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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Where's The Remedial Course on How To Parent?

Today started out like any other. Joe got the boys off to school, the smallest three were fed and happily playing and I was just about to settle in with a cup of coffee and my laptop to do some work when Joe came back from dropping off the boys.

He said, "I have someone with me."

Which I knew meant our 6 year old didn't stay at school.

I knew that he was upset and claiming to "not feel well" since the night before, but I also know a shyster when I see one.

He'd confided in me that he'd gotten "yelled at" the day before by the kindergarten teacher for being in the hall when he wasn't supposed to be.

Just so you know...I did not get all up in arms about it like I did the Lunch Lady Situation.

In fact, I was on board 100% with his getting reprimanded since he was admittedly fooling around in the hallway and distracting other students. I explained to him that he needs to be in HIS room where he belongs in order to be learning and stay safe-- and so he isn't distracting the other students.

My Mama Bear Meter was humming nicely at '5' on a scale of 0-100.

So, pan forward to this morning when he starts throwing a holy fit and giving Joe the business. Joe was at the end of his rope. He doesn't know how to handle R when he gets that way. I think I do (or may?) but I'm not always patient enough to follow through with it.

Joe even spoke with R's wonderful, sweet, kind teacher about it and she assured R he would be fine with her. Apprently R thought the teacher who had reprimanded him didn't like him anymore.

When Joe brough him home, I could read the frustration all over his face. R was embarrassed and wouldn't even come in the house because he was so worried about what I would say.

I calmly talked with him about what happened and tried to pry the details out of him. That kid is tighter than Fort Knox.

Since that got me exactly no where, I explained that just because he got in trouble did not mean he could stay home. He yelled how much he hated school and how 'stupid' it was.

I reinforced to him that the teacher was doing her job and he should have been following directions, not fooling around.

So, in the van we went, with R literally grabbing every door frame in sight.

I can only imagine what the neighbors must have thought as I carried/half dragged him by his hand to the van.

Things went from bad to worse when we got to the school. He refused to unbuckle and when I got in to unbuckle him myself he employed the Ninja/Vulcan death grip on the headrest. I had to do the ole trapezius pinch again just to get him out of the van.

When his feet finally hit the pavement, I was actually sweating.

Long story short....the principal was nice enough to talk with R and remind him how we all make mistakes and as long as we learn from our mistakes, that's the important thing. Then the principal allowed me to walk R up to his classroom as opposed to merely sending him on his way. (This was especially necessary since R was attached to my leg with a white knuckle grip.)

I was able to talk with his teacher and, on a lark, also with the kindergarten teacher who had reprimanded him the day before. She explained to him why she told him to get in his room and reassured him she still liked him.

Then, I kissed him and ushered him in his room.

What a spectacle. The whole class was disrupted and ended up staring at him. Which, you may know makes him melt. He hates to have people look at him. He gets very anxious.

So...here I sit with 943 things I could and SHOULD be doing, but all I can think about is this scene.

Did I handle it right?

It seems like such a fine line between coddling and supporting him. I don't want to set a precedent for this behavior by entertaining it, but at the same time, I want him to understand that I am here for him, Always. I see the actual living fear in his eyes when he gets like this.

It kills me to know that he feels like I'm leading him to the Lion's Den when I force him to face situations that frighten him, even though I know that I know that I know that I'm doing the right thing.

And then, of course, I revisit all my own anxieties about wanting to homeschool him. I struggle with:

Would homeschooling or cyber schooling only worsen the issue by keeping him from facing the issue of social anxiety or would it benefit him by giving him the nurturing and support he needs in a safe environment, preparing him for eventual integration in the public education scene? He's clearly a different kid.

I have zero worries about our 5 year old. I don't even imagine needing or wanting to pull him out to homeschool or cyber school him. He's never presented such deeply rooted social anxieties like R has and does.

So...any advice out there is welcome. Nice advice. It doesn't have to be in agreement with me,  but it does have to be presented well. You're dealing with a mother's broken heart here.

Anyone dealt with this before? Have anything that's "worked" for you? I'm all ears.

Monday, September 19, 2011

I'm The Mom Who Does It All

That's right.

I do it ALL.

I have a big family: 5 kids ages 6, 5, 3 1/2, 2 & 8 months

I stay-at-home

I work out of my home and run a successful business

I am active in my church

I try to spend time with each child individually every day

I help my kids with their homework

I try to teach them manners and ethics and respect for self and others

I support my husband and love him with my whole heart.

I try to do the above as much as possible in front of my kids and verbally to others so that I can uplift him in that way.

I have a huge heart and try to help others often

I try to listen and be there for others

I do my best to provide a warm, inviting, welcoming home for my family and friends.

I wash pile after pile of laundry: sort, wash, dry, fold and put away. Almost daily.

I attend school full time working toward a Masters in Elementary Education

Yep. That's right. I'm pretty spectacular, right?

Let me share with you the WHOLE story. Because when I say I do it ALL....I really mean I do IT ALL!

I also stress. Every single day. About anything and everything.

I daily cross the line from healthy concern to obsessive compulsive whether it's about my home or other people.

I analyze and over analyze everything said to me.

I worry every night about a tragedy in my family and how I would possibly go on.

I fret that I will never graduate and I will drown in my school responsibilities.

I snap at my kids on a daily basis.

I'm not always kind to my husband and often take him for granted.

I'm the suckiest daughter on the planet because I can go months (and have) without so much as a phone call to my parents.

I have certain expectations of people because I think people will think and react like me.

I get disappointed when people don't think, act and react like I do/would.

I am the very definition of snap judgment and hair trigger temper.

I throw things when I get mad.

I have a trucker mouth when I drive.

I lose it sometimes with my kids. I mean--lose it.

I don't always shower every day. 

I pick pick pick on my husband about his quirky little idiosyncrasies that annoy the buh-jeezis out of me.

I think the most awful things about people sometimes for absolutely no reason. They could be a complete stranger or my best friend.

This post grew out of one of my hair trigger annoyances.

I grow so tired of reading blog posts and status updates and tweets about the mom who "does it all." The 520 dozen cookies baked, crafts completed, places visited, charities helped, friends lunched with, pounds lost, items sewn, diy projects completed flawlessly, careers mastered, infants potty trained, 1 year olds reading, etc etc etc... You can almost see the words being wrapped up with a ribbon by singing blue birds.

And I feel all hateful just reading it...especially if I know the person and understand that this is just  a picture they are painting for others.

But I guess we're all guilty of that at times, right?

I know I even fall into one or more of those categories with blog posts and status updates I myself have posted.

But I'm over it.

I ain't perfect.

Faaaaaaaaaaar from it.

And I'm just gonna stand up here and let you know that.

So, if I slip up and post something along those lines and or gag inducing, and you want to give me a sound punch to the face, please forgive me the indiscretion and remember this post.

I'm flawed. Enormously so.

If I were fabric, I wouldn't be the brand new, crisp bolt that just arrived in the store. I am the remnant up front marked down for half off. My edges are cut all crooked and may be slightly fraying.

But instead of calling it ruined, I'll call it character. ;)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Whut the Whut?!

I'm going to wax philosophical here for a bit.

Many of you know I wrote a short-lived "side" blog telling my personal story.

It was very hard to write and was 34 years in the making.

Most were supportive.

Some were not.

And while it shouldn't surprise me, it still does when I come across a hater or someone who is angry at me for sharing the truth.

Why am I surprised that one of the key "characters" in my other blog is obviously not too happy about what I wrote? I guess I thought that we'd worked past that and were able to at least be civil.

But I've since discovered that two of his relatives have "unfriended" me on Facebook. We all know that's the 2011 equivalent of the middle finger.

That hits me on a couple of levels.

My first pang comes with realizing that they must A) not believe me and think I made it all up, B) believe him and he must be a better liar than I ever gave him credit for and C) want absolutely nothing to do with me all for telling the truth.

It's hurtful, annoying, enraging, ridiculous, and upsurd all rolled together.

I know, I know..."Shake it off!" "Forget them!" "Why does it bother you so much? "Why do you care?!"

This is me, people! I don't just forget. I'm not made of steel. I am a ball of emotion and that's sometimes to my detriment. Exhibit A.

I'll never understand how some people think. I'll never wrap my mind around how some people can fall into a pile and come out smelling like a rose. I'll never "get" how some people will stare truth in the face and spit in its eye.

Just don't get it.

And...actually... I hope I never do. I don't ever want to understand why lying is favored over truth.

Or why people would stop being my friend.

I mean, I'm pretty terrific, damn it!

And if you disagree, what in the world are you doing reading?

Anyway...I'm over it.

Okay I'm not really, but I'm getting there.

Joe is bringing home a bottle of wine and we're going  to start the weekend enjoying each other's company.

Not worried about petty, small individuals who know the truth and choose to ignore it.

And it looks like I've moved to the anger stage...

The Credenza That Almost Killed Me

With all the crazy Lunch Lady drama (which you can read HERE and HERE), I completely got off track with the credenza project.

I know you've been waiting.

First off, I never did lose my vision, thankfully. After the freak primer incident, I wasn't sure.

Here's where I started with the enormous credenza that could easily double as an efficiency apartment in New York City:


And then, if you remember, I got this far before almost blowing my head off with an ancient can of primer:




I took about 2 weeks off and completely forgot about it.

Then, one day I just said, "What the heck?" And jumped back in.

I had these things in hand:
Clear glaze
Brown paint
Paint brush
Cloth

I remembered Lisa's directions (from Recaptured Charm) to use a ratio of 4:1 for glaze and paint mixing, respectively.

And as I poured the paint into the glaze, I realized I have absolutely no concept of ratios.

The brown paint just got away from me. And just by eyeballing it, I'd say the ratio was more like 3 7/8:2 1/3. You know, if I had to guess.

I dipped my brush in the mixture, took 3 deep lamaze breaths and slathered it all over the cabinet door.

Then I took my old cloth and wiped part of it off.

And then I panicked because:
1) I quickly deduced that one lonely old shirt wasn't going to be nearly enough for wiping the glaze off this whole credenza and
2) There is a reason Lisa said to use the ratio of 4:1. This stuff wasn't coming off.

Instead of a nice, subtle brown-ish film on my pristine white door, it looked like I dipped the door in mud. Or something else the same shade. I'll let you use your imagination.

I quickly grabbed a roll of paper towels and started scrubbing at the door, trying to rub off as much of the brown as I could.

I could tell this was going to be heavy on the "shabby" and not so much on the "chic."

Joe was great. He told me he liked it. So I pressed on.

When I ran out of the glaze mixture, I whipped up another batch. This time, I used just a DASH of the brown paint. It was sooooooo much better!

The only problem with that was, now the glaze was wiping right off and leaving only a faint residue--the way I originally wanted it to look. But I couldn't leave it that way because it wouldn't match the rest of it.

%$@*&!

So I added some more paint and finished the rest.

Here's how it looks in my living room.

Disregard that there are some essential pieces missing: the hardware. That's yet to come. I donated the original hardware to some gothic castles in Scotland.



There are the 2 middle doors. I started with the one on the left, hence the more beat-up look.

I swear I saved them to my computer the right way and when I uploaded them to the blog, they went back sideways. Sorry. You'll just have to tilt your head to the side.

What I've learned after all this is that I hate it. I want to re-do it.

You can agree. It won't hurt my feelings.

I'll have to be quick because it's getting colder outside.

This time, I might actually follow directions.

Maybe.

I'll keep you posted. Barring anymore school shenanigans.

I'm linking this post to



Wednesday, September 14, 2011

P.S. Lunch Lady

Thank you for meeting with me today, Lunch Lady (Can I call you LL? I feel we've reached that place in our relationship.)

I appreciate you taking 10 minutes out of your morning to meet with the mom with steam rolling out of her ears, but tactfully holding it all together for the sake of professionalism.

I'm happy to say that I ignored my every impulse to greet you with a punch to the face, but instead silently recited the mantra "Listen. Listen. Listen" so that I could hear your side of the story.

And what I heard was only slightly different from what R told me yesterday.

Your addition to the drama was that R is very social (I hid my surprise) and he apparently likes to work the room at lunch time. I'm reserving final judgment on the validity of that claim since I know he CAN be social, but not sure HOW social he is in a room full of kids he only slightly knows.

I metaphorically pumped my fist because he must be coming out of his shell and adjusting in school. That's a reason to celebrate in our house. Too many mornings, LL, have been spent with me sweating while I physically have to dress him, carry him to the door and force him outside to go to school. All while he digs in his heels and begs me not to send him.

You told me that he walks the aisles of lunch 3 out of the 4 days you have lunch duty and he won't listen when you tell him to sit in his seat.

Why am I just now hearing about this? It's week 3 of school and I am just now hearing that he's being insubordinate?

I assured you that we are "Rule Followers" at our house. We do not seek to undermine anyone's authority. However, I want to make the distinction clear that YOU are an extension of US. I want to be clued in if you consider my son a disciplinary problem.

I also made it clear that we are not comfortable with him sitting at a table by himself as punishment. The table that I consequently found out is the Peanut Allergy Table. (The kids with Peanut Allergies have to sit at a table by themselves for their own safety during lunch.)

I think we can be on the same page here. We both want R to behave. We both agree he can't be a hazard or a distraction (or inspiration) to others in the lunch room. I'm with you on that.

I'll do my part to support you and your rules at home. But I can't do that if I'm unaware that there is a problem.

I left the school today feeling reassured that he won't be singled out, yet he is expected to adhere to the rules. There are other ways of addressing the issue should he choose to disobey.

I also stopped in and chatted with the school secretary about it and she understands where I am coming from.

Let's start over fresh. I'm ready to put this behind us and I think you are too.

I appreciate that you asked if you should pull R out of class to chat with him. I also appreciate that you apologized to me for making him so scared that he cried and begged to stay home.

*Cue violin*

It's water under the bridge.

Onward and upward.

Bring on the remaining 150+ days of school. I can only imagine what they will hold...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Open Letter to the Lunch Lady

Dear Lunch Lady,

I can appreciate that you may not enjoy spending so many hours of your day policing elementary students during lunch when they're hyped up on sugar and letting loose a little of their pent up energy.

I can appreciate that you get sick of giving the same directive 5 million times.

I can also appreciate that if Little Jimmy doesn't listen one more time, your head may very well explode.

Oh how I can appreciate those things. It is, after all, my life on a daily basis. I may only have 5 while you corall a cafeteria full, but I understand the frustration none-the-less.

What I DON'T appreciate is that you chose to make my son so fearful of coming to school tomorrow that he sobbed as he begged me not to make him go.

No. Don't understand that at all.

I also don't appreciate that it took me 45 minutes to get it out of him, the reason why he didn't want to go to school tomorrow.

Finally, after practically pulling teeth, holding him, and corecing the details out of him, I found out that he was told he'll have to sit alone at a table tomorrow at lunch time.

Because why?

What was his heinous crime? What is the reason you are choosing to ostracize him and publicly humiliate him?

Was he bullying another student?

Did he use foul langauge?

Did he destroy school property?

Did he talk back to an authority figure?

Was he causing a scene and disrupting other students?

Did he cause someone bodily harm?

Oh yes-- that's right...he went up to the garbage can to throw away his trash not once, as the rules apparently allow, but TWICE.

Yes! Of course! THAT'S why you would take a 6 year old little boy, who already has issues with anxiety and fearing school because he thinks everyone is "looking at him" and place them AT A TABLE ALONE SO THAT ALL HIS PEERS CAN SEE THAT HE IS IN TROUBLE. FOR THROWING GARBAGE AWAY.

Brilliant.

Where did you go to school? Sign me up.

My Mama Bear Meter just went from 0 to 100 in about .3 seconds.

Do I think my son is perfect?

Hardly.

Do I think he's above being naughty or misbehaving in school?

Laughable.

Do I know that he deserves his time outs like the rest of them?

Absolutely.

But you will never, NEVER convince me that singling out a student and using humiliation as a method of reinforcement is the appropriate action.

Nor will you convince me that a 6 year old, in the 3rd week of school, should be reprimanded so strongly and threatened with segregation from the student body so that he actually cries and begs me not to make him go to school.

This is a little guy who is so shy it's painful. He can't be 1 minute late because he doesn't want to walk into a room full of people who will look at him when he enters.

He locks up and shuts down on us sometimes because he can't always express his emotions.

He is someone who I have long thought has some kind of sensory issues and has to be approached gently or it's too overwhelming.

And regardless of all this...even if R were a typical student who even defiantly marched up to the trash can for the offensive second time.....I still don't think the punishment fits the "crime."

Last year R had to sit in the principal's office because he was playing in the boys bathroom when he shouldn't have been. It was embarrassing to him and he felt awful about it.

And I was absolutely, 100% okay with it.

You do the crime, you do the time.

But this? This...I am not okay with.

I'm allowing myself to reserve full judgment until I actually speak with you, "lunch lady." I may be my child's biggest proponent, but I am NOT so naive as to think he's above reproach. I realize that certain-- shall we say-- necessary details could have been conveniently "forgotten."

I will listen to you tell me what happened, Lunch Lady.

But let me tell you if what you say matches what R said...and you still believe sitting him at a table by himself for the lunch period is appropriate...I'm not responsible for the words that may fly out of my mouth...or the teeth that may fly out of yours.

So maybe that last part was only for effect...but you get the idea.

I will not go quietly into that good night.

After our initial conversation was over...hours later...R said to me, "I've seen people sitting at that table before."

I was a little confused and asked "What table?"

He said, "The brown table where I have to sit tomorrow." And he couldn't look me in the eye.

Suddenly I could see it. The brown table.

That lonely, brown, laminate lunch table that sits off to the side by itself. The "trouble" table.

The table where the "bad kids" sit.

I can't bear it. It makes me sick to think about it.

What if he hadn't told me?

I'd never know because there was no note or phone call home. He would have been forced to sit alone while all his friends watched him eat his lunch by himself.

You want to break a mom's heart-just picture your baby in that scenario.

Absolutely not.

I won't be "that mom" who thinks Jr. can do no wrong and her child will never face punishment.

No way. It certainly isn't how we live at home!

But, I won't ever allow my children to be publicly humiliated in the name of discipline.

Especially my sensitive little six-year-old guy who's afraid of his own shadow. The guy who holds his little brother back if he thinks he's too close to the edge of the steps. The guy who tells me I'm beautiful every day. The guy who is so afraid of dogs (we're talking tea-cup poodles here) that I had to wrestle him and peel each finger off the headrest the other day when we went to a friend's house who has a dog.

Uh uh.

I will die on this hill.

So, Lunch Lady, I'll do my very best to be open minded. I certainly hope this is all a misunderstanding and we can all "ha ha ha" laugh it off.

Because if it isn't...and if this goes the way I think it might..well, it may get pretty ugly.

So rest up, Lunch Lady. Tomorrow morning is only a few hours away and I'll be marching into school with R in tow. Ready to discuss.

Sincerely,

Me

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Why Oh Why Did I Click On The Link??

As usual, I'm supposed to be doing a million things tonight.

Instead, I keep creeping on Facebook.

One of my "friends" posted a link to children needing to be adopted.

A voice in my head said, "Don't do it. Mandy. You know you can't handle this. You can't even watch the Feed the Children commercials without crying."

Naturally, I didn't listen and I clicked the link.

Why don't I ever listen?

I just spent 15 minutes bawling and snotting my way through a couple of pages of kids.

Young, older, teens, little ones. It's horrifying  to see how many kids need families and homes.

To see how many kids are caught in the system.

In some cases, entire families of siblings (7 or more!) are all awaiting adoption.

There's this one little guy...at THIS LINK HERE. His name is Andrew. And he had me at that beautiful little smile.

I don't know that we're in the position to adopt right now. 5 kids already in a 3 bedroom home. Add another (or more!) to that?

But I am inextricably drawn to  these kids. I want to give them love and security..and most importantly, a place to belong.

I have always had a heart for kids.

But I find myself asking God what my part is in all this? Am I merely a messenger of the link to others who may be able to offer them families?

Or is my part greater than that?

I can just see the look on Joe's face if I even suggested adoption.

Please look at this site: CLICK HERE

PLEASE LOOK.

Even if this isn't your calling...please share the link. Post it on Facebook and Twitter. Maybe you have ties to the person(s) who IS/ARE in the place to adopt and give someone a good home.

Now, how am I supposed to go back to business as usual after seeing these little faces listed with their "stats" like merchandise in a catalogue?

So sad.
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