Explaining The Visitation Schedule: 6-year-old child style

This week I made an important realization, courtesy of my six-year-old: she had no concept of when she was next seeing her dad.  Not good.  Really not good.

The visitation schedule has been the same for over two years: every Tuesday (overnight during the summer) and every Friday with an overnight till Saturday evening.  Every night at bedtime, I recite what day it is, “Today’s Monday, which means tomorrow is (hesitation…) Tuesday.  So tomorrow you get to see dad and sleep over.”  Her Care Bears calendar also indicated the Tuesday and Friday visitations.  This visitation schedule is also followed by my older daughter with her dad, so the 6 year old has seen, since her birth, this schedule in practice by her older sister.  I thought I had my bases covered.  Not.

Unfortunately, my six year old didn’t convey her confusion in a memo to me - which may have prompted a quicker response from me.  Instead she chose the subtle method.  A method, I understand, that is often employed by those of her generation.  But finally, this week, I grasped that she didn’t have a practical understanding of the schedule.  It was time for me to employ extreme methods of communication: tickling.

My daughter loves to be tickled: that fun, sort-of-teasing, tickling.  Where the idea of being tickled produces just as many goose bumps as the actual event.  In quieter times, we often do “back drawing” where I draw a cat or spell out c-a-t on her back for her to guess.  Or, I’ll rub her back while reciting “Good Night Moon” before bedtime.  With her, it’s all about the touch.  So, I decided to touch my way through the visitation schedule:

Monday is represented by a poke.  Strategically placed near the arm pit.  Enough pressure to produce a squirm but light enough to herald the more intense Tuesday Poke.

Tuesday’s poke is strong enough that it produces the giggle.  Tuesday lands right near the spine.  And since, Tuesday is currently a summertime sleepover night, the poke turns into a frog leap into Wednesday.  This finger-frog follows a generous sized rainbow, which trails all the way up to her neck and back down to the other side of her spine.  The leap is sure to cause goosebumps.

The poking continues for Thursday, followed by the more intense Friday leap to Saturday

Poke Sunday.  Poke Monday. Poke Tuesday.  Leap to Wednesday.  Poke Thursday. Poke Friday.  Leap to Saturday

I’m sure you’re catching on much faster than my daughter wants me to believe that she does.  When I “quiz” her, she feigns ignorance, prompting me to continue with the poke/leaping sequence.  It’s great that the subject of visitation with her dad causes her to giggle.

Yesterday in the car, when the subject of “tomorrow” came up.  I could see her drawing on her hand while mouthing the words “Monday”, “Tuesday”...  By George, I think she’s got it! 

As a Montessori mom, I’ve long identified her as a kinesthetic learner.  I should have known that tickling was a much better way of teaching her than my visual approach of a calendar or my auditory approach of telling her.  But, Alleluia!  A way was found.  This is good.  Really good.

Relates to Situation #2, Visitation: Setting the Visitation Schedule, The Pro-Child Way: Parenting with an Ex to be released January 2010
http://www.TheProChildWay.com Ellen Kellner, all rights reserved


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