Sorry folks, this is going to be something of a brain dump. Lots to process from today plus I need to remember to go tomorrow to buy a gazillion-pack of Sharpies, plus bubble gum and crackers. Actually, the Sharpies can wait since we don't have play time on Thursday nights--visits with mom and then dinner and bed.
This morning was terrible, but we're moving on. The only thing that should be shared is that I discovered what happens when Sabrina is SO angry and I have more-or-less "successfully" diverted her from hitting, biting, and pulling my hair--she bites her own hand. "It's my's! I can bite it if I want to." I did not react well to any of her escalation this morning and was much more focused on my own needs than on hers.
However, before things got bad (things got bad when we only had 30 minutes left to get ready for school and she hadn't done any of the things she needs to do), we had a lot of fun. She even let me pick out some of her clothes. (This is HUGE.) She doesn't want me touching her things or helping her AT ALL, which kinda stinks but means she is getting better at zipping her own coat. As soon as she can tie her shoes she will be "completely independent." We played and giggled and it was great.
During the day, though, I had a revelation. (Okay, not quite.) Yondalla recommended a book to me a while back (Connected Parenting), and I just picked it up from the library yesterday. I've only read the first 108 pages so this recommendation/review might be premature, but so far it's amazing. It's a quick read (108 pages over a grande vanilla latte--actually about 2 hours) with lots of practical examples and reassurance ("what you are doing is intuitive and works for a lot of kids; it is not your fault, but here are some new strategies").
After school, we went to a new coffee shop in the neighborhood of her school. Her school is in the poorest part of town (something like 43% unemployment...absolutely crazy) and this is the first coffee shop in the entire area. Imagine, part of a city without a $tarbuck$! We had hot cocoa and I apologized for yelling at her this morning, using some of the techniques I'd just read about. I have to say that I don't know that we'll be going back to that coffee shop, since the hot cocoa was made with powder (hello, half an inch of powder sludge on the bottom of the cup, anyone?), but Sabrina liked it and it might be fun to go with a few of her friends after school one day.
Speaking of her friends... one of them gave me a hug today when I went to pick Sabrina up from school. What a difference from Sabrina, who only occasionally will let me even hold her hand! I haven't figured out all of the kids' names in her class, but I got one more today, bringing my total to 3 girls and 1 boy, not counting Sabrina (ooh, I thought it was better than that), but they all seem to like me :-)
I tried really hard to apply the techniques from the book, 2 in particular. The first is "mirroring"--doing a better job of being empathic than I have been. Since the book gave examples of what parents who were trying but failing were saying (things like I had been saying) and then what would have worked better in that exact same situation, I was able to process beforehand some of the things that Sabrina says a lot and how to respond.
The second was "baby play." Normally when Sabrina goes to bed, I sit on the floor in her room with my computer so that I am in the room until she falls asleep. Tonight I laid down in bed with her and we talked about our favorite parts of the day (she didn't quite "get it" and said "good" when I asked her what her favorite part of the day was, but my guess is she'll pick it up, since I gave my answer and Dora asks that same question at the end of each episode) and snuggled for a bit. Eventually she kicked me out of the bed and told me that I should get my computer. Cutie :-)
Other successes were that she once again let me wash her back and put her lotion on during and following her bath. Cute story from her bath: she was conducting a dialogue between some of her bath toys. I wish I could reproduce it verbatim but over the past two hours I've lost a bit of it. It went basically like this-- shark: "hello amigo." dolphin: "Arriba! Wait, do you speak Spanish?" shark: "no" dolphin: "then, up!" Followed shortly thereafter by some calls of "help, help, ayudame" from some other animals. I love that she understands which words in Dora are Spanish and what they mean in English.
Sabrina also has a truly amazing memory. Also in the tub she was having a family dispute between the shark and the dolphin and one told the other to "go away for one hundred whole minutes!" which is from one of the books that we read (though we haven't read it in a while, and it is now back at the library). This morning in the car she told me to shut up and I told her that we have to be careful about what words we say, thinking about a book we read last night, but instead she said "like in the Leo book"--the same book as the 100 minutes--where Leo tells his mommy that he hates her. Unfortunately that beautiful moment by Sabrina was ruined by my thinking that she said "the little book" and not having a clue what she was talking about. It really isn't my fault that "Leo" and "little" and "louder" sound exactly the same when she says them! But she can say "hypnotize" just perfectly.
Oh, and I think I taught her to snap her fingers! Or at least corrected her form so that she can now make a little bit of the snapping sound.
Really quick an update on dinner. It turns out that Sabrina likes neither tofu nor tomatoes (which she kept calling potatoes), so that was a bit of a bust. Tomorrow is "P" night with peanut noodles and (red) peppers. We'll see how it goes.
22 minutes ago