Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Turtle loved on me tonight

We like nicknames at our house. Everyone gets at least one or two (if not more). However, they can't just be made up on the spot. It has to be something that's catchy and fits the person.

When our girls came, they noticed right away that a couple of Cherub 1's friends have these nicknames. They noticed how proud they were of their nicknames. In fact, believe it or not, Herman's friend Joel says his first car going to have a vanity plate with his official nickname SmellyCat. Totally hilarious!

Well, the girls wanted nicknames too. But we couldn't find something that fit "just right".

Until this weekend.

The younger girl (MissArguePants - originally called something else on my first blog) was regulated. She seemed happy enough. However, she was arguing with me about something stupid. I couldn't even begin to tell you what it was. But I turned to her and said, "MissArguePants - would you please stop that?!" Then I cracked up and called her MissArguePants again. She smiled.

I immediately got down to her level and told her that she didn't have to accept this nickname if she didn't want it. And even if she said it was OK, she could tell me at any time to stop and I would completely respect that decision.

She giggled and said that MissArguePants is a fine nickname.

The older girl (TurtleTurtle - also originally called something else on my first blog) doesn't argue quite as much. She argues! But not as much and not in the same way. When she is having a hard time with something, she usually shuts down and goes deep inside herself.
Her new nickname is now TurtleTurtle.

Having nicknames like this has actually made it easier for us. We can address difficult behavior in a fun way. We pretend that TurtleTurtle is actually a superhero and wears a cape. And the ArguePants... they are covered in hot pink sequins with a silver stripe down the side. We've taken their behaviors and turned them into these characters. Now when TurtleTurtle is having a hard time, we can just smile at her and say TurtleTurtle to make her aware of her behavior.

Earlier tonight I told MissArguePants to put on her ArguePants if she was going to argue with me. She cracked up and said she threw them away. Then later, when she was playing around and arguing with me at the same time, she told me she bought a new pair. It's really opened up a new line of communication for us.

But now, the reason why I'm posting tonight.
TurtleTurtle let me love on her.

To make a really long story short, she and I got into a disagreement about getting into the car to come home after church tonight. Ya know. I wanted her to get in the car and she said no. Typical ODD defiance.

I didn't have one of my better therapeutic parenting moments. I might have picked her up a bit and put her in the car myself (not allowed). I might have tried to buckle the seat belt for her (again, probably not allowed).

Ewwwww that level of defiance is a big trigger for me.
I'm working on it.

Anyway, she did end up buckling herself in. I got back in the driver's seat and attempted to calm down. I braced myself for the inevitable tantrum that was surely going to follow at bedtime tonight. I felt sick to my stomach.

But, trying to make things better, I attempted a conversation with TurtleTurtle. (Keep in mind that any conversation like this in the past would have been met with stone cold silence.) I said right up front that I didn't handle that well. I said that I shouldn't have put her in the car and tried to buckle her in. I then asked her what she thought I could have done differently. She actually answered me. She said she didn't know! (This, in and of itself, is progress!!)

I told her what I thought. That I probably should have just waited until she was strong enough to get in the car herself. I then added that I'm not a fan of taking away the only privilege my kids really have during the school week (playing outside). So I explained that in the future, if she chooses to be defiant like that, I'll do a better job of waiting but she'll have to write sentences or something the next day.

She actually paid attention to what I was saying and told me she understood.

Again I braced myself for the huge fit I just knew would be coming.

Just a few blocks down the road and the conversation turned to birthdays. Both girls have a birthday next month. TurtleTurtle was regulated enough and participated in this conversation. She said that she wants me to decorate her birthday cake with a picture of our whole family on it. MissArguePants wants a cake with our family on it as well but she wants to make sure I include our dog, Charlie.

We got home and I was sure the fit would be starting soon.

TurtleTurtle curled up on the couch like a turtle.

I asked her if she wanted to go talk.

She. said. yes.

We went into the guest room we have downstairs. (We call it the Big Feeling room and have since we moved in here. It's where I take the boys when they need to talk or need to be separated from the family because of their Big Feelings.)

I showed her how I usually lie down on the bed and cuddle with my boys when they are upset. She climbed up next to me and snuggled in. I then said this is when the boys tell me the Big Feeling that is bothering them.

TurtleTurtle said she didn't want to talk.

I pushed her ever so slightly. She told me her Big Feeling.

She's afraid that they're going to take her from our home when we go to court in November and her birthday isn't for about another week after that. She didn't want to make birthday plans because they make her scared and sad.

We hugged. We cuddled. I told her I was so proud of her for talking about her Big Feeling. I told her that I can't make any promises. Things like this ARE up to the judge. But most kids in foster care have to have visits with the people they are going to live with before they leave their foster home. The girls aren't having visits yet so I said that most likely she will be at our house for her birthday. She even allowed herself to cry a couple tears. She made eye contact with me when I told her how much I love her. It was awesome getting to love on her and actually having her love me back.

The Turtle loved on me tonight!
That, my friends, is major progress!!


Cheryl said...

I am absolutely thrilled for both of you! And I love the nicknames!

marythemom said...

Woo hoo!! I still get teary when I think of the day my daughter asked me if I was OK (and actually cared about the answer). That was the day I knew she loved me.

Love the nicknames!

Mary in TX

jendoop said...

Wonderful progress! Obviously you are doing a good job to see that progress. We all have imperfect parenting moments that we wouldn't want our case workers to see (not that any of it involves hurting a child). We're human.

Leah W said...

wow, that is awesome.