It started with Johnny checking out his sisters’s Disney Princess castle. It was pink like a lot of things for little girls but it has a “cause-and-effect” piece where you put the Princess Cinderella or Snow White into the slot and she talks or sings a song. After hearing what happens Johnny did this over and over again and I was reminded yet again that repitition makes him feel better. The familiar builds a foundation of security and calms any lingering anxiety. “A Dream Is A Wish Our Heart Makes” over and over again is not a bad thing to have your little boy hear.
Then the unexpected happened. Have a listen and please remember he was essentially considered non-verbal 2-1/2 years ago:
“A dream is a wish your heart makes
When you’re fast asleep
In dreams you lose your heartaches
Whatever you wish for, you keep
Have faith in your dreams and someday
Your rainbow will come smiling thru
No matter how your heart is grieving
If you keep on believing
the dream that you wish will come true”
Johnny was so happy that he gave me the biggest smile when he saw that I loved hearing him sing. Princess is usually the little singer in our house so now she is learning how to handle her play space and stage being invaded by a big brother who wants to play with her. Johnny is now the singer.
Next came the Cinderella movie marathon two times a day where Johnny sits on his bean bag chair in front of the tv and watches the movie with intense unbreakable focus. He comments about what scenes he likes, what he doesn’t like, what he would like to change and what upsets him. We are getting many spontaneous interactions so we follow his lead and let him watch the Cinderella movie for a third time sometimes. Normally I would be more carefully regarding the amount of TV time but Johnny is interested, he is interacting, he is playing with his sister and asking me questions. We also noticed that when watching Cinderella, it seemed to calm him he was like he’s finding something familiar to cling to the hold on to the school is ended his familiar is now gone for a while for two months he needs to cling to something he enjoys and watching it over it becomes more familiar and he begins to feel more at ease again.
Then Johnny started to want to play with some of my his little sister’s Cinderella dolls and its hard for a three-year-old to share her most favorite things even the tiniest little figurine dolls. Johnny now wanted his own Cinderella doll and he is now beginning to think up scenarios to bargain with me so he can get the doll he wants. He begins to create his own “first/then” options. “I will play nice with the the toys at Grandma’s house in her living room and then I get a Cinderella doll. Johnny was so happy when we let him choose the Cinderella doll he was cherishing it as much as our daughter was when she got her new doll on the same day.
Only one day passed when Johnny decided that he wanted to go and change the clothes on Cinderella, and she needed a pink dress that he saw in the movie. He picked up some crayons and some paper and decided to try at his best to draw and make her address. He was desperate to make her new dress even found some pink doll shoes in his sister’s belongings that would fit her as well that would match. After watching him get frustrated as he tried to figure out how to make her a dress of paper and crayons I sat down and showed him with paper how we make a pattern. It seems he didn’t want to use fabric he just wanted me to use tape so I followed his lead and I did that. We dressed his Cinderella doll in the new dress that he made her and we even found some beads to match. His Cinderella is still dressed this way to this day with her blue dress nicely packed away in his converted dollhouse aka fire station.
Another day passed and Johnny decided that his Cinderella doll needed a carriage so he took some paper and he started drawing with crayons. He wanted me to somehow help them make a carriage. He had drawn on both sides of the carriage and even the bottom of the carriage but he needed some sort of box to glue everything to. I was able to come up with something out of the cupboard and he promptly went and put his dolly into his new handmade carriage.
There was also a Cinderella picture on the package that the doll came in and Johnny cut it out and he cherishes that picture and says that’s his other Cinderella. His little sister of course wants to play with the carriage but this was his artwork so he wasn’t going to share and I couldn’t force him then to do so. So I decided I would help her make her own carriage. As I drew mine out, Johnny liked how I was making mine and he wanted me to make him one like that looked more like his sisters. I’m not the best to artist but I did what I could and I had him use crayons and colour it in and make it look like how he thought Cinderella’s carriage should look like.
Johnny had his first play date today with his best friend Elise from school. They met at the playground and then he asked if he could bring her to our house….to watch Cinderella with him. So now we’re finishing another viewing of the Cinderella movie and what is really neat is Johnny talks about scenarios in the movie of things that upset him. ie he doesn’t like that Cinderella is forced to live in the tower and he wants her to have a better room in the house. He doesn’t like that the stepsisters shredded her dress and is very upset that they wrecked and ripped her blue beads. He’s also very upset that her pumpkin carriage broke as he calls it and that its not getting fixed. He thinks that she should have a car even though we explain that that’s not possible. He’s not sure he likes mice making dresses and he doesn’t like birds doing that sort of thing either. He wants to make his own story of Cinderella and put it on the iPad for bedtime story time too.
I think what stands out for me is Johnny’s deep empathy in the story for Cinderella. I think because Johnny has a lot of bad dreams, I think the song resonates with him so when we go to bed now night we tell him have sweet dreams and we tell him to think of Cinderella.
“Because even if your heart is breaking you got to keep on believing the one day your wish will come true”
*All rights to Disney and Cinderella to http://thewaltdisneycompany.com