Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Meeting Needs

Many mornings, Zinashi wakes up singing and dancing. She's something, that girl. People everywhere we go keep giving her things. She's a lot of people's favorite. The woman down at the bakery who adores her told my mom it's because Zinashi "knows how to work a room," but the truth is that she's not working the room. She's just being herself. She gets so excited about things, and that makes people excited about her; when we were at the pediatrician's office for Elvie's appointment last week, she was hopping up and down to emphasize each word of her news about homeschooling, "And [hop] I'm [hop] learning [hop] FRENCH [hop and hand motion]!" She left with a gift wrapped book, a spontaneous present from one of the nurses.

nikki the grownup, who lives in london

At the same time that she is an absolute magical wonder, she is also struggling mightily with figuring out who is in charge at home. It's her old control issues trying to take over, and the truth is that there's a simple explanation for the struggle, but it took me approximately one thousand sleep deprived years to figure it out. She just needs more of Jarod and me. Elvie's needs are of the sort that must be met immediately, and so Zinashi is often left waiting. It's hard to remember that Zinashi needs me to read her a book just as much as Elvie needs me to get the bottle into her mouth as soon as she realizes she is hungry. But she does, and we just have to be more purposeful about getting her what she needs.

So we are regrouping and figuring out some new ways of meeting her needs while still meeting Elvie's in a timely manner. We are also coming up with a new discipline strategy that takes into account the fact that I am not able to spend as much time focused on her during the day. Whereas before when she was having trouble listening and following instructions, we often said, "Okay, I think you need to have one less book tonight because you are too tired and need to get to sleep sooner," now that doesn't work because sometimes it's the only time in the day that we can get cozy like that. It backfires in the most spectacular way possible. To Zinashi, time with Jarod and me is everything when it comes to her feelings of seurity. I am working toward a schedule that will allow me to hang out with both girls at once, with nothing pressing that I need to be doing, but we are just not there yet. So an earlier bedtime involving losing books or losing playtime with Jarod is out. Something else is in, but I haven't quite figured that out yet. Give me a minute, and it will come to me. Or give me eighteen tries, and I'll figure out the thing that works.


  1. The worst thing (along with all the delightful things, of course) about two kids is the CONSTANT state of triage. Having kids at two such different stages - your triage must be more intense than most. It's so hard, though, constantly having to decide whose needs trump whose. I really have no idea what happens if there are more than two kids at home! (Do'nt think about that!)

    1. Oh, I'm thinking about three kids, and what I'm thinking is: OVER MY DEAD BODY. As in, I would have to perish and Jarod would have to have another kid with someone else. That's the only way it's happening before these two lovely children I already have are a lot more stable in both body and emotion.

  2. It'll take awhile, but Elvie should be able to hold her own bottle by 7-8 months, if you work with her. I'm not saying that you should abandon her with the bottle and go deal with Zinashi, but think of it this way:

    Elvie sits on your lap, holding her own bottle. Zinashi sits next to you, and hey, you have TWO FREE HANDS! You can use them to turn the pages of a book and read to Zinashi. =)

  3. This was a challenge that I faced when moving from 1-2, but that I revisit consistently as foster children come and go into our world. With adoption/fostering/special needs/attaching in the mix, everyone's needs feel so urgent and absolute, and they actually are.

    It helps me to have a system of companion activities set up. While giving baby a bottle, a preschooler can snuggle right up next to me and look at a book, or play with blocks. I used to keep baskets of activities next to the "feeding chair". An older sibling can be on "supplies duty" during diaper change time. I tell many stories when everyone needs me but my hands are busy. Singing can also be a way to engage children when your hands are busy.

    Another thing I am learning as they get older is that my children have a role to play in meeting each other's needs. I may have been the be-all, end-all in the beginning, but eventually needs begun to be met through FAMILY relationships, and not just parent-child relationships. It is really quite beautiful and amazing when my older children (7 and 5 being "older) engage the younger ones with playdoh, a story, blocks, or a tickle party. I am learning to step back and let the seeds I have planted in them to nurture others, flourish and grow.

    You are in the most challenging season, and you are doing it excellently! It will get easier, but what you are doing now is so amazingly important and you will reap the benefit of it down the road.

  4. It gets better and easier. My girls are only 18 months apart. And that made certain things harder and certain things easier. Regardless, you and Jarod will figure it out, consciously and subconsciously, and get into a rhythm with each other and the girls and yourself. Sure, you'll still have tough moments, but I promise, it will get easier. Those first few months, I had a vision that we were living in a snow globe and eventually, all the snow would settle down again. Hugs.


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