Tuesday, September 29, 2009
After she turned three, we went through a real rough patch. Part of it was the fact that it was summer, and she wasn't in preschool anymore. Amelia and I have very different needs in terms of being with people, and being in public-- she would love to spend every day out and about town, meeting new people and especially eating out everywhere she goes-- not too practical! Jeff is on a year round schedule, so although he has a lot of time off overall, I often felt pretty stuck-- at home trying to keep things reasonable. Amelia had a baseline of miserable and demanding, and I was constantly overwhelmed with the feeling that there is no way in the world that I can possibly meet her needs. I actually started to get sick again, and spent the first half of summer repeatedly visiting my doctor, trying to figure out what was going on.
Then, along came Summer Bible Camp at a church five minutes away. I decided to go for it, and although she was really anxious about the new situation, she ended up loving it. Attendance was low, so she had someone one-on-one with her the entire time. This special person, it turns out, lives walking distance from our house and was looking to do babysitting jobs all summer! She is 17, really down to earth but fun, and charges $4 per hour. We offered her $5, and asked her to come twice a week for three hours. That way, I had more time to work and someone was there to just devote undivided attention to Amelia. It worked out great! And now we have a babysitter that we can actually afford when we need it. She was able to give Amelia something she needed, but that I had just run out of resources for. Whew!
We are into our fourth week of preschool now, and it feels good to be back into a routine. Amelia has had a harder time adjusting this time around, but she is getting there. Something that has become very apparent in the last few months is that she just really doesn't like children. It is really hard and terrifying/ exhausting to spend the day with them, so I can see why she might not feel like going to preschool some days. Her school is wonderful, though, and has been very supportive of her. She basically just shadows one of the classroom aides all day. When other kids are out on the playground, I know I can probably find her inside helping with some kind of task that needs to be done by the teachers. I am glad that she can be socialized in a very orderly, predictable and respectful environment-- otherwise, I don't think preschool would be a good option for us at all.
Something fun about Mimi is that she is an exceptional conversationalist. She is great to take to parties, where grownups often forget proper "getting acquainted" ettiquette. She introduces herself, asks their name, says "Nice to meet you [Name]" and then asks a relevant question, like "Who's mama are you?" or comments on their attire. She loves to hear stories, and has SO many questions about the tale she just heard once you finish. She has also gotten pretty good at telling them. Here's one of my favorites:
Once upon a time, I was standing on the big stool by the oven making pancakes. All of a sudden, I heard a "creeeak." It was the gate opening! And then! I heard a "crackety-crack"-- it was a firework! It came in the door and climbed up on the big stool and hugged me all over until I broke into pieces. And then it helped put me back together and I was OK. The end.
By the way, scary stories are her favorite.
Besides being social and polite and loving narrative, Amelia is very emotionally considerate. Sometimes it is so surprising to me that she is so kind and sensitive. The other day, she was just waking up from her nap, and making her way down the stairs. (She often has a hard time dealing with life when she is coming out of a nap, and isn't always glad to see Jeff, who usually comes home from work around this time.) Jeff peeked around the corner to say hello to her, and she yelled "No! I don't like you!" Jeff was disappointed but understanding, so he just left the room. Amelia came down and snuggled with me a little bit. I told her I loved her, and she returned the sentiment. Then I said, "You know how it makes us feel so good inside when someone says that they like or love us?" She nodded. "How do you think it makes someone feel when we say 'I don't like you?'" "Not good," she said. Then, "I didn't mean to say 'I don't like you.' I meant to say 'no thank you.'" She slid off the couch, ran into the kitchen and apologized to Jeff and told him she was sorry for making him feel bad. She reiterated that she had meant to just say "No thank you." We both got a little teary-eyed that she had done this completely of her own accord, and that she had the maturity to reinterpret her feelings and apologize! She is constantly noticing other peoples' emotional states, and is very concerned. What a sweetheart!
She also is always thanking people for everything. Thank you for helping me with that! Thank you for taking care of me. Thank you for having me over to spend time with you. She will often thank someone again for something that happened weeks or months ago.
In the last few weeks, I feel like she has really turned a corner in personal development and independence. Previously, she had an extremely difficult time entertaining herself. She would rather watch someone else do an activity than try it herself. It seemed like she couldn't do anything without someone else engaging her. I consulted with a pediatric naturopath about this, and we did some homeopathic remedies for her temperament. I think this really helped her make the shift. I have also had her get some bodywork, and it seems like she has just broken through some barrier in her development. We have been noticing lately that she is getting very creative about finding things to do, and is playing all the time. Hurray! I didn't know if she'd EVER figure out how to play! She is happier and more independent and I can tell this has really helped her confidence.
Amelia loves to talk on the phone, and remembers everyone. If you ever want to have a conversation with this little girl, please call us! I'll show her a picture of you, and she'll take it from there with lots of questions about what you're doing, eating and wearing. Isn't she great?