August 26th Notes:
School – Ellis has acclimated to school for quite a while now. However, she cried twice last week when I dropped her off on Tuesday and Wednesday. And, just about every morning, she stressed to Mia over and over again about picking her up on time or picking her up earlier. At first, we didn’t know why she regressed so much but later came to some realizations.
I knew that Gloria had OT at work occasionally, so, based on this I took the hunch to ask Ellis whether her mom was late picking her up. She said mom is early picking her up when she has ballet lessons, but she’s very late on the other day. I tried to assure Ellis that Mia won’t be late picking her up at school. Yet, Ellis still requested that I call Mia to remind her to pick her up on time. (Gloria had enrolled Ellis at Kiddie Academy earlier this summer but only two days a week).
The hunch solidified for me as I recalled that Ellis’ grandpa had asked me whether Mia picks Ellis up after school. I told him yes because I get off work later than Mia does. And, I am guessing the grandpa wouldn’t have asked unless picking up Ellis up after school on time has become a thing in their household. I imagine Ellis definitely made it known to her mom and perhaps grandpa too that she wants her mom to do less OT in order to pick her up on time.
Not so much that picking Ellis up at the exact same time every day is important, but, this reveals Ellis still experiences some stress when things don’t go as planned. I know not how to improve this. I hold my own by never breaking a promise to her and by setting reasonable expectations for any relevant event in ensuring she doesn’t hold unrealistic expectations and then develop cognitive dissonance when things don’t turn out the way she expects them to.
I do surmise what will work for me won’t work for Ellis but don’t know what else I could do. I did the same with Ellis’ mom after all, never broke a promise to her ever but she still thinks I am not trustworthy. This is the way I am and this is the way I hope people treat me in kind. I hope it’s enough for Ellis. Maybe, in time, it will be. But, because she is not with me often, much is out of my control.
Swimming – She’s perked up quite a bit about swimming in the past few months until a few weeks ago. I got her one of those kiddie life jackets and she loves to be able to float on water and is able to glide across the water slowly with her short but quick kicks. After she got acclimated to the life jacket, she asked to go swimming every day. She loved being able to swim on her own albeit still dependent on the life jacket to float.
After a couple of months, she started to express a bit of boredom after swimming for 20 minutes but still often asked to go swimming. So, I thought it was time for her to get her first swimming goggles in order for her to learn more advanced skills. However, she wasn’t too pleased when I presented her goggles to her as she knew immediately that this meant she had to get her head underwater which is one of her fears.
To help overcome this fear, I told her that if she has the goggles on then she can use it to see the underwater world. First day we got the goggles, she put it on but expressed that she didn’t want to put her head underwater. So, I told her I will put on my new goggles too so we could look at each other under water if we both have our goggles on at the same time. She was excited about this and was willing to get in the water with me with her goggles on.
After we got in the water and swam for a bit, I asked whether it was OK to take her life jacket off, so that she can learn to move in the water without it. She refused. Then, later, I asked whether she wanted to do the look at each other underwater thing. She wanted to do that but with her life jacket on. So, I told her to hold her breath and, whatever you do, do no breath in while you head is under water.
She nodded. So, I pulled her body lower into the water in order to get her head submerged just low enough so that our heads are both about an inch under water. She was able to hold her breath, but I could see she was too afraid to open her eyes.
I told her that she cannot see daddy under water if she is too afraid to open her eyes when under water. She was willing to try a few more times before she finally was able opened her eyes while under water. When she did that, I celebrated with her. She said “yay I did it!” then followed that by saying “I am never doing that again. I hate wearing the goggles.”
After that, I asked whether she wants to go swim. She said yes only if she doesn’t have to wear the goggles again. I told her she has to if she wants to go swim. So, she said, she rather not swim anymore. I am disappointed; however, I don’t want to give in and set the expectation for her that it’s ok to not learn something new if she’s scared of it.
I hope her yearning to swim again will overcome her fear of the goggles soon.
Play – Ellis has developed the habit of asking for a new toy each time we are at the store that sells toys. This is not unlike other kids, but this is rather a recent phenomenon where she expects to receive a new toy so matters of fact. And, she has used her mom by saying her mom buys her a lot more toys than I do. I try to discourage her from doing this. I do hope the mom would communicate more with me and not leave me guessing in this regard.
However, I do enjoy buying Ellis toys. I like buying things we can both play together as long as we have room to store it in our tiny home. And, I choose toys for her that will hone her mental and agility abilities. These include puzzles, magic tricks, nerf balls and swords, and, most recently, radio controlled cars. She’s rather young for radio controlled cars, but, luckily, I found one that is rather inexpensive but both slow and durable for her to drive it through anything.
In regards to toys radio control cars, I want to address two aspects. First, Ellis wanted to buy two cars, so she has someone to race against. And, two, as Ellis started to learn how to use the radio control, she expressed tremendous frustration.
Mia and I have conversed about how Ellis doesn’t like to play alone yet she doesn’t like to play with others. She likes to play in parallel with others, meaning, she likes to be in the other’s vicinity but not actually interface with the other. And, the reason we believe this is so is that we think she desires both competition and socialization but both stresses her out because she hates to lose. In her mind, the other people around her are there to fawn over her when she wins. Losing is not part of the “plan”.
And, this frustration translates to radio control cars too. When we first started driving the cars, Ellis wanted us to play with her at the same time. She wanted to race, but, she didn’t want to lose. However, as Mia and I learned how to control the cars rather quickly, Ellis got even more frustrated as her learning curve was much steeper than ours.
She still practiced with the RC car but with a closed mind. She grips the controller so hard that the steering wheels’ plastic cover came off. And, she refused to turn the wheel in a different direction, so the car ends up going in circles. She’d make a left turns but refuses to go straight or turn right. Or, she’d make a right turn but refuses to go straight or make a left turn. She only wants to clutch onto the wheel without letting it go while tuning our instructions out.
I knew that we should let her do her own thing as she needs to pace herself accordingly. Yet, she demands that we play with her. So, Mia and I took turns driving our car next to hers hoping to passive aggressively to get her to turn in different directions.
So, the next day, we took her to the park and thought she might do better if she played with kids closer to her own age. Eventually, some kids came up to me while Ellis and I were playing with our cars. They asked whether they could play, so I let them borrow the controller.
Brushing: Before & After
Carousel with Prince Charming
Time drifted since last blog post from Summer through Fall. Certain things progress. Others stayed the same. Ellis no longer is weary about picking her up late. In fact, she is as cheerful as ever. In fact, I would even say she puts on a cheerful face even when things don’t go her way. However, she still doesn’t like to lose. She feels cheated when she loses. Things have improved as she spends more time with her extended family. Perhaps the key is more sibling like companions who can show her winning and losing go together.