Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Letting you in

Why did we make an emergency run to Whole Foods today?

(Not the downtown WF, the flagship store beneath the world headquarters that can take hours to go through, especially if you stop for little samples at the nut butter bar because you're so enchanted by the offering of chocolate almond butter ... No. The north WF. Boring.)

Answer: to buy a box of coconut popsicles.

Why was this necessary?

Because Ian earned the popsicle privilege by accumulating a high enough rating on his new Attitude Scale by the midpoint of the week.

You know, there's really a lot that I don't share on this blog, believe or no, partly because like many other moms-who-blog, I have concerns about my kids' privacy. I would hate to share anything that might make them feel horribly betrayed if they were to stumble across my blog or even be given it to read one day. That's why I'm not posting any pics of my girls lying on my floor after their bath, buck naked, listening to Curious George Rides a Bike on the iPod.

We do have limits.

But, from time to time I think it might be helpful to share more than usual in case any of my struggles can be of use to anyone else out there. Sometimes, when you have a challenging child (or more than one), there's a tendency to feel that either a) it's your fault somehow, professional opinions to the contrary, or b) you're all alone, swimming at the rocky edges outside the mainstream.

Those who have only recently started reading might not know that my dear, sweet, intelligent son also has diagnoses of ADHD, giftedness, and a nonverbal learning disability (which makes social skills harder to grasp). Again, I wrestle with how much to share, but then I wonder if NOT sharing perpetuates an inappropriate stigma. There is nothing "wrong" with my child. There are simply parts of his brain that are slower to develop than others, and other parts are faster than average, so the fallout from such uneven development can sometimes be more than a parent feels that she can handle.

Lately we have been seeing a therapist who specializes in anxiety and attentional issues in children. Ian likes her, which is a major victory in itself. I like her too. Sometimes it's just reassuring to hear someone who knows what she's talking about tell you that you've taken on a huge, huge task, being the one who all day long is giving instructions to such a child. Plus raising other children, neither of whom is a shrinking violet. Plus, plus, plus.

She and Ian work out all sorts of deals together, working on becoming flexible, on being a good sport, on moderating his intensity with some coping skills. Sometimes it's just a relief to have someone else to whom he can be accountable.

Last Friday we agreed (with Tim present) that in order for me to continue homeschooling, certain parts of the system needed to be in place. Number One was more time for me to breathe. To step back and recuperate. To have the house to myself for a couple hours at a time on the weekend. The doctor felt this was imperative, and whom I to argue with a professional? :-)

We also came up with the attitude rating scale. Hearing "I hate schoolwork" is, well, kind of a bummer, especially when you do your best to make it stimulating and fun. I think it's not only a downer for me, but also unhealthy for him, since those thoughts tend to wear a groove in one's mind when entertained for too long. There is a fine line between suppressing one's feelings and deciding to think differently.

There is a poster hanging in our kitchen right now, detailing what the various ends of the scale "look like." We check in twice a day and see if our ratings (my eval, his self-assessment) match up. We go with my rating, but bump it up a point if our numbers independently match. Learning to self-evaluate, Dr. S pointed out, is a useful life skill. Tim had to use it once a year at Michelin. Theoretically, this exercise resulted in a nice raise.

So there you go. Sometimes I pray that all the lessons I'm learning, lessons I needed to save me from being that judgmental, condescending parent with the perfectly compliant, easygoing child who glorifies my excellent mothering skills, will be of use to just one person some day.

And if that might be you, or even if you've tasted discouragement for any other reason recently, then maybe the following will feed you as it did me today. The passage is spoken by Joshua and Caleb, the spies sent into Canaan by Moses who returned to hear their colleagues delivering a frightening report of the giants and dangers in the land.

"If the Lord is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land, and give it to us -- a land which flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord, and do not fear the people of the land, for they shall be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them." Numbers 14:8-9.


Jenny said...

I want more details about the attitude rating scale!! This sounds like something that would really help with my little guy!!

Stephanie said...

You are brave to share so much. Your experiences are an encouragement to those of us with similar (and even not so similar) trials. And your children are blessed to have 2 parents who believe in, support, encourage, and love them so fervently (quirks and all) before the Lord.