image source and link: http://hr.umich.edu
On Sunday the news broke that Nigella Lawson had been assaulted by her husband. The photos splashed over the internet showed him holding her by the throat and her leaving the restaurant in tears. It should come as no surprise that this story caught my attention. Ten years working with women escaping domestic violence leaves its mark on a person. I will always be a victim advocate even if I am no longer in the field. I can't stay quiet on stuff like this.
Nigella's husband, Charles Saatchi, made a statement about the photographs taken of him assaulting his wife. He said "There was no grip, it was a playful tiff." and "Nigella's tears were because we both hate arguing, not because she had been hurt." Now any seasoned DV advocate will tell you this...there didn't need to be a grip.
Of course he didn't have her with a strangle grip in public. He is more than likely smarter than that. But if you have seen the photographs then you saw the eye contact of one. The worry in another. The almost eerie calm of two of them. The calm. That kind of calm, centered thinking is a mastered skill. A skill that keeps victims of domestic violence alive. The skill of careful and deliberate deescalation attempts even in the face of being threatened with strangulation. Even when they are being attacked.
There's a line that doesn't get crossed during a healthy argument. One that is never ok to cross and that line is physicality. So we can argue about whether or not he was actually hurting her in these photographs all day long. But then I would say to you this..."Has your spouse ever grabbed you by the throat during a "playful tiff"? My guess is no. I know that it would never even cross my husband's mind to grab for my throat during a "tiff". But that's just the story for 75% of us. For 25% of the population the answer is yes. Because 1 in 4 of us will suffer abuse at the hands of the person who has pledged to love us. Those are the facts. And that is why it comes as no surprise to me that celebrities are not immune. Because no one is.
So I'm angry for her. I am sad for her. I stand with her. And I have a few things to say to her (and the millions of other people living with the reality of domestic violence).
Take a deep, deep breath.
I can only imagine how painful that must be for you. And if I was a betting woman I'd say that the pain is gripping you on so many different levels. Those levels adding on top of the others and are no doubt crushing you beneath the weight. You are only human after all. Being famous doesn't change that. I cannot imagine how hard it is to be in the spotlight right now. Not just because of what happened at the restaurant but because no one falls in love with abuse. I am nearly certain that he didn't choke you on your first date. You fell in love with him first, right? Love is hard to leave even when the person we love becomes abusive. Actually even more so then. Because abusive people don't just hit. They wear you down emotionally. They use words of love. Of shame. Of manipulation. They use tricks and grand acts of love to turn you back around to them. They trick you into believing you're crazy or that no one would believe you. But I would believe you, Nigella.
You can get through this because you are strong enough.
It might not feel like it right now. But you are strong enough. You just are. Remind yourself of that when you feel like the world is coming down around you. I know you are strong because you have survived. You have no doubt developed a game plan or a way of talking or coping that helps you through an episode of violence. It is a skill that no one wants to have to learn. But you did. And you have strategies to keep yourself safe. All domestic violence victims do. You. Are. Strong.
It's not your fault.
No one has the right to assault you. Or threaten you with violence. Not even your spouse. No matter what came before it. Even if you said something hurtful or mean to him. Acts of violence are the sole responsibility of the person committing them. It's common for abusive people to blame their actions on the person they have harmed. They say things like "If you hadn't made me so angry, I wouldn't have had to hit you" or "It's not my fault that you make me so crazy" But that is a manipulative mind game. And they do it to make you feel crazy and to take the responsibility off of their shoulders and cruelly put it onto yours. But the thing is, its just not ever your fault. It's not.
I'm on your side.
And I'm not the only one. There are people who can help you walk through this fire. Let them help you, Nigella. Because you deserve their help. Please, reach out. Don't isolate yourself. Stay connected to people. Even if you choose to stay.
You can be free.
The road is hard. But you are already walking a hard road. You already know that you can do hard things. You can be free of this violence. Yes, you can. I know because I've seen it with my own eyes. I've known hundreds of women who have been through this kind of soul crushing sadness. There are millions of women in your shoes.So many of them are free now. It may not seem like it right now, but know that you can absolutely be free. And I hope that for you.
There is no doubt in my mind that every person reading this knows someone affected by domestic violence. Remember that this won't go away because the news cycle has moved on. Domestic violence thrives because it is ignored. Please don't ignore it.
If you or someone you know needs help call 1-800-799-SAFE or find a safe computer (at a library or another safe place) and visit www.thehotline.org
I think I’ve had about 72 “I am a mom” moments since my two littles were born. I had them for sure when I was peed or puked on for the first time, and during the all-nighter with a sick baby when I was desperate to take the illness away. It didn’t matter that I was exhausted when my feverish infant needed me in the night.
You know the feeling, right? If only my kisses and love could have cured what pained that baby. If only Mama could have fixed it.
Sometimes we get lucky during those moments, and it occurs to us that we can indeed do something big to help. For our family that meant a lifestyle overhaul, not just for our baby girl, but for all four of us.
About 15 months ago our lives changed. My baby girl’s skin was almost always covered in eczema and/ or hives. She was such a happy baby, and it broke my heart to see her scratching at her skin, trying to alleviate the pain, and itching only to make it worse. Her doctor at the time didn’t think that she needed to see a specialist.
I thought differently. So we went, without a referral, to an allergy specialist (And a new family doctor because, I mean…) and that was the day our lives changed, and got much better for our Plum. At 12 months old, the tests showed that she had multiple food allergies, including a life-threatening peanut allergy. We were sent home with an Epi-Pen, scared to death that we would somehow not know what to do should we ever need to use it.
I remember driving home that day, shaken. This would mean a lot of work on our part to keep her food safe. At a stop light, I looked at my baby in the rearview mirror. Through my tears, I made her a promise that I would do everything in my power to make our lives fit with her needs. I promised her that our home would be safe for her to live in freely, and that I would care for her in every way that I could. It was the most profound “I am mom” moment I have ever had. My baby needed me to move a few mountains for her, and that was the day we pulled out our shovels.
Extra small spacer and inhaler for Plum
Sweetest patient ever
At the doctor, Tinkerbell goes first.
Fast forward 15 months. Today, Plum was diagnosed today with asthma. My girl officially has the third piece of the childhood immunology pie: allergies, eczema and asthma. That’s a pie no one wants to see completed for their child, but here we are. It’s not something I can change for her, but (and that’s a big ‘but’) I can do a whole heck of a lot to help her. As her mom, I do have the power to make her life more comfortable. As a family, we decided to change our habits for her.
And this is what we do.
Her eczema, asthma and allergies are controlled not only by medication but also by using perfume and dye-free natural bath products, not just for her, but for all of us. We use free and clear laundry detergent and fabric softener. We use all natural and chemical free lotions, not just for her, but for all of us. When I clean the house (and let’s be honest, that’s not all the time, but when I do) we use natural and chemical-free cleansers, not just for her, but for all of us.
When we eat a meal it is safe for her, and for all of us. The diapers we use, the places we eat out, the clothing we buy, and the products we use are all carefully chosen. Basically, anything that comes into our home has to pass the test questions: Is this an allergen for her? Will this irritate her skin? Will this flare her asthma?
I cannot keep my daughter safe from all of the world, but I can keep her safe in our home. It can and should be her safe haven, for her and for all four of us.
So now tell me, have you ever had an "I'm a Mom" moment?
A woods abencher
I was sitting in church a few Sunday's ago when the speaker said "Mr. Pants is happy when he is with his dad"
. The service was a celebration of the children of our church and they had asked the kids the question "What makes you happy?" My heart skipped a beat hearing his answer and tears came to eyes. I was bummed that Daddy was working that day and he didn't hear it for himself.
A week ago when Plum was in the throws of uncontrolled asthma, I broke down and cried. I felt helpless. And damn, I hate hate hate not knowing what to do. When I gathered myself and returned to the living room I found Plum in the calming embrace of her daddy. "She's going to be ok, Mama
", he said to me. Sometimes I just need him to say that and he knows it.
Every night when we put the kids to bed, we ask them "What was your favorite part today?"
Two nights ago Pants answered, "I go on a abencher (adventure) with Daddy"
. I felt that fullness in my chest that happens when your heart suddenly grows a little. These kids, they are so in love with this guy. And their mama is too.
I'm leaving today for a three days away from my family. I'm going to commune with my sisters
for a few days and fill up my tank a bit. I could be worried about leaving them. Lord knows I have stressed about it the years before. I haven't gone for the full weekend away since these two were born. But this year I am. Three whole days. Away.
And these three? They will be just fine.
This morning's outfit choice.
Ms. Plum has had a very rough week. Asthma has been kicking her little butt. We go tomorrow to the specialist and hopefully come home with a new game plan for her so that she can breathe better and be sick less. I'd be more than grateful if you'd think of her tomorrow morning and send up some love into the universe. Say a prayer or just think about her. We are at the beginning of getting a handle on this asthma shiz. We'll figure it out, I know. And it will become the newest normal. In time.
So I thought today I'd celebrate one of my favorite things about her. She wakes up happy and ready for the day even when she's had a bad night. She almost always gets fancy within minutes of waking. I don't know how she does it. She reminds me that she can handle this and by proxy, so can I.
She's just fancy. She can't help it. And I thought it was high time I documented her amazing fashion sense here on the blog. There are no words to describe it. You just have to see it. She can work just about anything. Even if it's Dora slippers and Hulk underwear. She even gets fancy to nurse these days. See for yourself. These are a few of my favorites.
First, when there's nothing but a slow glowing dream....
This girl...she's just so damn fancy. Tomorrow's a big day for her.
I have a feeling she's going to be the fanciest patient there.
I read a lot of parenting related stuff online. I like to find cool things to do with the kids on Pinterest or research the latest information available about childhood asthma (Stay tuned for a new post because, yep, Plum's been diagnosed. <cries>). I have spent a lot of time on breastfeeding forums and met amazing
women doing amazing things in the world of parenting. I am so grateful for those relationships I have formed. I've made true friends right here on the webternet. Like-minded women and mom friends.
But with all good things come a dose of bad, right? You know, like how good can't exist without evil or something like that. Which brings me to The Veil. Not to be confused with Sancti-mommies (I mean, they couldn't be more obvious, right?) or the mommy wars (lower case intended), The Veil is sneakier. There is no one person at fault. It's the constant barrage of what looks like perfection. On blogs. On Pinterest. In parenting magazines. The Veil can wrap itself around you unexpectedly. And The Veil is stifling. I was under it for a spell. It depressed me. It whispered like Wormtongue
in my ear that I wasn't really good at this. That I didn't work hard enough. That I was lazy. That I should do more crafts! More from scratch cooking! Learn how to sew! Clean more! More! More! More!
The Veil made me think that if I just tried hard enough I could be the best mom
as long as I didn't speak of my failures. It convinced me that I should hide them.
It gets hot under that Veil. But don't get discouraged.
If you are lucky, your veil will be lifted. But you have to lift it yourself. And if that happens you will feel 7000 lbs lighter. Because suddenly you realize that raising kids isn't easy (not news). It's been hard for hundreds of years. It's always
been hard. It turns out that my self-centered belief that I was the first person to ever experience the hardness of mothering is bunk. So yeah....perfectness...it's never gonna happen. Nor should it.
Some moms might wilt from that realization. Some moms might find it a challenge to up their perfection game. Me? I exhaled a few years of stress and laughed my ass off. I am no perfect mother. I've already explained that. But this exhale? It is for the bliss I feel in understanding that I don't want
to be a perfect mother. Not by the standards that are presented to me across the internet on a daily basis.
I don't wear aprons (but I might PIN one!). I can't tell you the last time my house was scrubbed. If you asked me for my favorite recipe right now, I'd be hard pressed to give it to you (No wait, does a veggie tray count?). But I have come to believe that my perceived flaws are not flaws at all. I'm not perfect by anyone's stretch of the imagination but I am way more
than just enough.
A bit past bedtime one night, I was joking with the husband saying I should write a post based on all the ways I've failed our children. Me
: "The kids probably should have had a bath tonight but eh." Him: "They aren't oozing, right?" Me: "Nope. Just ridiculously dirty" Him: " Dirt? Who cares about dirt? Me
: "Welllllll, you might change your tune when you see their feet in your blankets." Him
: " Eh. Stop it." Me: "Plum's hair is caked with dried applesauce." Him: " Shit, dude. Really?"
We giggled. And then, thinking like a blogger, I realized it was a damn fine idea. Because, dudes? I "fail" all the time. My guess is that you do too. But our failures are no where near actual
failures. Even if I did put my 2 year-old to bed with applesauce hair. I refuse to judge myself for it or accept anyone else's judgment of it. They are not failures. Not to me. To others they could be the cardinal sins of parenting. But I don't care about that kind of shiz. To me these failures qualify as superficial. Silly. Normal. To me, they land squarely in the the "Who gives a rat's big toe?" category of failures.
But I didn't always feel that way. You know, because of The Veil. So I say, "Pft!" I burned my Veil. And to prove it, here is a short list of the 10 failures I can think of off the top of my head from last week...
1. Canned veggies and jar sauce. I used them. Multiple times.
2. My kids went to bed dirty a few times. But I do a baby wipe the feet first. Usually.
3. I still haven't changed sheets. From like April. Pft.
4. I let them do things, like climb play equipment, without me up their butts. They get hurt.
5. I let them fight (Not physically). Because I want them to figure out how to not fight. I want them to work some shiz out on their own. That's not gonna happen if I'm policing toys and forcing sharing. I'm there to help, of course. But I try and stay back and see if they can work it out first.
6. Do I even need to tell you how not clean my house is?
7. I cuss. Not angry mean cussing. Just a few bombs sprinkled in for good measure. Like, "What the shit? For real, dudes? Which one of you sharpied the couch again?" or "Oh, shit. That didn't exactly make it into the toilet, kid" I'm not a yeller. I'm a casual cusser.
8. I took my kids to a bar. And while it was weird walking into a bar with 2 kids at 3 in the afternoon, they had a blast playing on the patio for our friend's going away party. Blowing bubbles and using sidewalk chalk on the very concrete I stumbled around on in my twenties. And yes, we left before the shenanigans began.
9. We still have ants. My kids talk to them like they are pets. "Hey buddy? Where you goin'?" I've tried everything. So I just bought traps. And now I feel like I am killing my kids' friends. They need a dog.
10. I can think of 2 times, off the top of my head, when I forgot to feed them. Thank Zeus they eventually tell me with words now. Words that come out very loud and hysterical. But words, all the same.
I have more. I just can't think of them right now. But I have to go because I've been ignoring them for almost an hour trying to write this and they are starting to get up in my grill about that. So how about you tell me yours?
Lift The Veil and tell me, my friends, how do you fail your children?
Friends, this requires no money. Just a minute of your time. Please sign and share this petition. Some may think it is too late for little Sarah. I don't believe that. I believe in miracles and I believe that hearts and minds can be changed when people band together. Will you please take a minute to tell the family of little Sarah that you do, too? Lend your name to the petition at the bottom of this post. It will be delivered to Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius and President of the Board of Directors, OPTN/UNOS John Roberts. They have the power to do something about this. And so do you.
This is Sarah Murnaghan. And she is very sick.
image source: change.org
From the petition:
Ten-year-old Sarah Murnaghan has end-stage Cystic Fibrosis and has been on the lung transplant list for 18 months. Too sick to leave Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for three months, she has only a week or two before she will lose her battle. If she were two years older, she would have a high probability of receiving lungs in time. Sarah is eligible for adult donor lungs, but because of her age, she will only receive them after all adult candidates, regardless of how sick they are, have the opportunity to accept them.
If you think that is wrong, like I do, please CLICK HERE
and sign. And then share the petition with everyone you know.
To find out about the Let's Help Someone Project head over to this page.
My sweet boy.
When did you get so big?
Sometimes I catch sight of you and see it. It's right in front of me. The longer legs. The bigger feet. The growing up.
My breath is quiet as it comes back. You are suddenly so much bigger. It's no wonder you ate hand over fist for a week. It takes food to grow. And it's clear now that you were growing. A lot.
You are so long and lean. And dude, your hands and feet are enormous. Does that mean you will sprout taller than daddy? You know, like a puppy with giant paws?
Bud, you are so strong. Sometimes we call you the pit bull because of your superhuman muscles. You can even take down your dad if you want. He loves that.
You need to know that the sun shines on you wherever you go. You are sandy and dirty and scraped up every day. You are my big boy. And my baby. You will always be my baby. Don't forget that while your busy growing big, ok?
You're turning four years-old tomorrow and I just can't believe it. It feels like yesterday that you were snuggled to my chest sleeping. Our heartbeats in sync. You would sigh really big when you were comfortable. I loved that.
It was on this night four years ago that I was so close to meeting you and I was a little anxious. I was worried about being your mama. Because I wanted to be the mama that you deserved. I lay in my bed that night thinking about what you would be like. Your voice. Your face. Your personality. I was so excited to meet you. That was the last night I felt you moving in my belly. The next day you were in my arms and you made my dreams come true. You are perfect, little dude. You are just perfect.
Thank you for choosing me to be your mama. It's an honor that I don't take lightly. I never will, bud. You have made me a better person. You really have. You have shown me what unconditional love is. You have shown me that we can do this big job of raising you. And you have shown me that there is nothing more powerful than my child's love.
Happy Birthday, Mr. Pants. You are the shining light of my heart. I can't believe you are mine.
So my best friend Jessica does a little interview with her daughter on her birthdays. I think it's the best tradition ever and decided to steal it. Pants wasn't big on sitting down and answering my questions. He was fidgety by my third question and then absolutely bored to tears by the fifth. I was astounded that I got ten questions out before he decided my "fun game" was not as fun I told him it would be and refused to talk to me anymore. Below you will find his answers. A little peek into his world...
| || |
What's your favorite toy?
"It's Lightening!" (Lightening McQueen)
What do you want to be when you grow up?
" I am BIG mom! When I grow I am BIG!"
What's your favorite thing on TV?
"BENGERS!" (The Avengers)
Who's your favorite Avenger?
What's your favorite food for dinner?
"Cobb onna corn"
When did you get so big?
"My cupcakes did it"
What's your favorite animal?
"I no have favorite animals, mama. I love da animals, mama."
Who's your best friend?
" Oooh mama? It's Buzz!"
What's your favorite game?
"My favorite game is, um, a bird game" (Angry Birds)
What's your favorite part about being Mr. Pants?
"Oh, Mama. Dat's my birthday cake"
I would like to say a GIANT "FUCK YOU!" to all those posted above. AND THIS IS WHY...
I have cancer. I'm only 30. I'm trying to not be scared. Summer 2006.
I've had a doctor look me in the eye and say, "It's cancer"
It's just as fucked up as you think it would be. There is a moment, scratch that, hours where there is nothing but white noise. Fog. No ability to hear or even see. There is an echo in your brain that keeps saying, "You are going to die"
. There is a nothingness
that consumes you. A quiet. I can't even describe it right. It is its own void. A vacuum. Your face is frozen. Your voice isn't actually your voice. Your movements are purely functional. There is no real sound. You are going to die.
My doctor held me by the shoulders. "Let me call someone for you", she said. Silence. Blank. Just blank. "I'll just go to my mom",
I finally said. "I'll go to my mom. It's ok. She's home. I know she's home"
, I said. And my doctor took her phone number down to be sure that I reached her. She lived just ten minutes away. She asked me to call her before I left. "Mom? <silence> Something bad, mom. I want to come over. OK? I'm coming over right now. Ok? Mama?"
I left out of the back door of the office. My doctor hugged me, so tight, and promised that she was going to guide me through kicking this Cancer out of my body. She kept saying that I could "do this" that it was "early" and that I would "beat it".
I thought to myself, 'I am going to die"
. Over and over again.
She opened the back door of the office. My keys in my hands felt like bricks. My feet, numb. My eyes, so blurry. I remember thinking that this must be the way all women leave this office when they are told they have cancer or that they have miscarried or some other horrifying news. "This is the easy way out. So that no one sees the pain"
, I thought to myself. No one knows this kind of fear. It goes out the back door.
I reached my car.
I turned the keys. It hit me. My mom! I have to get to her!
I drove straight to her. I had no idea that there was anything else that I could do. I needed her. I needed her to tell me that I wasn't going to die. I will never forget the feeling of her words whispered in my ear as I sobbed into her breast. "You are NOT going to die. You. Are. Not. I swear to you, my love. You will NOT"
Her words saved me. I said to her in a voice almost inaudible, "Mommy, I am so scared. I don't want to die. Mommy, I'm so scared." "You will not. You won't."
She held me in her arms for so long. I never
wanted her to let me go. I felt safe. I felt like she could take away the word. Cancer. Fucking CANCER. She could destroy it. She is my mama. She can take this away. Please, mama, take this away
I was 30 but I felt like I was 9. Her arms created a bubble of protection that is only possible from a mother to her child. And in that moment I trusted her. It was easy. She made me believe. She made me believe that I wasn't going to die.
Before my final surgery, I knew that this was "it". If they couldn't get the cancer, my dreams of being a mother naturally were over. Because the next surgery would mean a radical hysterectomy. My anxiety had me in a vice grip. I was suffocating the morning I walked into the hospital. I could not breath. I lay in the bed with my brave face on and my mom came to me. She held my hand and said to me, "They will get it. They will."
I wasn't so sure. My brothers were there. My dad. My grandparents and my godmother. All there to tell me that it was going to be ok. All I could think was "What if I die. What if it's too late? Oh my God, am I dying and I just don't know it yet?"
They hugged me and held me and joked with me and smiled at me and kissed me and promised me that no matter what, we would kick this Cancer's ass. I wanted to believe. Then I was under. When I came to, the anxiety came flying back with amazing speed. There was no forgetting. Not even in an anesthesia haze.
I was to wait for 2-5 days for the results.
I was lucky. SO FUCKING LUCKY. I came through. They got it.
I wept so many tears. Releasing the throat gripping fear. Rejoicing the margins
but unable still to wrap my head around the fact that they found fucking CANCER in my body. Unsure that they were right when they said it was gone. What if they were wrong? What if they missed something? Happy
that I could still carry children. Unsure
that I would. Praying that I really could.
Knowing that if any ONE
of the tests (every 90 days) came back even slightly off
, the next surgery meant the end of my dreams for motherhood the way I wanted. Not because my doctor would force me to have a hysterectomy, but because I wanted to live
and to have peace of mind. That was the next step.
Take my legs, arms, a kidney and my breasts. Take my uterus and my hair, Dye my skin purple. Whatever it takes. Just do it. JUST TAKE THE CANCER RISK AWAY. Away from me. From my LIFE.
So I come to this post, with some anger and sadness over the bullshit I have read on these here internets about Angelina Jolie's decision to have a double mastectomy because she carried the BRCA 2 gene. And I am more than incensed
at those of you waxing like you know what you would do in that situation. Making some kind of joke about it or pretending you know what it's like. Let me tell you from someone who knows what it is like to hear "You have cancer" from a doctor that they trust. The only
thing you are thinking is "get it out"
and "do what you have to do"
That's it. If it means you take my boobs, my uterus and my legs, then do it. They are things. They are not all of me.
To those so willing to joke at her expense or to judge her for some imagined slight against the common woman, please listen up. You most definitely DO NOT know shit unless you have been in her shoes. Or mine. I live every day knowing (waiting?), for the day I will have to say goodbye to my uterus and ovaries. I will say goodbye to them without a thought or regret because I want to be here. I want to live. I want my children to not have to bury their mama before her time. I want to live this life with my beloved husband for as long as I can. I want to be here
. And I suspect that is all that Angelina wants, too. Not because she is a celebrity and wants publicity but because she is a woman and a mother and a wife and she wants to live her life and be here for her children. I get that.
And if you do not get that and are busy judging her (or me) for "mutilating" her body, well then I say to you that I sincerely hope you are never in the position to have to make that decision. I really do. Because it would mean that your life is on the line. I wish that on no one. Not even assholes on the internet.
Please let go of your positions. Let go of your opinions and ideas and assumptions. Stop arguing the decision that Angelina Jolie made for her body. I promise you that you just. do . not. know
And I hope you never do. I really do.
Bring it on Summer!
We are so dang ready for your amazing-ness.
These guys are doing important work.
My Pearl for myself (and for you if you'd like to join me) is to just let them do it. Relax and don't worry about the ripped sundresses or the mud pit or the sandy hands.
Hand them the water hose anyway. Let them get to the serious business of being a kid. Let the shoes come off. Have picnics. Eating outside is like winning the kid lottery. And yeah, popsicles with sand on them are gross, but I'm not gonna stress about that.
We waited a long time for Spring and Summer. We suffered through what I'm sure was the Plague. We wished for this time to play outside with wild abandon. No fevers. No flu. We dreamed of it's awesomeness. We knew it would rule.
And now it's here.
So I'm vowing to chill out, step back a bit and let these two turkeys lead whenever I see the chance. I think it's going to be fun. And also muddy.
Emotions can be a minefield for anyone. But for Mr. Pants they are still pretty confusing. I don't talk about his sensory processing or development here on the blog much anymore. Not because his struggles are gone, but because they are just normal for us now. If you are new to reading this blog you may not know that hisexperience of his senses
is different from yours and mine. His processing and integration of them is different. Unique. Designed for him, by him. And I gotta say, he's kind of nailed it. He is mostly a very comfortable kid.
Recently, though, he has become increasingly stressed by new, loud or busy situations. The upside to his discomfort is that he is finding ways to deal with it. It's an upside because life is big and noisy and change-y. So he needs to discover for himself how best to cope with it. And as his parents we need to allow for him to explore the possibilities without pushing too hard. Instead we gently nudge him out of the comfort zone so that he can do the work he needs to do. We don't force him into uncomfortable situations that don't matter in the long run. Ya know, like a monster truck show. I'm not gonna take him to one of those. Because there are plenty of uncomfortable situations that he does have to figure out. Like gym class. Or coffee hour between church services (see below).
At his I.E.P. meeting
last week they once again told us that he is a solitary little guy and won't initiate play with the kids at school. And I know why. It all comes down to those pesky emotions. It's because he likes the predictability of playing alone. Playing alone allows for him to control the environment and for him to feel safe. Playing alone is not confusing. See he needs to be able to predict as much as possible especially if he is away from his comfort zone (our home). He is still trying to read our emotions and fully understand them so it's too much for him to try and read the kids at school all at once, too. Heck, he's still figuring out his own
emotional responses to life. He needs alone time and he takes it whenever he needs it. He's amazingly self aware for an almost 4 year-old.
But don't get me wrong, he is not disconnected at all. In fact he is all kinds of attached to his family. He expresses his emotions beautifully to us and others he is close with. I just think that he is not ready to share that part of himself with too many other people (and he may never be).
So emotion is still confusing for him. But he's on the case. He attempts to discover how our feelings are working several times a day. "Mama, you happy?"
he will say when he sees that I might not be. "Mama is frustrated right now, bud. But it's ok." "Mama, you be happy soon? You be happy tomorrow? You be fusstated now? You feel hot?"
If I'm reading something and I laugh out loud. "Why you be funny, Mama? You get tickle? You happy? Why, you be funny? Why?"
If he does something funny and I laugh. "No be funny at me, mama. You be happy. No funny!"
If I stub my toe and cry out he will come running (as long as it's not actual crying. That makes him run and hide. Hands over ears). "What happen? You get so mad?" "No bud, I hurt my toe. But I'm OK." "So you get happy now, mama? Oh, you sad? You not happy. You scared, mama?" He's not upset when he asks these questions
. He's even keel. He's almost clinical. Investigating. Like he is socking away reasons, gathering information on how long it takes to be happy again. Then he will go on his way, returning in a few minutes to see how I'm feeling and ask more questions. Often he even stays to quietly observe the change in emotion if it's a new emotion he has yet to get a handle on. It's kind of amazing to watch, really. I call him the research scientist. He is always thinking. Taking notes. Comparing outcomes.
This kid. I used to be afraid for him but I'm not anymore. He shows me every single day that he can figure this life out as it unfolds. It may take him longer. His methods may be unconventional. But hey, if coffee hour between church services is too loud and crowded, who am I to force him out from under that chair? He knows what he is doing.
Coffee hour is too busy and loud for this dude.