Goals, Charts, and Hopes

standard May 12, 2011 1 response

When Little L was little she was adorable and cute and tough. There was one place the kid was ever happy. One. On me. When she was separated she’d wail until I came back into her line of sight and then just whimper until I took her into my arms.

We said “it’s a phase! She’ll mellow out!”

And four years later we’ve finally accepted that our beautiful girl is just tough.

She doesn’t listen. She dances to the beat of her own drum. She’s willful. She’s mischievous. She’s adorable and when she smiles and bats her eyelashes she gets away with murder.

The hardest part of it all is that she means well. She really truly does, but she’s just off in her own world. So “talks” and “conversations” and all other sorts of communication goes in one ear and bounces right back out.

And then she smiles and says something funny or cute and we instantly forgive her for losing her shoes one more time, for not putting on her pajamas because she found a tiny toy that instantly needed attention, for not eating because a leaf caught her eye outside the window.

The only challenges that we have trouble turning a blind eye on are the night time hassles.

It’s no secret that Little L isn’t the best sleeper in the world. Her nights (and mine!) are often interrupted and bedtime is rarely a breeze. She’ll pop up out of bed for a million reasons, often only falling asleep after one of us breaks down and yells.

And really? I hate the yelling. I hate that she falls asleep with tear tracks on her face. I hate that that’s how she was ending her days.

So I took matters into consideration. Took my daughter into consideration. Remembered that she and I are cut from an identical cloth and asked myself what would have motivated me at her age.

I bribed her with chocolate.

Oh, yes I did.

One chocolate treat if she went to bed without getting up and didn’t wake up mommy and daddy during the night. My only regret is that I didn’t think of it sooner.

And then one morning (after rereading the chapter on rewarding the process rather than the result in Raising Happiness) I praised Little L for working hard to stay in bed while her sister did her own jack-in-the-box routine.

She writhed with pride. Literally writhed. And I realized that, just like for the rest of us, recognition for efforts is worth even more to her than chocolate.

Since that day we’ve had few bad bedtimes and she’s gone to bed with kisses on her cheeks rather than tears. My nights have been more restful and our mornings less crabby. Most of all it’s been amazing to see how she puffs up with pride when we notice her achievements.

To give her a concrete visual and keep the progress moving in the right direction, I took advantage of the behavior charts offered by Goalforit.com to set something up that would give her a good snapshot of her week.

This morning we sat down and went over all the goals outlined in the chart and I had her tell me if she had earned a reward for each.

My little girl, the one who always seems to have her head in the clouds and to have no idea about what’s going on around her, the one who doesn’t seem to remember anything three seconds after it happened, took complete ownership of her actions. She’s the one who said she hadn’t been good about not waking mommy up. Without my prompting.

I could have wept. But instead I hugged her and told her how proud I was that she was working so hard.

And the best part of it all? For the rest of the morning I didn’t have to repeat anything I asked her. In her mind she was already working towards picking her reward icon for good listening.

This post was sponsored by Goalforit.com and BSM Media. As always the thoughts and stories are all mine. I’m really impressed with the site and have even set up my own goals chart! And yes, I do feel all puffed up with pride too when it tells me that I had a perfect day. Go figure. Even I think it tastes better than chocolate.

Where’s my baby?

standard March 14, 2011 3 responses

The coughing startles me, sharp staccato burst after sharp staccato burst. I listen to see what kind of cough it is.

Pure asthma? Post nasal drip induced? Simple cold cough?

After five years of nursing two children through asthma exacerbated colds I can distinguish coughs so well that even at work I can tell when my coworker needs her inhaler even before she’s noticed.

Tonight Little L’s cough isn’t wheezy or scary. She’s reacting to a stuffy nose and some serious post-nasal drip.I try to let it go, but the bursts increase in frequency and keep me from falling back asleep.

I have a last ditch remedy, one that really shouldn’t work, but for some reason does, when nothing does the trick. Vicks VapoRub… on the soles of the feet.

It’s crazy. I know. But even snopes.com can’t completely debunk the myth. Fact is, it works. Despite having no scientific reason behind it. And who am I to turn down a solution that allows me to get some sleep?

I tiptoe into her room and find the little jar of salve. She’s curled into a tight ball, sweaty and hot to the touch.I untangle her from her blanket and loveys and smooth the hair out of her face. Then I gently ease my hand up her shirt to smooth some vaporub onto her chest. Hopefully breathing in the menthol will clear her nose a bit.

Then I turn my attention to her feet. I rub first one sole and then the next with the stuff, remembering how I used to do this when she was a baby, coughing late at night. In comparison these feet are huge in my hand. Still soft and sweet, but huge.

I ease her socks over her now sticky feet and tuck her back under her covers. In my minds eye I see her, small, feverish and sick, in her crib in our room. She was so small and vulnerable. This little girl though, in her big girl bed, with her pillow and comforter is no baby. She laughs, reasons, makes jokes, tells tales. She skips and hops, she can reach the light switch and even the sink.

Somehow, overnight, my baby stopped being a baby. And in just a few months she’ll be four. A four year old desperate to read like her sister. And even as my heart bursts with pride at seeing her become her own person in vibrant technicolor… my heart also clenches.

She’s my baby. My little one. It’s painful to see her outgrow her babyhood.

Sensitive Little One

standard November 24, 2010 2 responses

Little L has always been my tough little cookie. Where C wears her heart and her emotions on her sleeve and her face, Little L is harder to read, harder to reach. C will bend over backwards to get approval and to feel like she’s pleasing those around her. Little L lives to please… herself.

I always assumed that her lack of need of external validation meant that she was tougher and less sensitive than her sister.

I’m slowly learning that I was wrong.

The other day, a rainy Saturday, we all huddled under a blanket to watch Up. Even if you haven’t seen the movie, you might have heard that it’s not the most uplifting flick out there. I have yet to meet a grown-up who’s been able to watch the opening scene dry-eyed.

Towards the end of the movie the main characters have to say goodbye to a friend and out of the blue, completely unexpectedly, Little L started wailing. Not just one quiet tear, but real, honest to goodness wails, with tears and sobs. She huddled in my arms and empathized with the movie characters.

I’m a movie crier. I just didn’t think little kids could be too. 

Wordless Wednesday: Future Firefighter

standard September 8, 2010 1 response
Ready, set…
(Don’t mind the big sister’s fingers. 
She didn’t quite grasp the epiphany that was about to take place.)

Followed shortly after by a quiet 
“Mommy, when I grow up I want to be a fireman.”
Maudlin laments about the start of two school years to come later this week I’m sure. You know, once I’ve processed the enormity of it all, or at least survived the radical schedule change.