Saturday, December 3, 2016

Louisa Jane, Age 5.5

Louisa has three months of kindergarten under her belt. It seems like just yesterday we were playing "what sound does the doggy make" while driving in the car. Now it's "what's 5+2," or "how do you spell cat?" Watching her learn new things and enjoy school so much is really fun.

Neither Nate or I lack self-confidence, but sometimes we look at each other and wonder where Lou got her abundance of it. What she does have that I lack is an ever-positive attitude and joy for wherever she is and whomever she's with. She reminds me of my sister, Sarah, who I remember always loving her current situation - whether is was elementary school, middle or high school or college. She seemed to be constantly amazed that things could get even better. I suppose personality traits can be genetic, so if Louisa looks so much like my mom, why can she have the optimism of my sister?

I don't want to make it sound like life is always perfect for Louisa though. Unfortunately at some point this fall, she started to feel scared of strangers coming in our house. So if she was upstairs, she panicked if I (or Helen or Nate) came downstairs and vise versa. It was even worse if we went outside. Some wise women in my life (thanks Mom and Marcia!) encouraged us to be patient with these fears, and after 2-3 weeks of some at-home-therapy, she's doing much better. Here's what worked for us:
  • Allowing her to sleep on our floor if she woke in the middle of the night, as long as she came in quietly
  • A book called What to do When You Dread Your Bed
  • A sticker chart that rewarded her for 1) going to bed calmly and 2) staying in her bed all night
  • Announcing that we have locked the front door after putting her to bed
  • Eliminating her quiet time from her afternoon
The first and last points were the hardest for me to accept, because it felt like she was getting her way (i.e. winning the fight), but I was reading a positive discipline book that taught me that if you're thinking about something in terms of winning the fight, you're probably not doing the right thing. Nate and I don't want kids sleeping in our room because it feels like a slippery slope, ending with 3 restless kids in our queen sized bed. But Louisa had a real fear when she woke in her bed and couldn't go back to sleep. Allowing her come into our room (and sleep on a thin camping pad on the wood floor) felt like the right thing to do. After letting her find comfort in that, we incentivized her with a sticker chart.

Eliminating her quiet time was hard for me because I wanted the quiet time for myself, but in reality, Peter is never napping at that time, so it's not like I would have an hour to myself anyway, and Cora seems to accept that she still needs a quiet time after school, regardless of what Peter and Louisa are doing.

I should have known we'd have to deal with night fears at some point. Another thing I should have seen coming was a desire for hot lunch. Oh, hot lunch! How is a dietitian mom supposed to get onboard with hot lunch? For Louisa, it started with chocolate milk. I got a voicemail from the school food service saying that Louisa had a bill of $12.60. I was happy it wasn't more, but also wondered what she was buying. I looked online and saw a bunch of milks. I asked her about it and she explained that if I forgot to put her water bottle in her lunch, she would take a chocolate milk. I had to ask a lot of questions to figure out that putting a water bottle in her backpack every morning doesn't ensure that she'll have it with her in the lunch room. Prior to this chocolate milk invoice, she had already begun to ask for hot lunch, so together we came up with a plan. I would be better about putting her water bottle in her lunch bag and she could start taking hot lunch (with chocolate milk) once per week. We also talked about how she needs to pick white milk sometimes. She looked at me with a ton of concern in her eyes, and said, Mom, I really don't think I can. I see it [chocolate milk], and I want it. I told her how much I believed in her and left it at that. Last week she told Nate that he forgot to pack her water bottle, but she chose white milk. Woah. Proud mama moment.

She's been more into swimming lessons than dance lately, but we tried to teach the importance of sticking with something that you sign up for, and made it through to the recital. Starting in January, she picked swimming lessons and maybe piano lessons, but no dance.

Reading is not coming as fast as I expected, but I think as soon as she learns, she's going to be a bookworm, so maybe for now I'll just enjoy our cuddle time each night, reading out loud -- favorites like Ramona Quimby, Age 8, Charlotte's Web and Mary Poppins.

You're a confident, fun-loving girl, Louisa Jane. You're a sweet sister and daughter. I love how much you love to help (with dinner, cleaning or laying pavers in the back yard). Your love for crafts, stories and Jesus is beautiful. I can't wait to see who you [continue to] become.

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