Much Stress. Reflections, Week 24

I have been at a loss about what to write about this past week.  Nothing has really happened, yet much has.  Elizabeth and I did a few things at the beginning of the week together for school, but mostly she has just been doing arts and crafts on her own with all of the new materials she got for Christmas.  It was a Frozen-themed Christmas in gifts so Elsa reigns at our house.  As well, a Frozen-themed birthday party was planned for my girl’s 5th birthday, so I spent all week cleaning and preparing for that.  I also had my first meeting as a member of the local library’s Board of Directors, and nearly had a panic attack thereafter getting cold feet and wondering if I signed up for more than I am able to give.  Lastly, I also felt very emotional this week, very stressed.  I thought it was the party, wondered briefly if I was pregnant again (good God, no thanks!), and then realized that it ultimately was that the cat I adopted from under my porch in college and has lived with my Mom since I left for Peace Corps, had a tumor in his stomach and had to be euthanized this morning.  I found it very upsetting as he was my special buddy when I lived alone in my apartment in the city  He is also the 5th family member to pass on in a year’s time, and I hope that he is the last.

On top of the other stresses, Paul is getting his sixth tooth in six weeks, and hasn’t been taking naps this week.  One day, he also climbed out of his crib, which really makes me feel like there is nothing I can do with him when he is being overwhelming (though I realized that the high-chair is still an option if I need a breather).  He’s also been fussy and not too much fun – he got upset and broke a cupboard door in half by yanking on it yesterday.

Elizabeth has been having her moments too, and I have been reassessing my responses to her when she gets upset.  She gets so mad – so mad that it doesn’t seem possible that a 4-year-old could get that upset – and I’m just wondering if my reactions feed the fuel rather than help diffuse it.  Of all the parenting obstacles that I face, this is the most perplexing to me because I just have no solution.  I find too that whenever I try a different tactic in dealing with her, it is just more tiring and draining, and may seem affective on the initial day, but thereafter everything seems the same or worse.  Mostly, what I want to work on is keeping my cool, and see if that has a positive affect over time.  I’m trying really hard!

These things all affect school because school is at home and the emotional thread throughout the house affects Elizabeth’s learning.  As I have said, we didn’t do a whole lot of organized activities, but she spent lots of time alone coloring and crafting.  This is good because it allows her to do things in her own way and not be overshadowed by me wanting things done in my way.  I want to learn from this.  An example from this week is that she pulled out a box of paper plate bug crafts.  These come with all of the materials and instructions for making them.  My little lady did most of it herself, following the instructions, and I only helped when she asked.  With little help from me, she was able to complete a bumble bee and feel proud of her accomplishment,self validating her  own creativity and ability.  I am trying to step back and let her have her head on more things (a term from when I rode horses 10 years ago, where you give the horse reign so they could relax their head down and choose the pace, the rider would also not be as picky about the exact spot the horse walked), as I can see that my wanting things done just so makes her insecure, as well as affects her responses to her brother.  And I don’t feel bad for having to learn through this, this is a learning experience for all of us, and thinking with a child’s perspective is definitely something that takes practice for someone who hasn’t been a child in 10 years.  Her actions this week, thought, have shown me that she has relaxed a little all ready, and I’m happy.

Wednesday, I’d been planning a trip to the humane society, but the lack of a baby sitter for Brother, and very cold temperatures kept us home.  Funnily enough, I had really been looking forward to going, which is probably why it didn’t work out.  😦  I am planning it for this Wednesday, and looking forward to it.  I don’t want to have to take Paul, I would very much like for Elizabeth and I to be able to take our time at the store in choosing a donation to take, and then to have time to hang out and discuss lots of things while we play with the animals.  I am not planning on adopting, right now with the toddler, it’s just not something do-able.  Yet, going and seeing how the humane society works and what it’s for and how we can support it is something  I would like Elizabeth exposed to, and ties into our unit.

Another thing I plan for this week and that I am excited about is organizing the Craft Closet.  I purchased some plastic organizing containers and my mother offered me some others, and I’d like to get the materials out of baggies and into easy-to-find and easy-to-clean-up and easy-to-keep-organized boxes.  I am planning on having Elizabeth help me organize and label them, with words, to practice writing in a way that shows her how it is useful in real-life.  Then, she will be free to decorate in any way that she desires to make her containers fun and interesting.

I have been reading Growing Up Reading by Jill Frankel Hauser, and it has really made me interested in starting to do more activities with Elizabeth that will help inspire her to continue practicing writing and sounding out words.  I think that before I got the boxed curriculum, I really did a lot of activities that encouraged reading readiness and critical thinking skills, but once I got the curriculum, since the questions were laid out, I asked them, but when she wasn’t interested, I filled her in.  Am I doing more harm in trying to teach her than I did when I was just winging it?  That’s a thought.  At any rate, I highly recommend the book to anyone teaching preschool age children.

As far as Pre-pre-preschool with Paul, we didn’t do too much this week, though he did do his first finger painting!  I definitely put that paper into the ‘keeping’ folder.  He sure does like to draw and paint!  And unlike Elizabeth who was very ambidextrous even through the first few months of school and who we all thought would be a lefty (but isn’t), Paul is a definite righty.

Well, I honestly feel much better after writing this (again, live to write, write to survive).  I hope I didn’t stress you all out!  I hope next week is better, and that your week was better than mine!

Have any thoughts on something I wrote about?  Let me know. 🙂  Thanks!

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