Sunday, November 29, 2009

Back from Daddy's

Actually, back from "Daddy house." I had been confused; last week, whenever I said "you're going to Daddy's," Sabrina got very angry and said that she didn't have two daddies. (True, she doesn't.) But I didn't realize until today that she also doesn't say "Daddy's house." She actually says "Daddy house." So of course she doesn't understand "Daddy's" as shorthand for "Daddy's house." Sigh.

Dad and Aunt and Grandma were early to meet me with Sabrina. So that was a good thing. However, they left: her toothbrush, her baby doll, her (new) slippers, and her (new) pajamas at Daddy's. I bought all those things for her, so technically they're hers, but why did I buy them if she's not going to have them with her? I'm not going out tomorrow and replacing them.

The transition hasn't been any rougher than I expected, but I'm still having my own hard time with it. She had a lot a lot a lot of trouble going to bed in her own room, with some ill-advised bargaining on my part (1. while she was crying, and 2. some "if X, you can sleep in my room at time Y"), but that's no different than any other day. She ate most of her dinner, which made me happy--hooray for a balanced meal--but refused to sit at the chair next to me (fine) and yelled at me any time I looked her way. We were watching a movie at the same time (a habit that I hope to get out of) and she also yelled at me if I watched the movie. "Stop watching the TV. It's a kid movie, not a grown up movie!" And she wouldn't excuse me from the table when I finished eating, which I did much more quickly than she did. So I spent some time staring into the fine line of space between Sabrina and the TV.

I don't understand her unwillingness? inability? to accept non-verbal positive cues. Any thoughts?

Also, other advice requested: I'm trying very hard not to respond when I am bossed around. However, when the bossing is "Be Quiet!" I'm not quite sure what to do! Not responding gives her what she wants and teaches that bossing is effective; responding "I don't respond to being ordered around" just makes her more frustrated, to the point where she can't regulate herself. Help?


  1. Ugh, I hate being bossed around by little kids.

    My tactic is your latter - "I don't respond to demands." But usually, they're trying to get me to do something for them, not just be quiet. And you're right, something's wrong if she's to the out-of-control point.

    My ideas:
    1. Get up and leave the room if she starts bossing. Explain when she follows that you don't like spending time with bossy people. But that will probably flip her out too.
    2. Ask caseworker about counseling. It's been about two weeks since she came to you, right? The caseworker might say just give her more time, but I'd say another week at most.
    3. It's cynical, but her biofamily might be telling her she doesn't have to listen to you, to ignore you, etc. Some families think if a child misbehaves, they get sent home sooner.

    If Sabrina's already having weekend visits with dad, are they taking steps to move her to him?

  2. #3 is definitely a possibility. And I like #1 as a suggestion; she hates being alone so that might (MIGHT) have an effect. But yes, I hope/think that they are taking steps for Sabrina to go live with dad. Big plan for today is to make lots of visual cues and a rewards chart.

  3. I don't know Sabrina's ethnic/cultural background but I do know "my daddy house" (or as Lee says when perhaps unkindly quoting an old friend of hers, my mama hou' is a standard black vernacular thing. If she's only 4, she may not be very used to how people outside her family talk, or not people other than Dora. It's kind of cute that she's so sure of herself, but it must be frustrating too. Good luck!