Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tugs at the heart...

Last night Milagro was really over-tired but she couldn't settle down. C. and I were trying to iron out a few details before she left this morning for a two day trip and Milagro just wouldn't let us talk. She was interrupting, asking for things and jumping on and off the couch. I had a glass of water leaning next to my leg and had told her she would get a time out the next time she jumped onto the couch. Of course, she didn't listen and she jumped up and knocked over my ice cold glass of water. My pants were absolutely soaked and I got really mad at her. I walked away and cleaned everything up and headed upstairs. She followed after me asking me to talk to her but I was too mad so I calmly(through gritted teeth) said to her "not now because I am very upset with you. Stay downstairs with Mama." A few minutes later she and C. came upstairs and Milagro continued to try to get my attention. I got into bed with my book and ignored her despite her antics. All of a sudden she started crying so C. held her and told her I was still too upset to speak with her so she was going to have to be patient. She started wailing "please Mama please! Is Mom not going to be my best friend again?" Then to me she said with tear-filled eyes "Sorry mom. Please talk to me. I need my best friend!"  How could I stay mad after that?

Then this morning Pollito got up and gave me his usual good morning greeting "Buenos Dias. Did you sleep good mom?"  I replied that I was still tired and responded in my usual fashion "Buenos Dias mijo, did you have any dreams?" He said he had a happy dream (he usually has several nightmares each night or doesn't remember his dreams) so I asked him to tell me about it. He said "There was you and me and we were walking in the flowers." "What else?" I asked.  He was quiet for a bit and then responded "And... and... I just loved you sooooo much and I could feel it mom!" I asked how it felt and he said "Like LOVE mom!!!!" What more could I ask for?

Later today Tortuga and Pollito's mother called. I missed the call but made a point to try to return it as soon as I had a chance. She wasn't able to talk then so we made plans to speak tomorrow. She sent greetings to the boys so I shared them with Tortuga. He asked why she hadn't been able to talk and I said I wasn't sure but she said it was her medication and maybe it was making her tired. He got a disturbed look on his face and said he didn't want me to talk about it and that he didn't want to speak with her tomorrow. I was puzzled so I inquired about what exactly he didn't want me to discuss. He responded that he was "guilty" and "embarrassed" when he thought about her. I asked him to elaborate and his elaboration didn't quite match his earlier word choices. We consulted a dictionary and after going through a couple of different word options (he has lots of language based challenges so often struggles to find the right words for what he means) he suddenly exclaimed "This is it mom! I am ashamed!" I was a bit stunned. He went on to explain that he was ashamed and embarrassed by his mother because of all the things she couldn't do and how she treated him and his brothers. My heart just about broke. I didn't want to negate his feelings but I was concerned about this sense of shame. I asked him to consider why he might ashamed of her but also how understanding her cognitive and emotional difficulties could change his feelings about this. He was puzzled for a moment and then asked me if I was ashamed of his mother. I couldn't quite understand what he meant but I said no I was not ashamed by yer and that while she made many mistakes and did things to hurt them (he has lots of memories about this) I didn't think it was all her fault. I said that I also believe that she has always done the best she could and if we cannot respect people for their best efforts then what can we respect them for. He got very quiet for a minute and then said "I never thought about that mom. I always thought she didn't try her best but now I think maybe she did try hard and it didn't work." I waited and he didn't say anything else about it and changed topics. As we were saying goodnight he said "Mom, I thought about what you said and I don't think I should be ashamed of her. If she calls tomorrow maybe I will want to talk to her. Will you ask me if she calls?" I replied that I certainly would.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Goodbye Lynn

Given the pace of our lives as moms of children with RAD and many other special needs, it's not unusual for one or more of us to "take a break" or get caught up in the busy-ness of our daily lives. So I don't tend to worry too much if I haven't seen a recent post from someone on my blogroll. I like to think that they are ok, just busy and we will hear from them when they are ready.

There is a blog listed near the bottom of my "blogroll" that hasn't been updated in a month or so. I only recently started reading her blog so I don't have much of a sense of the ups and downs of her days. This weekend I found out that we won't be hearing from Lynn (we-are-faking-normal) because she and one of her beloved daughters were killed in a tragic accident last week. I didn't know Lynn well at all but I will miss her.  I do know that she loved her girls fiercely and lived to be the best mom she could be to her two girls with a slew of special needs including RAD and FASD. I will miss knowing that she is out there--fighting to do what was right for her girls and loving them with every ounce of her being.

Mariah, her 8 year old died in the accident and Mellodie, her 10 year old, is on a respirator in a medically induced coma, and unaware of how her life is forever changed. I cannot begin to imagine how she will get through this when she recovers. I am praying for her and her family members as they get through the next days, weeks, months... I am grateful that someone noticed that I was on her blog list and sent me the news even though a small part of me wishes I could have been left with the thought that she was just busy living her life with her beautiful girls.  Goodbye Lynn. You did make a positive difference in their lives.


If you were a reader of Lynn's blog here are the links to the new stories about the accident and fund for Mellodie.,0,1686006.story

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Gotta love it!

A week and a half ago I quit being Tortuga's teacher. I sent a text to C. saying "I quit my teaching job of eldest. As a teacher I feel great! As his parent, we are scr*w*d. Who are we going to get to teach him?" Then I told him that I quit. I was no longer willing to be his teacher and since he wasn't interested in learning anything or doing schoolwork then it was a "win-win" for all of us. I wasn't compromising my relationship with him as him mom any longer by having to deal with his constant ODD when it comes to his studies. He was speechless. We had gone through about a week of his constant need to contradict, compromise, and interfere with his and anyone else's learning not because he doesn't like to learn or even because he hates schoolwork but because he has to be oppositional. I was tired and he was mad because he wasn't being praised for some of the crappy lousy work he was doing. Everything he does has to be done fast so he was making careless mistakes on his work even when he clearly understood what to do. If there was a direction to be followed he wasn't doing it. More importantly he was taking a great deal of time away from his siblings learning time with constant interruption, rudeness and need to "engage" with me, mostly in arguments I wouldn't participate in.I told him that since learning was his primary job and he was unwilling to do it he lost the privileges that came with a successful school day--movies, Wii time, outside playtime after dinner (big deal because we supervise and they get to do stuff all together), etc. He could spend the school hours in his room doing in-room activities (drawing, reading, activity books, puzzles, legos, etc.).

At first he loved it. Of course, I took advantage and used those days to do "fun" school with Corazon. We built a bat house, made a model bridge, tested our volcanos which is our current unit, researched C.'s ancestors on-line as part of our colonial history social studies unit, and for good measure I threw in some hands-on craft and art projects. By Saturday he was begging me to be his teacher again. I told him I wasn't ready. I was enjoying NOT being abused. On Monday, he asked again so I asked him to put it in writing. Here is part of what he wrote:

Dear Mom, I need you to be my teacher. Why? Because if you can't be my teacher who else can? The second reason is because I know you are very smart. I need to have a teacher who is very smart. Other teachers hardly teach me as much as you do. I need YOU. Also, other teachers give you boring work and you don't. All the work that you give me is interesting and I learn a great deal. Another reason is because I like to do homeschool. It's quiet and easy to do things as I relax but also make my brain work hard to learn new things. So, I need you to be my teacher. Understand? Plus it makes me proud when people ask me what school I go to. I say "I'm homeschooled because I have the smartest teacher in the whole world and she doesn't let me think I cannot learn everything and anything I want." ... My last reason is because it it fun to do work and learn things from you. It's interesting. Now that is all I have got to say. I just BEG you to be my teacher once more.  Love, me.(your loving son who like having you be my teacher even though I behave that I don't.)"
Priceless. That child has come so far and even though I know he has far to go I cannot help but be proud and impressed by him. 

Today we did a "test run" and I agreed to "teach" him. I gave him the option of changing his mind with the condition that once I started teaching him again he could not be rude, mean, disrespectful, etc. to me or his schoolwork without it resulting in automatic loss of some serious privileges (library time is the biggest privilege for my geeky kids so that was at the top of it) and I would not longer support his writing/drawing blog (I do all the typing/ scanning/etc.) We shall see how this goes but he has been on his best behavior today--even thanking me for every correction and redirection.  He greets each new assignmentwith a smile and saws "cool" or "awesome." Do I expect it to last? I don't know but I know that I am going to do my best to not let him slip and hold my end of the bargain when he slips. One thing I have learned with this kid is that I have to follow through every single time otherwise he goes downhill fast.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

What I am going to try...

After a lovely night out with C.--hanging out with wonderful, new friends who  gave us lessons on beer and tell the best stories (I haven't laughed that much in a long time), getting real life hugs (and kisses) for the first time from a beautiful toddler I've "known" (thanks to blogland) since she was born, and snuggling a wonderfully smelling 11 day old newborn--I am ready to tackle the challenges around here.

Corazon had the hardest time staying with a babysitter last night. She was up 3 times last night. I owe a big thank you to some folks who have shared some great advice for tackling her current behaviors.The nonsense chatter thing is more under control (not the random laughing--not real laughter) but I took some advice and am now doing the random fake laughter too. She. hates. it. She will run up to me and say "WHAT?!" I just say "what?" back and keep going. She isn't sure what to do about it but I think it might be having it's effect. I also started having her "narrate" my actions for me because one of the things she has started doing again is she follows my every move and if I am out of her sight line she has to follow me around. It wouldn't be so bad if she could get anything done but she can't because every one of my actions distracts her and she is hyper-focused on me. She isn't enjoying the narrating but in the week that I have been having her do it I am seeing a small decrease in this behavior so we will keep trying.

I got a great suggestion from RadMomInOhio that I have started this morning. I am thanking her for her concern that I am doing something wrong and giving her a hug each time she does it. So far, she likes what I am doing and I am getting a high-pitched "You ARE Welcome." I can tell she is enjoying it but I have a feeling it will get old. I shall see. We have had good success with having her recite a mantra that says "I am not the parent and I don't really want to be the parent so I need to learn to trust mom to parent me." That has reduced some of the problem in the past but this has come back with a vengeance and she is just so dysregulated so much of the time.

I did take Mama Drama's advice to heart (the part about the ibuprofen, Mike's Hard Lemonade, and shower) with a night out last night so today we are starting on another part of her advice. She suggested handing Corazon those Highl*ghts-type puzzles where you have to find something wrong because she is in the mood to find things that are wrong. I have printed up a whole bunch of those in addition to some paragraphs that need editing (we are studying this in homeschooling) and I have the stack right where I can easily reach it and hand her one after thanking her for correcting me. I am hoping the combination of these two strategies will break her out of this.

The rest of the kids are doing OK. We have gotten a short reprieve from Tortuga's behaviors (he always does "better" when Corazon is doing "worse." Pollito is still exhibiting some challenging behaviors but his attachment is getting stronger and he has very few nightmares these days. Milagro informed me that she is ready school and asked me to walk her to our neighbor's house so she could play with him "without" me because she is a big kid now and can go to "my friend's house by myself." Even though she is our youngest, I do believe she is close to being our most independent child!

My plans for the rest of the day are to enjoy this beautiful fall day (high temp only in the low 80's!) get outside with the kids and maybe start some Halloween planning.

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