Friday, April 27, 2007

Battle of the Bedrail

Like many post-institutionalized kids, Tootle is resistant to change. It sometimes takes me many months to institute a change, and then I'm not always sure what inspired the sudden willingness to go out on a limb. Take for example the battle of the bedrail. I had a bedrail on Tootle's twin bed when she came home about two years ago. After witnessing Tootle sleeping in my crowded bed with me and her sister without falling out, last fall I suggested that she was a big girl and didn't need the bedrail any longer. (It really is a pain to make a bed with a bedrail.) This reasoning did not work, and Tootle refused to budge. Based on her attitude, you would have thought that the bedrail was a beloved stuffed animal or security blanket (and in a way, it was). This discussion went on for months, mostly on Saturday mornings when I changed her sheets and removed the bedrail temporarily to make the job easier. I started telling her that I would remove it when she was 5, then about six months in the future. About a month ago, and still 3 months shy of the deadline, we were having our standard discussion on this topic when Tootle suddenly agreed to the change. I put the bedrail in the garage, just in case there was trauma at bedtime. There was none. End of story.

Our current standoff over change involves the helmet that she wears for ice skating. The other kids at her level don't wear one anymore because they are proficient (Tootle has passed 4 levels of skating classes in just 3 months), but Tootle insists on wearing hers. I gently suggest that she doesn't need it anymore, but she insists, and I don't press because this is not worth a battle.

I am, however, gearing up for more resistance to change when I remove the twin bed from the room the girls share, dismantle Doodle's queen size bunk beds, and give Tootle what is now the top bunk. I've been prepping Tootle for this change, and she hasn't squawked too much, but I won't be able to give her much more time to adjust to the idea because I want to do it before summer. Having a bed overhead makes Doodle's bed uncomfortably hot in the summer, and the ceiling fan is fairly close to the top bunk so it can't be on if anyone is sleeping on top. Who knew that the work that I'm done for my employer on being a change agent would be so valuable at home. In this case, the key strategies are communication (and more communication), trust building, and lots of patience.

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