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Archive for April, 2012

“Mothers Are Not That Bad”

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That lovely image to the left is a “communiputer,” a device conceptualized and named by Mae.  I helped her and Jay make them this weekend.  They were so excited by these little pieces of colored cardboard decorated with stickers left over from a yard sale and various birthday parties.  I wonder why we even bother with buying toys.  The communiputer is better apparently than a smart phone; it can help clean up the environment and do all kinds of “futuristic” things.   Jay has asked that our next project be making hobby horses from orange juice cartons, and he roped Hubby into buying two cartons on Saturday that we’re supposed to drink up before the weekend.

They can be so endearing when they are not having meltdowns and demanding the world on a platter.

On Saturday, we met up with two families we’ve known for a while for laser tag and dinner.  I tip my hat to Hubby for being the only dad in the group.  I was grateful he could be there because I thought Jay would be unwilling to try laser tag.  I told Hubby he could opt out of dinner afterwards.  Being the smarty-pants that he is, he said, “Despite what I’ve heard, mothers are not that bad.  I can tolerate them.”  Haha.  The other two moms are women we’ve known since Mae was three months old.  Almost eight years ago, our daughters (first-borns followed by brothers later) started daycare during the same week.  We were all anxious new moms, dreading the return to work and trying to figure out how we were going to get it all done.  We don’t see each other as often as we used to (there are actually six of us families that have stayed in touch, and with fewer birthday parties and various extracurricular activities, getting together all at once is pretty difficult), but it’s always a good time.  Jay was reluctant about laser tag at first; he warmed up to it, probably shortly after getting his hands on the weapon.  Dinner was wild with six kids in one booth adjacent to us adults.  Somehow, they managed and it wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be.

On Sunday, the kids and I went to a science and engineering festival in downtown Washington, DC.  We met up with two of Mae’s classmates and a nine-year old cousin whose mom is an engineer.  Mae was in her zone and probably could have stayed all day.  My boy the homebody did not ask even once to leave.  It’s so awesome to see kids excited about science, engineering, technology, etc.   After spending a few hours in the convention center, we walked to Chinatown for a late lunch and ice cream.  

The women in black and white are about to run into the intersection where an "officiant" will marry them while the man in the bridal gown plays "Here Comes the Bride" on his sax.

It was beautiful weather wise, so much so that there was a group of people marrying random couples in the intersection of 7th and H Streets.  Yes, literally, in the intersection between traffic light changes.  Mae and her little cousin were impromptu flower girls for one of the couples.  The newlyweds ran back to the street corner, and the girls threw handfuls of petals at them.  Then, the couple was offered a piece of cake from a paper plate on the ground.  The kids were more tickled than confused.  Me, I was just confused.

Mae had an eye exam on Saturday afternoon.  I noticed last week that she couldn’t see words on the TV screen while sitting across the room.  This was bound to happen, as we have so many eyeglass wearers in the family, including me and Hubby.  The doctor asked Mae to read the first image of letters he beamed onto the wall.  Mae said, “I don’t see anything.”  She said it as if she thought the doctor was playing a joke on her.  I was like, “Wow.”  So, she’s moderately nearsighted and eyeglasses are on order.

So, we’re into the work and school week.  I’m already looking forward to the weekend, though I’m hoping to stay in and lay low for this one.  We’ll see.

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Mother’s Intuition vs. Sleep

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My day had a surreal start. Jay was at my side of the bed before the birds woke up. He’d had a bad dream about bats, a dream he’s had before, and he asked if I remembered him telling me about it. I didn’t remember; however, if I’d said no, he would have told the story from the beginning and I really wanted to go back to sleep. (Maybe he told me about it while I was sleeping. This is one of the scary ways I know I’m becoming more and more like my own mother. She can carry on what sounds like a coherent conversation if you wake her up, yet she will remember nary a word of it.) I told Jay what I always tell the kids when they have a bad dream — lie back down and think of something happy or fun until you go to sleep, and then you’ll have a good dream. I told Jay to think of his class’ recent trip to the zoo and what he liked best about the trip. He was fine with that and went back to his bed. He was back within what felt like minutes, pulling me out of sleep again. This time, he was ready to stay up. I told him to read. He went away. Then, he was hungry. I told him to get a banana. He went and ate a banana. Next time, his throat hurt. I told him to drink water. Then, he wanted to play with someone. I told him to turn on the TV. When he came again, he was ready to get dressed. Over the next several minutes, he literally put on one item at a time and then came to tell me he had done it. Swim trunks. Jeans. T-shirt. Socks. Shoes. I went in and out of sleep that many times. Finally, after the shoes, I lifted my head enough to check the time. 6:29 am. I heard Hubby sleeping soundly behind me. I told Jay I needed more sleep and asked him to go back downstairs. I couldn’t figure out why he was so needy, and at such an early hour.

A couple of hours later, after I had showered and was preparing to cook breakfast, he puked that banana all over his dad’s lap. Now, he’s laid up sipping Gatorade and watching cartoons.

I guess I should have put the cues together that he was sick. Apparently, mother’s intuition is not as foolproof as I thought.

T.G.I. Monday

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Today, I’m grateful for the fresh start a new week brings.  Last week was difficult for Mae; transitioning back into our regular routines after Spring Break was tough.  Every morning last week, we fought about getting up and getting dressed for school.  She and Hubby butted heads getting to and from school.  And, of course, bedtime was no picnic.  One night, I told her to look at the clock.  Admittedly, it was a mistake to think she would see the time and say, “Oh, it’s 8:00. I should go upstairs and have my bath.” Instead, she said, “Just because I’m 8 doesn’t mean you should be lazy and I have to do everything.”  I laughed out of pure shock – mistake number two.  In the background, I heard Hubby begin chastising her, but I was laughing too loud to hear all his words.  Next thing I knew, Mae was in another room, in the dark, on the floor, knees pulled to her chest — crying.  Boohoo crying, snot-on-top-lip crying.  I kneeled down and asked why she was crying.  I expected her to talk about what Hubby said to her, or just having to go upstairs.  She said she was crying because I was laughing at her.  Huh?

By the end of the week, things were really strained.  Hubby sent me a text after drop-off on Friday morning saying that Mae had lost TV and computer time and would have to stay in her bedroom all weekend.  When I picked her up on Friday afternoon, she told me that she’d had a bad week because at times she had been really tired and, at other times, bored.  She said that when she’s bored, she gets in trouble because she doesn’t know what to do with herself.  Now, that’s something I know very well and have said many times to teachers and other adults involved in her care.  I didn’t think I’d ever said it within her hearshot.  Maybe I did.  Whether she came to this conclusion on her own or heard it from me, I’m glad that she was at least aware of what was happening with herself.  So, we talked about her taking responsibility for ensuring she has books and other things to occupy her time because her dad and I won’t always be around to stick our phone in her hand or otherwise keep her engaged. I told her also that it’s ok to have quiet time or just relax and think when she has down time.

Today was so much better at the start and end of the day; she even had an “awesome” day at school.  And, thus we plug along, with all the ups and downs and restarts.

One of the weekend highlights was that I finally finished putting our kitchen back together since the remodel concluded a month ago.  On Saturday morning, I had a yard sale to get rid of the items I didn’t want back in the kitchen and then carted the remaining items to Goodwill.  My objective for the sale was to make enough money to pay a babysitter and have a date.  We did that, and had a little change to spare.  We hired a neighbor to babysit for us.  She’s a kind and well-mannered high school student that Mae and Jay like a lot.  On Easter Sunday, she hid candy- and coin-filled plastic eggs for them in her parents’ backyard. When she arrived at our house on Saturday, Mae and Jay were excited to see her and immediately started talking her head off after she came through the door.  Hmmm, candy and money would do that for me too.  This young lady is smart.  Hubby and I had a good time out, and plan to go out once a month, unless or until the kids break the babysitter.  Fingers crossed.

Moving Up and On

20120403-102450.jpgIt’s Spring Break! We’re free! We’re free!

Yesterday, I was talking to a girlfriend whose 2-year old is on Spring Break this week too. My friend was talking about her plans for events all around town. I felt bad. I have plans for all around the house. The kids and I were in the yard yesterday afternoon. Jay said, “I like pulling up weeds.” I thought to myself, “. . . until you go back to school and hear your friends talk about their trips to Disney or other exotic places.” Oh, well. We did have a play date today at an inflatables place. The kids ran, bounced, and slid for two hours straight. I felt better. I reminded myself also that they have had several busy weekends in the past two months. We’ve been to the National Building Museum twice, the Chesapeake Children’s Museum, Maryland Science Center, and the Natural History Museum. That’s in addition to birthday parties, field trips, and park visits. They get around. The father of the little girl we met today spoke of an article he read recently about how we schedule our kids’ time such that we deprive them of opportunities to use and develop their own imaginations. Instead of learning to plan and organize and be creative, they look to us to tell them what to do and play. And, on that note, while I spend the reminder of the week cleaning and organizing, Mae and Jay will be free to figure out what they want to do.

Last night, Mae had her last appointment with the therapist for what will be a while. During the visit, we talked about improvements she’s made and how it seems that the gap between her emotional and intellectual development has narrowed significantly. She has better self-control, and Hubby, her teacher, and I know better how to anticipate and head off triggers. Things have been relatively quiet on the school front, and issues she’s had — like losing time off recess for talking during class — are typical 8-year old behaviors. She rarely complains about not having anyone to play with or feeling left out. I think she’s accepted that she is not a part of certain circles. She doesn’t like it, but she doesn’t obsess about it. Right now.

The last quarter of school will be more challenging academically, and that will take extra coaching. When she doesn’t breeze through her work, she gets down on herself, saying that she can’t do anything. I have to coax her out of that frame of mind by reminding her of past success, which can include getting the previous 19 problems on the page correct with no assistance, and giving constant encouragement. I expect that transitioning to summer camp will take some special coaching as well. The therapist and I agreed that I’ll give her a call in early to mid-June to talk about how that transition is going.

I’ve given up on finding another social skills playground. So much effort, so little results. If she continues to have play dates and other social events where we can monitor her interactions with other kids and intervene as necessary, I think we’ll be fine. For now.

Jay had his follow-up appointment with the gastroenterologist today. I think his heartburn issues resolved shortly after our first visit in February. He continued to complain about more general stomach pain for a few weeks after, until about a week ago. Hubby and I became skeptical after we noticed a pattern of complaints after lights out on school nights. His stomach seemed to be pain-free on weekend nights and also at certain special times, such as when he had his blue comforter instead of his brown blanket, or when he listened to soft music at bedtime. There were many nights that I wanted to put my nose to his and say through clenched teeth, “Will you please just tell the truth?” That would work with Mae. Jay is my sensitive one. When I use a stern tone with him, he ignores the message and focuses on telling me he doesn’t like “that voice” and asking me to apologize. The conclusion is that his stomach did hurt sometimes, most likely due to constipation. So, we’re on to more fiber, water, and exercise.

My new job has gotten off to a good start. I swear this was a good move for me, and not just because I’ll be working from home two days a week. It’s going to be more intense and focused on employee relations (ER). After spending the past 6 years splitting my time between ER and other areas, I feel as though I finished my undergraduate degree and now I’m in graduate school. I’m excited about the new skills I’ll develop and new relationships I’ll build. It’s not that I wish for people to have problems at work or that I enjoy basking in other people’s problems. It’s just that problems are bound to happen because we’re human, and I like helping to solve them. So, I’m looking forward to talking to the supervisor of the “creepy old guy” who keeps putting his hand in his pants, much to his cubicle mate’s dismay. Ha’mercy!

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