Monday, August 10, 2009

Well, thank god that's over

Part of the trials of last week included Liza's frequently abysmal behavior. We had everything from ripping the legs off of grasshoppers to drawing on the carpet with markers to screaming "NOOOOOOOOO! ARGHLFLARGLEBLABBLECHHHHHHHHH!" (or however you spell a gutteral scream of disbelief / utter frustration / fury) whenever I suggested anything. Anything. Some days I could have offered to buy her an ice cream cone and a pink pony, and she would have thrown herself headfirst on the floor and whined about how she didn't want that, she hated ice cream and ponies, and all she really wants in this world is ice cream and ponies and I won't give it to her and that's not the right color pony anyway and ARGHLFLARGLEBLABBLECHHHHHHHHH! I have never ducked so many flying objects, dodged so many kicks and fists, or been screamed at full in the face as many times as I did last week. There were days when I ran out of things to use as punishment, as I had already taken away all of her perks like books and songs and videos and time outside and dessert, and she was just as snotty when she came out of time-out as she was when she went in.

My daughter is not usually like this. Usually she's fairly reasonable, fairly good at following directions, fairly easy to redirect when she's pissed about something or other. But every few months she falls apart, just like Ames and Ilg predict. They suggest that children's minds need to basically fall apart in order to make any major progress forward, so any major milestone is usually preceded by weeks of uncoordinated, unreasonable, unpredictable behavior. Liza has been like this from day one, only instead of doing it every six months, she does it every six weeks or so.

It's comforting to know that most of the time Liza isn't acting out because she's suddenly turned 15 ... when I remember it. Of course, usually when she's falling apart, I'm so far into damage control mode ("Must not decapitate child with bare hands. Must not run child over with car. Must not use four- or five-letter words to describe child, at least to her face.") that I forget that these phases are short and usually worth it.

After a week or so of, um, challenging behavior, culminating in a couple bath/bedtimes that were so bad, both Jason and I were ready to trade her in on a ferret, Liza finally cleared the hurdle sometime last night. Here's an example of what I got today, versus what I would have gotten on, say, Friday:

Liza wanted to go to the bakery to buy breakfast this morning, but I wanted something healthier. I suggested we go to the other donut store that's across the street from a bagel place, so we could both get what we wanted.
Friday: "NO! I WANT THE BAKERY AND I WANT IT NOW!"
Today: "Do they have sprinkle donuts there? Okay. Can we get my donut first?"

We've been doing the Hooked on Phonics Master Reader program, and we're at the point now where all she needs to do to finish the first level is read the easy chapter book that came with the program. She's been too intimidated to try much of it, refusing to read more than about half a page at a time. This sucker is 100-plus pages, so we'd be here forever at that rate. I've been trying to entice her into working on it by offering to let her do workbook pages (and she looooooves these workbook pages) as a reward when she finishes a page in the chapter book.
Friday: "NO! I DON'T WANT TO READ THAT! I DON'T WANT TO READ ANY BOOKS!"
Today: "Okay. If I finish this chapter all at once, can I do a few extra workbook pages?" And she finished a four-page chapter in one sitting. And later that day when I wanted to read a few pages from my book, she sat down and read another chapter to me, two pages of which she did without me helping her keep her place or assisting her with sounding out words. And she was so excited about her progress that she tackled her father with the book when he got home, and read another page to him, just to show off. And she was reading fluently, with comprehension - she gave a decent (for a 4-year-old) plot summary to Jason before she started reading to him.

She's been drawing so much that we've been shipping a lot of her art off to family members so that our house doesn't become a watercolor- and crayon-colored fire hazard. She's recently discovered the idea of a drawing "looking right" or "looking not right," which has had predictable consequences. And no, I didn't put the idea into her head that any of her stuff is wrong - she came up with this on her own.
Friday: "ARGHLFLARGLEBLABBLECHHHHHHHHH! I CAN'T MAKE A SUNFLOWER LOOK RIGHT! I CAN MAKE ROSES AND PETUNIAS AND LADYBUGS BUT I. CAN'T. MAKE. A. SUNFLOWER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" (punctuated by stabbing the paper and finally throwing the box of crayons across the room ... and that's a direct quote from Sunday afternoon)
Today: "And this is a willow tree, and this is a regular tree, and look! I colored in the whole back part blue because it's the sky and the sky is everywhere, not just at the top like I used to color it, and I got some blue on the flowers, but that's okay, right? And look how perfect the doorknob on my house is!"

One of the workbooks we've been using is a very basic "how to tell time" book. It starts off with where the numbers go on the clock, and filling them in over and over again, so we've been writing a lot of numbers. She's got a very unorthodox approach to how to write them, but most of her numbers are legible ... except for 5. I have never seen a person mess up a 5 in as many ways as she did last week. I would have sworn she was doing it on purpose, they were so bad, even when she had the sample right above it to look at ... except she was getting genuinely frustrated by the whole thing.
Friday: "I QUIT! I AM NOT DOING THIS EVER AGAIN! I AM SO BAD AT MAKING A 5! I CAN MAKE 9 AND 8 AND 3 BUT I CAN'T MAKE A 5! ARGHLFLARGLEBLABBLECHHHHHHHHH!"
Today: "Mom, can you help me practice my 5s on this scrap paper? I know it's not in this lesson, but I want to get better." And she made two passable 5s with only minor assistance.

Swings. Oh my god, the swings. She's been so into swings lately that I actually ended up with cramps in my arms from pushing her for so long at a playground a week or so ago. And since the weather has been so mild, she's been out on our swingset every day. And despite the fact that I have seen her start swinging and get herself going as high as I ever push her, all by herself, she spent last week insisting that she couldn't do it.
Friday: "I WANT TO GO ON THE SWINGS, AND I WANT YOU TO PUSH ME NOW! NOW! ARGHLFLARGLEBLABBLECHHHHHHHHH! I QUIT! NO FAIR!"
Today: "I'll just go swing myself while you read in the hammock, okay?"

After dinner today she wanted to play "little girl and a fairy," and since she was in the fairy costume, I was supposed to be the little girl. I needed to clear off the dinner dishes, so I pretended to be a little girl who had too many chores to do who really wanted a fairy to help her. Liza was not on board with this at first.'
Friday: "NO! NO FAIR! I QUIT! I WANT TO PLAY THIS WAY!"
Today: "But I wanted to play 'lost little girl who needs a fairy to help her get home.'" And then I convinced her to play along with me, and she did, helping me clear away the table and putting away all of the clean dishes, too. At some point near the end of the clearing, she said (in character, to my character) "I hope you're enjoying this, because don't expect it to happen again any time soon."

Liza has been using lots of stalling tactics to avoid getting ready for bed. She's managed to dredge up so many things that we had previously mentioned maybe doing each day, and get indignant when we refuse to do them right at bath time, that it's getting really funny.
Friday: "YOU SAID WE COULD READ A BOOK, AND I WANT TO READ THIS 80-PAGE CURIOUS GEORGE BOOK RIGHT. THIS. MINUTE. NO FAIR!" And then she would latch onto some part of my body with a death grip worthy of a snapping turtle.
Today: "But you said we could do our nature craft today! Arghhhh!" I whispered that we would do it tomorrow and make it look extra nice and write the descriptions really fancy so that Jason would be impressed when he saw it after work, and she said, "Can we use glitter glue?" and trotted upstairs to the bathroom.

Thank god that's over. If her pattern holds, I'm safe until about, oh, the first week of school. Hurrah!

5 comments:

MrsHappy7105 said...

WOW! All I can say is "WOW"!!!! (I'm not as articulate as you are.)
Wow...

VPFreia said...

What an amazing kid!! And you are doing a fabulous job raising her. Am waiting to hear how she will fit into school ....

Kimberly said...

Nothing better than when the "This too shall pass" line is actually fulfilled. :)

Kylie-Ann said...

Aaargh! You give me too much information!! Just when I think I'm over the worst, it just keeps coming at you!!!

Is she really starting school this year? Pre-school?

Leslie said...

Oh.My.

That does not sound like a fun week, I'm glad that you're over the hurdle now!! (for the time being at least)