MESSIER stands for Multiple, Ever-changing, Simultaneous, Surprising, Imperfect, Emotional and Relative in lingua RDI (NOTE: scroll down to Clip #205 and watch the video once you register, which is free.) All of us have to learn to fly by the seat of our pants when dealing with inevitable and ever-changing problems. RDI, which is based upon a guided participation model of parenting, teaches parents resiliency so that they can guide their children in learning that trait. Last weekend, my consultant brainstormed with her local families at a meeting and they came up with a list of qualities that describe a good guide. First on the list was resilient:
Resilient: They know that there is no specific number of exposures to the concept that they are teaching that will determine competency in their apprentice. Some concepts will come quickly and easily, and others will require many more exposures than expected ("On the 10,000th try, there was light." –Thomas Edison). A good guide sticks with it and does not give up.Last week, we experienced two examples of Pamela, Steve, and I learning to be resilient. On Saturday (January 3), we bought a new kitchen table and I envisioned how to work the experience into our whole-part thinking. While Pamela was playing on the computer and tuned out of what was happening in the kitchen, we took the old table to the curb. I set up everything and called Pamela. We walked to the door and looked outside. We identified the known and unknown part of the story (where the old table was and what might be in the kitchen).
Then, a calamity happened. At least, that is what Pamela would call it. While I was setting up the kitchen with the camera and turning on the lights, Pamela flipped on the television and noticed ETV was acting up. She had a nasty tantrum (about ten minutes), and I worked very hard to calm her. When she was collected enough to process it, we did some spontaneous whole-part thinking about the persnickety PBS station. I made sure to introduce the whole as "ETV gets better" because I thought it would be easier for her to handle "when?" as the unknown (not if!).
While I did get her back on track with the table known-unknown, she had lost the joy in it, was still worried about ETV, but managed to play along with me quite forelornly. When we got back to the office, she turned on the television and found out that all was well with ETV.
The Tables and ETV
When I posted earlier in the month about Baby Alive's gifts, little did I know that the Big Comfy Couch care package would generate so much excitement. Pamela requested the Loonette doll (the known part of the story) but had no idea about Loonette's doll Molly and the autograph (the unknown). Last Monday morning (January 5) when we recorded more whole-part thinking, I could tell Pamela was very excited so I thought it prudent to talk about that emotion and preview it a bit. We agreed to open the presents when Steve came to home that night. That night, Pamela's excitement was so intense, she could not take it! She could only tolerate peeking at one gift at a time and running from the room! We tried to talk to about it several times but she said, "In prison," which means she felt trapped. The next day, she managed to tell us that she would be able to discuss it in a week . . .
Baby Alive's Gifts
The most exciting moment for us was later that night. In the heat of the moment of intense joy, we told Pamela she was too excited but we never acted negatively or came down on her. Before she headed to bed, Pamela must have been thinking about what we were thinking about her. She must have felt bad for running off so much. Why? Pamela told us, "I'm not bad. Excited, not bad." Steve smiled and said that he loved her and gave her a big hug and kiss. I smiled and reassured her that I was proud because it is very hard to control excitement.
We have come full circle with Pamela in her intense reactions over presents. When she was six months old, we bought a nifty rattle for her. Steve pulled it out of the box, and Pamela freaked out! She cried and cried like he was handling a viper. He promptly put the rattle away. We pulled it out for her a month later, and she was better able to handle her excitement long enough to play with the toy.
P.S. We have patiently waited a week. While we have observed Pamela sneaking peeks at her gifts, she is still to excited to pull them out of the boxes!