The unschooling continues to be reaping rewards with Mollie’s willingness to interact with me. She seems far less wary of me now as if she finally trusts me not to use shared experiences as an opportunity to teach. It is very hard to hold back when I see such opportunities arise but hold back I must because she is fine tuned and alert to the most innocuous of attempts.
A few days ago I dashed down to my local Aldi to stock up on their latest offers, a wonderful array of really well priced arts and crafts box sets, books, activity books and so on. If Mollie sees them all at once she will be through the whole lot within two hours. Everything opened and strewn across her activity room, all half used, half completed and now all tangled and mixed up with each other.
With this in mind I have bagged them up and put them in the garage. I shall introduce different ones to her one by one as a surprise here and there. The trick then, of course, is not to ask her to play or create with me but to merely ask if she would enjoy making a puppet, a set of paper planes, painting a flower-pot and so on. I tend to put about three things out on her table in the hope that the choice offered combined with the wording of “would you like to do this with me” will encourage her away from that damn Ipad with its constantly playing Netflix or you tube videos. Even when she does engage the Ipad and the noise comes everywhere with us, it has replaced ‘Blueberry Bear’in her affections and she carry’s it around like a comfort blanket. It does also serve a dual purpose for her, by always having the Ipad with her she can deflect any questions during the activity by saying ‘I can’t talk I’m watching this’
So far so good and it is fabulous to spend time with her again while she is enjoying a calmer period and is not quite as quick to swear, shout or insult me. Yesterday we made paper planes and tied a penny to the nose of each one to help them stay more level and keep direction while in flight. It was a good idea but they still didn’t fly far, oh well we had fun trying. We practiced the art of keeping a Diablo spinning which is a bit like a juggler kind of trick, again from Aldi. Then she wanted us to paint our palms with glue, wait unit it had dried and then peel it off. She loved the feel of pulling the dried glue from her skin and I must agree that it was rather nice. It was a bit like a DIY skin peel and our palms did feel very smooth afterwards.
Sleep and The Merry-Go-Round of Wake – Sleep Continues
- Yesterday Mollie had been awake throughout the previous night and by 3.00pm she was pooped.
- As frustrating as her strange sleep cycle is we just go with the flow and make the best out of the times when hers synchronize with ours.
- The good part is that sleep is no longer a battle because she now asks and wants to go to bed, even if it is at the most strange of times.
- Yesterday and the day before I tucked her up at 10.00 am and 3.00pm respectively and because I wasn’t pooped by having a battle to get her to bed or due to the fact that it was the early hours of the morning it is now a far more pleasant experience for all concerned.
- She snuggled down and I got on the bed and I read her a story, something that she has always hated and avoided in the past. Although she is ten her reading age will be well below that due to her dyslexia and I have reflected this in the books that I have purchased.
- She is so tired the last thing that she needs is a complex tale to deal with and so I have purchased, from Aldi where else, a lovely set of illustrated books that are beautiful on the eye and easy on the ear. Because they are illustrated and the writing is clear with just a few lines on each page, I am hoping that when I am reading that Mollie may be naturally tracking some of the words. Large blocks of text would be impossible for her.
- What her actual reading ability is, is one of the great unknown answers due to her complete refusal to engage in any such testing.
I Want To Be Normal
- So we had a lovely peaceful day yesterday and I tucked her up in bed, read her a story and kissed the top of her head as she fell asleep at 3.00pm.
- She was awake again at 9.00pm, grumpy and demanding food. I explained that she had only had six hours sleep and that I would bring her some food upstairs in the hope that she would nod back off.
- Nod back off she did until about 4.00am this morning and she was in a horrible mood when she woke up. She wouldn’t have our precious little ‘Rosebud’, Mollie’s puppy, on the bed and she was being quite cruel to her. She kept saying that she hated Rosebud because she wanted a normal dog that wasn’t nippy.
Eventually it came out that she wants to be normal, her words not mine, and that she can’t bear the thought of being stuck with PDA for the rest of her life. She feels that she doesn’t fit in anywhere and just wants to have a life like everyone else. She can’t see any future for herself unlike other kids who have dreams of what they want to be when they grow up. Apparently she had had a lovely dream and in her dream she was normal and it was upsetting for her to wake up from. Some days I can just about take it but on other days it all just gets too much to cope with she explained.
- My attempts to comfort her where futile and I was ordered out of the room so that she could sob in private. My heart was breaking for her and I felt and still do feel so powerless to do anything for her.
- At 5.00am she decided that she was getting up and came to fetch me to get up with her. “I’m having a duvet day and watching my happy Barbie films to make me feel better” she said. She watched three Barbie films on the trot and said that she felt a bit better and could she have a bath. After I had picked myself up from the floor in complete disbelief at her unusual request I did as she had requested.
- Following the bath and hair wash, shock, shock, horror, horror!! We had lunch, made jelly, painted, made paper bag puppets (thank you Aldi) and completed some IQ puzzle games.
- By 4.00pm she was pooped and so off we went to bed with a few books. She seemed rested and commented how she could remember her first school like the back of her hand even though she hadn’t been there for four years. I miss my old school and my friends because that was when I felt normal she whispered. The crack in my heart from earlier in the day now became a crevice and the feeling of hopelessness at being unable to do anything for her a tidal wave.
Of course she is looking back at her first school through rose-tinted spectacles. In the two years that she was there she spent the majority of her time in suspension, part-time days, meltdown, attacking teachers and trashing classrooms. She had one friend and felt bullied and excluded by the rest, no doubt if she were still there her one remaining friend may have found the friendship difficult to continue because Mollie was very impulsive and aggressive with her.
We are a world away from that the behaviour now but the environment that Mollie has imposed on herself in order to create the calmer her has given her a life that is far less than ordinary. She then softly drifted into sleep and I cuddled her from behind and but my arm around her. I am at a loss as to what I can do or how I can help her feel more at peace and more accepting of the way that things are and of who she is. This process of self-awareness and grieving for the life that she used to have when she thought that she would be just like everyone else is very hard to bear.
A more tolerant world, willing to accept differences instead of judging and forcing round pegs into square holes may have saved my daughter this horrible feeling of not being normal, not fitting in anywhere and unable to leave her own home. She may not be like the majority of children but she does belong to a group of children. Mollie belongs to the PDA Society and therefore it isn’t that she isn’t normal but that she is part of a unique minority rather than the run of the mill majority. Hopefully one day she find this thought more accepting than her current one of “I’m not normal”
For more information on PDA please visit http://www.thepdaresource.com/