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BTRT Patterns (on Etsy)

Sunday, 22 January 2012
I written recently about some of the challenges parenting brings our way, by way of our daughter's highly sensitive (and now, diagnosed anxious) nature.

School is a particular challenge for Rowan.
She enjoys it immensely and she is an excellent student.
But she also experiences anxiety in all of the many changes and unknowns that a school day brings.
For her, it is exhausting.

We are finding that Rowan, when feeling anxious, seeks islands of control~ finds something she can manage to cope with the overwhelming things around her (don't we *all*?).  This tends to express itself at this time as a sort of hoarding behaviour.  Not like the tv show, just grabbing and hanging on to things, collecting them.

Her item of choice is rocks.
Now, I like to collect rocks, too, and she has always been a rock hound.
But I am talking about coming home with her little backpack stogged full of several pounds of gray gravel chips from the school yard.
When I asked her not to do this, she brought them home in her coat pockets instead.

Faced with the choice of... what? Sewing her pockets shut?
I had to stop and think about this.

Recess is very chaotic and overwhelming.
Collecting rocks (often as a game, with friends) is a 'safe place' for my daughter in all the activity around her.
Clearly her behaviour is providing her with something she is needing.

It was one of those moments, as a parent, when you hear that voice saying "there is another way".
That little voice that calls us to be our creative best for our children~ to perceive their need and to meet it in a way that honours their struggles.
I don't hear it very often... I mean, I don't listen to it, or for it, as often as I should.
And sometimes the "you shouldn't do it this way" voice that sounds an awful lot like my mother is just too loud...
But I am really trying.

So I stopped fighting the rocks.
Heck, I already have a rock basket at the door of the house, to which Rowan makes almost daily deposits, and which I empty, discreetly, when full.
 I made her a rock box for school.
I decorated a tall plastic container with stickers and a unicorn and "Rowan's Rocks" written boldly upon it.

It sits at her cubby, and every day, she deposits all of her found treasures into the box, with the expectation that when it is full, I will come after school and we will empty it out, choosing a couple of special items to take home, returning the rest to nature. That will be a tough day. I know. But the payoff of accepting her behaviour and helping to normalize it (and set some boundaries around it at the same time), has been immense.

Especially for me.
Learning that I can just roll with it.
And I can always fall back on the old adage, if you can't beat 'em... make them their own box and embrace them (isn't that how it goes?!). ♥♥

I'd love to hear about your creative parenting strategies.... the times you listened to that quiet little voice...


Conservative Knit Mom said...

That is a great idea! Your daughter and my son are true kindred spirits. I am always finding rocks in pockets, in his car seat, bookbag, you name it! What a great way to let him know I value what he likes! Thanks for posting this!

catching caterpillars said...

looooove it! kids are the funniest sweetest things ever!

Adventure Academy Mom said...

What a great Mom moment. Rocks are fun anyway. We glue them together and make people. Once the kids had them all piled up and put a marble in the top, they would guess where it would come out. Kids are so fun.

Rachel said...

This is wonderful - sometimes it's hard to remember to look past the behavior and find out "why?"
Thanks for this great post!

Unknown said...

You're welcome! Thanks for commenting!
We haven't made inukshuks yet! Maybe we can do that with the school gravel + glue! Great idea!

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