Holding

Dru’s first day of Kindergarten was today.  He’s been excited for a while, and woke up this morning bright and cheerful and excited about the day.  He was very helpful and ready to go 10 minutes early.  We were so excited for him, and (of course) a little sad, but mostly excited.  And very happy that he has an internal drive and love of learning which many people (young and old) have lost somewhere along the way.

Of course it was emotional…my little boy is hitting a big milestone, but I promised myself not to be the mom holding him back, passing on any anxiety or worry.  I wouldn’t cry and upset him.  And I didn’t.  He cried a bit, mostly nerves I think, since he couldn’t stop talking about his day once we picked him up.  Yet it made me think, as parents, what are we imparting to our children.  We want to hold on to them as long as possible, but those parents who hover and interfere constantly make me angry and sad all at once.  I’m angry that as a society we encourage a culture of fear that makes parents feel a visceral desire to constantly be alert for any and all dangers.  When Dru is at a playground, I’m the mom sitting on a bench, chatting or reading while he plays.  Other parents are walking their (same age) kids over bridges and encouraging them to come down slides, because they have no innate sense that they can do it themselves.  If Mom or Dad is always there ready to catch them, why should they learn to take the leap?  Now, that’s not to say that I think my 4.5 year old should be allowed to jump into the pool unattended (let’s be reasonable here folks), but we need to let our kids build their self-esteem.  And the only way to do that is themselves…we can’t do it for them by always making sure they succeed.  Kids are smart, they can feel the difference between when they accomplish something – opening the cereal box…even if it gets all over the kitchen – and when someone else does it for them, and then tells them they’ve done a good job.  Self-esteem is aptly labeled…it needs to come from inside yourself.  I’m sad for these kids (and parents) because where are they going to be in 5, 10, 20 years?  What happens when that child is an adult, and they go in for a job interview and don’t get the job?  Mom or Dad can’t come to the rescue then…and we’re seeing the effects of this already.

I saw it in the schools, and I see it in the kids that are around everywhere…”I’m awesome/smart/pretty/etc. so I DESERVE this.”  NO.

When I worked as a trainer in a restaurant in New Orleans, one of our managers always used to tell us to hold a 10 over every trainee’s head.  We used to laugh, and make fun of it (still sometimes it’ll come up as a joke), but thinking about it now, I see it.  We should hold that high standard over everyone…strive for excellence.  Instead, we’re saying, as a culture, that since not everyone can reach a 10 – let’s bring that standard down to a 7, or give people a boost to start from a 4.

We’re only hurting ourselves.  As a culture, and a nation, we used to be the leader in education and STEM industries.  We’re nowhere near that now.  Some people want to blame the teachers, some want to blame the politicians.  We need to hold ourselves responsible.  Teachers and politicians aren’t in our homes or raising our kids (though unfortunately, in some cases, teachers are given that task as well).  We blame them when something horrible happens, or we fail to meet a standard, but we never look at what we’re saying as a culture.  As a culture, we glorify and idolize celebrities who do nothing more than make fools of themselves.  We ridicule those who seek to improve themselves as “stuck-up” or elitist.  Yet we still want to claim that we’re the greatest in the world.

If we’re not striving for and pursuing excellence in everything we do, what right do we have to claim excellence?  NONE.  As a nation, as parents, as individuals, we need to be holding 10’s over everyone.  Yes, some people will fall short.  Not everyone is good at everything.  I SUCK at higher math and yard work.  I know this about myself.  Hold yourself and those around you to a higher standard.  Hold your elected officials to a higher standard.  If everyone does that, we’ll meet it – we’ll have no choice but to do that.

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Worrying

I almost titled this post failing…because that’s how I’ve been feeling lately – like I’m failing.

Work has been going great, we had great news that Dru was accepted into the pre-K room at daycare, and that he was going to be going into early Kindergarten in the fall (he misses the normal cutoff by 2 weeks). Then, about a month ago, Dru’s behavior started going downhill. Kris was off for a week because a friend was coming in to town, and he was getting ready for a business trip the following week. That Thursday, Dru got sent home from daycare for being a banshee at resting time and jumping on other kids’ cots. Ok, he’s four, we punished him and moved on.

Kris left for Germany on a Saturday, Dru was NOT happy when he realized he was NOT going with Daddy on the plane, but we moved on. Good day at daycare Monday – and then Tuesday, resting time, he hit the teacher when she tried to get him to calm down at resting time. This time, I had to leave work to get him, and he was VERY contrite. We made a list of ways to behave better, and he wrote an apology to his teacher. Had a decent day Wednesday. Thursday, I pick him up to find out he’d gotten in trouble for pushing another kid on the playground – but I didn’t get a call, because they suspect that the child (and another boy, both larger than Dru) had trapped him and wouldn’t let him go down the slide. Seeing as I want my child to stand up to bullies, we talked about not using our hands and asking for help from a teacher and moved on. Good day Friday. Daddy came home Saturday, good day and good day Sunday. Things are looking up.

Monday, he had a decent day (a bit of not listening when time to switch activities, but again, he’s four, it’s a known issue). Tuesday, we get a call that he decided to go Incredible Hulk on the classroom at resting time (anyone seeing a pattern here?) and was throwing furniture. Oh, and by the way, he can’t come back Wednesday. Kris brings him home, I stay home on Wednesday. Through much talking (and removal of fun) he starts talking about resting time, and how he’s scared of the two boys that we know about from before, because they were firing him. When asked to explain firing, he makes finger guns and shooting noises. He also tells me that they do it to him all the time when the teacher isn’t looking. Now because he’s four, I know I have to consider the source, so I take him to his Pediatrician to make sure that he doesn’t have an ear infection or something (which historically has caused extremes in behavior for him). Everything checks out, but it appears he has seasonal allergies (you’re welcome kiddo) and that we can try giving him a kids Claritin to help with that.

At the suggestion of my awesome Mother-in-law, we make a social story to plan out how he will react in the future to situations which make him “nervous” (his word) or angry. Thursday morning, we talk with the teacher and the center director about the other boys (for the second time, mentioning the finger guns) and request that at resting time, they send him to his cot with a book (he loves reading, we hope this will stave off a psychotic break on both his and my part). As I’m about to walk into a meeting, we get a call that he’s losing his mind again (and it’s nap time). I ask the assistant director what’s going on, and she tells me that she’s managed to calm him down by removing him from the room and then putting him back in with a book after he calmed down. When asked if he was given a book at the start of resting/nap time, she said he hadn’t been “not what we do”. I told her that since he was calm, I wasn’t going to come get him, and I would appreciate if they gave him a book pre-emptively going forward, as we’d discussed that morning. That night, we had dinner with an old family friend and her daughters and daughter’s fiance since she was in town. Dru did awesome at dinner. At this point, the only time he’s losing his mind is at resting time, in that room.

Friday, he had a great day. His teacher made special note of it, told us he deserved a special reward for being so good. Her special rewards was getting to be Star Student the next week. He was extremely excited. He had a booklet to fill out, we spent a couple of hours this weekend getting it ready. I had a tutoring session on Saturday morning at the library, he came with and was wonderful. He even got to get a library card of his own and pick out a book to take to class to read as Star Student (the Tuesday activity).

Yesterday, we dropped him off at daycare and he was extremely excited. After lunch (at resting time) we again got a call that he was being sent home because he hit a teacher. Come to find out, they did not send him to his cot with a book, and he was near the boys who have been giving him trouble. Oh, and here’s the kicker – he can’t come back all week.

Thankfully, Kris was able to work that out and stay home. When he got to daycare, Dru was still losing his mind, and Kris wasn’t able to get the whole story. After work, I dropped in to get more details and found out the above information. So I told the director that we were going to have to look into other centers, because something or someone was triggering this behavior . Kris went today and we decided on a new place, which thankfully has an opening for him starting in 2 weeks (we’re off next week for a much-needed vacation, so this works out well).

Now through all this, I keep having these awful feelings that I’m failing as a parent – either I’m not seeing a situation which is emotionally harming my child in enough time to protect him well, or I’m failing to see that he’s a raging terror of a child, and I’m becoming that mother who excuses everything her child does as someone else’s fault. I don’t want to be either person. And I’m sure the emotional toll this is taking on Kris and I can’t be helping Dru – thus the spiral.

It’s even more frustrating, because he’s usually so good, and we know he’s smart – already reading and doing basic addition – so I think we sometimes forget that he’s only four.  Plus, as both sets of parents have told us, we’ve been pretty lucky – he’s held up well to almost all of the changes (and there have been many) that have occurred in his short life and was a relatively low maintenance kid…maybe this is payback…

So we’re REALLY looking forward to our week off next week and starting fresh the week after.

Wow, that was long, sorry guys.

I think this picture of Dru sums up my feelings lately:
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Yes, I know it’s old, but I have to focus on the cute right now…forgive me.

So we’re trying to figure out a good solution for his behavior – he needs to know this is not okay, but we also need to know what’s causing it – if it’s bullying or whatnot, he needs to know we’re on his side. If he’s just decided to go batcrap crazy, he needs to stop. If it’s medical, I need to get him help. But he’s four, so he’s not exactly a reliable source of information. Especially when his usual answer is “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember”.

GRRRRRRRRRRRR

Okay, I think it’s bedtime.

Mourning

How do you explain to a 2.5 year old the concept of death?

While getting ready to go to our dear family friend Terri’s memorial service, I tried to find a way to explain to Dru what was going on.  Then I realized that my sister-in-law had given me the perfect explanation.

Saturday, when Kellie was sitting at the table upset over the news, Dru came up and the following conversation ensued.

Dru: “Aunt Kellie, you’re sad.”

Kellie: “Yes, Dru, I’m sad.”

Dru: “Did you bump your head?”

Kellie: “No, my heart hurts.”

Dru: “Oh, my heart hurts too Aunt Kellie.  Hugs?”

As we were heading out the door, with Dru all dressed in his navy suit for the memorial this evening, he asked where we were going.  I told him we were going to see Uncle Keith and that he would need hugs.  Dru asked if he was sad, and I said yes, like Aunt Kellie, his heart hurts.  He then asked if everyone here’s heart hurt, and I told him yes, because Aunt Terri went away and wasn’t coming back.  He told me he was sad too, and when we got there, gave Keith big hugs.

 

I don’t know if this is the recommended way that we’re supposed to handle death with a toddler, but it seemed to work for him.  It was something he could wrap his brain around, and the empathy he showed was very sweet.  Despite the fact that we’ve had no trouble at bedtime (or in the night) for the past month or so, it took him about an hour and a half to fall asleep tonight.  He kept telling me he was sad and that I needed to come back.  I think he picked up on all the emotions that the many people at the service were feeling.  He was super sweet to those he knew, but you could tell he was picking up on the general sadness.

 

On behalf of our family, Terri, you will be missed and always loved.  You touched many lives, and the turnout today just confirmed that for everyone.

Sleeping

So after talking with my mom about her solution to my little sister’s night terrors – having a sleeping bag in their room for her that made it so she didn’t crawl into bed every night – Kris and I decided to try something similar.  Two nights ago, we brought Dru’s little Cars couch upstairs at bedtime and have him help us put it in our room, telling him that if he got scared in the middle of the night, he could come and sleep on it.  Well, he decided that wasn’t going to be the plan.  Dru instead demanded we place it on his bed.  Figuring it couldn’t hurt, we did.  Well, he woke up around 11 pm for about 30 sec, then went straight back to bed and slept through the night.

Last night, we put him down, and he didn’t wake up until this morning at 7:15.  Despite the fact that apparently we had a wicked storm including hail last night.

So what I’d like to say is: THANK YOU to the makers of that little couchbed thingy.  Even if it’s not a permanent solution – I’ve gotten two straight nights of full sleep.  So I call it a win!

You can’t see the couch very well here, but it’s the bright red thing he’s sitting on

Screaming

I don’t know how many of you out there have experienced night terrors, either as someone who’s had them, or as a parent.  I’ve been on both ends – and they suck for everyone involved.  For those of you who don’t know – night terrors are nightmares where you can’t shake the fear even after waking up.  I had them for years as a kid, and sporadically as an adult.

Well, it seems that Dru has them as well.  He’s been having issues sleeping since late May/early June.  In contrast to his former sleep patterns of 10-12 hours straight at night with the occasional nap, he started only sleeping 7 hours at night and skipping naps altogether.  He was exhausted, I was exhausted, but he was terrified of sleeping.  After a couple of weeks, we finally managed to find a routine that made bedtime not a war.  At first it took him almost an hour to fall asleep, even with the new routine (we’d read his story, say his magic anti-monster words, then Kris or I – usually me – would sit in the chair in his room reading by a booklight so he could see that we were there).  Then he was still waking up 1 or 2 times a night.  The night after HamJam he actually slept all the way through the night, and the same with the night after.  Kris and I were doing little happy dances over that.  Then they started again.  And they seem to have gotten bad again.

We’ve scoured the programs he watches, the games he plays and the stories he reads.  He doesn’t seem to be afraid of any of them, so we’re really struggling to determine what it is that’s causing the terrors.  And of course, he’s so scared that he can’t express the problem.

Last night, he was apparently quiet about the whole process though, because I woke up at 6am and almost did a happy dance, because he hadn’t woken us up.  The first thought that went through my head was “WOOT!  No terrors!”  But alas, he had just ninja’d himself into our bed at some time during the night and fallen back asleep in between us on the bed.

I feel so bad for him, I just wish I knew how to fix it.  Because how can you not want to fix everything for this face?

Look at that face!

Jamming

HamJam 2012 has now come and gone. It was the 10th one, and also happened to coincide with a number of milestones. There were people hitting different decade marks for both birthdays and anniversarys, so on top of the usual celebrations, we got to fete them all.

Despite the fact that it was about 1 million degrees outside, we had a good turnout.  There was a water fight, food, and music.  Dru actually got to run around playing this year, and he was loving it.  It was a nice ending to our almost 2 week trip.

Playing in the water table during HamJam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was also the first time Dru fully slept through the night in about a month.

And of course, the night before, my parents provided for LobsterFest2012.  We initiated a couple of new people into the club this year, and I really do like watching people try and learn to crack open a lobster!  There was much carnage – though Dru still refused to try any.

The carnage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also got Dru his first ice cream cone – which was actually mine, just HUGE.  I ordered myself a medium, expecting something much smaller than what I received.  Raspberry ice cream with sprinkles (the closest I could get to my favorite combo).  Since it was ginormous, Dru got to share with Mommy.  He LOVED it.

Dru helping with my ice cream cone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And to round out his week of firsts, Dru saw his first fireworks show.  We took him to the local display on the 3rd, and he was immediately entranced.  To the extent that both Kris and I have downloaded fireworks applications on our phones for him to enjoy.  His face when the first burst went off was classic.

WHOA! FIREWORKS!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a good vacation.  If only it had decided to be a bit cooler, and Dru had been sleeping reliably, it would have been perfect.