We had a moment yesterday! A great moment! The evening was creeping up and I wanted to go deliver a gift to a friend before dinner rolled around. With the gift in my hand, casey ready to go, and the girls finishing with their shoes, we were almost out the door. Almost, until the flip flop got kicked off her feet and she, with as much frustration as she could feel, yelled out, “My feet are dirty!”
Cali has a thing with her feet being dirty. She can be sitting putting on her shoes, standing putting them on, wearing them as she walks, dancing with ballet slippers in dance class, or sitting in the car wearing them, and out of nowhere the “My feet are dirty!” will erupt. This started about six months ago and up until yesterday I didn’t have a clue what was going on. When the episodes first started I thought her feet were legitimately dirty. Then an episode spurred during ballet class. She was dancing along with her peers when all of a sudden I can see through the glass Cali freaking out because her feet were dirty. The only problem was that she had on her tights. How could her feet possibly be dirty if her feet were clean before putting on the tights. The dance floor was also clean, but even if it had not been clean her feet would have been. She never once took off her ballet slippers. So, again, how in the world were her feet dirty. They weren’t. That’s when I realized there was something more to this “dirty” feet problem.
A few months ago I wrote a post about a product we love called Therapressure Brush. Krisanne, Cali’s occupational therapist, was also trying to figure out what these episodes were all about. She was certain it must be a sensory issue, so she offered up this product. I was given the product to obviously help reduce Cali’s sensory issue. Before approaching Krisanne about this issue, I was also toying with the idea that it must be a sensory “thing”. The only reason I slightly hesitated with this idea was because she was so adament it was dirt. Also, Cali does not have major issue with sensory needs. She is a picky eater, but that’s pretty normal for a four, almost five year old. But when it comes to her hands being dirty or wearing clothes, she doesn’t seem to have any irritations or problems with materials, textures, seams, and so forth. She does seem to be overly sensitive when I brush her hair (this one is actually a newer, major issue), but overall she doesn’t seem have overly obvious or extreme sensory needs. I kept thinking how strange it was that Cali would be so adament her feet were dirty, when they clearly and visibly were not. Cali communicates well enough, and can usually understand problems as we talk through them, but this problem was still a problem we couldn’t figure out. So I took the product and would use it on occasion. After a while I stopped using the product because the whole “my feet are dirty” seemed to fade. We would go a whole week with zero episodes. Then, when I would least expect it, the shoes would come flying off. Cali wasn’t the only one becoming frustrated. I was losing my mind trying to figure this one out!
We would sit and rub at her feet, shake out her shoes, but still her feet were “dirty”. Even when she would wear her flip flops and could clearly see nothing was dirty, she continue to preach her feet were dirty. Well, today she was wearing flip flops and here is what happened…
The flips flops came flying off and she sat to the ground. “My feet are dirty!” This time, surprisingly enough, she didn’t become overly frustrated. She was pretty calm as she rubbed her feet “clean” and then as she rubbed the flip flop clean, a light bulb went off. She said, “Oh, there is writing on my shoe.” Instantly she realized the shoe wasn’t dirty. Instantly I realized it was, most certainly, a sensory issue. HOLY COW! We figured it out. She figured it out! All this time I knew her feet weren’t dirty, but it was still so confusing because she didn’t know how to explain to me she how parts of her shoes would irritate her. And really, this is especially odd because she explains to me all the time how her shorts or pants are too tight and make “scratches”, a.k.a. indentions, in her skin. Well, there you have it. It just dawned on me as I wrote that last sentence that she was most definitely explaining to me what was going on. I just couldn’t understand because I couldn’t figure out her definition of dirty. Scratches to Cali also mean indentions on her skin. Dirty also means, she feels something on her feet. I was so rabbit holed into thinking of “dirty” as just one thing…dirt on your feet. All this time I was getting so frustrated at Cali, I couldn’t stop to think how she was thinking. I should know better. Cali thinks differently. Had I been patient with her, I probably could have guessed what her definition of dirty meant. I was so amazed during the moment and so many thoughts were running through my mind, the moment soon slipped away. I forgot to take the time to ask Cali if the words on her flip flop where making her feet FEEL dirty. I could have then explained to her the words don’t actually make her feet dirty, they only irritate her. Cali is a smart girl. I bet when this moment comes up again, I can teach her to tell me the shoe is irritatING, and her foot is irritatED, instead of insisting her feet are dirty. I can also take the time to try and figure out which parts of her shoe irritate her. Once she knew the words on her flip flop were the cause of her feet being “dirty”, she slipped those puppies back on and headed out the door. Ummmm…WOW! That’s a bit of a change.
We had a moment yesterday. A great moment. Why was it so great? Sure it is great Cali can finally understand her feet aren’t actually dirty and I can eliminate some of my frustrations, but this doesn’t fully explain the greatness of the moment. The greatness comes from Cali teaching/reminding me one of life’s most meaningful principles. Patience.
Stop. Take a breath. Have patience.
Patience never hurts a situation, but a situation can hurt without patience!
Who would have guessed these flip flops to solve a world of frustration!