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Fire Fighting Fire

First of all, the warm welcome I received with my I’m Baaaaack post was so nice and unexpected. I appreciate all the sentiments – both on and off the blog! I don’t have the biggest following but the ones I do have sure are loyal! So thanks peeps!

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Michael is and will always be my first born and eldest. Yes, he has a sister much older than he, but Michael remains my guinea pig. I was 19 when I became pregnant and barely 20 when he was born. I lived with my parents and felt more like a teenager than an adult – much less a parenting adult. So, at times, instead of parenting Michael, I simply participated. Thus as Michael went through the Terrible Twos and Thrashing Threes, followed closely by the Frightening Fours, I realized before I could teach my son how to behave, I had to learn how to behave. I do not miss those toddler years. And now, it’s happening again…

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The Mom No One Wants to Talk About

It’s a tricky thing, this mom business. There is so much advice on the subject, too.

Ten Ways to Raise the Perfect Child

3 Things Not to Do to Destroy Your Child

Being a Mom is the Best Job in the World

5 Things You Must Say Every Day to Raise Healthy Children

It goes on and on and on and clutters my facebook feed. When did parenting become about the “dos and the don’ts?” When did it become so complicated?

My generally parenting philosophy is this: If I’m not doing something wrong, then I’m not doing anything right. 

In order for me to be involved and alive in my kid’s lives, I need to be human. They need to see me have a melt down and then (hopefully) come back around. They need to see that when I lose my temper, I still love them – even if it takes a few beers or a few hours to get to that point. Fact is, I fail my kids. Every day I fail them because I’m flawed and there is no way that saying 5 magical words is going to fix human nature.

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Hope Through Fear

My personal Facebook account has been glittered with the frustrations of co-parenting. I typically try to refrain from these types of venting posts.  Usually they just end up in silly arguments between people who’s only connection is this virtual friendship.  But I made a few exceptions this time around. Plus, I tried really, really hard not to be offensive.

For a look at what has been going on between us and them, read my Letter to the Others.

Mr. Sexy is a problem solver and came home Thursday with fabulous idea.  If everyone could agree, we all would get what we want. It would be a ‘glass is half-full’ type of scenario. To some, Mr. Sexy’s idea would seem crazy. But what I saw was the burning desire to put Michael’s well-being ahead of our own even when it might feel costly.

Mr. Sexy proposed that we offer The Others the entire two-week Winter Break with Michael while we take the previous two weeks. The previous two weeks include Michael’s performance with our church.  The performance The Others were refusing to take Michael to.

My  first thought was: Yes!  That works! 

But giving up Christmas and the immediate days surrounding Christmas?  And giving up New Year’s Eve with Michael? 

To all the above, it was a non-issue.

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Consequences in Action

I love this kid. 

He’s funny, energetic and is the highlight of the room. 
But he has another side. 
 First grade has been full of learning curves for Michael and for Mr. Sexy and I as his parents.  The parent-teacher conference we recently had brought a few things to light. What Mr. Sexy and I thought were minor issues at home were actually larger issues at school.  The past six months or so have been crazy for us.  But what’s new?  However, I realize I have let Michael’s behaviors fall to the way side more than I think I ever have.  Now we are seeing some of the effects. 
Michael is having a difficult time staying on task at school.  When he is on task he does his work slowly, meticulously.  If it’s not perfect according to his standards, he is unhappy and will do it over if possible.  This behavior has caused him to not finish his work on a regular basis.  When asked to move on, I was told he cries about it.  Just about every day he cries.  (Yeah, my kid is THAT kid these days.) Up until very recently he was told to stay in during recess to finish his unfinished work.  Since he has told me how much he enjoys staying in, I have asked his teacher to send unfinished work home as homework and to force him outside to play.  I’m told even getting him out the door has been a struggle. 
Michael does have difficulty staying on task, even at home.  When doing something as simple as cleaning his dinner bowl, it can take him anywhere from 5-30 minutes.  This is with just about every task he is asked to complete.  
Now we set a timer for every task.  He can see it.  He can hear when it goes off.  Sometimes he gets his stuff done.  Other times, not even close. 
And that brings us to this morning. 
Michael has a timer for every step in his morning: Making his bed, getting dressed, making his lunch, eating breakfast, getting himself ready to go out the door.  Every day seems to bring a challenge but this morning was especially challenging. 
He couldn’t find anything to wear. 
That’s not an abnormal problem for anybody.  I understand this problem!  But, when push comes to shove, I always find pants and a t-shirt – even if I have to dig through the dirty laundry.  Lucky for Michael, I found him two pairs of pants and two long sleeve shirts last night and I told him so.  Yet this morning he came down stairs wearing Marie’s jeans over his pajamas with a sad face saying, “Look!  These won’t fit!”  That was our first clue the morning would be rough. 
Mr. Sexy and I have been working hard on making Michael think through problems for himself.  For some reason this has been a monstrous struggle for him.  (Well, I have my theories…there are two sets of parents in his life – but I won’t go there…yet.) So of course, this morning Michael had an opportunity to look for pants and a shirt.  
Apparently there were none to be found.  His timer went off and his opportunity to get dressed passed.  On to breakfast.  Well that timer ended and he hadn’t quite finished eating either (Denai took care of that later). At that point he had 12 minutes to get himself ready to go out the door.  Most of that time was spent wandering aimlessly around looking as though the entire world was against him.  As Mr. Sexy and I were up and about we noticed several pants and shirts scattered on his bedroom floor.  Yet Michael remained in his pajamas, every once in a while whining about not having any clothes to wear. 
That 12 minutes was stressful.  Do we send him to school in pj’s?   How is that appropriate?  Do we give him clothes with a lecture?  That obviously hasn’t worked in the past… Should we physically dress him like we do Denai?  As Mr. Sexy and I quietly discussed what to do we kept coming to the main point: He has clothes.  For some reason he is choosing not to see them
He needed to be pulled up short and sudden, as Marilla Cuthbert would say. 

 Our conclusion was painful for me.  But it was the right one.  Twelve minutes passed and we told Michael it was time for his shoes.  He would be attending school in his pajamas.

A conniption fit ensued.  He was almost carried to the truck this morning.  Almost.  
After they left I called his teacher and explained our morning.  Let’s just say I LOVE HER.  She understands the concept of Love and Logic and supports it fully.  It was good I called so she would know and understand why Michael was in his pajamas and why he might be particularly upset.  His teacher also encouraged me in my efforts and even said, “You will win this.  Just stay firm a consistent.  You will win.” 
So, Michael is in his pajamas at school.  I’m not sure what kind of attitude will enter the van when I pick him up.  But today’s consequence was needed, as painful as it was for all of us.  

A Helping Hand

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to practice something called: Letting it go.  Feel free to break out in song.

There will always be somebody who thinks they know how to better parent my kids.  Heck, I have probably had that same thought about you.  (Just keepin it real people.) Truth is, parenting is one of those hot topics. It often feels like there is one right way to do things and many wrong ways.  Now tie in the special needs kids.  There is ALWAYS better parenting techniques for them.

Michael wanted to skate at the fair and it was a much better deal than the rides.  Mr. Sexy and I had no desire to skate ourselves so we rented the two kids skates and set them free.

After a few minutes this is what we were watching:

In these moments it appears they had given up.  It’s over.  It’s too hard.  I’m stuck.  I can’t do it. 

But just give it time…

Michael was right back up and across the rink.

Falling the whole way.

Marie, on the other hand, stayed in her same general position.

Now, Mr. Sexy and I had made the parental decision to give both kids free reign to skate and fall as they pleased.

This meant Michael might end up with a bruised tail bone and Marie would most likely not get much farther than the above picture.

We knew this.  And we were fine with this.  We were looking forward to seeing how both kids did with this small amount of freedom.

A stranger, however, seemed to have different thoughts.

Before getting skates I had stopped to admire the purses and skirts a lady had made with ties.  Only ties. The kind of ties men wear to church or to work or on picture day.  She seemed to price them reasonably and if I had the money I may have bought one just because they were so unique.

Well, that same lady didn’t waste much time in approaching us as we stood and laughed and pointed at our dorky kids who didn’t know how to roller skate.

“Would you like me to go out there and help her?” the lady asked.  “Her,” being Marie, obviously.

It felt like a random request that made no sense to me.

“No, she’s okay,” I said.

This lady seemed to feel very strongly about her request: “Well, she isn’t moving.” And she looked at Mr. Sexy and I with a stern, disapproving face.

Well, my pulse quickened and I felt warmth creep up my face so I replied in my syrupy-sweet-voice, “No she’s fine. Thank you.”

You should all be impressed I said “thank you.”  But keep in mind it was a firm “thank you.”  The kind that said the conversation was over.

The lady gave us another look, telling us we could go out there without skates and help her if we wanted.

Nod of the head.  Turn away.  Face burning.  Tongue bitten.

Breathe.

I. Hate. That.

I know that people tend to feel sorry for Marie – especially with horrible parents who give her the opportunities to experience life  on her own! She has spent most of her life being led into activities by adults to such a degree that she prefers adults to peers.

So, while my face cooled off and I laughed at Michael for crashing once again, I saw our parenting strategy flourish.

This is the kind of interactions Marie needs.  She doesn’t need another adult who wants to rescue her.  She needs someone her own size to invite her into the adventures of life. Then it’s up to Marie to decide what to do next.  This time, she took a friend’s hand and ventured into the scary sea of a roller skating rink.

Marie left her comfort zone and hung on for dear life.  Literally. 
Have you ever skated with someone who doesn’t know how?  Especially one that’s your size or close to it?  Simply getting Marie from sitting on the bench to the rink took all my muscles as she simply leaned back into me with all her body weight.  
I should have videoed the skating.  It was like watching Bambi. 
This was Marie’s first and only fall of the day.  From what we could see on the sidelines, she refused to get back up even with the help of her new friend.  Her friend retrieved the learning-to-skate-thing for Marie, helped her up into it, and skated off.  
Again, a great thing for Marie to learn.  
Marie had a friend who wanted to help her.  Then Marie decided she didn’t want to continue.  So Marie lost that friend. 
Marie actually did figure out how to move around on her own.  It took her a bit but she ended up on the other side of the rink and then came all the way back when it was time to go.  
She wouldn’t have had those rich experiences without the helping hand of a peer. 

Bed Wetting and Eating

Things have been going okay.  Good, actually.  We have had happiness and successes these past few weeks.  Marie told me she loved me and she even looked at me in the eyes when she said it.  Typically she says those three words to empty space in front of her after leaving the room I’m in.  I only know they are meant for me because she says my name, “Mom.”

Two days ago she peed her bed.  She had gone just about two weeks of being dry.  I was disappointed.  I still am, in fact.  I don’t understand this struggle so it takes a lot of work to let it go. Marie’s pediatrician was the first one to mention constipation as a major component to Marie’s consistent bed wetting.  So, Marie’s nighttime routine now ends with pooping.We gave Marie some medicine for a short while and ever since we have made sure she poops every night.  After she is all ready for bed we tell her to go poop and she sits on the toilet until it happens.  Sometimes it will take an hour.  Sometimes 20 minutes. We discovered, however, that we need to check the toilet to make sure it happens.

 Well, two nights ago Marie flushed on her own.  Since she has been so consistent Mr. Sexy and I didn’t see it as a big deal.

The next morning she was soaked.

Did she poop the night before?  We’ll never know.  I didn’t ask her because, frankly, she won’t give me a straight up answer regardless of whatever the truth is.

And now it’s been a few days.

I’m sitting at my desk and looking at remnants of pencil erasers.

After dinner she does homework.  Last night she also ate some eraser.

When I ask her about this kind of stuff I can tell immediately what the answer truly is by her demeanor.  If she blankly stares and then looks around, trying to figure out a “correct” response, I know she has no idea what I’m asking her about.  BUT if she presses her lips together, gives a sigh, looks down, I know that she knows EXACTLY what happened.

Her first response is, “I,” at which point I remind her (in that overly stern mommy tone I harbor) that one word makes no sense.

She then says, “I do not eat it.”  This is the response she knows I want.  She knows she wasn’t supposed to eat the eraser.  So, like any very young-minded child she attempts to tell me the best possible “truth” and the result is she ends up telling me, “I ate it.”

She has a history of eating things whether it’s binging in the kitchen in the middle of the night, snacking on crayons in bed, or now, eating erasers while I’m upstairs doing other things.  This behavior is progressing steadily.

What the hell am I to do?  Never leave her alone ever?  Send her to a special school because maybe then can figure it out?

Mr. Sexy’s idea is to take everything edible out of her reach.  It’s such a broad idea I can’t figure out exactly what that would mean or what it would look like.  Our current night time system is that she has a few barriers so she can’t get up and wander around, which is when she is most likely to get into mischief.  So do we take all “edible” items out of the entire downstairs where she spends most of her time?  She has eaten books before.  And toys.  We have lots of books and toys and papers and crafty things down here.

Mr. Sexy and I decided before we do anything drastic we need to go back to the specialist.

This most recent incident proves that Marie is in no way eating out of hunger.  She is eating because….. who the hell knows.

But I’m pissed.  And I don’t have time to be pissed.  I don’t even have time for venting on this blog.

 I am learning the part of Elaine from Arsenic and Old Lace to perform in their last show on Saturday.  The girl who plays that character is sick so while I joked with Mr. Sexy about that being a fun challenge, he told the directors who ran with the idea!

So for now, Marie gets no privacy unless she is in her room.  Her room is actually the one place where there is nothing “edible.”

Side note:  I didn’t write this post for advice.  I don’t mean to be rude but we get a lot of advice.  At this point, I am only interested in the advice of someone trained in this area of eating what shouldn’t be eaten and trained in special needs.

Z is for Zig-Zag: My Journey Through Parenthood

Z is for Zig-Zag.

There is no cookie cutter model for parenting.  This annoys me.  I wish I could read one book, just one, and that one book would have all the answers for everybody.  This just wouldn’t work.  God made everybody so annoyingly unique so that as we all connect to each other and start growing families, each family becomes annoyingly unique.  Okay, annoying may not be the right word because it’s actually pretty amazing to think about.  Yet, annoying just might fit…sometimes?

Easter, 2014

Therefore, for our family, it’s important that we be extremely flexible.  Roll with the punches.  Zig-Zag when we need to.  I have 3 kids and they are all so different.  The oldest has down syndrome and is home-schooled.  The middle (and oldest too) goes to public school in the town next door to ours.  The youngest is just turning into a toddler.  Each one has their own sets of needs and desires.  Each one has a beating heart that is yearning for love and affection from Mr. Sexy and I.

So when Michael has a school recital I have to relax a bit on the homeschool front.  When Denai isn’t feeling well I have to drop everything and run to the doctor.  When Marie is having a bad day I have to allow her and I time and space to move past whatever happened.

This concept is difficult for me.  I like to have an orderly schedule, although you might not guess this if you could see how good not good I am at keeping my room clean.  Even a poop schedule is important to me.  However, this year it seems that every day, every week, every month, shit just happens.  We haven’t had very many “normal” days.  Interestingly, Michael tends to be at his dad’s house when “shit just happens.”  I like to think that God is sparing his tender heart since he is already dealing with two sets of parents and two sets of sisters.

Oh well.  It’s all okay.  I’m really learning to let go and accept the chaos that is my life.  Beer and rum help with that, I’ve got to be honest there!

This is the A-Z blogging challenge so go ahead and read the introduction and see a list of all my A-Z posts.