Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Surrey Without the Fringe on Top

On Sunday we decided to skip the gym and head outside for some exercise. It was a perfectly gorgeous day--not too hot, not too cold. We headed down to Minnehaha Falls Park, enjoyed the beauty of the falls,

and rented a surrey suitable for a family of four (the only one without the fringe on top, I must add!)The girls loved the hour-long ride we took around the park and along the Mississippi River.

Mike and I worked up a good sweat going uphill, then enjoyed the breeze going downhill, inhaling the sweet smell of the lilacs blooming all along the trail. Afterwards, we headed to the ice cream stand
and made a final stop at the playground before heading home. It was a great afternoon....about as good as they get, I think.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

In Memory and With Much Thanks....

This weekend, I have been thinking a lot about the true reason for Memorial Day--a day to set aside to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and our freedom. I say a prayer for the family members who mourn their loss, as well as for the survivors of war who continue to live with physical and/or mental disabilities as a result of war. I also make an effort to live more fully, savoring every moment, knowing that I have what I have as the result of many others' losses. It's both the least--and the most--I can do to show my gratitude.
I also think about loved ones who have passed on. As a child, I remember gathering up flowers in water buckets and taking them around to the graveyards in our hometown where family members and friends rested: My Grandpa Fullerton, whom I never met; Great Grandma Baker; our former landlady, Mrs. Pool, who used to make ceramic crafts for my birthday presents while she was in the nursing home. These are just a few, and there are more now. I won't be able to make it home to place flowers on their graves this year--I haven't for a long time. But I have it in my mind, and the memories of doing it as a child. Maya asked me today about the purpose of the Memorial Day holiday. I explained it to her, and told her about what we used to do every Memorial Day back in Ottawa. She wanted to go and put flowers on graves, too, but we don't know anyone buried here in Minneapolis, so we decided to set some flowers out for loved ones here at home. We picked some lilacs and put them in a vase in the kitchen.
We also went outside and watered the Lilies of the Valley,
which remind me of my Grandma Baker (Dran) who passed away Christmas 2006. We talked about Dran (Maya's Great Grandma Baker) and Bubs (Maya's Great Grandma Sylvia.) It's nice to remember people in the spring, when things are coming to life again. It reminds us that life goes on, and that those who are no longer with us continue to live within us...and all around us.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Dodging and Deflecting

Today's Daily OM http://www.dailyom.com/articles/2008/13788.html spoke to me loud and clear, as if it was written specifically for me. Letting things go and not taking things too much to heart have arguably been the biggest challenges of my life. And now that I have an anxious daughter (Maya was recently diagnosed with GAD, ODD, with a bit of OCD mixed in), I am forced to wrestle with this challenge more than ever. Which, I suppose, could be considered a blessing (at least that is the way I am going to look at it!)

The other morning, before leaving for the bus stop, Maya was pulling her hair back with her hands, so I asked her, "Do you want a ponytail today?" She replied, "No, but I want a ponytail for the KinderMusical on Friday." I remember that she will be wearing a baker's hat type of head piece for her costume on Friday, so I reply calmly, "Okay, but it might be difficult to put your headpiece on if you are wearing a ponytail." She immediately gets frustrated by this answer, so, again, I calmly tell her, "We can work out a way to wear a ponytail with your head piece." "NOOOO!!!!! I didn't want you to say that! I don't want you to say we can work it out!!!!!" I obviously can't win here. She doesn't want to problem-solve; she wants life to be problem-free. And when it isn't, even in the most trivial sense, she copes by making me the scapegoat for her frustration. She fusses all of the way to the bus stop. I try more than once to change the subject and focus on our morning game and story time. She is relentless in her fussing. Consequently, we miss our time to do our usual morning story or game while waiting for the bus. The bus arrives, and she glares at me and says, "We didn't get to do a game or story! I hate you!" as she climbs up the steps. She takes her seat and glares at me out the window. What just happened here? The words of James Lehman echo in my mind: "A day with a child who has Oppositional Defiant Disorder is a series of battles in an undeclared war." Oppositional Defiant Disorder: The War at Home

Fortunately, this is not a typical morning. She is usually very good about getting ready for school, having special time while waiting for the bus, and blowing me kisses from the bus window. But this is typical ODD behavior that stems from her anxiety that can occur on a daily basis, at any given time, and it can be very disruptive to our lives. Often, being her mother, the scapegoat is me, but I have seen her do the same thing with her "best" friend. Thankfully, she has a patient mother and friend who are both willing to tolerate her quirks until she can utilize a better way to deal with her anxiety. But there are no easy answers, no quick fixes. It is difficult to know where to begin.......

Then, sometimes beginnings happen when we aren't looking for them. Last night, when it came time to fill in Maya's daily chart, we got to the category of "Respecting Mommy and Daddy." We asked her if she thought she deserved a "smiley," a "frowny," or an "okay" for this category. She said, "I deserve a frowny because I was mean to Mommy this morning. I shouldn't have fussed and said 'I hate you.' I was just frustrated and didn't know what to do."

Recognizing the problem is half of the battle, and for her to acknowledge that she handled the situation inappropriately is a huge breakthrough for all of us.

Friday, May 16, 2008

"She's a handful."

"She's a handful." I have heard this words as recently as this morning (from the paraprofessional in her kindergarten class) and for the last 6 years from family members, friends, child care providers, strangers. It's sorta like the conflict in the Middle East--we are all aware of it, we do our best to deal with it, and we pray for peace.

This morning I, along with several other parents, came to help Maya's teacher while she had a guest come in to do a puppet show and help the kids make puppets. I arrived while they were in the middle of making their own puppets, and I was greated at the door by another mom explaining to me, "Maya is sad. We don't know why." I looked over at Maya's table to see her crying, her half done puppet sitting in front of her. Her friends were all trying to console her, but they didn't know what was wrong. They look at me for an explanation as to why Maya is crying. I can't explain it to them, either. I take Maya out in the hallway to have a chat. She just says she doesn't want to make a puppet, she doesn't have a reason. I say, "There has to be a reason." She says there is none. I offer several possible reasons to see if she will respond: 1. She doesn't like the way her puppet looks so far (it is adorable, by the way...see posted picture) 2. She thinks her puppet isn't as good (in her eyes) as her friends' puppets 3. She is having an argument with a friend. She denies any of these reasons, and, quite frankly, I believe her. When she does have any of those issues, she typically tells me so that I can help her deal with it. But this time, no reason. I tell her I can't help her if she doesn't tell me what the problem is. She says she simply doesn't want to make a puppet. She continues crying and starts to have a bit of a kicking/screaming tantrum in the hallway. I am starting to lose my patience. I tell her that it doesn't matter if she doesn't "feel" like making a puppet---that if the teacher says she should make a puppet, it is her job to do so. Just like Daddy listens to his boss and does what he is told at his job--even if he doesn't feel like it. Just like I make dinner and do laundry every day, even if I don't feel like it. We all have our jobs to do, and her job is the be a respectful student and listen to her teacher---even if she doesn't feel like it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Fun girl stuff....

Today Maya and I got to do some fun "firsts" together. I arranged for a babysitter for Ava, and Maya and I headed to Kids' Hair for some special "one on one" time to get her hair done for her dance costume pictures tonight. It was her first experience with a curling iron, and she did great.
We had a lot of fun together, and it brought back such great memories of the excitement and anticipation of getting ready for my own dance recitals SOOO many years ago. It is so neat to see her enjoying it all for the first time.....

Sunday, May 11, 2008