Monthly Archives: July 2015

To The Zoo!

Today we went to the zoo, the children and my mother.

I had my mother in a wheelchair, so she would not tire. I had the children taking turns in a stroller, so they would not tire, which I suppose backfired on me, since they had to push each other, too.

When it got too much for the children I pushed the stroller a ways, parked the kids there, and went back for the wheelchair.

It was a fantastic workout. I think I burnt half my caloric intake. I bet I looked a mess, but I was really happy, and never tired.

They whined a lot in the beginning, Middle Child was tired to begin with. I think he gets more rest than I know in the day care, and for certain he gets a nap.

Overall, I think they did well. I did have to dose them twice in the day with various forms of ice cream to keep their strength up. I have to add ice cream sandwiches to the list of things they like.

We did not see as much of the animals as I wanted, but we did explore some fantastic play spaces, which I did want to accomplish this visit. There are four very different play areas and they spent significant time in each of them.

My mother tired after two hours, and I am not sure why, since she never even walked a block, but we set her by the sharks to have a little nap while we gazed at weird ocean creatures nearby and explored faux tidal pools. She perked up an hour later and we went outside for one last long play before we left.

I got a membership. Which might not be the best investment I ever made, since the zoo is much further than my comfort zone, but I figure it will force me to go back and get my money’s worth.

I can keep my kids in a triangle of three small towns, but I probably shouldn’t.

Hopefully we can see all the animals before my membership expires. We have only explored half of the zoo!

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Regression and Excuses

Middle Child hit Oldest Child today. When asked why, he told me “I just can’t control my anger!”

Not gonna fly, I told him. He lost some privileges, made his apologies and I let him know in no uncertain terms that nothing is going to slide around here. When the tears came out I comforted him. I told him I know he will make the right choice next time, and keep his video game privileges.

He stood up for his sister against a bully a minute after the hitting incident, and I did not let that go unnoticed. I reminded him of all the times he had stood up for his siblings this summer and let him know how proud I was- but I waited an hour after he was reprimanded. Just so I knew he would be receptive. He told me it was hard for him to stand up against bullying when he was younger. I told him I knew he would keep doing it, that he is acting like a hero. As he should, coming from a family of heroes.

His sister cried her little heart out before she came in for the evening. Her best neighborhood friend had cruelly covered up her hard work, a dirt puddle that she had created as a gift for the friend. Something to do with pretending to be lemurs. Middle Child assures me that his sister experienced an act of cruelty.

It could have been retaliation. I did tell the children not to pull down the sapling they were messing with. I did tell The Baby she was not allowed to hurt trees, which caused her to blurt out that it was not her who pulled off the bark, but rather Best Neighborhood Friend. I had nothing to say to that. It would be up to her friend’s mother. But her friend might have been embarrassed on being ratted out.

If The Baby were older I would explain it all to her.

Instead one of the older girls who had experienced similar cruelty from the same individual had a small heart to heart with her and then she came in smiling.

So we had some good with the bad this evening. I much prefer that to only bad.

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A Grandmother’s Complaints

Tonight my mother asked if she should leave early, cut short her vacation time with us.

When asked what was wrong she complained that the children were always busy playing with toys or their friends.

It could have been worse.

To compromise, I am going to give her dinner at the same time as the children instead of cooking her special food after I cook theirs. She wants them to sit there for the hour and some that it takes her to eat, but I stood my ground on that one. I am not making my kids sit quietly at the table for forty-five minutes or more after they finish eating. That is half of their evening at home.

I know what she wants.

She wants them to be interested in her. But it works the other way round with most children. You get interested in them, and play WITH them or invite them to play.

When the baby took an interest in her, and chattered away at her, Grandma told her to “go read a book” and then I had talks about hurt feelings with the baby. When it was Grandma’s birthday dinner, she went upstairs to bed and had a nap. Missing her dinner entirely. Yes, I told her before we started.

She has yet to be happy when she visits. She spends most of her time sleeping.

I don’t want the children to dread her staying with us, or become resentful.

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A Visit From The Children’s Grandmother

My mother arrives tomorrow. I might not be posting on here much, it is hard for me to get time to myself when my mother is here.

I hope she is better with the children this time. Each visit she gets a little bit better with them, though she seems less stable overall.

Two weeks before she leaves. Just in time for school to start. A lot of changes in one month for my kids.

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Toddler Threats

My daughter today wanted to go to a friend’s house. She had already proven herself tired and cross today, evidenced by many long tantrums. So many, in fact, that I suspected her of being on the cusp of an illness.

So she asked me if she could go. I told her she could not. She asked me why, and I explained it was because she threw fits today, which were not allowed. I told her I saw them as proof that today she could not handle her privileges and needed to stick close to home and get her rest.

She told me to get down. I looked around and there was no reason to duck. She said impatiently “Get down here!” I leaned down so she could whisper in my ear.

She gently cupped a hand around my ear before she said “If you don’t let me go to my friend’s house I will throw a big fit.”

I straightened back up and told her to go ahead and throw that fit.

I got this.

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Friday with the Child Psychologist

Today both boys had an appointment with the child psychologist.

She asked me what we should be working on today, and I reminded her of the current issues. I asked my middle child what he should be working on, in case I missed something, and he said he is about ready to graduate. Not the answer I expected.

After session, she told me she thought he might be ready to cease his sessions with her. She told me she remembers how they were when they first started with her, middle son at two years ago and oldest child at a year ago.

She said they were bouncing off of things. Had no focus. Became upset every minute. Did not share. Argued with everyone and each other.

Middle child did not talk about his father and did not want to discuss his feelings AT ALL for a year.

I was surprised she felt he might be done with therapy. He is doing remarkably well right now, true, but I just did not know if it were due to his medication or due to his emotional growth.

She walked us to the door and turned to me and looked me in the eyes and said “good job”.

Last week a social worker visited us in our home and attributed my kid’s good behaviour to good parenting.

After years of criticisms from their father, my father, the shelter staff- I can scarcely believe it.

I hope the children do. They worked really hard to get here.

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Too Much

The other mothers in the complex are fighting with each other over parenting and child safety.

My father has dementia, and no one has told him or his doctor. He has a wife, so my hands are tied.

My mother is coming for a visit. She is never happy visiting me. I am always on edge when she comes, waiting for her to explain to me that I am not doing enough to show her a good time. Because I have children and a job. The first time she did this I was a few days post partum and could even not sit down yet. She had her friend yell at me over the phone, and she stopped when I pointed out to her that I could not walk, much less tour the local museums or go out to eat with a newborn in whooping cough territory with that horrible flu going around. You have to keep babies indoors the first six weeks in such places, said the pediatrician.

I enrolled in community college, and have to take the placement test.

My best friend has all the signs of prescription drug abuse, and in fact I never see her anymore, though I do get “drunk texts” from her and desperate calls from her son asking for help. She has a husband, so my hands are tied.

Two of my kids start a new school in a few weeks. I found out the local schools publish the kids in the paper when they get honor roll. I opt them out of everything, and still there is another security leak.

I am stressed out.

I need to remember to take my medication.

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A Grievous Incident

Our beloved unmedicated neighbor boy, who I mentioned in my last post, has managed to seriously hurt a much older child. Last night he knocked out a thirteen year old girl, with a plastic sword covered in duct tape. She has a concussion and has to stay in her darkened house. Not a great way to spend a summer day, or days.

She has had a CAT scan, and they said she can now sleep without worry. She looks very affected, and her nose is also broken. I am very sorry for her. She is a sweet girl, very good with younger children, a naturally nice person.

Her mother is not so sure about letting her daughter play outside anymore… it happened when she was just ten feet away.

In the shelter I had to keep my children apart from other children a great deal of the time, because my children were violent or their children were violent or abusive in other ways. It is just what had to be done to keep everyone safe. It was very difficult, more so because we lived in one room and had next to no toys. The only thing to do was to be outside, where all the other children were. It was very hard to keep them apart. It was heartbreaking to watch them react with violence to nearly everything. All the children there needed professional help.

Just as we started the neighborhood on Capture the Flag and Four Square, this threw a wrench into our newly forged bonds. I don’t know what will happen, but I feel sorry for everyone. I hope our neighbor boy is okay. He was having such a hard time and I am sure he feels worse now.

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Body and Brain and Heart- Refusing to Work Together Without Intervention

My son has to take medications every day to be “normal”. So far the meds are mostly effective, though this is our third try on the right combination. For now, it works. It is a real worry, I always wonder how long they will work or when they will stop working, and will something else work as well, or is this just a lull? His body is growing too fast for them to work very long.
I always remind him this is how his brain is wired, that he is not defined by his illness. He perceives his life before medication as “when he was bad”. I do my very best to correct him, gently, so he will be forgiving and accepting of himself.

My neighbor’s son is off his medication right now. He is exactly like my son is without his meds, always in trouble. The inner torment is terrifying. These kids who have no control know that they are doing wrong, they just are helpless to stop it, as much a victim as any other. They end up hating themselves, hating the body and brain that won’t cooperate with their good little hearts. They wish themselves dead. They are miserable. No kid should have to live like that. Mental illness is not their fault.

The next time you see a child acting up, please don’t condemn him or her, nor the parents. If you have to say something, just say something neutral, not anything shaming or blaming. “We don’t do that.” or “Time for the next activity!” Even better: “Hey, I like that shirt, where did you get it?” Just natter on at them about Spiderman, because a creature that occupies multiple universes is awesome, and very distracting. Children need our support, not our condemnation. Show them how to resolve the situation without negativity. Because they already get that elsewhere, trust me.

Yesterday my unmedicated neighbor boy hurt my son, more than once. The first time I was looking the other way, and I don’t know what prompted it, if it were accidental or not. The second time they were horsing around, play-fighting, which my son is not allowed to do in case he really hurts another child (only dedicated diligence prevented this in his earlier years). I told him to stop. He did not.

He got accidentally hit in the mouth and now has a wiggly tooth. He cried a lot and ate some ice, but the best part was his reaction. He did not hit back, either time. He did not lash out. He came to me for help. I am so proud of him for doing the right thing, both times. He has come so far, in his learning. Not all of it is medication, he is making good choices, too.

I told our neighbor boy that my son is not allowed to play fight anymore. I said someone always seems to get hurt, it’s just not a good idea. He was in agreement. We also agreed it is probably better to play games instead, and more fun. Hopefully he remembers. I know our conversation did not hurt his feelings. He is having a really hard time without his medicine, I did not want to make him feel worse. He is a very good kid. He just has no control right now. I know how it is. I have a son like that.

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Porn

My son and his friend were watching something on the friend’s phone and quickly turned it away when I approached. I asked them if they were watching something inappropriate, and my own son lied to me and told me no.

He said they were cleaning the back of the phone. I knew he was covering for something.

I told them both that I trusted them to make good decisions on what they watch, and that they are not allowed to watch anything inappropriate. I reminded them that they had a choice. They asked to sit in full view of everyone at the picnic table. I consented.

A minute later they were gone.

The mother of the other boy and myself were looking around for them, and when the other mother found them she snatched the phone away. They had been on YouTube, watching women flash their chests.

My son was sent to his room immediately.

I came up later and informed him he was off electronics for a week. I reminded him that I had taught him all his life not to look at people’s private parts and not to show his own. I asked him how he felt watching those videos and he had nothing to say about his own reaction. He did admit to seeing videos. I told him I know boys can be curious, but that looking at people’s private parts being used for display can hurt his brain. He asked how. I explained it was not natural, like a squirrel eating candy. The candy hurts the squirrel, because it is not the squirrel’s natural food. I told him he has seen me feed his baby sister a hundred times and had no interest, but that this is interesting to him because these women were doing something unnatural with their bodies. Viewing this unnatural display can change how his brain works, and affect his future relationship/s.

I explained to him that he should only explore this interest with a woman he loves and has committed to, and that he should think about how she would feel knowing he had been looking at others before her. I asked him how he would feel, to know his wife was interested in others in such a way before meeting him, and he admitted he would not like it. I told him he has to wait until he is older and has consent.

He wanted to know why women would do that, show their private parts on screen. I told him there are many reasons. Some might not know it is unnatural and undignified. I told him some might do it for money, and if so, then he is taking advantage of their poverty. He should give them money or help, not have them debase themselves for it. I told him no matter the reason, it is not done in our culture and so he is being disrespectful of them, to watch. I asked him how he would feel if I did that, and he laughed at the absurdity of it.

I told him there are plenty of places where women do not wear tops. There are places in the world where tops are optional for both genders, but that in our country women wear them. I reminded him again that he is supposed to look away when someone is indecent, not stare or point or laugh.

He had to stay in his room tonight.

Later when his baby sister flashed her behind at him he wouldn’t look, and came to tell me about it. I reminded him of the time he asked me to leave the room and shut the door so he could change in private. I told him these are the right choices to make, to keep himself private and respect the privacy of others, even if they themselves violate it by putting themselves on display.

I asked him to make good choices so I can rebuild my trust in him. I told him the lying hurt my feelings.

I locked up our devices through Chrome and YouTube and instructed my kids they may not use anyone else’s without becoming grounded. I have to download some sort of parental control next. I have a week to get it in place.

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