Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Fiona's entire second year was marked by spectacular disasters involving, among other things, flour, pasta and poop. I had blocked a lot of it out of my memory until this morning. It dawned on me after cleaning half a dozen cracked eggs off the kitchen floor that we are now entering the third and final 2 year old's reign of disaster.

I just stared at the floor, frozen for about 30 seconds, not knowing what to do. How exactly do you clean eggs off the floor? It was not even 8 a.m. This was a pretty cruel blow.

Shut me in, mommy, Owen says as he stands inside the fridge. I've had to lock the fridge because he opens it every chance he gets.

Sometimes I forget, like this morning. This kid is an eating machine. His hands literally shake when he eats. I've been keeping an eye on him to make sure that is the only time he quivers. So far, it is. Yesterday, when I called him for dinner, he bolted into the dining room, crawled over my chair and tried to climb over the table to get to his plate. Later when he discovered the fridge locked, he took one panicked look at Jim and bolted back into the dining room to see if there was anything left on the table.

He is also into absolutely everything. It's tough to get a step ahead of this child.

Give me that. The stapler is NOT a phone, I tell Owen. He had flipped open the stapler and was holding it to his head. A staple to the head would be hard to explain in the ER.
Please get out of the salad spinner. NO, NO, don't touch the microwave, I tell Owen all in the same breath.

Owen, let's go get a new diaper, Jim says.
No, Nope, Owen replies as he waves Jim off.

And did I mention he hurts himself a lot?

He's got the belly flop down, a friend noticed as Owie repeatedly hurled himself into the pool.
Oh, yeah, he's been practicing on the driveway, Jim says.

I need chocolate, Owen wails after he pinches his finger. A few minutes earlier I had offered him a chocolate covered raisin when he hurt himself. He learns quickly.

Owen is also now sleeping in a bed. And he rarely gets out. I mean, why would he? All he needs is right there: his thumb for sucking and his penis to play with.

Do you think Owen is still in the bed? I ask Jim. It was awfully quiet up there. He had just started sleeping in a bed.

The real question is where will he be at 2 a.m., he says. Then he adds, I'm going to chain the doors.

Fiona is pretty chatty these days. She fills the vacuum that Danny leaves while he's at school. It never occurred to me just how much that kid sucks the air out of a room. She provides a running commentary from the back seat. 

That lady said it was going to thunder, mom, Fiona informs me regularly on our car trips.

And she's just so eager to talk that her sentences have a string of false starts that leave me on the edge of hysterics or of my sanity, depending on the day.

Mom, before you ... Mom, before you ... MOM, before you ... said we could go to Nana's house.

Why do keep piling everything in your closet? I ask Fiona. I'm rather exasperated that everything falls out when I open the door.
It might rain in my room, she responds. Oh, of course. That's perfectly logical.

Talk the book, mommy, Owen says. Or, in his more impatient moments, TALK. This is how he asks me to read.

I'm going to put dirt in your Diet Coke. That'll be good, Fiona claims. We were having pretend lunch while real lunch was cooling off on the table.

I CAUGHT A FISH. I CAUGHT A FISH. YES! [hand clap] MY WEEKEND HAS BEGUN! Danny says. Yes, fish are necessary to have a weekend.

Well, Jesus was sad that his friend Lazarus was dead, I say to Danny.
Yeah and he used his back-to-life wand on him.

Ugh, I'm too fat for all my clothes, I tell Jim.
Danny overheard this and suggested: You need to be naked.

Ouch. I cut myself. I'm not having a very good day in the kitchen, I say. That morning, I got a second degree burn on my hand.
Maybe your contact lenses fell out, Danny responds. 

Yesterday, Tinkerbell wore this dress so today I should wear it, Fiona informs me. Well, if it's good enough for Tinkerbell, it's good enough for you.

That's all for now.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Stress and distress

Hello readers,

With me, no news is usually bad news. So if you haven't heard from me here in a while, it's because things are  seem real crappy and hopeless. I rarely write when I'm stressed, though it's usually just what I need. In the chaos of stress, I forget the one thing that helps me most: sharing my pain and stress.

I say this a lot, but it bears repeating: somebody probably needs to know they're not alone. That somebody always includes me. That's why I share, even when it sounds like complaining or self-flagellation or navel gazing.

In the past few days, I had a close call with a wandering 3 year old. Let's just say that nothing quite prepares you as a parent for finding your daughter's dress in the hallway and your daughter nowhere in your house or yard. (She was found two doors down wearing a leotard and crocs; she later claimed she was walking to gymnastics.) This is stressful.

In the past week, our 2 year old has turned into a rabid billy goat who is constantly moving, making noise and messes and biting his siblings. This is rather distressing.

In the past few weeks, we've been introduced to such schoolish terms as behavior plan and student assistance team. I also now recognize my son's teacher's phone number on the caller ID. This is stressful.

In the past few months, I've gone from an ADHD skeptic to tearful and fearful near acceptance of my son's diagnosis. This is distressing.

The signs have been there and been building for years. The realization that he often behaves exactly as our 2 year old in certain situations. The five topics in 30 seconds conversations. The gradual backing off of friends. (And I seriously don't blame your kid for not really wanting to hang out with mine.) The inability to control his impulses to back talk and interrupt. The constant movement and noise. The rigidity and stubbornness.

Let's face it, social norms that come easily to some kids just don't occur to those with ADHD. How many five year olds have to be told that randomly blowing in people's faces is a bad idea? Or that spitting water at another person's face is never acceptable? Most five year olds have enough sensible fear of their parents to just stop arguing their point. Not my kid. He'll argue and follow even when I've walked away and stopped talking. There is no escape. 

I could frame all this information in terms of how lucky we are to be at a school that takes such a supportive approach and that he is getting the help he needs so soon. The school is "this effective, this soon," I was reminded, instead of my son's experience being "this bad, this quickly." In my better moments, I do think the former. At my most distressed, though, I am heartsick for both of us. I'm already so, so weary and afraid that I just don't have the strength to travel this road.

This road means notes sent home, phone calls and emails, meetings and therapy and having to push him more that I'm comfortable doing. He will be different and singled out and have to work harder for things that come easily to other kids. His teacher already tells us that he is "trying so hard" and that just breaks my heart. We'll have to manage the way this is all presented to him so as not bruise his delicate, developing sense of self. I'm sure we'll learn how to do this but it all seems so daunting right now.
And the feeling I can't seem to shake is that somehow, some way, I made some fatal parenting error. It's as if every mother with better behaved children has a portion of the parenting manual that we're missing. When a child goes to school, it feels like your parenting skills are on display. I rarely care what people think of how I parent; it only worries me what they assume based on my children's behavior.

Right now, based solely on his behavior, I appear to be a parent who did not teach her son any social skills, loads him up with sugar and sends him off to school. Which I don't, of course.