Tuesday, January 27, 2009


This one was difficult for me. So far, it seems not only did Angelina fit the description of "spirited", but so did I. Then I came to adaptability. Or rather, difficulty adapting.

Surely this didn't describe me? And I hoped it didn't describe Angelina. I always prided myself on my adaptability: my ability to go anywhere new, make a new home, make new friends, make a new life. I'd hoped that was something Angelina would share, especially as we're not likely to stay in one place forever. I didn't want to think she'd be one of those kids who refused to try new things, or who never wanted to go someplace new.

Then I read more. It's not just new places, it's the transitions.

When we were in CA recently, my mom had a whole day of errands and activities for us to do, followed by 2 Halloween events that night. At first I said ok. Then I said NO WAY. I just knew it would not work. I'd already nixed the two Halloween events, over her protests. She had said Angelina wouldn't know the difference. WRONG. I didn't think about it thoroughly, I just knew multiple stops would not work for either of us. We still ended up with far too much to do that day, but it was nowhere near as bad as it could have been.

After reading more, I realized this made sense. *I* have trouble with too many transitions. I can not double and triple book my day. There was a time when Frédéric and I would plan a day of errands and by the 3rd of 4th one I was losing it. I just couldn't take it anymore and needed to stop. Now I understand. I need time to transition. I need fewer transitions. I can't run run run. I need downtime. I need to stop. I'm good with surprises, I can decide things spur of the moment, but I need some time to regroup. I don't like the idea of a whirlwind 15 city tour in 2 weeks. I DO like visiting 15 countries over 15 YEARS - i.e. spending time IN the country, getting to know the new place, making friends there.

For Angelina, this is very true as well. Note that I'm conscientious not to put my own experiences or personality traits onto her. But this is something I *have* seen. She can handle lots of "stops" if we're walking, because there's no real transition. She doesn't like getting in the car, out of the car, in the car.... she gets all cranky and fussy. Maybe that's because *I* get cranky and fussy, I'm not sure. But I do know she doesn't transition well. She can't switch gears midstream.

SO what does that mean?

We need to provide smooth transitions. She can't go from playing horsey to going to bed in a matter of minutes. She needs wind down time. She can't just STOP watching Dora/playing her game because I said so. Well, she can if I force her, but do we really need a meltdown because I couldn't take the time to warn her? The aim is to prepare her for the transition "Angelina, when the timer goes off/I finish this task/the show is over we turn it off." Doesn't always work. I tried using the egg timer to indicate when she had to stop playing with the coffee. She kept turning the egg timer over...Ok, so it's not fool proof, but the concept makes sense: Prepare her for what's to come, create a relaxing wind down routine.

Don't shock her into something new. Now, this IS the kid who likes to be scared. She loves the "Monster". She loves when Papa jumps around the door and scares her out of her shoes. But those are exciting, fun things, and they're not real transitions.

We're figuring it out. Day by day.

And for those in my family who laugh, who say we're creating a Monster, laugh away. I hope we're creating a kid who learns to deal with her intense emotions, who understands how to manage her sensitivity, how to address her adaptability, how to harness her persistence into something positive.

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