Timeline

Just now: I sent an email to Amy’s teacher asking for the true story about today’s snack. Amy’d told me that there were crackers and “my teachers wouldn’t let me” have some. Curious.

Ten minutes ago: I was in the music room with two projects. One was to move books around so as to open a shelf unit for Amy’s art supplies. They’ve been stuffed in one of my desk drawers — not very accessible. Now they are organized in boxes (a play-doh box, a collage box, a coloring box, a painting box, and a box of scrap paper) on shelves, easy to get to and easy to put away. Everything else was shuffled — her books on a new bookcase, my scrapbooks and music books and literature on new shelves, and all the history, linguistics, language, philosophy, religion, gardening, parenting, auto mechanics, and science books are now on shelves in the closet.

While I was in there, I saw Amy’s keepsake boxes and got them down to review and organize, too. There’s the sweater, hat, and bootie set my mom knit for her, the hat from the hospital, a pair of shoes I’d made, oodles of birth and birthday cards, and various artworks. Plus a letter I wrote to Amy when I was getting ready to head to the ER and the psych ward, and some cards and papers from that time. I need to find and save the yellow dress I sewed for her — the first outfit I made for her.

Two hours ago: Amy was getting in trouble. So oppositional, this child. If she’s got her mind set, she will keep pushing and pushing it. Sometimes she out and out yells “No,” but more and more often we’re also seeing her say it almost under her breath, as if to have the last word but not get caught. Tonight’s incident was just about three tiny pieces of chicken with hardly any sauce on them (she didn’t like the sauce). We get so tired of repeated argument and contradiction. After enough “no’s” (especially during the short and sweet talk about respect) she had a time-out, which she escalated through several levels until she ended up being sent to bed. At 6:30. Eh.

Four hours ago: Amy was giving me a lesson on the Barbie and horses work, because I can’t choose that work unless / until I have a lesson on it. She showed me how to line up the horses as a carousel, and how a doll could ride each one and fly into the bedroom (except it was some more exotic place; the Louvre, maybe) and then come back and lie down.

Seven hours ago: I instituted the new quiet time policy. Amy had slept a bit in the car, so I said during the next hour and a half we would do quiet things, separately. She could look at books, do art work, puzzles, lacing beads, or any other such quiet activity. She opted to take all of her magazines into her room, close the door, and lie in bed.

Seven and a half hours ago: We were eating lunch and Amy started talking about a girl in her class, and how I could call her if I wanted to, and invite her over.

Eight hours ago: We were leaving preschool, having our Bible study in the car. I found one audio Bible at one library, and Mace Windu is the main narrator. It’s a little odd, but listenable.

Eight hours and five minutes ago: We were walking from her building to the parking lot, and she was telling me about the crackers.

Nine hours ago: I was checking out some books about homeschooling, after getting my card at the Mishawaka library.

Fourteen and a half hours ago: Amy was wide awake and asking if it was time to go to preschool yet.

Late last night: When I woke Amy up to pee, she asked if it was time to go to preschool.

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6 thoughts on “Timeline

  1. Concerning the chicken…don’t discuss/argue. Make a statement and immediately follow through. At 3 and 4 words are wasted. ie. “you need to eat the chicken even if you don’t like the sauce .” any more conversation, remove the plate and remove her from the table. Then ignore. She seems to relish the interaction good, bad or indifferent. Giving her interaction around the “bad” things just keeps it going.
    It takes about two weeks for a child to realize that you will imediately act ( not discuss) on what you say. Its hard but in the long run its worth it.
    It might work for her.

  2. I need to make up my mind what I believe about kids and eating. Some experts recommend not making any battles about eating — offer healthy options, let them eat what they want of it. Others advocate things like “one bite per year of age,” which seems reasonable. Others require cleaning the plate. I can see the reasoning for all of these ideas.

    You’re right that at this age, immediate concrete responses are more effective / appropriate than continuing discussion / argument. One explanation should be sufficient.

    I’ll think some more and talk with Mark.

  3. Talking it over with her at her age puts you in a peer to peer situation. She needs the security of “I’m the Mama and your the kiddo. I am taking good care you.”

  4. Now that my girls are adults, I am even more convinced that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to childhood eating. I can see that our patterns and the way we interact with food are really a part of who we are. For instance, my older daughter was basically a ‘normal’ eater – ate more or less what was put in front of her, no real problems one way or the other. The younger daughter – as the kids would say, OMG! She would eat the TINIEST amount, say she was full, and then by the time I was doing the dinner dishes, she was hungry again and asking for food. The pediatrician said her style was a ‘forager’ – that she needed to eat many small meals a day, not just 3 squares the way we do in our culture. We tried to respect that (although it was very frustrating) and she learned to pack her own small snacks when we went places b/c she would invariably be hungry. She would pack a little baggie of cheerios or a small amount of peanut butter crackers. This continued on into young adulthood where she developed a strong interest in cooking and food in general, eventually choosing to study it in college! This is a girl who was a VERY picky eater as a young child (along with eating small quantities). As an adult (25), she STILL eats small amounts, gets full quickly (stomach aches if she eats too much) and gets hungry between meals. She usually takes home half her meal when eating out, and eats it later or the next day. She is healthy and height/weight proportionate.
    I only share this because I think of the many battles we avoided by trying (usually) to respect and accept her style. Certainly did not accomplish this perfectly, and there WERE some battles and frustrating moments. But I can see now, in retrospect now that she is grown, that it wasn’t about her being willful or difficult but it was more about who she was.
    I’m sure none of this is perfectly applicable to you, but I just wanted to share the perspective of having a longer view. The trick, we found, was that in her innumerable snacks, to make sure they were healthy, not junk. But once we got that down, it worked pretty well.
    Good luck. It isn’t easy.

  5. Thanks, Amy.

    It is much easier to be certain about willfulness in oneself than in someone else, and it sure is hard to be certain about it in oneself.

    I think, generally, once it gets beyond the initial thing that sparks discipline, Amy is no longer thinking or feeling or acting about the initial thing, and it’s all about winning the battle. I have the same tendency, and I know I need to be careful to avoid such battles as much as possible — to redirect and so on.

    But sometimes it just seems so insignificant a thing to battle over — three measly bits of chicken, or whatever.

    And, while I accept that I have a position of authority as a parent, and that using that authority wisely provides security to my kid, I also want to always be sure I am not abusing the authority. One of the worst things to experience is hearing “I am helping you” from someone whose actions / words feel wrong and oppressive and misunderstanding and so on.

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