I was talking with a friend on her facebook wall today about her toddler. Her daughter has been sick, often right at the moment she arrives at day care. Her little one may have a bug and/or this may be some anxiety. We discussed the ways my friend has been handling it and due to some terrible typos on my part, we ended up laughing……. at me.
Another friend on her wall suggested she hold dairy food. My response was maybe she should try holding the deity and also try making the morning routine fun and silly. I corrected my error, no dairy, K told me she was cracking up, no deity. I responded that, no deity was up to her.
I shared with her the silly and fun things I had done with the four year old little girl who came into our lives as a foster child. She was smart and strong, beautiful and full of love and joy. She was also anxious at times, understandably. Getting ready for school in the morning was a challenge. I had to be creative to find a way to make it a positive routine so I had tried different things. Silly and fun worked. She needed some sense of control. That was understandable after being removed from her home. She had no say in that. She wasn’t where she wanted to be. We very quickly came to love her and we did everything we could to help her to feel safe.
There was no compromise in issues of safety. There could not be.I tried everything I could to make mornings go as smoothly as possible and after many tries, I tapped into her competitive spirit and her sense of imagination. She loved, LOVED to watch the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, so this was her reward after getting all dressed and ready for school. She watched her show.
Then when it was over, it was time to turn the television off. We had two remote controls and she and I each had one in our hands. We “raced” every morning to see who could turn the television off first. She always won. Then we went out the door.
I locked the door. We would say, “Ready, set, go.” Then we would run to the car which was in the driveway just a few feet away from the front door. I walked, sometimes quickly, but she never seemed to notice. She always won. I would then tell her how very fast she was and I didn’t understand how she could run so fast. I was very sincere and enthusiastic when I said this. She loved, loved this attention. She loved winning and competing.
On the way to school, a relatively short drive, on the good days when she was happy and talkative (no one has good days every day, not even little girls) we would talk about various things. Sometimes we would look at people in the cars next to us and guess where they were going. We often guessed that some people in the lane next to us were going to work, others to Mars and the people in the turning lane were going to Pluto, so they had a really long drive ahead of them. At other times we sang silly songs and made up the words. Okay, mostly I sang silly songs.
She often asked me to look at her or at something in her hand. I explained calmly and patiently but often that I could not look at her while I was driving. Once she demanded that I put her socks on her feet . I explained that I could not do this because I was driving. Her response. “Not now you’re not. Now you’re at a red light.” Then I explained why I could not put socks on her feet while I was stopped at a red light.
At other times, my little one was philosophical and told me things like, cars should not crash into each other. I agreed that was a good rule. I asked why she said that. She told me my three year old nephew was crashing cars into each other when they played. I told her I thought it was okay if they were play cars. She did not think so.
When we arrived at the daycare, we had a rule that we got out of the car and looked all around to be sure no cars were coming. When we said out loud that it was safe, we had a race to get to the front door of the daycare. She always won. On the days she was a little hesitant to get out of the car, I told her, “I feel pretty good today. I think I can win today.” She would then get excited and tell me, “No, I will win.” She always, always won. When we arrived at the door she would tell me she won again and I would praise her for how fast she ran. We laughed and it was a great start to her day.
Before I came up with the race idea, getting her to get into the car and to go from the car and into the daycare was more of a nightmare than a challenge. I tried many things, but when I made a game out of it, she wanted to play. It was silly, it was fun. It fit her personality. She never tired of it.
I remember seeing the faces of the mothers and fathers that I passed as I drove back out after dropping my little one off at daycare. They had huge smiles on their faces as they were on the way in with their children.I imagined the conversations they were having in their cars. By the time we reached the road to the daycare, even if she had started out a little grumpy, we were almost always at the happy point where she told me we were passing Mars. At the long drive way as we approached the day care, she would tell me we were going into the tunnel. The road was surrounded by trees there. She narrated the trip and I asked questions until we reached parking lot and stopped.
It was a happy, silly, good way to start each day.