I've often been told that I have a large amount of patience when it comes to children. I didn't know just how much patience one person could have until recently. With all that Monster Man is going through, I've had to learn to be 100 times more patient than I already was before.
The biggest test of my patience has come from Monster Man's anxiety issues. We visited Tallulah Gorge a couple of months ago, and it took almost 45 minutes to get Monster Man to feel comfortable enough to take even a quick look over the lookout into the gorge below. What we'd intended as a 20 minute stop turned into almost an hour as we waited for his nerves to calm. When the worst of his fears hit, we have to choose our battles wisely with him. Is it really going to hurt to give in and let him back away from his fears from time to time? Or should we encourage him to face his fears to help him overcome them? We've learned that each situation is different, and we have to decide whether to help him face his fears or to allow him to turn away.
As the clock struck midnight tonight, signaling the start of 2011, the air outside our windows was filled with the familiar sound of fireworks. Our neighbor's were welcoming the new year in style, celebrating the end of the old and the start of the new. Inside our house was a different story, however. I'd managed to get the kids all to bed around 11:00, and I thought they were all asleep. Of course, Monster Man made his way into my bedroom almost immediately after the first firework exploded. Once again, his anxiety had kicked in and he was extremely nervous. I could tell this by the way he was positioning his mouth, a tic that is triggered by stress for him. He didn't want to admit it, telling me that he just couldn't sleep, but I could see a little fear in his eyes as well.
This time, I was prepared for the situation. I've sometimes been known to let him bring a blanket and pillow into my room and sleep on my floor, and there have been times when I've found him doing the same in Angel Baby's bedroom. Tonight, however, I had a different plan. He received a LeapFrog Crammer for Christmas, a handheld learning device that pairs practice quizzes and flashcards with an MP3 player to help make learning fun. Instead of sleeping with someone else (though Little Man's presence in their room has recently been enough to help Monster Man feel a little safer), I suggested he put his ear phones in and listen to his MP3 player until the fireworks have stopped. For once, he actually went with my suggestion on the first try. Maybe this patience thing is finally helping us both learn how to handle these situations.