Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Trading Places

Over this last week, I had an opportunity to help some friends by watching their children and pets.  Alyssa joined some of the time, but mostly spent her evenings and weekend with Daddy.  I should preface my sharing, by telling you, the kids I watched are typically developing kids with amazing parents.  The kids are in first and fifth grade.  They have wonderful manners, are full of personality and were a joy to watch. 

The son, who is oldest, is hilarious.  He is a powerful negotiator with a heart of gold.  On the first morning, I made them breakfast and packed their school lunches.  He came over to me with a dollar and handed it to me.  I said, “what’s that for?”  He wanted me to have it, “a tip’, for making his breakfast and lunch.  So polite, but I shared with him, it wasn’t necessary and returned his dollar.  He was equally happy to keep it.  This made a smile form deep from inside my heart.  How often do we meet children today who want to tip their sitter, from their own allowance?  Later in the week, he saw that Alyssa was watching an old VHS tape of Aladdin.  He told me, he has the updated version of Aladdin 1 & 2 on DVD and he would like to give them to Alyssa because he knows she would like them and he doesn’t need them anymore.  Is this boy for real?  What a sweetheart.  I was taken back by his generosity and willingness to give to others, from his wallet and his personal belongings.  Impressive!!

The daughter, who is Alyssa’s age and grade, was like a mini-mommy.  If I didn’t know where something was, she was on it… literally.  If it was on the top shelf, she was up on the counter in a matter of a second and retrieving what was needed.  She has the ease and flexibility of a gymnast.  You can tell she spends a lot of her time with her mom because she was a great little helper for me.  As I did little projects here and there, she stayed close.  It was so much fun to be managed by a first grader.  She was clear to me on how she thought it would be best for me to do things, so I followed her lead (for the most part).  We learned a new game, which was fun for us both.  Before bed each night, we would pick out her cute outfits, and do her hair pretty.  She is a fashionista!!  She knows what she wants, how she wants it and was very clear in communicating those wants/needs.  This was very fun for me, especially because I got to see what was important to a girl Alyssa’s age.  When Alyssa joined us, she played with Alyssa, followed her about and kept me informed of Alyssa’s every move.  Later, she told me, what she thought, Alyssa thought.  I loved this!!!  Even though, she was sharing her own thoughts, it helped me understand what kids think about.  She told me what Alyssa likes and dislikes.  I wish she was around more!

As I look back on the week, I can only tell you, this was a great experience.  We did homework together.  I made the meals they desired and took them out to dinner one night too.  We went to the movies and did a little shopping.  Funny, my negotiation skills improved.  I was caught by surprise from time to time, at which point, I had to kick my thinking into high gear to develop the right response.  In a matter of speaking, you could say, my brain got a work out. 

I feel like I gained a lot from this experience because I was able to learn some new things to try with Alyssa.  Since Alyssa doesn’t make personal requests, I generally have to guess what she likes.  Now, I have a whole new bank of ideas.  Next time I take Alyssa to Wal-Mart, I will take her to the toys and wait while she picks out a new toy of "her choice".  When we go out for a family dinner, I will get Alyssa a Shirley Temple, so she can enjoy this drink, which kids have loved, since what seems like forever.  Before bed, I will put together some outfits and see if she will pick one to her liking. 

All in all, this exerience heightened my awareness of things Alyssa may enjoy and opened my eyes to some things I should try.  It’s easy to go through our routine, not even aware, how doing things different, can be good.  I hope this will help me be a better mom for Alyssa.  If only we could all trade places to see what it is like on the other side of the fence. 

In loving memory of Baxter, our loyal and energetic boxer.  He will be missed more than words can express!!!! 

Thank you for reading and have a great week.  Angie

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