January 23rd, 2008
I’m sure some of you have been wondering how Annalie’s foot is doing. Troy and I suspect that it is almost completely healed, which isn’t surprising considering she didn’t put any weight on it for nearly three weeks.
Then she surprised us at dinner this past Sunday by standing up in our restaurant booth to look at the tables on the other side. She stood on her tippytoes, without any prompting on our part, and then grinned and waited for us to notice. I don’t think we cheered as much for her when she took her first baby steps.
Since then she has been willing to “practice” walking only if one of us is holding her hands, and only on her toes, despite the fact that when she’s lying on the floor and isn’t thinking about it she often will bend her knees and plant both her feet flat on the ground. She also will push hard with both of her feet on our hands or legs when we’re tickling her or wrestling around, which we’ve been doing a lot lately in an attempt to get her moving around and in the hopes that she would use her foot without thinking about it and realize it didn’t hurt. Well, she does use that foot all the time when she isn’t thinking about it. Are you noticing a pattern here?
We’re pretty sure that most of Annalie’s reluctance to walk is because she accidentally jumped off a chair a few hours after she injured her foot, and she remembers quite clearly how painful that was. Annalie has a great memory, and a vivid imagination, and she’s extremely sensitive (she scored 20 on this test). When we’re at a birthday party, Annalie covers her ears all through “Happy Birthday to You” in anticipation of the clapping and cheering after the candles are blown out. If we’re reading a book and a character in the book does something naughty—say, eating a cookie even though he was told not to—she whimpers and says, “I’m done with this book!” because anticipating the scolding that will happen five pages later is just too much for her.
I am sympathetic to Annalie’s sensitivity, because I’m that way myself (I score 25 on this test). People used to call me shy when I was little, but really I was often just overwhelmed by the number of people in the room, the noise level, the people looking at me, make them stop looking at me! I don’t come off as shy anymore, and I’ve learned to control my reactions so most people don’t notice them, but I am still sensitive to noise levels and crowds. I can usually tell when a television is on somewhere in the house even though I can’t hear the sound. Many times I have spit out an orange section, grimacing at its bitterness, only to hand the orange off to Troy and watch him enjoy the rest of it.
So when we try to talk to Annalie about walking, and she stiffens and clamps her hands over her ears, I understand that she’s feeling overwhelmed by the emotions evoked by the thought of walking and feeling pain. When we encourage her to try standing on her good foot or to get herself up onto a chair (both of which we know she can do) and she gets upset and cries, I ache for her and am frustrated because I know what she’s feeling but I don’t know how to make it better.
There have been a couple of times her agitation has evolved into full-fledged tantrums (like the x-ray attempt), and we’re never quite sure if we should stand our ground or back down. The other day she lost it over the idea of getting down off a chair by herself. She asked me to help her down, and I said something like, “You can get down by yourself, I know you can! You’ve done it lots of times!” Apparently what she heard was, “I’d like you to stick this red-hot nail through your foot! Then drink this rat poison!” because she burst into tears and curled into a little ball on the chair. I thought if she was scared, it was important for her to just do it, especially since this was something I knew she was capable of doing. So I sat down in another chair and cheered her on, asked if there was something I could do to make it easier for her, offered to leave her alone, sat with her in my lap, prayed with her, talked to her about how she gets a little braver each time she’s scared to do something and does it anyway…you name it, we tried it. Finally after thirty minutes she calmed down and got down off the chair by herself with Troy lightly touching her bad foot so she would remember not to put it on the ground.
Then there was this morning, when I asked Annalie if she wanted to practice walking, and at first she thought that was fine, but it ended up being 45 minutes of her crying and not wanting to put her good foot on the floor. Here’s part of the email I sent Troy after it was all over:
Date: Jan 23, 2008 10:55 AM
I just spent 45 minutes alternately trying to convince Annalie that she could put her UNINJURED foot on the floor and consoling her as the very thought of putting her foot within six inches of the floor terrified her.
I don’t know if I am doing more harm or good. I am being so gentle and patient…until my patience runs out and I speak sharply and Annalie picks up on it and cries even more.
Then I finally give up and try to cuddle with her on the couch and she doesn’t want to and I start to cry as I apologize and tell her I only want her to be able to walk again, and she CHEERS UP as soon as I start crying and tells me she’ll get better and she’ll walk again, and run again, and do her ballet dancing again…
I’m so completely wasted, and it’s only 11am.
Okay. I just wanted to vent a little bit. I’ll be fine. I probably just need to eat something.
And I did, and then Troy came home for lunch which gave me a bit of a break, and all was well.
Seriously, I’m fine now. That line about venting applies to this blog post, too. I’m not depressed, I can handle my daughter’s tantrums (which I realize are actually few and far between and about something specific), I don’t need anything more than an occasional pat on the back and maybe some coffee and peanut butter cookies to help me along. And when she is walking again, I am sure I’ll say something dumb like, “Wow, it was so much easier when she was stuck sitting on the couch all day!” forgetting what a pain it was to have to carry her every time we walk from the car to Target.
Ugh. This post had a point way back there at the start, but I’ve meandered so much it’s starting to feel like a big mess. I’ll end here, even though I could rant on about this for another thousand words, easy, because I’ve been writing this post in bits and pieces all day and am getting tired of it. I’m kind of amazed I am even hitting ‘publish’ because I am a private person and I don’t usually talk about my frustrations to anyone but my mom or Troy or my closest friends. I guess I feel like you all deserve something for coming here to read time after time, so you’re getting a little bit of trust. Thanks for listening.