24 July 2014

X files - 4.25 years old - Emotional rollercoaster

so, i am now convinced that people who think there is use (or comfort?) in labels like 'terrible twos' and 'trying threes' are just those lucky few who were shocked out of some lovely bubble whereby their super agreeable, easy-going, and almost never grumpy baby started growing and at some point switched to entering more and more of the world around them, and, surprise, they encountered struggles and expressed opinions about that! well, my kiddo came out of the womb opinionated, and each age has been more emotionally charged than the last, i plan to no longer be surprised about it. turning 4 has thus far proven to be an interesting soupy mix of confusion, attitude, trials, and changes. weve had many fun times as well, but the times of tension have been so strong that it makes the difference in the highs and lows feel as exhilaratingly frightening as a rollercoaster.

obsessions: being a cat, pretending, poetry, singing, princesses (and their songs), stretchy animals, collecting and taking care of bugs, swinging

nightmares/dreams: i had locked her in a car in florida but she got out during a thunderstorm. once she got in the building lightening struck and everyone had to get out; papas mouth was on fire; the breakfast place in sweden wouldnt let her have fresh pineapple with breakfast; i had a boo-boo on my ankle (similar to a recent boo-boo of hers) that was bleeding

good picture books: the man who walked between the towersthumbkin explores at night, donald and the..., llama llama misses mama, mortimer, magic beach, zeraldas ogre, gentle giant, benjamin dilleys thirsty camel, little hoot, the berenstain bears in the darklittle sister rabbit

good longer booksmr boo [hannu mäkelä], foxy: finnish folktales for children, japanese childrens favorite stories [sakade]

good special interest books: uncover a shark, surprising sharks, tentacles! tales of the giant squid, where the sidewalk ends, usborne greek myths [amery], fairy tale comics, bug detective [maggie li], poo at the zoo, nicky the nature detective

 (insect enthusiast)
 (helper chef)
 (water lover)
(singing princess; nature nymph)

x-citing developments:
1. emotional rides:
-daycare anxiety. everything was going great until the adults in her daycare room started changing. one was sick for a bit, a favorite of hers (who was just a temporary student) left and a temporary male student arrived and has since left, and one of the most permanent adults in her room, whom she quite liked, seems to have up and left (they dont tell the parents, which irritates me). so there were weeks of revolving new adults who were in charge of her imposing the daycare rules to varying (and confusing) degrees, which made her nervous to a high degree. she started to get anxious about being left at daycare. it also made bedtimes harder (because she didnt want us to disappear) and the morning daycare drop-offs more tearful. i felt bad for her, but i know its a part of life, so i listened to her worries, acknowledged them, and tried to just let her know that we sometimes have to deal with things we dont like but that im here to listen and help when i can.

-growing pains. right after she seemed to get over the hardship of the changes at daycare she moved on to new struggles. these seem to stem from the changes that come with getting older. she was so excited and enthusiastic about 'big kid' things after her birthday. she was helping more, trying new roles on at home (wanting to help me get dressed, wanting to help serve us at dinner and snacks), but then at the same time those 'helper' roles were emerging she also seemed to be tantruming about simple things she already knew how to do and was expected to do herself. we had hour long wailing sessions about getting back in bed at night, blowing her nose, getting help on the playground, and not being carried home from daycare. all these things we had had a set routine for for some time, and she did them independently, or mostly, and suddenly she wanted to be babied a bit and would scream to try to get us to bend to her command. we didnt try to fight her or punish her, we let her know that we were there to help, but our ideas of 'help' werent the same as hers. she wanted 'help' in the form of us doing everything for her, exactly when and how she asked for it, but we offered to 'help' her by watching her do the task and stepping in only when necessary and staying close so she felt safe and not alone or scared.

-there have been a handful of times now where she will choose to climb a challenging (but doable) piece of playground equipment and 'get stuck' and scared on it. she screams for us to get her down right away. this has never been our policy on the playground, she has always climbed whatever she is capable of climbing and when she has gotten stuck she reverses and gets herself out of the situation, mostly by herself, with us there to spot or lay a comforting hand on her back for mental (and/or physical) support. it has always worked for us. lately, shes been getting herself 'stuck' (usually less than 2 feet off the ground) and having 15-30 minute all out scream fits. we are there, as usual, offering our presence, spotting, and a reassuring hand on the back but its not been enough for her at times. yes, the easy thing to do is just to grab her and get her off the thing and take her inside to calm down, but i dont think either of us gains much from that scenario. ive let the situations go on (much to the displeasure and shock, no doubt, of the neighbors), and we always come away with interesting findings (once our nerves have calmed down).

the latest situation was a long doozy of a scream fit on a ladder-like climbing thing in our new yard. she refused to get off or even try to get off the bottom rung. long after we had broken everyones eardrums, X decided she was finished...she bent her knees and hopped down, NO problem. she was mad at me for an additional 30 seconds and then we went together to a bench to sit and decompress. once things were re-stabilizing i asked her how she felt, what she felt in her body while she was on the ladder. she described feeling afraid to touch the ground because there were nightmares there. she mentioned some new rules we had told her would now be imposed (about teeth brushing, our newest arch nemesis of tasks, among other things) as part of these 'nightmares' and some other semi-coherent-based-in-reality things that were clearly bothering her, and it really put the screamfest into perspective. she had used that situation to offload a whole crapload of pent up life frustration. it must have felt good for her, while making me look a little insane, but i suppose those are the burdens im willing to take on until we can manage to move this kind of emotional off-loading to another, more mature, and suitable method.

-her daycare/preschool had their end of the year/summer party. each room of kids (there are 4 rooms divided based on age) had their own song to perform for the parents. X had been singing her song at home for weeks, it was about mice and the kids made mice hats and got mouse tales. but when we arrived at the crowded school grounds she suddenly lost interest in the song. she came out with her group of kids but she didnt do the actions to the song and got pouty and upset, but she didnt want to leave the line of kids. afterward, while waiting for the other groups to go, she got to sit on her favorite daycare grown-ups lap, so that was a positive thing. and i can understand that she got overwhelmed, it was her first 'performance' for such a big group so i think there was just too much unknown/surprise about it. maybe better luck next year.

-sensitive. she has become quite sensitive with her hearing. she gets startled or scared easily in certain situations, and i think, going along with this, its why she still screams/shrieks pretty loudly in reaction to certain situations or emotional moments...her scream volume is so loud (as it was as a baby) that it makes me think it 'helps' her body/brain to block out offending stimuli or emotional waves and puts her into her own little bubble of sorts until she can protect herself to come out. ive seen this kind of explanation given for sensitive kids, and you can almost see the process occurring when you watch her struggle. its been hard to deal with her volume of noise, but it helps me to frame it like this in my mind so its easier for me to want to help during what would normally be a really offensive, painful attack on my ears and brain.

2. digestive.
while her digestive issues to food seem to be waning, it seems her spidey sense for other aspects of smell/taste have 'improved'. she can tell when a 1/4 tsp of ground black pepper has been added to a whole pot of soup...the soup is then too spicy (it 'burns' her lips) and she wont eat very much. shes not strictly a picky eater though, because she will still try everything, and will eat things like goulash, shrimp, salmon, etc. she is also noticing all kinds of smells and finding them to be undesirable. cut grass is the latest one i dont understand (i love it!).

-xylitol (a natural substance proven to prevent cavities that is used often here in gum and toothpaste) seems to make her have to pee repeatedly. this happens to dave too. strange. but when theyve both had it they make a huge amount of trips to the bathroom. when they avoid xylitol, all is normal. good to know at least.

3. bedtime.
-she likes to have 'talk time' after story time at bed time. she also likes to remember what topic(s) we were talking about so we can talk about those things the next morning on the walk to daycare.

-mid-night funny. before i go to bed i usually check on X to make sure her blanket is still on her and she hasnt rolled to the edge of her bed, etc. lately ive found all kinds of silly things in her bed with her, arranged in amusing ways. shes very quiet about it, but clearly she is not actually going to bed at the time we think she is. one night i went in to find her stuffed stingray toy tucked into her IKEA doll bed that she had placed next to her in bed. another night she had arranged her collection of (live) bug jars up near her head in bed. i had to laugh.

4. physical. she figured out how to swing by herself lately. she can lean back and pump her legs and go endlessly, and high. her joy in figuring it out for herself finally was contagious. she has always loved the swings, and now that she can do them herself i think it will be a really easy way to spend lots of time on the playground.

5. personality.
-expressing herself. she has been expressing her happiness and comfortable-ness with other people more easily lately. she is now very comfortable with her little friend and her family who live in our same building and she even plays alone in the yard with the girl. ive seen her run out and say 'oh im so happy to see you. i love you. isnt this fun!?' she is also very comfortable with my friend tracie. its very interesting to watch her expressing herself more to others.

-pretend. she definitely uses pretend characters and scenarios a lot more now. and not just for fun play stuff. she seems to make herself into a certain 'character' for daycare and will sometimes tell me how 'the gruncher' felt about something, or how 'the cat' feels about a certain situation at home.

-nature explorer. she has held tadpoles at the beach on the vantaa river, regularly handles insects, and we have even kept snails, ants, caterpillars, millipedes and beetles in jars at home. she is fascinated by them and likes to pick leaves for them and mostly takes care of them thoughtfully. she used to keep them on her dresser at night but now we keep them on the porch in the new place. weve even had some moths hatch out of their caterpillar cocoons. so shes learning and seeing a lot.

-she likes to do dance routines to music now, and she does a lot more of listening to the lyrics and doing what the actions for the songs say.

-i got a disney 'fairy tales' music CD from the library, not realizing it would just be princess music (yeah, im not smart) and X totally became obsessed with learning the lyrics. we spent a few days sitting on the couch with the songbook that came in the CD pointing to the words/lyrics as the music played. she made me sing along (be glad you werent in the house) until she knew the songs well enough to sing them herself. then she started 'performing' them, and she has asked me what the songs mean and what certain words are and why the princess feels that way. so while it did turn her into the world of disney princess things, i find that her interests in it are very broad and actually educational, so i havent been as nauseated. side effects however are that she likes to have her hair brushed and braided now and she wants to grow it long (thanks rapunzel).

6. quotes/anecdotes.
-while reading about the heart/blood one day she stopped and asked me 'mom, does your heart beat faster when you feel love?'

-at dinner one night she asked us: 'do you think there should be more grown-ups in the world?...do you think there should be 2 more grown-ups? because one day i will be a grown-up and the baby will be a grown-up.'

-conversation: (X) 'momma, did you love me even when i was in your belly?'. (me) 'yeah'. (X) 'did you think to yourself...this baby [meaning herself] is going to be crap?' (me) laughs.

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