At the last school meeting we had, setting goals for Maura, we discussed ways to help Maura mature more. As the principal said “It’s time she moved on from being cute Maura.”
This sounds harsh, I’m sure (note, the principal is anything but harsh, she is an absolutely lovely woman who cares about every single person in her school. – but she had a point.
It seems in class, Maura was the most babyish. I can totally see that. She likes to climb onto your lap for hugs, will blurt out a loud “WAH!” when her will is thwarted, she still sucks her thumb at times (though it’s become a bit rare these days.)
Whether we like it or not, Maura is growing up. And we need her to act with more maturity.
It’s not easy – she’s my baby, literally and figuratively. She can be so delightful and easy to spoil, and who doesn’t love a good cuddle from the world’s best hugger? Emotionally, she can range from being about 3 years of age to somewhere more age appropriate, given the situation. It’s easy to baby her when she’s acting the three year old part.
Reality is though, the big wide world isn’t going to be as understanding of her ways soon. It’s easy to pass over any strange behaviors when you’re dealing with a delayed six year old with big blue eyes and a big smile. They still appear as a child, so it’s easy to treat them as such. When Maura tries to go full tantrum on me out in public these days, the looks aren’t as sympathetic. And seeing as she doesn’t have a recognizable disability, her behaviors seem even more bizarre.
We’re lucky – Maura is open to being lead down this path, mainly because anything her big sister does, she wants to try out as well. We have a built-in example at home, one who doesn’t mind devoting time to her sister, especially if her sister needs her hair done.
What kind of things are we working on?
– No screaming in public. As in, when we go out shopping and I don’t buy her everything she demands or go the way she wants to go, she starts shrieking. I figured out that taking her to the mall when it’s crowded is systems overload so we avoid busy times if possible. I’ve started taking her with specific places to hit and talk her through it all with the “First we go here, then we’ll go here.” It’s been working well – the one day, we had to run something out to the car, and while she cried a little as we reached the car, she kept up with us as I chanted “First we go to the car, then we go back in to the store…” I’ve found that letting her help me shop at the grocery store gets her into the store and keeps her busy. Luckily, she likes picking out stuff like bananas and Cheerios. She particularly enjoyed helping me put all the food on the belt, and helping me pack the bags. And by helping, I mean “helping”.
(Note – in the past, she was awesome in stores, partially because I had to take her everywhere with me, partially because I would spoil her. Arriving here, our oldest became old enough to babysit and I could shop kid-free, so I got used to leaving Maura behind. When she did come with me, I realized that everything here is so flipping expensive that I couldn’t spoil her like I did. Hence all the drama. It’s been a lesson for both of us really.)
– More self-care – we’re talking toilet training (it’s still going on, slower than I want, but better than I expected!), dressing herself, keeping clothes on, changing in appropriate areas. My new catch phrase is “We change in our bedroom or the bathroom.” She balks at putting socks on some mornings – she can do it, she’s just stubborn. She’s great at getting shoes on. It’s still tricky to get shirts and bottoms on, but she’s getting there. She loves to brush her hair, thank you Rapunzel. Maybe Rapunzel can put out a whole series of routines – hair brushing, teeth brushing, dressing oneself. It would make my life easier!
– Not being SO LOUD. Seriously, sometimes she’s like that deaf great-aunt who shouts everything. She is LOUD. Happy loud, sad loud, LOUD. When she’s happy, she’ll laugh really loudly – AHAHAHAHAHAHA! Let me tell you, that turns heads at the movies (to which I was all “Dude, it’s a kids movie, deal.” in looks. It’s not like she laughs like this at Argo.) The thing is, she gets wound up in the moment, and the more wound up she gets, the louder she gets. So we need to figure out how to keep her from getting that wound up in the moment.
– Manners in general. Things like waiting in line (which she’s pretty good at, but she knows nothing of personal space yet), chewing quietly (a source of contention in the household as she chews really loudly, and one boy is super-sensitive to it – can we say “perfect storm”?), using proper utensils when eating. Though she’s got “place napkin on lap” part down. Go figure.
It doesn’t seem like much, but as we’re dealing with a girl who often needs a truckload of repetition to master just about anything and a poor grasp on lots of concepts, it’s a whole lot to ask of her. She’s capable of managing it, that I’m sure. Because like it or not, she’s going to grow up. Oh, I don’t think that we can ever make her “blend” totally. She will always be a bit strange to strangers.
Just like the other kids, we need to teach her how to behave in a basic socially acceptable manner, especially if she’s capable of managing it. If this was beyond her reach, it would be a bit mean to try to wedge her into a round hole. But she is able enough to learn basic manners and etiquette and public behaviors. It would be more mean not to allow her to move up the maturity ladder. If I wasn’t sure, all I’d have to do is look at the older kids at her school, how they behave. I’m constantly impressed with their abilities and hope someday soon, Maura will be more like them as well.