Friday, March 23, 2007


pooka has tantrums. what 5 year old doesn't? but because she spends 2-3 days/week with grandparents, i'm concerned about how they deal with her tantrums.

granny and poppa are getting a little burnt out and i can't say i blame them. it's tough dealing with a kid this age, not to mention one who has gone through the ordeal she has in the last 16 months, and is now awaiting the imminent upheaval of her world by the intrusion of a baby.

granny raised concerns with me last week about the severity of pooka's tantrums. she suggested we use some of the resources provided by our social worker at the hospital to consult a psychologist. perhaps this person could provide some insight and/or pointers on how to deal with the behavioral issues. this idea is a little intimidating: no one likes to hear that their child needs a shrink. furthermore, kisu and i have found a way to defuse pooka's tantrums and they have diminished at home in the past few weeks; we were unaware that they were still an ongoing issue at the g'parents house. clearly, we failed to share our secret with granny and poppa. i think our first step should be to sit down and lay out our expectations of behavior, and then the acceptable disciplinary measures used to shape that behavior. i think ultimately the fault lies in lack of communication between the adults.

granny believes that this is not normal behavior for a 5 year old, but i disagree. first off, i challenge her memory of how a 'normal' 5 year old behaves. the last 5 year old she was around for a significant period of time is now almost 16. the memories may be a little unclear. additionally, i have had recent conversations with friends whose 5 year olds are friends with pooka: they are all dealing with the same behavioral issues, fundamentally. now when you add in the chemo and the impending siblinghood, you arrive at pooka. this is completely understandable.

the challenge, then, is to arrive at an understanding of what's causing the behaviors, and how to best deal with those factors. i believe kisu and i are clear on the causes; we need to explain them to the g'parents. dealing with the normal 5 year old? well, kisu has already spoken with poppa about what we use as our 'ultimate' punishment. last night was the first chance to see if it was needed/effective. the chemo? there's not a damn thing we can do about that for another year, and i don't think 'counseling' would have any effect on the chemical fluctuations the chemo causes to her mind and body. as for the emotional issues surrounding the birth of the baby: we repeatedly assure pooka that we will still love her, spend time with her, etc., but until the baby comes and she can see for herself what the actual impact on her life is, her fears will not completely disappear. fortunately, we only have a maximum of 10 days left until the baby arrives.

granny and poppa have been a tremendous help to us since pooka's diagnosis, and for that we are deeply grateful. our successful navigation of the last 16 months would have been in serious jeopardy without them, in fact. but i think that they will be greatly relieved to know that while i am on maternity leave, they will get a break from the pooka.

as for last night...
we got a call around bedtime from a very distraught pooka. according to poppa, she had been whining and sad for about and hour about being away from home and mommy. poppa did not use the punishment, instead opting for distraction by physical exertion. when that did not work, he allowed her to call me. kisu and i were very disappointed in this, having spent a lot of time over the previous day and a half giving her pep talks/threats about behaving for granny and poppa. she said she was trying, but that she just couldn't control herself. we both explained over the phone that controlling yourself is part of being a big girl and that we expected her to continue trying. after calming her down, i did the bedtime ritual over the phone and told her i expected no more trouble for granny and poppa. we'll find out at dinner tonight whether or not she calmed down sufficiently for the g'parents.