Yesterday was Kelsie’s birthday. She woke up earlier than usual (clearly couldn’t contain her excitement) and was ready for this to be her special day! Doing chores on your birthday? Who wants to do that! So when I said, it’s time to do your vest, I could see the disappointment in her eyes. And honestly, I was reluctant to even say make her do it. I wanted her to be able to have a break too! Because when it’s your birthday, you shouldn’t have to feel anything but happiness! (At least that’s what I think!) As her mommy, I try to make it the most fun and exciting day, all about celebrating how special she is! So when she said she didn’t want to do it, I wanted to say she could skip. But then I felt guilty…
This doesn’t send a good message, I thought to myself. Doing her vest and treatments isn’t an option. It’s a requirement. We don’t get to take days off just because it’s a special occasion. So I sucked it up and decided we had to do it anyway. But maybe I could at least make it more exciting for her! It was her birthday after all!
So as the birthday girl hid under her unicorn thinking maybe today could be an exception from doing this one thing she dreads most, I got an idea. “Hey, what if your unicorn tries out the vest and goes first!?” And her face lit up up with delight! “Oh yes mommy, that is a GREAT IDEAAAA!” she said with so much excitement.
So we hooked up that oversized unicorn to her old vest (she just got a new one last week), even let her wear the mask, and turned on the hoses! Watching that stuffed unicorn shake while hooked up to all the contraptions was quite the scene!
Kelsie still wasn’t ready to do it, so we decided that after 7 minutes, it would be her turn. I set the color tab on my makeshift “visual clock” and it worked like a charm!
I actually use this colored piece of paper taped to the clock for all kinds of transitions. But it has been especially helpful for getting Kelsie to do her vest and breathing treatments. I tape the color tab to a future time and when the long hand gets there, Kelsie knows it’s time (this morning at 7:53, I stuck the tab on the 8:00 spot). She even reminded me!
Today as I was in the kitchen making her birthday breakfast, she called out, “mommy, it’s time for my vest!” And sure enough, it was time.
When she first did this, I was so amazed me that she would choose to announce when it was time to do this thing that she typically dreads. It showed me a level of maturity, responsibility, and obedience that made me so proud. Of course, I always make sure I give lots of praise and let her know how proud I am of her when she does this. I think it’s safe to say that all kids do better when they are prepared for a transition and are given a (reasonable) mutually agreed upon time to move to the next activity. It gives them a little more time doing what they want, and makes them feel a little more in control of the situation.
So, this turned out to be quite fun, and brought out laughter rather than tears on this otherwise rushed birthday morning!
I will also add that over the years, we have always tried to come up with creative ways to make this chore of chest PT more fun for her. The truth is, it will always be a responsibility for her that she will likely never LOVE doing. As a kid, making it as enjoyable as possible is so important. She doesn’t always resist it, but she never likes it. It is routine that we do it in the mornings before school and in the evening before dinner so it helps that she expects it. She usually chooses to watch one of her favorite shows while doing it – the reason that she can probably recite every word from every Peppa Pig episode from memory! She is also beginning to understand why it is important. When she gets upset and doesn’t want to do it, I take those moments to remind her why we have to. I ask her if she wants that sticky mucous hanging out in her lungs making her more likely to get sick and she says no, then usually follows with a surrendering, “OKaaaay, I’ll dooo it.” It isn’t fun. But we can make it a little more tolerable with a little extra patience, sensitivity, and creativity!
Which reminds me, she also got a fun new vest last week! Kudos to her dad for recognizing that it was time for her to move up a size, and for choosing this fun design! She loves it!