Tag Archives: boys

hodgepodge

It’s been over a month of silence here and for that I apologize.  There’s been a lot going on, but not the kind of stuff that merits a whole post – so perhaps one post with a lot of little things will have to do – hence the title “hodgepodge.”

My 13 year old autistic daughter had her yearly IEP (Individual Education Plan) meeting a few weeks ago and she’s doing brilliantly.  She started in a new program back in September and has really flourished. She’s doing so well, in fact, that she’s going to “graduate” from occupational therapy this coming September.  It  was kind of a shock when her occupational therapist suggested it, but it seems the right thing to do.  The tasks she struggles with are not the kind that they help with at school (like maneuvering her bra clasp).  Most of O.T. in the school setting is focused on handwriting, and she has become a pro.  Her O.T. has known her for years and we had the chance to reminisce about the days when we wondered if she would EVER write.  The breakthrough for her came with cursive.  When her teachers introduced that she took to it like a fish to water.  She no longer had to struggle with lifting up and putting down the pencil with each letter – it’s like cursive was made just for her.  Anyway… in September her twice-weekly O.T. sessions will end, and the O.T. will do monthly check-ins with her teacher just to make sure she isn’t regressing in any way.  Great job!

Sweet sixteen is continuing her dream of wanting to be a professional wrestler.  I had hoped this was a passing phase, but it doesn’t look like it.  How I, as a peace-loving and generally gentle soul, ended up with a daughter who loves to fight and punch and throw people around I don’t know (ok, maybe I have a clue or two, but that’s for another post).  Our children are their own people, that’s for sure.  I spend a lot of time taking her to training (wrestling, jiu jitsu & MMA) and trying to understand her need for violence (albeit controlled, “acceptable” violence).

My nine year old son is getting into Minecraft.  I’ve written that he likes to play with dolls and that this makes him feel very insecure since he doesn’t want his friends to know.  Even at nine he’s aware of gender pressures, which is sad.  But Minecraft is generally a boy thing, so at least now he’ll have something in common with some of the other boys at school, since he also isn’t very athletic.

I don’t generally write about my husband since he’s a really private person, but I will share that pressure at work has been exceptionally high lately and money has been a huge concern, so he’s been EXTREMELY stressed and unhappy.  That’s about all I can write, although I wish I could share more because it would be therapeutic for me – but out of respect for him I need to just stop here.

As for me?  My husband’s stress has been rubbing off.  I mean, how can you see someone you love struggle and not be stressed about it?  I’ve also continued to have problems with my fibroids (I have two whoppers in my uterus) – almost constant discomfort, although not what I would call “pain.”  About six years ago I had lost all my baby weight and ran almost everyday and felt really great about my body. Since this fibroid/menopause junk started about three years ago running is uncomfortable – even sitting still can be uncomfortable – and I’ve gained all that weight back.  I’m tired of it and I’ve had enough.  I had my yearly check-up with the gynecologist last week and go for a pelvic ultrasound next week to check on the fibroids.  I also have my yearly check up with my primary doctor coming up and will discuss things with her too.  I’m trying to formulate a course of treatment since it seems like my body is taking its bloody time with menopause (pun intended).   I’ll fill you in when I develop a plan.

With all that’s going on I’m surprised I’m in a generally good place psychologically, even with the stress of my husband’s situation and my physical health.  I’ve been off my psychiatric medication for a year now, and other than the bad day or bad week which is part of LIFE, I’ve been steady.  I am VIGILANT in monitoring myself though – how I’m eating, how I’m sleeping, how much I laugh, how much I cry, my attitude towards the tasks of daily living etc…

Can’t take care of anyone else if I’m not taking care of myself.  That’s true for all of us.  I hope you all are taking care of yourselves.

What have you been up to?

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parades

I’m generally not the kind of parent who cries over my kids getting older.  I didn’t feel sad on my firstborn’s first day of preschool, or her first day of kindergarten.  Truth be told, I was actually kind of glad.  When she started preschool my belly was big with baby #2, and I needed some time a few days a week to keep sane.  When she started kindergarten I had a special needs toddler and baby #3 on the way, so yeah.  It worked well, because she was a very independent child, and rather than clinging and crying for me at these milestones, she just said, “See you later mommy,” and walked away.

Recently my husband and I went out to lunch and we saw a young couple at another table with a baby in a rear-facing car seat (you know the kind you can snap in and out of the car that doubles as a carrier). At some point in our time together he pointed at them and said, “Don’t you miss those days?”  My response, “Hell no.”  I’m so happy to be done with car seats, diapers, potty training; done with talking to my kids in that distinctive “grown-up-to-little-person” tone of voice.  I have enjoyed my children more as they have gotten older, as I can share more ideas and experiences with them, have more complex conversations with them, and don’t have to worry about baby-proofing or having breakables out and about the house.  But every once in a while, something will come along and my response surprises me.  One of those things happened the other day.

On Friday, my son’s school had their annual Halloween parade.  All the kids in his K-4 school march around the school in their costumes while a loving crowd cheers them on.  Right before my husband and I left home to go watch the parade, I realized this would be our second-to-the-last Halloween parade EVER.  He’s in third grade now, and next year when he’s in fourth grade – that will be IT – because the middle school doesn’t have a parade.  I was shocked by how sad I felt that after next year all our kids will have aged out of this major ritual.  I’m sure he’ll still dress up and trick-or-treat, but the parade will be a thing of the past.

I find that these moments of grieving their childhoods hit me when I least expect it.  It’s not the obvious “big” things that get to me – the first day of school, first sleepovers, first missing tooth.  It’s the things I would never think of, like the way they might turn towards me to say something and suddenly look “different” than the day before, or a Halloween parade.  You never know when it’ll hit you – but when it does you just have to roll with it – the conundrum of being a parent – practically from the moment they’re born, you start the process of letting them go.

my ninja warrior

my ninja warrior

The Squeaky Wheel

It is said that the squeaky wheel gets the grease.  This can be true of those who complain and demand, but it can also be true of those who strive to be honest about their lives and ask for help.  And for those who “squeak” in order to be honest and reach out, the grease can be something as small (yet BIG) as a hug or a smile.

I’ve experienced this recently as a mom.  Never one to pretend things are perfect or “fine” when they’re not, in the past few weeks I’ve shared with several people my current frustrations with my nine year old son.  He’s so negative about EVERYTHING.  He complains constantly.  He whines over the smallest things.  It seems like there is NOTHING he likes to do, and has nothing nice to say about anything.  I’ve been worried about him and doubting my ability as a mother.  I reach the point of exasperation, wanting to throw up my hands and hide, and pray that this too shall pass.

I’m not unburdening myself with strangers or every person on my contact list, but with friends I trust with knowing many details of my messy life, who I know will support me and/or put me in my place if need be.  And what have I learned from my sharing with others?  What have I learned from resisting the temptation to present everything as “fine?”  As with almost any time when I “tell it like it is,” I have learned –

I am not alone

Each person I shared with, who also have boys, reassured me that my son, while annoying the heck out of me, is completely normal.  “It’s because you had the girls first that you’ve been blindsided by this” one friend told me with a smile.  You have no idea how relieved I felt, the weight that was lifted off my shoulders and my soul.  Freedom from the burden of perfection is an amazing thing!  Obviously I’ll still keep an eye on him, to make sure that this behavior isn’t a more serious psychological issue, but knowing it probably isn’t and that I’m not alone in this “adventure” of parenthood is a cause for a little private celebration!

Bottling up our insecurities and issues with our kids (and ourselves) is dangerous to us, and to them. The myth of the perfect mother (and father) is alive and well and SO destructive – and the pressure that we put on our kids to be more like other kids who “look” perfect is also dangerous. We never know what goes on in other people’s homes, how people feel on the inside, despite what they look like on the outside.  We try SO hard to pretend everything is fine, because everyone else looks fine.  We work so hard at this, and the disconnect between what we show others and what we feel inside sucks an incredible amount of energy out of us that we could be using to actually make things better.  IMAGE is destructive – the message we internalize that we have to live up to some ideal is a killer of spirits.

I have felt so much better about myself as a mother, and about my son, since I opened up.  I still get frustrated with his attitude.  In fact, just a few minutes ago I called him on it – because he walked in the kitchen and barked, “When’s dinner going to be ready.  I’m hungry!”  But I’m also trying to use some restraint and practice my listening skills when he complains about going to bed, then complains about getting up; whines about the rain, and then whines about the sun. I still search for something I can do, some power within myself or from God that can help him feel better about things – that’s what love wants to do.

But thank goodness I no longer feel like a maternal failure, and thank goodness for my son that I’m not projecting those feelings onto him, or making him feel like a child failure for not living up to some unrealistic vision of the perfect child.

All because I opened my mouth instead of erecting a facade that would eat both him and me alive. The grease on this squeaky wheel feels an awful lot like a healing balm…

 

The poor boy…

My kids had last week off from school.  I knew ahead of time that this vacation would be rough because it happened to coincide with Ash Wednesday.  It’s hard for pastors to take vacations the week of Ash Wednesday.  In fact, forget about it.  Perhaps a day trip, but even that didn’t work out this week because of other commitments we had to be home for, and oh yeah, THE WEATHER.  With snow and dangerously frigid temperatures it was hard to even go outside!

So we were STUCK.  And the one who suffered the most from this “stuckness” was my son.  My lovely, loving, eight and a half year old ball of energy.  He expressed some interest in learning to ski, and my husband wanted to take him – in fact, hubby worked his butt off so he could have Friday to do it, but then the wind chills went below zero again and it was a bust.  We know our son, and if he struggled in the least, plus was freezing, he’d hate it and never want to go again.  So he had little to DO.  He loves to play Sims (a computer game), but even that couldn’t occupy his busy body all week.  My son needs to move like any other typical eight year old boy.  My girls are of the age when they don’t need to move their bodies as much.  My teenager was happy skype-ing and face-timing with her friends, closed in the safe privacy of her bedroom, and my twelve year old autistic daughter has developed a love for reading, playing video games on her Kindle, and when her body was restless she danced along with “Just Dance” on the Wii.

But the boy…

As I said, my son needs to move.  Move A LOT.  But the poor boy was reduced to dribbling his basketball on our living room hardwood floor!  Part of me wanted to scream because it was giving me a HEADACHE, but what could I do – it was clear he was suffering more than me!  Plus, basketball is the first sport my son actually seems to enjoy, so discouraging the practice didn’t seem like a good idea.  BOOM BOOM BOOM – BOOM BOOM BOOM – BOOM BOOM BOOM.  His basketball, and my brain…  Physically bouncing off the walls – jumping down stairs, running up stairs, wiggling in chairs, hugging and climbing on whoever was nearest (the hugging is nice, but when he starts to climb up your body and hurts your back – not so much), bouncing on beds and couches and making mischief.  Oh, to have that kind of energy!  But to have that energy and be stuck in the house – it’s a scary thing.  Kind of like being the pinball in a pinball machine.

I had my son when I was 40.  Sometimes I feel like he’s gotten shortchanged because I don’t have the same energy for him as I did for his sisters – but then again, I don’t think they ever had the same kind of energy he does!  I know I was definitely more willing to supervise outdoor play, and to participate with them in outdoor play.  Perhaps it’s more of an after-effect of the depression that hit me when he was a toddler than my age – it’s hard to separate the two.  In any case, it wouldn’t have mattered this week because going outside to burn off energy was out of the question.

So I’m grateful they’ve gone back to school today, not only because the introvert in me is breathing in the silence, but because my son will finally have something to DO.

 

We Have No Secrets…

You never ever know what your kids take in and remember.  Sometimes you would swear they’re deaf and have amnesia about the most basic things – yet at other times it’s clear they have the memory of an elephant.  And usually the things they remember are things you wish they would forget!

Each week, my eight year old son has to write sentences for his vocabulary words.  He does this completely on his own unless he asks my opinion about whether a sentence makes sense or not.  He works on his own now because his teacher told us parents that she wants to see her students’ work, NOT how their parents correct it.  So they hand it in, mistakes and all.  Each Thursday night their homework is to take a practice test, so that is usually when I see his vocabulary list.

Last Thursday when I opened his notebook to find his list so that I could give him his practice test,  by chance the notebook opened to the page of his sentences.  My jaw dropped.  Literally.  For a moment I didn’t know how to react.  Then I laughed so hard I cried.  Real tears.  My stomach hurt from laughing.  Then I was horrified to realize his teacher had actually read these sentences.  Because the ones that made me cry with laughter also made me cringe,  since they were slightly revealing and actually happened.

Here are the sentences of interest.  I underlined the spelling words so you get an idea of how he thought of what to write.  I’ve also included the misspelling in the first sentence because that’s what MAKES it (if you get my drift).

1) My mom has a job as a breast. (Yep.  You read it correctly.  I am a breast.  Except he really meant “priest,” which indeed I am, although the title I prefer is pastor.  Pronounce the “ea” like “beat,” add the “r” and keep in mind my son still confuses the writing of “p’s” and “b’s” and there you go – my job as a body part!  Brilliant!)

2) My mom broke the computer by spilling wine on it. (Yep, happened last YEAR)

6) My stove caught on fire when my sister was trying to make mac and cheese. (well, ALMOST caught fire)

7) When the stove caught on fire, I thought it was really hot.

8) My mom said if you break the pot you are in big trouble.

So the teacher must think I’m a lush of a body part who lets my children cook and almost burn the house down, then yells at them they’ll get in big trouble if the pot breaks!  Lord have mercy.

The wine spilling on the computer happened a year ago (long and boring story, but please know I normally do NOT put liquids near the computer!).  The “mac & cheese incident” with my oldest daughter happened about TWO years ago.  Why in the world he chose these events of long ago (for an eight year old, two years is ancient history) for his sentences is beyond me.  He could’ve written about any of his broken toys, cooking dinner on the stove, summer being hot, or not touching pots on the stove – any number of things besides the events he actually chose, all in the same week.  And I might add, just a few days before my parent/teacher conference with his teacher.

All I can say is this – and take it as a warning –

you can never have secrets with kids in the house!

P.S. – The parent/teacher conference was great.  His teacher and I had a great laugh over my son’s creativity and memory.  And she told me he wasn’t the only student who brought up wine last week – another student came in, and as he was handing in his homework, explained to the teacher, “My mom spilled wine on my homework!”  Moms and their wine… <<<smile>>>

***The post title gives a nod to Carly Simon’s famous song “We Have No Secrets” 🙂

playing with dolls

I don’t write about my son very much, not because he isn’t a HUGE part of my life, but probably because he’s the person in my house that makes the least fuss.  Oh sure, there’s drama, and he IS a drama king, but it’s normal everyday eight year old drama.  He hasn’t faced adolescent crises yet, he doesn’t have special needs, he hasn’t really ever been sick (knock-on-wood), he does well in school – like I said, he makes the least fuss.

About the only thing he does that’s out of the ordinary, that’s an issue for him, is that he likes to play with dolls.  Monster High dolls are his obsession.

He knows that boys aren’t “supposed” to play with dolls – no matter what my husband and I tell him.  He never has playdates over because even though he can claim the dolls belong to his sister, he doesn’t have a lot of traditional “boy” toys to play with.  He’s not interested in trucks, cars, or soldiers, Star Wars, or even Legos.  He’s not very athletic, not into watching sports either, although he did say he would try basketball this winter.  We’re ok with it.  We don’t judge.  It’s other kids he’s worried about.  What the kids at school will say, or how they will treat him,  if they find out.  And it breaks my heart that it affects his social life, when he is really a very social little boy.

I would love to tell him, “Who cares what they think?”  I would love to tell him to invite them over and if they don’t like his dolls then who needs them.  I would love to tell him that they’ll like him anyway.  But I can’t

because- kids DO care what other kids think, kids DO need friends, and I can’t promise that the kids at school will still like him if they find out what he considers to be a big secret.

He’s already going to be judged by certain people because he has a big sister with autism.  Whether that’s right or wrong, it is reality – I know because it’s happened to my oldest daughter.  Kids can be ignorant and cruel, just like adults – except children who are targets have generally less “armor” to deflect cruelty than adults do.

I’m not sure how to help him with this one, except to continue what I’ve been doing – telling him he’s a great kid, a wonderful boy, assure him that I love him whether he plays with dolls or trucks or whatever.  I wish we lived in a world where kids (and adults) didn’t have to worry about this sh*t, where we could just get to know each other’s hearts and respect our differences, and not make people feel left out just because they’re different.

***The only reason I’m publishing this post is because I try to keep this blog somewhat anonymous.  I know my son would be embarrassed, and if I’m still writing this blog by the time he and his friends are old enough to come across it and he wants me to delete it, I will.  And I’m sad about that.  But, for now, I’m publishing because I don’t think he or any other boy (or girls!) SHOULD BE embarrassed about the toys they love to play with – and the only way to start to change things is to be open.

The girls never did anything like that.

My last few posts have been quite “heavy” (and I promise there will be more like that), but I didn’t want to scare anyone away, so I thought I’d lighten things up a bit.

I asked on twitter last night if anyone had any “light” topics they wanted me to cover, and one suggestion was “funny toddler stories.”  I have to think hard on that one, because mostly when you have a toddler things aren’t that funny – you’re just trying to keep them from hurting themselves!  Or the things that are funny NOW, weren’t funny when they actually happened.  That’s what all of these moments are, except one.

I have two girls and a boy – the boy came last.  My son did things when he was little that his sisters NEVER did.  One time, when he was 18 months old he ran full speed into our bedroom door.  Didn’t reach for the knob to try to open it – just ran right into it as if he would magically go through it.  What the?   It was the first time I called the pediatrician to ask what to do for a goose egg right in the middle of a child’s forehead.  The girls never did anything like that.

Then, the very next week, he tried to fly down the stairs.  I don’t know what possessed him to think he didn’t have to put one foot in front of the other, but thankfully we live in a split-level and only have five steps there – boom, boom, boom!  Now, on top of the goose egg that had just started healing, he had a BLACK EYE.  A black eye!  The girls never did anything like that.  Luckily my oldest daughter was present and watched as both these events occurred.  I told her we might need her as a witness in case anyone called child services on us.  (luckily no one did)

Around the same age I found myself calling the police.  We have a rod iron banister that goes up the stairs and across our open hallway to our bedroom.  My SON, again what possessed him I’ll never know, decided it was a good idea to put his head between the bars.  He got stuck.  Looked like a prisoner, head through the bars, hands holding the bars on either side.  No matter what I did I couldn’t get him out.  Then he started to panic when he realized he was stuck.  I called my husband home from work (he’s a pastor and work is right across the street) and even HE couldn’t get him out.  Now my son was in full-meltdown.  We had to get help.  Thankfully we had the non-emergency number so we wouldn’t get the firetrucks with full lights and sirens – I was embarrassed enough.  Thankfully the police had the idea of using a tire-jack (you know, the thing you use to lift your car to change a flat tire?).  They used it to bow the bars apart just enough to let his head out.  Yep, that’s my boy.  The girls never did anything like that.

This is my son at his energetic best.  But he is also cute and cuddly.  He was the only one of my three that had a “blankie.”  I was SO worried about him being attached to that thing long-term, but thankfully he gave it up on his own somewhere around age 3 1/2 (although I still have it in his baby box).  He was also the only one of the kids to suck his fingers.  I was worried about that too, but right about the time he gave up his blankie, he stopped sucking his fingers too.

DSC00435One day, while it was just the two of us at home cause hub was at work and sisters were at school, it got AWFUL quiet.  You know that quiet that seems too good to be true?  The kind where you’re wondering what they’re up to?  Yeah, THAT quiet.  I was in the kitchen doing dishes, and suddenly heard NOTHING.  I paused to see if the silence would last, and it did, which meant me taking off the dishwashing gloves to go explore.  I didn’t have to go far.  I found him, for whatever reason, curled up in the still warm laundry of the laundry basket, fast asleep.  The girls never did anything like that.  I took a picture for posterity.  That’s my boy too – blankie, fingers and all.  Isn’t he cute?  Yep.