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Posts Tagged ‘imaginative play’

I’ve talked about this before but Blitzen has a really hard time when fun things end.  Andrew and I have tried to keep doing what we’ve always enjoyed doing (well, maybe we’ve started doing what we’ve always enjoyed doing again) with Blitzen.  (I tend to block out that bleak, lonely, awful first year of hibernation when all we could do was make it to the park and library.) So there have been more plays and concerts.  Which is great – we love them and she loves them.  This weekend we saw A Raisin in the Sun and it was amazing.  Blitzen brought a friend and both girls were really engaged, lots of questions and good discussion -  they enjoyed themselves immensely.  Last night we saw Idina Menzel in concert at Radio City Music Hall and again, Blitzen brought a friend.  And again, a super time was had by all.

And then it is over.  And Blitzen tries to pick a fight with me before we reach the exit.  Why can’t we take a cab? Why didn’t you remind me to bring a sweater? Why won’t you take me backstage to meet Idina? You are so mean, I hate you, you never do anything fun with me.

That last one is my favorite.  Really makes me want to transport B back to the 70s when I was growing up.  First of all, my mother who loves me dearly was not / is not what you’d call playful.  You wanted to play, find a sibling or a friend and go outside – away from her. Secondly, I didn’t see a broadway play until I was 22.  I try to do fun things with Blitzen, I really do.  But it is hard for her to see it sometimes.

So I’ve been practicing dropping my end of the rope. You can’t play tug of war unless both people participate and I remind myself each day to ‘let it go’ to quote Idina.

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Last night, after about 30 minutes of bedtime reading, I concluded a chapter and said, ‘That is it for tonight. I’ll read more tomorrow.’ To which Blitzen replied in all seriousness, ‘You’re refusing to read to me?!?’ Keep in mind that the 30 to 40 minutes of reading that she and I do each night are followed by 15 or more minutes of Andrew and Blitzen story telling in her room as part of the tuck in ritual.  She and Andrew are ‘writing’ a book together and they tell a new chapter each night.  I have never met a kid that loves a story as much as Blitzen. I really enjoyed books as a kid and still do – it is my main downtime activity by far – but Blitzen just craves stories.

It has been fascinating to look at the many many ways books and being read to have positively impacted Blitzen.  Even going back to the very beginning when things were so tough and Blitzen couldn’t slow down — we’d go to the library every Saturday and she would make me read 2 or 3 storybooks right there (after complaining the entire way to the library about how much she hated the library) and then we would go to the park and run around for hours.  Finally when she was just about to fall over, we’d go home and she would lay down on the couch, almost falling asleep, and listen to books for 30 minutes or so while she recovered.

Engaging with a book is clearly one of her best calming, connecting, coping strategies.  And of course it has been amazing to see her vocabulary and critical thinking grow and how much is learning about the world and people through stories.  I hope that this is something that she carries with her throughout her life.

 

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Did you really write all of those fairy notes? Blitzen asked me after a particularly challenging evening.

And I said, Yes, yes, I did, honey.  We were using our imaginations to talk to each other in a way that was really hard as we were getting to know each other.  And remember, you were 8 years old – we were pretending.

Blitzen dissolves into sobs, I knew it. Everything is a lie.

And I reply, Blitzen, I am sorry this is so upsetting to you now.  Lots of moms and kids play games like this.  It is ok to believe in it when you are younger, it helps kids to express hard things. And you remember – we’ve talked about this before. It is ok to believe if you want to believe.

Blitzen looks at me and says bitterly, You never tell me the truth.

And I am feeling very badly now and say, But it is just like Santa Claus, honey.  I wasn’t trying to hurt your feelings or deceive you.  It was fun to pretend that the magic existed.

Blitzen, with shock and awe, Are you telling me that you are Santa!!!????!!!

And then I just give up, Oh, Blitzen, come on. You told me before Christmas last year that you knew that I was Santa and you didn’t believe any more, remember??!!!

Blitzen grudgingly agrees that she had, indeed, said this.  And then says, but now you are admitting it!!!

 

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Is making self-help videos on how to ‘be popular’.  This includes putting all of my makeup in a giant pink bag, dressing up and then pulling out the makeup items, applying them and walking around the halls of the house modeling her walk while Andrew or I record the action with the ipad.  There are a few ‘secret’ episodes that she has recorded on her own — I haven’t yet watched them…

Now, there are a whole bunch of things that bother me about this and Andrew and I keep talking to Blitzen about all the qualities that are important in life and to building meaningful friendships and relationships — all these things that have nothing to do with lipstick.  But she isn’t buying it.  This is one of those times when I wonder how this conversation would be playing out if Blitzen had always lived with us – would it be any different or would it be exactly the same?  I also really liked to dress up as a girl and my mother didn’t even own a single lipstick.

On the other hand, Blitzen being Blitzen, these videos are hilarious especially since she is not familiar with many of the products and is guessing at their usage.  I do wish I could post them here.  The kid has a very distinct sense of style, I will give her that.

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mermaid potion

Salt, check — sea shells (2), check — fancy potion bottle, check — underwater video camera to film the action, check

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Blitzen asked me suspiciously when we were reading in before bed and my feet brushed against hers under the covers.

“Those are Frank’s feet,” I said.  I now have the nickname Frank.

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Blitzen and her school friends have a restaurant.  They work on it every day during the afternoon school program.  They have designed a menu, they created the little thing that your check comes and some fake credit cards to put in there.  She has a shoe box full of her restaurant stuff that she lugs back and forth to school so she can do some of the ‘work’ at home.  One of the girls has named herself the ‘manager’.  “She thinks she is charge but she doesn’t do any of the work!” Blitzen informed me indignantly.  I didn’t quite have the heart to break it to her – that is just kinda how life is sometimes.

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Blitzen has started some sessions with her mother and oldest sister.  They are going surprisingly well – we should have started these 2 years ago.  Blitzen seems quite calm and open to engaging in these dialogues — she has a lot to say to her family.  They have a lot to say back which is what I was nervous about and frankly what is keeping me up nights but Blitzen is doing just fine.

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At dinner last night, Blitzen was telling us about a new game she made up with 2 of her more imaginative friends.  She was the mom, a mermaid mom, of course, and her kids were werewolves.  

Andrew interrupts, “Um, wait, you are a mermaid but your kids are werewolves?”

Blitzen looks at Andrew like this is obvious, “Yeah, because their dad was a werewolf.”

Andrew continues, “Who played the dad the werewolf?”

Blitzen again looks at Andrew like he is a little bit dense, “Nobody.  Who knows where the dad werewolf is, and who cares?!? Anyway... so my werewolf daughters have to save me before I die,” she explains.

Then I interject,” You have so much imagination, Blitzen. I wonder if I had that much imagination in 4th grade.”  I cast around in my brain – what did you play at recess in 4th grade?  And then it hits me, I hung out with my good friend Jennie O and we played, you are not going to believe this, Seawees.  Anybody else remember seawees?  Jennie O and I smuggled them to school in our pockets (nobody had backpacks then) — they were petite mermaids with fabulously colored hair and we made up these really elaborate seawee scenarios under the lone tree (scrub bush really) in our hot, hot, dry, dry Arizona playground. 

So clearly the whole mermaid thing got transferred to Blitzen by osmosis.

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Frankly, it has been grueling for everyone involved.  We will try again in a month.  Exploring new modalities, different approaches and structures, considering if a different therapist might help.

We told our social worker about the decision and after relaying the big reveal from our last emotionally exhausting session, she said simply, ‘Ok, my heart is literally breaking a little bit now.  And I think it is a good idea – that is just a lot to process.’

In the meantime, we have ‘therapy’ at home at least 3 or 4 times a week.  Meltdown followed by in-depth processing and examination.  We are accessing and recalling more memories of all types kinds – good, bad, mundane. We talk about our feelings a plenty, past, present and future, so I not concerned that we’ll lose ground.

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