Since Daddy left for Cuba almost 3 months ago (boy does it seem and how I wish it were longer), LMA has been dealing with Daddy being gone. Or not.
Lately, I've noticed LMA's attention span dwindling. Incident reports are being handed to me on a daily basis, it seems, from his school teacher. Temper tantrums are at an all time high. He's constantly acting as if he is tired, at least that's what he tells me. Some of this has changed, like acting bored, since Pop-pop has arrived last month, but the others are still affecting our daily life. I've even gone so far as to wonder if he is starting to show signs of ADD. But my mother assures me that he is not. He wouldn't be able to sit still for 20 minutes while you read him a or several books, he wouldn't be able to sit still for 20 minutes while he plays with his LEGOS, and so on.
The other day, after waking up at 7am (I know for some that is sleeping in, but for my first born he should really be sleeping in until 8am), I was determined to make him have "quiet time". He of course thinks that includes sleeping, but to me its' just simply "down time". So that's what we are calling it now. He, on the other hand, was determined to fight me the entire way.
We walked, or should I say, I walked with LMA being dragged behind, into his room. I, with book in hand ("How to talk to children and how to listen so children will talk"), sat down in the middle of the room and began to pick out some books for him. He wanted to play. And was completely focused on that and nothing else. When he moved closer to the closed door, I would pulled him back into the room. Finally I sat in front of the door. When he came close again, I grabbed him and gave him the biggest bear hug. This time, I was going to take the squeeze approach to handling this tantrum.
After wriggling what seemed like 5 minutes, I finally began to whisper words in his ear. "Daddy loves you, A. Daddy misses you, A. Mommy loves you, A. Mommy loves you so much."
His reply? "I don't love Daddy. I don't miss Daddy. I don't love you, Mom."
I just kept repeating the words over and over, even though he was still wriggling and yelling "Let me go!" I held tight.
Finally, I asked, "Tell me how you are feeling. Are you mad the Army took Daddy away? Are you sad he's not here? Do you want to draw how you feel? If you were a color, what color would you be right now?" These just happened to be ideas about tantrums in the book that I was able to read while he was trying to sneak out of his room. This caught his attention.
After he finally calmed down and we talked about how he felt, we settled down on his bed to read "The Velveteen Rabbit". If it wasn't for the fact that he had to go pee halfway through the book, I'm fairly certain he would have fallen asleep. Even still, just laying down, listening intently to the story seemed to calm him.
Since then, I'm lost as to how to make his daily life better without Daddy here. I'm determined to have him spend at least 30 minutes in his room reading. It doesn't have to be in his bed, so maybe that will appeal to him. Last night though, while reading the "Parade" magazine from the sunday paper, I found an article about Flat Daddies. The story, about a mother of three who's husband has been deployed several times and has missed all 3 of his three-year-old daughter's birthdays, talked about the adventures with their Flat Daddy. He spends almost every occasion with them even going to Chuck E Cheeses, the mall, birthday parties, and of course, holidays.
This, I decided, is my answer. If I order it this week, we should have a Flat Daddy by Christmas. I was hoping we could get it in time for LMA's birthday party, the week prior which also happens to be Daddy's birthday, but I almost think that Christmas would be even better. Of course, hubby is going to wonder what the hell is going thru my head. I have to hope for the best. If it doesn't work, then maybe it'll help us, not just LMA, remember that Daddy is still a part of this family. Even if he is hundreds of miles away he's still here in our hearts.