Thursday, October 3, 2013

Don't Cry Over Spilled Crayons

This blog tends to go silent for several weeks at a time...this is when all my stories are also somebody else's stories, and it doesn't seem right for me share things that they may not want out there. This has been the case for quite some time. These stories all involve my oldest son, who has been struggling with many things, for many years. I've mentioned them in passing on here, but always spared the details. But after yesterday...I have to say something. I'm working towards a degree in Early Childhood Education, and one of the classes I am currently taking is Special Education. Since it is an online class, all of the student-to-student interaction takes place in the virtual classroom; the discussion area. And as everyone knows, people say a lot of stupid things when they are allowed to make unfiltered comments on any given subject. Yesterday's comment thread was about a teacher whom did not want a certain child in her class because he was ADHD and had a learning disability. Her reasoning? He was too "goofy." He knocked the desks out of line when he sat down, spilled a box of crayons and put his feet against the basket of the desk in front of him. None of this was done maliciously, however, it was enough to label him as disruptive. I was outraged, and replied very candidly and possibly, too emotionally. One of the responses? Perhaps this child should be gradually introduced into the classroom so the teacher wouldn't feel "bombarded."

It shouldn't be about the teacher; if she is that overwhelmed by a child who spilled his crayons, then she needs to find a new f#@^ing job.

I think many people fail to see the child behind the disability. They are not ADHD, or dyslexic, or bipolar. They have it, which is a completely different thing. It does not define who they are as a person.

After nearly three years of art therapists, psychologists, assessments, tests, a research program and most recently, a comprehensive round of testing and interviews at the Attention, Behavior, Learning Clinic at CU, we finally have an official diagnosis of what our son has been going through. Childhood depression, Severe Anxiety Disorder, ADHD (of the inattentive variety) and a learning disability which is presenting as dyslexia. His working memory, the part that stores things like the multiplication table, does not work like most of ours. Every time he deals with something that involves rote memory, like the multiplication table, it is almost like it is the first time he has seen it. He has to relearn it over, and over. Yet, he is of average intelligence, average IQ and he is extremely compassionate, kind and thoughtful. He's funny. He's amazing. His brain just seems to be wired a bit differently. And if the above mentioned teacher thinks it is too difficult to handle a child with various different abilities, she should try being that child.

Yesterday, just like the majority of his days, my son comes home from school and lays on the sofa, with his back to me. He's crying. I sit by him and try to hold him. He doesn't want to be held. So I sit there, and try to talk to him. He won't talk. He eventually gets up and gets his sketchbook and writes in it. "I can't think, I can't think, my brain isn't working. I can't do anything. I can't focus. I don't know. I don't know. I have to go to the hospital. Help me. Help me. Help me. Help me. Help me. Help me." He fills three pages of similar statements, but some are so garbled that they are impossible to read; a mishmash of letters and words that deteriorate into nonsense. And the frustrating part, and I'm sure it's more so for him, is that many are words that he does know how to spell. I bought the sketchbook, hoping that maybe drawing would help him relax sometimes, but it's nearly filled from front to back with crying faces and his messy handwriting, repeating over and over how stupid he is, and how he can't do anything. Help me. Help me. And. I. Can't. Help. I can't help. He begs for me to take him to the hospital, because his head doesn't feel right. I imagine that crushing power of depression, and anxiety and then try to combine it with ADHD and dyslexia...

And I can't.

Because it's not fair. Any one of those things would be hard to deal with. Why all of them? He's nine. And he thinks he's stupid, and slow and that no one likes him. He's been suicidal. He's hurt himself. And he cries. And cries. And I can't help him. I can't make it go away. I can just sit next to him and share a bowl of popcorn while watching a painful episode of the A.N.T Farm, and hope that tomorrow will be a better day.

I wish a spilled box of crayons and a crooked desk were the only things he had to worry about.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Laundry does not equal love

I don't like doing laundry. I saw a sign once that read "I wake up everyday so very thankful that I have piles and piles of dirty underwear, brownish-colored socks, and sticky shirts to wash, because it means I am surrounded by those I love." Or something along those lines.


It kind of made me gag a little. OK. A lot.

Maybe I'm just not that thankful of a person, but for me, laundry does not equal love. It means I'm surrounded by dirty little people who don't even want to touch their own socks long enough to put them in the hamper. Granted, the hamper is a whole 3 feet away from their bedrooms. That is a completely unreasonable distance. I get it. Really, I do. Of course, it's much more fun to peel our socks off and launch them into the air, letting them fall where they will. At least the boys will get a few days out of a pair of those socks. If they aren't black they'll wear them for a several days, and I'm actually OK with that. I don't like to fold socks anyway. But my daughter...She doesn't wear things two days in a row. She doesn't wear things two hours in a row. It's simply unacceptable. There are too many choices. Breakfast is a casual affair, so anything goes. By lunchtime it's usually getting pretty hot outside, so a quick change of attire is appropriate. Afternoon snacks can warrant a wardrobe change, as can dinner. Which is fine. But all those clean clothes actually do end up making it into the hamper, and since I can't tell which is what, I end up washing them all over again. And then I wash them again. And again. Because I put them in the washer, then I forget about them.The mildew stench eventually draws me back to the laundry room, and I have to wash them again. On a good day, I can get 3-4 loads of laundry washed a day. Even if technically, it's the same load. I count that as a productive day.

But I shouldn't complain. I do get paid. The treasures I find in the dryer could pay for a trip to some exotic local.

That blue gem alone should, at the very least, buy me a trip to the bathroom without any kind of interruption for 10 minutes.    

But today? I struck gold! $7.00!

Then I realized that it was mine to begin with.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Good evening. Will that be the firework section, or the non-firework section?

The Fourth of July is a delicate thing for us. Last year, the fire ban canceled shows all over Colorado and even the common, legal kind of fireworks were banned. This was a tragedy for the 3 pyromaniacs in this family. (And  no doubt the many firework stands set up on every corner.) While I like watching them, it wasn't really a  huge deal for me, but for Delaney it was a blessing. She plays tough; climbs trees, brings worms home from school in her backpack, but she would rather wrestle the werewolf under her bed than watch fireworks.

When she was younger, I thought it was something she would just grow out of.

This year in June we took her to the firework show that our little town has during their "BBQ Days", thinking it would be fine. She was excited, and bounced around with the other kids, but the second the first one boomed through the sky she screamed, and within 30 seconds, she was literally trembling, sobbing and trying to climb under the chair. She was in a pure state of panic, like a wild animal, screaming that they were going to get her, and they were going to fall on her. I couldn't get her to the car, because it was too far away and she'd have to walk under them, so she huddled on my lap, buried under the blanket and cried and shook. I've never been so happy for a display to end, but not as happy, I'm sure, as she was.

Last night I thought she'd be OK because we just let off the little fountains and sparklers, but she kept finding reasons to go into the house: to the bathroom, to wash her hands, to get something, etc. She came inside and we put headphones on her, so she couldn't hear them. My dog used to be the one terrified, but now that he's going deaf, they don't bother him much. Now it's Delaney that panics. If I left her home alone, she'd rip up all the sofas and claw the doors.

I looked up the word for a firework phobia; apparently, it doesn't qualify as a phobia because it's not "irrational".  Seems pretty irrational when your child is clawing her way under a chair and screaming. Despite the fact that it's not a "real" phobia, it does have a variety of interesting names. I think the last one is my favorite...


Anyone else have a child who is so terrified of fireworks? Did it ever get any better?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I have wood!

"I need some mushrooms!"
"I have wood!"
"Do you have an egg I can spawn?"


My son and the neighbor girl are sitting side by side on the couch, their eyes glued to the screens in front of them. I begin to worry about what kind of game gives them wood, and the desire for mushrooms.

"What are you playing?" I ask.
"MINECRAFT!" They respond, in unison. Yes. Of course. Do any other games exist anymore? What happened the games with the amazing graphics, and lifelike murders? Suddenly, my children are obsessed with the game of blocks, and the graphics are reminiscence to my favorite game from childhood...

Pitfall! Anyone else remember that one? (Hated those scorpions.)

As for Minecraft, as far as I can tell, you build houses to hide from the creepers. They mine for gold, they kill sheep, cows and chickens. Yay! They made a gold,diamond, cobblestone and iron pickaxe! "Hurry! Go to sleep! It's dark. You can't mine at night! The spiders will get you!"
"I found cobblestone!"
"Armor! Look at my armor!" 
Photo courtesy of the Minecraft Wiki. Yes. They have their own Wiki.

I thought I was alone in this...the incessant, non-stop chatting in the car (you know, where you're trapped. No way out) about the game. It can go on for hours. But the more I talk to people about this, the more I realize that this phenomenon is not restricted to my child. It's a worldwide virus.

"The Enderman are the most powerful, but the Ender Dragons are even worse! You should see Steve!! HAHAHA! Blah, blah, blah, blah...right mom?"
"Um, yeah! That's great!" I'm pretty sure he was speaking in another language.
"I know! You should see the water slide I made! And I named my chicken Lego."

And yes...there is a Minecraft Wiki. Everything you've EVER wanted to know. Check out their "Popular and Useful Page" on Blocks. (But keep in mind, "this article is about the various blocks found in Minecraft. For the blocking with swords that reduces damage when performed, see Blocking.") ( )

Even my 6 year old daughter is getting into it, but she seems more interested in decorating her block house with...well...blocks.

I recently received an order for a Minecraft birthday cake. And now my son wants one, too. I have a feeling that before long, I'm going to become an expert on this game. I'll be adding a Minecraft forum to my blog before long. Keep an eye out.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

My a hoarder

 Last night while trying to tuck in my daughter, I tripped over a jump rope, which caused me to step onto her little coloring table, which spilled the broken crayons and stolen Sharpie markers all over the floor, and when I leaned down to pick them up, I saw the hamster poop.

We all have our limits.

 So, the kids weren't allowed to go out and play with their friends today until their rooms were cleaned. As a child, of course I remember the horror of those words. But the time for redemption had arrived.

Cleaning is not a hobby for any of my children, however it is always easier for the boys. They do share a room, so two kids vs. one room. And they aren't hoarders. When you keep a collection of all the price tags from all your clothes and stuffed animals hidden under your sheets, you might be a hoarder. When you keep every box from every toy you've ever received (and oftentimes the wrapping paper it came in) hidden in the closet, you are probably a hoarder. If you keep at least 6 water bottles stashed in your bed (just in case), you...yeah. You see where this is going. For example, after an hour and a half of cleaning your room, and you decide that this is the pinnacle of cleanliness:
Yeah. You might be a hoarder. You might need intervention.
You might be my daughter.

Several times, I have slipped in there and tried to secretly dispose of some of this stuff: like the size 2 toddler shorts in her drawer (that she insisted still fit), and various other...treasures. But they accumulate. They spawn. Like weeds.

A quick reenactment of the room cleaning experience, in HD, follows.

Delaney: "But it's my room! I LIKE IT THIS WAY! IT'S MY STUFF"
Me:   "Do you like spiders, too? Because they love messes like this. And that popcorn on the floor?
Mice like that. And who said you could even eat in your room?"
Nick: "MOM! I have to clean my closet, too? But, but, will be MIDNIGHT before I can play!"
Delaney: "MIDNIGHT!" she dramatically throws herself onto her bed, dislodging various stuffed animals, coloring books, a shoe, my lipstick (So that's where that went!) and other things best not to be examined to closely. "MIDNIGHT! I'LL NEVER GET TO PLAY! HOW COME I HAVE TO DO WHAT YOU SAY? I LIKE IT LIKE THIS! SCREEECH! WAIL! SOB! CRY! HUFF! SNIFFLE! IT WILL TAKE FOREVER!"
Me: "It will if you cry all day."
Me: "And when you're done please get the vacuum from Nick, and vacuum the floor please."
Me: "Because Sam and Nick are cleaning their own room, and you made this mess. You're the one that needs to clean it up."
Nick: "MOM! The vacuum is smoking!" 
Sam: Cough, choke..."UGH! It stinks! The vacuum is burning up!"
Delaney: "I can't clean my room! It smells too bad up here!" 

Depart stage.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Road Rage

The only inanimate object I have ever told to f*** off.

(Granted, I'm not much of a rebel, and I'll usually do what it tells me, but really! Would it hurt to say "please?" )

Picture courtesy of

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Swivel Sweepers

*I was talking to a friend today, and this memory popped up. Had to share! Originally posted  in 2010*

My son beat me downstairs this morning and had taken possession of the TV remote before I could pick a channel for him. By the rapt attention he was paying to the television, I feared he had stumbled upon a skin flick or some blood and guts, totally age inappropriate programming.

But no.

He was watching a vacuum infomercial. With more interest than he'd ever shown during an episode of Spongeboob. (And, yes. I did mean to add that extra 'o'.)

 The Swivel Sweeper. And apparently, we need one desperately.

"MOM! Did you see this?" he asks, as I come down the stairs. "It's AMAZING! Watch! WATCH! It picks up NAILS! And broken GLASS! And it bends so you can vacuum under beds!"

I've never vacuumed under a bed in my life and I don't intend to start now. And why can't you, you know, just pick up the nails? As for the broken glass? Any breakable item in our house had long been broken, so no problem there.

"And MOM! There's a secret button you push and all the stuff falls into the trash! Look! LOOK! You're going to miss it!"

"Wow, Nick. That's amazing. What do you want for breakfast?"

"MOM! You NEED one. Call that number! You get TWO for the PRICE OF ONE!"

Who are you, kid? Billie Mayes?

"I think our vacuum is fine. Do you want a waffle?"

"No! You need this one! It's AMAZING! LOOK! It bends! And it won't scratch the wall!"

I've never had a problem with my vacuum scratching the wall. Maybe I've been using it incorrectly.

"Why don't we watch "Oswald"?"

"NO! I'm watching this! IT'S AMAZING!"

I think I know what I'm getting the kid for Christmas this year.

Monday, June 17, 2013

"Seize the day, and put the least possible trust in tomorrow."

I took the kids through the McDonalds drive-through this afternoon to get some ice cream...three cones and a McFlurry. I pay, then pull up to the window to wait. And wait. And wait. Finally someone comes to the window with the McFlurry, and then stands there staring at me, waiting for me to leave.
"Umm...we had three cones, too," I say.
"We're out of ice cream cones," he says.
Out of ice cream cones. Of course. Silly me. He keeps standing there.
"I already paid...?"
"Oh. Do you want sundaes, or something?" he asks. My youngest starts screeching from the back seat that he wants a chocolate dipped cone. I quickly order three more McFlurries, determined to get my  moneys worth. I pull out of the parking lot annoyed, trying to ignore my son who is still whining over the ice cream, and then I find I can't get onto the highway because a woman is sitting in the middle of the intersection for no apparent reason. When she finally made her mind up to as what she was doing, I couldn't go because the light changed and I had to sit through another red light. SIGH. Even more annoyed.

I get home and read through Facebook while I eat my ice cream. The usual inspirational quotes, pictures of people's food...buried in all that, I read that a local man was killed in a car crash, and while the name was familiar it took me a second. Then I realize that he was the son of one of the most amazing teachers my kids have ever had; the kindergarten teacher that taught my both my older children, and the teacher that I will beg for my youngest to have. The teacher that inspired me to go back to school to get a degree in early childhood education. And my heart broke. While I was annoyed over ice cream cones, a wonderful, inspiring woman had just lost her son. A family had just been torn apart and changed forever, and I was upset because I had to sit through a red light.

I can get so caught up in the little things, the annoying things that drive me nuts, all those petty things that seem to ruin a good mood. And suddenly, I'm given some perspective. As a parent, there can't possibly be anything worse than losing a child. There are no words.

All my love, sympathy and prayers go out to the family. I am so, so sorry.

"Seize the day, and put the least possible trust in tomorrow."

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Vacation Planning on a Budget (preferrably one that doesn't include murderous elves)

We’re trying to plan a vacation for this summer, and while I’m all for a week on the beach with alcoholic drinks, I do have to take into consideration the kids, and what they want. So...what do they want? They want to back to the scary, nearly abandoned “North Pole” amusement park in Colorado Springs. We went to a few years ago, and it was quite possibly one of the most bizarre places I’ve ever been. One good thing? There were no lines. No one else on the rides. My theory? The remaining guests were being slaughtered in Santa's Workshop.

 Real life action shots of the "North Pole." 
This one is of obviously benign elves waving cheerfully, while their comrade smashes a prairie dog with a hammer.

Kids, remember Fluffy? Your beloved cat? Yeah? He didn't really go to live on that farm. Santa has him.
Nothing menacing here, run along now, run along. RUN!

 So, as charming as the North Pole was, we asked if they had any other ideas which really, in hindsight, was a stupid thing to do. "Disneyland! Yay!" The most magical (translation: expensive) place on earth. Of course. But I did some research...3 days at 1 park ticket. Can't be that bad. That's only...let's see...$209 under age 10...and HOLY HELL! For $1,093 our family of five could spend 3 blissful days in the park. But to be fair, it does include a "Magic Morning." (Quite frankly, I'd be just as happy with the "Magic Fingers" bed. After all, they just take quarters, right?) But, if we slept on park benches, and ate out of trash cans, I can see it. 

Just need to check flights...William Shatner and I did some serious negotiating, and we came up with...$1,345.00. Really? Technically, if you look at the US map we're only about a couple of inches away from LA. That's like what? About $600 an inch? And personally? I've lost all respect for William. You know, I thought he was on my side. He seemed so...sincere. I thought he really cared. I'm starting to think he's just in it for the money.

That's as far as we've made it. Summer may be over before we decide on an mutually acceptable, reasonably priced vacation. I may just lock the kids out of the house for a few weeks, and tell them they're camping.


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