mercredi 18 mai 2011

The princess in the middle

One month before I became pregnant with her, a very dear friend, father figure to both of us, died. 4 months later, Jérôme's father died. I made the wish that this child I was expecting would be born with both men's best qualities. What a burden of expectations I threw at her!

She cried non stop on days 2 and 3 after she was born.

Then I bought "The Contented Little Baby Book" and followed the method, minute by minute and it worked immediately. Amazing. (yes, I know, there are lots of things to say, pro and cons,... but I was desperate and it worked, so there.)

The screams stopped, she was a contented little baby.

And then she turned one.

The day she turned one, she walked.
And then...

If I was 5 minutes later than usual preparing her meal, I would find her standing up, by the bin, eating potato peelings or food wrappers.
If I was in the shower with  her nearby, she would join me fully dressed, shoes included, and do it so fast that it was too late to salvage anything.
After two heavy sleepers, she was our early bird, up at 6 every day of the year, no matter what, from day 1 to age 8 when I guess she decided to start catching up on all the lost sleep. After years of strict principles on TV, early morning videos became our closest accomplices.

When she was 4, a couple of well meaning friends, visiting us for the week-end in our house, talked to us very earnestly about the fact that we were not treating her the same as the 2 others (number 4 was not born yet,) that we were letting her get away with murder and that it was unfair to her siblings.

My point up till then was that you don't deal the same with all children and I knew that this one was 'bigger than life.' I used to let her have minor burns, I used to laugh if she poured water on the floor (but made her help me mop afterwards), I used to say 'too bad, this toy is broken now, what did you learn out of using it like you did?' and true, the others were not allowed to behave like that.

Well. Very very stupid me listened to these well meaning friends and I started behaving differently with her. I did not let her get away with her former behaviour. Which means that she was constantly told off. Constantly. Because she needs to experiment, dismantle, break things to understand how they work, because she needs to touch, taste, use, push to make them hers or to accept concepts like 'dangerous, poisonous, impolite', she was forever an outlaw.

I am not sure what impact we had on her development, but this 9 year old child has a long way to go to regain her self-esteem.
She does not trust herself, and the only way to achieve positive actions with her is to tread carefully, tenderly, and give her tons of love and then, only then, get to the action required at the time. Any other course of action is doomed and breeds constant requests, demands, temper outburst, foot stomping and so on.
She does not hear the word 'No'. She will resort to any devious solutions to get to her goal. She will wear you down.

What a challenge she is, and how rewarding for everybody when things have been achieved without pain, tears and screams. With a smile, with a laugh, with love.

I love this sequence of photographs. She had just woken up, and she is not a happy early riser any more. I coaxed gently and nicely and you can see the result as the photos unravel. It was a precious moment!

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