Parental Success

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I’m Not Terrible, I’m Two!!

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My baby is going to be two soon and I get tired of hearing about the “terrible twos” or the look of remorse on people’s faces when they find out I have a two year old. Two can be a trying age for parents, but imagine what it’s like for a two year old. These little ones are growing and doing so much for the short two years they have been alive. I feel blessed and honored to have her so I wrote a post of what a two year old, like my daughter, may say to their parents if they could.

I am not a nuisance.
I want your attention because I need you.

I am learning.
I have to test what’s around me to find out how it works.

Let me drop things and make messes.
I won’t know how messes are made until I have made some. (Oh, and I don’t understand gravity.)

I need to explore.
I won’t learn or understand if you contantly yell at me for exploring my environment.

I will throw tantrums.
The world can be overwhelming for someone who’s only been in the world two years. I also don’t understand all of my emotions. These things aren’t easily understood by adults either.

Don’t expect perfection out of me. I can’t be held to an unrealistic standards unobtainable for even you.

I can be demanding.
I get mad when I don’t get my way and I think everything is “mine!”. How do I know who is in charge and how to share unless I am taught those things?

I need a nap!!!!
I’m learning a new language and how to use my body. I’m also growing very fast. All of this makes me tired! Please, give me a break and let me rest!

The world is a very big place for me and I need a break from it.
People and places can overwhelm someone as small as me. I often need to spend time in a familiar and comfortable place.

Don’t forget that everything around me is four times my size.
Sometimes it’s nice for me to be in a safe environment just the right size for me. Why not buy me my own chair or a toy at my height? It helps me learn how things work at my own level and it makes me feel special.

I spend lots of time climbing.
I have to climb to use those big things around me but keep a close eye on me because I think it’s my job to conquer everything in the house!

Stop acting shocked when I’m upset when I don’t get the rest I need.
I’m too little to keep up with your pace. My emotional state often reflects my physical state. I feel better when I can rest when I’m tired, don’t you?

Look at how much I am doing AND I’M ONLY 2!!!
I am an amazing work of art, sometimes you just have to stand back and look at how beautiful I am!

Praise me!
In my two years of life, making you happy is the greatest thing! Let me know you are happy with me.

I like attention.
I’ll behave well or poorly to get it, so you may want to recognize the good things I do to get it.

You are my whole world!
Really, you are. There is a reason I want you to give me all of your attention. You are my first true love!

*d*

Five Things Children May Want to Tell Their Parents About What They Really Need

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Praise me.
Spend more time praising me when I do something right rather than solely scolding me when I do something wrong. Praising me when I do well teaches me that you are paying attention. I learn that positive choices mean positive results and I have the ability to make others happy by my good choices.

Let me spend time independently.
Don’t hover over me. Let me wander around a safe environment. I need to learn that I can do things on my own and feel the accomplishment of doing things independently.

Allow me to fail.
I need to know life isn’t always fair. I know you love me but let me fail so I can learn to try again and not give up. I will grow faster than you realize and I need to be able to graciously accept defeat when necessary and know failing isn’t the worst thing that can happen to me.

Remind me that you are looking out for me.
Remind me to zip up my coat, clean my room, and do my chores. Keep after me because I expect you to. Be my parent first and then my friend. I will have a lot of friends in my childhood years but you will be my longest friend, just give me time to grow and realize it.

Love me.
Make sure I know you love me, even when I fail, refuse to listen, or disappoint you. I’m not perfect. I will never be perfect but your love for me through anything feels pretty perfect.

*d*

Sweet, Sour, and Everything Between

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My husband and I call our disabled child the “Sour Patch Kid.” If you have seen the commericals, you will know why. The slogan for the candy is, “sweet on one side, sour on the other” and their commercials usually show one of the little candy kids getting into trouble followed by a cute hug or something similar. I believe my son has studied these commercials in depth so he can perfect the art of the dual personality.

Typically he saves his sour behavior for home. From the time he started early education (at 4 months – he’s been working at it a long time) he was often praised for his good behavior while at school. My earliest memory of his “patchy” behavior began in the first year of early intervention. One of the biggest issues I saw at home would be him beating his head on the floor. I would take him to class and discuss the matter with the therapy staff and they could not believe he would exhibit that behavior. He would continue to do exceptionally at school and when we got home, he would be at it again. Even as he got older, he would have the staff wrapped around his finger and again when he got home, he’d do something like whack me. We have discipline in place and he sometimes ends up in time-out frequently. Most of the time it helps to curb his behavioral problems but he is continually testing the water with me. Today for example, we were waiting for his bus and it was running late. He was waiting inside dressed in his outerwear. I know it can be hard for him to understand why he has to wear it when he feels like he is going nowhere. He had taken off his gloves numerous times, threw his hat, jumped on his sister and other little things to show his displeasure of having to feel like a penguin. I sat him in time-out twice and the last time he sat he was working at taking his gloves off again. I reminded him that I wanted the gloves on his hands and he needed to behave. (I should mention the bus was a half-hour late). He didn’t like the whole morning and head-butted me in the face. I have a high tolerance for all kinds of ill behavior but getting hit in the face in any capacity is my least favorite. He got more time on the timer for hitting his mom. Shortly after, the bus finally arrived. He gets to the bus and out comes his sweet side. “Sigh.” Fast forward to this afternoon, the bus pulls up and he is happily calling for me. He waves goodbye to his friends and jumps in excitement as the bus pulls away. On the way back to the front door, he whacks me. “Really, little dude?”

This behavior has baffled us since he started showing signs of behavioral issues. We were assured it is normal but no one has any real advice. They refer to the period of time before the kids are ill behaved at school as a honeymoon phase because they eventually start the same problems at school. I am thankful that has not been the case with my little guy. He is still just as sweet as can be while he is at school and much more rotten for me. It is sad because I often feel like everyone else gets the best of him. The most frustrating thing is hearing from family how well he behaved he was until we walked in the door. That comment happens a lot and we always have the same answer as to why it happens. “We don’t know. We are just as lost as you.” We have no answers, just theories.

On top of trying to unravel his medical issues, we have the behavioral problems as the cherry on top. It’s daunting. Some days I feel like he is in time out three times more than the other children, but we have decided to be consistent as possible and require him to follow the same rules as the other children. Although he is allowed an additional warning or redirection of behavior. Nonetheless, he requires and demands a lot of attention, sometimes using the sweet and cuddly side or the sour side. I prefer the cuddly side and no matter his mood, I try to sneak a hug and kiss in, even if he doesn’t like it.

He recently started objecting to everything that happens around him. The staff at school have been trying to teach him how to use his voice to ask someone to stop bothering him (an issue because he is in a specialized classroom with other special needs children and he does get hit). That is all he does at home now. He understands the words, just not when he should use them.

I hug him. “Stop!”

I tell him, “I love you.”

“Quit it!”

One of the other kids sit next to him. “Knock it off, okay?!”

The baby cries. “Stop it, baby!”

He is learning what they are teaching very well. I just wish I could interact with him with less yelling.

My theory – he knows home as his soft place to fall. He is comfortable here and he knows he can take his frustrations to me, or slap them on me, whatever works. He has a gap of cognitive development that has slowed his language and prevents him from being able to communicate how he feels or what he wants. If I tell him that he can’t throw a ball in the house, I could explain why but he doesn’t understand. He has bad days where he is more tired or weak than usual and he is unable to convey that to me. He has no way of understanding why he feels that way. He has to be frustrated so he takes it out on the one person with whom he feels the most comfortable, me (or his dad when he’s home). I am stern with him and I have yelled. Every scream, hit, head-butt, and slap I take chips away at me. It is a crash course in patience every day.

Today when he came home, he crawled in his beanbag chair, covered up and fell asleep before I had time to ask about his day. It happens a lot. He comes home from school and crashes. Today he had a seizure at school so when he got here, maybe that smack was his way of telling me about that unpleasant event and how it bothered him or made him tired. He comes home and he feels like he can be himself and isn’t that what we all want? I don’t like his ill  behavior and we will continue to work on it but I know it’s something we just have to deal with. Maybe I will get lucky and he will let me off with just a “You be nice, Mom,”  as he pulls away from another one of my attempts to hug him. I will take what I can get and readily volunteer to be his safety net. Tonight he slept through the noise, dinner, baths and craziness of our evenings. It breaks my heart. His disease steals so much from him. It steals time with him away from me. My time with my little buddy is precious. People close to our family forget how sick he is. If he seems or looks okay than they think he is okay. The truth is, he has more going on than most people have to encounter in a lifetime and does pretty awesome. I wish more people would look past the sour patch and remember there is a little boy inside missing out on so much at the hands of his disease. I know I’d take any additional time with him I could get, sour patch and all.

*d*

It’s Parenting Time!

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Here are a few steps that will prepare you for parenthood. Good luck!

Every time you are headed to the bathroom, make a phone call. Draw out the conversation as long as possible, preferably until the urge has passed.

When you finally make it to the bathroom, set a timer for one minute and make sure you are finished within that minute. (Kids apparently think the world will end if you are in the bathroom any longer.)

After every visit to the restroom, open the door to wipe and flush. As hard as you try, modesty doesn’t last long after the children figure out how to open the door.

Before taking a shower, throw in a few Legos. This exercise will help your feet callous properly before they end up anywhere under foot. It will also prepare you for the toys that will eventually end up in the bathtub.

Much like bathroom time, dinner will also become a blood sport. Learn to eat as much as you can in the shortest amount of time possible. Better still, eat the food cold.

After eating a meal, throw half of what remains directly on the floor or in the trash. Before kids figure out how to eat, the food gets on the floor more than their mouth and once they perfect this, they won’t want to eat.

When changing to a new outfit, find a way to make it dirty. Get used to the idea of food, snot or worse hiding somewhere on your clothes.

When the phone rings, turn up the television or radio louder than necessary. A ringing phone somehow also doubles as the volume on children. Once the phone rings, the volume goes up.

Perfect inefficient multitasking. Parenting demands multitasking but unfortunately, it’s almost impossible. Start practicing now by putting the milk in the cupboard or throw some dirty dishes in the freshly run dishwasher. Yes, these things happen.

Learn to have alone time quickly and be sneaky about it. Try opening the blinds and turn the light on during the deed. If you can perfect this, you may find a couple minutes for each other once you have kids.

Spend a few hours every night talking to a wall. There will be a time when you will wonder if the walls listen better than the kids.

Set your alarm for 3 a.m. every night. Spend the next hour wishing you were asleep. Get used to it as soon as possible. “Psst, you never will.”

Brush up on your math. Kids multiply everything by ten. You will need to be able to translate. They also have no concept of time. Everything will take forever.

Parenting is hard work but so rewarding. Make sure you find time to laugh!

*d*

Knee High in a Rant

Sometimes when I have a difficult day  I imagine sitting in front of a tall window dressed in sheer covering. The sun is amber and the wind is trickling in the crack of the window to disturb the sheer. I imagine the blue sky beyond and feel the warm breeze rise up my feet. It pulls at me and dares me to chase. I could run barefoot until I could run no longer. I would then lay back and watch the clouds float further than I could ever go. It would be quiet, it would be peace.

I love nature but find it hard to leave the comfort of my house. It has been hard to handle all my children outside the home with my special needs son. I never know when and what may set him off so it is less anxious for us both to remain here. I save my dreams for days when I have helping hands. There are also dreams I may never fulfill. These dreams are simple but it feels like they were taken from us by a thief. Taken by a greedy disease with it’s fear and unpredictability. I want a life back and it will never happen. I can try to be optimistic, but it won’t change the facts. I grieved for the life my son will never have and now I grieve for the life we have left behind. It sounds selfish but it’s true. Disease has a grieving process very similar to death. Maybe I have yet to reach acceptance.

This window I dream about is something I have been escaping to since I was a child. I had found that I had the ability to escape in my mind when my body could not. I hope my son can figure out how to do the same. I hope he can find a place far from his sometimes sad reality. He will never know a day without medicine. He may never understand why he must live with this burden and I may never be able to explain it to him. He just doesn’t understand but it doesn’t mean he doesn’t struggle because I assure you he does. That is a hard pill to swallow, even for a faithful person. He has purpose and meaning. His life has already made differences, although he may never know.

For all he is, it makes my heart hurt to know that I cannot provide him all that he deserves. I can’t provide him a beautiful day in the park if his disease won’t allow me the ability to help him enjoy it. I am angry that so much has been taken from all of us. I have lost my identity in this disease right along with him. I didn’t want it to take over my life, it just happened. I have to think about it every day. I think about it the four times a day he gets his medicine. I think about it every time he gets on a bus and isn’t able to attend school with the peers in our hometown. I will think about it every time a school milestone occurs and he won’t be asked to participate. Sadly I can’t carry this for him. I can only grab his hand and help him along and when it’s really bad, I can carry him.  Mostly, I wish I could take it away.

I feel removed from this life in a lot ways so please excuse me when I seem put off by the problems I wish I had and forgive me if I can’t be more sympathetic. I am busy staring out my window. My mind is too busy running out the window and toward the sun and imagining a normal existence.

*d*

Fighting Fear with Two More “F” Words

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We moved recently and the best feature about this house is our front porch. We installed a porch swing shortly after our move. I like to watch the cars and people go by but I especially enjoy sitting on the swing during a storm.  I like feeling the chill of a cold front rushing along a spring storm. I will eye the trees to see if the old saying is true about leaves turning over before the rain. “When leaves show their undersides, be very sure rain betides.” I love hearing the rain on the windows and the feel of the moist wind while impatiently waiting to hear a crack of thunder. But there is a limit to my love of storms. I don’t like damaging storms and I am especially afraid of tornados. I have never seen one but my childhood was full of tornado hype. Why? I had two older brothers and what kind of brothers would they be if they didn’t exploit their little sister’s fear? I admit, they were good story tellers. Everyone from Freddie Krueger to Chef Boyardee came in on a tornado to haunt my dreams. (Yes, you read that right.) The actual chances of being amidst a tornado are pretty slim but with children, facts don’t seem to matter. The idea of what to be afraid of usually comes from the first person who plants the seed of fear. My brothers were farmers with pockets full of seeds. I am almost ashamed of the many obsurd fears I had as a child.

My oldest is eight.  He often comes home from school asking if things like warewolves and vampires are real. Even with his limited personal knowledge of such things, other children seem to know enough to make him squirm. I admit, he is gullible. We limit the nightmare inducing programming, probably because we enjoy our sleep. The Indiana Jones movies were popular when I was his age. My parents didn’t allow me to watch some of the more graphic parts of these movies, if we can even classify them as graphic by today’s standards. I was exposed to the horrors of life at the times my parents felt I could handle them maturely. I was probably watching a limited amount of Rated R movies by the time I was as a fourteen. I will probably do the same with our children. (There are the fears we must explain appropriately to children as soon as possible but maybe I will further discuss those in a later post.) So as soon as I was allowed, I wanted to watch all the parts of Indiana Jones I had missed. I wanted to know for myself if there was really something to fear. I will note that I have since viewed the films numerous times and they remain some of my favorites today. I learned to fight fear with knowledge and what facts could not explain, I relied on faith.

These days I obtain a great deal of my knowledge by being a Google junkie. I am not proud to admit my vast knowledge of useless movie info or what syptoms may or may not be associated with certain ailments. During my fourth pregnancy I could be counted on to stuff my head with pregnancy related articles. I should have been an expert by then, more like a baby factory, but it puzzled me to why I still felt the need to investigate. I ended up blaming heredity. When my dad was in charge of the remote control we would be stuck watching PBS, but then again, we only had five channels. And my mom, she owned a large medical dictionary. Since we couldn’t afford impractical  doctor visits, she relied on her outdated mammoth to self-diagnose our illnesses and reassure us we weren’t going to meet an early demise . As much as I claimed that I would not turn into my parents, my viewing choices are reminiscent of PBS and I am reminded of that larger than usual medical book every time I open my WebMD app.

Adulthood reminds me of why I searched for the truth when I was a kid. I am closely effected by three incurable diseases. While I do admit my own fear of these diseases, I won’t be crippled by them. I am fighting with facts and relying on faith. I will keep searching and asking, but I will probably never be satisfied. I know all the knowledge will never rid these diseases, or even tornados, from my life but I have the power to control my fear. The control over fear must also be rooted in faith because sometimes no matter how much I dig, there are things I cannot control. So I choose to teach my children about fear in a positive manner. Unlike those times as a kid, I cannot run screaming every time the unknown jars my senses. I have to teach by example and I am frequently tested watching my son lose control to epilepsy. I don’t consider it bravery as much as necessity. Once fear comes over my face, it will soon be on theirs.

I will always be afraid of tornados but I am not afraid of every thunderstorm as I was as a child. I have educated myself and know the difference. I now enjoy what I once feared and have prepared myself for the worst.

As for the leaves turning over before a storm, deciduous trees, or leaves with soft stems, often turn over as a result of the humidity that precedes a heavy storm.

*d*