Monday, February 11, 2008

Creature of Habit

My little Sam is such a creature of habit. To explain, he had to wear arm splints in the hospital to keep him from touching his mouth. We were instructed to keep them on him at home unless he was being watched. Well, he is always being watched because he is such a busy little bugger and gets into everything, so he just wore them at nap and nighttime. Now when he gets in bed, he automatically holds his arms out. Enough time has passed and his stitches are out so he really doesn't need them anymore, but still every time, he stretches out those little arms for his splints. Try and explain to him that he doesn't need them anymore! He gets very concerned and will insist that you put them on. Every day after nap, he gets up to go potty, wash his hands and get in the car for carpool. If he weren't so little he could do it all himself. And don't try to skip a step or change the order. He often uses a potty chair instead of the ring in the big potty (he is not big as a minute ~ almost 3 years old and wearing 12-18 month clothes). After he goes, I take the "pot" out, dump the contents, add some soap and water and rinse it out. After observing, he will go potty, jump up and try to pull out the "pot" and try to do it himself. I am all for independence, but this crosses a line for me. Again, it is that independent and habitual behavior. When he gets to the car, he expects a snack. For a while, we had those big industrial Sam's club size snack boxes in the garage. I would pull a snack out of the box to give him in the car. Since his surgery, he is only allowed to have soft and pureed foods, which is quite a challenge for a little guy with food issues and who expects things to happen the same way every time. We are very schedule oriented as much as possible (with 5 kids it is pure survival) so it only feeds his need for habitual behavior. This only adds to his frustration. I have now bought and baked softer snacks, which are kept inside. He would become very upset that the snack was not coming from the usual box. And he holds a grudge. He will cry for 30+ minutes over this and all the while refuse to eat the new snack, even though it is something that he loves. I don't push the issue. I find that if I just walk away and (figure out how to) deal with the tantrum, he will eventually calm down and accept the new way of doing things. Sometimes it takes a few days. There are some things that we can not give in to like the soft vs. crunchy food. Sam cried for days over not being able to eat goldfish after the surgery. That is what most of his tantrums have been over. The doctor says only soft and pureed food, and we are not veering from that. The long term is more important than giving in, creating a new habit and dealing with the effects. The kids have been great by not asking for or eating snack in front of Sam, and Emma is no worse for the wear eating lots of yogurt, pudding, applesauce and muffins. Sam has had little to no control over all of these huge changes in his life and he is exerting what little power he has left - and then to lose the foods that make life so wonderful and that were in great supply since coming home from China. It is sad and it tears at your heart, but then I think of the surgery and what opportunities will come his way as a result. Thanks to the tubes, he can now hear. Thanks to the palate repair, muscle pad build up and frenulectomy, he will have a chance to speak as clearly as you or I. Thanks to the stint, his surgical site has been protected from trauma and his pain has been lessened. Thanks to the plastic surgeon his scar has been cleaned up and lengthened to accomodate his growth and his nose is symmetrical. It is amazing how "in perspective" things can get after a few good nights sleep (for mom). And speaking of sleep, the poor little things still gurgles and rattles and snorts and snuffs (We read Moo, Baa, LaLaLa by Sandra Boynton ~ the rhinocerous snorts and snuffs so Emma says that Sam is our rhinocerous), so Jack has moved out of their room and now sleeps on an air mattress in Coleman and Robbie's room. The doctor said that this will pass as soon as the swelling goes down. Sam is such an amazing kid - resilliant as many kids are. His spirit is amazing. I am lucky to be his mommy!


At 6:00 PM , Blogger crazylady said...

I'd give you a high five if I could get myself off the couch.
Sometimes tough love is only way, if not the best way.


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