Lately I’ve found myself sitting outside in the cold thinking, “I knew better!” The need for change growing each passing day. The need for sameness prevailing.
You see, back in August Kirsten started getting daily curbside pickup for her new community program. And although I loved not sitting on the street corner waiting for the bus, I missed spending that time together. So I made an adjustment. Me: “Kirsten, do you want to sit outside and wait for LeeAnn?” Kirsten: “Outside.” And so it began.
Perfect really. Away from the distractions of chores, coloring, TV… We would listen to music on K’s iPad, breathe in that fresh morning air, watch the sun rise slowly over the horizon, and enjoy the birds chirping. Beautiful start to the day! A little piece of perfection, right? Until…
Not a huge drop. We live in San Diego, after all. But after acclimating, the 50’s feel frigid. Hey now – don’t judge! Sitting outside in the fog, not a bird in sight, feeling the cold concrete beneath me… I found myself asking Kirsten’s favorite question, “What time’s LeeAnn?”
I longed to be on the other side of that large living room window. Me: “Honey, do you want to go inside to wait for LeeAnn?!” K: “Outside.” *shiver* Me: “Okay honey. But you know it’s warm inside!” K (stress creeping up): “Just wait outside!” Me: “Sure honey. Outside.”
Challenge her now and I will surely be afforded the opportunity to appreciate the crisp cool air for months to come. Yeeeeaaaah. Let’s sidestep that minefield and come up with a plan. After all, she doesn’t want to sit out in the cold any more than I do! Just have to find a way for her brain to accept the change. Think…. think… think… think… Got it! I’ll attempt a tag-along!!
A what? A tag-along! You know… where you take one rule and piggyback it with another well-engrained rule? Goes like this…
In Kirsten’s world, skirts are to be worn June 1 – October 1 and pants the other way around. It’s a very strongly engrained rule. Never to be broken! So what if I piggybacked… skirts = sit outside and pants = sit inside?! It just might work!
The next morning while sitting out in the cold…
Me: “Kirsten, you know how we wait for LeeAnn outside?”
K (Stressed tone. Hits fist-to-leg. She knows where this is going.): “Outside!”
Me: “Right. I love to sit outside with you. But it’s getting cold! I think when we wear skirts we sit outside and” (pause… quiet, calm, even tone…) “when we wear pants we sit inside?”
K: “No inside! Just outside!!”
Me: “Whatever YOU want honey. I like to sit with you. I’m just a little bit cold.”
Quickly move on to a new subject… K (every 10 seconds): “Only outside!” Me: “Nooo problem!” and off to school she goes.
Now here’s the thing. This was not a fail! I planted a seed. Gave her a new rule to ponder. And you know the girl LOVES rules! They create stability. A sense of security. Now I just sit back and wait. Don’t say another word about it. Ball’s in her court. And wouldn’t you know???!…
The next morning Kirsten got herself ready, and at 7:20 am (exactly – of course) she headed downstairs and straight into the living room!! Not a word spoken. In the excitement of the moment, I almost blew it. Me: “You want to sit in the living room?!!” Quickly gathering my senses, I calmly add, “Good choice Kirsten. Let’s open the window a little so we will hear LeeAnn.”
K: “Pants. Inside.”
Me: “Yes. Pants. Inside.”