Friday, October 24, 2008

and then she just stares

pooka is really showing a lot of growth lately, particularly in taking personal responsibility for herself. she is getting into the rhythm of laying out clothes for school the night before; getting up without (too much) whining; doing homework. often the first words out of her mouth when i pick her up are, "i already did my homework, mom."

the reading homework is a breeze for her. whether it's poetry, library books, spelling lists, or writing, she enjoys it, looks forward to it, and does it well and usually pretty quickly. the math homework? not so much. well, she does show enthusiasm for it, but her facility with numbers is not as great as with letters. i think this is an inherited trait, because i never liked or did very well at math that much, either.

math trips her up even when it depends heavily on her strong language skills. she had to come up with two story problems the other day. the first one was easy (she had probably been thinking about it all day) but the second one just refused to show itself. i suggested she follow the theme/scene she used for the first. i suggested three different possibilities, but she said they weren't good enough. for first grade math? it's not a pulitzer prize, honey. i offered up other scenarios, too, but she just couldn't decide which one to use.

i'm beginning to think she has anxiety issues. in situations like this it just grabs her and won't let go.

so far that's the only plausible reason i can come up with for the way she behaves at other times, as well. when she's being willful or disobedient, we'll remind her of consequences (in a perfectly normal tone of voice): if you don't get ready for bed, you won't get snuggle time; if you don't stop whining, you will lose the daddy blanket.

she receives these ultimatums as punishments that have already happened. as if she knows she is unable to accomplish the things she needs to in order to avoid them. she will stop moving altogether, or she will whine louder or burst into all-out tears. it doesn't make sense to a rational person. you know what to do to avoid the punishment, so you do it, but not her. i think anxiety just freezes her and she locks up, incapable of making a decision or taking the necessary action.

we don't know what to do about it. we've talked with her at calmer times about what she needs to do to avoid those punishments, etc. she understands that she can control her own destiny somewhat, but in the heat of the moment, she just can't do it.