Octobergirl stands with her forehead to the mirror crying along with her reflection. The sight must bother her because she puts her hands on her face and mumbles something about not wanting to see herself cry. I try to convince her that I'm here to help and will walk her through the steps one by one but she's not hearing it. She turns around and her little belly sticks out from under the top of her green X-mas pajamas that are now a year and a half old and a size and a half small. She's adorable 98% of the time, my Octobergirl. But right now? Oy.
Right now, I'm not yelling or comforting, or breaking down anything into smaller steps. No, we're about 20 minutes into this and I'm tired. My mind wanders and I start to think about how I'm not sure I can follow the pattern - if there is one - of battles I choose to dive into and those I chose to leave alone.
Octobergirl sometimes sits in front of her food and takes maybe one or two bites every 20 minutes. I become impatient (specially if we're eating out) and begin to feed her so that she can finish up with the rest of us. This drives my husband mad. We go back and forth between (him) how she's never going to do this on her own if we keep feeding her and (me) not giving a shit right then and there because I don't want to sit at that diner booth for four hours.
It doesn't bother me to have to feed her with one hand while feeding myself with the other. I understand that she's got auditory sensitivity issues, finds it hard to concentrate in noisy places, blah blah blah. So I think nothing of helping her out in that situation. But why is it that tonight she stands in the bathroom corner with her belly sticking out from her too-small jammies crying about how confused and upset she is over brushing her teeth and I'm not giving her the same understanding I give her when she's eating? Instead I try to reason with her. I tell her there's nothing to be scared or nervous about, mommy's here. She reminds me that she's confused, has forgotten all the "steps" to brushing her teeth and can't think straight. I tell her she doesn't have to think straight right now, mommy's here. Mommy remembers all the steps. She screams louder and louder and I decide I'm not doing this tonight. I pick that moment to bring to her attention that she's yelling at me when I'm in the middle of trying to help her. I remind her that she constantly yells at Octoberboy when he's trying to help her and I tell her that yelling at people who are trying to help is a really bad idea. I realize it's not the most opportune moment for a social story but if I don't throw this in there while she's in the middle of yelling (and I'm in the middle of helping) she may not make the connection when she's calm.
Around minute 27, I begin to plead with her. Let me help you, I'll remind you of all the steps. I'll do it one-by-one and slowly so you won't get confused. She just continues to yell, BUT I CAN'T I'LL JUST MESS IT UP ANYWAAAAAAAAYYYYY!!! I tell her she can either let me help her or she can go to bed with stinky teeth. The idea freaks her out but not enough to shake her out of her anxiety attack. I give up. Fine then, move out of the way so mommy can brush her teeth and go to bed. She moves over and I go about my nightly ritual which includes many, many minutes of flossing, rinsing, brushing and an eye-makeup removal ritual that makes me wonder daily why the hell I wear so much of it to begin with.
She waits to see if I'll change my mind, then gives up and goes to bed. I walk over to her room a few minutes later and flip off the lights then sit at the computer to blog.
Tomorrow we'll fight over the tooth brushing again. She has tooth brushing books. She has videos, I've written down the "steps", I've stood next to her and walked her through it, I've put my hand over hers and guided her through the whole process. Nada. I'd like to think I can just say screw it and refuse to help her til she comes around. But what's more likely is that a week from now she'll walk around blissfully unaware, rendering people unconscious with every "Hhhhhello!" and looking like she just ate a cream cheese sandwich. Maybe I'll just let her win and brush her teeth for her til she's 35.