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Surviving the Fun and Games, Part 1

Continuing thoughts regarding Fun and Games

Ours had more than the usual kid issues due to early childhood trauma, which meant they had zero focus and fought us at every turn even when something was supposed to be fun. Brain-numbing (to us) games like Memory and Guess-Who gave us our first tentative connections, and eventually they could make it through a game of Sorry or Trouble. Doing puzzles also interested them, although we had to buy puzzles several levels below what you’d expect for their age. As confidence built, the number on the puzzle box rose. Try family game night. It likely won’t be fun at first but keep trying. Ours recently shocked us by asking for game night instead of movie night. I’m not bragging. Just…if we can find connection with ours, I think anyone can. Be encouraged. 🙂

  • Game night instead of movie night? Wow. I was actually thinking about game nights the other day. A friend of mine does it and it works well.
    Thanx for your comment – might be what I needed to hear

    • No problem! Remember, start with something super easy; it’s less likely to cause stress. We tried “Sorry” before they were ready, and barely made it through the game alive. 🙂

      Also, feel free to adjust the rules. We took away the “knocking back to home” and any cards that delayed the game, plus limited the number of player pieces (I think it’s usually four and we cut it down to two). It’s not really “Sorry” at that point but when you get a hyena or two successfully around the board, you’ll want to change the name of the game to “THANK GOD.” 🙂

    •  

Not yet…

Stay tuned for Surviving Fun and Games, Part 2. (Also known as, “How NOT to die of frustration during a game of Uno.”)

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Great Expectations, Part 3

Luckily, today was an in-home-counselor day for the girl, so she had several hours to explore the situation with her therapist. After dinner, the counselor suggested my daughter could share with me what they’d discussed.

She was obviously uncomfortable, so we pulled out a game of Uno and talked while we played. I always try to remain level-headed and objective when she talks about how she sees the world, but sometimes…

My daughter shared that she is jealous of her brother because he gets all the attention and she feels she is entitled to more of the attention because she is older. As the therapist helped her share her feelings (she provokes her brother to get him in trouble because she is jealous of him), it became evident that she’d colored a picture of herself as neglected and ignored, while Hubby and I showered our son with attention.

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Photo by Adam Koford

First off, he’s been in hot water for the last several weeks due to trouble at school and ongoing infractions at home. The attention he’s getting is the kind I’m sure he’d prefer to skip.

Second, while he’s had early bedtime almost every night in the last three weeks, she’s had Hubby and me to herself for almost an hour every night. We ask her what she’d like to do and the answer is always, “Watch Girl Meets World.”

I shared this information with the counselor, then advised my girl, “if you’d prefer to play a game or just talk after your brother goes to bed, Daddy and I would be happy to do that. We only watch TV because that’s what you’ve been saying you’d like to do.”

She backpedaled quickly. “No, no, it’s okay, I like Girl Meets World. We can still watch.”

“So…” I say, “in what way do we give your brother more attention?”

She couldn’t answer.

“I think you’re right; he’s definitely had a lot of attention the last few weeks; we can start giving you the same attention. We’ll put you to bed early and make sure to get on your case as soon as you step a hair out of line.” (We’ve been on that boy like grease on a teen’s face: everywhere and all day long.)

And then I went for it.

“Let me tell you about one of my earliest memories. I was probably about two and a half, and my parents had some friends over for dinner. They put me to bed and went to the living room to play games or talk or whatever it was that adults did before HD cable.

I woke up maybe an hour later to hear them all laughing. I hopped out of bed and wandered into the living room to see my mother bouncing

my baby brother

on her knee. He was grinning and drooling all over his blue onesie. I couldn’t believe it. Obviously I was older. Why should HE get to stay up later than I did? I didn’t even drool.

Of course, I didn’t realize that babies need to eat every few hours. He probably woke up and needed a diaper change or something, then feeding, then had to be jostled back to sleep.

I was

SO

ANGRY.

And

THEN

they had the nerve to put me

BACK TO BED. 

I stayed mad at that drooly little bugger for years. He ruined my fun, got all the attention and nobody put him back to bed early.

All because I didn’t understand the way the world truly works…or that babies can’t wait.

So, here’s what I think. You’re mad at your brother for showing up and ruining your fun.”

Her face stretched in shock. “How could you KNOW that?!?”

“Because I was a 12 year old girl with a younger brother. And also, when you arrived, you told me some stories about things you enjoyed with your birth family.”

She wrinkled her nose. “I don’t remember.”

“Well, you might not have the memory anymore, but you certainly had it when you got here.”

“Sometimes little kids just make stuff up and think they remembered it,” she shrugged.

“Based on the amount of anger you had about it, I don’t think so. I think you are really angry at him and you take it out on him, but it’s not even real. He doesn’t ruin your fun and he doesn’t take your attention. You get just as much and maybe more attention. What’s making you so angry?”

She frowned. “My feelings.”

“Nope. Remember, Counselor Bob talked with you about how your thoughts create feelings and feelings create actions. You THINK you’re getting less than your brother. You THINK you deserve more because you’re the oldest. You THINK Daddy and I are being unfair. Are those thoughts true?”

Shrugging again, she said, “Maybe not.”

“I guarantee you, they’re not true thoughts. Another way to say that is

UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS.

So what do you need to change so that your feelings will be different?”

I can tell she’s getting it. Reluctant, she sighs, “my…thoughts.”

Right.

We finish the game of UNO as she dissolves into hysterical giggles, throwing herself around and almost banging her face on the table’s edge several times. I admonish her to be careful, worried she might end up with a bloody nose. The therapist looks at me, eyes questioning.

“This is what we get when she has to discuss something uncomfortable.”

Or when her worldview lens gets cracked yet again.

One of these days, she’ll knock that spiderwebbed lens right out and see the world the way it really is.

I just know it.

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