Our daughter (a/k/a Finally Five) has not been herself lately (as in whiny, kvetchy, bratty, and quick to melt down). If I had any hair, I’d be inclined to pull some out.
Of course it is easy to automatically assume that her errant behavior (she is normally an agreeable, easygoing, albeit energized kid) is an accumulation of the pressure of having a Momma with FBC. However, fortunately I have my Master’s degree in Child Development which helped me also quickly recognize the fact that between the ages of 5 and 7, there is a HUGE developmental shift.
When identifying forward-moving shifts in a child’s development, we professionals consider physical, emotional and cognitive changes that occur.
Physically, Finally Five is changing before our eyes. Not a day goes by that I don’t mush and caress her fat pads because I know they won’t be here for much longer (boo! hoo!).
Emotionally, adjustments in relationships occur as a child moves from preschool to grammar school at which time she develops a broader circle of friends and is exposed to various expectations from teachers and the education system. The child’s concept of self, feelings of competency and industry are influenced by associations with teachers, other adults, and especially peers. Finally Five is still finishing preschool, but “graduating” and the subsequent transition from preschool to kindergarten are a big deal at her school. I can’t help but think that this upcoming change is weighing on her emotions (as evidenced by her daily discussions about her “new school”).
Cognitively during this period, adjustments in thinking and reasoning occur as a child moves from preoperational thought to concrete operational thought. Preoperational children make decisions and judgements of reasoning based on perceptual skills (how things look or feel) rather than logic. The concrete operational child will make these same judgements based on logical knowledge. The child in the 5-7 shift is often in a state of confusion when making judgements. For example, a child will often state the correct answer, but when asked to explain the reason why may say “I’m not sure” or “because” or “I don’t know.” This happens ALL THE TIME with Finally Five. This state of confusion can be very challenging and frustrating for a child, as evidenced by say a ginormous propensity to meltdown. Heaven knows my constant state of confusion and bewilderment frustrates the bejesus out of me, so I can only imagine what it’s like to Finally Five!
The other important thing to keep in mind about developmental shifts is that prior to growth, there is a period of regression. With Finally Five, the grandeur of her impending growth is commensurate with the magnitude of her regression.
SO, that led me to think that she has some combination of both: she’s fed up with my FBC (aren’t we all?) and she is on the verge of a big developmental shift. Either way, she’s having a hard time and (completely appropriately) demonstrating it through unsavory behavior.
I decided that we both needed a jumpstart…something special to share between the two of us, especially since I am feeling an inkling toward humanity.
When I was originally diagnosed, I adopted the philosophy of an “Energy Bank.” An Energy Bank is a place that holds emotional and physical energy. I decided that now was as good a time as any to make a withdrawal from the bank and go on an overnight Mommy trip with Finally Five to the Alisal Ranch in Solvang, California.
The idea for a Mommy Trip was inspired by the HOTY (a/k/a Husband of the Year). You may remember that the HOTY took Finally Five on a “Daddy Trip” on New Year’s Eve. Daddy trips are a long-held tradition for the HOTY, started when the boys were very young. They are one-on-one adventures in which the kids drive the agenda. The adventures do not have to be fancy. The sole focus is on being together (should I have said “soul” focus?).
As an example, on one Daddy trip, the HOTY made all kinds of reservations but all his son wanted to do was sit in the lobby of their hotel and wait for NBA Basketball Players to return from a game. That’s it. So, the HOTY cancelled all of the plans he had made and they sat in the hotel lobby. And waited. For basketball players. The coolest part of that is that they were together. Hanging out. Just the two of them.
So, aside from having made plans to stay at the highly-recommended Alisal Ranch, I had no agenda. On our way through Solvang (a unique and quirky Danish town plopped in the middle of the Santa Ynez Valley), we stopped first for ice cream at an old-fashioned ice cream and candy shop. Then, she wanted to wander around town. Fine. I had no agenda. We walked into an adorable antique shop, where she promptly told the salesperson that “We are not here to buy anything.” Hilarious.
Next, at her suggestion, we popped into a few other shops and ended up at wonderful independent bookstore called The Book Loft. (Have I mentioned that I am a total book nut? It’s true. And nothing gets me more excited than an independent bookstore!) Prior to going in, I told her the she could pick out one book as a special treat. She proceeded to tell me that she needed privacy while picking out her book and spent 30 minutes shopping. I literally sat on the floor watching her pull out, peruse and put back books until she found the perfect one (Silver Lining!).
When we got to the hotel, she wanted to play on the playground before dinner. I was calculating the time backward from bedtime to dinner to playtime. All was thrown off. So what if she didn’t have a bath today? I was the one sleeping with her. Let’s go to the playground.
After playing, we had a wonderful dinner, which went way past her usual bedtime. So what? It was a special day. It’s ok every once in a while to splurge. And today was that day. Full, overflowing with laughter and love.
I put her to bed and reflected on the quantity and quality of the Silver Linings of the day. We were both happier than we’ve been in a long, long time. It was heaven.
And an added Silver Lining: The room had a gigantic fan that I propped on a chair equidistant from the open window and the bed (which turned out to be about 6 inches from my face) and turned it on HIGH. Hot flashes be damned (SL).
At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities.