Friday, October 31, 2014

The Inklings of Life: Friday Frenzy: Halloween is Supposed to Be Magical

I have to share a link with you.

The Inklings of Life: Friday Frenzy: Halloween is Supposed to Be Magical

It's to another blog. I hope you don't mind.

It's still something I wrote.

I was graciously asked by the talented and very funny Morgan, of The Inklings of Life Blog, to do a guest post for her Friday Frenzy series.

You see, Halloween is supposed to be magical.

Sadly, sometimes it falls a bit short of the mark. Well, at least in my house.

So go, read about a holiday gone a bit wrong, and how sometimes wine can make it all better.

Here's wishing Samhain Blessings to those who celebrate, and a Happy Halloween for those who don't. May everyone have a safe and happy holiday.

Now go read it, please? And leave a comment that let's me know you were there. I was really excited by the opportunity. And seriously, if you don't read Morgan's blog, you should. She's fantastic.

*****

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Why I Think High School Still Matters

I'm almost 20 years out of High School. Which feels a little impossible.

With the advent of Facebook I actually keep in better touch with people I knew back then. In fact, I know some of them much better now.

I like some of them much more now.

I know it's fair and reasonable to say that High School was a very long time ago, and that what happened back then, well, it doesn't really matter anymore.

But I think maybe it does.

I think Middle School and Elementary School matter, too. It's not like we've forgotten it. Not really.

Now, I don't spend my days thinking about things that happened many years ago, mind you, or nurturing the slights of childhood. (That sounds so boring, and I have much better things to do, as I'm sure you do, too)

It's that I think we can get more out of where we've been. I think the kids we were, the kids we knew, and the experiences we had, can make us better people.

Bear with me.

I was bullied in school. It wasn't physical at all. Instead it was the psychological games of young girls.

And of course there was the added bonus of being told in pretty straightforward terms that the reason I wasn't liked, was that I was inherently unlikable.

That one kinda hurt.

Now, by the time High School came around I had made some great friends. Of course, by then I truly thought that I didn't deserve success or happiness. I had bought into the message of my bullies.

I didn't actually see that things could be different until I had my first child. And even then, I didn't care about making them different for me. I cared about making them different for him.

But I turned out okay. I still like people. So, why does it still matter what happened back then?

Well, because I'm still learning from it all.

See, I have chosen to let those experiences teach me who I want to be.

I want to be someone who isn't particularly judgmental. I want to be someone who encourages people. I want to be someone who makes people feel welcome, included, and good about themselves.

I want to be someone who can say that she's sorry, too. Because there were times that I was every bit as judgmental and unkind as I thought people were to me.

I want to remember what it was like when labels really defined people, and I want to continue to work to see beyond them.

Now, none of us should live in the past. Not by any means. I just don't think we have to pretend that the past never happened. Not when we can take it with us in positive ways.

And maybe those lessons we learn, we can teach our kids. So, instead of making the same mistakes we did, they can make all new mistakes that we've never seen before.

Because, you know, at least that would so much more exciting, right?

*****
This particular post has been percolating in my head for a couple of days, and I'm still not entirely sure I got it out the right way. I just know that I'm still learning lessons, and still want to. I hope it makes sense.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

With Liam, It's More Than Just A Tantrum

A tantrum from Liam is not a small thing.

One minute he's fine. He's happy. He's eating his breakfast and drinking his juice. And I keep reminding him that the table is not for climbing.

Then, for no discernible reason at all, it changes.

And my sweet, 3 year old Liam, loses his ever-loving mind.

He will not be picked up. He wrestles with any attempt to control him at all. He bangs his head, and bounces. Sometimes at the same time, sometimes alternating between the two.

This kind of thing happens at least once a day. At breakfast this morning, but it can happen anywhere and at any time.

Sometimes he gets rough. With me, and more importantly, with himself. He's developed a bruise recently, near his mouth, and I couldn't figure out where it came from.

But this morning I saw it, when he grabbed his own jaw and squeezed really hard. His thumb matched right where the bruise is.

This morning he pulled his hair, and repeatedly slapped himself in the face. All while alternating between quiet crying, loud crying, and letting out the most blood-curdling screams.

I got him onto the couch and covered him with a weighted blanket. I tried to speak soothingly, and prevent him from hurting himself. Then I took out my phone, and started recording it.

I recorded it for a couple of reasons. First, I'd like to be able to show the professionals who are working with us, what one of these meltdowns looks like, but that's really not the main reason I did it.

See, my pediatrician told me that if he's hitting or pinching himself on the face, I need to record it, so that I have proof that I'm not hurting him.

Can I just say how angry that makes me? Not at my pediatrician who cares deeply for my son, and genuinely just wants to make sure my ass is covered. No, I'm mad at parents who hurt their children.

Kids with special needs are especially vulnerable, because their care takes a toll, and increases stress, which leads to higher incidence of abuse. I understand it on a textbook level. On a maternal level, I understand it, not at all.

And because people out there do hurt kids, caregivers and professionals have to be concerned.

It means parents like me have to actually have to think simultaneously about meeting the needs of a child in the moment, and also protecting themselves so that they can continue to do so. While I understand it, it's so incredibly screwed up to think about.

The thing is, I don't feel stressed about having to care for Liam. Sometimes I feel inadequate and helpless, and there are things that do make me feel stressed in relation to Liam. But that's because I want him to be safe, cared for, and happy! And I don't blame him for stress. He's amazing. I'm so grateful he's here. Taking care of him, makes me happy.

I want to keep him safe. I want to figure out how to help him. And I want to be able to just focus on that.

I wish I knew what brought the tantrums on. I'd work to eliminate whatever is bothering him. I just honestly don't know.

I do know that his newest sentence is "Mommy, kiss" and that he really loves hugs. I know that this phase will pass, that we will figure it out, or he will outgrow it. I also know that we will likely face much harder challenges down the road.

But I have to tell you, watching my sweet little boy so angry that he is literally hurting himself, is almost more than my mommy heart can take.

*****
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Monday, October 27, 2014

Keep Being You, Piper

When I think about my childhood, I tend to remember the good parts of being young. The music I liked, the things I did. The people I loved.

I focus on those things, because they make me happy. Who doesn't remember the fun of dancing to Thriller? Or being kind of freaked out by the video? Who doesn't happily remember the smell of the roller rink, or the sound of Madonna playing on the giant speakers?

Wow, I'm totally dating myself, aren't I?

In reality though, being a kid, at least for me...well, it kinda blew.

I really thought that if I was just nice, people would like me. Isn't that cute?

See, if you know kids, or were one yourself at some point, you know that's actually not at all how it works.

Popularity is this very nebulous thing. And I never really found any of it. I was...whatever the opposite of popular is.

I think the only thing worse than the daily pressure of living in that environment (kids can be seriously brutal in ways that scar you for a long time), is watching your child go through it, and being absolutely powerless to stop it.

Since slapping the sense into preteens is both against my personal morality, and the law (stupid laws and morality), I have to settle for trying to explain to my twelve year old daughter, things I didn't know until I was much older.

And then I have to hope that she really understands, and that it's enough to help her get through it.

Today I explained to her how different people try to hold on to their popularity in different ways. How some people try to be cool, and how other people try to make you look bad so that they'll look better by comparison.

Who came up with that system, anyway?

I told her that the truth is that mostly everyone is actually kind of scared. Everyone wants to fit in and be accepted for being who they are. And everyone is afraid that they won't be.

I warned her to be careful, and not let them change how she relates to the world. I told her to keep being a nice person, and people will come around. Even if it takes years. You don't have to be like everyone else, but you do have to be honest about who you are, and what you want to be in the world. You have to keep treating other people with dignity and respect, and know that you deserve the same.

And it does end. People grow up, they learn, and the things that matter so much when you're twelve, don't matter as much when you're 30.

Seriously, when I was 12, Milli Vanilli was still relevant and the shoulder pads. Oh my GOD, the shoulder pads. Women all looked like linebackers.

That said, Debby Gibson forever, and don't touch my Electric Youth perfume. (I'm not even kidding, I actually own a bottle of that. It smells godawful, just like my adolescence.)

Seriously though, I wish I could cover her in bubble wrap until 12th grade graduation, but since I can't, my biggest hope is just that she keeps being herself. Because, and I may be biased here, but I think she's kind of wonderful.

*****
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