Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Congratulations, You Survived.

Have you seen this video? http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=GWRdHXbTmrs 
I've been sent this a few times in a few ways, Facebook, email, video, a written posting and it pisses me off every time I see or read it. Apparently we're all to be congratulated for living through the 60's, 70's and 80's. "We should all be dead," the video states in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way, as if to say that just because we lived through having no bike helmets or having lead-based painted toys and cribs that we shouldn't bother with those dangers for our kids today. 
"We drank soda pop FULL of sugar and ate butter on our bread, but we were rarely overweight because we were always outside playing." Fair enough, but are you overweight and suffering from a heart condition now? Because the eating habits we learn in childhood is what we usually find very hard to break later in life! 
"And although we were told it would happen, we didn't put out any eyes!" Really? Ehhh, wrong! I'm betting many people did, including my friend's brother, who lost an eye to a careless slapshot. So, because the majority of people didn't become brain damaged from riding a bike without a helmet, or didn't become blind from neglecting to wear safety glasses while playing with a pellet gun, we should just not bother with those things! Well, I guess we should stop wearing seatbelts in cars too, and baby seats as well, because people used to ride round without that stuff all the time. They survived, so why shouldn't we? 
Uh, no. I'm sorry, but I'd rather "coddle" my children than take my chances playing Russian roulette with their lives on a highway.
"Some students were not as smart as others and were held back or failed a grade. Tests were not adjusted for ANY reason." And you think this is a good thing? Seeing all children in a black and white way like that? No room for individualism, no room for special needs, no room for learning disabilities, no exceptions. So pass or fail, that's it. While we're at it, let's just throw all the "special" kids, the "retards" (and I put that word in quotes because I really hate it, but I'd imagine that would be the word that the creator of this video would use) back into institutions where they don't bother the "normal" people of society. 
"We had freedom, failure, success, and responsibility and we learned to deal with it." This is the only part of this video that I can agree with. Yes, more parents need to give those things to our children but maybe the reason we don't is because these most recent generations are the first of their kind. We have so many more choices as parents than humans ever have had, so many more things to consider and watch out for. We are all just muddling through without much example from our own upbringing to go by. Many of us go for safe versus the risky choice. Maybe that translates to overprotective parenting sometimes, but that's just the way the world is today. In the 60's, 70's, 80's and much of the 90's there wasn't internet. We didn't have to hear every single story of every bad thing to happen to every child in North America. We weren't inundated with information about every choice we had to make. 
And progress, people, progress. 50 years ago kids didn't have car seats. Does that mean we are wimps for using them now? No. It means we are smarter. 100 years ago we didn't have pasteurization. Just because people lived through that doesn't mean we should all go out and drink unpasteurized milk now. 
So the creator of this video seems to think that because his generation spent all their time outside playing with sticks and not watching tv that this is the way it should be. That the most recent generation of new adults are severely flawed, and that every generation thereafter will be too. Well, we are learning as we go. And every generation has changes and adjustments of their own to make. We do the best we can given the circumstances. 
Did I grow up in the 70's? Yes. Do I think it was the absolute best time to grow up? No. I love that my kids were born into a new millennium. I think they're going to be smarter than me, and have more opportunities. Thanks to new technology, they're going to be exposed to a lot more of the world than I was. 
Hell yeah, I survived. But my kids, they'll do more than that; they'll thrive. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Fourth Week In...

Well, things started off not too bad for the school year, but we've come almost full circle and L is nearly back to all the same old habits. 
Tonight, he had two things to do for homework. Let me start off by saying I REALLY hate when teachers say at the beginning of the year that they don't really give homework. Then what the bloody hell do you call this paper at my house with sums on it? A bit of fun? I hate when they say that, because they never mean it. I always hope they mean it, but they don't. 
So L had a math sheet full of sums to do tonight, and has a good copy of an assignment (a story) to either write or type up. Knowing that we have trampoline lessons tomorrow night, I knew he needed to get started on his story, and left the math. Most kids could likely do both in one night, but not L. He works so slowly that both things would take him until midnight, if we're lucky, to finish. 
I had L sit down at the table with the laptop around 6:45. I set up the page for him with a title and the font size set. All he had to do was type. 
Now, he doesn't know how to touch type, but anyone can hunt-and-peck. Some, faster than others, but anyone who knows letters can do it. There was a colossal amount of crying tonight. It started with him typing a few words, and I suppose then started to realize just how long this was going to take and began to feel overwhelmed. In hindsight, I should have broken it up for him; had him do two or three or four sentences, and then have a break. But hindsight being 20/20, and given the time constraint we're under, that wasn't what happened. Instead, he cried for a good twenty minutes after I lectured him. I stayed calm, but I gave him the truth, and I wasn't second-guessing myself tonight. I'm trying to put an end to this crying over homework. I don't know how to do that exactly, but I'm starting with having him realize (hopefully) that unlike last year, I'm not going to give in to it. I do believe that some of this behaviour is manipulation, and not just his anxiety. He's smart enough to realize that he can pass off his unwillingness to do any sort of writing as anxiety. 
Of course, as I'm sitting here reflecting and writing away, I'm having doubts. I can see now (now that I'm not looking through a red haze of frustration and anger) that it was the enormity of the task that threw this all a-kilter. Once his brain sets into the mode of "this is a huge amount of work, I can't do this, I'll never be finished" it's too hard to snap him out of it. Simply sitting there and telling him the logical things like "the sooner you work on it, the faster it will be done" doesn't register with him. All he sees is a sign in his head saying, WARNING - TOO MUCH WORK AHEAD - SYSTEM OVERLOAD - SHUTDOWN IN PROGRESS. 
I've been communicating with his teacher through email quite well; she even responded to one of my emails on a Sunday night. However, I don't want to be one of those parents, you know, the ones that the teacher sighs as she sees your name pop up on the phone or inbox and she thinks, "Now what?" I will have to schedule a meeting with her in person quite soon. I did explain his situation, but I know she doesn't quite get it. Of course she doesn't, how could she, she's only known us three weeks. So I need to explain again how homework is such a huge strain on our homelife. How it almost nearly always ends in his tears, and my head pounding, and me feeling like a failed mother.  
Tonight didn't end well. And although I didn't raise my voice at all, if I could do it over I would definitely have chosen to ignore some of his remarks instead of responding to them. He went to bed early (well, at the time I'd like him to go to bed every night actually but can never seem to be able to achieve) and told me that he hates me. He was also crying and sobbing, saying that no one understands him. I guess tonight I didn't act very understanding of him, and simply treated him as though he were any normal kid, perhaps his brother (if his brother ever behaved in this way I'd either laugh or think something was seriously wrong). I didn't say anything hurtful, or yell, only told the truths. 
This means I've now tried what the social worker lady suggested, which is to go back to treating him the same as his brother. I didn't think that would work, and I think after tonight it kind of proves it, unless some miracle happens overnight and he gets up tomorrow morning and finishes it. 
And The social worker, I've been meaning to write about her, but haven't got to it yet. I am losing faith in her, ever since she stated that she's never seen a kid like L before, and keeps asking us why do we think he does that? DH was getting annoyed with her I think last week, he kept saying (and it was true) if we knew that we wouldn't be here! She's not yet given us even one useful idea, just keeps asking us the same sort of questions. I'm glad we're not paying for it, but I feel that once again we're back to square one with no ideas of who can help us. 
So not such a good night. Thanks again, school, for ruining what could have been a great family night, for leaving me feeling sad and guilty that I wasn't the best mother I could be, and desperately hoping that by morning, L will have forgiven me. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

And Here We Go Again....

Now that summer is over and school has begun, the anxiety is back. We saw it surface from time to time over the summer of course, but it's back in full force. 
I was really hoping (of course) that this year would be different. I, myself, was feeling very anxious in the last few weeks of August, dreading those first few days of school. But after L said he was actually looking forward to school starting again, after stating to me that he felt this year was going to be a good year, I was hopeful. And I started to even believe it just might be. 
But for two nights now (one Friday, one tonight, Sunday) L has complained of his stomach hurting, that he feels sick and he's going to throw up. On Friday I ended up giving him Gravol, but tonight, I know it's the anxiety for sure. I don't want to keep giving him medication. 
Somehow, I just knew tonight would end up this way. I saw small signs, I guess, throughout the day. But it started about an hour past bedtime, when he came downstairs saying he felt unwell. And crying, of course. I sent him back to bed, telling him he was fine, he wasn't sick and to go to sleep. 
Of course that didn't help. 
I went into his room, and he cried a lot, while we hugged, and then I tried reading to him for a bit. This calmed the crying, but of course I can't read all night, so as soon as I stopped his stomach ache came back. He went into the bathroom for awhile, and when he came out he was still sobbing away. It just breaks my heart. Then he said that every time he went into his room it made his stomach hurt. So for the sake of at least some sleep tonight, I told him he could camp out on our bedroom floor. 
I am thinking that was probably the wrong choice to make, but I couldn't stand the crying anymore. And if he feels better being nearer to us, then so be it. At least he's not in our bed with us. 
I just don't get it though. I don't know what spurred on this latest "attack", I'll call it, for lack of a better word. His first week of school was great. He has a nice teacher, who he seems to like, he has friends in his class, he had only one bit of homework all week, and that was this weekend which was a title page, pretty simple. He finished it with a fairly small amount of complaint for him. It wasn't anything trying or stressful, and he finished in a very timely way. He had a nice day today, visiting with his Auntie Kelly at her house with us and DH's mom and Nan. 
So what triggered this? I wish I knew. He sure doesn't seem to. 
Tomorrow we have another meeting with the MSW from the local children's mental health place. We have met with her about three times now. L doesn't like it, because she wants to discuss things he doesn't want to talk about, and it makes him cry, which he hates. Honestly, I'm not looking forward to tomorrow, as I think it will make tomorrow night hard as well. But we are trying this route, hoping it will help. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

I'm Not The Right Mom For Him

After one week of freedom from school, I've settled into a different mode. I'm not on the defensive, the constant watch, the head-off-any-signs-of-breakdown-mode. I'm feeling more relaxed.
Well, I was.
We were free from bedtime issues, free from crying breakdowns and temper tantrums. Until today.
R and L were playing with Lego, and I don't know what happened, they were having a normal sibling disagreement. I could hear R trying to reason with L, and in all fairness, he's a great big brother that puts up with far more than most brothers do. He tries as much as he can to be patient, and I really think that he's a lot more patient than most nearly-12-yr-olds are.
I went into the room, and things weren't too heated yet. So I thought I'd interrupt before they got that way, and told them both to please get dressed. L stood up, and whipped a piece of Lego at the wall. And I got angry.
I yelled at him, despite my promise to myself of not doing that anymore. But like I said, I've gone off the defensive, which unfortunately has led me to my old ways I think. I yelled that that was unacceptable, and he would soon lose his privilege of the Lego if that kept up. Things then did get heated, only I was the one heating up. I got mad again when I saw that he'd rifled through his clothes drawer making every neatly folded piece of clothing a rumpled mess. I said some things I shouldn't have, like to "smarten up" and "what are you crying about?" - things that aren't necessarily that bad for a mom to say to any normal misbehaving nine year old. But my temper forgets that he's not normal. Even when my rational brain is screaming at me to stop, take a breath, and calm down, my temper takes over.
The more I think about it, L and I are so alike in so many ways. He worries, I worry. We both worry about stuff that will likely never happen. He's hot-headed, I'm hot-headed. He's down on himself, and really, so am I. We're so alike in all the things and ways that I don't like about myself. We clash - terribly.
I often have these momentary thoughts that I wish I wasn't his mother. That I wish he had been born to someone else. And then my guilt kicks in and I think about how horrible that sounds. Nobody said life was easy, but parenting him is something else. It's so hard. And I often think that I shouldn't be his mom. I'm not helping the situation at all, we aggravate each other and I often make things worse.
R and L are very different. I think that makes it harder sometimes, because I look at R and think, "Why can't L be more like him?" R gets straight A's. I don't have to bug him to do homework. He's so smart and gets new concepts easily. He barely misbehaves, and when he does, he's corrected and usually turns it around quickly. He does chores and other stuff when I tell him to. He doesn't complain. He doesn't whine. Every teacher that's ever had him in their class, comes to me to tell me how much they love him. He's such a great kid that it makes being around L so drastic in comparison. In some ways, that's worse, but mostly it's better. It means I only have to worry about one kid, but also means that R doesn't get enough of the attention that he often deserves.
Well, as you can read, I'm having a rough day. Lots of negativity here. Lots of questioning my own parenting, my own worthiness. I just wish I could snap out of it, that I could snap L out of it. I wish I could see, for more than a few minutes, the real L. The one that is happy, creative, loving and smart. He's gone into hiding. I've seen a bit more of this L once school ended, but the other L is back, and he needs to be the one in hiding.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Sprinting For The Finish

You know those bad dreams you have where you're running as fast and hard as you can, but you don't seem to be going anywhere? I feel like I'm in one of those dreams. Metaphorically, of course. 
I'm not being chased. But I do feel like I'm in some sort of race. Against what? Time, maybe. 
It's a marathon race of course. It started in September, and this portion of the marathon (as in, some sort of warrior-dash-super-ironman-marathon) concludes in eight days. 
Just eight, short, days. 
I can see the finish line, just there, at the top of this massively steep hill. And I'm running, but I'm completely spent, my water bottle dried up sometime back in April, and not only have both my shoes come undone, but they're now tied together. 
I'm hobbling to the finish line. 
I wish I could streak across this finish line, hands clasped with my boys and held high in the air, sweat pouring down our faces, but underneath our smiles are beaming. I wish, like for some others, this leg of the race was all downhill. I wish that we could end this race in a blaze of glory. 
But for us, it's not to be. 
I'm limping along, trying to make it without quitting, trying to instil that non-quitter attitude in my boy at the same time. I'm limping, and dragging a weighted ball chained to my left leg (why my left? It's my weaker leg.) and my L is the one sitting on top of that weighted ball. Only he's trying to hang on and pull me back. 

As you may have guessed, tonight was a bad night. And it ain't over yet. At least not until I'm 100% sure he's asleep, and right now, at 9:59 p.m., I'm about 95% sure he's NOT asleep. So I could still be in for more fun and games. 
I wish we could have the issues of just bad behaviour. I wish it was simply a case of "he won't stay in bed." I also desperately long for the days when he was small, and I'd put him to bed at 7:30 with a few small stories and plenty of hugs and kisses goodnight. 
Sometimes my brain starts thinking thoughts that start out as "I wish he was small again" and quickly turn to thoughts of "where, exactly, did we go wrong? What did we do?" 
I've been told not to think those thoughts, to shut them down quickly because A) they're unhelpful even if they were true, and B) they're not true because its not our fault, it's not something we did. 
Still, they do creep into my mind. 

L seemed fine earlier on today. He stayed home because he either has a bad cold or severe allergies, so I let him have a day off. He also had Friday off, due to a PA day. I think four days off in a row was the bad part. Once I had him in the bathroom brushing his teeth, he went sour. At first he wouldn't tell me what was wrong. Finally, after I read to him in his bed for a bit, he decided to tell me what was wrong, amid much sobbing and tears.
What else?
He doesn't want to go, he just wants to be home, he needs more time off from doing work, he HATES school, he can't live like this anymore. 
That last part always kills me. I get it. He can't continue to have these awful anxious feelings. He knows they're not a normal part of life, and doesn't want to live with them anymore. I just don't know what to say to it. I wish I had the answer. But I don't. 
It didn't matter to him that I said there were only eight days of school left. He just said that summer will fly by, and then he'll have to go to school again. 
It's so sad that now he can't enjoy summer because he'll be too busy worrying about the fall. And it's sad that his anxiety has now got me worrying about the fall too.  

So now, I feel like I'm struggling to make it to the end. 
Breathe in, breathe out. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Some People...


This is what one parent thinks of me; that all I'm worth to her is the change scraped from her purse. She pays me to the very penny every week. Never a cent over. And I've had worse, she's actually handed me a ziplock bag full of coins - pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. If she ever gives me more than what is owed, I HAVE to make change, or she puts it towards the next week. Even if it's a dollar. 
And that's fine, I guess. I can be cheap like that too. But here's the thing - I've been looking after her kid for six years now! And in six years she has NEVER given me a bonus, an extra cent, a Christmas gift, or even a pat on the back. 
Last week, she was annoyed because she screwed up her schedule, and I ended up picking her kid up from school when I was told I didn't have to. But what could I do? Leave her there? I guess I should have....She was annoyed because it was her one and only day she actually could have got her herself. Not my problem!! 
Did she thank me for not leaving her there abandoned and embarrassed? 
She eventually paid me, less two dollars which she claims to have left. I found no twoonie, so either one of my kids is stealing, or she's lying to me (which I've caught her doing before). 
Now here's the other extreme. A parent of two boys I've watched now for about four years asked me to watch them before school. She didn't end up dropping them off at my house until 8:30, and we leave at 8:40. I was in the bathroom when she "dropped and ran" and L brought me the $20 she gave to him (see? My kids DON'T steal). When I saw her hubby at the school in the afternoon, I told him she'd paid me too much. And he said, "Don't worry about it, you are SO worth it!"
Isn't that nice? Wish I could play that back to the first parent!!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

My Baby Is Growing Up

When I think about how there are only 4.5 weeks left of school, I feel a bit sick. I want to take time, slow it down, savour it. Every week seems to rush past in a blur of routine, sporting and after-school activities, and weekends that pass in a blink of an eye. It really feels to me like last month we were just starting the school year. I'm really in a daze that another one is coming to an end. 
My oldest, R, is eleven. Well, eleven and three quarters really. I can't bring myself to think about him turning twelve, then - GASP - thirteen! 
When I think of how he'll be graduating to high school this time in two short years, my eyes well up with tears. I don't know how I'll ever make it through that ceremony. I'll be a mess, I just hope I'm not going to be the only mom bawling uncontrollably, and I certainly hope I won't embarrass him. 
R is such a great kid.  I don't think I sing his praises enough. He's cooperative, helpful, patient, kind, and most of all, so smart. He's pretty much a straight A student, which as I'm seeing with L's struggles with his studies, is quite an achievement in this school! I take it for granted too much that he just does his homework without being asked, he studies for tests, and comes home telling me he has an A on yet another test. 
And now, he has reached another milestone. My baby boy now wears deodorant. Taking him out shopping to find a scent he liked seemed like such a huge thing for me. It reminded me of when my mom took me out for my first bra (even though I really didn't need one). 
Every day that I'm frustrated and sick of the daycare business, I just need to remind myself of how it allows me to spend more time with my two guys than if I was working a 9-5 (or similar) job.