Wednesday, February 3, 2010


I've tried chore charts. I've tried reward tickets. I've tried numerous things to encourage Ainsleigh to get up and moving in the morning. They've all had various degrees of success before she loses interest. Most recently, I decided to use the white board side of the easel we moved into her room. Who doesn't love erasing stuff from a white board? So the night before school, I wrote: Make bed, Get dressed, Brush hair. Ainsleigh nodded knowingly, "So this is what I'm supposed to do in the morning." I had to make a conscious effort NOT to roll my eyes and say, "Yeah. This is what we've been talking about for THREE YEARS now. You know, the stuff your brother does?" No, that was old Sarah. This is new Sarah. "Yes," I nodded solemnly. "This will help you. You can erase them once you've completed them."

The next day was about as good as I could have hoped. She still took three times as long as Donovan, but since he does it in five minutes, and usually it takes her 45 (with various promptings from me), I considered it a victory. Excellent, let's go for a repeat.

The next morning, I went in to make sure she was awake. There she was, sitting in bed, stretching, her face still a little puffy from sleep that makes her look several years younger. Aw. "Hey there, good morning!" I said as I walked in, opened her blinds, gave her a hug. I told her I was going to go shower and nodded toward her white board. She nodded back, quite eagerly.

Half an hour later I returned, a little wary at her still-closed door. I opened said door and...


There she stood, by her dresser, holding a couple Polly Pockets. Bed unmade. Hair unbrushed. Clothes...well, neither on nor off. Shirt off, jeans on (but unbuttoned). She turned at the sound of me walking in and I saw her tense. I hate these mornings. "Ainsleigh," I said, practicing my gentle voice, "what happened?" Her head cocked awkwardly in that chin-out, eyes squinting annoying way that says I-don't-wanna. I glanced toward the white board. There, I beheld that the flowers and hearts and decorations surrounding each item indicated she hadn't ignored the board entirely. "I wanted to make it prettier," she defended herself. I didn't doubt it. And then I saw it. There, above "Make bed," she had written, "Get out of bed" and then boldly checked it off.

I had to laugh, even if it was a defeated one. I really do get it. I love lists. I list everything so I can have the satisfaction of crossing things off. I would never write "clean house" because I rarely (if ever?) managed to clean the entire house in one day. But you can bet that things like "clean kids' sinks" and "vacuum kids' rooms" and "fold laundry" and "put away laundry" are just some of the usuals. At the end of the day I can see several things with lines through them that tell me, "You did THIS today." I firmly believe that if you've done something that isn't on your list, you can go back and add it to your list and THEN cross it off. Full credit. And there are definitely days that I feel like all I can do is muster the energy to get out of bed. I don't think I've ever thought to put that on a list.

So thank you, Ainsleigh. For not only then completing your (now beautiful) list, but for giving me one more thing to feel good about doing. That will help carry me through the afternoon as I sit down to read books on how I can better understand and help your mind. Some things, though, like checklists, I think I already understand.


Hillary said...

Seriously I read your blog and just think "you are a good mom". Your good parents...hopefully some part of it is genetic ;)

Melin said...

We have an Ainsleigh, there have been times when five of us are ready to go out the door and Charlie is still naked. It is unreal, and would be hysterical if you didn't have to live it. I agree with Hillary, you are a great mom...and I love that idea.

NancyO said...

A book recommendation: "The Checklist Manifesto" by Atul Gawande. One of my favorite writers for The New Yorker.

laura said...

Haha, I love Ainsleigh. Sometimes you just need to get something on the list, even if you've already done it.

Clouse Family said...

It sounds like Ainsleigh and my Ethan are alot alike. If you do figure something out to keep her focused let me know! Its a constant struggle with Ethan too. :o)