I was going to write a different blog about Elizabeth tonight. After having her first Occupational Therapy visit and starting to see the "warning signs" of some of her sensory issues in hindsight, I was going to write about how scary, beautiful, frustrating, funny, heartbreaking and uplifting it can be. But I decided to write on a lighter note after laughing with Mike about what a funny little adventure she is becoming.
"DON'T LOOK" - This is a new favorite saying of hers. But unfortunately, this phrase also strikes fear into the hearts of her parents because the literal translation of this phrase is "I'm doing something I know you don't want me to do and I'd rather not be caught." She hasn't yet grasped that she has tipped us off to her most recent crime spree and that we will INDEED LOOK at what she has done.
It started out small. We'd be at the table and I'd tell her to use her fork instead of her fingers and she would announce "don't look at me" and then pick up a piece of food with her fingers. It has escalated though. Particularly when it comes to messes or "wrapping."
Elizabeth has become obsessed with what she calls "wrapping" (not to be confused with rapping - she does not imagine herself to be the a female equivalent of the Beastie Boys or Run DMC. And yes, I know I just aged myself). She loves to play with ribbons, shoelaces, thread, Slinkies, belts, etc. and wraps them all around other objects or in between multiple objects. She creates "spider webs" or "gates" or god-knows-what else that eventually I or the dogs get entangled in. And, fearing the danger of someone getting seriously hurt and already seeing too many ruined Slinkies and yo-yo strings, I've forbidden her from "wrapping".
The other day, as I finished breakfast dishes and realized my little angel was not, in fact, completing her puzzle as I instructed, I turned away from the sink calling her name in time to see her rush out of my bedroom, slam the door and HOLD IT CLOSED. Then she said, "Don't look in your room mommy." As you can imagine, I was instantly terrified. Was my make-up all over the walls? Had she wrapped up the dog? Had she emptied an ENTIRE roll of toilet paper into the toilet (Don't laugh, she's actually achieved this last feat and not while wiping. Just for fun). As it turns out, she had done some "wrapping" with shoelaces that were still attached to my shoes so I had to spend about 15 minutes untangling a rather impressive array of knots that she'd invented to bind together 5 shoes.
"Dizzy..." I warned.
"I told you not to look," she replied, as though that horrendous tangle would magically disappear if I never looked.
And then recently I had set out food coloring and Dixie cups for some "science time" with her and her friend Jack for their "school time" and after disappearing long enough only to put some food in Yukon's bowl I see her jump down from a stool, rush toward our powder room yelling, "don't look at me mommy!!" and then I hear her turn on the water. I knew EXACTLY what she had done. She had touched the food coloring bottle literally SECONDS after I said not to. I came into the powder room (much to her disappointment) in time to see her scrubbing frantically while going through our foaming soap at an alarming rate in order to de-yellow her little hands. It's with a bit of evil glee I noticed that, by bedtime, there was still a little yellow on her hands and it frustrated her to no end. Live and learn, little devil. Live. And. Learn.
Later the same night, as I was getting the kids ready for bed, she DASHED into her brother's room (she always sleeps there) and shoved something under the covers. The look on her face and her WIDE green eyes made me laugh and I asked, "whatcha doin?". She replied, "I was hiding it, don't look". Turns out, she had bitten a corner out of a piece of paper and we have been trying to get her to STOP chewing on/biting/eating other items. However, thanks to our Occupational Therapy visit, I did not get angry, but rather gave her something healthier to chew on... I'll elaborate on this in another blog.
"YOU HURT MY FEELINGS!!!!" - the exclamation points are because this is ALWAYS shouted in the middle of one of her tantrums and is never said in that heartbreaking, accompanied-by-puppy-dog-eyes, tearful voice one would imagine a little girl like my daughter would employ for appropriate guilt tripping.
This tactic, however, is still rather admirable even in the face of her not realizing maximum effect could be achieved with a softer voice because, like any good manipulator, she uses it to try to shift blame to the offendee and away from herself (the offender).
For example, we will be at the dinner table and I will tell her for what feels like the thousandth time, "Dizzy, DO NOT play with your food!" She made the bad decision the other day of spitting at me in retort. I IMMEDIATELY removed her from the table and instructed her to go upstairs to her room in search of her manners as she had obviously left them up there during nap time. She collapsed in a heap at the bottom of the stairs, refusing to go up and screaming, 'YOU HURT MY FEELINGS!!!!!!" When I asked her how, she said, "YOU WON'T LET ME SIT AT THE TABLE!!!!!" I reminded her that she was welcome to sit at the table upon rediscovering her manners, but it was too late. She was wounded, insulted and inconsolable. I walked away and let her melt into her puddle of tantrum. She eventually returned to the table and apologized. Not well, but we'll work on that.
The YOU-HURT-MY-FEELINGS turn the tables routine is Elizabeth's favorite weapon with her Father. She is in that stage where she's particularly attached to me as we spend most of the day together. So she will often tell him to get away from her or that she does not want his hugs, only mommy's. One day, in particular, she learned just what an error this is. It was my turn to clean up dinner while Daddy handled bath, stories and bedtime. Well, she began yelling and screaming that she did not want him to give her a bath, she did not want him with her, etc. So he informed her that she could give herself her own bath, she had lost her bedtime story and he would not be tucking her in. Of course, she realized then, that Dad was serious and that now she was story-less and that Daddy is funny and fun at bedtime and she had ruined it all. She ran downstairs shouting "YOU HURT MY FEELINGS!!!!" over her shoulder at her Dad and then found me and whimpered "Daddy hurt my feelings" into my shoulder. When I pointed out that perhaps she hurt Daddy's feelings by pushing him away and screaming at him and that she owed him an apology and I WOULD NOT be reading her a story, she then ran away from me crying "YOU HURT MY FEELINGS TOO!!!!!".
I'm starting to think the literal translation of "you hurt my feelings" is "you disciplined me and I don't like it."
DON'T LAUGH AT ME!! - This last one is also accompanied by exclamation points because it is never said quietly, but rather as she dissolves into what can only be called melodramatic, teary, tantrum-laden histrionics at the table.
You parents know... sometimes your kids do something so damn cute, that it makes you laugh with joy. Dizzy does this often. She often unintentionally makes the most keen, funny, acerbic, sarcastic, brilliant and true observations and it sends Mike and I into hysterics. Like when Dad asks her if he's cute and she replies, "No... you're big" or when Ellie (our snotty lab) snots all over the carpet and she says, "Ellie, you're gross... but I love you" or when she re-does Mommy's hair and I ask her if it looked bad before and she replies, "no... just boring." SHE'S FUNNY. She's awesome. She's honest. She's 3-years-old. 'Nuf said.
The problem is, recently, our joyous laughter as begun to offend her in the worst way. She bursts into tears and acts as though we're the cool kids making fun of her or something. She melts down and yells at us "DON'T LAUGH AT ME!!!!!!" No matter how we try to explain it, no matter how many hugs we give... she's hurt and she takes her time forgiving us. And the trouble is, her little offended face is also so cute, we laugh again. It's a vicious cycle really.
So, like I said, I was starting to write about her because we're about to go into a complicated adventure with Occupational Therapy. I was starting to write about my fears, about dealing with Sensory Issues in small children, about how complicated something as simple as a play date can get with her "issues"... but this seemed like much more fun. Because no matter what happens with her, she's an original. She's a smart but a mess, she's funny but sensitive, she's awesome and funny and beautiful and so fitting of that nick name her brother gave her SO long ago - "Dizzy".
She's too wonderful to heed her warnings - so look, laugh and enjoy her as much as we do and we'll help her not to get her feelings hurt, but to enjoy it just as much.