Thursday, July 5, 2012

no monsters under the bed here

i think i'll forgo the urge to apologize and explain away the six month gap between posts.... anyone who's readin' this and anyone who tries to blog regularly knows life keeps happenin', despite our best intentions.

i don't have anything adoption-related to write about this mornin'. actually, in the last few months, some of the adoption-frenzy that whirled inside of me for so long has subsided some. we've found ourselves pulled headlong into the life of parenting a rather opinionated, expressive, personality bursting toddler. our latest battle? 

paralyzing fear of the vacuum cleaner. 

it's a ferocious fear our brave little girl has somewhat suddenly developed. when she was itty bitty and making more noise crying than a freight train, i'd wrap her up against me and vacuum until she slipped away into baby slumber. and then somethin happened. not exactly sure what it was, and i'm not exactly sure when it was....but sometime in the last few months, the rumble of the vacuum cleaner switched from being soothing to soul-gripping. up until about a week ago, it was a manageable anxiety. i'd vacuum while she napped, and if i just had to do it while she was awake, josh would help. we tried everything from keeping her in the other room, thinkin maybe she'd outgrow the josh holdin her and talkin to her while i puttin her little feet on the same carpet i was trying to clean....but nothin worked. it was mere survival. and like i said, this was all manageable until very recently.

the vacuum has a home. it's a hall closet it shares w/the coats, a yoga mat, an air mattress, and josh's grad school graduation gown that he refuses to get rid of. the closet is right next to the living room, and now riley has realized the door is the only thing b/w her and the frightening machine. about 4 days ago, she began pointing at the door and in her "i'm a little nervous here" voice, sayin "oodooo. ooodooo." translation: "there's somethin in there. i think i know what it is. i don't like it. but i'm not sure what want you to do about it." so we tried openin the door and showin her that the vacuum was put away. openin the door almost seemed better to if it was better to see the monster rather than just fear that he was hiding behind the door. except that the pointing and the "oodoo"ing didn't stop. so we tried shuttin the door again. but that didn't work either. so we just left the door open. nope. still not makin any progress.

so a couple days ago, josh was gone, and it was just me and the tot. this routine of pointin at the door and "oodoo"ing was becoming incessant... we couldn't read books or stack blocks or even walk through the house. really? yes, really. so i decided, in all my 18mo of parenting wisdom and forethoughtfulness, "i will embrace this as an opportunity to teach my daughter not to be irrationally afraid of things." great idea, right? yes, of course it was.

attempt one: riley, i know you're afraid of the vacuum cleaner. that's okay right now. but look - the scary thing has a home, and sometimes when you're really afraid of something, you can just close the door....shut the scary thing behind somethin bigger and safer. riley, help mama shut the door. good job, riley! see? no more scary vacuum. the door is shut. 

this seemed to satisfy her for about 17 seconds.

attempt two: ignore the vacuum and ignore the pointing and "oodoo"ing.

this seemed to satisfy me for about 7 seconds.

attempt three: face the fear head on. i pulled the vacuum out of the closet and laid it over on its side. i sat beside it and started to mess w/the various dials and doors and wheels....tryin to show her that it's just made up of a whole bunch of parts that if found on any other piece of plastic, she would thoroughly enjoy. she kept her distance for a while....and then she would eventually lean forward and point to a part until i told her what it was. slowly, she inched her squatty little body toward me...and w/great trepidation, eventually sat down in my lap. i continued to name and show and play with the moveable parts.....and over the course of 40+ min (i am not kidding), she began touching and playing with the parts, too. 

i thought maybe we had conquered the fear once and for all....though it seems like this will be more of a process than a one-time deal. for convenience sake, i tried to return the vacuum to it's closet home, but the toddler fixation returned until the monster was drug from its den. so in the middle of the space b/w the living room and the dining room sits an upright vacuum cleaner....which, by the way, in its upright position still grips her w/anxiety and nervous "oodoo"ing. but as soon as we lay it over and (and this is an important step) go sit by it, she seems to gain some confidence.

it makes so sense to me, really. of all the things to be afraid of out here - a tree house whose first platform is about 5ft off the ground, a 100lb shaggy dog, sharp-clawed kittens....of these things, she's undaunted. the other day, she even walked off the couch - yes, was standin on the couch and walked right off the edge of it as if she could walk on air. and the vacuum cleaner is the monster. 

oh to know the inner workings of an 18mo old little girl.