Saturday, February 16, 2008

4th child boot camp AKA sticker chart rehab!

I've always wondered what it would be like to be the baby of the family. I have to admit though that I am a little smug in my position of first born. After all, I was anticipated first, cuddled first, adored first. I was the first to answer the question for my parents of what their offspring would look like. My smile was the first baby smile of their own they'd seen, my toes and fingers were the first they'd was all about me for two whole years!
But...that baby of the family runs a close second in the desireable family position arguement. While the first born can hang their hat on the fact that they were the first to win the hearts of their parents.....that baby can forever say that they filled up all the places in the hearts of their parents that were left unfilled by all previous children! Now that is a prestigious position!
Another fun thing about being the baby of the family is that the parents are usually no longer "spring chickens" when it comes to child rearing and many times prefer the "ignore and it will go away" form of conflict resolution. Let's face it, after three busy children, mom and dad are just plain tired when number four comes along!
Ever the crowd pleaser and audience hog, that baby of the family can very quickly become a monster in the making if left unchecked! She'll win your heart with her devious smile, but she'll also run you ragged if she's prone to generate chaos!
I knew this day was coming....I felt it looming on the horizon. Time to lasso the wild and carefree calf. I anticipate lots of dust stirring up, lots of bucking and throwing around of the torso. I even expect to be pulled from my own horse to get a mouth full of dirt from time to time. But, I've got a firm hold of my rope and I'm in it for the long ride!
Life for our last child has been anything but structured. With a house full of the unpredicatablility that teens and pre-teens bring, Bren has always been a go-with-the-flow type of kid whether she wanted to be or not.... but with Kindergarten coming for her next year, we thought it was time to implement some sort of schedule for her so that she will be used to a routine when Fall gets here.

So, we started a sticker chart for her where she earns stickers for unloading our silverware, putting her clothes in her basket in the laundry room, picking up her toys before bed every night, learning a word of the day and letter of the week and learning a bible verse of the week. From the moment we put the chart on her cork board Bren became a sticker earning machine! The girl is driven!

This weeks letter was "A". We made an Apple tree and taped it to the plastic that covers one of our drafty windows. Bren wrote lots of "A" words on the apples and put them on the tree. She was so proud of herself!!

Next week we'll do some fun things with the letter "B".
This weeks Bible verse is Phillipians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who makes me strong." This is her brother Michael's favorite verse so there was alot of excitement going around when she quoted this from memory for him.

We've already had to refer to this verse several times this week as we faced our biggest challenge with Bren....sleeping in her own bed. She has slept with us or with her sister since birth, so this is a big mountain to climb.

Her's is the only bedroom downstairs, so we moved an extra twin bed up into the dressing room off of our bedroom to help lessen her fear of being totaly separated from the entire family at night.
These old New England houses are so cool in that alot of the master bedrooms have rooms off of them used for dressing or a study or even a nursery. We put Bren's princess quilt and sheets on the bed and put a vase of roses that Daddy got her for Valentine's Day on a side table beside her bed. She is so excited about her new room!

Her bedtime routine starts at 7:30 with a bubble bath, teeth brushing, sticker rewards, a bedtime story and prayer.
She's very excited about everything up until the last kiss goodnight. That's when she's not so sure about any of this new stuff and I can see her weighing in her mind whether or not putting a sticker on her sleep chart is really worth all of the uncertainty she feels in her heart over sleeping alone.
I've reminded her every night about what her bible verse says. I ask her if it says, "I can't do anything through Christ because I'm so weak and scared." She giggles and says, "No, it says I can do everything because he makes me strong!"
So, I remind her that "everything" includes being able to sleep in your own room. Not totally convinced, she will try to lay down at this point. We've had to resort (since our Spring Chicken partenting time is long over and I've only got one working leg right now!) to playing a short movie for her every night so that she will stay in her room long enough to fall asleep. I know it's another crutch that we'll have to break her from, but so far, she's fallen asleep in her own bed which I'm chalking up as progress!
Sadly but not totally unexpected, she ends up in our bed or Madison's bed around 5:30 each morning, but I'll take that for now!

My older kids came home and saw this Apple Tree and said it brought back so many memories for them. I used to do all kinds of things like this for them. I had charts for everything and little crafty things that we did together all over the house.
Bren leads a much different life than they did. It's not wrong, but it's just way different. She doesn't get to have her life revolve around pre-school interests like the other ones did because she's in a family where pre-schoolers are the minority! LOL! She holds her own well though, but I'm determined to guard her special little girl time even though the majority of our kids are busy with more grown up activities which usually pull me in as taxi driver or party hostess.

Here's to turning over a new leaf!
Here's to spending as much time as you can with your little ones while they are little!
Here's to schedules and apple trees and sticker charts and princess sheets!
Here's to the letter of the week!
Here's to being able to do all things through Christ who makes us strong!!
Here's to homes filled with the drama of tweens, the angst of teenagers and the laughter of pre-schoolers to drown it all out!


JOY said...

A is for AMEN! You make this old Mom proud of her frist born. XXOO

Eckmama said...

I think I found you via Pioneer Woman (can't remember, LOL) and have been reading your blog for a month or two now. I always enjoy your posts, but have to say this one really hit home today and was something I really needed to be reminded of. I have four kids too, but mine are 7, 6, 4 and 8 months right now(although it sounds like maybe that's how it was for you? the 'spread' I mean?). It's so easy for me to enjoy every moment with the baby but be overwhelmed by the three others that I forget I'm smarter than they are. HA! Anyway--excellent post today, I very much appreciate it!

Becca said...

Aw! Thanks Cara! I love to get new readers and I'm so glad you are enjoying my blog. Yup! I can relate to the spread of your older three! It's such a fun, chaotic, precious, frustrating time when they are young, but girl, let me tell FLIES!!!! Grab every moment you can with them!
Take care!