Is what I woke up to the other day, when I realized that the gate that always keeps the early rising toddler upstairs and in our room, was wide open. I was fighting waking up, but the mama's third eye sensed an escape in progress and I bolted up and asked where he thought he was going. He popped up from the third step and shouted the above explanation - the longest so far - back to me. This? Is. Huge. Took me a moment to realize I was really awake and hearing that.
A few nights ago, I wanted to keep Bubbles focused on his dinner for a few moments longer.
[For the record, not one of my children has ever been interested in food or ingesting it, unless it is infused or coated with sugar (okay, Elijah just opened up his mouth and swallowed, but not happily), and raising children who inherently dislike food will lead you to do extraordinary things to keep them at the table so their pediatricians will not report you for malnourishing them. My mother claims that this is adequate and expected payback for my many years of (I am very embarrassed to admit) being a verrrrry stubborn anorexic]
After he asked for some approximation of 'water' (oh no, nothing comes for free anymore in the land of ABA and speech therapy!), I gave Bubbles a ceramic mug with a ceramic frog inside of it. The frog is part of the mug. Bubbles took one look inside that mug and stopped mid-air as he was trying to vault himself over his high chair. He sat back down, looked in the mug and looked at me with a very serious and disturbed expression. (Not being a big talker has made him drama king of the expressions.)
I told him to have a drink of water from the mug. He looked at me like I had just handed him a live chicken and told him to bite the head off. (He is more of a beef-eater, so obviously, he would never, ever do that.)
"Go on, have a drink of water."
"OHNO!" he cried. His words were suddenly unleashed:
"OHNO! ISS IT? ISS IT? A FOGK!! ISISSTUCK!!! I DOHNNO! I DOH WANNIT! OHNO! A FOGK! I DOHNNO! ISISSTUCK! OHNO!"
I had two thoughts simultaneously:
A) Quick! Grab the camera!
B) Dude, you are so busted.
In response to Thought A, I did. And I shot about 8 seconds of footage before he saw the camera and did his usual 'Is all done?' and reached for the camera to see the footage I had just shot. Kids today and their digital little impatient minds.
And in response to Thought B? Clearly, this little guy has been holding back.
I know that articulation is hard for him; he actually knows that too. Which is why he is so great at communicating non-verbally. He knows that helping himself to a cup, then grabbing my hand and leading me to the fridge so that he may point at the juice, is the fastest way to get juice.
Saying 'juice' is not easy for him. He may say 'juh', but even he knows that I could interpret that as a few different requests, such as 'jump' or ' I wanna go to Hawaii, let's go!'. He knows that even we cannot understand him well, and watching him put so much effort into being understood at once breaks my heart and warms it.
AKU AKU!! AKU AKU!!
For weeks. AKU! AKU! Okay dude, we have no idea what you are saying but erm, oKAY! Eating breakfast? AKU AKU! Bathtime? AKU! Go to the store? AKU AKU! AKU AKU! Finally, last week on our little retreat, at breakfast; AKU AKU!! But we? We are smart. Because this time he had a little tiny spiral bound notebook and a crayon in his hands. Dh got it first, "Oh wow - he has been really into that blue dog amateur detective show lately. A CLUE! A CLUE!!"
We finally got one.
He has made huge strides with the principle of following instructions. I have to say, as parents, we thought we had covered this. We even thought we were rather strict, or so others would tell us. But when we started ABA, people thought it was 'too harsh' or 'over the top' - because getting your children to follow instructions when you tell them to is just as awful as raising a trained monkey, you know. It started with the three step. Tell, show, do.
- Bubbles, put the toy in the basket. (wait 3-5 seconds before moving onto step 2 if necessary)
- Bubbles, put the toy in the basket like this. (show him exactly what I want him to do, and wait 3-5 seconds before moving onto step 3 if necessary)
- Bubbles, put the toy in the basket. (using his hand, guide him to put the toy in the basket.)
Repeat as necessary. This seemed extreme to onlookers, and tedious to us at first, but very quickly we saw results. Bubbles, like most children, does not like the third step. He does not like to be physically made to do something. However, because Bubbles' mama is still smarter and bigger than he is, she let him know right away that this was not optional.
Oh, the tantrums. We went from bad to worse. But that was such a short week, I can barely remember it. At least not once I saw him decide to 'put the toy in the basket' on the first step. Fine, lady, just don't friggin pick my hand up and make me do it. Happy? Suddenly he was putting away toys whenever asked. One or two reminders and then you can leave him to complete the task. And he will.
Threw a bowl of cereal on the floor? Out of the high chair, onto the floor for some three-step cleaning up. Would it have been faster to sweep? Hell yes! Did he clean every single piece of cereal up? Hell yes! Has he thrown his bowl of food since then? Hell no.
We were leaving a friend's house with many many trains. It was sad to hear it was time to go, especially when more than forty thomas and friends engines had been connected on the track. Bubbles cried, "No, no no! NO GO!" And I went over to him and opened the box for the trains and told him to put them away. He stopped his tantrum, and started to put the trains away, one by one, all the while crying about it, but never stopping until the trains were all put away. He amazed and was praised by everyone there. The other day at costcow, he wanted to walk instead of ride in the cart. At costcow, where you will get mowed down by a cart if you are shorter than 3 feet! I told him that he would have to hold my hand or the cart. "Do you understand that you have to hold on?"
"YESH!" (I love how he says that)And the amazing part? HE DID. He did for the remainder of our shopping expedition, which included about 4 more aisles. He never once let go. He is two.
So yeah, now the tables have turned.
Whoa! He just came downstairs when you called him? I gotta get me some of that ABA! Does it work on teenagers? That boy is the best listener! What a sweetie!
We're working on the six year old; I still have hope for her because she is still malleable, and also still driven by incentives and deterred by consequences. Seriously she is awesome, but she could use a little three-step guidance in her clean-up skills.
And what I have to say to those families who think I am training a monkey, but from my perspective, are being railroaded and directed by their children while their 'progressive' parents sip tea and talk about respect and choices, and child-led parenting (oh yes, it is a term):
fuck off PPPPPPPLLLLLLLBBBBBBBBTTTTTTHHHH!!!!!!!!!
If my toddler runs out of the park and towards the calliope sounds of the ice cream truck and does not see the oncoming car? When he hears me bellow, "COME HERE RIGHT NOW!" , the odds are extremely in my favor, that he will.