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March 2008

Red-flagged – part two

The first part is here, if you need to catch up. I have been reading through a number of articles on child behavioral issues – ADHD, sensory processing disorders, oppositional defiant disorder, etc. I’ve been trying to keep my anxiety levels down… it’s just not healthy to get too stressed, especially over something that will ultimately be a long process of changes and assessments (at least, that’s what I tell myself when the anxiety starts to peak). On top of that we are still trying to get pregnant and I’ve got this whole thyroid thing that flares when I’m stressed and makes it harder to stay pregnant, yadda yadda yadda, SO… I’m trying to stay relaxed. (Oy. Don’t know if I’m succeeding.) However, I actually feel a little better after reading through some of the articles. There are a few things I can rule out, right off the bat. And a few I can consider possibilities, and one or two of those might be borderline at that. If he is anything other than a very spirited, strong-willed kid with slower developing social skills. I just want to be informed for Chance’s upcoming pediatrician visit. 

Our biggest concern at the present is Chance’s aggression. We just can’t have him beating up kids, whether he means to or not. I’m not really all that concerned with his energy level or “lack of focus”. He IS three, and sometimes you just need to learn coping skills as you grow (and that’s for kids both with and without ADHD).    

My other big concern, of course, is the whole act of labeling. No one wants to see their kid labeled.

My frustration with these kinds of labels is that sometimes they draw new distinct lines within the range of “normalcy”, lines that weren’t there before. I think there is a big difference between someone who has a neurological or behavioral disorder that is affecting their quality of life – i.e. trouble in school, making friends, etc. – and someone who might just have strong personality traits, such as be a sensory seeker as part of a personality type.  (You know, like I’m sure many athletes are.)  Whereas the realm of normalcy used to be a broad band of personality types (with the edges of “normal” a little fuzzy), today it seems much narrower, the extremes (and not so extreme) getting nudged out and labeled. The tolerance for different types of people seems to be shrinking. I’ve seen the labels get used as a smoke screen for pre-judgment. Or used as an excuse to not put any effort into a child (“that ADHD kid is a lost cause”).  Or, worse, used as a reason to be more critical of those kids; pushing harder to “make them fit”. 

This isn’t about conforming or non-conforming. Some conforming is OK. Societal norms keep a lot of bad behavior in check. You know, not flinging shit at people, keeping your penis in your pants. I’m fairly certain we would have even more violence and crime than we already do if most of our society didn’t conform to the law. (And this is spoken by someone generally considered as pretty non-conformist.)

It’s about not squashing a child’s spirit! It’s about letting people be who they are, without facing censure. It’s about finding the best possible environments to let kids grow and thrive while still being themselves. 

Because I study literature I sometimes get nostalgic for those eras where often the great creative minds were drunks, or “angry”, or spacey, or paranoid nutjobs… and people just kind of rolled with it. Personality quirks were just… quirks, and your overall accomplishments counted for more than whether you “fit in”. Whereas I am so pleased by the great leaps we’ve made in medicine, I am sad that it seems to be classifying us into test tube people.

OK, warning, mini rant coming.  I personally don’t have hangups with ADHD or any other disorders – I did grow up with some experience of it, after all* – and whatever my son needs, my son needs. But I get awfully sick of other people’s issues. And their smug opinions about parenting. I frankly don’t give a rat’s ass what anyone thinks about my parenting, but don’t judge my three-year-old son. Don’t label him without knowing him. Don’t lecture at him when he’s running around just having fun. I don’t care whether you think he’s moving at an inappropriate speed or not. If he’s not running into anyone or hurting anyone, worry about your own kid and leave mine the fuck alone. (Can you tell I’ve had this happen?) 

I’m almost certain I will have more mini rants as this process goes on. Please bear with me. 

And everyone who has offered advice, support, nice comments... THANK YOU so much!  It means a lot.     - the weirdgirl


*I have two brothers who were diagnosed ADHD while young and my oldest brother is mentally disabled as well, though it is fairly minimal. Since I was the kid with “experience” I also got every special needs babysitting or tutoring job. For the record, some of those “out of control” kids that the other babysitters complained about really weren’t that bad. Thus, my cynicism of labels was born.  



A quick digression

My friend Jade came over last night with a lovely box of French style chocolates. You know, in the pretty shapes and a pretty box and tissue and ribbon and the oh-so-very-pretty flavors. Chance was still up when she visited, got to check out the box in full, and I even gave him a small bite of the dark chocolate Valencia before he went to bed.  Which he, surprisingly, enjoyed quite a bit.  (I just don't figure most kids would like the more bitter, dark chocolate flavors.)  Later that night I moved the box out of immediate sight to a place better suited to my enjoyment (i.e. on to the shelf of "mommy treats").   

This morning Chance wakes up, runs to the front room, and I hear...

"Oh no!  My chocolates!"

Eeerrrt.  His chocolates?

Shit.  "Oh well... um... Jade brought those over for ALL of us.  To share.  See, they're right here.  But chocolates aren't for breakfast kiddo."  (Except for mommy.)  "You can have a treat later, OK?"

I couldn't very well tell him I wasn't going to share at this point, could I?  Maybe he'll take a Dove chocolate instead. 

At least he's got good taste.             - wg


Red-flagged

I’m finally feeling better after a bad last week… so that means I’m also feeling up to discussing something else that happened. My son had his first “assessments” at school. 

Academically, he’s fine. Knows his ABCs, and colors, and shapes, and the names of three different animals (yes, that’s how it was written on the paperwork). Not that I was worried, whether he did well academically or not. I mean, these are two- to three-year-olds.  I know there are parents who do, but I’m not going to stress over the “academics” of preschoolers.  Enjoy being three, you can study the finer points of dodecahedrons later. 

However, Chance’s behavior has been “red-flagged” at school. His behavior is “age appropriate”, yet still “consistently excessive” in terms of energy, aggressiveness, and “lack of focus” compared to the other kids his age. (Don’t you love all those quote marks?) The director of the school was very nice and supportive (yes, the director was in my parent-teacher conference), but she also suggested that we start looking at other assessments for Chance. 

I can’t say part of this was terribly surprising. There have been ongoing issues with his aggression at school and we’ve been working on it. It’s not that he’s a bully, it’s not vindictive behavior… but he’s very rough. Sometimes it’s in play and sometimes it’s not. He can’t seem to NOT touch the kids around him. If someone is holding his hand he tries to touch with his feet.

And if it’s a bad day and he’s told to not kick, he might start those feet flailing just because he was told not to.

See, because my son IS strong-willed.  And highly energetic.  And cheerfully exuberant even when he’s being completely and purposefully defiant. He’s impulsive (good and bad) and affectionate (good and bad). Choke holds and hugs can look interchangeable. He might hit a kid over a toy and two seconds later give him a kiss. He always wants to be with and/or meet new people, even if he’s not getting along with them very well.  He has no fear physically and the (sometimes idiotic) bumps to prove it.  He is often totally exasperating and makes me want to tear my hair out, but he’s also one of the most fun kids I know. 

And I don’t want anyone squashing any of that out of him. 

Yet we do need to get his behavior under control. 

(This just feels crappy.)

So the energy and rough behavior wasn’t surprising.  What was surprising was that I didn’t realize his focus was so far off from the other kids. Because when he wants to be he can be very focused. But his teachers say his mind seems to be “always working” and therefore he loses concentration instead of focusing on what’s at hand.  Or he’s too busy noticing other things to pay attention to what he’s supposed to be doing.  I know he can be all over the place when he’s excited – I’ve seen for myself that if we’re at a birthday party or other function, he runs at twice the speed as the kids around him – but apparently at school he’s almost always all over the place and the lack of concentration shows.

Now we are setting up appointments and doing all the reading and so on and so forth.  And it’s a bit overwhelming.  Immediately, ADHD popped up. Which also wouldn’t be that surprising; two of my brothers were/are ADHD and we’re almost certain it might be undiagnosed in Keen’s family as well.  But other terms and disorders were mentioned in that parent-teacher meeting (not that they were suggesting) and I’m slogging through those as well.

Even though… it might not be anything.  It might be a blip brought on from potty-training-induced anxiety.  We might be playing too rough with him inadvertently and he’s transferring the roughness.  He also didn’t start the “terrible twos” as early as most of the kids, so I was sort of thinking/hoping that maybe it was just hitting extra hard now. (At least that was what I was thinking before he was red-flagged.) I am still hoping that Keen and I can make changes with our approach to help Chance make changes with his behaviors. That was research I had started looking into before his school assessment came up.

This is coming out a little choppy but that’s where I’m at at the moment.  This will probably have to be a two-parter (or twenty-parter).                 - wg
 


Smart is as smart does.

I thought I was being SO clever in the early part of the week by taking it easy a few days. I knew I was sick, or getting there, so I’m all into nipping it in the bud by proactively resting up. Should work, right? Right.

However, four days later I am wearing a big wool sweater and I still want to crawl under the covers, and not even to sleep but just to hang out there in a fugue, so it occurs to me that this is not the behavior of a healthy individual.  Of course, healthy and this blog were always debatable to begin with.

We’ve just entered the “rainy season”.  Which today means blazing sunlight alternating with heavy downpours, frigid temperatures and the wind going a hundred miles an hour.  The better to send palm leaves crashing down on you.  Couple that with lots of indoor toddler activities – walking into my son’s preschool alone feels akin to swimming in a ripe Petri dish – and I guess it’s no wonder the stupid sore throats and headaches won’t go away.

But I’m not bitter. Winter, you foul bitch.

Honestly, I’m very impressed with those who can keep blogging even where they’re sick. Especially this guy. He’s expecting the plague and he’s still a rock star.

 

All right, now for something lighter.

..

*whimper whimper*

Me, calling down the stairs: “What’s up, honey?”

*whimper whimper whimper*

“Chance?”  Me, coming downstairs and peering into the living room to see…

a Thomas the Train stuck to my son’s head.  The little wheels a-turning, my son looking alarmed as he supports the weight of the train, Thomas smiling his idiot grin per usual. (Doubtless, my son was trying to deduce Thomas’ intent with this sudden head attack.)

But I am now a master of such unexpected events.  Step one, turn off the train. Step two, carefully unwind (or cut) hair from wheels.

And most importantly, step three, “If it moves don’t put it in your hair, OK kiddo?”

I think he got it.

Oy.  I didn’t think of this one when I decided to grow out his hair.

- the weirdgirl


Maybe in the meantime...

I am sick.  And a bit crampy.  I don't think the two are related, though.  Just, you know, a Murphy's Law or something.  I'll be back to posting/visiting/commenting soon, I'm sure.  Right after I've coughed up a lung or cramped out a... uh... never mind.

In the meantime, how about some delurking?  I totally missed the whole official "Delurking Day" back in January.  As usual.  (Why does the Internet insist on being so damn organized?  I wandered into blog land thinking it would be all messy and homelike.  You know, a comfort zone.  Not neatly segmented and deadline driven; with capitals and titles, even.  It's almost like someone is behind all this organization.  Like a massive secret organization of organizers.  So... this is a message to... someone... out there, please stop pushing my type-A buttons!  I know you're running things, but can you just lighten up a little?  It's bad enough I have to be organized for life!  (No, I haven't taken too many cold meds, thanks for asking.))   

Anyway, would love to hear from any new visitors.  A shout-out, a request to cease and desist, whatever.  And as for my usual, beloved visitors... feel free to leave a message after the beep.   

(If you're from the secret organizers... I don't really want to know.)
            - wg

This has just been in my head.


Granny Panties… in a Bunch

OK, I got a little beef to pick. (Wait, is that beef or bone? Probably bone, right? Who picks on cows?) I’ve written in the past about my issues with undergarments. Well since then (it’s been almost a year) I managed to find a couple new brands of undies. Yay! One style in particular that I absolutely love!

They are heavenly.  No ride up factor, fits perfectly. Beautiful, soft material. Like cloth spun from ripped-off angel wings on my butt. They have become the new favorites in my knicker rotation.

However, this style also happens to look a little granny-like. Not exactly billowing-in-the-breeze briefs but definitely NOT Brazilian cut bikinis or sexy thongs. (I still hate thongs.) When I first found them I distinctly remember thinking, “Hmmm, I’m not sure Keen is going to like these,” but they were So… Damn... Comfy!  And given the usual torture that is underwear shopping I knew, granny panties or not, these were keepers.

(Because, let’s face it, if anything is going to trump sexy it’s usually comfort. Sorry guys (as you sit on the couch in your boxers with a stained tee halfway up your stomach).)

So imagine my surprise when the following exchange occurred…

Keen, watching me change one day, “Your ass looks SO HOT in those!”

Ding ding ding! “Really?” Me, craning around to look at my undies, “I thought they looked like granny panties. I mean, they cover up a lot.”

“Whatever. They’re still hot, baby.”

(Welcome to what passes as foreplay in my house.)

I was ecstatic! Underwear that was incredibly comfortable and didn’t make me look geriatric! Or did in a really sexy way. Or… wait, that’s just wrong. Anyway, these suckers rocked!!

So of course, I go to order more… even at the whopping $7 dollars a pop (yeah, I know that’s a good price for underwear but I only pay $6 for my t-shirts and those have WAY more material!) and…

…they’ve been discontinued.

My sexy granny panties. Gone. Because why would anyone keep making something that was so damn comfortable?!

(No one should feel this much heartbreak so close to Valentine’s Day.)

         - wg


Proof My Friends Are as Weird as I Am

Last weekend I threw a baby shower for some very good friends of mine. (I’ve been meaning to blog about this all week. Hee hee!) So my friend Winnie really detests baby showers. She hates the stupid games. She hates the hours of unwrapping gifts punctuated with a million, “Awww!”s. She kind of hates the whole she-bang. (Which I find ironic considering she has a pug blog. I keep waiting for the day she designs her own LOLpugs.) Winnie is the kind of gal to buy you an extra nice gift so she can get out of going to your horrid baby shower.

She also has a great, quirky sense of humor.   (yay!)

Of course, I jumped at the chance of throwing her a shower.  (Not that that’s a big stretch since I’m the unofficial event organizer of our group.) Winnie had some requests/ideas to make the shower less traditional, including, 1) coed (which we did); 2) no games (ditto – I think a lot of them are dumb, too); 3) pancake restaurant (rocking!); and 4) placenta recipe cards as part of the favors!  (Um, me and her other friend nixed that one.  Although potentially hilarious (because it was that kind of group), her mom was going to be there.)

But in that spirit these developed… 

 

Baby_in_jar_shower_favor

Yes, that is a baby in womb-like jello (mucho thanks to Penny!). Peach jello to be exact. Cherry and Strawberry were a tad too graphic. And I heard the peach jello was quite delicious, as folks dug into them after our meal. Here’s a closer look (because I know you want to).

Baby_in_jar_close_up

We also put together a baby survival kit (which included booze, of course) and had a lot of fun with graphics of sausage and waffles (she’s having a boy). So how did my friend Winnie, hater-of-showers, react to the end result?

Quote:  “That was the least insufferable shower I’ve ever been to!”

Rock on!           – the weirdgirl


The Mom-Life Crisis

Last week Sarah of Goon Squad fame asked folks to fess up about their garage bands.  Well, I’ve never been with a band (being rather musically and vocally challenged), but I did mention that I am now, at the ripe old age of 36, taking drum lessons. Because I’m gonna be a Super Star! When I grow up.

Anyway. It occurs to me that I just might be experiencing a tad wee bit of the mom version of a mid-life crisis. If I was a guy I might get myself an I-ROC and start cruising for chicks, my comb-over flapping in the wind (sorry guys). Or… being a MOM… I could do something vaguely unconventional and entirely outside the realm of mom-hood.  Something fun, but also identity-ifying.  And in my case (or any woman experiencing a mom-life crisis) I could do that a whole lot. Like to potentially ridiculous levels.

But how do I know I’m crossing over into mom-life crisis* land? Well, I made a tried and true list o’ analysis.  (Because making a list is SO not a mom thing to do!)

                           
 

The Glamour

– things I’m doing   or plan on doing

(There is no such thing as denial.)

 

The Reality

– a.k.a. the rest   of my life

 
   

Taking drum lessons out of the blue. The dream: total drum diva! Able to jam phenomenally, at any given moment, in a multitude of genres.

 
   

Singing along to the various kids’ shows I am forced to watch ad nauseum. Dancing like a   chicken because it makes my son laugh.

 
   

Joining a girl roller derby team under the name You-scora Welts-y. (You know, for Eudora Welty. She’s an author, you heathens!)

 
   

Reading Eudora Welty… while hiding from the kid in the bathroom. Notice scummy floor. Ignore it.

   

Fabulous spa time once a month. (I am SO doing this!)

 
   

Washing poop out of underwear. (See floor, root of cause.)

 
   

 

Dressing like a fashionista all the time.

 
   

Dressing like a fashionista when I go into the   office. Because they’re not the boss of me! I will HAVE self-expression, damnit! (Oh wait, I don’t have that job anymore… maybe that backfired.)

   

Traveling to exotic places and culture-rich cities. Being a “woman of the world.”

 
   

 Driving to Target, the preschool, Walgreen’s, preschool, the bank, preschool, repeat.

   

 Dying my hair outrageous colors.

 
   

 Dying my hair outrageous colors.

 

 
So there’s the evidence.  But I leave it up to you, my readers… am I pushing the mom-life crisis behavior?  (In my defense, at least I’m not walking around in a leather bustier and flirting with high-school boys.)

If any of you feel you’re also in danger of a mom-life crisis, feel free to make your own list… and then let me know the results. Maybe we can form a support group.  (Of drumming, bustier-wearing divas!)

- the weirdgirl

 

*Other indicators that you may be experiencing a mom-life crisis include being on the receiving end of the following reactions: bug and/or rolling eyes, blank stares, or the expression, “Oh my god, what are you into now?” accompanied with an exasperated tone.

(They’re just jealous.)


CA Strange

I'm having such a surreal moment watching the political results crawl in, hearing about ballot shortages, and extended poll hours.  Holding out hope.  This is huge.  But, as with many groundbreaking things, "huge" gets muted by all the day to day bustle... sick kid, broken car, fuzzy head... until you're sitting in front of the tube in stinky sweats, watching potential history unfold and realize you're a part of it. 

I don't talk about politics much for a lot of reasons.  Mainly that I both have strong convictions and I am disenchanted.  And that Keen and I (and our families) are on opposite political spectrums*.  And because I have met some true, carreer politicos and... well... some of them are really really slimy (like, I was a little shocked, and I have been a fucking cynic from day one).  And, last but not least, I don't usually talk politics because many people who do get bogged down into minutia that I consider to be big fucking roadblocks to getting anything actually done.   

(I am a problem-solver, see, and counter to what anyone will tell you that doesn't work well with the political machine.) 

Anyway, I'm still caught up in the day-to-day fuzzies and there is no way I can stay up to watch how this plays out.  But I wish I could.  I wish excitement would beat down the fuzzies.  I wish I could feel like this is really history in the making... instead of the potential for history. 

Because until we actually elect someone other than a white male to the presidency I really won't feel like it's happened.

But I'm holding out hope.                   - the weirdgirl

 

* Though, strangely, Keen and I have very similar viewpoints on several issues.  One of which is the opinion that America is completely backward for not having elected a woman or person of color yet.  I mean, what year is this?