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Archive for August, 2011

Back to Cruel

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School hasn’t started yet, and it’s already not going the way that I planned.  Ms. J, who looked after Mae after school last, including making sure her homework was done, informed me last week that she hadn’t yet received commitments from any other families for her at-home after school program.

As her youngest child is a sixth-grader, she knows, and I agree, that he and a second-grader are not ideal playmates.  Ms. J shared with me that she thinks that Mae needs a smaller, more structured program than that offered by her school, where Ms. J works and has seen some of the trouble Mae has had in her interactions with other students and some teachers.  Ms. J remembered that I’d approached her originally about help with finding transportation to an aftercare program in our neighborhood, and offered to drive Mae there.  So, that was good news.  I also appreciated that Ms. J called me and asked to talk face-to-face.  She didn’t want to email me or talk in detail over the phone.

Fortunately, there is still space in the neighborhood program.  It costs about an additional $100 per month over Ms. J’s place, plus whatever we’ll pay Ms. J for transportation.  In total, we’ll pay per week what Mae’s school charges per month for aftercare.  All for a child who is quick to complain that we don’t take her enough fun places and all our vacations seem to be in SC.  Oh, I wish I had started adding from day one.

And, I’m wondering if we should be doing more for her social skills.  Playgroup sessions again?  An aide to be with her during recess at school?  At her last appointment with Dr. Laura two weeks ago, she had a meltdown right smack in the middle of the session.  Jay was with us because Hubby was out of town.  He was playing with a plastic truck on the rug, and put it down to pick up another toy.  Mae and Dr. Laura had been discussing how camp was going, and Mae left the conversation and went over to pick up the truck.  She did so quickly and then jumped to the other side of the room.  Jay began to protest, and Dr. Laura insisted that Mae hand over the truck.  Mae did so reluctantly, arguing that Jay wasn’t using it.  The doctor pointed out the cues that Jay wasn’t done — he’d put the truck down  near him and he sounded upset when Mae picked it up.  She asked Mae what else she could have done to get the truck.  Ask Jay if he was done with it?  Ask for a turn afterwards?  Then, the tears started.  Then, the arguing — she could play with it if she wanted to because he wasn’t using it.

Jay and I went to the reception area and left Mae and Dr. Laura behind the closed door to try to work it out.  I don’t think it worked at all.  The crying continued except for a short break until the session ended.  By that point, Mae had decided that Dr. Laura was mean and she never wanted to see her again.  Frankly, I was a little surprised and disappointed that the doctor couldn’t turn the situation around.  I’ve seen this behavior at home, and I can intervene without a meltdown ensuing.  Maybe Mae was more dug in because it was her first such encounter with Dr. Laura.  I’m not ready to break up with the doctor just yet, though I did have a moment when I thought, “$150 for this?  I can do better for free at home.”  I should avoid judging too quickly.

So, one and a half weeks until school starts.  New teacher, new after school program.  Maybe the same social skills, maybe not.  I expect the beginning will be rough for Mae.  Hopefully, she’ll adjust and find a rhythm before too long.

Thank Me Later

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We left Mae and Jay in SC yesterday.  They are with my mom for the last two weeks of summer.  Mae was crying when we left, pleading with us to stay with them.  Jay was the trooper.  He said, “It’s ok, Mom.”  I did feel bad, and I started thinking that maybe this is the last year that we should leave them in SC.  Then, I thought, ‘It is what it is.’  Hubby and I have to go back to work, camps are closed and school opens after Labor Day.  Before we left, I reminded Mae and Jay that at Nonny’s house, they can have treats like sugar cereal and chocolate chip frozen waffles (which I even bought myself this time) that they can’t have at home.  I told them to try to enjoy this break from our rules and routines.

If they don’t appreciate it now, perhaps they will in time — whether it’s spending time with Nonny, getting to know cousins, or the freedom.  And, how many of their friends will be able to say that they picked scuppernongs (a type of wild grape, also known as bullets) from a vine in the back of someone’s yard?  Mae and Jay saw their first pear trees, which was a “wow” moment.  The pears were too high for them to pick, but they will get to enjoy them (if they get over the fact that these pears look funny compared to those from the grocery store).


I Saved the Tooth Fairy

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Another one bites the dust.

Mae lost another tooth on Saturday, a stubborn one that she’d been pulling on and wiggling for months and months.  I probably didn’t need to, but I reminded her to place the tooth under her pillow so that the Tooth Fairy could get it.  Lo and behold, Mae crawled in the bed beside me on Sunday morning with a long face.  I was half awake because Jay had nudged me over and crawled into the bed earlier.  Mae opened her hand and showed me her tooth.

Mae, in a pouty voice:  “The Tooth Fairy forgot.”

Me, groggy:  “Maybe the Tooth Fairy had a really busy day.  Put the tooth back under your pillow.”

Mae, still pouty:  “It’s no use.  It’s not going to work.”

Me, still groggy:  “You like to be given second chances, right?  Give the Tooth Fairy a second chance.”

Mae, more pouty:  “It’s not going to work.”

But, Mae did take the tooth back to her pillow.  And, voilà, the Tooth Fairy did visit on Sunday night.  She probably would have forgotten again had I not set an alarm on my cellphone to summon her at 9:30 pm.  Mae was delighted to find five $1 bills and a bag of M&Ms under her pillow this morning.  And, she agreed when I asked her to keep the M&Ms a secret from Jay until I picked them up from camp, at which time I would give him a comparable snack.  She understood when I explained that he had complained recently about not getting everything that (he thinks) Mae gets.

And, since we’re talking about fails, I entered the kitchen on Saturday afternoon to find a strange scene — a stack of bread slices, the jelly jar, and a plastic knife on the counter, and a slice of bread on the floor. 

I was confused because it didn’t look like something Mae or Jay would have done.  They can both create their own brand of havoc, and this scene did not match their M.O.s.  Honestly, I would have pinned it on Hubby, but he wasn’t home (Sorry, Dear.  I’ll explain that later).  I asked, “Who did this?”  Mae looked over from the dining table. “Not me.”  Jay came from the play room when he heard me ask.  “Not me.”  Usually, if they are trying to fake me out, they end up struggling to hide a smile.  If I look at them long enough, the smile breaks and it’s over.  I looked back and forth between them, waiting to see the corners of a mouth twitch.  No twitching.  Mae said again, “It wasn’t me” and went back to her computer game.  I remembered that Jay is my sneaky one and Mae is almost honest to a fault.  I remembered also that Mae is not a fan of sandwiches, and not a fan of jelly.  I turned to Jay, and told him that I would be very disappointed if he wasn’t telling me the truth.  I said, “Are you telling me the truth?”  He nodded yes, with a straight face, no twitching.  I told him that I would be able to help him if he tells me the truth, and not telling the truth would be worse than making a mess.  I asked if he had been trying to make a sandwich, and he nodded, more slowly, yes.  I told him that I was proud of him for trying to make his own sandwich, and that it would have been better to ask for help.  Apparently, the bag ripped when he was trying to open it and the slices fell out.  At that point, he abandoned the project.

I was genuinely more disappointed than upset because although Jay can be a bit impish, he’s good usually about recognizing when he has made a mistake.  To make matters worse, later in the day, he snagged a juice box from the counter that I’d told him was going into his lunch bag.  As he was bringing the empty box into the kitchen to place it in the trash, I turned from the sink and saw him with it.  I think he’d hoped to get it into the trash can without me seeing it.  So, he drank water with his lunch today, or maybe he was just parched, with serves him right for lying and stealing in the same day.  Ok, ok, that’s too harsh.  Maybe this is just a phase, and he’ll think better in the future..

Back to Reality

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This is it. My last day in Palm Desert, CA (which may actually be Palm Springs because a few people have said, knowingly, “Palm Springs” when I told them that I was going to be, or am, in Palm Desert.   So, I’m not sure actually where I am).  At any rate, it was a great conference.  I learned and re-learned a lot; received some freebies, including two books that were on my to-read list; and collected business cards from people who seem smart and hard-working, including one woman that I attached myself to and bugged with questions.  I told her about a career move that I’m pondering and she asked me, “What does your mentor say?”  I told her that I don’t have a mediation mentor, only a management/leadership mentor.  She said, “I’ll be your mentor.”  That’s exactly what I wanted her to say!  Parasitic tendencies can pay off.

Of course, I had lots of rest this week.  I shared evening meals with folks I met during the week and a former colleague.  Still, I made it to bed by 9:30 each night and then rose by 6:00 am in the mornings to meditate and work out.  I didn’t indulge in the hotel spa, but I did enjoy a free massage provided by one of the conference sponsors.  I experienced California bistro dining  this week, and ate lots of fresh veggies and fruits and other healthy stuff.  (I’m not counting the chocolate muffin I had this morning because it looked like a bran muffin when I picked it up and until I bit into it.)

I debated with myself about attending this conference because it meant leaving my family to fend for themselves for six days. I know, I know — self-imposed, irrational mommy guilt.  It was a good week and I’m glad I came. 

Now, I’m anxious to see my babies, all three of them.  I spoke to Hubby every day and to the kids everyday but one.  They seem to have fared well.  I’m ready to get back to my life, and all the goodness and craziness that’s mine, including the sleep deprivation, kid-centered diet, and crunched up schedule.  They are worth it.

Know Thyself

Mae asked me yesterday, “Mommy, what do you like about me?”  I started listing her best qualities.

Me:  You are fun and you have great ideas and . . .

Mae:  And awesome humor.

Me:  Yes, you have an awesome sense of humor.

This reminds me of a conversation we had recently where Jay asked me to please stop singing, which is common.  He and Mae strongly dislike my singing, and he doesn’t like for me to dance either.  Mae will at least tolerate my dancing.  Honestly, I’m not good at either.  Mae is, of course.  She offered, “When I sing, I always sound like the person who sings the song.”

Um, okay.

It’s Shark Week

Mae is near the end of her first week of camp at her regular school and it’s been a so-so week.  Monday was the hardest day so far, and the tough parts were during unstructured play time.  My poor babe had trouble getting that there are times when little boys playing their handheld game systems would rather not have a little girl looking over their shoulder or sitting at their knee looking over their arm.  Monday evening, we read and talked about a social story I wrote for her about what you can do when someone says”no.”  I understand that it’s confusing for her because, she says, sometimes the boys would let her watch them play, and she “wasn’t doing anything wrong.”  That’s been one of her most used lines this week.  Emphatically, “I wasn’t doing anything wrong.”  It’s always the other kids; they are mean and they get her in trouble.  I did get Mae to agree that if someone says “no” the first time she asks to play, then she won’t ask again and she’ll look for something else to do.  I know it will be hard for her to honor that every single time.  Hopefully, she’ll remember at least some of the time.

Today, Mae declared that she doesn’t want to go to any summer camp at all at this point.  She had a tough day, which she seems to measure now by how much she cried.  Monday, she cried almost the whole day.  Tuesday and Wednesday, she only cried once (said each day in a positive tone as if to make me feel better).  Today, she cried a lot.  It was some of the usual stuff — she thinks some kids were ignoring her when she wanted to play with them and she says a fourth-grader threw her to the floor while they were playing sharks and minnows.  After the latter instance, the teacher made her sit out for five minutes and “nothing happened” to the boy.  Hmmm.  Sounds like there is more to that story, and I’ll ask the teacher about it tomorrow if I remember.

I know at least some of today was good for Mae because she was playing happily when I arrived at the art room.  Once she and Jay were buckled into their seats, they were both excited to tell me about the Mad Science demonstrations they had seen (the week-long Mad Science camp was canceled due to low enrollment, but the school arranged for one Mad Science day).  Mae and Jay both said it was the best part of their day.  And, Mae was wearing a yarn necklace that a fellow camper had made for her.  Unfortunately, Mae sometimes lets one negative incident define the whole day for her.  She is the minnow and all the other kids (and sometimes the teachers too, as she tells it) are the sharks.

I have my own measure for how Mae’s day goes.  If Hubby and I have a day with no phone calls, no emails, no conversations with the teacher at the end of the day, and no glares from other parents picking up their kids, then that is a good day.

I will be out-of-town next week for a job-related conference in California, which means changes to routines, and . . . oh, I’m just not going to even think about it right now.  Hubby will have to dust off his superhero cape.  I will instead think about the packing I haven’t done, which is almost all of it.  More precisely, there is one outfit at the foot of the bed and the suitcase is still in the closet.  I intended to log into my work computer this evening to try to get ahead on some things, and that is clearly not going to happen now.

I will give myself credit for going to the gym this evening, which I considered not doing because I still have unanswered questions about my health.  I still feel fine, despite the numbness that continues to rove from limb to limb.  I’ve had normal results from a carotid duplex (ultrasound of arteries in my neck), EKG, cardiology consultation, MRI, neurological consultation, heart ultrasound and basic blood work, which all indicate no MS, brain tumor, or stroke.  Today, I had five vials of blood drawn for more extensive bloodwork to test for things diabetes, HIV, blood cancer, thyroid abnormalities, and vitamin deficiencies.  Boy, oh boy, does a vitamin deficiency sound delightful right about now.

I have at least one more task to complete before I go to bed.  I have to send an email to the supervisor of the lab I went to for the bloodwork.  I’m anemic with small veins and normally low blood pressure.  The first lab worker who tried to get blood from me was unsuccessful after poking both arms, not an unusual experience for me.  I asked if I could return later in the day after drinking more water.  When I returned two hours later and Lab Worker #2 was told that I had been there earlier and my veins wouldn’t cooperate, she placed her pen on the counter firmly and put on a “Don’t worry, I’ve got this” face.  I thought, “Oh boy, an ego trip is coming on and I’m going to get poked relentlessly because she has to prove that she can get blood from a stone.”  I learned to ask for another nurse or offer to come back later if I get a cocky one.

Fortunately, yes, Lab Worker #2 accepted this as a challenge, and she was smart about it.  After her first poke came up dry, Lab Worker #2 switched to the other arm.  She tied the rubber band thingy above my elbow.  “Uh-uh.”  The veins didn’t look or feel good, so she didn’t bother to poke.  She removed the band and tied it around my wrist, very, very tightly.  Then, she placed a heat pack on the back of my hand to increase the blood flow and make the veins bigger.  That was a first for me, and it worked.  Lab Worker #2 was kind and apologetic throughout the process and asked several times if I felt ok.  So, I told her that I would send an email to her supervisor to say what a good job she had done.

After that, I’ll get some zzz’s and get cracking in the morning.

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