Saturday, March 19, 2016

Siblings and meltdowns

My daughter a couple weeks ago would not even enter our home because when she opened the front door she could hear my son screaming. She-and myself-knew that he was starting a meltdown.

It is awful feeling knowing I do not have complete control over my home and the behaviors in it.

As a parent I can create the boundaries and consequences in my home, however, I can not directly control someone else and how they respond. Especially if they naturally lack the skills and maturity to better direct themselves.

I do not believe in sweeping things under the rug. I tell my daughter its Okay, I understand why she doesn't want to go inside and I'll send Daddy out so she can tell him about all the fun things we did at Girl Scouts and I go switch with my husband to help our son cope and calm down.

I believe that  part of protecting my daughter is acknowledging the unique things in our family that are hard and even scary.

 Seeing your brother in full meltdown-needing at times-to be physically removed screaming like a feral animal is scary. Full blown meltdown mode is not pretty. And we talk about how uncomfortable, awkward (sometimes even socially) it can be for her.

And our son afterwards has more ability to aknowledge and apologize to the people around him. Just like when our daughter stomps off yelling mean things-she has the opportunity to apologize and aknowledge. This then gives us time as a family to bond and forgive-or at least aknowledge the person's attempts at verbal restitution.

The meltdown that we were about to walk into after that daisy scout event was over turning off a  video game. There was support, warning etc. and it was not any kind of new event that our son was introduced to. I know my son well enough to know that usually there is a silent build up to such a dramatic event but it is at times even hard for me to detect beforehand (like how animals instinctively change behavior before an earthquake-sometimes I know beforehand something is about to happen)

She also instinctively knows that when she hears that scream she is going into a situation that is not only uncomfortable but could potentially be harmful to herself. This is the dead of the floor type of heartbreaking realization for me.

Yes, it gives opportunity to discuss and talk about feelings and how we can help ourselves in this situation, what we can do next in that moment or next time. But in many ways I feel so frustrated that it is something she even needs to worry about.

It feels nearly the same way when my son cries because his sister is invited to another birthday party when he has had one invitation in two years from a peer.

Its all black and white being honest on  how personal behavior affects relationships with others but that is not something that applies to the fundamentals of being a child who is learning about themselves still and have feelings and need to belong.

Each of my children have amazing special gifts. And as our baby grows I am so looking forward to getting ot know  him better and his personal gifts-and yes-even challenges.

What this parenting stuff continues to teach me is to not wish for things to be different but to recognize what we have and do the best to cope, change or let it go.

I can wish all I want but it will only leave me frustrated and discouraged. I hope to teach this to my children as well-not that I have any way mastered it. But maybe at least help by example show them that it is the better choice.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Between the layers of cookies

Well I think my biggest fan right now is my needy cat. I should say-my son's needy cat. Her name is coco and she is awesome-and crazy.

Last February and much thought, research and an $800 renters deposit we went to our local animal shelter (where I had been volunteering until I became pregnant (aka shared a bed with my husband)-to help look for a special cat).

I had read about the benefits of dogs as therapy animals but I am not meant to be an alpha leader to a dog. I am more of a "one day I'll buy a dog to carry in a purse kind of person" right now.

On the day we were to go the animal shelter we had prepped the kids. I had gone online and looked up cats that were listed-many of which stated "good with kids" or "not"

And my husband and I prayed that in the end we would know which cat would best suit the needs we had in our family.

Backing up-Part of my research was about traits one would desire in a therapy animal.

Ours needed to be very forgiving, needy enough to continually want attention and our purpose was that adding this animal to our family would help teach patience, empathy, companionship, loyalty and responsibility

We thought we had a cat picked out but our son was continually drawn to the older female cats. In the end we brought home our newly rebranded cat coco. To say she is vocal is an understatement. She has scared  and startled many visitors with a cat screech and then a rough rubbing against your legs. Most cats you hear a noise or a loud yell you think "OK the cat wants space". She likes to rub her face on you with one of her teeth sticking out and has on more than one occassion licked my face in the morning or nibbled on my shirt for attention

She sounds like if she were a smoker in her first life. Like her meower was broken and then became a two packer a day. At first she only wanted to eat human food. She would beg like she was dying when we had dinner.

And I think this is where I bonded with her-food. I would be like "Totally get it but you've got to go eat your hard little cat rocks-this pie is allll for me!"

She has been a very welcome addition to our family and has indeed not only provided comfort and behavioral reinforcement for our son. But also companionship and an opportunity to feel responsible for something that you help nurture and take care of. I don't think any cat could do this (all the ones I grew up with were less than cuddly but gratefully always willing to the dry chicken that was slaved over and then hidden under the hutch behind my seat at the table).

We have had her over a year now and she is just starting to sleep on our kid's bed's. And sometimes will get on your lap. She is approximately 12 years old.

So many small things happen on a daily basis. This last year has brought us a new sibling for my children, 30lbs to lose for myself (thank  you oreos, sprained ankle and sheer laziness).  Continued Remission for my mom, Stitches, lessons but has made me more grateful for the crazy cat coco.

She loves my son. She has helped teach him patience and reciprocating affection and showing appropriate attention. She can tell when he is getting agitated and working up and it isn't that she goes to comfort him she moves away. This provide opportunity to point out the behavior is affecting what he might want from her (he can't keep petting her or be next to her if she doesn't feel comfortable or safe).
He has had the opportunity to help train her. That she comes when you whistle or call her name by positive reinforcement.    And I do think it has given more opportunity for open conversations about behavior recognition and even if you make a mistake you are still welcome in our family.

So between all the layers of cookies gathered around my body helping me tightly round out my size 12 pants-I would say that coco has been a needed and necessary benefit for our family.

And she will be around as long as she doesn't' start peeing on anything (I have never had a cat I have owned pee on stuff....children yes...but cats no) so I guess in the end I would probably still keep her because there is not way she could ever out busy or trouble make my children and it is nice to sometimes have someone to cry into a french fry with.
This was in the meet and greet room at the shelter feb 2015 (which by the way had their first "no kill" for dogs and cat's last year)-so awesome!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Mostly vanity

You know what? After this 3rd baby I have made a special effort to put myself together every morning.

People said to me right after having him-you look great! All dressed for the day!

My response "Because I do not want to pass the mirror and feel like the crypt keeper!"

I am pretty honest about being vain. If you want to wear birkenstocks with cracked dry heels and no bra and that makes you happy then fine.

For me. I have been using antiwrinkle cream since I was 20.

Yes, for vanity reasons! Why else would someone do it.

I have the feeling that I am going to be the obese older lady who gets a facelift to look younger. I am not going to have a raw avacado for breakfast  and eat all fresh everyday to help stay looking healthy and younger...I'll take the knife thank you and the norco I am pretty sure they would prescribe.

Because I am  bit more of a lazy vain.

So sometimes I want to make a list of advice for new moms or even moms who have just had a baby

"if it is a chore and you don't want to do it...don't do it"

"if you are feeling yucky try wearing blush. Just blush. If you aren't a makeup person just try it. It does make a difference. Not bronzer...I repeat not bronzer but blush"

"Make sure to shower everyday. Cleaning your person and shaving (if you are into that-I have recently discovered not everyone is) makes you feel human. We do not have cat tongues,"

I would much rather spend time getting myself ready for the day than cleaning up my house
This is the kitchen on a good day.

To all the adults who keep things clean. You are welcome. 
Its like when I watch hoarders. It makes me want to clean something