Two o’clock in the morning I heard the pitter-patter of little feet and my door creaked open. Emma sleepily crawled into my bed, dragging her pink and green turtle pillow Grandma made her last month. “Hi momma.” She then crawled into bed, next to her brother who had crawled into my bed a few hours earlier, and within seconds her beautiful blue eyes were closed and soft snores filled the night air. Five hours later both kids were awake and arguing.
“Mommy, Chase is in my bubble.” Emma whined, pushing Chase over on the bed. “No, mommy. I had to pop her bubble, I popped my bubble too. They were getting old and I needed to give us new bubbles.” He then proceeded to blow up two invisible bubbles, one for Emma and one for him. “Where’s my bubble?” I asked, as I dragged myself out of bed. I wanted a bubble that would float me along doing my morning tasks for me while I slept in it’s cocoon like embrace. No dice.
I ventured out of my nicely heated room into the walk-in freezer that is our laundry room. My feet went numb as I searched for the clothes I put in the dryer the night before. I quickly walked back to be enfolded in the warmth of my room. Too bad I couldn’t slip back under the warm sheets too, SIGH!!!!
“Okay Chase, do you want the long sleeved stripe shirt or the cars shirt to wear to school.” I held them out to him. He grabbed the orange striped shirt surprising me. He must be cold, since his “Lightening McQueen” shirt had short sleeves. “I want to watch minecraft, mommy.” He said as he slipped the shirt over his head.
“Not this morning Bubba, we are late for school.” I braced myself for mutiny, and handed him his pants. He threw them on the floor. He then yelled, “That’s it, No school ever ever again.” He then made a motion with his hands in front of him mirroring the “safe” signal in baseball. He got both of those from me. I usually state “That’s it” with the hand motion when I am at my limit. He reaches his limit far easier than I do. Well, maybe not all the time, but at least this morning he did.
Big fat tears cascaded down his cheeks. He looked so pathetic. I sat down next to him and pressed my hand on his back to give him the deep pressure that he needs to help regulate himself. “I want to stay home and watch Minecraft today.” He cried.
My mind raced for the right things to make sure that we didn’t go into full blown meltdown mode. I rubbed his back in a downward motion. “Bubba, you are so smart. Going to school makes your brain bigger and then you get smarter.” He smiled through his tears, “How, mommy?.”
“Well, you learn to read. You learn … ” I started to continue, but he jumped up in front of me and leaned in for a hug. “I already learneded how to read.” He explains. I pick him up and we start our rocking routine. “You’re so right. You can read, but going to school will help you get better. Who helps you learn to read better?” He smiles as he pushes his body into mine to counter the swing into the direction he wants to move. “I don’t know. Do you know?” He has started to say this almost every time before he answers a question.
“Hmmmmmmm, who do you want to help you learn to read today?” I love turning it back on him. He places his pointer finger on his lips and taps. “Hmm, let me think . . . . . Mrs. M!”
“Okay then! And when you come home from making your brain bigger, for every smiley face you have on your chart you will get five minutes of Minecraft time.” I gently ease him off my lap and hand him his pants again. He quickly wiggles into them, and within moments we are out the door.
I let his teacher know that today he wanted to work towards earning Minecraft time, and she gives me the thumbs up sign. She likes to know what will motivate him, and she can say “When you are done with xyz then you may draw what you are going to create on Minecraft when you go home today.” Oh, the joy of following a non-preferred activity with one that is preferred. It is a great motivator for him.
Later that afternoon I smiled as I watched Chase walk into the cafeteria. He walked up to a mother wearing a purple shirt (the school colors) and said, “How was your day?” She looked at him with this stunned expression on her face. “Um, fine. How was yours?” Chase then giggled as he realized that he wasn’t asking Mrs. M, but a stranger. He spotted me and ran his little heart out nearly bowling me over. Mrs M laughed. She was wearing almost the same exact outfit as the mother. “We were just practicing asking wh questions. Chase must have thought that was me.” She smiled and put a reassuring hand on his shoulder. He looked up at her and smiled. I love his sweet smile.
“How was your day, Chase?” I asked him. “I was good.” I then looked up at Mrs. M to confirm. She quickly nodded in assent, “One of his better days. All smiles, except one straight face and that was almost a smile.” “Woohoo, do you know what that means, Chase?” He jumps up and down, “I get to watch Minecraft when I get home.”
He practically hopped, skipped and jumped his way to the car, ran into the house and watched an hour of Minecraft Dad Christmas on Youtube. Having a goal to work towards motivated him to stay on task, stay focused, and comply with requests.
So, did I bribe him or was he rewarded? So many times there is such a fine line between the two. I like to think that it was a reward, although I guess it could be seen as bribing him to behave at school. What do you think? What kinds of rewards do you use to aide in building positive behavior?