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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Glitter Poop and Gluey Lips

I just banished my children to the basement to play. They have been loud and exuberant and hyper for hours now. Away they go to where Mommy can't hear them quite as clearly.

You wouldn't believe the crazy things that have happened in this house lately. One night I was making dinner. Aidan and Ella were taking turns wrapping each other's heads in toilet paper, including their eyes, and leading each other around the house declaring they were mummies. It was all fantastic fun until Aidan accidentally led Ella The Mummy into the corner of the wall, nose first. That ended the mummy game.

One evening as I was doing dishes, I noticed Ella was being very quiet in the other room where she was doing an art project. I went in to check on her, and she was applying a nice, thick coat of purple glue stick to her lips. That girl is addicted to lipstick, and apparently couldn't contain her enthusiasm for all things lipsticky when she was alone with her glue stick. She said through her stuck-together lips "Mi'm sommy mommy." 

While I was cleaning Ella's gluey lips off, Ollie the dog decided to eat a bunch of the glittery stickers Ella had been using to do her art project. I'm on the lookout for glitter-speckled poop in the back yard. Today he also decided it was a good idea to eat Ella's Chef Boyardee ABC's and Meatballs. His beard is now orange. He is getting a bath tomorrow.

One afternoon this week as I was upstairs putting laundry away, I hear Jonah shriek and yell my name. Great, I thought, what now. Jonah had stapled right through his finger. He had pulled the staple out, but was bleeding. Luckily Dr. Mom was on duty. Why don't my dear children think before they do something like staple their fingers?

Today Jonah stabbed the roof of his mouth with his curly straw. I don't know how this even is possible, but leave it to my son. Blood everywhere. Again.

I was going to put up some pictures on the wall next to my side of the bed this week. Until I noticed that one of my little artists had already decorated it for me. With swirls of thick chapstick. And glow-in-the-dark stickers. And boogers. I'm not kidding. All over my wall. What child thinks that combination is a good one??

Then there's always Ben's Knot Socks. One of his compulsions is to tie the ends of his socks into knots. Then bite them until they are tight and impossible to untie. These are not clean socks, by the way, they're the ones he's worn all day. I find Knot Socks all over the house. I have tried everything I can think of to deter him from making Knot Socks. I bought tighter socks but then he can hardly get his feet into them and fusses about that and then I have to help him put his socks on even more frequently than I already normally do and that annoys me and I can't get his feet in the tighter socks either, so I gave up that idea and gave the tight socks to Aidan who has thin little fish feet. I have to throw away the Knot Socks. You just can't get them undone. When I have convinced my darling to not make Knot Socks, he chews his shirts to shreds. Or cuts them with scissors. What is wrong with this child? I got Ben and Aidan all kinds of really cool chewy things, but they would rather chew on their shirts, dirty socks, and nails. 

Speaking of nails, Aidan has a compulsion to cut things too. Especially his own hair and nails. We keep scissors out of the way because of this, but nail clippers seem harmless and I'm happy that I only have to trim Ella's nails now because the boys all do their own. Or bite them until there is nothing left to trim. Aidan clips his nails in order to relax. The other night he was screaming bloody murder because he had accidentally clipped his big toenail too low and it was bleeding. That was a lesson in what happens when you cut too much off of your finger and toenails! 

Meanwhile, Ella continues her nightly Mama-wake-up calls. She has the sniffles, which makes her nights worse. I usually sleep with her for a couple hours in the middle of every night, then sneak back to my room, then she sneaks into our bed and keeps me up the rest of the night. One night this week Ella came into our bed to sleep. I use the term "sleep" loosely. She laid in our bed and begged to watch Sponge Bob for 2 1/2 hours. And sneezed all over me the entire time. I can't figure out why I'm exhausted and have a cold…

Sometimes this life is really a circus. And you really just have to laugh. Because when you think of all the little crazy things that happen in a week, it's pretty hilarious. I think the common theme is that Mama should never turn her back for a single second. When I turn my back, fingers get stapled, glue is applied as lipstick, boogers are applied as art, and the dog ends up with glittery poop.


Mama Love

Our Valentine's week has been one full of heart break for the boys. One day, Jonah was home from school because he was sick. At one point, he was very upset because he felt so sick he was afraid he was going to miss school on Valentine's Day. And he was upset because the school doesn't do any parties or celebrations of Valentine's Day. (So I'm not sure why he was distraught, because he really wasn't going to miss anything anyway, but I just played along.) I assured him if he was sick, we were going to have our own family Valentine's party at dinnertime anyway, so the day would not go unnoticed. That made him feel better.

That same day, Aidan walked in the door from school and before he could even undo his 7 layers of winter clothing and backpack items, he dissolved into tears in my arms. He was weeping against my heart, just weeping as only Aidan can do. When he cries sometimes he is so deeply sad, you can feel it radiating from his every pore. I thought wow, this is going to be a doozy. I finally convinced him to tell me what was wrong. He said he has NEVER won a raffle at school. And that makes him so so sad. Poor boy. We talked about how sometimes you don't win. And you have to find a way to be ok with that. And then I had to modify my lecture to include "sometimes you NEVER win" so he would feel I was really hearing him about his distress in NEVER winning.

That same day, Ben walked in the door from school. And before HE could undo his considerably fewer layers of winter clothing and binder (he's in middle school now- apparently warm clothes and backpacks are just. not. cool. It's better to freeze to death and cart around all your school stuff in a big, busting-open binder.), he literally dissolved into a pool of angry tears on the entry-way rug. I hugged him and asked him what was wrong with HIM. He said the activity at school that he had been very excited about was terrible. The 6th grade class had participated in an Iditarod race similar to the dog sled race in Alaska, only our kids got to take turns riding in a sled and pulling the sled around a marked course. Ben had been over the moon about doing this, so I was surprised that he was so upset about it.

Ben said that he had been so slow. His team had yelled at him the whole time to go faster, or they would loose because of him. He went as fast as his little legs would take him, helping to pull the sled over snow, but it wasn't fast enough. He was completely exhausted physically and mentally and emotionally. Totally spent. It had been a devastating experience for him and I was so sad for him. His body hadn't let him do what he wanted to do, and he was so disappointed. 

Some things Mama can't fix. So all I could do was snuggle up with Ben and Ella in our "Red Chair" and try to undo Ben's angst with Mama Love that poured into him as we hugged. All I could do was to hug Aidan through his tears and give him Mama Love too. And hold Jonah as he worried about Valentine's Day and give him Mama Love too. Sometimes all a Mama can do is be there.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Suicide

I've always wanted to be a mom. Always. And I always wanted to be the kind of mom who talks to her kids about anything. Any questions they have, I would tell them the truth. I would teach them the correct names for body parts- no "woowies" and "flub dubs" at our house. Only the right names. Knowledge is power.

I expected to talk to my kids about the dangers of drugs and drinking. Peer pressure. Drinking and driving. Sex. Puberty. Religion. Their diagnoses. IEP's. Death. Anything they have questions about, I was prepared to discuss. Parents help shape their children's view of right and wrong, the world, themselves. I know it's important for me to tell my kids what my views and opinions are so they have that knowledge, and as they grow can make their own decisions about things.

With my kids, I always walk on the side of caution when giving them information. I want them to have correct information, but not too much info that they're overwhelmed and developmentally not ready for the overload. I want to make sure they're mature enough to handle the information. I try to answer just their questions, without launching into a monologue of facts that they aren't really wondering about. When one of my boys asked about armpit stink, he wasn't asking for the whole Birds and the Bees talk, he was just asking why bodies change. I listen carefully to the question the kids are asking before I answer.

When one of the boys mentioned condoms while talking with his grandparents, I had to explain that condoms were not just used as water balloons on You Tube, and that it's not socially appropriate to talk about birth control with grandparents in the way he did. When my 7-year-old asked "What is ejaculation?" and his older brothers snickered with embarrassment and Daddy said "Ummmmmm..." and looked at me, I took a deep breath and launched into the explanation. Even this, I expected. Is it uncomfortable at times? Yes. But I just deal with it and talk about everything like it's no big deal (which really makes Daddy squirm, much to my amusement), just a fact of life that the kids are wondering about. My hope is that they feel they can come to me anytime, about anything, always.

Then there are things that I never in a million years thought I'd have to talk to my kids about in order to prepare them for life.

We've talked about how if the kids see a real gun at a friend's house, they are supposed to come right home. Don't touch the gun, don't play anymore, just come home and tell me. 

We've had to talk about why my 2nd grader's school had to have a lockdown. It was terrifying for him. Everything turned out safely, but the kids don't know why they need to huddle and be silent while the lockdown is happening. I used to pass schools and have a sense of warmth in my heart. All good things happen in schools. You learn there, you make friends there, you grow there. Sure, there are hard assignments and trouble with peers, but overall, it's a place that helps you grow and nurtures you. Now I pass schools and get a sense of the ominous, troubled people who might be inside, or outside, that might cause pain or death. I worry when my kids go to school about what will happen to them that day- will they do ok on a test, will they be teased because they have tics, will they remember to bring their book home, will they eat at least a little bit for lunch, will someone go crazy and try to shoot them? What is happening to this world when that is what you think of when you put your kids on the school bus in the morning?

Last week we heard about an 11-year-old boy who attempted suicide because of how much he was being bullied at school for liking a toy that is considered by many a "girl" toy. Ben and Jonah had heard about this boy and we were talking about it. I told them if they are ever bullied or teased for anything, they have to tell me or Dad. Nothing is worth dying over. The boys were sort of giggling because I was so serious about all of this. I finally said to them, with tears in my eyes, that I can imagine what it must be like for this little boy's mom and dad. I can imagine what it must be like to have a little boy who wants to die instead of deal with the hell that is his life every day. I told them this is serious. Don't you EVER commit suicide. TELL me what is happening and we will do every single thing in our power to help you and make you whole again. There is nothing you can't tell me. I will always be here for you, I will always walk to the ends of the Earth to help you. If you ever hear a friend say they want to kill themselves, it's your responsibility to tell a grownup, because you may save your friend's life. If you ever feel like hurting yourself, please please please just tell me. I will help you. 

The boys became serious and promised they would tell me if they ever needed help. 

This is not something I planned to have to ever talk to my children about.

But some families do have to talk about this kind of thing. The boys have a mood disorder. Tourettes. ADHD. Anxiety. Depression. One of them can be very angry. When he is raging, he is not thinking. What if he tries to hurt himself during a rage? One of them is very depressed. What if he just feels he has fallen so deep into his hole of darkness that nothing is worth living for? 

There are things that I don't want to talk to my kids about because I feel like if I utter certain words, then those dark, haunting, horrible things become a reality. If I talk to my 11-year-olds about suicide, then it's real that a boy their age tried to kill himself. If I talk to my 8-year-old about his lockdown at school, then it becomes a reality that there are crazy people out there who try to hurt innocent babies while they're at the one place they should be the safest. 

It would be easy for me to let my own anxiety control my life. I always say to Alex I want to move to somewhere where there is no one else around. No danger of people shooting you while you learn your ABC's. No danger of being bullied because you like a "girl" toy. I don't think there actually is a place like this, but I wish there was. I wish I could keep my kids all in my house, safe, until...I don't know when. Until the world is safer, I guess.

I realize that will never happen. There is danger everywhere, there are accidents that just happen, there is sadness. My exuberance for life will not let my anxiety for my children win. Even though there are crazy people and crazy things in the world, there are so many more incredible, amazing things. Just the fact that we're all alive and here and can make a difference- big or small- in someone else's life, that's a gift. 

So I just try to deal with the Kid Questions as they come. As we experience life together, I answer their wonderings as best I can, knowing my answers, like me, aren't perfect. But I just try my best. I let them know that in Real Life, bad things do happen. But good things happen too. 

When you think about all the things I've had to talk to the kid about, suddenly talking to them about sex doesn't seem so bad.