Saturday, July 31, 2010

Security and staying dry

So Miss Lissa has been doing really well with night time potty training.  Hardly any accidents, even when we went camping. (which amazed me)  But our bedtime situation is kind of wonky.  KC was starting out in his bed (which is at the bottom of my bed) and staying there for 1/2 to 3/4 of the night and then moving in to my bed.  Lissa was starting in her bed (next room over) and coming into my  bed at some point as well.  Which was all well and good--except that Lissa wakens earlier than KC. And when she is lying next to him, she pokes him awake.  By midweek he is definately showing the signs of not getting enough rest.

So I thought in my infinite parental wisdom that since he was staying in his bed most of the night, I should encourage Lissa to do the same in her bed.  She doesn't cuddle with me in bed.  Doesn't cuddle with KC.  Doesn't really like anyone to TOUCH her in bed. So I thought it was not a big deal. I thought maybe she was just coming in with me because KC had and that if he wasn't, she would not feel the need the do so. We talked briefly about us all staying in our own beds and I began leaving the gate between our two rooms closed.

And Lissa stayed quietly in her bed each night.  KC got more sleep in his bed.  I had acres of  a king sized bed to myself. After a couple nights, Lissa wet the bed.  Copiously.  Still slept in her bed but was awash when I went in to wake her up.  Clueless parent I thought she had just had a drink fairly close to bed (true) and was maybe extra tired (possible.) 

Except that over the ensuing few weeks, she began wetting the bed almost every night.  I am ashamed to say that it took me a while to make the connection between the fact she was in her bed alone now and maybe felt anxioius about this.  Mid way through last week I started letting her come back into my bed.  She has been dry ever since.

I felt bad for the wee miss.  She is so tall and so self possessed much of the time which perhaps make it easy to overlook the fact that she is still only 3 and needing reassurance in the big big world.  So for now I have not quite figured out a solution that allows KC to sleep longer but am mulling over naps--midday quiet reading times etc, because Lissa will be back in bed!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Spinning Wheels Just Gotta Slow Down!

Except this wheel in particular--the wheel of the year--won't.  Sigh.  I started seeing goldenrod about 3 weeks ago.  It is really early for that.  I have heard geese twice in the early morning.  Our home is near two waterways where the pre-migratory flights gather.  It is early.  Well at least early for my spirit. I am not ready to let go of long days and longer evenings--though even those are getting shorter as the shadows creep in.  Not just yet.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Shouldn't adopted children be more grateful?

I had an interesting conversation at work today.  Co-workers and I were sharing those typical parent tales of woe.  The high cost of a smile when it comes to the financing of braces.  The fact that one of the co-workers son's started college, dropped out and is now going to try it again, leaving his parents with decidedly mixed feelings and some expensive bills to pay. Another co-worker shared stories of trying to find a decent safe and not too pricey car for her daughter, now a first time driver. 

Added to the "war stories" was a bit of undercurrent of frustration on the parts of the parents sharing them.  They felt their children had no recognition of their sacrifices for their childrens betterment. The kids had no gratitude as one mom put it.  Then one person looked at me and said "but surely adopted children are more grateful."

I was floored and in my usual foot in mouth fashion said "Why?"    The answers ranged from me "giving them a better life" to "rescuing them" to a lot of stammering.  And just to be clear, this was not a conversation of a bunch of middle class white folk. We were a diverse group ethnically and socio-economically.

I said that I didn't think my kids were "grateful" for being adopted.  In reality at least one of the 4 probably wished very much that adoption had never had to be part of his life experience. That does not mean he doesn't love us, love his siblings or his new life.  But he LOST a life too and I was pretty sure there were lots of times he wanted that life back.

My eldest is "grateful" in a rather clinical way.  He is autistic and has studied his native land with the kind of perserveration that autistic people devote to a passion.  He determined when he was about in about 8th or 9th grade that he likely would not be alive had he remained in his native land.  He could see that the economic disadvantages he was laboring under combined with his autism were a recipe for disaster.  However, that doesn't mean he is grateful to me per se.  It is a very sort of emotionless assessment that he has made.

My two youngest don't have any frame of reference for this as yet. They understand adoption at its most basic level.  But I doubt that gratitude will be part of their equation either. In the stunned silence that followed this,  I tried to explain that by and large kids are not grateful.  They don't have the life experience to see what we give up and  put off so that they may have experiences they want or that we feel will be of benefit to them.  It means about as much to them as if we showed them the cost of buying organic green beans and touted the benefits of them.  My kids don't care about green beans!  They care about popsicles.  And they aren't even grateful for popsicles!  They just expect they will magically appear in the freezer for enjoyment on a hot summer day. 

I suspect that "gratitude" on the part of children, comes along when our children have children themselves.  That is when they will remember summer picnics, when the nights watching fireworks or sitting around a campfire in their youth are remembered and rejoiced in.  And that is what my goal is--joy enough to pay forward to the next generation.  You can keep the gratitude.

Fiona Calls

I didn't know if Fiona would call last night or not.  Jane was scheduled to be on vacation through this Tuesday and the following one so I thought we would likely lose our phone time.  Other staff seem less reliable in making sure the phone call happens and I have never been given a way to initiate a phone call on my end if they do  not call.  There is a phone plan that Fiona does with Jane before they call and the calls are on speaker phone so it is highly structured.

At any rate, Jane had a personal crisis and could not leave on vacation when she had planned so she went to the school and made the call with Fiona.  It was a really good call.  At last we seem to have worked through the hair thing which has consumed much of our phone time the past few weeks.  Last night she agreed to a specific set of products and I will get them and mail them out Saturday.  There is someone on staff who is familiar with proper care of black hair and she is more than willing to help Fiona. So hopefully that will solve things a bit.

We may not talk next week as Jane will hopefully really be on vacation --she works very hard and deserves a wonderful one--but I will hang here with the kids just in case someone does remember that she calls.  I never want Fiona to call and for there to not be someone here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

I am by nature , um pasty.  In this picture (taken in front of a cool sculpture yesterday, I am about as brown as I  get.  This is after many days out of doors.   However, to me, I look positively like a glowing summer sun goddess. (with really ugly shades!) 

However when my coworkers saw me after our camping trip they asked if I was ever going to tan.  I said I was.  They laughed.  Maybe that is why I like that teen vampire movie.  Next to that vampire dude, I AM positively a glowing sun goddess!

PS The sculpture is made entirely out of newspapers.  Doesn't it look like striated rock?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Pictures from our trip

My terribly shy children on the grounds of the sculpture museum!
One of Booker's pieces that was outdoors (and therefore could be photographed.)
My picture does not do it justice but we were on a rooftop terrace and with the
kids I was a wee bit distracted.  K had stayed inside and not come onto the
terrace as she does not like heights.

The magic of art

I am an art and music afficionado.  I have zero abilities in creating art or in creating music. My only artistic expression was dance for many years. (and maybe writing bad poetry in my angst filled teen years.)   But I looooooove both art and music and feel that they are essential to living. Or maybe if not living per se, to finding a way to express the things inside us.   I could live without TV. I could NEVER live without music for instance. 

Today we braved the heat and set off for a sculpture park and museum not too far from where we live.  I packed a picnic lunch as I am all about frugal and I know cafes at museums are not frugal.  The sculpture we were focussing the most on was by Booker and she creates the most amazing art out of all kinds of cut up tires.  Truly they don't really look like tires when she is done with them; they are amazing.  The outside exhibits are very tactile and the pefect intro for the kids as they can touch them

 This was cool as they wanted to see how the pieces were created.  There was also a musical sculpture that you could make the most gorgeous music on and KC spent the longest time there grooving out tunes.  When others stopped by and started playing as well, you could see him listen to their melody lines and incorporate the sounds into what he was doing. It was quite amazing.

After lunching al fresco, we went inside and toured those galleries.  These are "no touch" zones which might have been hard except that this museum had something cool.  Kits that kids could use to try sketching what they saw, scavenger hunts they could do, magnetic tiles they could create art with.  All 3 of my tribe  were so absorbed.  Kirsty and I  could just sit on a couch and relax in the a/c and marvel at it.  Rob really enjoys contemporary sculpture--the kind of thing that 3 different people could look at and each come away with 3different impressions of what it is.  He was copying on paper his favorite piece.  Lissa loved the tiles and also a tire rubbing activity. KC enjoyed all of it; he couldn't sample enough of it all.  He said he wished he could have met the artist and we spent some time talking about how looking at her work was in a way like having a conversation with her.

It was a great day, and probably the absolute best way we could have chosen to spend today.  This morning didn't start off spectacularly as Rob had some signficant issues with truth telling and family rules before really even getting up at 6:30.  But I am glad that instead of it being "all down hill from there" that this was a vehicle for him to get out some of his emotions in a constructive and healthy way. I am glad that Lissa was so engaged as well. She loved this art in a way that other art forms have not spoken to her before.  And I am glad that my wife had the energy to come with us--it was exciting for the kids that it wasn't just Ooma doing the field trip! 

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Carnival Success!

OK there will be no pictures.  Not one single solitary picture.  Because I was so busy my camera sat on the food table the entire afternoon!  But it was fun. A lot of fun!  We took our camping canopy and set it up in the middle of the yard. The kids filled balloons with helium and we tied bouquets of them to all 4 corners. Then we took string and ran it along one side of the canopy.  From there we hung the stuffed animals that were prizes for one of the games.  To KC this made it look like a "real" carnival.  Right next to that we had the game where you threw a ball at the cans to knock them over.  Then there was the craft table, covered in white paper in case people wanted to draw.  We had sand art, mask making and rock painting.  This table saw a LOT of use.  Just over from there we had our umbrella table set up with the food.  Pop corn in little boxes that looked "like it really came from a carnival."  In reality the little boxes were found clearance months ago! LOL  There were slices of fresh watermelon, graham sticks, punch, lemonade or apple juice and freeze pops in the cooler.  On the other side of the yard we had 3 hula hoops of varying sizes with toys to throw in the targets.  Down from there was the "catch a fish" pond.   Not to far off was what Lissa calls "the horsey game" which is kids plastic horseshoes!  Small prizes were at each game station.  Because KC thought about this so long ago I have been able to haunt clearance racks and dollar stores, finding big boxes of crayons, packs of stickers, bubble stuff, etc.

It was amazing how well everything went.  I was just so impressed. And now, at 10 of 6, the back yard is clean the kids are playing with water balloons in the driveway, and the sounds of their happy yells is the perfect punctuation to a perfect day.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

C is for Carnival!

KC's carnival that is. The one he has been planning for literally months.  Most of the people he invited seem to be coming so he is a happy guy.  I am hoping the guests will have fun.  We are a low tech family, both by nature and necessity. (I priced a bounce house rental, choked on my beverage and clicked off the site!)  And really, there is no need for a bounce house.  He didn't ask for one.  He planned the games himself.  He planned the crafts himself. He chose the food himself.  This is his vision. 

On my way home from work I picked up the food things and the last of the decorations (helium tank and balloons.)  I stopped at the art store and bought tempera paint for the rock painting.  And some really cool marbelized construction paper for the mask making station.  We also have sand art for a craft.

Games will be clothespin in a bottle, a fishing game with fish in our wading pool (gently loved stuffed animals are the prizes for some of the lucky winners--actually I am the lucky winner if I get to get a few stuffed animals out of our house! LOL) We have a game where they try and toss a bean bag into different sized hula hoops--sort of like jarts without the pointy objects.  We have water balloons. We have cans to throw balls at.

And when people get sick of those things there are containers of bubble stuff, food to eat and the yard to run around in.  He is sooooooo excited and Lissa is getitng pumped too.   I hope I'll have time to take pictures as the event unfolds.

Please ignore the whining

I really should not be whining.  The tornado warning of a few nights ago did not send us spinning out into the skies.  I have a job when many people do not.  I even have kids who although they have some significant issues are waaaaaay less than what many of my blog friends deal with daily. 

But I am human and I gotta whine, so feel free to ignore.  About 3 or 4 weeks ago our dishwasher bit the dust.  It was a long expensive road to getting the new one properly installed and working.  I learned that I was not particularly happy washing dishes for our family.  But I consoled myself. It was temporary.  This too would pass. And ultimately it did.  We have a dishwasher now.  Pollyanna smiles once more.

 Several weeks ago on the way back from picking Rob up at camp the check engine light came on in our van.  In my happy Pollyanna way I hoped maybe it just needed to be re-set.  Sometimes that happens. It really did.  Once.  Anyway, it wasn't that and they found a bunch of things wrong.  We fixed the most pressing and got the light off.  We left nearly $700 poorer.  Still in my happy Pollyanna way, I said well at least this happened BEFORE the camping trip.  Would not want these things to go awry when we are pulling the camper.  It's all good.

The van really needs about $500 more of work and 2 new tires.  It is getting on in years and this should not be unexpected.  OK, says Pollyanna, aren't we lucky that our mechanic gave us the heads up on this so we can plan for this bill and get it done in September. It's all good.

Yup.  Then the lights fiasco happened with the camper.  We were supposed to leave at 9 and couldn't leave till 12:30 because of the emergency repairs--which cost another almost $200.00  OK still in Pollyanna mode, I said well at least we found out the problem early so we still got a bit of Friday.  At least we were not on the road getting rear ended because we had no brake lights.  It's all  still good.

Last night something yucky happened with the muffler of my Scion.  It sounds like I am driving a hot rod.  I hope it is something simple and not the cat converter which I know from painful experience is big bucks.  the car is used so the warrenty is up as I bought it in March.  I have not even brought it to our mechanic (who must chortle with glee at this point when he sees me coming.  I swear the next time I walk in I am going to bring him travel brochures because he has likely made enough for a kicking vacation off us!)  OK, I sigh.  At least I don't drive more than 3 miles to work.  I also know all the police in town because of my job. They are unlikely to ticket me for the noise violation.  I can ride this out for a while and not drive the Scion anywhere but work.  It's all still---pretty good.

Then I got up this morning.  K and I prepared to have our morning mugs of tea.  I need tea at 5:30 in the morning. Really. Need. Tea.  She went to pour soy milk in my tea from the pitcher (we make our own soy milk) But the soy milk was spoiled.  So was the cow milk.  Our fridge has died.  Sigh.  I am truly wondering what I did to offend the goddess!
Last night Lissa's regular gymnastics coach was on vacation.  I looked in the gym and the sub had her back to me, but something about her voice and stature was vaguely familiar. Still, I was not focussing too much on it, I was talking to Lissa, chatting with my friend Laura etc. 

The regular assistant did the warm up so I didn't see the sub again till the groups split for the actual classes.  Then she turned and looked at me and just pointed.  And I started laughing, as she used to be my neighbor many years ago.  When Rob was in 3rd grade she moved but for the first few years that he was our son, they lived next door and her youngest daughter (2 years older than Rob) spent most of her days in our yard playing with Robbie.

She never knew that we adopted again after KC so she was looking all around the gym saying to me "where is the baby?"  She meant KC who was an infant when they moved.  Lissa was standing directly in front of me and I had my hand on her shoulder.  She still wasn't connecting.  I pointed down at Lissa and said "This baby is 3 and the baby you are talking about is 6 and dances!"  ROFL  The expression on her face was priceless.

Like the regular coach, she is impressed with Lissa's abilities and strengths (and I got a kudo for my spotting skills which was kind of neat!)  She gave Lissa a few things to do that the other kids were not doing and truthfully Lissa did them all with ease.  Gymnastics is just a big game for her.  She actually called me at work yesterday to remind me that it was gymnastics day.  (grin)  Not that i have ever forgotten but it is a sign of how much the wee miss loves it.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Of names and diversity training

I happen to think names are very important. They are how we view ourselves and are intimately part of our essential identities.  I work for a large company that does a lot of affirmative action and diversity training.  Yet there is a culture within the organization that somehow all the "awareness" we are taught doesn't translate into properly learning  names.  So the fellow who has worked in payroll for 10 or more years named Chang is routinely called Chung. (I am trying to come up with blog subs for real names here but hopefully you get my drift.)  Chang and I have been friends for years and I once asked him outright why he lets everyone call him Chung.  He sighed and said he corrected everyone for the first few years and then just gave up.

We recently hired a new staff person at my site.  His name is somewhat different but not impossible to learn.  For some unknown reason I all ready knew how to say it.  Pretend it is JeanPhillipe or something.  My boss told him we would call him Fred.  Well not really Fred because remember I am trying to use substitute blog identities.  But it is something equally ridiculous.  But, didn't ask him what his nickname was, or did he mind having a short form of his name used for radio transmissions etc.  I asked the new guy why we were not just calling him by his name and he said I was the only one who knew how to say it.  Sigh.  At least I can write it correctly on his time card!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hey, we're not in Kansas!

No, we don't live in the midwest but last evening our city in the North East was the epicenter of a tornado warning.  We've had watches before and situations with microbursts and straight line winds, but true tornado warnings are extremely rare here.  One may have touched down in a small town where I spent a few years living on my own when I first left home.  A picture of a funnel cloud was snapped on the line between our city and another smaller community.  Luckily that cloud did not touch down.

All the warnings about the tornadic potentiality came after I put Lissa and KC to bed.  The news said that one should go to the cellar, or at least the first floor of the house.  OK our cellar is an unfinished affair.  It is dark even at the best of times.  I also confess that I am claustrophobic and truly, the idea of being down there and stuck there freaked me out.  I would have sucked it up and done it but K felt that we would freak the kids more than perhaps the situation warrented.  Instead we decided to gather them in our lower stair hall with is a totally protected area in the center of our home. 

Except that when we went upstairs to get the kids. They were both asleep.  It was thundering to beat the band and raining so hard you could not see across our street. And they were out like proverbial lights.  Then the question was do we waken them or do we leave them.  We decided we would open the bedroom doors and I would sit in the hall outside their doors (they are literally right next to each other) and if things worsened I would scoop them up and bring them downstairs to the safe zone we had set up.  We also explained things to Chet so that he would join us quickly if the need arose.  Without explaining ahead of time, he would be likely to stand there and ask 50 million questions.

Rob and K sat together downstairs and at 8:30 the tornado warning was lifted as that storm cell with the rotational winds had moved past. We had another severe thunderstorm right afterward but it didn't have the same type of winds so it was safer in that regard. 

Luckily, we are all fine, but it was a bit of an adrenaline rush there for awhile!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Show me the money!

Back at his birthday, Rob became quite wealthy, getting cash gifts from a number of our extended family.  All told, he netted over $200.00 which is WAY more than either K or I ever raked in at any holiday!  He agreed to put it in the bank.  Part of it was intended to be spending money for his week at camp, part of it was intended toward the tuition at camp, part of it he wanted to spend on skateboard sneakers.  I told him that if I did not need to get reimbursed (translated, if our tight finances didn't squeak too badly) I would let him just keep the $100 that my mom sent toward camp tuition in his bank account and that I would take him shopping for sneakers in a few weeks.  Meanwhile, all the money got parked in his savings account.

I have worked really hard to try and teach my kids about saving.  I freely also confess that this has had decidedly mixed results.  I don't necessarily think this has a heck of a lot to do with early life experiences.  I think some people are spenders and some are savers. Some are grasshoppers, some are ants.

Rob up till now, has been pretty much a saver.  He does want some trendy things and i don't buy trendy things as a general rule.  I am pretty much the servicable shoe and boot person. Thus he wanted to use some birthday cash for the sneaks.  When the day came to buy them, I had him get his pass book and told him to take out $90.00  Having been to the store in question I knew we could find shoes that he would like for $90 or less.  Rob has always handled this type of transaction.  I have taught him how to fill out withdrawal and deposit slips and he has had no problem.  I didn't pay a lot of attention to what he was doing as I was changing the type of account that KC  and Elisabeth have to a special savings program they have developed for young children.  It involves stickers and prizes etc!  From the bank we went right to the store.  He chose sneakers that cost $65.00  I remember clearly asking how much they were and him showing me the price on the box.  I let him pay for them himself and I checked out on my own as that was the day I bought my bathing suit.

A week later I asked Rob to get his passbook and the rest of the money so we could put it back in his account.  That was when things got murky.  When I looked at the passbook he had withdrawn $145.00 not the $90 that we had agreed on.  And there was supposedly no money left.  Zero. Zip. Zilch. 

Rob has always had a problem with honesty when confronted with a situation.  I try to not put him in situations where he feels he needs to lie but when things like this happen, questions are sort of inevitable.  I asked why he took out so much money.  He told me that the teller mis read his slip and withdrew $145 for him instead of $90.  I will give you that his transaction took a long time so it might have been a new girl who had trouble reading his handwriting or something.

I asked where the change was.  First I got told that he didn't get the right change at the store.  Then I got told that he lost it.  Then I got told that he gave it to a homeless person.  Sigh.  None of those are really all that plausible except the second one.  And even that, I have my doubts about. 

If he had taken out $90 and couldn't account for $25 after spending $65 I would think that he probably had a candy fest at the corner store.  Unfortunately even with his junk food love I can't picture him having time and opportunity to run through that much money on candy. 

I don't think he has experimented with any drugs or alcohol--he hasn't acted really any differently, nor has he been away from us for really extended periods of time. But part of me worries because I also know my Rob is a bit of a follower.   $80 is a lot of money to be unable to account for.  I figured I had a choice.   1) I could continue to listen to ever more increasingly bizarre stories of what happened to it,  2) or I could put in place some type of consequence and a plan that would help to make sure he is more accountable in the future.  Because I don't want to make myself go nuts, I went with number 2.  I told him that at $8.00 an hour he owes me 10 hours of work.  It won't be unsafe but I can guarantee I will find chores that are not fun. LOL  Also, in the future he will have to show me his passbook before we leave the bank. 

Teen years are so much fun sometimes!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Camping Re-cap

We almost didn't get to go camping!  We got everything loaded, the camper hitched. . . and discovered we had directionals on the camper but no brake lights.  This was so not good.  I could tell K felt badly because I had specifically said to her to "make sure the brake lights were fine."  It was one of those weird things of just having a gut feeling.  The camper was gone over last year and a bad ground was resolved so realistically she had no reason to suspect there would be a problem.  But there was. And we were scrambling around looking for repair help til after 12.  We had hoped to be on site by 12 so that was kind of a bummer.  However at least we GOT there, and at least we hitched early in the day (9 a.m.) so we knew in enough time to get the dratted thing fixed.

And I am so glad we got there.  The weather was stellar.  We had fun at the ocean, we had fun at the pool.  The people on one side of us had boys 6 and 7 who hung out with KC Lissa and Rob most of the weekend.  They were cute running around the sites in their little pack. We had glow sticks and campfires, silly songs and stories under the stars.  I really was sorry we were heading home today when it was time to pack up, but we have another jaunt planned for mid August so there is more camping fun on the horizon.

Looking at Lissa racing around camp, it was hard to remember back to when she was an infant--even too small for the pack and play.  She had this bubble cocoon gizmo we would put her in for sleeping and I just wore her on me during the day.Now?  Now, she is a Miss with a mission--to be part of and experience everything fully.

KC brought the money he has been saving for months and proudly bought his own snacks at the snack shack the camp ground runs.  Every evening a rainbow push up icey, every morning a cinnamon bun.  It got so when they saw him coming they knew what he'd be eating. LOL

Rob always is easy at camping.  He adapts well to the free flowing nature of it as long as it isn't more than 4 or 5 days.   Beyond that, the lack of structure starts to wear on him.

My "star" though was Chet who often has challenges with camping.  He always comes but has a hard time as a rule. This year, aside from breaking his tent (sigh) he did remarkably well.  He was helpful and pulled the wagon with our gear for me when we walked to the beach.  And he was able to process and listen to me when I was giving him cues which is pretty huge.  The ocean has had a lot of rip currents at the beach we go to this season and seen a few tragedies.  I had laid down our water safety rules and everyone followed them to a T.  I was probably hyper vigelent but it was still fun and the ocean, even in those situations is more do-able for Chet than a pool situation ever can be.

So we are home, with a bit of a sun burn and wonderful memories.

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Camping We shall Go!

In about an hour we take off for a weekend of camping fun in Maine.  I am so looking forward to this and so are the kids. I think even the dog is excited! LOL  The car is almost all packed, the camper is loaded, the kids are annoying the heck out of each other because they are antsy to get on the road! LOL 

It has been a hard week at work.  One of our staff had to be let go and even when there are good reasons for such things, it is always hard.  It has been amazingly tense there and I can't wait till the only things I have to worry about are should we go to the playground or the ocean first!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Juggling Schedules

In most respects, K and I are so on the same page as parents.  But the areas where we are not are always so wildly divergent that it makes finding that common ground a challenge.  We worked our way through the mine field of one such difference this morning --before 6 a.m. no less. LOL 

I believe that kids need chances to explore the things that interest them or the areas where they have talents or abilities that they wish to explore.  For Chet, that was guitar lessons for many years.  He loved the one on one time with his teacher, and though he never really became "good" with the guitar, it was a source of pleasure for him.  He also had swimming lessons for water safety and took karate lessons up through purple belt (which is about 3 years of study).  Rob had swim lessons for safety, 3 years of basketball league, a year of baseball league and away camp for three years.  KC has tried dance, and had a preschool music class.  Lissa had music and now gymnastics.

With the exception of the music class, I am the person who has ferried the kids to all of these things.  K hates sports and she also believes that kids don't need these experiences.  I know she didn't have them growing up.  I didn't necessarily have all the experiences I might have wanted growing up, but I had in reality a fair amount of them.  I had dance, I had horseback riding lessons, and a summer at a 4H camp all stand out as strong childhood memories. 

KC would like to try some art lessons and I have a friend who lives about 40 minutes away who is re-opening her art school after a couple years hiatus.  She is a very talented artist but also a mom --and most importantly to me, not the type of artist who is going to have a "right way" and a "wrong way" to create the art.  At 6 I want the exposures to be to artistic styles and not as rigid as they are, say at the art museum in the next town.

The problem is that the class will start at 4:30 in the afternoon on a Thursday.  I don't get out of work till 4 and by the time I get home, we would not get to my friend's home for the group art class in time.  So I asked K if she was willing to take him.

To say she is underwhelmed by this prospect would be to put it rather lightly.  I offered to trade her taking Lissa to gymnastics (which requires I skip lunch and leave work early one day a week) if she wished and then I could switch my "no lunch" day and take KC to the class.  She refuses to do the gymnastics class as she is concerned that she might hurt her back spotting Elisabeth.  I suppose there is the remote possibility of that, though truthfully you almost don't have to spot Lissa.  She is incredibly agile on all the apparatus.

So we at length reached a compromise.  (hallelujah, angels blowing trumpets here!)  She will take KC to the art class and we will only do it for 3 months of the year Sept-Nov.  Then if he wishes to do it again either next year or in the spring, she is open to that as long as we are not commuting that distance in the winter.  I am so glad we have reached a compromise--and KC is super excited over the art classes.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Fiona gets annoyed but it's all good

Last night when Fiona called, the front end of things was a bit different.  She wants microbraid extensions.  Her hair is badly damaged and apparently staff have explained to her that right now, she can't do this because her hair can't handle it.  She could have some cornrows put in but that is about it.  To say that Fiona is angry about this is an understatement.  All that came through in the call. 

There were a few good things about it though. First off, it wasn't the WHOLE call. She was able to vent, to try to process and then to move on so that the kids didn't have to deal with all that. In the past, an upset is the whole deal.  There is no moving on in the space of a 10 to 15 minute call. So that in itself is pretty huge.

Secondly, she was able to say that I do a "pretty good job" on Lissa's hair and was willing to try some products that I use if i would send them to her.  I actually wanted to bring them to the next visit but since staff are not going to be available on a weekend till August, I am going to mail some in July and bring more in August when i see her.  (right now, staff are there to help during visits and i am not quite ready to go it without their presence, because I am still learning the ropes of the rules of the Great School in the City.

Thirdly, in the course of the call, most of the arguing was with her clinician Jane, who is usually involved in the calls.  At one point Fiona said something to Jane about her staying out of this, that she was talking to her family and that her family would want her to have her hair done the way she wanted it.  ROFL It was a pretty obvious attempt to divide and conquer which I wasn't buying but it felt good to hear her claim us in a fairly spontaneous way as family.

Lastly, later in the call, Fiona was speaking about something her first mother did when they were all together.  For as long as I have known her, Fiona has always said "my real  mom" for her first mother and though she cared for us, we could never "be" her mom as well in those times.  Last night, she said "When I was little, Mom J did. . . " and shared the happy memory.  There was such a difference in the sharing and it felt so good. 

I'm going to try and find those long pony tail falls that you can clip on. She could microbraid that and maybe it would meet her rock star glam vision enough to feel good.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Musical Question

So on Sunday I took the kids to a layled service at church.  Part of the service involved some time in small groups.  The idea was to be with people you did not know and get to know them better by working on a "truly excellent question."  A truly excellent question was defined as one that was hard to answer, and maybe didn't even HAVE an answer.  Like how big is the universe, what endures, etc.  Philosophical, you know?

I found a group with 2 people I didn't know, one I did and the tribe and I settled in and did introductions.  I was surprised at how readily and easily KC contributed to the discussion.  As a homeschooling parent it gladdens my little heart because no one is going to look at that boy and say "oh he needs socialization."  Probably they said that with Chet.  Probably they are put off by Rob's very quiet shy demeanor and say that about him.  Neither needed "socializing," in the public school sense and in fact, both did not achieve in those environments.  But I digress.

Our group decided that a truly excellent question was what kind of music was the best. The ultimate. The most awesome.  And of course, that is a  hard question to answer.  Especially for someone like me who adores almost everything. Well, except country music.  I have a hard time with the farm failing, the wife running off with the drifter, the dog getting rabies and the flood.  LOL  Other than that, it is okay.  (and being more honest I actually do like select country artists, just have a limited threshold for the entire genre.)

One of the adults asked KC what kind of music he thought was the absolute best.  He sat there thinking for awhile, little chin in hand.  Now mind you this is a kid who is as diverse in musical interests as me.  He falls asleep each night to classical music, grooved to Bob Marley during feedings (and one of his songs is still his lullaby).  Knows an embarrassing amount of lyrics to most top 40 songs.  And adores the Wiggles and something strange called the Doodlebops.  So I truly didn't know what he would say.  After carefully contemplating a bit, he said, "I guess I would have to say Joe Jencks."  OK, a folk singer who has used his art to highlight injustice in the world.  I can live with that!

Monday, July 12, 2010

"He must be spoiled"

Yesterday one of my friends and her child were at the  party we were at.  Her little boy was having an obvious hard time handling the party and the free flowing nature of using the gymnastic equipment.  Unlike a traditional class where one progresses through stations, this was open gym and kids were all over the place doing things.  Also because some kids were not regular gym attenders there were accidental missteps in etiquette with some kids cutting in line etc.  All of this my kids were cool with--though I will say Lissa has the most baleful of glares and she turned it on the boy who 'cut' in front of her, but said nothing.

However, my friend's child really really was challenged.  It was reminiscent to me of my eldest's behaviors, though somewhat less intense than Chet was.  But he was clearly overwhelmed and cried repeatedly, and ultimately interacted very little.  I think he wanted that quiet station to explore but every time he found a station, a bunch of other kids would descend upon him and the vicious cycle would repeat.

By the end of the party, he had no social graces left.  My friend was trying futilely to get him to thank the birthday girl for inviting him and he was having none of it.  Copious tears and despite a time out he was unable to get it together enough for that.  My friend is the epitome of a gracious hostess and I could tell she was mortified.  I just smiled and said something about how he was just a little overwhelmed and she looked pretty grateful.

The thing is, I WAS her.  Only worse, frankly for years and years and years.  In reality Chet didn't get invited to such events, but family parties, church pot lucks, field trips, were all beyond his ability to cope in a manner that others would classify as "normal."  I spent years being mortified and finally just avoided the scenarios where we would be judged.  Ironically, extended family were a big part of what I avoided.

When I was emailing my mom about the incident, she wrote back and said  "he must be spoiled."  And I thought, how very sad.  With all the talk about differences, about how mental health issues can be hidden, non neurotypical behavior and more--this is still where most of society is.  If a child doesn't conform, they must be spoiled.  My poor friend.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bouncy Birthday!

Not ours--KC and Lissa's friend turned 3 today and they were invited to her party.  This was a BIG deal.  It was their first invite to a birthday party that was for someone we are not related to. (I realize that this is in part due to the size of our family!)  They have been anticipating this for weeks.  Friday we bought their gifts, which were chosen very thoughfully for such young kiddos.  Saturday to kill some time when the weather was a bit dicey, we made our own wrapping paper and the birthday cards.

This afternoon after church we went to the party. KC was excited in part because it was at the gym where Lissa takes gymnastics.  He has been very curious about what goes on there.  Lissa was glad to be back at the gym as there has been a 3 week hiatus in the classes and she really really misses it. 

It was so cute to see Lissa show KC the ropes.  Where to go, how to stretch, what each piece of equipment was for.  It was her moment to shine, when we were in the gym.  She is so utterly in her element there. KC tried some pieces but is not fearless by nature.  Eventually he retired to the bounce house where he could bounce in a feeling of contained safety.  Meanwhile Lissa was very into practicing sticking her landings from the high bar of the unevens.    There was about an hour to play in the gym and then we went up to the room where the actual party would be.  We had cake and ice cream and watched the presents get opened. 

Here it was KC's moment to shine.  He sat right beside the birthday girl, passing her the gifts.  There were a LOT of them! But he was so genuine in his enjoyment watching her open them all.  Other kids drifted in and out, watching when their gift was opened but wandering off to the food, or play area when it was done.  It was a long afternoon (Ooma felt a little crazed for the first hour keeping track of 2 kids in a gymnastics environment!) but it was great.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Fiona's Call

I totally spaced on re-capping Fiona's call this week.  It was really really good.  She sounds happy and told me all about the awards she received at her recent assembly.  She sent us a copy of one of them, which is for working on skills and problem solving strategies (in relationships) and I have that hanging up at our house. 

We were chatting about the next visit and she asked if I would bring my mac and cheese when I come.  I about fell off the chair laughing.  I hope that she hasn't romanticized my mac and cheese too much in her head--it is pretty basic Velveeta stuff.  LOL 

I said that I would bring it to the next visit (there is a way to heat it up when we get there) but first she had to be comfortable promising that she would only eat a portion equal to one starch on her healthy eating plan.  I know this will be tough for her so I want to give her time to process.

I think Jane was astonished that I would be willing to figure out how to bring mac and cheese on a train to the Big City but I am sure I can accomplish that.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Living in Joy

Claudia  is an  awesome adoptive parent whose blog I read often .Today she wrote an interesting post today on the concept of negativity.  I had been thinking of something else to write about, but this really resonated for me.  I read a number of blogs.  Some often, some not so much.  The not so much adoption blogs I read, I usually stop because they hurt me to read.  And it is the negativity factor.  I get that people need to vent.  And although we may feel like we are just writing in our journal, I remember the first time I had a comment on my blog.  I was all "OMG, someone actually READ my blog??"  Don't get me wrong, I am okay with that, but it does mean I filter a bit what I choose to share.

I also have confessed before that my family has always called me "Pollyanna." I tend to look at glasses as half full.  It is just how I am wired.  That is kind of how the name of my blog came about in the first place.  I know it takes more than love to build a family.  It takes hard work.  And although the work an adoptive family may have to do is different, I am not sure it is always harder.  I have a family member whose biological 15 year old daughter recently battled addiction to oxycontin and alcohol.  Seems pretty tough to me.  I have family members who battle mental illness, social anxiety disorders, abuse by a family member and more.

So handling and healing from tough issues isn't just an adoption thing.  In my opinion it is part of being human.  We are all less than perfect and sometimes this means we inflict pain or make a negative choice.  (and I am saying we in the most general of terms here, but I think it is pretty true)

My kids are one of the greatest joys in my life.  Some of them present me with hard issues related to disability, or to trauma from their early life.  Perhaps my biggest regrets concern the fact that Fiona had to be removed from our home.  But I have come to a certain level of peace with that because I can see that she is making slow steady progress at the Great School in the City and we are in frequent contact with her.  She feels loved and she is loved and that is so important to me.  But above and beyond all the challenges, is the joy.  Their smiles, their successes, the experiences we share together.

I can't imagine a life that they are not part of.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

PSA Announcement--Water Safety

I admit that I am a wee bit of a water safety freak.  I was a lifeguard back in the days when dinosaurs roamed the earth and cave children went to Cave Girl camps. LOL  Also, I watch 4 in the water and that requires vigilent awareness and planning.  For instance, my 2 youngest don't swim yet.  Something at least one of them doesn't really know. LOL  So I have a rule that NO ONE approaches the beach, or the pool or whatever, till the 2 non swimmers have their life vests on.  Coast guard approved life vests.  I despise inflatable things that go on arms as I have seen them slip off or deflate unexpectedly.  I also despise some of the pool and swim "toys" that people use in place of the aforementioned vests.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I don't hate water, or kids in water.  My wife is afraid to take all 4 to a water venue alone.  I don't mind that.  But there are rules.  And a plan.  And I never relax really.

On my "Lee Hates Em" list are swim suits that are supposed to keep your child afloat.  They might, but they also might not. I have seen them work on some body  types and not on others.  Also, i hate floaty toys that kids sit in, and those rings that can go around their waist.  (usually in the case of the latter, I see kids fall down inside the ring and be in "distress" in our lifeguard parlance.

One of my dear friends has a lovely pool.  She has only one child and when we were invited to her pool last  year, she had a number of the pool accoutrements on the infamous "Lee Hates" list.  One was a tube gizmo that you sat inside.  I wouldn't let my 2 youngest in it and i remember her asking why.  I explained i was worried that they could tip it over and not get out of it. I tried my gentle pitch for a good life vest, saying that then the kids can create their own fun and you generally don't need all the toys.  Course I was working hard not to a) offend a close friend and b) not sound like the cheapskate that I am who tends not to buy lots of toys!  I could tell she wasn't buying what I was selling and we just changed the subject.

She called yesterday when I was at work, and wanted me to call her back. Her son had a scary incident with that sit inside float toy.  It did what I said could happen.  He tipped it over and because they are wide and kids only 3 are not, he could not get himself out, nor could he right it.  Thankfully, his mom was beside the pool and jumped in and he never even really choked. (though he did totally scare himself)  My friend wanted to know what kind of life vest to buy and is retiring the sit inside tube till he becomes a champion Olympic swimmer.

The reason I share this, is that drownings happen far too often in the summer.  This is shaping up to be a hot summer where so many of us will seek refuge at lakes, ponds, oceans, or pools.  One of the things my friend said was that her son was so quiet when he tipped over.  He could not yell or scream because his head was underwater.  He could not splash because the toy was on top of him and his legs were stuck in the air.  If she had turned to answer the phone, take a sip of a beverage, it could all have been a very different, very tragic story. So if you have little kids, remember that the line between fun and tragedy could be a very thin one.  And if you don't have kids, and you see someone else's kids having fun in the water, but perhaps the parent is a wee bit overextended and not watching closely--help out.  You can do it without people even knowing you really are; I have a bunch of times.

Sizzlin and Scorchin in the Northeast!

It was 100 or so yesterday.  It is a little cooler, say 94 or 96 today.  I am loving it. (just in case you all were prepared for a whiny blog post!)  I adore heat.  I don't mind that my house has no a/c.  I don't mind that my floors are hot and that I periodically wipe my face with noxema or witch hazel.  It is summer, high summer and I am loving it. 

I have been letting the kids stay up later as our second floor bedrooms are hot even when the fans are on.  Rob and I watched a movie together last night while I worked.  It was the one about the kid who finds out Poseidon is his dad.   I have all ready forgot the name but it was a cute movie and I got a lot of piece work done while I watched with him.

K is not nearly so joyful about the heat.  She has a really hard time with it and by 11 a.m. sounds like she is just wiped out.  I feel badly because I just feel the opposite.  She in heat, that is me in sub zero temps. That opposites attract thing so oh, so very true!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Kids 4th of July outfits

Rob looks like Independance Day fireworks!  He made the shirt at camp.

Auntie Sam put in a 4th of July appearance!

And so did her pal Uncle Sam!

The goddess has a sense of humor!

A few weeks back when I took Rob shopping for sneakers I bought myself a new two piece bathing suit.  It fit perfectly.  It cost $14.99  Except I was reasonably sure it should have cost twice that because both the top and bottom had tags that said $14.99  I pointed this out to the clerk but he was adament that it was a set.  OK, I tried.  I paid $14.99 and was psyched.

Yesterday I took the kids to the beach.  I went to put on my suit.  I could only find the top (which I have worn a few times for just shooting water shooters or playing water balloons with the kids.)  The bottoms are no where to be found.  I know that they came home with me, but where they went between a few weeks back and yesterday when I wanted to don them?  That would be a mystery.  Looks like I got the 1/2 a suit I paid for!  LOL

Monday, July 5, 2010

Recap of the 4th

Our 4th was festive and fun.  Greg and Wendy are great people and I love how when they are here, each of them finds time to spend one on one with each of the kids.  With a brood my size, that is no small achievement.  It does make for a long visit though and by the time it was over, Lissa was a screaming, unhappy mess. Too tired to really even eat supper, furious that she was showering and going to bed. But today is a new day, sunny and bright and sometime today we will hit the beach.

My mother called in the midst of it all.  Luckily our friends were busy with the kids and I felt comfortable taking the call.  My sister had called my mom to tell her about my dad's wife who had just passed away.  Sis is having a hard time because no one from the first two marriages except her has a relationship with him. I have tried to explain to Sis that I am here for her but that he and I have no relationship other than biologically.  I said it a whole lot more gently but I don't think it helped.  The kids from his second marriage were apparently less gentle so she moved on to my mom.  Who predictably was upset.  And who didn't suggest we all get together and sing Kum Bay Yah.  Ah, the joys of family!  I think I got her calmed down and got back to the party.  Later I emailed sis so hopefully all will be well.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Fourth of July

It is hot here in Central MA and we are gearing up for our BBQ with the kids godparents.  It is an annual event and a lot of fun. They really love our kids and I wish their schedules and ours allowed more time togethr than we typically get. 

The kids and I decorated the back yard today.  It looks festive and cute.  I had this cool idea of lining the steps to the backyard with red white and blue balloon clusters tied onto stakes.  (that will eventually go to the garden for our tomatos).  It looks really sweet but the aforementioned heat is causing the balloons to explode one by one.  I hope a few are left by the time Greg and Wendy arrive!  LOL  There are sparkly star garlands decorating the umbrella on the table, and I have criss crossed plastic streamers in flag motifs across the numerous tables.  Because I suffer from Marthanity a bit, there is a bowl with a gorgeous blue hydrangea floating in it on one of the tables which will hold food.  We have star themed cloth napkins and I made a cutlery holder out of a gigantic oatmeal container that was empty.  Covered it with paper and had the kids go at it with patriotic stickers.   Looks cute and all the place settings are in there neatly bundled into their napkins and tied with a bit of festive ribbon.

My sister called to update me on my father's situation.  She doesn't understand why his step children from marriage number 2 feel uncomfortable because he left their mother for the woman he is now married to.  My sister says it is just part of his personality.  I didn't know what to say to that (she has been married 3 times herself) so I made hmmmming noises.  LOL 

I hope I always have connection to my children.  Not that I don't want them to fledge and ultimately fly--and i am excited to see the stirrings of that in my 14 y/o--but I want them to always know they are loved and to feel comfortable flying home should they wish to.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Rob's home but his raincoat isn't!

He may be my quietest child--may be my ONLY quiet child, but his absence is so loud.  All week long I would sort of half forget that Rob was away at camp. I'd have that sports trivia I wanted to share and no one to share it with.  I'd go upstairs at night and his bedroom door was open and the room was empty.  It was just sort of off kilter feeling a bit. 

I'm glad he went.  He loves it there.  He grows there.  There is somehow a perfect balance at this camp of the familiar and known, and the new, so that each year he stretches a little, grows just a wee bit more in confidence and maturity.  Though obviously packing skills and keeping track of "stuff" is still a work in progress as we came home without a new raincoat and a fairly new hoodie.  Sigh.  But in the grand scheme of things, it's not that big a deal.

The kids and i were up at 5:30 this morning because we were leaving by 6:30 and well, we were excited.  We were out the door right on time, hit Dunkins and made it to Maine in really good time.  I had thought that traffic might be a problem but it was clear sailing.  We got to the camp, and did the myriad leave taking details.  Had time to walk on the beach and for KC and Lissa to play at the playground a bit. 

Got back to the car and attempted to set the GPS to take us from the camp to my mothers house in Maine.  GPS would not turn on.  I gave it to Rob who is my go-to tech guy.  Nada.  I called Kirsty on the cell phone.  Nada.  She gave me directions verbally over the phone.  (yes, I know it was MY mother's house.  I am so seriously directionally impaired I would miss my OWN house if I approached from a new angle!)  We set off.

And all was good till we got lost.  But then somehow Rob got the GPS going and it turned out I was only a few miles off (and no where near Wisconsin or Iowa or something yet.  Truly my lack of directional abilities is legendary and faintly pathetic but I have come to terms with this limitation.)  We thus were only a few minutes late to the Nana, which is very good.  One should not keep Nana waiting.  LOL  Trust me, I speak the truth.

We ate lunch with her, kids played a bit, we chatted a bit. Then she said she had to go to the farmers market which was kind of a cue.  Time to go boys and girls!  GPS was willing to work again; it must have just needed a mid day nap.  And by the time I hit the highway all 3 kids that were with me were asleep.  This was surreal.  I can count on one hand the number of times in his life that Rob has fallen asleep in the car.  Turns out that they got up at 4:30 this morning to watch the sun come up over the ocean so that was why he was whipped.  He slept most of the way home and so did KC. Lissa woke about half way home.

The traffic was heavier on the way back but not horrid.  And I have a speed pass transponder gizmo that is so worth its weight in gold.  No slowing down even at certain tolls and in bad weather, I never have to even roll down my window.  I love that thing.

When we got home I grabbed the mail out of the mail box.  There were 2 postcards from Rob.  One to the family and one specifically to KC and Lissa.  I know it came the day he came home but this was huge with a capital H.  In the previous years, he has never written us from camp.  We have hinted broadly (year 1) and begged (year 2)  But nothing.  This year i said nothing but noticed that he packed postcards and a pen when we got his gear together.  Rob has always been the child that counselors exclaimed happily about because he is never homesick.  This year i don't think he was homesick, but he allowed himself to show caring and love for us in a new way and that is so great.  Healing comes in fits and starts in my experience but this was a big leap for him.  He could see too that we were all excited about the cards. It didn't matter that they arrived when he did; they showed he thought about us while he was gone, just like we were thinking of him.

And for him, there was a bouquet of orange balloons to celebrate his return home.  And a scratch art drawing of his favorite things by little brother KC.

Friday, July 2, 2010

L is for Lissa!

Yahoo!  Lissa is definately learning and retaining letters!  I am sooooo excited.  Since I have been working 1/2 days this week I added a "game" where I wrote 9 letters on 3 by 5 cards.  One card per letter.  6 letters were ones I was reasonably sure she knew, 2 were ones she gets right about half the time and one was a "new" letter that had zero accuracy before the game.  We held the cards up and said the letters together and then I put them on the floor and had her run and jump on a letter as I called it out.   KC thought it looked like fun and joined in. They call it the jumping game and ask for it often now!  LOL  But the other night when we were reading she pointed to an L at long last and said "L is for Lissa."  Whew!  We are on the literary journey at last folks!

News of my father

My sister called last night to tell me that my father's wife is critically ill and will likely pass away in 48 hours.  According to sis, my father is so broken up that he is on suicide watch.  Unfortunately, in a not too compassionate moment in my life the words "oh PULEEZ" burst from my lips when she told me this.

I am sorry the woman is dying and I wish her a peaceful journey as the wheel turns.  But I don't know her.  I know my dad married her a few years ago.  I didn't know they had lived together for 20 yrs according to what sis told me last night.  This is wife number 3 and i only briefly ever met wife number two.  My father has not contacted me since Chet was about 3.  He has moved multiple times and obviously we were never really close or he would have kept in contact.

I try to be mature about this.  Rationally I know that my father and I never got along.  Literally, from the time I could talk,  And I don't know why we butt heads so badly as I do remember very much wanting his approval and praise.  So much so that I went to R rated movies at the drive ins with him when I was way too young for them.  My  mother wouldn't go and i knew he wanted company.  So much so that i read the books he was reading for college so that i could talk about them with him.  I was 10 when I read Oedipus the King and I remember talking with him about it.  I would offer to help him strip copper wire from his electrical side jobs, went hunting when I abhor killing things etc.  But we could never get close.  He couldn't get me and I couldn't get him. He had a capacity for choosing what should have been special moments and bringing me to tears--my high school graduation, a dance recital, the day I went to my first job. I don't look back at pictures from my childhood because the moments most people want to remember are very much tinged with sadness for me.

By the time i was a teen I was sure that I was the reason for discord in our house.  Obviously not as my folks divorced the year after I left home.  But well before then, we had both stopped trying.  I felt he made it pretty clear he didn't love me or approve of me and I was totally done in that way that only a teen can be.

 Yet I did try again when Chet came home.  I thought he would want to know his only  grandson.  That was also when I met wife #2.  A couple years after that he moved and never told me.  He has since lived in multiple states, divorced wife #2 and obviously married wife #3.  He kept ties with my sister, visiting her and flying out to see her (we live about 40 minutes from each other) and even on occasion flying her out to visit him.  Pretty clear statement on his part as to our lack of relationship.

Which I have sort of come to a peaceful place with.  There will always be hurt, because I don't know what about me he doesn't  like.  I don't know if I could have fixed things.  I do know that the loss has given me insights for my children who have experienced loss and perhaps an empathy I would not otherwise have had.  And I am left trying to say the right thing to my sister who is obviously worried for him and grieving and I feel about as connected to this whole thing as if a distant neighbor shared a story from their family.  Life is weird sometimes.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A tale of two libraries

Today the city next to us was supposed to be having a celebration starting at 3 p.m.  We showed up at 3:15 and couldn't find hide nor hair of any sort of celebrating--and anyone who has stopped by my blog knows my family knows celebrating!  LOL

I used to spend a lot of our Saturdays in this "twin" city to mine.  My kids took swimming lessons there (our city has no facility for this other than a pricey country club.  I prefer a Y environment) Because of their lessons, I went to my banks branch in this city, and used this city's library.  For years.  Chet grew up spending more time at that library than the lovely one in our own community. 

Not because of convenience. You can walk to the library in our city from our home.  But our city is somewhat elitist.  You walk down town and you do not see homeless people.  Or as a general rule, disabled people.  Marginalized people in general are not common sights here.  Not so in the city next to us.  They have a highly visible street population and this population used their library extensively during the day.  When I went it was common to see folks with back packs and sleeping bags reading magazines or newspapers.  Or to have someone say thing that didn't make a lot of sense.  Or for someone to be a bit loud.

All that made the other city library a perfect fit for my family.  My eldest is not neurotypical.  To look at him, one doesn't know that he sees, interprets and experiences the world in a vastly different manner from most of us.  But he does.  So he sometimes says things that seem out of context or downright strange.  He is loud, and gestures wildly with his hands when he gets excited. 

But the staff at the other library were used to pegs that were not all the same and Chet was not a problem.  He grew up there and the lovely children's librarian watched him grow to adulthood and as my other 3 children came along, she helped shepherd them along the path of literature with the same kind, gentle demeanor.  Rob and KC also took to her and loved seeing her each Saturday after swimming lessons.

Then budget cuts forced drastic cuts for that city library. They are only open a couple days a week and they are weekdays, not Saturdays.  I had to resort to going to the beautiful new library in my city.  Which has lots of books.  And the librarians are all really friendly.  Except that my eldest can't really go there.  He gets upset because it is so big, so vast that he becomes overwhelmed.  His loudness is very much at odds with the expectations in this city library.  When he did go, I received carefully worded complaints from staff about how he monopolized staff time, was disruptive, etc.  Explaining Chet's disability did little.  There were nods and all, but still an expectation that he would comply "normally."

Today, because I only worked a half day, the other library was open.  I hadn't known it would be, or I would have brought Chet along.  As it was, KC got to see his beloved librarian friend, who he remembered and who remembered both he and Elisabeth and the rest of my brood.  She and I spoke at length about the different feeling in the two libraries and how sad I was over the fate of her library and the loss it represented most particularly for my eldest son. She said how much she genuinely liked Chet and how she missed seeing him. She remembered that he always brought her a plethora of magazines which she would read herself and then offer for free to other patrons.

The world is not sunlight and sweet music when you have a child (or in my case a man-child) who hears a different symphony from the one the rest of the world listens to.  I mourn that for my son, but I also celebrate that today I reconnected with someone who was able to see the essential goodness within him.