Monday, 1 June 2009


We've been having some up and down times here lately, so I thought I would write a snippet on each of us, to tell you how we are. I will start with our youngest and work my way up.


Has finally stopped sucking his thumb, totally, even at night while he is asleep. I know for sure because, while there is still a small patch of callused skin on his left thumb just below the knuckle, all the skin splits from wet saliva have healed completely. I know, I know, he is two and a quarter years old! How could it possibly have taken this long?

I posted about the rigmarole we went through to break him of the worst of his habit back here, but I have to let you know how we finally stopped it completely. Chilli. Yes, you read right. We started with a green one, but then moved things up a notch to a red one. Jeff had always said he would never do that to his baby but you know what? It worked brilliantly!

We cut the end off the chilli, stuck Sam's thumb inside it, turned the chilli around a few times to swish some chilli juice onto his thumb and then viola! We warned him, "Don't suck your thumb, it's spicy now." And boy did we laugh when we saw his face the first time he stuck it in his mouth! But after the first day, he just started telling people, "No suck thumb. Thumb yucky." The first time I did it with a red chilli and he tentatively put his thumb in his mouth to check if it was, indeed, yucky, he was in for a big surprise. He promptly turned around with his tongue sticking out and ran to the nearest door frame and tried to lick the taste off his tongue! But for all that, he didn't seem to mind, but to actually appreciate all the attention he was getting. Once when we were in a grocers, he saw the chillis for sale and asked me to buy one to make his thumb yucky. Bizarre. But it definitely worked.

Our dear little four year old has given up compulsory naps now that she has had her birthday. Most afternoons she ends up on the couch in the play room, looking at books before falling asleep despite herself. She seems a fair bit quieter at the moment.

One thing that has given Jeff and I great joy is that she has suddenly become more responsive to the things of God. Last Thursday night I went to cuddle her because she was crying in bed. She was quite upset over the sad death of Ginger, having watched Black Beauty that afternoon. And somehow that conversation led us to talk about whether she wanted to love God and trust Jesus. Looking back, it really seemed as if she just kept on coming up with more things to cry about until the crux of the issue - trusting God to love her and look after her - was resolved by an acknowledgement that she was ready to trust in Jesus' death to pay the price of her peace with God. It was almost a surreal conversation, with me praying with half my mind throughout and the other half just trying to work out what to say to reach her heart without forcing her to do something which the Holy Spirit was not also prompting her to do. It seemed like as soon as she said to me, "Yes, I do want to trust Jesus and be a Christian" she just calmed down completely. We said a short prayer together, she rolled over, closed her eyes, and went to sleep. From ongoing almost hysterical crying to complete peace in 60 seconds. Wow. Thank You God!!!

The next morning she asked me to put on an EMU music kids' CD (The King, the Snake and the Promise), and instead of dancing, she wanted to sit down on the floor and look through her Message picture bible while she listened to the gospel presentation on that CD. Wow again.

We are in the process of deciding on whether to enrol Anna in Pre-Primary at Joshua's school for three day weeks in term four of this year. If she keeps going the way she is with homeschool lessons, she will be reading at a fourth grade level going into grade one, having completed the Singapore Primary Maths grade one curriculum (admittedly with one-to-one assistance) and spelling above a grade one level, I would think.

However, she is not confident at all in situations where she is faced with a large group of people she does not know, even if she is in a very familiar environment. So I am worried that she will really struggle with going to school in grade one full time, with no "practice" runs. There is a very small possibility that we might decide to have her academically tested in order to enrol her in grade two rather than grade one, and if that was to be the case we would want to be very, very sure that she could cope socially.

It has taken a while, but she is now playing confidently in the school playground after school when we go to pick Joshua up. The first time we went she wouldn't even leave my side, and just watched Joshua play on the equipment without even making a move towards it. I don't want her to be too frightened to do anything when she actually needs to go five days a week.

And keeping her at home for another year is not an option, either, because I don't think that would help her in the long run. She would just come to see her shyness as more of a social handicap than she already does and become more nervous. But on the other hand, I don't want her to be unable to cope socially to such an extent that she becomes an easy target for bullying. This is one of the reasons I am glad that we have Joshua in a smaller school, now. I think a smaller school will be much gentler on Anna's emotional sensitivities.

Joshua has been struggling heaps with the change of school. Socially, he is fine. But this teacher expects a lot more academically than his previous one. He is finding the requirements of following instructions precisely and not doing his version of the required task very difficult. Staying on task and concentrating are also causing huge difficulties. He even has detention for 20 minutes tomorrow at lunch time!! (This is the even worse penalty he got for continuing to muck up when he came back to class having been sent to his "buddy class" for bad behaviour earlier in the day, last time he went to school, which was actually Thursday - we are at the end of a long weekend and Fri was a student free day.) I am glad he has a strict teacher but it is also hard to see my loveable but boisterous boy having to learn that he must stay with the task he has been given for longer than he wants to.

Part of the problem, I think, is his difficulty with the work compared to his previous school (although not compared to what he was doing with me last year). Another big part of it is his natural boyish desire to be up and doing active stuff rather than writing on paper with his pencil. Another part of it is that he has suddenly found himself at an apparent social banquet, with potential friends on every side, but completely unable to partake because his teacher wants him to (shock horror) actually do school work. The revelation that academic work might take more than one hour, during which your younger siblings nap and you wouldn't have anyone to play with anyway, is coming as a complete surprise to Joshua. And he is not handling it well.

We are praying that he will be able to remember that he can play with the other children at break times, not when he is at his desk, and that he will come to understand that if he does not do what the teacher asks him to do then he has done the wrong thing, even if his option seems an infinitely preferable task. Having taught high school to students who still struggled with these concepts, I don't have very high expectations. But I am very thankful for his teacher, who always seems to have time to chat to me about Joshua's progress, despite the absence of a pre-arranged interview time.

1 comment:

Mrs. Edwards said...

What a neat trick for the thumb-sucking problem! Our son Toby has a "bear-blanket" that he loves to chew on. Any ideas how I might deal with that?

Are you a bit introverted and your daughter takes after you? Our girls were very, very shy. In fact, during Kindergarten Sydney refused for an entire year to participate in the "game-time" at AWANA (the church memory verse club program). She was too shy to run in front of other kids. The teachers didn't force her, thankfully. However, if I had it to do over again I probably wouldn't have even bothered with AWANA her K year. By the way, at nine years old Hope and Sydney don't seem to have any trouble socially. What a joy it is to see that they are confident and relaxed and yet not seeking at all costs the approval of their peers!

My parents struggled with me my entire childhood, trying to get me to "be more social." It wasn't until I entered the work force after college that I really relaxed and realized that people weren't constantly thinking about what I was doing, if it were dumb or silly or ridiculous. In the work force, finally free from the false "peer group" of people only my own age, I discovered that life was nothing like school. Not only that, but I finally understood that I wasn't uglier or prettier than most people, but that I was just right.

I think that the most effective "cure" for shyness, then, isn't plunging into social situations so much as it is gaining confidence in one's self and discovering that everyone is worried about what others are thinking and that if you can just stop worrying about that, socializing is much easier. Being confident of the grace of God helps, too. If going to school gives Anna that self-confidence, then it will be worth it. If it just makes her more anxious, than I would say, "Don't stress things. She'll mature into herself in time."

Praise God for Abigail's faith!

I'll keep praying for Joshua. I have a child that has incredible difficulty "buckling down" and getting the work done. It seems to have nothing to do with ability! But it is a very vexing problem to tackle. As Paul Tripp said at the CDG conference, one day there won't be threats and incentives to entice our kids to do what they must. But being self-motivated in unpleasant tasks is a lifetime challenge! (At least I speak for myself!)