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Big little moments

6 Feb

Maura has always been able to express herself well. But back and forth communication, that’s where we have struggled. And lately, Maura’s gone more quiet on me, so I’ve gone more “Use words” on her. Because we’re still teaching her how best to communicate to others, and not everyone gets interpretive dance.

Today – well, it’s been a rough morning because of older siblings who don’t understand that their possessions are the coolest things that must be pillaged by Maura in pure Viking style. Older siblings are also bossy, like saying how you can’t take a bite out of a slice of leftover pizza then put it back in the box.

So to communicate her frustrations, Maura let them know, loudly, what she thought of her siblings interferences.  Then threw the slice of pizza at Sean. Then picked up the slice of pizza upon being ordered to as I told her that throwing pizza was rude. (“Rude” is a word she gets – I don’t know why, but she does, so we use it.)

Maura picked up the pizza, and went to take an angry bite out of it. Sean, being the horrible older brother that he is, stopped her from eating the now dog-hair coated slice.

Maura screamed at this interference. I watched our morning going downhill quickly. She sat on the ground. I sat on the ground with her. I told her Sean was trying to be nice, that the pizza got dirty, he was being a good brother. I didn’t know how much was getting through to her. But she pointed to her hand – the hand she bites when angry or frustrated. I rubbed it gently and said “Don’t bite yourself honey, it’s…” I paused to come up with a word.

“Rude?” she finished.

“Yes! It’s rude to Maura. Be nice to you.”

“Sorry Mom. Hug?”

You get all the hugs sweetie. Because today, we were able to discuss the situation, however simply it might have been. The ability to discuss the situation and all the feelings is a huge step forward for us, one we’ve been working on for…well…ever. It sounds so easy, the conversation above. But it was preceded by stuff being thrown, Maura screaming, me yelling “ENOUGH!” at her, her screaming some more, the dog nosing in to try to figure out who was hurt and how she could help only to step on Maura’s toe which caused more screaming, until both of us were sitting on the floor and using our words.

This is sort of our M.O. – I get pushed to the edge of “I don’t think I can do this anymore” and then bam! A little sparkling moment of breakthrough. And however little that moment, its sparkle keeps me going until the next one. It’s not because I’m a saint or a superhero. It’s because I can’t give up on the girl who doesn’t give up on anything. And these little moments, these big little moments, are the reward for everything.

She loves me. You should too :D



Dear Maura, please stop growing

4 Feb

Okay, I don’t mean forever – though now that we’re the same height, I’m thinking she’s tall enough, and can stop growing upwards.

But she probably will be taller than me. It’s a fact I’ve embraced as the short person I’ve always been.

However, I need her to stop growing for a period of time. One long enough for me to delve into the pit of despair that is the (clean) laundry pile and sort out what doesn’t fit her anymore. Which is a lot. Because she keeps growing and keeps wanting to wear things that don’t quite fit her anymore.

“That’s too small honey.” I say.

“No!” she insists.


Even when she can admit that yes, she’s outgrown something, she forgets that and by the next week she’s trying to get herself into that outgrown item. Which is how she got stuck in a sweater the other week.

I know, I should be able to just Konmari things, pile all her clothes on the bed, and sort them quickly. But I must do that while she’s at school, or at least out of sight. Then, I must be able sneak those things out in the cover of darkness, where she won’t see. While making sure any other teen sibling who is told to fold the current pile of clean laundry on the table doesn’t fill Maura’s drawers with clothes that don’t fit because I didn’t beat them to the pile.

Oh, and let’s be honest – with all the other “fun” stuff I get to do on a daily basis in this indentured servitude vocation we call motherhood, it’s not the highest thing on my priority list. It’s getting there though. Because the clothing wars are beginning to rule our mornings, and I’m trying to make mornings less of a battle.

So if you don’t hear from me, I’m either trapped under a pile of hopefully clean laundry, or in a death match with Maura over a plaid skirt that no longer fits but she refuses to give up.

And maybe we’ll find the gym shoes we lost last week. That would be nice. Though she can fit into my shoes now, and not stretch them out like other teen girls in the house <cought>mim<cough>

Growing out the bob and rocking her outfit - that's my girl there! (Autumn 2011)

#TBT Maura’s favourite outfit from Autumn 2011 – she insisted on buying this outfit, then rocked it. 

Express Yourself

27 Jan

Lately, Maura doesn’t want to get on the school bus. Ironically, I can still get her to school on time most of those days. Because…well…I don’t know.

I don’t know why she doesn’t want to get on the bus, why she’s dragging her feet in the morning, why she is not a fan of it all anymore.

Yes, I asked her. But because her conversation skills are meh, I don’t get a clear answer out of her. I can say “Do you like the bus?” and she’ll say yes. I’ll ask her “Why don’t you want to get on the bus?” and she’ll reply “Nothing.” I know no one is mean to her on the bus – that just wouldn’t be allowed by the bus driver (who is awesome and wonderful.) I’ve wondered if she’s just not quite awake and therefore stubborn about everything – not that ANYONE ELSE in the family is like that. Definitely not me. I wonder if I should wake her earlier, wake her later, greet her with a latte and a power bar, I just don’t know.

And she can’t tell me how to fix this.

So on my list of “things I can’t put on a resume”, before “Untangle a Slinkie” and after “Magically find items that had been lost forever” are the skilsl of “Mind Reader” and “Maura Interpreter”. And Maura has gotten quite used to it. To the point that she will take advantage of it and I have to back off and not be as helpful to sort of force her to communicate for herself. In order to help her, I have to not help her.


But I also have to know when to force the issue. Sometimes, she just can’t – because she is a tween, and tween girls just can’t, it’s the phase before they become teen girls who literally just can’t – so I have to step in and figure things out. Sometimes, she wants to but isn’t able to, so I have to work with her. This means I have to choose my words carefully, repeat things a lot, stop time and just wait for her to catch up. Maura’s processing time is different than the average human’s, and you must respect that. Sometimes, in talking to her, I realize I’m channeling my inner Mr. Rogers. Other times, I sound like I’ve lost my damn mind. Probably because I have. But Maura at least finds that funny, like when I’m dancing around her changing “It’s Friday! It’s Friday! Friday friday FRIDAY!”

Of course, that earns me a laughing “MooOOOooom! Shut up!”

Cheeky monkey.

It’s hard when your child can’t communicate well. It’s hard when they fluctuate between ability levels, so sometimes, they can express exactly what they’re thinking and other times, they just can’t tell you anything, not even by interpretive dance. You have to learn quickly how to adjust the way you express yourself so they can understand, depending on the situation. There’s so much patience involved. Like the day we were at Target, and Maura wanted a fleece blanket with hearts on it.

“Maura, we have that exact blanket at home.”

She glared at me, clutching the blanket.

“No Maura. You have that already. It’s on your bed.”

More glaring.

“You need to put it back.”

“Fine!” I’m pretty sure there was a little eye roll with the glare she sent me.

And you know what? That’s okay. Because she’s listening to me, and allowed her tween girl feelings. Even if I’m being the meanest mom in the world who won’t allow her yet another heart blanket. Just as much as I have to work on my communication with her, she has to be allowed to communicate all the feels to me. Even the outrage or frustration or exasperation. Because that’s part of growing up, learning how to express your feelings in a constructive manner.



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