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Sunday, August 21, 2005

My Little Charmer

I do believe that Dear Daughter has gotten much easier to manage these days. Less whining, less meltdowns, less insistency on being held non-stop, less needy of 100% full time parental attention for every waking moment. I've been afraid to think this...let alone say it aloud until now, but there's been several consecutive weeks now that have been easier, so I'm daring to believe it.

I've worked with Dear Daughter for more than a couple months now to help her communicate without whining. I wanted her to learn from the start that there are appropriate ways to ask for things and to talk to Mommy and Daddy. She is plently advanced in her cognitive and verbal skills to understand how to make requests appropriately. It's taken a lot of diligence and patience, but I do believe I am seeing breakthroughs. Now when Dear Daughter whines for something I can say, "Ask nicely, please" and she will restate her request with a clear change in voice that does not include whining. When she gets frustrated and starts one of her two-year-old "fits" (which includes crying, whining, and a deep throat kind of sound akin to growling), I calmly say, "Mommy doesn't like those fits. Calm down and tell Mommy what you need." She can usually regain composure pretty quickly and state what she needs without whining and carrying on. Then she will say, "Mommy doesn't like those fits!"

Even better are the moments we've had when, without any parental prompting whatsoever, a sweet request followed by a "Please" occurs. This happened the other day when Dear Daughter was standing on her step stool at the counter watching me fill a cup with milk for her. She watched me in absolute silence rather than her previous tendency to whine, "Milk! Milk!" nonstop until it's ready. Then, as I was placing the lid on it, she reached her chubby little hand out, smiled sweetly, and said nothing more than, "Please?" Another example was last night when we were playing in her sandbox (well, she was playing in it and I was sitting on a patio chair supervising and controlling the garden hose as she has been into mixing sand and water these days). Dear Daughter grabbed one of the cups she has been using in the sandbox and held it out to me and requested, "Water, please?"

Even better still are the exquisitely charming phrases she has begun to say on her own. A few days ago it was, "Mommy's pretty!" That one has come up again a time or two since, and I have to admit, it melts my heart. But the one that topped all and melted me into a sappy puddle of dizzy love for Dear Daughter occurred just a couple days ago. Keep in mind the context that for many weeks and months it was typical that when I was busy cleaning up the kitchen following a meal, Dear Daughter would fuss and whine and carry on to get my full non-stop attention and wanted me to hold her constantly. A brief break to hold her a few minutes, or simply a few minutes of my undivided attention did not work. Suggesting some toys to play with at my feet did not work. Offering to let her watch a tv show did not work. Even letting her stand on her stool at the sink to watch or "help" did not work. The only thing that calmed her down was for me to abandon everything I was doing, leave the mess as it was--including all the cold items that had not been put back in the refrigerator, and hold her for as long as she deemed necessary. But the other day was a change that was, as I already described, exquisitely charming. She was occupying herself quite well as I stood at the kitchen sink, and then came up and wrapped her little arms and body tightly around one of my legs, patted me on the rear and sweetly announced, "I love Mommy!" And that was the first time I WANTED to abandon everything I was doing, including leaving all the cold items sitting out of the refrigerator, to gather her up into my arms and hold her close forever.

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