Friday, November 7, 2014

3 Year Old Rachel

Oh my beautiful girl at 3 is quite a handful. This is a harder post to write because I want to be honest and I want to do justice to the complexity that is my girl.

Rachel has always been our still water that runs deep. Rae loves hugs and will often grab your arm or leg for a quick snuggle. She is very keen to talk about the baby in my belly and I can tell she had a lot going on in her mind about babies and families but doesn't quite have a complexity of language to talk about it all yet. She is slow with words but is capable of complex sentences and complex ideas during play. But she is getting more and more determined in her ideas and in acting out her preferences, whether those around her go along with them or not.

She has an intensity of focus that allows her to play by herself for long periods of time and she will carefully place her toys to get things exactly the way she wants them to be. I often wonder if all the 'language' that Sam exhibits all the time disturbs her. And I also think she is pretty good at totally ignoring him and doing her very own thing, sometimes silently, and sometimes completely contradicting him without caring one bit.

Rachel loves to play house and takes very good care of her babies, whether the baby is Sam (a rather loud, opinionated, difficult baby for whom she has incredible patience!) or a Lovey who apparently cries the minute she puts it down or hands it over to someone else to hold for a minute. She is soothing and gentle 'Mommy.' 

When she is in a happy mood and playing WITH Sam, her constant refrain is 'ok ok ok' and then she will contribute some new idea to the scenario or suggest something contradictory to what they are doing but regardless of his reaction, she will not break from her persona of 'happy playmate,' just respond with an appeasing 'ok ok ok.' I'm not sure where she gets this from....but when she is happy, this girl is unflappable in her play... and shows an amazing tenacity in her effort to bring Sam in-line with her ideas.

She also really enjoys pretending to be a cat these days. She will meow and nuzzle up to us saying, 'I a kitty' and not break character for a very loooong time. Sometimes she will eat a whole meal or go through a whole routine, like getting out of the house, while maintaining her cat persona.

In spite of her independence, at this 3 year mark Rachel is highly emotional. She has multiple meltdowns every day, hysterical crying that seems to come out of the blue over simple things like, 'it's time to eat.' It's hard to know when these meltdowns are coming because they seem to start out silently....the initial response isn't tears, or a verbal reply, it's a silent passive refusal to do what is asked or respond to a request. Which leaves me not knowing what the heck is going on for her and the more I try to find out, the worse things get.

Once the waterworks start, there is no pleasing her, everything is a disaster and she counters every single option you give her. The upshot is that her default request is for a 'nap' whereby she goes to cry on her bed until she calms down, which is a thousand times better than a kid who throws tantrums or throws things or hurts themselves. Sometimes I will give her whatever time she needs to calm down and then she will come out and say 'I happy now.' Sometimes I will go in and try to talk to her, which almost never works. Sometimes I will go in and rub her back, use very few words, offer a hug; this seems to be more effective than trying to talk.

I think in the love languages area, Rachel's language is physical touch. She is very sensitive to it and anything harsh really affects her and reconnecting with her when she is in an emotional place is best done WITHOUT words. I find this hard because I tend to be very verbal but we are working on it and have seen good progress this week.

I so love my girl and her quiet, strong personality.  I can't wait to see how we bond over this new addition to our lives. I know she is going to be an amazing big sister.

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