Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Lord, what fools these mortals be *

The thing about parenting a special needs child, whatever their special need may be, is that you're forced to view the world through special glasses.

Years of struggling to help Maya have done that to us. Yes, she had a long way to come, yes, she still has plenty of twists in the road, both those we can see and those we can't yet imagine, but right here, right now, she is more and more a typical little girl, poised between five and a half and six. She may always struggle more than most with things the rest of us find easy, but more and more she's getting closer to the pack, blending in, acting and growing and developing in an age-appropriate way.

Except when she's not.

Which is why, when she suddenly developed a paralyzing fear of the dark just after we arrived at my parents a month ago, we began looking for causes. Perhaps it's the change of environment? Perhaps the castle curtains on the bunkbed are too restricting? Maybe we should move the nightlight closer? She was completely petrified of sleeping alone in the dark, and reassurances that she was neither alone (both her brother and her cousin were sleeping in the same room) nor in the dark did nothing to quell her fears.

Perhaps it's the jetlag? Maybe she's suddenly so used to having all these people around that it's ramping up her anxiety levels and this is how it's coming out? Maybe it's a deep-seated fear of starting in a new school?

We persuaded, cajoled, examined, reassured, anything we could think of.

Nothing helped.

Maybe it will get better once we get home.

Nope, it got worse.

Still nothing helped.

Tonight, a full FIVE WEEKS after this all started, Maya was again deep into her litany of how she is scared of the dark when it finally occurred to me to ask her what exactly she was afraid of.

Monsters. She's scared of monsters.

*ding ding ding ding ding ding*

Which movie did she watch over and over and over again on the plane over? Or rather, which movie did she watch only certain scenes of over and over and over again on the plane, deeming the rest too scary? WHICH MOVIE FEATURES MONSTERS TRYING TO SCARE YOUNG CHILDREN SLEEPING PEACEFULLY IN THEIR BEDS???

Yes, blogland, she spent most of the plane ride watching Monsters, Inc. on her little video screen, turning it off after the early scenes every time, never getting to the part where the monsters learn that it's far better to make the children LAUGH than to scare the everloving crap out of them.

Five weeks it took us. Yes, we are idiots. Utter and complete idiots. Fear of kindergarten. Deep seated anxiety over changes in her life. Yeah. The child saw a scary movie and got scared. You'd think it had never happened to anyone before.

Where's my sign?

* Lord, what fools these mortals be, a/k/a god, what an idiot I've been.

23 comments:

Neas Nuttiness said...

It's being used by every parent who's ever wondered...WHY?

Hindsight is always 20/20!

Mojo said...

Jeez Robin, beat yourself up much? We'd all like to think that we have all the answers to every fear our kids come up with, no matter how slippery it tries to be or how well it tries to camouflage itself. What's closer to the truth is some of them are going to take a while to figure out. And some of them we never figure out -- special needs or no special needs.

Guess what? You're human. I'm sure you've had your suspicions in 40 years, right? Well now you know. Put that on your sign. "I'm Human". And right under it in small print, "and damned good at it".

SquarePeg613 said...

Cute story. Thanks for sharing.

Dimple said...

I agree with what Mojo said.
No one does everything right, no one does everything wrong. Whether you're embarrassed or proud, remember you're human.

Babe in Babeland said...

It's so hard to always know everything about our children. I am constantly wondering if my baby is happy, annoyed, why she sleeps longer some days and not other days, etc. I think you're doing an amazing job. And you know what? Starting kindergarten can totally be scary! I understand. :-)

Anyway, great blog...I'm a first-time commenter. Look forward to reading more!

Maribeth said...

I say bravo! You figured it out. Life is not full of instant answers. Sometimes we slog along trying to figure it all out before we 'get' it.
You are a genius!

White Forest said...

Parenting sure isnt easy!

the impression wat the surrounding leaves on the fresh mind as that of a kid...can be long lasting...

SandyCarlson said...

Wow. I am glad you tracked it back. That flick had some dark moments--the exact scared of the dark feels like this moments. Glad you tracked it down. Poor kid!

Lilibeth said...

So now another hard part...how do you take those pictures out of her head? I remember that when my sister was about 8 she walked into the den where some teen-aged cousins were watching a "haunted house" flick. She saw one part--where someone opens the toilet lid and finds a severed head. About that time my dad poked his head into the room, saw her, and took her out of the room to join the younger cousins, but the image was fixed. She had nightmares for years over that, and had to sleep beside my parents bed for two or three days.
The problem is, who would think a children's movie like Monsters would have that kind of effect. Don't feel bad about it. We all do the equivalent. I remember my five year old crying through Little Mermaid. (I had to take her out and sit in the lobby of the theater while the rest of the family finished the movie.)

laughingatchaos said...

Noooo...I've *never* done THAT! :/ Don't beat yourself up too much, this is totally something I'd do. Totally.

Robin said...

Actually, getting the pictures back out of her head was easy. Amazingly easy. All she needed when a rational explanation.

It was so simple that I'm still kicking myself (in a "god were you an idiot" way, not in a "I'm a terrible parent" way - I actually find this all so ridiculously stupid that it's almost funny). As soon as I explained to her that the monsters now work hard to make the children LAUGH she was fine. I even suggested that she could take a turn at making the monsters laugh, and when she woke up this morning she proceeded to tell me that she had, in great detail involving things like a laugh machine and silly dances. She was still cackling halfway to school.

I can't believe I didn't think of this a month ago! *smacks hand firmly against forehead*

moneythoughts said...

She may not have been ready for your explanation a month ago either. Time may have played a role too. So, even if you had asked her a month ago, she may have not been ready to address your answer.

Daryl said...

Well, you figured it out ... so now stop beating yourself up and show her the rest of the movie .. I am sure both John Goodman and Billy Crystal would be horrified to think they scared some sweet little kid out of 5 weeks of sleep ..

And stop blaming yourself ...

Phyllis Sommer said...

oh well...ya live and learn.

at least you only waited 5 weeks...coulda been 15!

:-)

Jientje said...

You've figured it out, and the whole story is history now, that's what counts!! You're not an idiot. You're a MOM!!

Cheryl@SomewhatCrunchy said...

Sounds like me. I'm forever psycoanalyzing things. I can drive myself crazy. But at least you know that you're ready and will find the answer if there is a big puzzle to be solved :)

RivkA with a capital A said...

Fantastic!! What a great story!

You're not an idiot... you're just SLOW!!

Amazing how a simple question can shed light on an issue!! (pun intended... *groan*)

Btw, I LOVE Monsters, Inc.!!

anymommy said...

Hey, you figured it out, that's brilliance. I love that comedy routine!!

Gilit Frank said...

Hi Robin - welcome back. Well, the monster movie wasn't out when my son was Maya's age, but he was scared of monsters anyway. So I used to take an imaginary or plastic spray can and do a ritual with him in the evening of "spraying" against all the monsters - in the closets, under the beds, in the ceiling fans, light fixtures, etc....he enjoyed doing this with me - I validated that there were indeed monsters and he felt the power of being able to combat them....

RivkA with a capital A said...

Gilit -- that is awesome!! What postive, creative parenting!!

How old is your son now?

I bet he has great, empowering memories of fighting monsters with you!!

Robin said...

Unfortunately Maya had already rejected the monster spray idea - the kid is much too literal sometimes, solutions like that are hard for her to accept.

Gilit Frank said...

Hi Rivka,

Thanks! My son is 15 years old now and still remembers the monster spray. Robin, I'm sorry that didn't work for you. I guess chasing them around the room and squishing them like bugs wouldn't work either:-)

RivkA with a capital A said...

Gitit -- you are so creative!! I never would have thought of that either!!

I'm calling you the next time my kids wakes up from nightmares!!