Today I had a meeting with the school counselor... I really like him and find him extremely easy to talk to and I am thrilled my girls have someone so amazing to talk too at their disposal! I know that my 11 year old looks away when he walks into the classroom..assuming he is there for her! he thinks its kind of funny and accepts her and all her glory for who she is. A complicated, funny, intelligent, beautiful, amazing, high spirited....anxious little girl (who is trying way too hard to be a LOT older than she is!). I would say she fits the description of the "middle" child in all it's stereotypical typecast perfectly.
Parenting her has been a challenge from the get go. There is nothing too easy going about this child. Her determination and strength is pretty hard to bend when focused on something. She will go far in life with that kind of character....focused in the right directions of course! focused in the wrong directions scares me! that is a huge constant prayer I have and goal to help her avoid!
Anxiety in children is hard to recognize I think. Having butterflies while considered normal in a lot of cases simply gets pushed under the "oh well that's just silly" category and the child is usually told to suck it up and move on... oh maybe that is my experience?...not saying that that exact thing happened to me but it is my observation. You cannot tell my child to simply "suck it up" there is no way to belittle the fact of what she is feeling is anything but extremely real. The hard part is how she expresses her anxiety that is the tricky part for me. I usually react to it as it comes out very aggressive in her and pretty much right in my face, never convenient, and quite emotional. It's not an easy thing for me to deal with. But I am trying. I will never stop trying.
I am not writing this post to expose my child in any way.... I feel its a not so talked about topic...at least from what I have read....and if anything I have to say helps anyone then perfect and if anyone has any advice for me...positive encouraging helpful advice! ... then that is wonderful!
The counselor today listened to me talk about what has been happening at home....bedtime is a HUGE struggle right now...it has been for 10 months..heck it has been pretty much forever. I happen to have 3 of the MOST can't.go.to.bed.or.I.might.miss.something. girls I have ever met! They were terrible nappers...all 3 of them! my oldest napped right up to kindergarten and went to bed at 8pm until she was like 14!! my youngest 3..not so much! and the last 10 months have been no exception. The sleeping in my room all piled on top of me is gradually getting better! with the exception of 1.... my little anxious one... she has literally camped outside my bedroom door when I finally grow weary and lock it on her... space is something I don't get much of and I treasure it..plus I sleep better and I LOVE sleep!...even now as I type this out at almost 11pm I can hear things moving upstairs....a CD is playing which is ok...and my anxious one is sleeping on my floor in my room....she wouldn't go upstairs..just ignores me and insists on being here. When she lets her guard down she will admit that it is due to a fear that something bad is going to happen to me and so she has to watch out for me. My heart breaks knowing her fears. Worry dragons the counselor calls them.
I try to walk her through taking authority over her fears and her being the boss of her and not her worry dragons.... it's a long process for someone who struggles with the anxiety.
Her counselor gave me a few ideas today regarding bedtime...so I took the girls out to dinner...at a GREAT restaurant I know :) ... and we talked about bedtime and coming to an agreement about bedtime and what the consequences will be if they do not listen... I am going to post the times on the fridge and there will be no more arguments about the bedtimes as we have all agreed about it and so there is nothing further to discuss. Including them in the process and decision making he felt was important as so much has happened that has been out of their control this year. While they are children and not in control there are aspects that I agree with him about making their home safe and secure so they can continue to develop as normally and healthy as possible. Tonight was kind of bust and I blame it on my tummy...for some reason lately whenever I eat my tummy hurts..like can't move too much hurt.. it's owey...anyways.... I will be consistent with this...I know that's key as well and totally an area I lack in!
He is also going to talk to her teacher about the amount of special projects or homework she gets. She just simply won't do it...or not all of it... and it's a battle I just won't fight. When she gets home she "checks out" as I say...she goes into I am home mode and I don't even want to THINK about school until 5 min before I have to walk out the door tomorrow morning! she comes by this naturally... and the homework assignment issues sets her up on an anxiety cycle that is just so unnecessary...so glad her counselor agrees with me!
We go through pretty much the same battle with going to soccer...she LOVES soccer, she excels at soccer and yet I have to drag her pretty much to every practice and game...she is a ball of nerves but once she gets there she is so happy to be there and has a great time. It is a lesson in patience that I don't really feel I ever needed to learn! I happen to have great patience! :)
It's all training her to look beyond what she is feeling at the moment and think past it. It's a hard lesson when worry dragons are very real and in the moment and impossible to ignore. It's hard to deal with when that is something you never dealt with yourself...well not until all this anyways :) Being a mom I think we just worry! it's just what we do! but it doesn't consume or stop me in my tracks the way that anxiety does with her.
So it will all take patience understanding and building the team that surrounds her to give her the tools she needs to overcome the worry dragons! Love that saying that it takes a village to raise a child... I couldn't agree more!