Yesterday, I solved a puzzle. We were at occupational therapy, and when Riley couldn't complete a jumping sequence that was requested of her, she cowered and said to the therapist, "Don't yell at me."
It's embarrassing when she does this. We don't yell at her. We are very careful to approach Riley in a calm way. She has been spanked twice in her life, and that was when she was two, and I was exasperated, and didn't know what was going on with her yet.
Finally, last night, I got it out of her.
"Why do you think someone is going to yell at you?"
"Well,when H. (the teenage baby-sitter) watched us over the summer, she said her piano teacher yelled at her whenever she made mistakes. She said she finally had to quit because the piano teacher yelled at her so much. I'm afraid if I make mistakes, the teachers will yell at me."
Mistakes = possibility of being yelled at by teachers.
Thrilled that I had gotten to the bottom of this excavation, I e-mailed Riley's teacher with the news, asking her to promise Riley she would not yell at her if she made mistakes. Having figured this out, I felt good about myself.
Wonderful Teacher e-mailed back, happy with the discovery, but then proceeded to burst my bubble with this:
Riley also says, "Don't hurt me," and "Don't throw me in the oven."
Seems I've a bit more digging to do. Did we get hold of a copy of Hansel & Gretel perhaps?