It was way past bedtime, when emotions often run high. O was tossing and turning - twisting her blankets into a furious ball and after one more kiss goodnight, putting on an audio book and one final threat from me, she asks “ What’s happening with Zoe and I right now? Why don’t we kiss and hug anymore? What’s going to happen when we grow up?”
What’s happening with my girls is the age/ maturity gap is getting wider and O is growing up. What’s happening is it’s summer and it’s hot- and when hot, tired or hungry.. courtesy of their metabolic disorder.. my girls get lethally grumpy. What’s happening is Zoe doesn’t have all the social skills or real life experience to transition, process or adapt to the changing routine or emotional climate. It doesn’t matter why it’s happening really, what matters is it’s my job to fix it, or at least make it a little bit better.
At the end of each day, when the lights are low, the kitchen cleaned up- the computers shut down, the kids tucked in- the dogs curled up asleep and my husband and I finally sit down to enjoy relaxing into the quiet, I try to absorb the contented feeling of what looks like a normal life. And then frantically get a game plan on how to make the next day better.
I recently read about this HALT proactive approach to parenting on the Simple Mom website and thought it was especially appropriate for families with special needs kids who are even more vulnerable to HALT- the acronym for: Hunger, Angry, Lonely, Tired. You can read more about what it is here and how to be especially aware of how it can affect your child or even you. Another cool tool I found on Simple Mom is the Daily Docket- a free printable to do list with lots of make your own categories, ( think work, medical stuff, daily life), room for an inspirational idea and even your plan for dinner. Love having this single page daily planner in a large notebook of my own .
For my girls, rearranging our to-do's and a fresh approach to the day, I am confident will be a good start to a more peaceful, loving environment- and more smiling faces. I will also get back to the basics and spend some floor time in play this week- with Zoe, with Zoe & O- trying to guide Zoe through more independent play and showing her new variations and ways to play with old favorites.
It’s morning now as I post this. Coffee consumed and Zoe is awake. I go to her, and she agrees to some quiet early morning time so that her big sister can keep sleeping. “ She needs her sleep,” Zoe confides- “..So she doesn’t get grumpy.” We spend this morning cuddle time talking about sisters and how they have been getting along lately.” “ She just frustrates me so much” Zoe articulates, and I silently congratulate her word choice and although she threw in an extra syllable, her ability to pick such a perfect word. “ I miss her when she doesn’t want to play with me, and I get so tired sometimes.” Zoe states, and again like so very often, Zoe amazes me with how much she understands.
I give her a hug to start her day and try not to think about O’s question last night- “ What’s going to happen when we grow up?” and the deeper meaning it holds.
For now, armed with my resolve, some patience, lots of love and some cool new tools, I will tackle today.