Friday, December 17, 2010

Fessing up

The kids love when I bake homemade pizza. Danielle likes sauce, cheese, pepperoni, onions, bell peppers and black olives. Emily gets sauce, no cheese, pepperoni and black olives. Derek and Anna are both light sauce, cheese and pepperoni. My slices have sauce, light cheese, onions, bell pepper, banana peppers and jalapenos. Hubby gets...take out. He isn't quite as fond of homemade pizza as the rest of us.

Last night, we watched The Sorcerer's Apprentice as we munched on our pizza (and hubby enjoyed his fish poboy). The movie was cute - especially the lil nod to Mickey's Fantasia role. Several times during the show, the main character was told that he doesn't lie very well. I can relate to that. I stink at lying. Guilt gets me quickly and I just know that it shows on my face. My children, however, have not inherited that from me. They are all excellent liars. In fact, they are so good at distorting the truth that they actually make me doubt my own sanity at times. Last night was one of those times.

Here is what happened. When the pizza was ready, I cut each section and put everyone's special pieces on their own plates. I only put half of my own section on my plate and left the other half on the stone to keep warm. That half actually filled me up pretty well, so I was planning to store the other piece for breakfast. The problem was that when I went back to the was empty. I looked back at my children, who were all happily munching away on pizza, and asked if anyone had taken it. Every single one of them denied it. One told me that I must have eaten it myself. hmmm... I WAS feeling full. Could I have walked up to the stone, taken the second half, walked back to the table and eaten it - all while distracted by the movie? Suddenly, I wasn't sure. Then another child pointed out that none of them like banana peppers or jalapenos. At that point I had to concede that I MUST have somehow eaten the slice myself without even realizing what I was doing. There was no other explanation, right?

But what hides in darkness will be exposed in the light.

This morning, I walked into my pantry and found this:

In addition to the peppers discarded on the floor were a few smears of pizza sauce on the wall.


So I did what any good mother would do in that situation. I pulled out the camera and thought "at least this will be good blog material!" Then I sent a text to hubby. He responded with a suggestion that I punish them all unless the guilty party confesses. I wasn't comfortable with that, but figured that since I obviously am not doing a great job at teaching them to tell the truth, maybe I should try things his way. So I called an emergency family meeting. The girls met me at the pantry door. The boy...was busy puking in the bathroom. Now for those of you who think that I should have been in the bathroom with my vomiting son instead of at the pantry with my girls, you need to understand that I am not only completely useless in vomit situations - I am usually in danger of puking right along with the sick child. That's never a good thing.

After pointing out the evidence, I told the girls that I wasn't upset at all that someone had eaten the pizza slice. In fact, if the culprit had only asked me for it, I would have gladly agreed to sharing it. The problem I had was that I was lied to. I told them that if no one confessed, they were all punished (side note - I never actually told them HOW they would be punished - and none of them asked for details) BUT if the guilty party did step up and do the right thing, she or he would be given - forgiveness.

The oldest immediately protested. That wasn't fair! I agreed, but stood firm. Then I walked away to let them debate it among themselves (stopping first to check on my son - who who feeling a bit better having finished his first bout of upchucking.) Ten minutes later, my boy came to me with his head hung low. I checked his forehead for fever and asked if he wanted to try a bit of Powerade. When he raised his eyes to mine, I knew. It wasn't just the illness weighing him down. Whether his sisters convinced him to come forward or if he decided to take responsibility for his actions all on his own, I don't know. It didn't really matter. He owned up to it and was granted forgiveness.

All was well.

Until, I went to pack the fruit snacks for my youngest' classroom Christmas party. I reached into the grocery bag from the night before and realized that an entire box was missing.

Nobody took it. Nope. None of them. :::sigh::: At least none of them tried to convince me that I ate them myself.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Life with Derek - Looking Forward

Not long ago, Derek and Anna decided to ride their bikes while waiting for the school bus. Anna pulled her bike out of the shed and began pushing it up the rock road toward the cemented area at her grandparents. She had gotten a pretty good head start on her brother because he had to finish packing his school bag first, but Derek is strong enough to ride his bike on the rock road so he caught up with her quickly. I walk onto the scene just as it occurred. Anna was happily pushing her bike and Derek was happily riding his – directly behind her. He was looking down at his pedaling feet, completely unaware that he was about to plow into his sister. I called out, but it was too late. In an instant Anna was on the ground, sobbing and holding her knee. Derek was off his bike, looking confused and concerned.

Looking forward is something Derek really needs to work on. This is the same boy who, two years ago, ran full force into the back of his grandfather’s parked truck, slicing the top of his head open. Yes, the top of his head. You see, just like with the bike, he was looking DOWN at his feet as he raced home. It was around then we learned he had slight dexterity issues. An Occupational Therapist officially diagnosed him with “Lack of Coordination.“ Seriously. Did you know that is a real medical diagnosis – with an ICD (International Classification of Diseases) code number and all? I couldn’t make this stuff up.

Derek very much enjoyed his OT appointments. And why not? They were fun. The OT equipment looked a lot like toys to him. He was sad when his therapist decided that he had advanced enough to discontinue visits. He is still just slightly uncoordinated enough that I don’t see a future for him in sports, but not so much that he stands out among the other, somewhat awkward, 10 year olds he plays with. But while his balance may have improved, his ability to focus on what is in front of him still needs work.

Learning to physically look ahead is one goal - hopefully his new glasses will help with that! His vision deteriorated quite a bit this past year. Watching him struggle to read even the big letters with his old glasses on was kinda heartbreaking. But vision aside, an even bigger goal is for Derek is to think ahead. To be fair, he has come a long way in that area. A couple of years ago, he still acted on impulse more often than not. It was a rare week that he didn’t have some type of discipline note come home from school. Naturally I wanted to do anything and everything that would help my child, but the school system left me feeling almost as frustrated as he was. He was in their care for most of his waking hours. Little by little, I watched my sweet, happy baby boy sink into a reactive, discouraged child. His love of learning was replaced with an “I hate school” attitude. Hearing those words come out of his mouth was what finally convinced me to give conventional medication a try. Up until that point, I held on to the fading hope that proper nutrition (which he wasn’t getting thanks to his intense food aversions) and herbal supplements were going to help. Having him labeled as ADHD wasn’t my worry. It was the medication that I feared most.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ll gladly give my children antibiotics for strep throat, ear infections and so on. Xopenex and Pulmicort (a bronchial dilator and inhaled steroid) were life saving meds for my children that I am very grateful for. And while I’ll usually turn to zinc, Echinacea and vit C when I feel a cold coming on, I’m not above going to the doctor when those things aren’t enough. I have great respect for the medical community – mostly. Mood-altering meds, however, scare me (I also have issues with pain meds, but that’s another story.) The idea of drugging my son so that he would behave in school was something that I struggled over. For some reason that bothered me more than if, for instance, we would have been doing it to help his grades. Derek hasn’t really needed help in that area and naturally I’m grateful for that. But of course, school isn’t just about grades. So in a frustrated effort to help my child stop getting into constant trouble at school, I agreed to give ADHD meds a try. Much to my relief, he did NOT turn into Zombie Boy as I feared. Instead, just the opposite happened. It was as though he came alive again. Not in a hyperactive way, but in a “wow, I can think clearly” way. Instead of binding his emotions, the medication actually gives him more control over them. He still makes poor choices sometimes, but instead of melting down, lashing out or getting defensive when corrected, he now does something that I hadn’t seen him do in a long while. He apologizes. No prompting necessary! He’ll actually talk over what he’s done and comes up with ideas about what he should have done instead.

Wow, right? Well, maybe it’s not wow to you, but it is for me. I realize now that it isn’t just the behavior we are addressing. It is the thought process (or lack thereof) that leads to the behavior!

Sometimes I’ll even hear him weighing possible consequences of an action BEFORE he jumps into something. Not always but it’s getting better. When things do get rough, I try to remember that he is maturing day by day and that I too have to look ahead.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Life With Derek

My children used to watch a show on Disney called Life with Derek. I can't tell you much about it because I, admittedly, didn't pay much attention to it. There was a time when I watched everything that my children watched. At some point, that changed. I think it was when my older two children moved away from Nick Jr and PBS kid shows and gravitated to things like Pokemon. I tried to keep up, but by the millionth PI… KA… CHUUU shriek (a threshold that was probably was achieved in the third episode) I found that I simply could not stand it any longer. It may or may not be coincidence that it was right about then that I really started discovering the internet. Oh, I still had to hear the shows they were watching, but tried my best to let it become nothing more than background noise (something I also learned to do whenever hubby used to watch pro wrestling.)

Regardless of not really getting into the TV series, the title always made me smile. You see we have our own Life with Derek here. And trust me, life with our Derek is anything but boring.

When Derek was around three years old, he told me that he choose our family long before he joined us. According to his story he was in heaven with God, looking at different families and trying to decide which he’d choose. God pointed us out to him. Well, we just happened to be at Disney World at the time he was checking us out and were having so much fun that he agreed that we were the right family for him. I remember feeling a sense of wonderment as my baby told me that tale. Sure we had talked about God before and probably mentioned heaven too, but how he came up with the idea that he was there before he was born is still a mystery to me. BTW, we were at Disney World a year before he was born, but of course he probably heard stories about that so I guess that doesn't prove anything other than he had a pretty great imagination even at three. Still, I have to admit that I do like to think that he might have really picked us.

My son’s physical entrance into our family should have given me a clue about what was to come in our Life with Derek. Both of his older sisters choose 2:30 am as the perfect time to jump start labor, so when I woke up at 2:30 am that fateful morning I just knew that it was the day. The problem was, there weren’t any contractions. There was only…dampness. It wasn’t pain that woke me up. It was some kind of spastic jump/kick that was apparently strong enough to break my water. On the way to the hospital, I kept waiting for contractions to begin. They didn’t. Looking back now, I think I can finally understand what happened. You see, he probably got bored and thought that it was a good time to be born and so he made a beginning effort to start the whole process – with the karate kick - but instead of finishing whatever it is that babies do to trigger labor, he obviously got distracted. After all, there was that interesting umbilical cord in there with him. He most likely thought, “hmmm…I bet it would be fun to get all wrapped up in this thing.” So that’s what he did. He twisted the darn thing around his neck. By then the doc had bullied, I mean talked me into that horrible pitocin stuff to start contractions. And so, for the first time in his life, the world forced Derek into doing what he should have done on his own.

It wouldn’t be the last.

Naturally Derek finds ways to be himself regardless of how much the world tries to mold him to what it wants him to be. Sometimes I worry so much about if he’ll ever find a way to fit in. Other times I just have to laugh. Sometimes I do both…like when I read his answers to a worksheet on “Dealing with Peer Pressure.”

Q. What was your friend or friends pressuring you to do?

A. Study

Q. What kinds of things were your friends doing or saying to pressure you?

A. to study

Q. How did you feel about being pressured?

A. Weird

Q. What did you decide to do at the time?

A. Fart

Q. What happened as a result of your decision?

A. I farted

Q. How did you feel about your decision?

A. farty

Q. Would you do anything differently today? Is so, write what you would do differently?

A. Yes, break the world record for the longest fart.

Yes, my son is brilliant.

To be continued….