Transitions bring such uncertainty for L. I sometimes forget that she doesn’t have the coping skills of a much older kiddo since she sometimes thinks like a much older kiddo.
This week, she started attending a micro-school that I’m heavily involved with. In fact, as a major part of my service and scholarship work in my teacher education world, I’ll be teaching at the school two days a week. We’ve been very busy this back-to-school season, getting handsome husband ready to go back to his middle grades classroom while he takes on earning an additional teacher certification this year, me preparing my work at the university, me working to set up the micro-school environment, and L preparing to enter a school-type environment. Whew! No wonder we’ve had takeout for dinner a few times recently.
In any case, L has BIG FEELINGS. She always has them, but they really build up in times of transition. These days, she’s really capable when it comes to using her words to express them – 9 times out of 10. The tenth time is around a transition and she uses her body to express her feelings. Huge sobbing screams, stomping, slamming things, slamming her door, etc. The storm is fierce, but as soon as it’s past (usually within an hour), she dries her tears, climbs up for a snuggle, and is ready to move on with her day.
Those storms happened more when she was younger, though, and I often found myself reminding myself that my work during those storms was simply to be there. It wasn’t time to have a conversation (my default mode) or try to fix things. It’s was just to be there. And when the storm passed, I have, for four years now, grabbed this book and read it to her.
When she was 2, we happened upon this book at a local bookstore. I remember my children’s literature professor telling us that as we were building our classroom libraries, if we ever saw anything by Mem Fox, we should grab it. Well, this was by Mem Fox, and I had a coupon!
I didn’t even skim it at the store. I simply grabbed it, paid for it with our other items, and when we happened to grab it as a bedtime story, read it.
The story is simple: Harriet is the girl in the story, and she doesn’t mean to be a pesky child. She just is. She drips jam everywhere, gets paint on the rug, pulls the tablecloth off because she’s sitting upside down at the table, etc. All morning, her mother greets her various “misdeeds” with love, commenting that she doesn’t like to yell and adding a line each time until her refrain is
Harriet, my darling child
Harriet, you’ll drive me wild
Harriet sweetheart, what are we to do?
Harriet Harris, I’m talking to you
And then at naptime, Harriet’s mother breaks. Harriet and the dog make a terrible mess and Harriet’s mom finally yells. Harriet cries. Harriet’s mother regains her composure, apologizes to Harriet for yelling, and the two of them make peace.
Um, hello? Did the universe know I needed this book or what????
We have literally snuggled and read this book hundreds of times. Sometimes just because and lots of times because I needed L to know that all kiddos can be “pesky” sometimes and their mothers still love them. Because I needed to remind myself that yelling once doesn’t make me a bad mom and that L’s behavior is exactly what it should be: a child’s.
In short, if you don’t have this book yet, I can’t recommend it highly enough. We’ve had to pull it back out again this past few weeks.
And when I found a copy of it for the micro-school classroom, you can imagine how much joy it brought me!