July 8, 2011

Why am I doing this?

 Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
     - Albert Einstein
Source: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/alberteins133991.html

     The most driving reason is  for Panda. What happened to her when she was an infant is not her fault. She is wonderful, thoughtful, sincere, smart, caring and helpful. But her body often usurps these qualities with polar opposites.
     Panda's neurological system takes her body to a place of survival. It happens fast. There is no warning. She cannot control it.
     I realized this within a couple months of bringing Panda home. How could a person maintain such extreme responses (literally hours & hours) time and time again? I certainly could not do it. How could a toddler? The idea these episodes were willful just didn't make sense to me.
     Traditional parenting aims to correct willful disobedience. It was a long time before I trusted my sense her behavior was not willful. Time out was a joke. Panda would not sit somewhere alone. I was the one being punished with a time out, so I stopped doing it. At times I reached the end of my rope. I meted out a few whacks on her rear-end. Or grabbed her shoulders to 'shake some sense into her'.

     It never made one bit of difference in what Panda was doing. Never.

     The violence felt good to me ~ at the moment of frustration. Later, I was ashamed for using physical punishment. I don't do it any more. Ever. Neither does her Baba.
     At last I am learning why the parenting tricks did not change Panda's behavior.    Children who experience trauma are physiologically changed. Their brains are wired differently than brains of non-traumatized kids. Survival instincts are controlled by primitive brain structures (the reptile brain). Neurological pathways develop for protection (fight, flight or freeze). Cognitive thoughts cannot override the primitive system when it has taken control.
     Infants interacting with their parents (or other important caregivers) are learning how to discern the perceived danger is not real. Babies learn to calm themselves by watching mommy and daddy stay calm. Activities such as crawling and walking also help kids learn to regulate their bodies.

Warp-speed internet, etc

     The new TV unleashed a torrent. The local cable company made an offer we could not refuse: faster internet. The package includes phone service and cable TV. Panda and Pooda have become addicts, surfing back and forth between Disney and Nickolodeon. Mama hates cable already.
     Warm weather has taken us outdoors for gardening and summer camps. Panda & Pooda attended a week long Girl Scout day camp after swimming lessons finished. They also spent time at zoo camps. Mama started ripping out sod and moving pea gravel. Ugh . . . it is physically tiring work but rewarding to see the result.
     Baba went to Denver for a weekend conference for fathers who are learning the new parenting paradigm of Beyond Consequences.
     The ladies went out of town with my sister and her family (the weekend Baba was away). Pooda's favorite thing was hiking in the woods. She and J-Bear loved exploring behind the cabin. We roasted marshmallows for s'mores. Hot dogs are always better warmed up over a fire. There was a quilt store nearby and also a hot springs swimming pool. It was a small slice of paradise less than two hours from home. We plan to make this an annual event. My camera did not make it into the car so no photos until my sister shares hers.
     This week Panda stayed over at her friend J's house. Pooda had a triple sleep-over with J-Bear (not the same person as J). Tomorrow (Saturday) both girls come home again. No doubt it will seem pretty dull around here after such exciting adventures.