Today I will share our thusfar successful correction program, along with some fun and easy purim crafts ;-). M's fear of Haman had developed three levels, essentially, walls around her fear, that we aimed to circle and knock down"
1) Fear of Purim entirely
2) Fear of the Purim story
3) Fear of the name Haman
Level 1: Over a week ago, in the car, Elie began discussing the story of Purim minus Haman- only focusing on the Esther and Mordechai saving the Jews part. This didn't go without a fight- Miriam wanted nothing to do with the story- but Elie persisted in talking about what a fun holiday Purim is and how we celebrate by eating yummy hamentaschen and wear costumes, etc... Elie kept doing this in the car for a few days as M got less and less uptight about the positive aspects of the Purim story.
While Elie worked on this daily project, I got in touch with a noted psychotherapist, who doesn't specialize in children, but did take interest and suggested that I try to get M to relate to the story first asking her to draw pictures. I didn't think it would work because M had sworn off even touching a Purim coloring book I got her, but after Elie's success in the car, I decided to try it out. I told M we that we would draw a beautiful queen (always a draw in the princess phase)... as she drew we named her queen Esther. I asked her to name me other characters of the story- which she knew, but was hesitant to get into. As I pryed them out, she was in fact interested in able to draw Mordechai, Achashverosh, and Vashti (left out Haman)- which was a big step to actually get Her talking about the Purim story. After she drew the characters and I labeled them, I told her the (haman-less) story using the pictures she drew= SUCCESS- we then made them into a "megillah" with some scotch tape and a wooden dowel-"megillah" having been another previously untouchable word or object revolving around "haman-psychosis."
Elie also made an alternate "name" for Haman as "bad guy," and created a ditty, "Mordechai super guy, bye bye bad guy." After a few days M would even sing along.
Level 2: In school, we had warned M's preschool teacher to try to shy away from anything negative about Purim and try to avoid Haman lest she deal with an unwanted meltdown... M's teacher agreed- but apparently, is not the only religious educator in the preschool program. M came home on Friday telling me that they made graggers in school and used them with the four year old teacher (the 2 classes get together sometimes)- I nervously asked her "why did they make that gragger noise?". Answered M: "We shook when Ms. D. said the name "Haymen" (Haman's English pronunciation...she's in a non-denominational school...).
Apparently in her 3 year old mind there's a disconnect between "Haymen" and "Haman." We began hinting at Haymen being in the Purim story, and while we could see M's shoulders tensing up a bit... No meltdown. Because Elie leins the Megillah at shul, he's been practicing while trying to say Haman in undertone. This Shabbos afternoon he decided to lein regularly while I played with Miriam nearby.
As soon as Elie got to the word "Haman" and Miriam looked nervous I asked her "do you like when Daddy leins Megillah?"
M: "He is too noisy when he says "the bad guy"
Me: Which guy do you mean?
M: "When Daddy says "Haymen," it's too noisy!"
Me: So any time you hear Daddy say that, let's bang on the table and say, "Too noisy! too noisy!"
It worked!! Essentially, we turned her fear of Haman into a FUN (yes, Fun!) reaction to just booing and banging out his name when the Megillah is read.
The next day we made our own Purim puppets our of popsicle sticks, foam balls, etc:
Look at that triangle-hatted one! That's "Haymen!" Though M still doesn't appreciate "Haman" in conversation, she now knows the (kid version of the) Purim story with "Haymen" involved, will Tell it to you, using the puppets..... and enthusiastically bang out his "real" name if you dare to mention it in her presence.
May we continue to enthusiastically bang out the name of "Haymen" and Amalek- Happy Purim!!