Thursday, May 27, 2010

The conundrum that is Ramona

Ramona is 34 months old. Did I SERIOUSLY have a 1 year old when Beezus was 34 months old ? I can't even imagine how I did it. To be honest, I don't have a lot of memories from that time - I do recall that it hadn't gotten really, really fun yet - it was still just kind of hard.

Ramona, oh Ramona. She is really giving me a hard time lately and she seems to have very easily figured out which buttons to push. Not everyday, but almost everyday I find myself biting down on my lip to keep from yelling at her or. She is willful and stubborn. She has NO desire to do things to please me (which her sister has in abundance) or anybody else. I don't recall that Beezus was this challenging at 34 months, but it's just so hard to remember. And besides, it doesn't matter if she was or not because they are different children.

I've figured Beezus out. I know how to deal with her and what works and what I have to be careful of (a topic for an upcoming post). But dear, dear Ramona, her personality is still developing and I have yet to figure out this pre-schooler who is emerging from my easily distractable toddler.

Here are the things that she does that drive me crazy on a DAILY basis:
  • Jump on the bed.
  • Refuses to let me dress her.
  • Insists on washing her own dishes after breakfast.
  • Running down the sidewalk away from me without asking (Running down the sidewalk is fine if the girls ask first and if I say yes. Fortunately she just does this to PISS ME OFF. She's never run into the street.)
  • Refuses to sit on the potty.
  • Refuses to sit at the table when it's dinner time.
Hmm, a lot of those start with REFUSE, don't they ?

Tonight, Ramona threw several handfuls of pasta on the floor. Two while I was getting more food from the kitchen and one that was accompanied by my "Ramona, WHAT DID YOU DO ? DID YOU THROW FOOD ON THE FLOOR ?" with a mischievous gleam in her eye. She was pretty much done with dinner at that point, so I took her plate away, let Beezus play, and sat Ramona down on the floor next to me and told her to pick up all the past and that I would help her. She was running away and not doing it and then she kicked the plate that had a little bit of pasta on it that I had picked up. I yelled loudly, Beezus yelled at me for yelling at Ramona, and I calmed down.

Like the good Waldorf mom that I try to be, I told Ramona a story about a little girl named Ramona who used teamwork with her mommy and they picked up the pasta off the floor and then they got to play with the dollhouse together. Ramona picked up one tiny piece of pasta and as I was patting myself on the back and mentally composing a post about how these sorts of "waldorf-y" techniques really work, Ramona picked up another piece, held it high, and let it fall on the floor.

Luckily, Mr. Quimby walked in the door right around this time.

I didn't even yell this time, but collected myself, sent Beezus out of the room to Mr. Quimby, sat Ramona forcefully in my lap, and started telling the story again. As I did so, I picked up 3/4 of the past. She sobbed. I sat her on the floor, told her I had work to do, and to tell me when she was ready to pick up the pasta. I putzed around the (very small) room picking up and straightening. Every few minutes, I got down next to her, offered to help, and told her to pick up the first piece. She refused and started sobbing for Mr. Quimby. He knew not to interfere and I kept my resolve, which was crumbling because she was really sobbing.

After about 10 minutes of this (which felt like 30 - I was shocked when, during my debrief with Mr. Q he said we were only out there for 10 minutes) I gathered her in my lap and told her the story again. Then I got a flash of inspiration and guided her hand to pick up the remaining 10 pieces of pasta. She was sobbing telling me she was too tired but she let me guide her hand and she closed her fingers around the pasta. We finished, I told her she did the right thing, and we went to throw the food in the trash. Mr. Quimby reached down to hug her and she clung to me, so I took her for a special treat of her pacifier, spit rag, and a long rock in my great grandmother's rocking chair complete with one of her favorite songs that I've made up for her. We rocked for 10 minutes, I told her the story again, but added that the little girl Ramona never threw food on the floor again and she was happy that she did the right thing.

We go into the kitchen, realize there is only one banana which both girls want. I cringe, worrying that somebody is going to have a meltdown. I ask Beezus if Ramona can have it, Beezus whimpers a little, and Ramona says: "How about if we cut it into two pieces, Beezus ?" This type of spontaneous, unprompted sharing on Ramona's part has only recently become a little more consistent.

One of my favorite ways to solve a problem is to go basics.

In this case, the basic issue is what consistent approach are we going to use to set boundaries for Ramona. I think Ramona needs natural consequences without punitive punishments. "Time out" is not a deterrence for her. Threatening stuff doesn't work. When Beezus was this age, we did away with warnings for her regular mis-deeds and just swiftly and calmly did whatever "natural" consequence we had established. We've been doing too much hemming and hawing with Ramona and we need to get back to this basic technique.

This is already a pretty long post, so I'm not going to go into the specific thing that we're going to do for each infraction (see beginning). I'll save those for another post.

As this is sitting in my drafts waiting for a re-read, I'm struck by a thought. Ruthie's teacher was out for a few days and she remarked when she came back how different Ruthie looked. I had noticed the same thing. It made me start to wonder if Ramona can sense the changes occuring in her body and mind - the transition from a toddler to a pre-schooler. It must be awfully exciting and overwhelming for them, I would imagine.

Oh Ramona - it's just the beginning.


As I was trying to come up with a better ending for this post, Mr. Q called to me from where he was putting Ramona to bed. I clicked Publish and hustled into Ramona. She reached up to me, pointed at her crib, and said "Sing the ocean will not sweep it way, Mommy."

Now, that's a better ending !

1 comment:

Rachel et Natalie said...

yep, I am there with you
Natalie seems to have breakdwons earlier than Rachel did.
But when she does, she bent her little head, cries and walks straight to her bedroom.
It is still hard to see and bear.

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