Friday, December 21, 2012

My parenting evolution

This isn't a profound post about the evolution of parenting as a whole. I am not that thoughtful and rarely profound. Instead I decided to force some of my parenting decisions on you. Errrrr, I mean share them with you, yes share.

I am a mother to twin 8 yr olds, a 6 yr old and we are expecting another one in June. I love my kids but they go through phases like nobody's business. Every time I think I have parenting figured out they throw me a curveball and its time to evolve. AGAIN.

I am pretty strict with my kids overall. I explain my expectations before we go anywhere or experience anything. If they cant handle it i have to choose to alter my expectations or haul them out of the situation.

Of course my expectations vary greatly.

At the park - if you can't seem me I can't see you. Wait your turn. Don't put things from the ground into your mouth. Tell me you need to go the bathroom before its already happening. Do not speak to other adults.

At the store - do not touch anything unless you're asked. Want something? Put it on your birthday or Christmas list or buy it yourself. Stay next to me. Tell me you need to go to the bathroom before its already happening. Do not speak to other adults.

At school - do your best today. Be kind to someone. Don't forget your homework. Don't put anything but food into your mouth. Speak to adults when they speak to you. Wait your turn.

At the doctor office - wait quietly. Speak to adults when they ask you questions. Don't touch anything. Wash your hands before, during and after visits. Then sanitize your entire body when you get home.

And so on and so on. My boys can generally tell you what's expected of them in most situations and usually rise to the occasion. They are genuinely good kids.

But despite my best efforts we hit bumps in the road. There was a time when my twins were about 3 that they began exploring boundaries. I lost my oldest like 5 times in one month. We stopped going anywhere without an adult assigned specifically to him until this little phase ran its course. Parks and beaches began to give me nightmares.

Another time my boys forgot all forms of table manners and patience for a period of like 6 months. This meant that we didn't go to restaurants for 6 months. I also considered tying them to chairs but was vetoed by my saner husband.

In any situation (barring places like the dr. Office where I can't leave...) if my kids can't meet my expectations they get a warning and a chance to apologize. If that doesn't work, we leave. My mom told me when my babies were still very young that it was important to always be ready to leave the party, shopping cart, etc... If your child can't handle it. I followed her advice to great success. O course there are definitely exceptions like new situations, unfair pressure from others or learning opportunities where you stick it out. But, the majority of the time I just up and leave whenever I need to. It's a consequence that they understand and respect. Of course if we ever go somewhere they don't want to I guess I'm screwed because they can totally use this method against me.

This past month we've been having bump after bump. Moe cries to get his way, Curly has gotten really into wrestling whether his brothers want to or not and Larry thinks its okay to yell at me anywhere, anytime. So we're taking a break from life :)

Not really, but we have quit almost all of their extracurricular activities at least for the next month or so. They are all getting really good at writing apology letters and we are using a discipline method my husband created called the reset button. This Christmas break we planned nothing. We are mostly staying home or running errands and learning how to behave all over again. I'm sure we're missing out on all sorts of holiday fun but we're doing what we can handle right now.

I'm praying this phase will be short lived and thankful that I've experience crazy phases like this before so that I know there's a light at the tunnel. My parenting is constantly evolving to handle the challenges that are thrown my way. I'm never sure if I'm doing it right but every time they say thank you without a reminder, ask to use a bathroom when we're near one, remember to put on their shoes without a reminder or use a Kleenex instead of picking their nose I know we're on the right track or at least the track that will lead to the right track.

How about you? How do you handle those bumps in the road where your angelic children suddenly act like you've been feeding them crazy pills?

Accepting your child

I have hinted at, skirted around and vaguely referred to some troubles in our household over the last few months. The truth of the matter is that one of our sons is struggling and it's effecting all of us greatly. The majority of the time I either can't find the funny in my day or if I have I worry you won't get my humor and find me crass. Plus, it requires soooooo much explanation.

I'll attempt the short version. Our oldest son Larry, age 8, has a temper and can be emotional. Since the beginning of this school year these behaviors seem to have escalated. I won't share details, I'll leave it at that.

Needless to say, the escalation had my husband and I concerned so we took him to the pediatrician to see if we could get help figuring out what was up. This led to a myriad of doctors, specialists, testing etc.... and it sort of worked. A month ago I was going to post about how we had conquered childhood depression and wax poetic about the value of seeking help and advocating for your child.

Except it turns out that we're not quite ready to hit the talk show circuit with our parenting wisdom just yet. Thanksgiving provided us with a 100% setback. Add to that the fact that society does not talk about depression and you might see the reasons for my near silence on this blog.

I had never even heard that kids could get depressed and I am still not sure how I feel about a diagnosis of "major depression" but I am baring my soul to you on the subject
1. So you know why I've been weird, silent, absent etc...
2. So you'll say an extra prayer for Larry for whatever it is he's dealing with
3. So you can fully grasp how big the things that I am learning are to me

Larry and I now go to "talk therapy" every 2 weeks. The counselor has mostly been getting to know us over the past few months and has only actually seen my son in one of his moods during the most recent visits. This means that most of our sessions have a lot of discussion on more things I should be doing to support my son. I always leave a little frustrated and think that she doesn't understand just how much time and attention I am already giving my kids. How dare she judge me! Why can't she just fix him? I am not the problem! Then I calm down and see at least glimmers of wisdom in her suggestions.

I'm slowly learning that my sons views and perceptions have changed and are skewed. I focus so much on how he used to be that I forget to accept who he is right now in this moment. In the last few weeks she has been reiterating how we need to find the positive. Larry and I started a journal where we write at least one good thing that happened in our day. He often struggles to find one thing, even if I can point out several. We have now added a smile chart to the journal too and our goal is a smile a day. We're not there yet but we are getting at least a few smiles a week which is an improvement :)

Again, I'm saying all of this because I am finally finding some value in it. It's fascinating to force yourself to find a positive in everything. It's amazing the power that words, tones and inflections have on others emotions.

Through his journey I am slowly learning to embrace the smallest of joys and to celebrate every triumph joyously. I think I may be finally learning to not sweat the small stuff. This is one of the hardest things I have been through but I can honestly say that it is improving our family.

Larry's joy for today was having a day so full that he was exhausted when it was time for bed. His actual words were, "I like that we did a lot and so im tired and glad for bed." My joys for today were many. I saw Larry control his emotions on at least 3 occasions where we would have normally had outbursts. He agreed and was excited to go on a date with me tonite. We saw a movie and walked around a store and talked and talked. He let me hug him and held my hand and he smiled more than once.

My heart is filled to overflowing right now and it has me in a safe place where I can now share a glimpse of what we're going through. We'll continue to have good and bad days but I'm going to stop letting it hold me back and I am going to strive harder to live by example for him. I am publicly declaring it so that I can come back and read this when my strength waivers and my resolve fails. I am forever grateful to the select few that I have shared this with that have supported me and withheld judgement.

Now that I've gotten this off my chest we can resume our regularly scheduled programming of the laughter and insanity that occurs every time I try to take a little "Time for B"

P.s. I am not posting this as a way to fish for compliments and I am certainly not looking for judgement. I am mostly writing this because everyone is so freakin silent on the topic and it is an overwhelming topic. It's heavy stuff and very confusing and I want others to know they're not alone.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Cancelled Christmas. You know, like you do.

I'm 99% sure that you've all been missing me and my witty banter lately so I thought I'd gift you all a catch up blog for the holiday season.

Life has been very lifey lately. Sorry, but there's really no better way to put it.

Since I made the big announcement that we were having a fourth child ON PURPOSE it's really cramped my blog writing. All of a sudden I felt immense pressure to tell you about the wonder of pregnancy and the magical moments my family is having while planning for baby #4 (we can call her Marsha for now. This will not be her/his real name) The problem with these pressures are that it's just generally not my style of writing. I write the occasional sappy moments but mostly I tell you about the crazy ridiculous and sometimes horrible stuff because that's what I like to read about. It makes me feel grateful for what I have and glad I'm not going through what you're going through. Sometimes I read your stories and I get to have a "thank God it's not just me/my kids" moment. So that's mostly what I try to give to you my loyal readers.

It provided me with quite the dilemma every time my kids produced some goldenly awful moment that was oh so blog worthy. I would go to post and then have that moment of, "but they'll be like, why is she having more when she can't handle the rug rats she already has!" I've decided that haters are going to hate so the stories must be shared regardless.

For the record, I love my kids and most of our daily moments are awesome. Awesome, but not funny so we'll skip those. Today, for instance. Today, was not great. I was up at 5am prepping for a big meeting and got my kids up early so we could go Starbucks for the meeting before 7am. Getting my kids up early never works out. Moe stole his brothers underwear, Larry refused to take his medication and curly just wandered the house aimlessly. I asked them to make their lunches, it turned into a screaming fight about vegetables and arguments over cheese that is apparently too creamy. This lovely morning culminated in a lost lunchbox that I decided HAD to be found that instant that put us 30minutes and a dirty trip under the bunk beds behind schedule.

We made it to school with tears, promises and threats. After school I decide to extend an olive branch. I was all, "screw this bad day, lets do a trust exercise!" You know, like you do. So I asked them to finish their homework In My office while I helped with a project on another part of campus. This turned into more tears, promises and threats as they just went completely haywire and accomplished nothing.

Then, in a moment that will surely haunt me and my sons future therapists, I threatened to take away Christmas. I explained to my 3 cherubs that they must have been possessed by aliens because my sons didn't behave like this and then explained in detail what skipping Christmas would mean if their behavior did not Improve. I was now THAT parent.

Then we went to Costco and I fed them dinner at 3:45pm. You know, like you do. Then we got home and I got them to bed and started feeling guilty. I posted my awful moment on Facebook, but don't worry, I took the high road and blamed my husband. That's what he gets for going on business trips. Plus curly gave me the idea when he tearfully explained that missing his daddy is probably why he's being bad.

So, there's your present. Merry Christmas! You are 110% guaranteed to have been a better parent than me today even if you're not a parent.

And finally, in this new thing I'm trying, here is my gushy moment of the day. The day sucked but today was still a huge win for me. Larry is going through some especially nasty stuff right now and I worry and worry and then stress about it. But today, even though he had an awful day, he ended it with a genuine smile and mirth filled moment when he heard my new ringtone. That smile made my entire week. Then on top of that I asked him to tell me a positive for his day and without hesitating he explained that listening to na mele sing today was awesome and that he was proud of his friends and loved it. I know you don't know the details, but this is huge people, huge! Love that kid:)