New Directions

I have so many things I want to share and my mind feels like a schizophrenic VCR skipping over hundreds of bits and pieces.  This bit I have to write first because it’s fresh in my mind and represents so much of my life’s energy right now.

I have come to a decision to take back my life.  In the sense that I have been carried by a turbulent tide, paddling towards shore every once in a while, but generally having no control over where I’m going.  Survival has generally been the main goal.  And while I know that there will always be days that survival is my goal, I want to lead my life rather than being led.  I want to enjoy life and feel like I am accomplishing something without regrets for having let life slip by.  With that in mind, I have started making a list of all the different aspects of my life and how I want them to be.

As a mother, it is my role to help Tot reach her potential as a good friend of mine would say.  I wrote down all of the adjectives I would like to be able to use to describe her as an adult.  Then I started writing down all the things I could do to help her become happy, healthy, intelligent, creative, considerate, compassionate, self sufficient, well mannered, appreciative, financially capable, active, well rounded, and having good work ethic.  The list is daunting, let me tell you.

Top of my list right now is the ‘obeying mom’ thing.  We had big break throughs today.  Yesterday I took her to the store to buy a rewards chart – a *metallic PINK* dry erase board.  Yes I am not making this up.  I was hoping to find a board that would help make it fun, but never expected to find a pink one.  I think this is the Serendipity that the Artist’s Way book talks about.  Ask, and it shall be given.  I also let her pick out about a dozen dollar items as prizes for good behavior.   I was a bit concerned that buying them up front might create havoc, but I wanted to be able to present them immediately when she earned them. There was a period of frustration when she realised after I had been telling her non-stop that she would not actually get them right away, that oh-my-gosh-Mom-wasn’t-kidding-I’m-NOT-getting-them-right-away.  My plan was to immediately give her a sticker for each star earned for good behavior, and then give her a reward like an extra TV show or story for every 3 stars and then a toy for some additional level – perhaps after a few days or at the end of the week.  HA.  Yesterday was a disaster.  She earned 2 stars, lost 1, and then decided she just wasn’t interested in stars anymore or cooperation of any sort.

So today, after talking to a neighbor who suggested I praise the behavior I want from her before she actually does it, I feel like we’re finally making progress.  She did not run off during the whole dog walk through the woods where she frequently escapes to try to hit the playground or get hit by a car just to torture me.  Of course she negotiated ahead of time for getting a toy if she behaved.  And I agreed to get her started.  OH MY GOSH.  She could not have been happier to get that toy.   It kept her amused for the ENTIRE time I made dinner – that’s HUGE, ’cause it wasn’t a frozen dinner, it was a *gasp* home-cooked meal.  And listening to her – she told that little toy how if it behaved, it could earn a star and maybe even a toy.  And then she sat through dinner.  The entire meal.  Oh she squirmed, she fidgeted, but she stayed.  Do you know how many times she has gotten up and down per meal in the past, or not sat down at all?  Of course I told Mr.Tot that WE had to stay seated as well.  He and I typically get up umpteen times to get forgotten items, or help Piano Man when he’s here.   We sat, and we made Blondie sit, as he joined us because his mom had to take Piano Man to the doctor’s yet again, until Tot was finished with her meal, which took a while.  Victory!   I realise tomorrow may be more like yesterday than today, but having today happen gave me hope.   And I know if you don’t have kids or have never had to stay home with kids, this all seems kind of trivial, but when you have a three year old where every interaction is a struggle, life becomes a epic battle.   Thank you Jane for providing the key that seems to have turned the tide for Tot, though I have no doubt there are lots more rapids to maneuver through.

I’m tempted to write more posts about the Dale Chihuly exhibit I saw, the Artist’s Way book that we’re doing a 12 week study on, fun with geneology, our trip to see Gigi, and Oh yeah – the trip to Florida LAST month, but I should get SOME sleep tonight.  We’ll see if that stale biscotti I ate doesn’t haunt me all night long….  But you can thank it for keeping me up long enough to write this…

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