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...

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Writing Vomit: Week 2: Dream Vomit

About a week ago I had this extreme dream where I dreamed I was dreaming and I couldn't wake up. But I might have been dreaming that I dreamed I was dreaming that I was dreaming and I couldn't wake up. So part of the dream had me partially waking up to find that I'm in a hospital, intubated, and I can't explain what happened to me.

Before that revelation, I was overseeing a village where (maybe?) I was the head of the village who had built a large "castle" on a hill, and had 4 families living in cottages below. All was well for a while until the "castle" family wanted to use cedar to make their castle prettier. In the dream the other families resented having to use wood from the former castle to improve their homes. The castle was built with cedar and huge windows. In my dream it was a paradise, yet many of the peoples populating the area were unhappy.

I also had a dream sequence where I sort of knew I was dying. It included seeing a bulletin board with different articles posted, but also photos that I recognized of my biological kids and some of my kids from school. I noticed a comic strip highlighted with elephants (I am currently reading a book that elephants play a major part in) that perhaps I had in my "life" published. I had the sense that the bulletin board was showing the dying me what I would miss if I died then.

The part where I was near death in my dream was really unpleasant. I remember calling out in my dream for my husband to wake me up. I wonder if I called out anything in real life.

If dreams are our subconscious way of dealing with issues in our lives, I wonder what this is telling me. Am I close to death or does it mean something else?

Edit: I am thinking the focus on death is the death of our country. I try not to write about politics online because I hate confrontation and I hate losing friends and family over stuff we really have little control over. My one vote did little. Our country is broken. Trump makes me sick to my stomach. He has no respect for anyone and I can't figure out why people I know and some that I love support him. If you love someone with a disability, or someone who has survived an assault, or someone who has arrived in the USA from another country...if you believe appointees should know basic knowledge of the area they are nominated to fulfill, please continue to protest.

I feel like I need 3 times the anxiety meds.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Writing Vomit-January 2017 edition

I haven't been able to write for a long time. The lack of posts here is certainly indicative of that. Part of the problem is that my kids are older and I no longer feel that I can write their stories for them, even though they've given me permission. There is so much more than just writing about my kids and yet I can't seem to transition to writing about non-parenting themes. I can write about pretty much anything at this point since almost no one reads or writes blogs anymore. Also, I remember when I started this blog and thought I would keep it secret and no one would really read it that I know, especially not relatives. Then I ended up telling everyone (almost everyone) about it anyway because I can't make up my mind.

This will be exceptionally hard to read because I was going to not use any paragraphs but instead I will randomly start a new paragraph. Writing teachers always told me to just vomit words to get to writing. This may be very awkward for all of us for weeks or months. All 3 of us that might still read here. (Hi friend and mom!)

My life no longer consists of staying home and taking care of my babies (who have not been babies for a while). I started working outside the home at an elementary school in November 2015. I started out as a noon time paraprofessional for 1.75 hours per day because I wanted to try to lose weight and I wanted to try the Medifast program. It's kind of expensive so I thought I'd work a few hours to try to pay for the program.

Medifast has worked and hasn't worked. I've lost about 50 pounds, but my weight has stayed around this weight for many months now. The program works if you follow it. I have a hard time getting in all the food I am supposed to eat. I'm also supposed to limit my milk intake and I kind of enjoy a glass of fat free milk in the mornings. So that doesn't work so well. I'm sure I'll write more about this journey.

Work has gradually increased since I started. The 1.75 was kind of a hard gig because I didn't know students outside of lunch and recess and I totally missed contact with many grades. It's hard to be taken seriously when you know literally nothing about a kid.

There is a long series of increases in hours, interviews, then change in focus. I moved from general education to special education. The move has been really rewarding. I work with kids with emotional and/or behavior disorders. These are some really special kids and I love the ones I know. The ones I don't know? I'm certain they are cool kids too.

Relationships are the key. Connect with someone. If it's a kid that needs a little help? No matter what these kids want someone to care about them. It may take some time to convince the child that you care. Don't take this transition time personally. It has nothing to do with you.

Enough vomit for today.
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