Tonight Bella scored a major victory on the self regulation front. She was waiting for her second quesadilla to cool off (she gets those because she’s the only one who really doesn’t like enchiladas, which was tonight’s dinner) and so, of course, wasn’t at the table. She can hardly stay at the table when she has food to eat, far too much to ask when all there is for her to do is wait. I’d already left the table and was nursing Anthony so she joined me in the living room.
When I noticed that she’d drifted into the room and was staring at the photo slideshow on the television, I told her when she was done eating she was going to have to put away all the blocks and such on the coffee table that she’d been pretending were jars of jam. I suggested she might want to do it while she waited; but didn’t push her. Just said it had to be done before bedtime.
A bit later she plopped down on the couch and started counting the photos. When she got to three she stood up and grabbed a couple of the blocks and sped off to her room. The she returned and counted four photos in the slideshow and then ran off to put more blocks away. She repeated this over and over. Five photos then put stuff away, six photos then another trip to her bedroom.
At around 7 or 8 I told her to see if her quesadilla wasn’t cool enough to eat and she found it was and so thereafter she took a bite, then counted photos, then ran to put something away in her room. After 10 or 11 she hit the limit of her ability to count and began to tell me that she was “counting in my head” but as she continued to eat and put toys away every so often I didn’t push it.
The whole time she was counting photos she was bouncing up and down off the couch, swinging her legs up to lounge at full length and then jumping off again, moving from the couch to the futon and back and generally unable to sit still for more than about five seconds. Constant motion and yet her mind was working and she was successfully counting and following through on her plan. Wow that girl has so much energy to burn! Definitely a Tigger, bouncing here and there and everywhere.
Finally, though she started lagging and brought in a quilt and was spending more time on the floor playing with the quilt and seemed to have forgotten her counting (though she told me she was on 27.) So I told her she had to start over at one or to just finish her dinner.
I had to get up to change Anthony’s diaper then so wasn’t able to follow through. But she’d almost put away all the toys by then anyway. So when I finished that I just asked her again if she was done eating and when she hemmed and hawed I asked her to get a container to put her leftovers in. That usually is the acid test of whether shes really done. She’ll either take a last few bites first or just go ahead and clear her plate.
I was so incredibly pleased at this demonstration that she could find her own balance between her desire to sit and look at the pictures and my desire for her to clean up the mess. I didn’t have to nag her and she got the task finished. While at the same time practicing her counting skills. Score! This gives me so much hope.
I do think that reading Dreamers, Discoverers & Dynamos has made me stop to think about this sort of thing me so as to be able to recognize and appreciate the great stride she’d made tonight. I wonder if before I read it if I would have even recognized what she was doing much less let her try to manage the task in her own way.
I plan to store this in the mental file and use it as an index of Bella’s successful problem solving.
Recently she’s begun a very disturbing trend of telling us: “I’m a forgetter. That’s just how I am. I forget things.” Note, we’ve never used such words to her; but we might have said something about her where she could hear us. More likely, she’s heard us use the same kind of language, “that’s just how she is” in regards to my sister, who has been diagnosed with ADD, is very forgetful and with whom we often struggle to be patient (though of course we love her dearly). So I very much want to build a positive narrative of Bella as a rememberer and a successful problem solver and as competent at completing tasks and getting things done. I am very glad to have a story I can tell her, a success to build on. It will do wonders not only for her but for me as well to have a model of what it looks like when Bella is in charge of finding a way to get things done.