I suppose it started a few months ago. Pudding, being the sharing soul that she is, decided that anything she didn’t want was to be given to Cubby. It happened whenever I served some food she didn’t like. Cubby wants to eat it. If we tried to get her to do something she didn’t want: Cubby’s turn. Conversely, of course, we would hear Pudding wants to try that and Pudding’s turn if she wanted to do something. It kind of evolved into the shorthand of just saying his name to push attention away from her. He was the scapegoat.
Cubby, though, is no sacrificial victim. He is coming into his own person. An interesting blend of sensory issues and precocious language. He stands up for himself, defiant to his big sister’s wishes- no mean feat given that she is about twice his size. He tells us he doesn’t like it, doesn’t want to, afraid that I’ll make him eat a second portion of carrots, or whatever drama the women in his life have concocted.
Sometimes, though, he wants whatever is on offer. The thing so heinous to his sister is just what he desires. His motor delays are much milder than Pudding’s so many of the tasks we work on are pleasant for him. We treat them the same though, so if I reward a challenge for Pudding with a candy reinforcer, he gets one too. At these times he is a very willing accomplice. I call him The Motivator.
Yesterday the OT assigned Pudding some yoga poses as homework. They are just basic animal poses for children, but it is really difficult for her. She lacks the strength, coordination and endurance to make yoga enjoyable. Of course, these are the very benefits that yoga brings, so we have to keep trying. She couldn’t be persuaded. Spectrummy Daddy and I tried to manipulate her body for her, but she would deliberately move as soon as we let go. Even the promise of a pink Starburst made no impact. The more we persisted, the more frustrated she became, until she whined Cubby’s turn, Cubby’s turn, Cubby’s turn, over and over.
Cubby dutifully wandered over and announced it was his turn. I demonstrated the pose, then we helped him to do it. Immediately we rewarded him with the candy. Pudding was apoplectic with rage. We gave away her candy! I asked if it was her turn, but she continued to sulk, but Cubby piped up to do it again. He did another pose, and was awarded another treat. This time it registered with Pudding that there was only one way to get the treats before her brother took them all.
She complied, and actually did a lot better than I thought she would. Although we still had to help her put some limbs in the correct places, she maintained her body position for the full 20 seconds, even counting herself. As soon as she was finished, The Motivator was ready and waiting for his turn again. Inspiring his sister to strengthen her body, and take turns: The Motivator might just be the most useful instrument in our ensemble.