. I've recently decreed that I am no longer reading storybooks to you - by which I mean, short books by the likes of Mo Willems, Dr. Seuss, and Melanie Watt. This is not because I don't like these books or authors, but because I know damn well you can read these all yourself. If you want ME to read to you, we are going to read chapter books! This insistence has led to the discovery of Nancy Clancy (the older, more mature version of Fancy Nancy), Geronimo Stilton, and even Amelia Bedelia chapter books. There are many more chapter books to come, but the Geronimo Stilton books are a favourite with you right now because they have colour pictures and you LOVE colour pictures!

Anyway, after our day at the lake we headed to Putters for delicious (and enormous!) ice cream cones, then home to Grannie and Grandpa's for a Netflix show and bed. The next day (yesterday), I got on the ferry and left you with Grannie and Grandpa to spend a few days with them in Powell River. I know you will have lots of fun - the plans include mini golf, a movie at the Patricia, and maybe even a hike up Valentine Mountain!

Well, that's it for this month, Gwen. As always, I love you a million, billion, kajillion, and seven, and will keep working to be the best mom I can be.



Related Posts with Thumbnails