Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Enter Cuddly

Nick and I have set a lofty goal for the sixth of June.

On that day we celebrate three years of wedded bliss/insanity and I want a date. A real date. No kids. Hell, if I see anyone under 5'4" while we are out I might snap and try to cut someone. I want at least one hour alone with my husband where I'm not fighting the urge to pass out because it's 10pm and I'm exhausted. Carving all of our "together" time out of our "sleep" time gets old.

Of course, nothing in this house can be embarked upon without a great deal of preamble these days, so we are starting the prep work early. We're trying to get Geri ready for separation from us... particularly myself. Lately she has been attaching to us very strongly, and that bond and connection has become very close indeed. It's sort of a mixed blessing, really, because now I can't step 4" away from her in public without her breaking down in tears. At home, I am almost entirely unable to leave the room without her. She wants to be in my arms just about 24/7. It peaked about 5 days ago, and was pretty tough for probably three days, and is now starting to ease up a bit. Still, if we are both going to be out of her sight for any period of time there is going to be a lot of ground to cover first.

Have I mentioned that I adore the book "Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child" by Dr. Patty Cogen? Seriously, I think I reference it about daily. If nothing else, I find a lot of reassurance in it's pages. Best of all, I get a lot of great ideas for everything that we face.

I could go very deep in depth about the stages of separation and the concept of scaffolding and such and such, but I'm going to stick to the application portion for the sake of brevity. Our plan for being able to go on the afore-mentioned date starts with a "cuddly."

The other day I made Geri her cuddly. I took a bright printed fleece and make a 12" by 12" square tie blanket. That's it. Two layers of fleece tied together. She seemed to like it immediately. First of all, I made sure to have her sitting with me while I tied it together. She was interested in the process. Then I held her with cuddly between us for a few minutes. Now, cuddly is our nigh-constant companion. When I hold her, I put cuddly in her hands. When she cries and I comfort her, I have her hold cuddly while she hugs me. At bed time, Nick and Geri and Cuddly rock together. Cuddly is there when she falls asleep and there for our wake-up cuddles.

She seems to be really starting to like it. She holds it and kneads it between her hands. The two layers of fleece seem to move in a way she enjoys. She bunches it up and holds it next to her nose while she sucks her thumb sometimes. When I hand it to her she doesn't just toss it, like she does with most soft toys. Tonight, while Nick was rocking her to sleep, she was playing with cuddly and saying my name over and over. She is forming a mental association between cuddly and me. Which is great.

The idea is that cuddly will become a physical reminder of me. She will touch it, smell it, hold it and be instantly reminded of mommy. It will, hopefully, become something of a suitable sub when mommy isn't available. Eventually, she will outgrow cuddly and be able to call me to mind without a tactile reminder, but that's a long way off I figure. In the meantime, we have something that will give her a much-needed reminder when she feels upset.

We're introducing it now because we want to get this thing established well before the next phase, which is practice separations starting in May. Hopefully, a whole month of constant cuddly presence will be enough to root the thing in her mind. I'm thinking it should be, since she's already responding to it. I honestly expected it to take longer just to get to this point.

In other news, tonight she sat next to me in the booster seat and ate some spaghetti. I can't explain how HUGE this is. She has NEVER eaten when she wasn't in my or Nick's lap. It allowed some great eye contact practice, too, which was nice. After she was full, she even stayed in the chair and engaged in some very focused play with me and TJ. It was a nice development and I hope it keeps up.

TJ is doing much better in school. Nick spoke to his teacher and she said that her statement to TJ about the video games was about him talking about them in class, not about him playing them at home. Nick wasn't entirely sure about what she was saying, honestly, and then she brought it up to me later and she completely contradicted herself about it. Sigh. I don't know what to make of this chick. Two more months, we just have to last two more months.

Mera is a little nut who wants to wear her new Snow White dress EVERY DAY. Such a cutie pea.

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