|Princess trying to look happy about the 100º weather, Birdie-- not trying|
As much as it pains me to do it, I intentionally sabotage our day on occasion (not much, but some) in order for the girls to "practice" dealing with things not going their way. I may rearrange the events on our Summer Schedule, for instance, and do Wednesday's activity on Monday-- "accidentally". I may get to the library a few minutes before it opens so that we have to wait to get in. *gasp* I may offer mac & cheese for lunch, only to "discover" we don't have any in the pantry. I may invade their ever-sacred personal space without asking, or "accidentally bump into" one of them, so that they have to practice dealing with unauthorized contact appropriately.
You may think this is mean or uncalled for-- that I shouldn't do things that I know will probably lead to some sort of emotional meltdown-- but I believe it is the only way for them to understand that the world doesn't end just because "unexpected" things happen. My girls need to practice dealing with these unexpected events in a safe environment, one where they won't be judged by their peers and teachers for how they handle themselves when they are unsettled. This safe environment practice is also a courtesy to all of those folks who don't have to be present (classmates, teachers, kids on the playground, strangers, little old ladies at the supermarket who mean well but don't know when to shut the hell up, etc.) while Princess and Birdie learn to handle things in a socially acceptable way. Translation: everyone that can be has been removed from the line of fire/meltdown zone while my angels work through their issues. You don't realize it, but probably own me a big thank you for my trouble. (I accept craft store gift cards, chocolate, and K-cups, in case you're having a hard time deciding on a proper gift.)
Seriously though, this isn't my version of sadistic fun. I would gladly avoid that god-awful ringing in my ears that comes from listening to all the whining and moaning my girls so expertly perform when things "don't go right". However, practice in a controlled situation produces better results in their behavior than anything else I have tried. I am hoping that if I (insert one of the above mentioned unacceptable screw ups here)______________ often enough, and we practice each time how not to yell or hit or sob when that happens, eventually a calmer, gentler response will be conditioned into them. Like Pavlov and his dogs-- only instead of ringing a bell to condition a salivation response, I am pushing their buttons to un-condition a meltdown response. It's a lot more dangerous than it sounds-- but it seems to be working, so I will keep at my version of behavior therapy for as long as necessary.
My therapy is aggravating to both the girls, but particularly Princess. P summed up her stress about surprises in her day-to-day by saying, "This summer is crazy! How am I supposed to know what to expect when everything is so unexpected?! Things should ALWAYS! BE! THE SAME! That's what a schedule is for, Mom!" (In case you can't tell, there's a lot of whine in this statement. And... emphasis-- by which I mean loudness.) She has also indicated very recently (today) that I may be older than I think, because I "used to make fewer dumb mistakes." Either she is on to my evil ways and is giving me a hard time, or she thinks I am becoming truly inept (and possibly showing early signs of Alzheimer's, as well?). Either way, she is pretty sure the number of "surprises" this summer is a sign that I'm slipping mentally. Oh well-- it's a small price to pay for what is starting to look like success (aka fewer public meltdowns and quicker forgiveness for perceived transgressions). I'll take it.
So, with the girls fairly settled into their summer schedule, I will continue to find ways to throw a monkey wrench in their predictable little lives, in hopes of saving some future unwitting soul that crosses their path from getting eviscerated-- over something as innocent as a brush pass or a broken promise. It's not a fun job, but somebody's got to do it, and I would prefer it not be the school principal or a court-assigned probation officer. So, you're welcome guys-- I'll keep taking one for the team. Probably forever.
FYI, I accept Amazon gift cards, too. And cash. You know, just in case you feel your gratitude towards me and my martyrdom overflowing. hehe