Thursday, November 8, 2007

"M" is for my method to soothe my little monkeys

In this case, my little monkeys are of course, my beloved children. The ones that exasperate, challenge, and, as Reno progresses slowly and steadily towards puberty, berate me. I mean on the one hand I have my nearly ten-year-old rolling her eyes at me, giving me the "look" (The same one I used on my mother and that woman must be made of steel. How on earth did she refrain from bursting into tears and fleeing the premises or from alternatively reaching out and grabbing me by the neck and shaking me about like a rubber chicken? Note to self, shower mother with affection, appreciation and gratitude for letting me live to adulthood.) and on the other hand I have my just turned five-year-old dramatically sighing and saying things like, "I wish I had a nice mommy."

Ah. Karma exists and I have entered payback time. So this week I took away "sugar."

Oh the monkeys beat at the cage bars and screeched when the disappearance of all refined white stuff was announced. The thing is, they can have sugar. . . in low dosages. But recently Saki has become a kind of sugaraholic. She will lie to get. She plots to get it. Her focus and intensity regarding consuming the stuff is actually frightening me. Hence, the sugar ban. Which was inspired by my husband being called into work on a Sunday evening as the local hotel staff had discovered a visiting professor laying on the floor, paralyzed and in diabetic shock. So, I let Masa be the strong hand--he made the announcement:

"You shall not have any sugar during the week. If you eat good food to make you grow strong and stay healthy then on the weekends you can have treats." Then he went off to work where the shit flung from the cages couldn't reach him.

But, after a terrible, horrible, awful, certainly very no good detox the girls emerged . . . . calm. Not completely. I mean, they don't say things like, "let's all sit quietly and draw each other's shadow portraits like the Victorians did" or even, "say, let's sit and listen to Mum read Shakespeare's sonnets aloud." They still want to vault off the sofa, do back flips over the cats and then get into fisticuffs with one another just because they are bored. But the "edge" was taken off a bit. The spirit of playfulness seems to have replaced the mean sugar drunk swagger.

And then in a stroke of genius I discovered the magic of music. Specifically the magic of elevator music. It's a CD that I had bought when I was pregnant with Reno and was looking for soft soothing music to labor to. I actually really like it. I'm calling it elevator music because it is pop music without the words. A collection of cover hits from the pianist Lorie Line.

Actually I had used music on the girls when they were babies. Reno loved groups that harmonized like Simon and Garfunkel and Peter, Paul and Mary. Saki liked. . . ah, um. Isn't it funny how you remember all the details with baby number one but not with baby number two? (Poor little thing. I found her older sister's baby book yesterday and immediately decided that I need to set aside time and forge entries into Saki's baby book.) But I remember sleeping with a portable CD player beside me whenever I was sleeping with a breastfeeding baby.

I had forgotten the power of soothing melodies though. We were busy shaking and wiggling to Shakira and doing the Hokey Poky to the traditional tunes but soothing music I had forgotten.

Until last week when I found myself threatening to "give you a BIG smack if you hit your sister one more time." The sheer stupidity of that statement made my mind go blank. If you hit. . . I'll hit. . . ludicrous really. So I went immediately to my personal medicine cabinet--my CD collection and decided to take a dose of Lori Line's greatest cover hits. And Saki after swirling and twirling as Ariel in an underwater dance to "Part of Your World" sat down and peacefully played with blocks--building a palace, building with blocks, NOT using them as blunt objects to beat with or throw. And Reno, by the time we reached "Tears in Heaven" actually suggested taking a bath as she was, get this, feeling ready for bed.

The next night I popped it in around the witching hour and presto--it worked again.

On Saturday evening, when they were both totally amped and doing a recreation of "10 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed" I snuck the old CD player back in the bedroom, popped in the CD and bing! They were out within 10 minutes.

Of course I worry a bit that I am conditioning them to enter elevators and lounges world-wide where as soon as the soothing strands of elevator music rise up to greet them they will be out like light bulbs. . . but in the meantime, anyone have some good soothing CD's to recommend?

1 comment:

Sarah@mommyinjapan said...

Hee-hee! I just started doing something similar. I realized that in the mornings, the girls were becoming really difficult so I made a "morning CD", which is just a compilation of some of my favorite slow/medium tempo songs from other CD's. Coincidentally it's also 50 minutes long so if I start it at 8am, it stops at 8:50am, which means I have five more minutes until I need to take Misaki to the bus stop. In the beginning the CD was for me so I would be able to calmly handle the morning insanity but I discovered that the girls were really calmed down, too. Interesting. Anyways, I've started using it half of the time and then the other day I let them watch their morning TV (NHK).

Have you ever heard of Jamie Oliver (otherwise known as The Naked Chef in England)? He did a series about the school lunches in England and he was trying to get the processed foods out and put in more veggies, etc. At one point in the series, he challenged one family to cook better food (no processed meats, etc.) and they couldn't believe the change in the behavior of their kids. It was amazing to see what a big effect it had.

Personally I see that my kids are more difficult on Fridays because on Thursdays they go out with my in-laws for the evening and they eat all sorts of crap and odd food combinations. But I enjoy having Thursday night to myself so I put up with it! I can straighten them out on the other days.

Basically I'm saying that I agree with you but I sort of went on and on about it. Sorry!

I really like David Foster for nice relaxing CD's. Especially his "Rechordings" CD.