Thursday, March 25, 2010

Routine shmoutine

I haven't yet blogged about yesterday's play therapy appointment, and now seems like a good time. I met with the therapist for about 20 minutes before Sabrina met with her. Her big piece of advice was "You need to set a routine and stick to it." Yes, because when you stay at your dad's house from Friday night to Monday morning and then have to come back to your foster home for only four nights and four mornings a week, and one of those nights you have therapy and one of those nights you see your mom, it is really easy to set a routine.

We wrote down an afternoon/evening routine that didn't even make it out of the box yesterday due to a wild goose chase trying to find new school clothes. (Sabrina goes to her dad's house wearing her favorite school clothes and then comes back on Monday wearing clothes that she doesn't like. I'm not helping at all by agreeing that one of the dresses that she has come back wearing is hideous.)

And of course spring break starts tomorrow so Sabrina will be with her dad until a week from Tuesday. But I decided to give the routine another shot tonight.

I aimed for in pajamas by 7:30, stories, in bed by 7:45. We missed by about 20 minutes, but here's the key take-away--at 8:05, Sabrina was in bed.

Then she was "really really really really really really really really really really scared" (yes, she counted the "really"s on her fingers, so I know there were 10 of them) so I lay down in bed with her. She normally doesn't let me do that, so I relished the opportunity to be almost snuggling with her. Then this, that, and the other thing happened, and then it was 9.

I won't go into the rest of the boring details between 8 and 10:15, but at about 10:15 I was just about to lose it. Sabrina was just trying to engage me, so I explained to her that I had told her enough times that she needed to go to bed, so she knew it without me telling her. I said that instead of telling her that she needed to go to bed, I was just going to not talk to her until after she was asleep. I listened (in case anything really needed a response) but did not respond at all expect a few fingers pointing to her bedroom. About 15 minutes ago (11:00ish) she let me pick her up (!!) and carry her to her room. She has been there ever since.

I am filled with large amounts of doubt about whether this was the right thing to do. It was horribly guilt-inducing for me, and I can only hope that it wasn't damaging to her.

The adventure did produce some interesting Sabrina quotes. I didn't type (most of) them as she was saying them, so I'm missing a lot. But here are a few:

  • "I thought you was my friend!"
  • "If you're not going to talk ME, then I'm not going to talk to YOU."
  • "What did I do to you? I didn't do anything to you."
  • While bawling and one would, therefore, expect her to do not much more than call for Mommy and Daddy: "You hurt my feelings! You really hurt my feelings!"
  • "I want to make you laugh!"
  • "I need to tell you somethin'! Foster Ima, I need to tell you somethin'!* When's it gonna turn Friday?"

* It occurs to me that earlier in the evening (the event, actually, that provoked the bawling "you hurt my feelings") she called me to her room and said "I need to ask you something. When I go to my auntie's house, I'm going to give a piece of candy to my cousin and she's going to say thank you." I got annoyed because she said she was going to ask and then told. I wonder if she is confused about what is asking and what is telling.

1 comment:

  1. I used to work with a family who had a 3yr old who just WOULD NOT go to bed easily. We came up with a pretty good system that reminds me of what you did. They came up with the plan that they would do the bedtime routine and then after "last kisses", the child only got to call them back into the room once. They told her that they would take care of whatever she needed (lights dimmed,music turned on, covers, water, WHATEVER!) and tell her goodnight when they left. After that ONE time, there would be "no looking, no talking". Which meant, they would avoid eye contact and not say a word to her. They told her this up front and let her know that they loved her, but that she needed to learn to go to sleep without calling them multiple times. They would go over the steps right before "last kisses" every night for a couple weeks. She tested it and did the same crying/callingout/guilt tripping that Sabrina did - but she learned!