Monday, January 30, 2012

The Pause

Call me Mother of the Year.

Every morning since October, I wake up and go to my medicine cabinet. It takes about a second, but I stare at those two medicine bottles. As I'm wishing I didn't have to, I take them down and remove one pill from each. I set them down on our kitchen table, and I call Peanut to take his medicine. That pause is the worst part of my morning.

This year hasn't been easy for Peanut. It became obvious early on in the school year that the coffee wasn't a viable option anymore. I'm choosing to leave out the details to protect Peanut's privacy. Suffice it to say his teachers and I have once again met nearly daily this year. We were referred to a new doctor in our area, and we started ADHD medication in 2011. We've been trying to get the correct dosage ever since, but I think we're finally close. I hope so.

Watching Peanut struggle this year has been heartbreaking. His academic work hasn't suffered much, which is miraculous. However, his social skills have taken a dramatic downfall, and it's a battle to help him understand what actions are acceptable and what will make him deal with consequences he really doesn't want. He's learned that the world isn't necessarily black and white, and that rules for one situation don't always apply to all situations. We're still working on that, but at least the number of temper tantrums has diminished. For that, I'm grateful.

This hasn't been easy for Peanut or anyone around him. His teachers need him to learn. Period. They need him to be in the classroom with his peers and stay reasonably quiet as he finishes his work. They need him to understand that outside voices need to stay outside on the playground. They need him to understand and follow the rules of both the classroom and the playground. When he doesn't, he needs to understand why consequences are being imposed. He's still working on that, and Boomer and I are working with him to help him understand why some of his choices aren't the best.

For right now, though, there's a pause. Peanut's proud of his behavior the last few weeks, and he deserves to be proud. There have been some positive changes, and Boomer and I are celebrating them. We're also celebrating our sweet son who struggles daily with his reactions to different situations, but is starting to understand what is and is not appropriate.

I didn't know if I would write this post. I'm not sure yet if I will publish it. I have so many conflicting emotions about these last few months, and I haven't wanted to diminish Peanut's privacy as so much of this has been public. When he looks back, I want him to know I've been here with him, and I love him. And I'll always be supporting him. I need him to know that Boomer and I are still his biggest fans.

You're doing this, Peanut. You're succeeding. And Daddy and I couldn't be more proud.

Call me Mother of the Year.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Call me Mother of the Year.

For once, I am not writing about my kids. I am instead writing for my kids.

A friend wrote a most interesting question on her Facebook Wall last night. She asked how we parents who's children were too young to remember or not yet born on 9/11 answer questions about that day. I'm choosing to place my answer here.

On that day in the near future when my brilliant, empathetic son asks if I was in New York or Washington, D.C. that day, I will answer him honestly.

I was not. His aunt, Evil Twin, was on Capitol Hill as the Pentagon was struck.

I will not tell him her story. I don't even know it all. But I will tell him that I was in my college apartment when I heard the quaking fear in his Nana's voice as she called me to let me know my sister was evacuating Capitol Hill in case of an attack and would be out of touch. I will tell him of the absolute relief I felt when his Papa called to let me know she was in her apartment, safe, and would call me after she had talked to our family. I will tell him it took her five hours to get through to me. I will tell him of my absolute pride in her when she told me she was going back to work the next day.

I don't know if I can tell him that I cried as I watched the towers fall in New York waiting for her to call our parents. I don't know if I can tell him that the only thing scarier than knowing the person I was closest to was terrified was hearing the fear in my parents' voices. I don't know if I can tell him that it felt as though I was paralyzed with fear, hearing of the plane going down in Pennsylvania and knowing how close she was to danger. Unbelievably, ten years have gone by. I still don't know if I can say this to him or if he'll have to read it here.

I will share with him the calls of support our parents and I received from family and friends. I will tell him we weren't alone, and that helped. I will tell him the firefighters and police who went into those buildings were heroes, as were the soldiers who went to war to protect us.

I won't be watching television today. I can't. Instead, I'll hold Peanut and Tula close and remind them again how much I love them. I'll call Evil Twin and listen if she wants to talk. Tomorrow, I'll remind myself why I still live in hope. Today, though, I'll be quiet.

And remember.

Call me Mother of the Year.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Toddler Investigation

Call me Mother of the Year.

Proving once and for all that Tula requires constant supervision...

A dear friend and I had the good fortune to have our children at the same time. Her son is six months younger than Peanut, and her daughter is four days older than Tula. With summer vacation beginning to wind down, we felt the need for a play date. As there are a couple of parks within walking distance of our house, our friends came to us.

The good news is our kids played together beautifully. My friend and I got a chance to catch up on life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as we watched our children run amok on the playground. Even leaving the park wasn't that painful. At least, it wasn't that painful until we got home.

Peanut, in an effort to be helpful, ran to open the door for our guests. His small face fell as he looked at me and said, "Mommy, the door won't open."

I tried the door. It was locked, because Tula has figured out how to play with the doors and that lock in particular. Since I wasn't the last one out, I didn't think to check if she'd gotten adventurous again. And yes, my keys were in the house with all windows shut and locked.

In a slight panic, I called Boomer to figure out my next move. He was about 90 minutes away, and suggested I call a locksmith. I pointed out that the phone book was safely locked in the house. He took pity on me and got the number. Thankfully, the locksmith came right out and started working on letting us into our air-conditioned house.

And that's when his pick broke off in our lock.

No, I'm not making this up.

Quit laughing.

It took a few more minutes, but the locksmith was able to bust us into our house. He was nice enough to not charge for the broken pick, claiming that happened more often than I'd think. He also suggested hiding a key for just this situation. I'm on it. I'm also not letting Tula anywhere near the locks of this house.

Call me Mother of the Year.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Justifying Mommy

Call me Mother of the Year.

So one of my friends from college is pregnant. I'm ecstatic for her and her husband. And she was asking some Mommy Advice. I figured that the best way to explain a typical day (as if there is one!)would be to show her today.

5:25 a.m.: Peanut tells Boomer, "I have a hole in my heel, but don't worry. It's not serious.

5:35: I inform Peanut that if the hole in his heel isn't serious, he can go back to bed. Shockingly, he agrees and snoozes.

8:00: Peanut comes bouncing in for his thief-Daddy's-side-of-the-bed experience. The hole in his heel is a half-healed blister. It's not serious.

9:00: Tula awakens with a fiercely wet diaper. Mommy changes toddler diaper, toddler jammies, and toddler bed sheet. Decide bath can wait until after breakfast.

9:15: Peanut wants to know why his waffles, fruit, coffee, vitamins and orange juice are not accompanied by scrambled eggs.

9:30: Start laundry. Allow Peanut and Tula their two PBS shows.

10:00: Convince Tula that a bath is not the root of all evil.

10:02: Chase a naked Tula around the house and get her into the bathtub.

10:05: Realize Tula has a new phrase: "Hey! Go 'way!" Not the best thing to hear as I'm trying to wash her hair.

10:15: Argue with Tula as to who gets to comb her hair. I win, but it's close.

11:55: Remind Peanut that we do not run in the house. Again.

12:15: Reading to Tula while Peaunt wreaks havoc with his trains. Bliss.

12:53: Convince Peanut that reading in his room while I put Tula down for her nap is a good idea.

2:15: Tula finally concedes defeat and naps. Computer time for Peanut. I take a breath.

2:17: Remind Peanut that computer time, like Spandex, is a privilege instead of a right. If he continues banging on the computer keys, then I will revoke the privilege.

2:30: Wallow in Peanut's joy of the computer. Bliss again.

4:15: Tula wakes up from her nap. We're off to run an errand.

5:00: Daddy's home! Both kids ditch me in favor of Boomer. I start investigating dinner options.

5:30: Start making dinner.

5:45: Realize I'm missing one of the key ingredients for dinner. Inform Boomer of emergency food run. Mutter curses under my breath.

6:15: Back with reinforcements. Peanut wonders why dinner isn't ready. Allow Boomer to take that one.

6:30: Dinner is served.

6:45: Peanut wants seconds.

7:00: Listen as my brilliant son reads aloud to his adoring sister. For him, she sits still. I'd break out my camera, but I know it would ruin the moment. Oh well.

7:40: Bedtime chaos.

8:00: Snoozing children. Happy parents.

Hope you found this helpful. I'm off to find the chocolate.

Call me Mother of the Year.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Her Mother's Daughter

Call me Mother of the Year.

At this point, it's all I can do to keep from laughing. Nope, that's not working. I'm laughing so hard I can barely type.

Saturday was an adventure in shoe shopping. Peanut wore out the toes of his sneakers and we realized that Tula's toes were crammed into her shoes. I was, of course, heartbroken to spend some time in a shoe store. Boomer and I decided that the stroller would be worthless, so Tula was able to sprint at will. Or so we thought.

Peanut's experience was fairly simple. He's a guy. Sneakers. Done. And off to hang out with Boomer. On the other hand (foot?), Tula was enthralled with new shoes. I sat her on my lap to get the new shoes on, and it was the first time she sat still all week. We picked out shoes, and headed to the register- minus Tula. I turned around, and she's playing with high heels in Mommy's size.

That's my girl. I'm still proud.

We bribed Tula with her own new sparkly sandals, and she left the store without much fuss. I figured the story was over. I should know better.

Yesterday Tula started fussing at me. She's still nonverbal, so What Tula Wants is a frequent game here. The correct answer was Put On My Sparkly New Shoes So I Can Walk Around The House. Today she wasn't happy until I put her in a T-Shirt dress and her sparkly sandals.

My daughter is turning into a girly girl. I'm laughing. Boomer's in trouble.

I haven't quite had the courage to tell this tale to the grandmas. I wonder how long it will take them to laugh and indulge my daughter in her new passion- clothes and shoes. My guess is two hours. Tops.

Call me Mother of the Year.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

All Over But The Shouting

Call me Mother of the Year.

Once again, dear readers, a mommy moment has lasted a month. Figures. And there's a lot of happy shouting here. Shouldn't surprise anyone.

This has been what I refer to as The Month of Lasts. The last field trip. The last parent meeting of Kindergarten. Track & Field Day. My last moments of peace and quiet before summer vacation. Okay, peace and quiet during nap time, anyway. These are all over now.

Today was the Optional Last Hour of School. Not surprisingly, Peanut opted to go. Surprisingly, he wasn't the only one in his class. He hung out in his classroom, helped Kindergarten Teacher with some clean-up duties, and munched an apple while attacking the playground one last time. All in all, not a bad way to end Kindergarten.

I spent the hour considering this year. Peanut's grown so much that it's almost hard to see the little boy who could barely control himself at the start of this school year. He's more willing to listen and follow directions the first time he's told, rather than the fifth. Instead of shoving himself forward, he listens to his peers. He's taking responsibility for his actions and accepts the consequences- most of the time.

I couldn't have given him that. Believe me, I've tried.

Kindergarten Teacher gave all the credit to Peanut. "He did all the hard work." She's right, but he needed the guidance she provided. He needed to know that she cares about him and his successes. He needed to know that when there were bad days, she was still cheering him on. I'm in awe of this woman because as she gave her best efforts to teach my son, she gave that same best effort to all 22 kids in her class. They all know she loves them. She gave them that gift, along with her gifts of knowledge and creative teaching. Peanut's lucky to have had her as a teacher, a mentor, and a friend.

He's ready for first grade. And while I'm still stunned at how quickly this school year flew by, I'm ready for first grade too. We have a behavior plan in place, and I know he can succeed. I'm more confident in my son's abilities and not quite as ready to hover. Kindergarten Teacher gave me that.

Thanks. For everything.

Call me Mother of the Year.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Listening To The Mustn'ts

Call me Mother of the Year.

It's official: my son is brilliant.

His Kindergarten teacher sent home a note this week. All students in her class are writing a hard cover book and require ideas. Thus the story map. Peanut and I sat down yesterday and decided to fill this out.

Homework and Peanut are usually a bad combination. Peanut's a bright kid, but sitting down and doing his work is not the easiest for any six-year-old; ADHD only complicates this. I'll confess that I wasn't looking forward to this experience.

It took maybe five minutes. Tops.


Peanut came up with his title, characters, setting, problem, and solution. The thoughts and ideas just poured out of this kid. I was writing them down as fast as I could, and within minutes, he had his outline and was off to computer time. I sat at our table staring at his work in awe.

There are so many times during his day that he's told "no." He deals with them for the most part, but I know he gets frustrated when all he wants to do is imagine and create while his mommy tells him to quit playing and do as he's told. I try to limit this, but it's difficult to get him to stay on task if I don't. He hears "no", "can't", and "don't" way too often for my liking, and I'm celebrating that I didn't have to use those words yesterday afternoon. He's a smart, empathetic boy who chooses to focus on what he can do rather than what the world tells him he can't. Watching him yesterday reminded me of one of my favorite Shel Silverstein poems. Peanut embodies this, and I share it in his honor.

Listen to the MUSTN'TS, child,
Listen to the DON'TS
Listen to the SHOULDN'TS
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me-
Anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be.

Call me Mother of the Year.