Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Typical Convo With My Mom

Me: Hey Mom! What's going on?

Her: Just watching some TV (or reading, etc)

Me: What did you do today?

Her: Got my hair cut, some groceries. What did you do?

Me: I went to the store with K Man to get ---

Her: --some applesauce?

Me: ....What? ....No. We were shopping for a backpack for K Man. (Applesauce? Did I need applesauce? Crap...I didn't buy any. We're probably out of applesauce. Dang, I suck as a parent. Wait! Does applesauce have anything to do with my story? What was my story again?)

Her: Oh did he find one?

Me: Yeah, but we were looking at a camouflaged one and this older guy came around the corner --

Her:--and told him to get out of the way?

Me: (...moments of silence...) No. He told him he was in the Army.

Her: Oh. Did you tell him your Dad was in the military?

Me: Um, no. Anywho...K man was looking at the backpack and this older guy came around the corner and told him he was in the Army --

Her: So did he --

Me: The guy gave him a dollar Mom. He gave him a dollar.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Bedtime Rituals

When each of the kids were babies we had a bedtime routine that consisted of rocking in a comfy chair and a bottle or nursing until they fell asleep. It was completely the "wrong" thing to do but it felt right to us. We also didn't do cry it out. Well, we tried at first with Miss M, but it felt icky and I hated it. By the time D came, the cry it out method never crossed my mind. It's a weird philosophy anyway. Why should we expect a baby who has been in the closest contact with a person as possible to be able to sleep in another room, away from anyone who will care for him or her? This did not last forever with any of them, and it was a great bonding time with each of them.

When they were transferred to the crib after being rocked to sleep they still weren't really alone because I made them "lovies" from cloth diapers with satin blanket edging around them. The lovies were always tucked between me and the baby while nursing/drinking bottle and rocking. So our scents combined on the lovie, that was then transferred to the crib with baby. (All 3 kids still have lovies around even though they don't need them anymore.)

The rocking gradually morphed into laying in the parent bed and reading before bedtime in their own rooms. This happened more consistently with the older two kids, but also occasionally with Ms. D. (Poor third child syndrome...we are not as diligent with the routines...especially when the child is 3 1/2 years younger than the next oldest.)

Today the bedtime routine is very different. M and K have no real routine other than a time they need to be off electronics and another time they need to be in bed to sleep. We have plenty of issues with this regarding times and not wanting to get off electronics.

D has really never been a problem getting to bed. She's always been willing to go when she is supposed to go. It is weird to have a kid so willing to go to bed.

D is almost 9 years old and our bedtime routine has morphed into this:

Me: D, it's bedtime.
Her: Okay Mom. {Comes over to get a hug and kiss. Then goes to brush teeth.}
Her: Tuck me in Mom?
Me: (Responses vary by the day) Can't tuck you in if you're not in bed!
Her: (Goes up to her bed)
.................Sometimes there is some time delay before I get there. Sometimes she messes around for a while in the bathroom. Sometimes I just can't and tell her to just go to bed. (The latter is the least frequent of the options.)
Me: (Goes upstairs to "tuck D in.")

Every night it's the same. She turns on her fan, her "D" light, her pillow pal or whatever it is. I head upstairs. Most nights she is in her bed, waiting for me to "tuck" her in. The routine calls for her folding her legs under her so I can't reach them. My role calls for trying to find her feet. Apparently it's hilarious every evening. I attempt to touch her feet, which are no where near the end of her bed. She laughs and laughs. I say I love you and that is the routine now.

Eventually, she will no longer ask me to tuck her in. I won't realize when it is the last time she asks me, just as I didn't realize with her sister and brother. So we change and grow and find new routines.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Writing Vomit #5 Too Many Toos

I've always thought I'm too.

My eyes are too small, my lips are too thin, my nose is too small.

My thighs are too big, my eyebrows are too small, my hair is too thin.

I run too slow, I breathe too shallow, I cough too much.

I gained too much weight, I've lost too little weight.

I spend too much and save too little.

I keep way too much stuff.

I am too disorganized.

My energy is too low, my anxiety is too high.

My pants are either too big or too small.

My face has too many pimples.

I say no too much; I say yes too much.

I sleep too little on weekdays; I sleep too much on weekends.

I am too.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Writing Vomit #4-Love Hurts

I have bruises on my arms. It's fine. I didn't even realize my arms were bruised until about 15 hours later and found the marks and/or bumped my arm where a bruise happened to be. I work with kids with emotional and behavioral disorders. It is expected in my job that kids will act out. The truth is that kids with emotional and/or behavioral disorders often act out for reasons they cannot control.

My 2 younger kids have learning disorders that are often misinterpreted or belittled. A learning disability does not necessarily mean that a kid is "just being lazy" when they seem unable to complete work. Work avoidance is definitely a concern, but telling a dysgraphic kid that they just need to try harder is like telling a blind kid to try harder to see. Handwriting is replaced with keyboarding or pictures as much as possible. 5 years after the diagnosis for my son and we still fight for accommodations. Dysgraphia affects more than just handwriting. Here's a link that describes dysgraphia in more detail if you are interested in learning about it. Understanding Dysgraphia

Kids with brain disorders that cause them to act aggressively and/or other anti-social behaviors are often born into environments that are not conducive to brain development. Though it should also be noted that poor physical health can also contribute to a lack of proper brain growth.

Case in point on the latter issue is my son again. He suffered from several ear infections as an infant. His health wasn't as bad as many children, but it was enough of an issue that he didn't crawl until after ear tube surgery at 10 months. His brain couldn't concentrate on learning to move until he felt better. The same is true if any basic need is not being met. A child's brain won't develop if basic needs are not met.

I think that many kids with these extreme behavior disorders especially lacked at least one if not more basic needs in utereo, during the birth process, as an infant, or as a toddler. Damage during these formative months and years can cause a child's development to derail. But even if a child passes these years unscathed, trauma later in life can cause irreverable damage.

It is disheartening to see how some of these kids are treated by the adults that claim to care for them. I've been asked several times by adults at my school why we "let" these kids be there. What if it were your child? What if something happened that was beyond your control and your child is the one that has special needs? What if you opened your home to a child who had a less-than desirable infanthood? Do they deserve a chance? Multiple chances?

That is a question I struggle with often. It is hard to see full-time mainstreamed kids have to deal with kids that can't handle a regular classroom. It's hard to see them have to be evacuated from a classroom for safety. It's also hard to see kids in crisis. Kids that deserved and now also deserve better.

The kids I work with want and deserve love. Some crave contact, others avoid it at all costs. Each child is valuable, and loveable. Those of us who work with them value them, and they (for the most part) see that. We are their safe place.

Everyone deserves a safe place.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Writing Vomit #3

I spent all last week in bed with the flu. I had the flu shot. I even messaged my doctor within 48 hours of symptoms to get Tamiflu, but I still ended up out of work for a week. It was partly due to how I felt, and partly due to my work with kids and a few adults at school who happen to be immuno-compromised right now. So now it's Sunday again. I started feeling the symptoms last Sunday evening. It's been a really long, and somewhat boring week.

Whenever I miss things that other people are continuing to participate in (ie..LIFE) it is a struggle for me to get back to reality. Anxiety tends to make me worry that others are judging me and maybe thinking they are better off without me. Everyone is replaceable. I'm not naive enough to not know that. I'm also smart enough to know that to some people, I may be irreplaceable. The problem with that knowledge is that most of the time we don't know the who that we are irreplaceable for. (Besides the obvious family.) Maybe there is a student at school that looks forward to interaction with me. That student is probably not the one I think it is. Or there could be several who look forward to seeing me, but one or two that NEED to see me. Those that need me are probably the ones that would surprise me if I knew.

I chatted with a coworker a couple of weeks ago about working with the kids. It was sort of an "in general" conversation about how cool the kids are to work with. My coworker shared that they did not like who they were before they started working in the school. Now they like who they are because the kids make them better. (I'm using they/them to maintain privacy...I do know proper grammar.) I have to agree that working with kids can make you a better person, but you have to have patience and be able to share control.

Sharing control is a hard thing for many adults, in my opinion. Adults like kids to do what they are told, simply because an adult said they should. If you want a child's (or anyone's) respect you have to share control. What is it? Love and Logic that says to offer choices, but they must all be choices that the adult can live with. "You may have the pink or white carton of milk" (not the chocolate but we don't mention that.) "Would you like to hop to the room or walk?" "Would you like to hold my hand or that teacher's hand?" It's also important to avoid saying no as much as possible. "Can I have a snack?" "Yes, when you have completed 2 more problems." Though this is probably a poor example. In general, if kids ask for a snack they are genuinely hungry where I work.

Which brings up another point. One of my young co-workers asked why/how some of the kids' brains have been affected adversely. I tried to explain that if basic life needs are not met, the brain cannot develop properly. If a child is not getting proper nutrition, the brain won't grow. If a child is sick a lot, they can't work on things like learning language, crawling, walking, etc. If a child is homeless, doing homework, learning to read and write, and learning social cues take a back seat to learning to survive.

There are other coworkers who constantly judge these kids. Those coworkers are, in comparison, in a position of privilege compared to those kids. I can't explain things to these people, mostly because of privacy laws, but also because I don't think they'll ever understand it all. No one wants to have issues. No one wants mental illness or developmental delays. We all want to be "normal" whatever that means. We want to be the average person at the very least. In fact, these children (and adults) want desperately to NOT need help and to be like "everyone else." This want/hope/NEED to be like "everyone else" causes many of these kids to actively refuse help even when they need it. We all have pride. It is hard to accept help.

Give me an instance you accepted help...
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