You Have Problems

My daughter had a friend over last week. They were playing in her room when I heard the friend say, “You have problems.” My daughter responded with an amused, “No, I don’t.” and continued to play. The friend repeated it a few more times. “You have problems.”

“No, I don’t have problems.”

“Yes you do have problems. My mom told me you have problems.”

I was sitting in the living room listening to this exchange with my gut slowly shriveling up inside me with hurt and dread and guilt. What do you say in that kind of situation? I called the friend into the living room and politely asked her to stop saying that to my daughter and that if she continued to say it, I would send her home. The friend meekly complied. For about 2 minutes. Then I heard some furious whispering and my daughter burst out of her room crying, ran down the hall and out the door. I ran after her, worried and upset for her. She told me she didn’t want to play with her friend anymore because she was being mean. I wasn’t sure what to say to her, so I thought about what I would do if someone was being mean to me in my own house.

“If your friend continues to be mean and you don’t want to play with her anymore, you can ask her to go home. You don’t have to play with friends who are mean to you.” I wasn’t sure if she’d do it. My daughter’s self-esteem is low and she is so social and loving that she puts up with a lot from other kids for the chance to play with them.

I sat back down in the living room. Playing commenced. About 2 minutes went by when the friend whispered something else and my daughter said, in a clear and loud voice, “You’re being mean and I want you to go home.”

The friend left the house crying and I called her mom to let her know she was walking home (a few houses down) and why she was crying. I can describe the conversation with one word: awkward. When I hung up with the mom, I was still upset. Not at the friend, or even at the mom who told her daughter that my kid had problems, but just generally upset that this was probably just the tip of the iceberg to come. Being hurt by your friends sucks. Watching your child get hurt by her friends sucks about a thousand times more.

That night while I was making dinner, my daughter sat down at the table and asked me if she had problems.

“Do you think you have problems?” I countered.

“No.”

“Then you don’t have any problems.” And I meant it. Because, who doesn’t have problems? If you feel good about yourself and you are functioning well in society, you’re doing just fine. And if anyone tells you otherwise, just tell them to go home.

The Ride is Over

rollercoasters in cities venice frozen over nois7 surreal photos images manipulations RThe roller coaster goes up. And then it comes down.

I hit my emotional limit last month dealing with my child’s mental health issues. Five weeks later and I feel like I’m sitting on the bench watching the rides from a distance. With a correct diagnosis, we have received more help and support from the “system” than I even knew existed. We started a mood stabilizer that has changed the lives of everyone in my house. We are receiving In Home Support from 2 Master’s Level LCSWs who call themselves Behavior Health Professionals, or BHPs, 10 hours per week.

I have a Case Manager who has been educating me on all of the programs and resources available to our family. She does all the research and paperwork and we are reaping the benefits. My daughter got a scholarship to take Therapeutic Horseback Riding lessons at a local farm. We are looking into other social activities for her as well. Although, I must say, one activity at a time is all we’re taking on at the moment.

On one hand, I have been super busy implementing all the treatment plans we have been given, juggling appointments and blocks of time the BHPs are here. We still have day camp, trips to the beach, trips to the lake, bike riding, hiking, and spending time with friends. (My kids, not me, unfortunately.) On the other hand, my life hasn’t been this calm in a long time. I’ll take calm and busy any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

The biggest miracle that has occurred from all this? My daughter is SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT!!!! Ever since we started the mood stabilizer, everyone in the house is getting continuous sleep at night. It may not sound like much when compared to the other improvements in behavior and mood, but let me tell you, I am a better person and a better parent after 5 weeks of being able to sleep through the night. This is the first time in six and a half years that I have felt rested.

Only three more weeks until school starts! This mama, as calm as she is, is really ready for the fall.

Remember Veruca Salt?

I’m not talking about the band, either. The all time classic movie from my childhood is Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. If you are anywhere near my age, or if you have just seen the original movie (I won’t even comment on the creepiness of the Johnny Depp remake), you will remember Veruca Salt.

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Oh yeah. There she is as we best remember her – demanding something that she wants. Of all the children’s characters in that movie, Veruca Salt stands out. Why? Because she has personality. Yes, she’s a spoiled brat. Yes, she is pretty unlikable and we feel sorry for her father in the movie, being saddled with such a termagant for a kid. But maybe Veruca is misunderstood. She’s a little girl begging for attention from her parents, who are too busy for her and instead indulge her every whim so that they don’t have to deal with any confrontation.

Look at that sweet face. All she wanted was a golden egg! Geez!

 

You’re thinking, What’s the point of all this, Tamara? The point, my dears, is that we remember Veruca because of her distinct personality. Actually, she’s my favorite character in the movie because she completely cracks me up. That girl knows how to get what she wants.

I keep this thought in my head when I’m dealing with the little quirks of my own children’s personalities. This morning, I dropped my son off for his last day of nursery school. He was wearing his favorite Spiderman t-shirt and matching shorts. He was also wearing his Spiderman winter cap and red gloves. He refused to take them off before we left because he said that wearing them makes him Spiderman. So Spiderman/Chase went to school in a winter hat and gloves because I figure, hey, that’s just his personality. Who cares if it looks a little ridiculous; it’s pretty cute if you ask me.

And when my daughter wears her bathing suit to school under her clothes and removes said clothes on the bus in the morning? Okay, okay, I think. It’s just a Veruca Salt. She’s just being who she is, my quirky little firecracker who thinks she looks pretty in her bathing suit.

I grew up with a strong personality. I, too, know how to get what I want. So when my kids are testing my limits with all those personality quirks that make them who they are, I tell myself that they’ll turn out all right. Because I was quirky too and look how great I turned out.

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An Introvert’s Guide to Parenting

Hi, my name is Tamara and I’m an introvert. One of the many, many things that I didn’t know about parenting when I was newly wedded and dreaming of babies is that your entire social sphere is altered irreparably by the appearance of a mini-you.

When you become a parent:

Strangers Will Feel Urged to Talk to You. It’s like some invisible door has been opened and people feel comfortable stepping on through to chat. If you are outside of the house and are toting a kid (or two), people feel some sort of common bond with you. Which means they will strike up a conversation. Anywhere you go. You’re standing in the grocery store staring at the wall of spaghetti sauces and trying to decide which one you want while simultaneously remembering something stupid you said 15 years ago and (on the other side of your brain) trying to debunk Sartre’s Existentialist Philosophy. A stranger will roll on up into your peripheral vision and smile and make some benign comment about your kids. Or about children in general. Or (my favorite) ask you a stupid question. Like, “Oh my God, they are so cute! Are they twins?” when, really, your kids are different genders and 2 years apart in age.

This stranger-speaking phenomenon will begin the moment you are obviously pregnant. During your pregnancy, the stranger speaking to you may also touch you. You will, most assuredly, hear at least one terrifying birth/parenting story that will haunt you for the next three months.

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Kids will invite your kids to birthday parties. Hello personal nightmare. No matter the venue, it’s loud, it’s crowded, it’s overwhelmingly visually stimulating and you will need to try to keep track of where your child is at all moments while mingling with complete strangers. These parties can last for hours. And you can’t leave whenever you want because a) they haven’t sung Happy Birthday yet, b) you don’t want to offend the parents of your kid’s friend or c) you’re parked in and would have to ask 5+ strangers to move their cars. Did I mention that it’s loud? And crowded?

You have to go places you would never had visited before. There are baby clothes stores, baby furniture stores, photography studios, school functions, school field trips, your neighbors’ houses, ER visits, pediatricians, pediatric eye doctors, any number of specialists if your pediatrician thinks something is wrong with your child’s development. You will visit water parks, amusement parks, local parks and playgrounds packed with other parents who will want to chat because they haven’t spoken to another adult all day long. You will, at least once, set foot in a kid-centric restaurant/playland for birthday parties. See above.

Eventually, your kids will want to leave the house. This will bother you since you can’t think of anything more fun than hanging out at home. In elastic waistband pants. Your kids, on the other hand, will be able to think of numerous places outside of the house and yard that they would like you to take them. See above.

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You will dread drop-off/pick-up and/or the wait at the bus stop. The drive-by drop-off is always preferred by the introvert, but sometimes that’s not an option. You will be mingling with the other parents while you drop off and pick up. You will have to stand at the bus stop with a group of other parents from your neighborhood and make *shudder* small talk. (This introvert will say that once you get to know the parents, this won’t bother you anymore. You will look forward to chatting with the one or two parents that you know.)

You will have to do all these things without letting your kids know they bother you, because you don’t want to inadvertently teach them to be uncomfortable in the same circumstances.

Can my other introverted parents out there think of anything I missed?

It’s a Crazy Life

I have been a bad, bad girl as far as blogging goes. I haven’t even been able to keep up with the reading of other people’s blog posts. This is a crazy time of year for me. We’ve got Christmas, which having 2 kids in school has made infinitely more complicated, and then both kids’ birthdays.

The good news is, I am done Christmas shopping. Kids, niece and nephew, all the grandparents, and 3 teachers. Done! And I just got the final package from Amazon with the birthday presents. Once my Christmas card order gets here, I will be done waiting for packages. We still have one Kindergarten “Holiday Concert” to attend, one pre-school Christmas party to attend and bring food for and one Kindergarten party to provide food for.

I have been going for Physical Therapy for the last 6 weeks. It is awesome and I am pain free most days. We are still working on my “neuromuscular re-education” as they put it, but it works. I have 2 appointments a week to schedule into my weeks, around the times for school drop-offs, bus stop drop-offs, shopping without kids time, and Caylie’s doctors’ appointments.

Caylie started seeing a counselor about a month ago, so I’ve been carting my kids to that appointment once a week. And we are seeing a Behavior Specialist once a month for Caylie as well, which I’m factoring into the juggling act of my appointment/commitment schedule.

Most recently, my insomniac almost 6 year old has developed some kind of phobia about going to sleep. So after a couple of months of being able to sleep through the night, we are back to sleep deprivation and the new behavior of our child having a major panic attack at bed time.

That’s been my life between blog posts. Oh, and I’m almost done with the first draft of my novel. I think, if I can actually get some writing time in when Mike’s on vacation for Christmas, I can have it finished by the end of the month! Take that, crazy, boring life! Bam!

Merry Christmas everyone! And Happy Holidays if you celebrate something else, or nothing at all! I’ll catch you again next year.

A Christmas (Shopping) Story

Oh the joys of the season. Crowded stores playing crappy, overdone Christmas music. Shopping elbow to elbow with strangers while you sweat like a beast in your winter jacket. Getting to the aisle that houses the item you wanted and finding that they’re all sold out. You peruse the picked over shelves until your eyes glaze over and you go into a coma. Can you tell I hate Christmas shopping?

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My worst nightmare!

Retail therapy doesn’t usually feel therapeutic when I attempt it during the holidays. But today. Ah, my friends. Today I got the all time shopper’s high.

I want to get my kids some sort of tablet this Christmas and have been reading all the website reviews of the different tablets that are good for kids and yada, yada, yada. I had it narrowed down to either the Leapfrog Leap Pad 2, or a Kindle Fire. Since I’ve got a budget for Christmas shopping, either of these gifts would put me at the top of the budget. And just as I was about to buy them each a Kindle, I see that Walmart (I know, I know, they’re horrible and I shouldn’t give them business) is having a Pre-Black Friday sale and that the Leap Pad 2 is 50% off the normal price. So, this Christmas shopping hater, this avoid-crowded-places-at-all-costs introvert, deigned to attend a holiday sale event. The sale started at 8 a.m. Friday morning. I dropped Caylie off at school and walked into Walmart at 8:07 a.m. And they were sold out of the Lap Pad 2s. A staff member tells me that they’re offering the same price online. I drive home, take my wallet into the office and log onto the website. Just as I’m clicking the “check-out” button, I get a message telling me that the item I want is currently out of stock. It wasn’t even 9 a.m.

Now I guess I’m still a Christmas-shopping-for-kids newbie because this is the first time I have wanted to get them a gift that was, apparently, the hottest gift of the season. I’ve been having flashbacks to the 80s when all I wanted for Christmas was a Cabbage Patch doll. People were being trampled in the stores trying to buy them and much to my self-centered 9 year-old’s dismay, I didn’t get a Cabbage Patch that year. My parents just couldn’t get one.

I suppose at this point I could just go buy the Kindles that I was originally intending to get. But the Kindles and the 2 sets of headphones I purchased so I don’t have to listen to video game music would be the only things I could get them for Christmas. The 50% off sale would let me get 2 for the price of one and give me almost $100 left over to get more presents. My female shopper’s logic leaves only one conclusion: I spend the next few days going to the 2 local stores in my area to see if any more Lead Pads have come in. I check the website every few hours to see if they are back in stock. I’m out of luck.

And then, cue the music, I force my husband to take me to Walmart this morning and lo and behold… there is one lone pink Leap Pad 2 on the shelf and I snatched it up just as another mother turned the corner with her shopping cart! Ha! Take that bitch! I got the last one! I feel like dancing. My husband witnesses first hand the shopper’s high he’s heard so much about. I’ve been in a good mood all day! I picked up a green one for Chase on Amazon.com where they were selling for $20 more than the Walmart sale price. So I still saved some money. And if I went over the budget just a teensy bit, Mike will just have to bite the bullet.

I may hate Christmas shopping, but I love watching my kids when they open those presents on Christmas morning.

My Real Day

I keep re-reading my blog post about my imaginary day. It just sounds so lovely and relaxing. Then I thought, maybe I should show my wonderful followers what a real day looks like for me.

6 a.m. The alarm goes off, jarring me awake.. But I have discovered that my sound machine/alarm clock has a wind chime tone. I awake to wind chimes chiming, as I slap at the clock to make it STOP. Then I roll over and pull the covers over my head while mumbling unintelligibly about the unnaturalness of waking up when it’s still dark.

6:30 a.m. I get up and pour big bowls of Fruity Pebbles for everyone. What? It has the word fruit in it.

7:50 a.m. I drop Caylie at school and drive north for a 9 a.m. appointment. On the way, Chase and stop at a store and buy dental floss to kill some time and keep our gums healthy.

9 a.m. My Physical Therapist guides me through a series of movements so she can evaluate my pelvic movement, gait, and muscle alignment. I’m totally jacked up on my entire left side. She then guides me through a session of stretches to open up my rib cage and stretch the muscle that attaches my pelvis to my ribs. Easy schmeezy.

10:30 a.m. Muscles I didn’t realize I had in my back are starting to ache.

11 a.m. I make lunch for Chase and myself. Then I talk on the phone while I throw dinner in the crockpot. Eventually, I remember that I have a lunch waiting for me to eat it.

12 p.m. Chase and I dance around the living room doing ninja moves. We pretend we’re Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and are obnoxiously loud with our kiai as we make our pretend hits. My neighbors were surely eating themselves up with jealousy at our boisterousness.

12:30 p.m. I throw in a load of laundry. I finish the erotic vampire urban fantasy romance novel that I started yesterday. Then I grab my Kindle and cruise Facebook and check my emails in a semi-quiet house. (I replaced the batteries in Chase’s Imaginext T-Rex. It provided hours of me-time).

1:30 p.m. I put in a second load of laundry. I fold my first load of laundry. Then I start cleaning my house. I’ve been so lazy about cleaning lately that this proves to be a daunting task. Chase provides running commentary on how well things are looking while I put away toys.

2:50 p.m. We walk to the bus stop and wait for Caylie. The balmy 47 degree day in Maine makes my newfound back muscles feel like they will shatter with any sudden movements.

3:15 p.m. I break up a fight over the newly noisy T-Rex and wish that I had a nanny.

3:30 p.m. I put on a movie for the kids and write a blog.

4 p.m. I’m off to fold my second load of laundry while my crockpot cooks a pot roast.

Bet you’re wondering what will happen next! So exciting! I’ll give you a preview of what’s to come: We’ll eat, clean up, nag my daughter to get ready for bed, brush teeth, sing lullabies, yell at the kid who keeps coming out of her room while we’re trying to watch a horror movie and I’ll be asleep by 9:30 p.m. Riveting, isn’t it?