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Archive for the ‘parenting stuff’ Category

I’m going to do a little something new and different here.  I tend to live in this space as if it were my whole world, and that means that my whole world is abnormally small from that perspective.  But today I’m going to do something I’ve never done here (at least not in recent memory, my memory really isn’t all that reliable).

I’m going to link to a post from another blog.

Here it is:  http://allietown.blogspot.com/2013/03/end-word-please.html

The reason I haven’t ever done this sort of thing is that it would blow my cover.  I am purposely anonymous and want to keep it that way.  But this is worth viewing.

I have a passing acquaintance with the person who wrote this, in a second-hand kind of way, and while my own child has nowhere near the issues her child has, I can so relate.

I know what it’s like to suspect that “something” about your child isn’t quite right.

I know what it’s like to think “maybe it’s this,” “maybe it’s that” and seek out experts in this or that field.

I know what it’s like to have to sit and listen to a doctor tell you things that confirm your thinking and yet you don’t want to hear.

I know what it’s like to have your spirit wither with this new knowledge.

I know what it’s like to make the decision whether to accept or reject what you’ve been told.

I know what it’s like to be pea green with envy when others from your/your child’s peer group brag about their kids’ accomplishments.

I know what it’s like to become a researching maniac, a tester, a tryer, an adopter, a label-reader, a crusader for that one bit of Rosetta Stone that will readjust the skewed world you live in.

I know what it’s like to love your child with a fierceness that surprises you, to take great offense at anyone who doesn’t see how amazing your kid is.

I know what it’s like to feel defeated, even on the most ordinary of days.

I know what it’s like.

And while I know all of this, what I can’t begin to know is why others can be so cruel.  For most people it takes a watershed moment, something that resets your vision by affecting your life in the most personal of ways, before that cruelty falls away.  Count me guilty.

Why is it that cruelty comes so easily to mankind?  Why don’t love and understanding rise to the top instead?

Are we so afraid of being viewed as weak that we strong-arm our way through life, glossing over our compassion for others?  It’s not a question of eat or be eaten in most cases, so why do we hit first and ask questions later?  Why are we so harsh towards the things we don’t understand?

I must say that by far the best thing about being in my 40’s is the clarity that comes with each passing year.  I better understand the phrase “the folly of youth.”

It’s one thing to be young and foolish.  It’s quite another to be old and foolish.  You really don’t have much of an excuse beyond willful ignorance, and that’s not all that excusable.

One thing’s certain:  regardless of where you fall on the disability parenting spectrum, the slings and arrows of others’ cruelty sting just the same across the board.  Doesn’t matter if your child is severely handicapped or mildly challenged.  It all hurts.

It. All. Hurts.

 

— Mox

 

 

 

 

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In appreciation.

We have entered those marvelous tween/preteen years at our house.

You think I’m joking.  About the “marvelous” part.  I’m not.

Okay, truth be told, not all of it is marvelous.  In fact some days are decidedly Not Marvelous.  Some days are more like eat or be eaten.

But there is a sea change here, and I am glad to see it.

We’re in that in-between stage where Spawn still thinks of the opposite sex as Just People, without any romantic notions.  Where a fart joke is still the height of comedy.  Where Mom and Dad, mostly, are still okay to be seen with.  Mostly.  We’re standing on the precipice of raging hormones, and the kid is starting to really gel, personality-wise, and so far I like who I’m seeing emerge from the little-kid cocoon.

Could we stand with a little more personal hygiene?  Yes.  Could we do without the heavy sighing and eye-rolling?  Most certainly.  But a switch has been flipped in the kid’s brain and we’re having some really great conversations.

Example:

In the car, coming home from a late evening run to the local DQ, Spawn starts telling me about some show where somebody “goes commando” meaning, in all innocence, that someone is kicking some major butt. 

Me:  Hey, kiddo, I just want you to know something.  There’s another meaning to the word commando, so you might want to be careful how you use it. 

Spawn:  What’s the other meaning? 

Me:  It means to go without underwear. 

Spawn: …

(laughter) 

Me: I just wanted you to be aware of that. 

Spawn:  Wait until I tell (my BFF) M!  (laughter again)

I can distinctly remember back about the time I was Spawn’s age, and I used the word “horny” in conversation – having some idea, yes, of the more adult meaning of the word – and my mother delivering a huge lecture on the use of the word.  Never one to mince words, my mother pounced on me:  “DO you know what that word means?  It means…”  And then I was properly grossed out and embarrassed and I clammed up and never spoke another word in front of my mother that I hadn’t carefully considered the definition of.  Because I was one of those kids who read the thesaurus for fun, and I had a pretty good-sized vocabulary.  And even today I will double-check the dictionary before I use a word in my correspondence or writing.  Because I don’t ever want to feel that sense of stupidity again.

So yeah, I think I handled the whole “do you know what that word means” discussion pretty well, at least this time.

I’m 45 years old, and I still choose my words carefully in front of my mother.  She’s pretty prim and proper, and as she ages, she gets more so.  I don’t want Spawn to have that same reluctance to have a real conversation with me.

I’m a firm believer that 95% of how you feel about things is due to the way they’re presented to you.  I’m working really hard to be a go-to person for Spawn, which is not something my mother was for me.  It’s one of those conscious decisions a person makes about parenting.

Some days I feel like I’m doing something right.

 

— Mox

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Every year – well, most years – we make a pilgrimage to the beach.  This usually coincides with Spawn’s fall school break, and it is much-anticipated by all of us, for a variety of reasons.  For Spawn, it’s a week off from school.  We could go to the dump for a week and the kid would be positively thrilled about it.  For my husband, it’s the promise of all the golf he can handle.  For me, it’s the absence of a routine.  Really, a break from the constant go-go-go to tutoring and lessons and activities and doctors appointments and the like is by far the best reason to take a vacation.  To heck with golf.

October is in my opinion the best month to go to the beach.  The weather is perfect and the crowds are pretty thin.  Snowbirds haven’t yet flocked south and clogged up the roads and stores.  The majority of the people on the beach in October, at least where we go, are visitors from overseas, which adds a nice international flavor to things.  You can get into a restaurant pretty easily.  And there is always a seat at the tiki bar.  Long live the tiki bar.

This year we planned to spend two days on the beach and accordingly booked a hotel right across the street from the beach.  (Sidebar:  another great thing about October at the beach is that the hotel rates are much lower.)  It got us out of my aunt and uncle’s way for a couple of days (since our m.o. is to go somewhere where we know someone and save some serious cash by crashing at their place — yes I know we’re in our 40’s and should be out of the crash pad business but old habits are hard to break if you have no desire to break them) and gave us a chance to all hang out together for a while.  My husband had been working insane hours for the 8 weeks prior to our trip and had only been home a total of 8 days in those 8 weeks.  Not, however, that we had much of a chance to miss him — Spawn’s and my schedule was pretty insane, too.

So it was with a great anticipation we unloaded the rental car of all our beach gear and traipsed across the street, set up the umbrella and chairs, applied sunscreen, and settled in.  Spawn and my husband ran out into the waves while I sat in my chair, took a deep breath, and let all the tension go.  I could feel my shoulders start to relax, dropping down from their clenched position up around my ears.  I dug my feet into the warm sand and admired my pedicure.

Eventually I was coaxed into the water, where Spawn and my husband were enjoying a rather hefty sandbar, and was enjoying the warm salty water and the movement of the waves while Spawn dug around in the sandbar.  And then, Spawn let out a yelp and came up with a bloody arm.  The kid sliced open an arm on a conch shell.

Let me tell you that if you have to find a doctor’s office in a strange city, it can be done, and quickly.  And you will walk a mile in the sun and in a wet swimsuit with sand up your ass, too.

After an hour’s worth of hysterics, during which the kid was adamant that the cut did NOT hurt, the doctor finally made it in to see us and assured Spawn that the cut wasn’t going to need stitches.  They closed the cut up with a series of steri-strips and sent us on our way with a script for antibiotics, and that effectively ended any plans we had for further fun in the ocean.

My shoulders returned to their original position up around my ears.

Six hours at the beach and that was the extent of my enjoyment of it all.

I returned home several days later feeling a little gypped.

The weather here in Podunk has gone south, and rather quickly, and I don’t even have my memories to keep me warm.

 

— Mox

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Things are unfair, y’all.

A month ago, I posted about a family preparing to lose their son to a rare form of cancer, which had invaded his brain.  And as a month has gone by, the parents are still preparing themselves for this horrible thing.  Which is worse, a young person dying quickly, or a young person dying slowly?  Is there not grief and agony either way?

A little closer to home, a family in Spawn’s school is reeling from grief today, for much the same reason.  And as much as the first story stabs at my heart, this one is particularly painful because of the proximity.  And because I am trying to find the words to help Spawn understand why and how an 11-year-old boy can die from a brain tumor.  The how part is actually pretty easy, because hard facts and science are on my side.  The why is much trickier, particularly since it involves the inconsistencies endemic to theology — why does God let these things happen, isn’t God in the miracles business, doesn’t God have the power to do anything He wants, etc.

And we go to a Catholic school.  I am ill-equipped for this.  Someone call a priest, stat!

I can talk about the family in the first story with some objectivity, since what I know is derived from information posted on Facebook.  I don’t personally know them.  But objectivity flies out the window in this second case, because this boy was in the grade below Spawn, he had triplet siblings, Spawn knows the family, I sent Spawn’s hand-me-downs to the family when the kids were babies.  How can I be objective about this?

In the midst of the regular chaos that reigns at our house most days, I’ve stopped numerous times and thought about that family, what their house must feel like right now.  I’ve reached out and hugged my kid, tightly, even though we’re at the point where all that mushy stuff is pretty much verboten.  Spawn has allowed it.  I suspect the kid needs it as much as I do.

I can pretty well say that in the grand scheme of things, it matters very little that I’m late on my car payment, that Spawn has a D in Spelling, that my house is a wreck, and that we’re nearly out of toilet paper.  All of these things will get resolved one way or another, and will likely reoccur.

I keep thinking there is a lesson in all of this, but I’ll be damned if I can tell you what it is right now.

— Mox

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I can find a thousand things to complain about, to worry over, to obsess on, and can be brought up short by one very sobering fact.

Tonight in my hometown a mother and a father are having to make decisions that no parent ever should have to make.  Their son, who is only two years older than my own child, has a rare form of cancer and has been fighting the good fight for over two years.  This mother and father are not people I know personally, but they are friends of many of the people on my Facebook friends list, so I have kept watch over the situation from a distance.  On Thursday their son developed seizures, seizures that the doctors could not find a way to stop, seizures that led to the discovery that the cancer had spread to this young man’s brain.

We are fresh out of miracles around here, folks.

I looked at their open Facebook page and flipped through the photos.  I have the same sort of photos of Spawn.  Photos that show a kid full of life, having fun and just being a kid.  Photos that belie what’s really going on.

I have alternately cried and prayed and cried some more, and at the same time have been burdened with the ridiculousness of my own concerns.  When you’re thinking about how parents of a child very close in age to your own are making a thousand decisions on how, when, where, and why to let their own child’s life slip away, how best to go about it, how to put their desires aside, how much to tell their child and his sibling about what’s going on, how to stand upright and be clear-eyed and strong — well, in light of all that, hurts about being snubbed by friends or worries over your own child’s miserable grades in school pretty much pale in comparison.

I know I’m fortunate that the biggest thing I have to worry about with my own child is the fact that the kid’s grades are Cs and Ds.  That the kid has a sore throat.  That the kid is developing an attitude.

I want to shake Spawn until the kid’s teeth rattle, shake some sense into the kid, and at the same time I want to wrap my arms around my child and weep for what these parents are going through.

I know we’re going to have a tomorrow.  That the grades really do need to come up.  That puberty is upon us and it’s not going to get any prettier for a while.  And I feel like such an asshole that these things are still on my horizon, these are my realities and my petty concerns, and there is nothing I can do about a thirteen-year old boy dying of cancer while his parents and hometown watch.

 

— Mox

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So yesterday was the first day of school here in Podunk.  (I know!  We start so early!)  I posted the obligatory first day of school photo on Facebook for all my friends to see, Spawn with a long face, and believe me, a longer face has not been seen in human history.  Man, that was a short summer.

While I was not the most enthusiastic student myself, I can’t hold a candle to Spawn’s fear and loathing of school.  I live with a classic case of “if I had only known then what I know now” and I really do believe that given a time machine I could have improved the kid’s outlook, just a little bit.

But here we are, sixth grade.  I am the parent of a sixth grader!  I remember loving sixth grade, mostly because I had a pretty awesome teacher, and the little country school I attended was a wonderful little cocoon before the big, bad Junior High years.  I could write a dissertation on how much I hated Junior High.  I still hate it, and we don’t even have the Junior High model in this town anymore.  Now we’re K-5 elementary, 6-8 middle school, and 9-12 high school.  Is that better?  Hard to say.  The private school we send Spawn to is a K-8 school, and I did briefly wonder about pulling the kid out of private school and enrolling in the middle school just two blocks from our house.  I don’t know that my sensitive little bird would have been able to hack the shark tank, though.

I will say this, though — if 6th grade isn’t an improvement (socially) over 5th grade, we may have to look at other forms of education.  I’m not a huge fan of the public school system here (too damned big and focused on money and oh let me tell you how I dislike our superintendent) but it’s an option, as is homeschooling (which makes me quake in my shoes).  Spawn needs the social development, that much is for sure, since maturity-wise we’re a little behind the curve.

In addition to a time machine I’d like to have a crystal ball so I can see how all of this turns out.

 

— Mox

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Summer continues unabated here in Podunk, replete with sky-high temps and no rain.  It’s been so hot here that we’ve resorted to renting movies and staying indoors rather than brave a day at the pool.  When it’s too hot to go to the pool, it’s too hot.  And the fact that I, a hot weather lover, am saying it’s too hot… well, it’s too hot.  My flowers are all pretty crispy by this point.

I’ve made the big shift in my work life, beginning the extrication process from my job of 20+ years.  It’s been a little bittersweet, considering the circumstances.  But since I now have a car payment to deal with, it’s necessary.  Oh what I wouldn’t give for a winning lottery ticket.  I wouldn’t even need to hit the powerball, just let me hit the rest of the numbers and give me several hundred thousand.  Would certainly put salve in a few wounds.  At any rate, the new gig is okay, the people are nice, and the work isn’t too taxing.  It tends to be a bit tedious at times, but when you’re a part-timer, you are also a beggar, and beggars can’t be choosers, don’t you know.

Spawn has had an amazing summer thus far.  A week of sleep-away camp, and several weeks of nature daycamp, plus lots of lying around in front of the TV, playing with the dog, and hanging with friends.  I could live like this forever.  Taking the kid off medication has been great — improved appetite, improved attitude.  We’ve only given the kid the medication on the weeks of camp, where focus and attention are required, and I can honestly say I can tell the difference.  A lot of parents will say that their main concern with ADHD meds is that it will alter their child’s personality, and they find that it doesn’t.  I beg to differ.  I’ve even mentioned this to Spawn’s doctor, how much more agreeable the kid is when we’re med-free.  And what’s more, Spawn has started to resist the meds, too, questioning taking them.  I’m in a bit of a quandary about it, but past experience of friends with children who have gone down this path tells me that the cusp of puberty is pretty typical for this reevaluation.

School starts here in about three weeks.  My annual dreading of the first day of school has arrived right on schedule.  Add my reticence about the meds into this and my head is about to explode.  And I haven’t even begun to look at the school supply lists yet.

Bright spot?  Starting school so damned early means that at least we get a week of break in October, during which we will go to the beach.  October at the beach is perfection.

And speaking of puberty – or as Spawn’s doctor has dubbed it, “teenager disease” –  things are happening.  I’ve noticed a few small physical changes, and the kid’s appetite has been through the roof, and my early-bird has taken to sleeping in (meaning, past 6:30).  And the heavy sighing and eyerolling — oh my.  I’m trying to maintain a certain amount of perspective about it, even trying to see the humor in it, but it also makes me a little maudlin.  Just last week, we took Spawn’s first pair of roller skates (quads) to a sports consignment store and traded them in for a pair of roller blades.  Because roller blades are cooler than regular roller skates, and the kid’s foot has grown two sizes, anyway.

The end of this week will bring my biennial family reunion.  And true to form, I have been looking forward to it for so long that I’m almost sad it’s here.  Then I won’t get to see my far-flung relatives again for two more years, barring any funerals.  Which may become an issue.  The older folks are getting pretty feeble.  But for four days we will be all together (most of us), and we will be eating and drinking and playing horseshoes and golf and laying by the pool and going to the casino and taking wine tours and going horseback riding and bowling and go-karting and boy I really wish I could bottle it.

Summer, despite all of its’ challenges, tends to make me greedy for more.  There is a relaxed attitude in summer that I find is most closely related to my natural state.  I particularly enjoy not having to adhere to a rigid schedule — we eat when we’re hungry, sleep when we’re tired.  Sometimes I count a day of swimming as good enough for a bath.  And if I want to eat ice cream at 9pm and call it dinner, so be it.  What’s not to love?

— Mox

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