Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Days 13 & 14: The Ramblings of a Mom thousands of Miles from Home

It has been amazing to look back at the past two weeks and see the changes in Thunder and Lightning...some subtle, some not so subtle.

We allowed t.v. from Day 1.  I had my theory and we went with it.  My theory was that Thunder used the t.v. as a coping mechanism...his own sort of transition device.  His t.v. viewing was not unlimited, but we were very generous in the amount of time we allowed him to watch as well as WHAT we allowed him to watch (for example, CARTOON NETWORK was allowed here, but we do not allow it at home).

Hence, day by day, he watched less and less t.v...no nagging from us, just him choosing for himself to join in our games and activities without feeling forced to be a part of something he wasn't ready for.

On Day 13, we witnessed the biggest breakthrough.

Two days earlier, I set stricter limits on the t.v. viewing (for example, no more t.v. viewing in the bedroom...  t.v. must be viewed in the family room only.)  The limit was obeyed and Thunder began to be in closer proximity to the action happening here in the apartment.

The next restriction was on the channels he was allowed to watch.  This restriction was met with some resistance, but he quickly responded to the new rule and he no longer views CARTOON NETWORK.

So, on Day 13, the t.v. didn't even get turned on and Thunder showed us another side of his wonderful self...the ARTIST!  He had his most content, most relaxed, most enjoyable day so far just coloring, and doing sticker books, and painting, and creating LEGO machines.  He now opts for music and the Ninetendo DS and crafts and games, not the t.v. as a means of entertaining himself.  To me this is a testimony that his comfort level has increased ten-fold and he does not NEED the t.v. anymore.

I have had to pick my battles very carefully, extending a lot of grace in a lot of situations, remembering that these boys have a lot to learn, many social skills to acquire, and often their pure excitement and enthusiasm overwhelms them all by itself.  When I am witness to an infraction, let's say, pushing to the front of the line in the grocery store, or failing to say "please" or "thank you", I have them apologize to the one they offended, then we try again...very calmly and very quietly...with a "no big deal" attitude.  They respond incredibly well to this approach.

WE work on three things everyday:

1.  Use Kind Words/Watch Your Tone
2.  No Hitting in This Family/No Hitting Friends (I demonstrate the things God made our hands for, such as helping and building and creating and hugging, NOT hitting)
3.  LISTEN/Do What You Are Told the First Time

Number 3 is the biggest challenge, but we are making breakthroughs everyday and it is SO exciting!  I give a command and if it is not followed, I get down on their level and repeat it.  If they still choose not to comply, I give a choice, you can do what you are told or you can sit (we have a TIME OUT chair for each boy) until you are ready to do what you are told and the rest of us are going to go on our merry way.

You can bet your bottom dollar that by now, we have two very good listeners in the house who have not hit each other in at least four days and no longer raise their voices at each other!!!

Demanding?  YES!  It takes all I have.  All of my time.  All of my energy.  All of my focus.  BUT it is SO very worth it to see the investment returned.

Fair Maiden L.K. is a great partner and works alongside of me to reinforce our family rules.

Just a few days ago, bedtime was so distressing for Lightning...from the bath to the tucking in, he fell apart, clinging to me for dear life.  NOT anymore!  He is a happy boy who starts talking about bedtime before we even sit down to eat dinner.  I play right along with the conversation, assuring him of the sequence of events and that it is going to be a good night.  He is going to be a good listener and Mama is going to be a happy Mama!

Tonight, he got his p.j.'s and took them into the bathroom.  He climbed into the tub and played with the toys and the bubbles for at least twenty minutes.  He got out of the water the first time he was told to.  He put on his lotion and his jammies, brushed his teeth, and climbed into bed.  I rubbed his back while serenading him with lullabies.  He drifted off to dreamland in less than ten minutes.

Time, patience, and consistency...it takes time, patience, and consistency.

Is the language a barrier?  Yes.  And no.

Right now, we are relying heavily on the language of love...it is universal and it is powerful.  I long for the day that I can have a real conversation with my sons, but that is not today.  Today, our faces speak and our bodies speak.  The monster hugs, warm and tight and long speak volumes into both of our lives.  The smiles and the pats on the back and the silly tickle bugs and the dancing around the apartment all speak volumes into our family dynamic at this point.

I reassure my boys constantly that I will always be with them.  I tell them I love them.  I tell them they are handsome and intelligent.  I comment to each one of them on their individual strengths.

Lightning has special time with me in the kitchen helping to wash potatoes, put things away, or set the table.  It is a great diversion tactic as well...when I sense trouble brewing, I playfully whisk him away to the kitchen where we do something together for a few minutes until the tension fades.  Most of the time, managing behavior requires me to be proactive, nipping something in the bud before it has a chance to materialize.

Thunder has carved out his own special time with me at the pool.  After getting out of the ice cold water, we often sit on lounge chairs in the sun wrapped in towels so we can warm up before returning to the apartment.  Thunder has found a place for himself on my lap in my chair.  We snuggle and I warm him then I offer him a back massage.  He always flashes that million dollar grin and says, "YES!  PLEASE!!!".  Today we sat together for nearly thirty minutes and as I rubbed his back, he caressed my leg.

Oh!  How I LOVE to hear the laughter and the giggles coming from these boys.  I LOVE to see Thunder wanting so much to do the right thing.  I LOVE to hear Lightning's little voice call to me.  I LOVE the infinite times each day that one or the other of them runs into my arms and says, "I love you so much".

LOVE...the Universal Language

Thunder spent an hour diving for treasure (coins) in the pool today.

Lightning spent hours rescuing colorful frogs from the pool today.

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