Quote of the Day


Holding Therapy

Posting from: MarKuel Hotel, Khabarovsk, Russia
Local Time of Writing: Naptime of course, 2:00 pm on Monday, September 11th
Weather: A Blustery Day: cool, rainy, and windy

Thank you once again for your good advice, both here and in email. We are relentlessly firm, and that seems to help a lot. If the line in the sand doesn’t wiggle, it is not as interesting.

We’ve been using and having great success with Holding Therapy. This is what we do when someone is losing it (not used for mere Whaa-whaas, but for anger and raging – aka temper tantrums). Plop your raging child onto their belly over your lap so that the legs dangle over one side and the arms over the other. Plant your elbows on your kneecaps to hold your kiddo there (this also allows you to put your fingers in your ears if you wish). Let them express all their angry indignant feelings in whatever volume they wish (not that you could stop it anyway). Wait until their angry energies are spent. Your child will relax and you can rock your legs left and right and pet them; I start humming the soothing song about now. Juliana will stretch out her legs for the full head-to-toe pet. After awhile they will stir and you move them into a cuddle-on-the-lap position. If they have really been working hard they’ll be hot and flushed. I offer them a drink and ask them to wait while I go get it. This helps them transition back to child-as-onewho-obeys and Mama or Papa as trustworthy-meeters-of-needs. They wait, the drink arrives, they return to the cuddle lap. Both children want to have us hold the drink like one would for a baby. I’m sure if we had a bottle, they would take it. Now there are a lot of “I love you’s” exchanged, and loads of eye contact (tentative at first) and mutual patting. It is amazing. From five minutes to the next they go from raging to cooing.

Thank you to all of you who have affirmed what we were thinking, that letting it all out – as unpleasant as it is for us, the neighbors, and all the people within a six block radius – is a sign of trust.

On a related note, during the first few rages we heard a lot of “detsky dom; nyet Mama y Papa dom” (orphanage, not Mama and Papa’s home). We just waited till the quietness came and then gently said: “Nyet detsky dom; da Mama y Papa dom.” So, last night when Jamie and I were serving them their humongous dinner and gazing in awe at their capacity, I inadvertently used the word detsky dom in my sentence. Both children got real quiet and then Andy said gently, with a hint of inquiry: “Nyet detsky dom; da Mama y Papa dom.”

Speaking of dinner, tonight we are having chicken fettuccini, if I’m still alive that is. Jamie is down with a bad cold and I am flying solo today, a preview of what life will be like M-F. He has to be vertical for tomorrow’s visit to the Vital Statistics office and on Saturday for our trip to Moscow. It is unusual for him to be sick but we are so very sleep deprived. There have been wind storms the last few nights which sets the light fixtures on the exterior of the building ahummin’. The nights prior to that the soccer players upstairs practiced their floor thumping and door slamming skills until one or two in the morning – they are quite accomplished at both skills.

The children wake up on their own and make their beds beautifully and then come sit on the side of our bed and pat us, begging for their clothes. I had to take their clothes out of their room; who would have known that clothes were such attractive play things? Until I confiscated the clothes, they would avoid sleeping by assembling and reassembling their clothes piles.

I'm blogging all the challenges, but that is what we need advice and support on. Really though, 85% of our time is spent giggling and cooing and playing and being happy together. Today I taught them how to really build a fort (a malenky dom - little home) and then they peeked out from it while their bear and kitty danced and sang for them. Their joy and laughter was a balm.

Because Germie, I mean Jamie, is occupying our bedroom, which had become Juliana’s nap room, she is in her own bed and Andy is on the couch next to me with his blankie and books and of course Meshotka the bear (the little pillows and blankies are a big hit, Mom, thanks again). He delights in not having to go to sleep and with his guard down, he always does. So with him asleep, this is my big chance for a shower or a nap. Tough choice.

Khab tips of the day:

  • if you are coming to stay at the Markuel, especially with a child a bit older, the best playground is on the other side of the building that you look at as you exit the Markuel. From the Markuel doorstep, go downhill to walk around to the otherside of the building. The playground there has a really cool climbing castle.
  • bring an apron with pockets. Very useful both for cooking and for hiding contraband in (my Toblerone for example, or their forfeit toys).

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