Sunday, July 31, 2011

Taking small steps to overcome fear

The past two nights Snuggler has had nightmares about something bad happening to Big Guy. On Friday she was up three times, distraught, and finally fell asleep in the armchair in our room. Last night she had a complicated and scary dream in which Big Guy was so badly depressed that he had to have surgery and Electro-shock therapy to try to pull him out of it. This morning she awoke unhappy and very fussy. And certain she couldn't go to church.

We went through several rounds of "what are you afraid of?" and then several rounds of "no matter how you're feeling, you need to treat others with respect". Andrew snuggled her for a long while, then I had a turn. She "couldn't" go to church, she said. So I had her do a couple of minutes of deep breathing exercises, and then I told her that as long as there wasn't a bear outside her door, she could let her feet take her where her fears wouldn't let her go. I told her to go get dressed.

"But I can't go to church!" she wailed.
"We're not going to worry about that," I reminded her, as gently as I could, "We're going to focus on doing just one easy thing: getting dressed."

So she went to get dressed, and she was successful at that.

When she came back I told her the next one thing she was going to do was to brush her hair. She was able to do that, too.

Then she started to lighten up a bit -- getting moving will do that for you -- and began reading something. So I said, "Here's what we'll do. We'll walk over to church and give it a try. If it doesn't work, then I'll take you out."

She agreed to that plan. So we walked to church and gave it a try. And she was fine.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ladybugs in my fridge

I'm up early this morning, stapling together paper plates. I'm slated to teach three classes about ladybugs in the park this weekend, and the closing craft is making paper plate puppets.

Before I leave for the classes I need to transfer a couple hundred ladybugs (who are sleeping in my fridge) into a separate container. Last time I did this I wasn't fast enough, the ladybugs woke up, and my family complained about insects crawling out of the toaster. Life is full of hazards.

Cool factoid of the day: ladybugs have yellow blood. When they play dead to fool predators, they can ooze some of the blood down their legs to make their act seem more realistic.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Little Guy has a friend over this afternoon, and there is something going on that involves pulleys, duct tape, bees made out of pushpins, and pipecleaners. They've been crafting this masterpiece for hours.It moves (the glittery thing in the picture is on a ribbon zip line). Snuggler, who has been trotting around all day in Dancer's fuschia tap costume, has gotten involved, too. I'm unclear on exactly what they're doing; I keep my nose out of it, bite my tongue when I glimpse the mess, and wash off blueberries to serve as a snack. In return they pretty much leave me alone. I sent off a newsletter this afternoon, and have had time to start a direct mail letter that's due next week.

The juxtaposition of Normal (yes, this kind of mess is thoroughly normal around here) and Not Normal is a curious comfort. Part of what holds us together in times of crisis is noticing and making a point to remember the good things and good people around us. It's saying our 'thank you's' at the end of the day, it's writing down the positives, it's being grateful for the stupid joke someone tells you that makes you laugh way too hard, simply because it feels good to laugh instead of hurt.

I remind myself that if life is an algebra problem (which I don't think it is), there are pluses I often forget to add in, and minuses to which I apply too big a a multiplier. And so I need to pay special attention to the positives. Because they are there, whether I remember them or not.

Big Guy is unhappy, but safe. We are impressed by his doctors. I have vibrant green Chinese broccoli to steam, and gingery tofu to stir fry with fresh udon noodles for dinner. My other kids are not traumatized by the events that led to Big Guy's hospitalization. My husband is around, so childcare is not an issue. There are good things happening, if I stop to notice them.