Wake up at 6.30 am. Tired. Didn't wake up in time for crossfit. It'll be a squeeze, but I'll go tonight.
Rustle the middle son Mac. My genius son. Put a kitchen timer next to his head. 10 min to get up or consequence. This keeps me from badgering him. We would use an alarm clock, but even the blaring ones don't rouse him. He slept on living room floor. It works better than his bed he says. At least this week.
Attempt coffee. Get half of it down. Make oatmeal. Also half. Can't find clean pants so I put on a dress.
Skittle around my daughter Pancake, whose standing near the stove eating a bagel with peanut butter. She doesn't talk. I go for a side hug, she tenses. At 13, she's not interested in hugs. I don't care. I side hug. We confirm I'm picking her up from volley ball. She makes a joke and I'm so happy. She stopped joking a few months ago and it was tough. But today, a joke. Praise HIS NAME!! With two bites left she puts her dishes in the sink.
My 3 year old son River bellows from upstairs. OPPPPEEEENNN IIITTT!! It being a wee baby gate for his room. He rattles it with his foot, clutching matchbox cars and plastic Easter eggs. He doesn't want to put them down and open the gate. He has to pee. Desperation sets in. The volume rises.... OOOPPPEEEEN IIITTT!! I go open it. Give him a squeeze and he's off to potty. Still clutching the cars and eggs.
The timer goes off. My genius son is snoring hard. I get a squirt bottle and mist him. Loud snarls spiral up from the nest of blankets. Then he curls up like a caterpillar, trying to go back to sleep. I turn the nozzle from mist to stream. Three squeezes to the forehead and he's up. He stomps downstairs to get dressed. He has 9 min to get to the bus. He's too late for breakfast.
Then there is Ruth. Our wee puppy dog. Dogs are the frickin best!!
My daughter leaves like a ninja. But I see her. I run to the door, flip it open and holler 'BYE SWEETIE...LOVE YOU....HAVE FUN AT SCHOOL.' She barely turns her head but a slight smirk appears. She heard me.
I go and check on my genius son. He's laying on the bathroom floor. Fake sleeping. I tell him get up or no electronics for a week. I can see his light now. The coma has lifted. The bus carries him to school.
River announces there is no need for pants today. Underwear day he declares. I leave him with a bowl full of raisin bran and my husband who will get him dressed. Like putting pants on a bucking kangaroo. I head out. I forgot to brush my teeth and couldn't find a hair brush. Pancake hoards and hides them. I brush both when I get to work.
There are a number of tough cases at work. I prescribe mental health medications. I see dementia cases where I can't really help. I feel sad for and with them. I see relentless drug seekers who make me angry. I'm not a vending machine. You don't want to get better, you just want a fix. That's not going to happen in my office. I don't say these things. I say, No. And. We are done, get out of my office or I'll call security. Because now I'm mad and scared. Addicts can be dangerous. They leave. I'll have to answer to the patient advocate for that.
I see patients who are doing phenomenal. I count the blessings. Coworker lunch goes well. Lots of laughs and support. More patients then done.
Then the kid pick up mambo begins. I start with my daughter from volleyball. She's hunched over, walking forcefully to the car. I can tell she's crying and trying to hide it. She's introverted and sports requires a lot of effort socially. She's doing it though. I smile and give her my phone so she can dive into tumblr and pinterest.
Then our new foster girl Andrea. Her pick up is at an after school program across town. My name is not on the list for approved picker upper people. They only have Mr. Hall's name. Mr. Hall is across town picking up Mac. It's 5.30 pm and there is no way to contact a social worker to address this. The after school teacher says she'll call the birth mom. I sit down with Andrea whose all smiles and happy. She's truly a beautiful girl. I'm humbled and happy. We color and wait. I've got 15 min to pick up River but I'm at peace. There is no rushing this.
Mom calls back and gives the O.K.
We pick up River who leaps into Pancakes arms. We all do a quick group hug. Pancake doesn't fight it, at least at first.
There has been some back sliding with my genius son and his behaviors at school. He's a defiant kid at times. He doesn't like the rule of no running in the hall, so he'll run in the hall. Or argue with the teacher. Or make noises when others are presenting their projects. Or go outside for recess when he's on detention and not returning after the bell rings. This is no good.
We had been using two behavior techniques. One being 1-2-3 magic parenting. The other being "your defiant child". They worked well enough. It's a lot of heavy lifting though. Lifting my very, very VERY strong willed child can do himself. Which is were the love and logic comes in.
Love and Logic was a six part class Mr. Hall went to. It's well known in foster care circles because you want to love on the kids. Logically. It's not about punishment because you don't want to be punishing with traumatized kids (which foster kids are).
My son has a lot of behaviors that mirror the foster kids. Naughty behaviors. Only my son is not a traumatized kid. I nursed that kid for 8 months. He was a perfect love and still is. He's just a genius who wants to be in charge. Only he's EIGHT with college level smarts. Emotional wise he's about 6. All whirling in a tornado of ADHD.
And I'm tired. We're tired. We're tired of using behavior techniques that require a lot of us pushing him. Mac can start taking over some of this. It's time to shift the responsibility to him.
But, my husband went to the classes and I didn't. He needed the foster care continuing ed. I'm all caught up. So I'm basically flying blind with this. Trusting my husband as he guides us through is a new process. I'm usually the one in charge. I don't know this system.
Basically, love and logic is letting the child experience consequences. Like when I ask Mac to walk the dog and he ignores me, I'm not to argue or badger. Or yell. Shut up. I DON'T YELL.
When he ignores me I'm to say, "We'll take care of this later." And if he argues and says, "I don't want to walk the dog." I'm to say, all monotone, "I love you too much to argue, we'll take care of this later." And the later consequences includes deep stuff. Like stopping all electronics and throwing them away.
Only the dog doesn't get walked. Mac doesn't do his chore. I walk the dog then. How is this helpful? At least when I badger, cajole and bother...the dog GETS WALKED.
THIS WILL INCREASE OUR WORKLOAD.
I trust my husband. He's a logical engineer and he believes in this. I follow him.
We had a critical mass of bonus kids the other night. Three of which were there for a second time. They were just gems last go round. This time...not so much.
When bonus kids come there is something called a honeymoon phase. Everyone is pleased and happy. Then the upsettness breaks loose because dude, would you want to be taken away from your mom as a kid? ...No.... So the acting out begins.
I was telling my coworker that the middle bonus kid (9 years old) --was having NONE of the Hall's hospitality this go round. Didn't want to eat, kept sneaking out to the backyard and so on. Then, in the am, he wouldn't get in the car to get to school. It went like this.
(in the driveway)
Me: "Hey dude--time for school, let's get in the car so I can drop you off."
Bonus kid: (literally turning his back on me--crosses his arms and hunches his shoulders--then giving me a backwards, stink eye glance)---
YA KNOW. I totally think that's something adults should be able to do. Like if my boss wants me to do something I can just turn my back and say no. All plain and obstinate like. Seems perfectly acceptable!!!
So I'm telling this to a coworker who is middle age and now suddenly a step mom to a 9 year old and therefore totally overwhelmed at this new mom stuff. She leans in with rapt attention and says, "What did you do?"
I really thought about it. I mean, at this point, I'm totally over being on time for stuff. Church, school, work... I have too many kids. Mine and bonus. Each kid can explode with behaviors at any time. Or have a potty accident. Or both. I don't care about being late. I don't care if this kid spends six hours not getting in the car.
So starting with that attitude, I told her I didn't fight it. There is no point in engaging with his power struggle. It's as if there was a gigantic moose in front of my car. I can't move the moose.
So I gave him options. I said,
"I can tell your mom one of two things. I can say wow! He did such a good job getting in the car this morning. Or, I can tell her that you gave me attitude."
He got in the car after that.
I talked with Mr. Hall. We are focusing our life on creating carrots for good behaviors. We are finding none of our kids, our or bonus, acts nicely for nicely. Well, sometimes but mostly they need a reason.
So that's what I did. Created a carrot. And if that didn't work I probably would have just sat in the car, surfing my phone while he stood in the driveway. All moose like.
This Easter weekend was divine. There were little animals made of fruit on the brunch tables.
I'm very blessed to have such a family.
The kids have struggled lately but my genius son is 75% better on all fronts. I left his conference skipping and singing. I have NEVER left a conference feeling happy before with that kid. It's a miracle. My daughter is showing signs of struggle but we are on it! I know some families that have no issues with their kids. All normal and chugging along. We are a different breed. And that is ok. We'll all work to get better together.
It's a funny thing, all these interventions for the kids. It's caused my husband and I to really take a look at ourselves. A lot of the smart, awkward, anxiety, social difficulties, defiant, working harder not smarter stuff comes from us. Only we barreled through it. It took years to get where we are, to blend in with normal. But, there is so much available to help the kids. We can lessen their struggle. It won't take years. We're healing now.
I can't say enough about kid counselors and teachers. They've helped us understand the complicated and super awesome kids we have. It's hard to say I don't know what's wrong or how to fix but something is not right. And if you say it in front of the right folks it gets better.
Parenting gifted kids is a whole different animal. But the way I see it, it's all part of their gifts that will explode all over as they grow up. They will grow and accomplish things I can't even imagine right now.
This is me. Doing a back squat. I back squatted 195 lbs that day.
Here's a quick story of what's going on my gym world. I'm an avid crossfitter meaning I'm one of the obsessed, hyper facebook posting, over sharing and breathless enthusiasts. Have been for 3 years. It has literally changed my life. Without hoisting heavy weights and killing WODs, I can't function as a foster mom.
My gym changed ownership. The change in ownership revealed some ugly. Ugly with the past ownership and inner workings of where I call sanctuary. Independently owned gyms are places of love and community. You go to people's weddings, hold their new babies and go out for ladies night. This is not something found at planet fitness.
Basically, we were betrayed. Some worse, some less so. I remain unscathed with no loss of money. Keep records people. Every payment you make anywhere. KEEP RECORDS. It's a community of love but business is business.
Some are out of luck. Some have significant loss of money. It's more than that though. It's the fact we are a community. Brothers and sisters don't do this to each other.
So, we commiserate. Some get super angry and swear. Some aren't aware of all the damage. I get messages daily as we begin to wrap our heads around what happened. It's a hurting place at times.
So, when I'm asked, I tell them I'm Christian so my job is to go forward with forgiveness and mercy. I already have. I prayed and forgave. And I've decided to keep chugging alone with hard work and getting after it. This will heal us and make us stronger.
I pray not for a lighter load, but for a stronger back.
Brought Mac to the doctor last week. His counselor suggested trailing a longer acting ADHD med so off to the doctors we went. His pediatrician is a chatty one. All head tilt concern and gentle laughter. Super encouraging and thoughtful with an ironman watch. Mr. Hall loves him. He loves the banter. The doctor annoys the crap out me.
It's not him. It's just in the way, all this jibber jabber. I don't need conversation. I don't need nice. I just want in and out. Especially since my 9 year old ADHD is bouncing off the walls and whenever he gets asked a question, he says, "Taco."
It goes like this.
The good doctor: "How are you today Mac? Still in, what is it..3rd grade?"
My son, in a robot voice: "Taco."
TGD: "Now Mac, when an adult asks you a question, you need to look him in the eye and answer. That's respectful."
Then he lays on the floor and starts kicking the exam table legs and I start to lose my mind.
up in here....up in here....
I realize the good doctor is trying to coach him and help me, but he's doing neither. I just need him to write out the script. That's all. In fact, this could have done this over the effing phone. It seems the good doctor is a HUGE fan of the med suggested. I guess he just wanted to chat with me. And THAT'S why Mr. Hall brings the kids to the doctor.
I prescribe them btw. Mental health meds. For adults. I know lots of stuff about them but when it comes to Mac, I leave it up to the professionals. I'm his mom, not his treatment team.
It sure feels like it though. Especially with stuff at his gifted school. I love his school. They're really pro-Mac. They love saying, "Because he's gifted...", and they're super supportive. But this school is hard work. This is new to him and he struggles. And when he struggles, he goes all taco. So, I listen to what the teachers need from him and I figure out a way to get it out of him. I refuse to let him languish because well...he is gifted.
I've come to realize Mac lives in his own little world. He likes it there. He still likes people though. He interacts at boys scouts and basketball pretty well. His heart is so huge it's probably bigger than Texas. But around strangers he freezes up and gets all Taco. His gifts and his heart get locked away. I'm ok with that. Maybe that's why the doctor bugged me so much.
Don't try and change the TACO.
The taco will is just fine and all this will morph into one gigantic, awesome young man. The young man will morph into a loving husband and stellar dad. I know this. I know God has plans for him that will surpass anything I can imagine. But for now. Taco.
So let me share rainbows of hope and goodness.
We went to hockey game this weekend. We really went for the wiener dog races. He sat the most of the time and did really well. No kicking the chair in front of him. No getting up and down or begging for food. No taco. He smiled and laughed and fought with his sister all normal like. Then, on Sunday, he popped out of bed wanting to go to church. We are trying a new, smaller church. He had a blast. Loved it! Renewed him with all sorts of energy.
I was sitting on my kitchen floor last night. Completely overwhelmed and petting my dog. We had a few foster kids for an overnight, respite care it's called. There was six kids total (our three and three bonus kids). They basically ran in a circle and yelled for two and half hours, taking breaks to inhale lasagna and milk. I cannot tell how loud that was.
It's nice getting to know new kids in this foster life. It was nice meeting their mom. The kids live with their mom which means she worked really hard to get them back from foster care. She was sooooOOOOO nice when she dropped them off. I cannot tell you how wonderful that was.
The mom was all, "sorry they're not taking their boots off" and "sorry they're picking their noses". Meanwhile, I was slack jawed and so pleased with her friendliness. She gave me 15 min of information on each kid. All worried mom who is concerned about her kids. And saying thank you, thank you, thank you for helping me out. I can't say enough about that. It was like salve.
Each kid was different. Different ways of thinking and talking. They were sweet and no matter how many kids we take care of, they make my heart blossom. Each in their own way. I can see they've been through a lot and were super anxious at times. And there were a lot of them. Even though I was overwhelmed, I was really at peace.
Not much happened. We fed, showered and movied them. Tucked them in and woke them up for school. Brushed their hair and got them where they needed to go. Mom will pick them up from school and we won't see them again. At least, there are no plans to. Mr. Hall was overwhelmed. He had a crooked smile on his face too.
The kids took a liking to us. They said, "Can we see you again?"