October 12, 2011

Dental update

     The oral surgery went off without a hitch . . . . as long as you don't call these hitches:

     Pooda told Panda they would poke a needle into her stomach and take out blood. Eeek! Not exactly a story to put fears to rest. There was a monitor on her stomach so that's probably what Pooda remembered. And stories are always better if there is blood involved. Particularly if the blood comes out of your stomach . . . .

     Or this:  Baba woke up at 6:15 and said he was sick. He was supposed to drive Pooda to Aunt Shaw's house. But he could barely walk, much less drive a car safely. A quick 6:30 am phone call and we had a new plan. J-Bear and her dad would drive over to fetch Pooda for a play date.

     Yesterday, Panda and I took a class field trip to the botanical garden. It started out very rainy but had blown over by the time the bus arrived. They learned about seeds, dissected lima beans, gathered seeds from the garden, and snacked on exploded endosperm (a.k.a. popcorn).

October 11, 2011

Parenting coach

     Hiring a parenting coach has helped us live 'Beyond Consequences' each day. We use Skype to meet with the coach. Usually Baba comes home to attend the session, but sometimes he can't get away from the office.

     Living Beyond Consequences means using two questions to guide parent-child interactions:
    ~ What is driving this behavior?
    ~ What can I do at this very moment to improve my relationship with her?

     I think the biggest value of a parent coach is relating specific examples we encounter. After hearing what happened, the coach walks us through the event and talks about what we could have done differently at several points.

A recent example:
     It was a hectic morning getting ready for school. I had been juggling my attention back and forth between both girls. It was time to leave and we couldn't find Pooda. I searched through the house and finally found her sitting on the patio. I went outside and asked “What’s the matter, sweetie?” Her reply, "You are a terrible mom because you don't have time to help your child who needs help. You only help your other child."

     Oops . . . I guess Panda had been taking up a lot more of my attention than I had realized.
     Gulp . . .  Obviously Pooda needs me to take a few minutes and hold her.
     But . . . Panda will go into hysterics if she thinks we’re late for the bus.

     What should I do?

     With a bad outcome either way, I decide to keep Panda calm, at the expense of not meeting Pooda’s immediate need. I carried Pooda (with shoes and backpack) out the front door. I locked the door behind us and said it was time to leave for school. Pooda said she wasn't coming. I assumed hoped she would eventually follow us.

     Panda and I started walking to the bus stop. Panda provides updates every ten seconds about whether Pooda was following us or not. We didn't see her following until nearly at the bus stop. She met up with her friend M. and M's dad and walked with them, chatting happily. Until she got about 50 feet from me. Then she stopped and her face changed to stink-eye.

     I walked over to her and picked her up. Again, she began saying I'm an awful mom because I don't have time for helping my child who needs help.

     On one hand, I have decided not to force Pooda to do something she is crying and begging against doing (unless it is for safety). Usually this happens at bed time or when we are rushing out the door to leave.

     On the other hand,  Panda will blow a gasket if Pooda misses the bus and I will have two completely dysregulated children on my hands.

     At such a loss of knowing what to do, I continue with forcing Pooda onto the bus. I peeled her off me (twice) to get her on the bus. The bus driver helped me by shutting the door very quickly. I trudged back home feeling like pond scum for making Pooda get on the bus when she was so very upset.

How coach helped us:
     A few days later, I relay this saga to my coach. She is amazed at Pooda's ability to verbalize her needs. We discuss how I could have honored this need rather than brushing it aside. We talk about what to do to make it okay for Panda, too.

     The coach's advice helped me figure out the best thing was to have stayed home and let us all become regulated. We could have stayed home for a few extra minutes. That had been my first thought, but I quashed it. Traditional parenting wisdom is to make kids do the things they should do. It is difficult to curb this line of thought, even though BCLC is how I want to parent my children.

     Coach suggested allowing Panda to do a fun activity while I spend time with Pooda. For example, she could watch TV, which they are not allowed to watch during the school week.

     While Panda was watching TV, I could let Pooda share her feelings and help me understand what she needed from me. This wouldn’t take very long. Pooda regulates more quickly than Panda and her solutions are generally simple requests.

     We would not have been very late to school - perhaps 15 or 20 minutes. In the big picture, reassuring Pooda that mommy will do everything she can to meet Pooda’s needs is more important. Being a few minutes late for school is small potatoes.

Post Script:  I have been writing this post for a couple of weeks. This morning I had the opportunity to repeat the ‘don’t want to get on the bus’ scene. We all drove to the bus stop and Panda got onto the bus while Pooda stayed home with me for awhile.

October 5, 2011

Squirrels, scallow eggs and teeth

Squirrels:     Hogan found a dead squirrel in our back yard. The news of such interesting road kill travelled quickly - Buddy & Diva soon joined Hogan to investigate the corpse. Panda and Pooda were at sleep-overs and Baba was working late. That left me to dispose of the squirrel. Ugh !
     Squirrel bodies are a lot bigger than you would think and I didn't want to touch it. I tried covering it with newspaper and rocks. Hoagie, Buddy and Diva continued to paw at it. My next attempt was covering it with a yard bucket, topped by a large rock. None of these kept my animals away from it. After (an embarrassingly long amount of) a time, it occured to me to use a shovel to pick up the darn thing.
     I dumped the squirrel into the backyard garbage can. The first thing Pooda said when she looked into the can: "Mom, it was a boy squirrel!" (Male squirrels are quite well-endowed.) Between Friday and Monday, the squirrel-in-the-trash-can was popular viewing by Pooda and her 'friends who are boys, not boyfriends'.

Scallow Eggs:     It's a treat to travel alone in the car with Pooda. She is full of insightful observations and shares them freely. Not long ago, Pooda told me about her favorite TV show on Disney channel. It's called Jake and the Neverland Pirates. It seems pirates have their own lexicon and Pooda was eager to tell me some of the words pirates use.

Pooda: "Mom, one thing pirates call people is scallow egg. A scallow egg is someone who makes trouble."
Mom: "I think the word is scalliwag."
Pooda: "No, it is scallow egg."
Mom: "Okay."

Teeth:    Last week Panda complained of a sore tooth. She said it was one with the orthodontic spacer attached (upper left molar). It was a couple of days before we could get into the orthodontist office. During the wait, a bottom molar fell out.
     At the ortho's office, they decided the culprit was a neighboring tooth. It has a cavity and needs come out. They referred us to our regular pediatric dentist, who looked at the x-ray and said to to an oral surgeon. The oral surgeon takes it out on Friday morning. Pooda had this surgeon remove a tooth last fall and she has assured Panda that it will be a piece of cake.
     Meanwhile, Pooda had a very loose front tooth. She wiggled & jiggled it all weekend. Monday she chewed a big wad of gum, hoping to get the tooth to fall out. The gum worked and the tooth came out. She is eagerly practicing All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth.
     Last night, J-Bear called to say she lost a tooth, too. The good news is all the missing teeth are supposed to come out. They are not the kind which cost several thousand dollars to replace.