We have been kicking back this week, a little without the normal routine of various Toddler groups happening as it is half term. We've chill axed to Cbeebies in our pyjamas which PJ loves and had an extra movie night which has been great, these last few days. We've previously watched Shrek - a few months ago - and it has gradually become one of the favourites - and now this week we finally managed to actually watch Shrek 2 - which of course she loved - once we got beyond the tears and the protests and the I don't like it statements - that anything new brings. I knew she would love it, as she is fascinated with babies and had previously declared that she wanted to marry the dragon in Shrek one night not so long ago at bedtime. The getting over the "trying something new" hurdle has, as always, been the challenge. Removing the fear from the situation by lowering the anxieties has taken a few weeks of conversation about " the new shrek", thrown in every now and then for good measure and we got there in the end. You don't know if you don't like it yet, PJ, I say. Nooooo, she cries. It has the dragon in, I say and add , you like the dragon, don't you? This week, she finally caved. Shrek 2 it is. She loved it, of course. Another new experience enjoyed and another battle conquered. Another fear dismissed. Hurrah.
We've had to visit some new parks, recently. Our almost daily visited park has been hit by devastation. The Bulldozers have moved in. The little and loved and now familiar playground area we have been to almost every day for the last 5 months has been closed since Christmas and has now been flattened. We have observed the daily changes and tried to say goodbye to our loved playground as carefully as I could, as the weight of loss once again must have hung over PJ. She has lost so much already: uprooted from her birth family to go to foster carers and now uprooted to be with me, her new and forever Mummy. These are the obvious uprootings where loss is a consequence. Where will we play? she asked. Don't worry, I said. We can bring your scooter to the park and you can scoot up and down the tree lined paths, we usually run up and down. Besides, I know of a few other parks we can go to as well. We dutifully spent the next few weeks travelling to the park with our trusted buggy and scooter and played hide and seek and running and practised our good listening skills as I pointed out certain paths to go up and down on said scooter. It seemed perfect, until the tree fellers arrived. It seems as if the park is undergoing a major overhaul. To be ready sometime newxt year. Their timing is lousy, for us. We needed stability and the secutity that the familiar brings. All I can do is reassure that we will have a new playground to play in one day. She looks longingly at the now wasteground laid bare and waves and says goodbye park. I could cry for her. We tried a few times to go but it has been hard as they were felling trees simultaneously all over the park. A bit of a challenge for a little girl who doesn't really like loud and sudden noises and for me, to try and keep her safe when we still need to work on listening skills. Off she runs and runs and runs. Stop I say as i can see the marked off areas ahead, where they are tree felling. She keeps running. PJ. PJ. Wait on, wait on, I try and yell and sign. Stop. Stop. Stop! Finally, she stops and turns and runs back to me. Phew. Did you hear me say stop? Yes she says. Well, I need you to do really good listening and for you to stop running and come back to me, when you hear me say stop. Mummy needs to look after you and Mummy could see that it wasn't safe for you to keep running. Next time I need you to stop and come back to me. I did come back Mummy, she says. Well, yes you did and that was great but I need you to stop running when I say stop. OK Mummy, she says.
We've tried a few new parks.
We went to the big park with trees and playground equipment on the other side of town. We had been there once before, so I thought she would be OK. She wasn't. She screamed in the buggy all the way there, refusing to wear the gloves or the hat I tried to put on her. I'm cold she screamed and I want to go home. I don't want to go to the new park, she protests. Despite me best attempts at ignoring the protests and reassuring the fears, she refused to get out of the buggy, when we got there. We did a token run up and down the paths and then she screamed and cried all the way home. I'm cold, I'm cold, Mummy, she says.Wearing my gloves. Phew.
We've now been there a few times successfully and also found another closer tiny park which she loves. Can we go to the phone park Mummy? she asks. The foam park? I ask, wondering which park she means. The one with the phones, she says. I think about this for a while and realise. Ah, yes the park with the small climbing wall that is phones to climb up. Yes. Let's go to the phone park.
Why did I cry when we went to the new park, Mummy?
You were very cold, I say because you wouldn't wear your gloves or your hat and it was cold. You did wear my gloves on the way home, I say.
I remind myself of how far we have come from the little girl who didn't like wearing clothes and who wouldn't wear socks or shoes or hoodies or coats, who now will mostly wear these. Hats and gloves are new things to wear.
Yesterday we went to play in the garden at her aunties house. She was very excited. Let's go she said, picking up and donning a white crocheted sun hat with purple ribbon, as we go out of the door, wearing a purple hoodie, purple gloves and a purple coat and her purple clip clops (favourite plastic high heeled dressing up shoes). I carried the wellies.
Because it is sunny today, she says.
She takes them all off in the car, of course.