Monday, November 24, 2008

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

Ever since I had Kiki, I have suffered insomnia. I have always assumed that it was because of hormones, but now I wonder if it isn't because I became a mom, with all those fears and worries that accompany that job description.

Yesterday, we adopted a kitten. He is a lovely little boy, hand raised because he had no mother, wonderfully affectionate and sweet. Amber, the lone kitty in residence up to this point, was aggravated with Pancho's presence initially, so we put the new cat and his litter box in Nita's room for the night and shut the door.

Then I went to bed, and the games began. Amber fussed and yodeled because she knew the usurper was in the other bedroom and she had not finished having words with him. Pancho nannie-nannie-boo-booed at her under the door and partied on the hardwood floor, jumping on and off furniture, and perhaps doing some demolition projects, judging by the noise level. Dirty Harry had met the cat and approved of him, but he didn't get enough quality time and wasn't settling last night, so he itched and scratched at his allergies for hours. Penny whined and couldn't get comfortable, and Nash remained alert, making Chewbacca noises and sitting up, just in case that new cat had the audacity to try to come down to "his" room.

The rabbits, sensing the tension, weren't resting well, either. I dozed off eventually, only to jolt awake when one of the bunnies shrieked in his sleep. This, of course, set off a chain reaction of even more wakefulness, making it impossible for me to relax. Eventually, I got up and took a sleeping pill. When I got back to bed, EG commenced conducting music lessons in his sleep. So much for dropping off--I should have gotten a guitar and joined in.

The grandfather clock struck every fifteen minutes, reminding me on a regular basis that I was still quite awake and irritating me a little bit more each time I heard it. I did finally drop off after five o'clock, but the regular time for rising around here is ten to six, so there wasn't a lot of time for snoozing, no matter how efficient I might be.

Hopefully tonight will be better.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wandering mind

Just a few minutes ago, Rocky asked me, "Is Joe Biden Barack Obama's father?"

Make room for daddy at the White House.

Kiki came home from school today and announced that she got the part of Fan, Scrooge's sister, in A Christmas Carol.

"She's dead," she added.

"So it's not a speaking part?" I asked.

"No, she talks."

And I thought Halloween was last month. Kind of a Tim Burton motif, perhaps?

Nita came in from outdoors and asked, "Is Jesus a bad word?"

I told her, "It depends on how you use it."

"Well, I fell down, and it just slipped out."

This didn't surprise me, as she is my strong-willed child, the one with the temper.

I looked at her.

She quickly informed me, "So to make up for it, I did ten Hail Marys, the Act of Contrition, the Apostle's Creed, and to make sure, The Pledge of Allegiance."

Covering both church and state, I guess.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Simple Gifts

I am one of those people who never can suggest what I want for Christmas.

I do have to say that my sister has always been very creative in her gift giving, but I know that I am difficult to buy for. I just don't care about stuff. I don't wear jewelry every day, I don't collect knicknacks, and I don't care about clothes beyond comfort and appropriateness. I have carried the same handbag for two years--it is a name brand, albeit not a designer bag, and I bought it at Goodwill for two bucks.

Anyway, my point is not to brag about how I am so saint-like in my simplicity, which would be the ONLY thing which would be remotely saint-like about me, but to reflect on something which happened last night.

The children take turns saying grace at dinner each night. Whenever it is Rocky's turn, he comes up with a version, thought up on the fly, which he delivers at warp speed:


Then he launches himself into his plate. By his own admission, he just wants to get the formalities over with so he can get to the food as quickly as possible. Never mind that the "beaufulday" has been cold, with rain and hail and sleet and a tornado which caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage and several deaths. He just wants to get to the chow.

We have given him a printed prayer to use. He butchers it to the point of hilarity. "Which we are about to receive from your bounty" becomes "which we are about to receive wrapped in Bounty."

It does little to honor the solemnity of the occasion when the girls are falling out of their chairs in hysterics.

We have talked to him about keeping this simple, settling for something shorter from the heart, and asking him during other times of the day what he is thankful for. He can't answer that. We also talk about the option of asking for blessings for others who aren't as fortunate. Consequently, again to be efficient, I guess, he comes up with things like, "I am thankful that we don't live in an area where men come into our house with machine guns and kill us. And the rabbits." I guess these men are dog lovers. Or, "I am thankful that we don't have horrible diseases and we're not color blind." Or, my all-time favorite, "I am thankful that the pool didn't get destroyed by a hurricane today." (It was seventy five degrees, sunny and clear, we live in Ohio, and there were no hurricanes in the weather forecast anywhere.)

So I have been looking at prayers for little children. I am hoping that Rocky won't be forty and still reciting, "God is great, God is good, let us thank him for our food. Amen." However, I did stress simplicity, and if that is the grace which is from his heart, then that is all I can ask.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

And I Pay Money for This

We have carefully considered our options, and we will be putting Rocky into public school.

There were several things which convinced me. First, we spent all summer working with Rocky on academics, bringing him up to grade level on several subjects. This year, Rocky has asked his special ed teacher on several occasions to let him do the same math as the other kids in his class, but she has told him that he needs to do the same math as the other two boys in the "mobile unit". I don't understand the reasoning behind this, and when I was asked, I was told, "He needs to be with his class." Yes, and if he can do the work, why not challenge him by letting him be with most of the kids (aren't THEY the class?), not the kids who are delayed.

Second, the private school has informed me that it is my responsibility to get online every night and make sure he does the correct assignments. When I commented that part of his education was that he needed to write down the assignments and part of his educational plan was that the teachers were to check his assignment book, and that he needed to be accountable, Iso why did I need to get online to check them, I was told, "He may not have them down properly." I repeated that part of his educational plan stated that the teachers double check the assignments he wrote down. They told me they don't have time for that, so I was going to have to do so.

Oh-kay. So when I went online to check assignments, guess what--they weren't there. Guess Rocky isn't the only one who is not doing what he is supposed to.

However, the upshot was when one teacher decided it was her place to give me advice on parenting my child. She sat there and said, "Let me give you some advice. I have raised three kids to adulthood, and all turned out very well. What you have here is a child in puberty. Blah blah blah blah, be consistent, and don't let him get you upset."

I asked, "Have you read his history?" Oh, no, they didn't have access to that. The principal said it was part of his permanent record. At the time, I was trying to be nice, so I refrained from adding that it was all too easy to blame the mother for her poor parenting.

So let me say this now. To all you teachers out there: There are children in our society who have experienced unbelievable trauma. They have suffered physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. They have been neglected, starved, burned, molested, electrocuted, cut, beaten, and poisoned. Like prisoners of war, they have post-traumatic stress disorder, but to add to the horror of it all, these kids didn't suffer this torture from a perceived enemy, but at the hands of a birth parent, someone who violated the most sacred of responsibilities, the parental bond. And if the parent didn't actually do this, they sure didn't protect the child.

Then there are people out there who take in these children and take on their suffering. They attempt to lead normal lives while they, themselves, are abused by these children, who are now taking out their anger and lack of trust on the new parents. Rocky has healed from a lot of his trauma, but on this journey, we have had urination throughout the house, raging for hours and hours, fire setting, false allegations of abuse and neglect, constant battles for control and manipulation, stealing, constant lying, self-mutilation, abuse of animals, and threat of bodily harm to us and our other children. This behavior has been driven by fear and has created a vicious cycle--fear drives the behavior, which we need to address so we can get to the fears, but dealing with the behaviors leaves little time for the fears.

So, yes you have had problem children in the classroom, and you may have had a challenging child at home. Yes, your consistency and clarity about expectations probably did get results. However, they also caused more stress in the child once he or she got home, which makes homework that much harder. We don't tell you how to teach, so why do you think you can tell us how to parent?

So until you can tell me that "pushing your buttons" means that you have been awakened at night by a three year old holding your bread knife to your throat, or that you have to check your shoes for feces before putting them on, or that you frisk your child every hour for sharp objects which he can use to hurt himself or for matches because he set the house on fire not once, not twice, but four times, then don't deign to think that your banal parenting advice can help. Instead, sit down, put your santimonious attitudes about your superior knowledge of children aside, and for once, shut your mouth and open your mind to what you really can do to help a child.