Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014: A look back at what made this year special

   As I spend the last hour of 2014 with my family (I'm heading out to a friend's house for the New Year), I thinking of how much our family changed this year. We moved, Mac retired, Nixon started Kindergarten, I went back to work and Mac was the stay-at-home parent for a while. We also faced unknown behavioral issues with Nixon, taking on medical professionals and the school to get answers. The answers came and, for some, it'd be a tough pill to swallow for us it was a starting point. A challenge to tackle.

   This year was our year of change. While you never stop changing this year saw us change in HUGE ways. And through it all, we stayed strong. Mac and I faced the school boards together, a united front for Nixon. I dug in deep and sought answers. I faced the boards with information and a cool head. A task not always easy (especially when his teacher sat in a meeting rolling her eyes and dismissing me when she didn't like what I was saying).

   I was unwittingly given a new title. One of advocate. I'm not Nixon's advocate, to everyone. Not everyone will accept, see or understand that Nixon has Asperger's. Many people will see a child acting out, melting down and being disruptive. I see a child overwhelmed and unsure of how to process his overload. I have to explain to friends, family members, strangers who might ask and anyone else why Nixon is special. Why a trip home to Buffalo resulted in a giant-sized meltdown on Thanksgiving Day.

   But I'm not perfect. I have my bad days. I have days that I don't handle Nixon as well as I should. I have exhausted outbursts and annoyed exclamations. I have shitty moments where I wish he was just "normal". I have moments of weakness where I find myself envying friends whose children are riding bicycles without training wheels because Nixon can't even pedal a bike without using pedal straps. I have anxiety attacks when the school calls, wondering what Nixon did now and if anyone was hurt. I'm angry his teacher can't see beyond his actions. I'm hurt that Nixon is THAT kid in his classroom. But most of all, I wish I didn't have the guilt I feel every day thinking somehow I did this to him. I know this is not my fault, but life for him would be so much easier without these issues.

   So, next year I'm going to be more understanding. More tolerant. A bigger advocate, louder advocate. I'm going to embrace Nixon the way he is. Because he's a pretty fucking awesome kiddo! And he's my baby boy. (He said I can call him that forever!)


Mac's retirement ceremony


Nixon's preschool graduation ceremony
Nixon's first day of Kindergarten

Monday, December 15, 2014

The school's verdict is in.....

    What a struggle these past few weeks have been.
    Nixon and I took a trip home to Western New York for Thanksgiving, our flight was delayed 6 hours. We settled into a quiet(ish) corner of the terminal and waited. Nixon was pretty awesome just playing games, reading, asking to walk when he was tired of sitting and generally just chilling. We got on the plane a little before midnight and Nixon fell asleep 5 minutes later. He slept the entire flight!

   My family was privy to more than one Nixon meltdown. Those were my fault and in hindsight I wouldn't have pushed so much on him in such an unfamiliar setting. Especially not during the holidays. 

   All in all, it wasn't awful.

   But when it was time for Nixon to return back to school, after a week off, he struggled. A lot. First day back he spent almost 2 hours out of class. 
  By the end of the week, he was out of class only 20 minutes. 
  By the following week, 5 minutes one day and an hour another day. The hour day was a day the school had 2 assemblies. Nixon never does well on assembly days. Way too much stimulation. 

   Thursday, December 11th, I had a meeting with the IEP (individual education plan) board to get the results of the tests they'd done with Nixon. His teacher was there, in addition to the rest of the board plus a note taker. 
    After almost an hour of going over the testers findings, I finally heard the board's opinion and Nixon and his behaviors. They found he is on the Autism Spectrum, high-functioning more commonly known as Asperger's as well as ADHD. They are going to develop an IEP for him. I was asked if I'd be willing to come in and sit down with the Special Education teacher to weigh in with my thoughts and what I'd like to see the IEP provide for his education needs. The top of that list is: I'd like to see him in a smaller classroom setting for the morning instructional time. He has the most issues during those times and has said on more than one occasion that he prefers a quiet, empty classroom to do his work in. (He's been losing recess time recently and he actually likes doing his work without his classmates in the room.)

    His teacher is just....well, I'm going to just add the posts from my facebook status the day of the IEP results meeting:
   I survived. No tears, very little combativeness from me and lots of support from his administrators!

Nixon does have autism, he's high-functioning and would be classified as having Asperger's. He also has ADHD, which when added with the Asperger's makes for a very difficult approach to the IEP. 
BUT he does qualify for an IEP!
I've been asked to sit down with the Special Education teacher and help develop parts of his IEP. I'm truly, beyond words, grateful for the offer. 
One of the biggest results of this is: Nixon is super bright! He knows things but needs a different approach to learning new things. 

He dislikes writing. A lot! But, from what I was informed of today, this is not uncommon for people on the spectrum. The county has methods beyond pen and paper, that will be available to Nixon when his IEP is drawn up!

No one is writing him off! These adults in place to support Nixon when he's at school, see him as a loving and bright child! The diagnoses only change the approaches and methods to teaching him, not their views on him. With the exception of his teacher (who at one point during the meeting was rolling her eyes and looking at the ceiling!), no one ever thought he was just a "bad" child. Everyone wanted to help solve the puzzle that is Nixon, and we did! We have a label, with have a title, we have a starting point!

Yes, Nixon is autistic and has ADHD, but he is still Nixon! He's still a bright, loving, happy child and most of all: He's still my baby boy!
That being said, I nearly beat his teacher in the face! Not literally, but in my head I knocked her fucking teeth out of her face!
----------------------
I brought up that, taking recess time away from Nixon was not effective. 
She countered that "he's still out there, he's still playing"
I replied, "Yes, but he's losing some time to do earlier work and he ENJOYS the quiet classroom setting when everyone else is outside."
She said "No, he's still out there, he's not losing time from recess."
I calmly, but firmly, responded (grabbing papers to support my next claim) "I have multiple minor incident reports and behavior sheets showing Nixon has lost time from recess to do work, in the classroom he was unable to complete earlier."
This bitch rolled her eyes!! Rolled her fucking eyes at me and says "OH, yeah well sometimes....." then trails off and doesn't even finish her sentence. 
I continue "I don't think it's effective as a tool because Nixon has told me he prefers a quieter classroom setting, without to "noise" of the other classmates when he's doing him required learning."

The special education teacher also added, when Nixon has been in her classroom to do work, he's much more focused and agreeable to do otherwise difficult tasks. 
-----------------------
I'm glad there were witnesses to the entire ordeal. 
Afterwards, bitch comes into my personal space to tell me how wonderful she thinks Nixon is. As if that's going to make me forget you just tried to shut me down in the meeting!
----------------------

 I actually don't mind him loosing recess time. His hardest transition is from recess to learning again. So, Nixon being in there doing work actually helps him transition easier. 

It's not an effective tool, but he doesn't mind. He actually enjoys the pure quiet some days.
---------------------
 BTW it's always so uncomfortable for me to hear from other people what a great parent I am for advocating for Nixon. 
I don't get why that's something to be acknowledged. Isn't every parent their child's advocate? Doesn't every child have a voice coming from their parents? 

I had the OT that did the sensory tests with Nixon, say to me as we were leaving the meeting "You are such a wonderful mom, for listening and speaking up for Nixon. He's really lucky to have you in his corner."



      January 7th is my next meeting with the IEP board. At that time the official IEP will be gone over and it will be implemented immediately.

      The diagnosis is only the beginning, but with it comes a starting point.
I spoke to a couple members of the board at the conclusion of our meeting. They said they wished more parents were so accepting of their child's test results and diagnosis as I was.  My response was "If my child was sick I'd more the heavens to get answers. If the answer was cancer, I'd treat the cancer. This diagnosis is no different. It's not changing who Nixon is, but it's giving us all something to "treat" to help him be successful in school."
The Vice Principal laughed and said "Nixon's got a strong support system in you alone, Mom."  I think they're starting to understand my sense of humor too. I left most of my anxiety behind when I left that meeting room that day. I know Nixon's going to struggle, but I also know I'm not alone the school wants to help me, help us, help Nixon. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The unofficial official diagnosis....from a medical professional

   Nixon had an appointment yesterday with a child psychologist. We set this up to help get answers about his behavior issues in school.

    I found out several things yesterday, one of which being I "read too much". That was told to me by the doctor. She was asking for the issues with Nixon, and why I was seeking a consult for him regarding being on the Autism Spectrum. I started telling her things I'd read, and behaviors Nixon had. She told me "stop researching and tell me what his issues are". Then she observed Nixon.

    Yes, Nixon does have textural issues. Yes, he does have SPD (sensory processing disorder). Yes, he is quick to frustration and acts on impulse when agitated.

    But, he doesn't have any social issues. He grasps empathy, understands 2 part questions asked to him and a few other things.

    The cut and dry of it is: He has ADHD and is not on the spectrum. He has coordination issues and is behaviorally immature, but he is not autistic.

    The way she explained it to me, thankfully with a chart, is: In order to determine someone is autistic, they first have to meet all 3 categories in the social interactions portion. Not just one. They have to have a negative in all 3 of those.
   Nixon had none.
   In addition, they likely will have up to 4 negatives in the behavioral categories.
   Nixon had 2 with a partial in a third category.

   Since we didn't get the questionnaire packet for his teacher prior to the appointment, she can not give us an official diagnosis. She needs the teacher's portion completed before she can do that. We'll have to schedule a follow-up and bring it then. At that appointment we'll discuss tools to help Nixon succeed.

    I don't know what the IEP findings will show. They're still testing him for that at school.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The struggle.....and my breaking point

    Nixon had a rough week last week. Monday was pretty horrific, Tuesday (election day) was no school, Wednesday and Friday weren't awful but far from great and Thursday was he best day of the week (only 10 minutes outside of the classroom).

    One of the biggest things that struck me, when I had to go to school on Monday and calm Nixon down, is there was a new student in the class. Now, Nixon knew her name on Wednesday and offered to help walk her to class, so that's a plus. Normally new people are identified by their shirt/hair/skin color. I adored watching him see the new student was nervous (although I don't think he identified that emotion, I think he was just happy to see a friend he knew), and using her name (!!) asked if he could walk to class with her. Her mother had tears in her eyes when she and I walked to our respective cars. And I'll admit, I did as well.
   Now, even though Nixon seems okay with her, just the fact that there's a new student is enough to send his world into a tailspin. And tailspin he did.
    All I can do is hope today is a better day.

    There's a class field trip next month. It's outside, at a farm and will be held rain or shine. In December!! I struggled and talked to Mac about it, ultimately deciding I'm going to keep him home that day and (hopefully) arrange something for us to do at the state park I worked at this summer. The class is studying trees, so I know the park has them.
   I just remember Nixon on a class field trip last year with his preschool. Even though I was there he still freaked out and had a couple meltdowns. I just feel like sending him on this one, in the cold!!, is setting him up for failure. I can't go on the trip because I have other things I have to do during the day that prevents me going as a chaperon.

    Finally, last night I cried. I cried a hard and ugly cry.
   One of my best friends posed a picture that her husband and son (a year younger than Nixon) drew together. I loved it, it was super cute! But it reminded me that Nixon is still drawing people as big circles with sticks for arms and legs. I'd be ecstatic if Nixon drew a conventional stick person!
   Another friend had posted a video, not too long ago, of her son (2 years younger than Nixon) tying his own shoelaces. Mac and I were crazy excited yesterday because Nixon zipped his own coat! Tying shoelaces?!? That's sci-fi shit to us right now.

    Those two things just broke me. It really made me realize how special Nixon is. I'm adjusting because some things are glaringly clear: Nixon is not where some of his peers are. But we're not giving up, he'll get there when he's ready. But I had a moment of sadness. I'm better today and I'd never break like that in front of Nixon. He's nothing but perfect to me.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

....I tricked him into liking school again

 Today is election day, so Nixon had no school. After yesterday's behavior fiasco, I think we both needed a good day together. Today was that day.

    We spent a couple hours at the mall. Our first stop was the restroom....because, pee. Then we wondered around and eventually stopped for food. The service was incredibly slow and apparently 2 servers didn't want our table. I mean, one came to get our drink order, then didn't return with them. Another server came over to get our food order and asked about our drinks...which we'd already ordered. Server A brought over drinks and that was the last we saw her. Server B brought over creamers for my coffee. We waited well over 30 minutes for our food. The entire time, Nixon was great! He quietly played some games on the sheet they gave them, we played some together and he sipped on his milkshake.
   We finally got our food and Nixon was pretty well spent by that point. He ate a little and within 15 minutes of our food arriving, we were done and gone. We took most of the food to go.

    Our next stop was the book store.
    Can I just say I love that my kid enjoys books?! I'm not sure what I'd do without books. And I love that Nixon is catching on to that. (His class has a Pizza Hut reward for reading books. It's 5 books for the month, read to or the kids reading, and they earn a free personal pan pizza. He got the Monday and already we've read 3 books! We're huge book-nerds, all of us!)
   Nixon chose 4 books, one was a puzzle boxed set. He'll earn one book each day for the rest of this week. I love that he wants to earn books.....as rewards!

    On the drive home from the mall, Nixon says he wants to "quit school". Most parents would tell a child that's not allowed.
    I'm not most parents.
    We talked about it. I started by asking him what he didn't like (recess ends, not enough fun stuff, boring work). That wasn't working it was just reminding him of what he didn't like.
    I changed tactics.
    I asked him different questions about what he likes about school. But I disguised it as things he "didn't hate". "Art, computer lab, gym, music" were the top list of things he came up with. I then asked him if he'd miss those things, since he was quitting school and all. He says "Well, maybe I should go back. (new student) is just starting to like class, I can help make her laugh."
    That's my boy!


I'm his mom, not a magician!

    *Sigh*

    Yesterday was another day from hell for Nixon. And unfortunately, I'd told the vice principal she could call me the next time he had a really awful day.
     She took me up on that "offer" yesterday.
     Twice.

    It started as I was home pondering dinner. My phone rang and I, unknowingly, picked up. No, I knowingly picked up, I didn't know what the school wanted.

    Nixon had been having a rough morning. He had been out of the classroom for over 2 hours. He just couldn't get his shit straight. He wasn't throwing/hitting/kicking, he was crying and screaming (he has this god-awful ear bleeding pitch that he can scream at for extended periods of time!).
    The vice principal asked if I could "come by and talk to him, maybe stay with him the rest of the day?". I was able to come by, and I did, but I couldn't and honestly, just plain wouldn't,  spend another extended period of the school day with him.
    Why not?, one might ask. I'm not on the school payroll. I'm not teacher material. And unless they're telling me Nixon isn't welcome to the school anymore and I have to homeschool him, I've chosen to let other people educate him.
     But yesterday I had other things to do and literally could not stay with him.

    I got to the school and found Nixon, with the special education teacher and the aid standing near him, sitting in a chair. I sat cross-legged on the floor and had Nixon come sit with me. He hugged me and started to cry. He claimed he missed BeBe, but I know him well enough to know that "missing" something is an emotion he falls back on,because he can't/doesn't know what he really feels. Nixon can't always recognize his own emotions, so he'll say one that he does know, even if it isn't what he actually feels.
    He sat on my lap, crying into my chest. I held him and spoke softly, gently. *I should add that when Nixon first saw me, he asked if I was staying the rest of the day with him. I said "Nope. Know why? I've done all my years of school and I'm not doing it again". The special education teacher, whom I could see from the corner of my eye, looked shocked at my handling of Nixon!*

    After a few minutes, some deep breathes and a couple more tears, Nixon was ready to go to lunch with his class. I walked him to the cafeteria and talked to the aid.
    Apparently, Nixon started doing the classwork just fine. Then he realized it the same (shit) stuff the class has been doing almost 3 months now. The assignment is to cut the objects out, then paste them under the letter the word begins with. When Nixon realized there were 4 letters, he got upset! He told me "I've done it all", when I was calming him down. It didn't make sense until I talked to the aid.
    He's bored and annoyed that they are still doing the same thing! I get it but he just doesn't have the skills to express himself . He gets annoyed and becomes fueled by his impulses. Those impulses are not the best. He doesn't think ahead about actions and consequences, he's very in the moment.

    I mentioned this to the VP as I was leaving the school. I told her he's bored by the same work. I also said I felt the computer needs to be a reward for a job well done, not a coping mechanism as I feel it was being used. In addition I said I didn't want him segregated from the class, that if he wants to be a part of the class group time, it should be encouraged.
   She agreed and said they are working on a plan that helps him.

   Later I called and asked for the assignment he didn't do (and any other assignments he missed while out of the class for so long) to be sent home. Because that's just common sense to me. If he's acting out and not finishing his work, the work comes home.

   She called me one last time. He was doing his work, but he was doing it in spurts. He'd act up then recover and go back to his work. She asked if I thought talking to me would be a good solution. The only thing I could do was answer honestly: I don't know. And I really don't. Nixon doesn't respond to phones very well. He'll talk to his grandparents on the phone but he's not "present" in those conversations. SO I don't really know if talking to me will help him pull it together.
    She seemed kind of peeved that I couldn't give a magical answer to make him pull it together. I don't have that answer. I don't have a magic wand. I can't even explain how we do things at home because I've built self-coping methods into our way of life for so long I can't even remember how life was before. But what works at home will not work at school. Why? Because school has more distractions/kids/stimulations than we have at home.

    If I had a magic wand that would "fix" Nixon, I'd have used it by now. I'm giving the tips I know when I think they'll help, but not all of them are being implemented and that's not on me.

   Before I go, I'm going to share Nixon's homework last night. In addition to cutting and pasting, he had to write the words of each object.
I'm probably the bane of Nixon's teacher's existence. I help him spell words at home, but I do not write them like the kindergarten kids are supposed to do it. Like my t's. And of course, Nixon is copying my t's! But even funnier than just that, is Nixon's take on this assignment. Wrote the entire word right to left instead of left to right. And I love him for it! He did correct it and complete the entire assignment correctly.  

Monday, November 3, 2014

I survived Halloween in the classroom.....and the teacher did too!

   If you have read my last blog, you might be wondering how Friday went. I'm happy to fill you in, kind and concerned reader.

    Friday was Halloween. Nixon's school may well be one of the last schools in the country, or at least that's the feeling I get when "talking" to friends with kids in other states/part of the country, that really celebrates Halloween in school. The flip side is, for a child like Nixon, who really needs routine and structure to thrive, this is not as awesome a thing as you'd think it might be. There was to be a parade, special snack time, lots of crafts in the classroom and (as if that wasn't enough) it was a 2-hour early dismissal day! It was like the perfect storm for a tantrum.

    I was asked to come join Nixon in the classroom for the day, to maybe help him deal with all this a little easier. Apparently, as his mom, I have a superpower. Or at least the school administrators seem to think I do.

    We arrived and Nixon, right away, was given an assignment: color by words. A bat. Nixon could see it was a bat and wanted to color it, as a bat should be colored. He get upset when his teacher instructed him (then walked away) on what the first work/color was. I helped him with the rest of the words/colors until it was complete. He sat at the teacher's desk  ("your special seat") while working on it. When it was completed he showed it to her, and they read a "this is how I need to behave in class" book together. This is just for Nixon. In theory, it sounds like a good idea. Except that the rest of the class is now playing and Nixon, who had just completed his work, wants to play too. The book was about 6 pages long and when it was done Nixon was able to play. But just as he was getting ready to play, it was time to get ready for reading time.
    *Now, right here, I was doing well. Nixon was trying to introduce me to his friends and also getting ready to enjoy the book. Nixon LOVES, motherfucking LOVES books! Need him to sit down and still for a spell? Read him a book or even hand him a new book.*
    Nixon was sitting in his spot, criss cross applesauce even, waiting patiently.Let me tell you, this momma, was SO proud!

    Then the teacher's aid entered the class and Nixon got up and ran to the computer station. What the what?!?
     The aid turned on the computer and started a Dr Seuss reading game for Nixon to do while the rest of the class did announcement time and got the class assignments (line leader, messenger (Nixon), and caboose). Nixon missed all this because he's not a part of the class at this point. When his time was up, Nixon got pissed. The game is super fun and Nixon wasn't ready for it to be over. He ran away and started screaming!
     The aid was talking to him and he ignored her. SO, I stepped in and did a hold/hug that Franny showed me. He still fought me, but in less than a minute of my calm voice and the hold, he asked to join the class and earn more computer time. The class watched a fun Magic School Bus video and Nixon did too, from the computer chair.

     Pretty soon it was the parade time. Nixon had no trouble getting dressed in his costume and was ready for the parade. He got annoyed when the other kids were still getting ready. SO he got extra computer time to keep him calm. (NOT my idea.....)
     Soon it was time to line up....and wait. Again.
Doesn't he look excited?!? He's pretty annoyed right here. Just wants everyone to move!
     We survived the parade, he loved watching all the other kids walking and telling me what costumes he saw!

     The rest of the day was much the same. Nixon had very little interaction with his teacher at all. The aid, who really is wonderful, rewarded Nixon far too quickly with computer time which resulted in more yelling when it was taken away. I used the hold/calming voice on him once more, just to get him to do 2 crafts.
    They had snack and lunch quickly, then after lunch (which Nixon is apparently removed from before the rest of the class is dismissed to give him some more computer time, if he's earned it) was pretty much a free-for-all. There was free play. I loved seeing Nixon playing with his peers. He's got such an imagination that some of the kids just can't keep up, but the ones that can just had a ball with him!
   He was playing in the "housekeeping" area. It's got a play kitchen and baby dolls. Nixon has, in the past, put a baby doll in the microwave "To make her grow up faster". This upset some of the kids so Nixon was reminded (frequently reminded, by both teacher and classmates) that the baby does not go into the microwave.
    *I don't know, I kind of like his logic of using the microwave to age the baby. I think it's an awesome pretend play!*

     There was a lot of screaming and whining and tattling, from all the kids. Nixon does screaming in the structured part of class, but I saw none during recess or free play.

     I need to say this. Teachers are not appreciated enough! I went home just WIPED OUT! The noise, the number of kids, the level of energy....it zapped me! You teachers who do this on the daily...my hat's off to you!


     My biggest issue is: Nixon didn't really seem to be given a chance to be part of the class. Even during his free play, he had a separate box of toys to choose from. These were learning tools he uses daily but he went to them first. My impression is he's around the class but not a part OF the class. The fact that he isn't even given an opportunity to sit with the class, when he's obviously willing to do so, at the beginning of the day, was bothersome. Even the other kids called his name when the aid walked into the class, because THEY know he's not going to be doing the work with them! How sad is that?!? Perhaps I'm being overly sensitive, but how is he supposed to learn how to work in the classroom with his peers if he's not actually given the chance to be a PART of the class?!
    The aid showed me all the tools they use for Nixon, learning wise. The teacher spoke to me, but not once about Nixon! I emailed her last Wednesday evening, about the hair/scissors situation...I'm still waiting for a reply.
     I spoke to her about a fight Nixon told me about. (He said he saw 3 boys fighting at recess and how he told his teacher about it. They lost 5 minutes.....5 fucking minutes!!....of recess for fighting! But Nixon loses an entire fucking day for pretend play?!?!) She says "Oh yes, they were play fighting and Nixon misread it. We broke them up, because even play fighting is not okay. Their teacher put them all in Time-Out for the remaining time of recess." I asked her how Nixon responded to that. Sh says "Oh, he seemed fine. Even went to the boys during the time out and told them fighting is wrong and they should be friends."
     Then she walked away from me to talk to her grademate teacher.

    Am I wrong for freaking the fuck out over this?!? If there hadn't been over 40 kids around us, I'm pretty sure I'd have lost my shit! How is play fighting different from playing barber?! So Nixon lost an entire day but these boys loss 5-mutherfucking-minutes of recess??


     These are things I will bring up at our next meeting with the admin. In the meantime, I did suggest to the aid, that the Dr Seuss game be a reward he can earn and not a just-because/busy work tool. I was not happy with his behavior when he could no longer play that game. He was also very strict about the caboose staying at the back of the line, even if there were slower kids, and he made it known that the "Caboose stays behind everyone!". *sigh*
Parade selfie!
  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Seriously, he was misunderstood....we think. The situation is really not clear at all.

    So, Nixon has always had issues playing with (and not just around) other kids. He'll start running away and just expect them to chase him because....well it's what he thinks should happen. He doesn't feel the need to seek out his peers approval, which is probably why he is unfazed when his classmates react negatively to his behaviors when he's acting "inappropriate" in the classroom. He doesn't understand that he should be bothered so he isn't bothered.

   This all brings me to today:
Mac and I were out running errands while Nixon was in school. Around 12:20 Mac's phone rang and it was the Vice Principal to "share with you Nixon's behaviors today", which is code for "Your kid's been an asshole and we need to tell you about it" in Mac and I's eyes because that's the feeling we end up with at the end of these phone calls from school.

    Apparently, Nixon was playing in the classroom with scissors. He was telling a classmate he was going to be the barber and cut hair. He had scissors in his hand as he said this, but from what we've been told, did not actually cut anything.
    To Mac and I, this was Nixon's pretend play.
    To the school, Nixon was a threat to other children and was removed from the classroom. For the day. Only to see his classmates at lunch.
    We asked if he was going to rejoin his class at some point during the day, and we were told "Not likely. We need Nixon to understand that this is not appropriate behavior and being away from his class for the day is, hopefully, going to make that point very clear." I get that. I know the other kids didn't realize Nixon was playing pretend, and we don't even know that he was, but the impression we were given was he was smiling and laughing when saying he was the barber.

    When we picked him up from school, I approached the teacher's aide and asked her about the situation. Unfortunately, this happened before she was back in the school from directing traffic. Which means this happened before the school day even officially started!

    I've sent his teacher an email about the incident, hoping to get a little more info about the entire situation. It just seems to us that, if he didn't actually hurt anyone, then keeping him outside of the class for the entire day is excessive. Nixon came home very sad and subdued.
I wanted to cheer him up after school Silly faces in the back seat seemed the ticket!


   In other news, I think we were getting a phone call today regardless of Nixon's behavior. There's some concern, among the administrators, about Nixon's reaction to Friday's Halloween events. So much so, we were asked for ways to "ease Nixon's anxiety or stress" so everyone can enjoy the day. Translation?: We're expecting him to ruin it by getting to overstimulated and you must have an answer to this, right?
    We didn't. The only suggestion I'd come up with was giving Nixon permission to call us if he felt overwhelmed. Friday's going to be a low-structure day. Lots of activities very little academics and a parade.
    The Vice Principal called tonight and asked if one of us (Mac or myself) would be available *side note I can never spell that word correctly!, like never!!* to come to the school and walk with Nixon during the parade. It eventually turned into "How long would Mrs. Ball be able to stay?", which eventually became: I'll be with Nixon for the entire (short day, they have 2-hour early dismissal) school day. I'll sign in and be with him for the day. The administration seems to think this will be a big help. I'm not so certain. This is going to go one of two ways: really, really good or really, really, really bad.  

Monday, October 20, 2014

Facing life and laughing along the way

   "Screw it"
Nixon has learned to use this phrase in perfect context. Last week, one day on the drive home from school we were sitting at a red light. On the opposite side of the street from us, Nixon saw a motorcycle turning around. Or so he thought. It was really a motorcycle leaving the gas station and making a left turn out of said gas station.
Nixon says, from the back seat, "Look, Mom. That guy said screw it. Is that okay for me to say?" I tell him he can say it but only in the car or the house around Mac or I.

   "The B-word"
Mac and I were having a totally random conversation about something-or-another, and Nixon pipes in with "She's a B-word". Just that, not the whole word, just "B-word". Again, in perfect context and seamless conversation flow! I'm awed by his delivery of these things lately.

  "Do I have to cut them all out or can I just paste this page under the M?"
This happened at school.
Last week, Nixon had a class assignment that required him to cut all the words that started with Ah sounds then paste under the letter "A" and words that start with M sounds then paste under the letter "M". Nixon noticed that the Ah sounds were on the top of the page and M sounds on the bottom. He raised his hand and asked if he had to cut all the M sounds out or if he could just paste the bottom of the page under the M.
I don't know what his teacher said. The teacher's aide that works with Nixon said none of the other kids in his class really understood what he saw or the question he was asking. Nixon loves mazes and puzzles and I think he just looked at this like a puzzle and solved it for the easiest point of completion.

   
    We have a meeting Wednesday, this week, to begin the IEP and screening process. Hopefully this is the beginning to getting answers on what is "wrong" with Nixon. I put it in quotes because, of course, I don't think there's anything truly wrong with Nixon. We're all searching for answers or labels to get the help we know he needs.  

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The day after his suspension and some progress is made

    Nixon was suspended from school on Thursday. Mac was great and kept him on as close of a school schedule as possible. I was working and decided not to take the day off as it would send the wrong message to Nixon about the severity of his actions.

    Friday, before Nixon could return to his classroom, we had to all have a meeting (and introduction) with his principal. She'd been out on medical leave since before the start of the school year, which meant she barely knows Nixon and has never met Mac or myself before.
    We went back to the meeting room and waited for the vice principal to arrive. When she did the principal addressed Nixon, who was sitting between Mac and I across the table from his teacher and the vice principal.
   His principal starts asking Nixon if he likes school ("yes"), did he miss school ("A lot!") and if he knows why his behavior was wrong (Nixon said "I made bad choices"). She went on to tell him his actions and decisions were not okay for a school environment and that she didn't want to suspend him, but her hands were tied...the entire conversation was carried on as though Nixon's actions were all made by choice and something he could control. This resulted in me holding Nixon's hand and softly touching his cheek, just reassuring him he was not "bad". I was also shooting Mac looks letting him know I'm close to losing my shit on this woman, but he didn't notice because he was also focused on Nixon.
   I finally felt the need to say something. I came armed with a printout of an article I found  that I felt would help the school understand Nixon and his behaviors a little more, so they might stop thinking of him as an angry and disruptive child. I slid the pages to the principal and said "I think this might help you see that Nixon isn't acting like this on purpose, but instead  is reacting to over stimulation." The principal let Nixon return to his class and we continued the conversation from there.
   Let me say this: I'm truly beginning to despise his teacher. From the very beginning she's had a negative tone and attitude about Nixon. She's expressed herself, numerous times, and voiced her feelings on Nixon "he exhibits behaviors I've never seen in a child his age in all my years of teaching" (and that was not a compliment). But during this meeting, she admitted to contacting other people for help on "dealing with Nixon and his behaviors". I'm glad she sought help, but this also reaffirms my belief that she has NO experience with children on the spectrum. The principal insisted the school has experience with spectrum children, but his teacher was silent when Mac asked the question.

    From there the principal asked what we were doing for Nixon. I explained (again!) the appointments we've made to get him screened. She explains that the school can do those tests, with our permission. Nixon's name is well-known in the school and the IEP (individualized education program) board is aware of his issues. Apparently the board has to vote on going further to get a child tested. I'm pretty sure Nixon will be unanimously approved.
    In addition to that, if he is found to be on the spectrum and have Asperger's, the school will have to develop an IEP for Nixon that will set him up for success, even if it means giving him his own aide daily to work with him one-on-one. (As it was, once again, mentioned to us that Nixon basically has an aide that works just with him but that the school can't "justify" that assignment to the board as he has no IEP.)
   Mac and I agreed to the IEP board vote. From there, the board will meet with us and explain the screening procedures. Nixon will be tested and meet with behaviorists and child psychiatrists as part of those tests. From there, they will determine if/where he falls on the spectrum and there will be another meeting to share the results. After that they will put together an IEP and present that to us (at yet, another, meeting).

    Basically, we're going to get to know the school administration staff real well over the next couple months. We're also going to continue to pursue the screening through Nixon's doctors in order to get any future therapies he may need covered by Mac's insurance.


    I'd like to say, Nixon had a good day Friday. That was not the case. We don't know why, but last week was an awful week for Nixon. Something was different and it was setting him off. His teacher insists everything is the same and the issue is with Nixon.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

"So, your Kindergartner has been suspended from school....how's that make you feel?" And other questions I'm asking myself this week.

    Yesterday was a less than stellar day for Nixon, at school.

     Let's begin with last week. We had a meeting at school about Nixon. I thought I had helped getting the point across on how to help prevent meltdowns. We were told the classroom aid that has been spending most of her days with Nixon (keeping him on task, helping redirect him and avoid meltdowns) was going to be "weaned" from his classroom so she can focus on the two classrooms she was assigned to. I voiced my concern that if the "wean" went too quickly, Nixon will react negatively. Too much change too quickly will overwhelm him. I was assured that it would not be abrupt and every effort would be made to prevent Nixon from getting too anxious over this change. While I briefed him every day of the change, the school (evidently) decided 2 days of less interaction was enough and Tuesday they removed her altogether.

   Tuesday was a bad day for Nixon.

   Wednesday was a fucking catastrophe! He was fine for most of the day, but after recess he threw a fit so bad the rest of the students were removed to keep them safe. Now, he wasn't attacking kids, but he was throwing things at and around his teacher who was in the middle of circle time and surrounded by the other kids.
    He pinched his teacher when she attempted to take something from him.
   They called the aid he knew in, during the middle of this tantrum, and eventually he calmed down. He cleaned up his mess and returned to the classroom the remainder of the day.

   I got the phone call from the principal, who just returned from medical leave and admitted to "not knowing the Nixon-situation", as if he's a condition or illness. She went on to describe the incident and explained he was being suspended for the following day, because of his actions. She voiced concern of what she labeled "his escalation of violence", I'm assuming this is based on his teacher's reports as the woman had just admitted not 2 minutes prior, that she was not familiar with Nixon, nor had she met him yet.
    I asked a few questions and explained some things about Nixon. She knew nothing about anything we've told the other members of the school administration who were present at the meeting last week!

   Mac picked Nixon up from school yesterday. Nixon was quiet and ended up taking a nap. I came home and we talked, a little, when he woke up. After an hour or two, Nixon went to Mac and told him about the day.
   Nixon came to me and said he was upset because it was line up time (at the end of recess). He got upset because he didn't have time to prepare for the end of recess. (We had just told his teacher how Nixon will respond more positively if he's given a warning to prepare for the transition to another activity at the meeting last week, because it's a trigger for him)
   He admitted to throwing, pinching and yelling. He didn't deny any of it, which he does a lot. He tattles on himself!

    I'm so beyond pissed! I'm feeling like his teacher has no regards for the assistance I've been offering from the beginning of school! I requested a meeting the first full week of school! I never get a response from her, even emails take her 2-4 days to reply to! She's had an air about her (regarding Nixon) since she learned he's an only child. ("Oh, an only child. Hmmmm?" was her exactly reaction after learning he has no siblings)

    I'm beating myself up because I feel like I'm failing him, but it's the only reaction I have to his teacher being so negative. She refers to him as "angry" in notes home. I'm worried she has no real experience with working a child on the autism spectrum and it's looking like Nixon has Asperger's, a high-functioning form of autism. Most of the times he's fine, but when stressed or agitated he'll flip his shit! I can't force the school to accept my word, based on research and my knowing Nixon like I do, so we're exhausting all avenues of getting any kind of official diagnosis.
   
   Days like yesterday make me want to throttle his teacher! This whole suspension bullshit, may have been avoided altogether if she'd given a warning that recess was coming to an end.

    And yes, I realize she has 15-19 other kids in her class. And yes, I understand she can't give Nixon her constant attention. But, motherfucker, if the teacher/principal/school shrink all sat in a room and asked me for tips to help prevent these agitated states from happening, I'm going to be pissed when I learn from MY CHILD, that less than a week later the tips are already being ignored and he's having a full-on meltdown because of it!

    It's exhausting.

Monday, October 6, 2014

This is difficult, but I'm not ashamed

    Nixon's school year has been...less than stellar thus far. He's struggling every day with transitioning in the classroom and taking direction when he's not ready to move to a new task. He's has had more than one quasi-violent outburst and he regularly gets removed from the classroom because he's a distraction with his disruptive acts. (He'll get bored and run around the classroom, or he'll start screaming)

   His teacher, from the very beginning of school, has voiced her "concern" over Nixon's behavior. And by "concern" I mean, once mentioned she had a child expelled from Kindergarten because he couldn't adjust and then mentioned suspension less than a week later. She's told me that she is seeing bahviors in Nixon that she's "never seen in a child his age before". Coming from a teacher who has taught children his age for over 20 years, I was taken aback.

   Then I became driven. I was driven to find answers for my baby boy. I needed to know if Nixon was just acting out or if he had legitimate issues.
   So I started with making an appointment with his doctor. For a referral with a behaviorist. We had that first appointment last week. We saw a nurse practitioner, who despite giving us the referral, said there's nothing wrong with Nixon because he had a "perfectly lovely conversation with me just now." A conversation that was totally about what he was interested in. Which is not something we have concerns about.

   After that, and scheduling our subsequent follow-up appointments, I turned to reading. Because knowledge is power and I'm getting the feeling if I don't have pages and pages of concerns/issues/triggers things like that about Nixon, he won't get the help he needs.

    My heart knows something's not right with him. I know he's trying as hard as he can, but sometimes his brain just doesn't work like everyone else.

    Now I fight, to make sure he's not seen as just an angry child. And he isn't given up on by his teachers. I know he's somewhere on the autism spectrum. If I could, I'd just accept everyone telling me he's acting out because he was home with just us and he's having problems adjusting. Or that it's because he's an only child and he can't share. Or that I'm a parent that can't accept that my child is less than perfect.
   But none of that is true. The truth is, I've had worries about Nixon being on the spectrum for years. Doctors wrote it off as things he'll grow out off. Well, he's not outgrowing some things and the list of my concerns is getting longer.

   I know there's nothing wrong with Nixon. Autism/Aspergers, they are not something to hide from. It needs to be embraced and understood. There's nothing wrong with Nixon, he just functions different from other kids his age, but it's not always something he can control.

   It's hard to write this out, because there's no "diagnosis" yet. Mac and I worry that people will treat Nixon differently if they learn he's on the spectrum. I don't know how family members will take the news, if there is news. Some of his issues won't be things he "outgrows".

   If there's an upside to this, it's that Nixon has two parents in his corner who are offering him love and support and facing the adults at his school as a united front. We won't just give up on him and we can't not help him!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

School days and school woes

    Nixon finished his first week of school last week. He had Monday off, for Labor Day, but went 4 days in a row after that. He's adjusting but it's difficult. We've had a couple phone calls from his teacher, he's tattled on himself for bad behavior and we've been working on his behavior at home.
   The problem is: how do you correct behaviors that you never see at home? That's our current situation. We're practicing things at home and working on developing a routine but it's only been a week, we can't work miracles.

    We've resorting to a system of stickers and a reward (aka bribe). He needed 8 yellow or green smiley face stickers to get his reward. He did get it, yesterday. He had 4(!!) green days in a row!

    After sitting down and talking to him, after one kind of awful day and one phone call to Mac, and really got to the deeper issue he's having. It's so awful I can't even share it with you!
    I'm kidding.
    The heart of the issue is he misses us. He wants to go home and see us. And, if you knew how his preschool used to react to his tantrums, his current behavior makes sense. His preschool would call us to come pick him up if he was acting especially awful, which he did (A LOT) after I started working full-time. Little did I know then that it was all a ploy to get more time with me. Which also explains why we NEVER see the behaviors he does at school, at home.
    After finding this out, and explaining that in Kindergarten he won't get sent home unless he's being suspended (oh yeah, that's already been mentioned to us....more than once, by the teacher and the administrators), I came up with a solution. We took 3 selfies, as a family, and Nixon got to pic 2 of them. I printed out the 2 pictures he chose, put them in his backpack and told him if he starts to miss us he can ask for the pictures at school. I also explained it to his teacher, who seemed shockingly impressed with my solution.

    As I said, he had 4 good days.
    Then came today and he had an awful day! He was disruptive (usually his starting point of missing us), he was removed to another room where he threw things at the teachers aid and then the vice principal. Then he spit at them! Fucking SPIT, y'all! I can not for the life of me stand spit! It's vile, gross and incredibly disrespectful.
    Finally, after a struggle to sit in a chair, he finally calmed down and hugged the teachers aid. He then went over to the vice principal, said he needed a hug because he missed his mommy and asked her for a hug.
   During the phone call, from the vice principal, I listened. I didn't say a word. Until she was done and she said something about Nixon missing me. Then I cut in and explained the photo-in-the-backpack plan. She had no idea what I was talking about and I was more than a little annoyed! There seems to be a communication breakdown and Nixon is getting the short end of the stick as a result.

     The vice principal also informed me the school's councilor is going to work with Nixon and get a behavior guide of some sore going. I'm a little pissed because I had asked for a conference during the first week of school and still no response. I hate to say it, but this school is not going to like me because I'm not going to let them run the show much longer. This momma bear is getting ready to growl!

   
     I'm other news: Nixon recently started complaining of leg pains. Yesterday, when he woke up (at nearly 7am on a school day!), he hugged me and I thought he felt taller. So I got the tape measure and he is now a smidge under 4 feet tall. At his doctor's appointment last month he was 46.5 inches!
   

Monday, September 15, 2014

The ugly truth, facing my past and telling Nixon the truth....it's one giant grey area

     This isn't exactly a normal Random blog. This one is a deeper topic brought on by recent events in the NFL world.
     Abuse. Domestic and child abuse. Sadly it has become a topic that Mac and I find ourselves struggling to address with Nixon.
   
     I asked Mac this morning, how and if we should talk to Nixon about child abuse. Nixon is in kindergarten now and that means he is around a variety of children from different backgrounds, we don't know any of his classmates families. Mac's answer was that we don't take the easy way out and we talk to him about this topic like we have with any topic honest on a level he will understand.
     But how honest is too honest. Do we tell him about our own childhood?. Do we not tell him, to protect his view of our parents? We often joke about our childhoods, but the truth is we suffered some serious shit at the hands of our parents. Were we growing up today, instead of in the 80's and 90's, there is a real chance at least one of us (Mac and myself) would have been removed from our family by the authorities.
     I don't shy away from my past and the shitty situations I have overcome. A physically abusive father, an emotionally distant (practically emotionally absent) mother, a physically abusive first boyfriend and my ex-fiance became emotionally and mentally abusive as our young love matured into an adult relationship. To say I was a broken and abused mess would be an understatement.
     I have long said, physical abuse is the least of my issues. Bruises, broken bones, welts and scratches all heal and while the memory of them remain, even scar, it is the mental and emotional abuse that haunts me to this day. I am not saying physical abuse is easy, I am saying the damage does not last as long, if you are lucky. I struggle daily with trust. The men I loved and the father I wanted to trust did a real number on me. I was beaten and told it was my own fault for making him do it. I was slapped and backhanded because another guy looked at me. I did nothing but look in the same direction. My ex backhanded me before I knew what was happening. I was 14 or 15 at the time. I was in a shitty family situation and an even shittier relationship.
     I was sexually active with boy, T. I remember thinking I might be pregnant. I told T and he slapped me,  called me a whore, and after I fell (tripped over something on the ground backing away from him) he kicked me in the abdomen and ribs multiple times. When I got home, late less than 5 minutes for my curfew, my dad beat me. I tried telling my mom about what T had done to me. She walked away and told me I probably had it coming, whatever it was. I do not know if I was pregnant or not. I am pretty sure I had internal bleeding but never went to a doctor.


      Mac tells stories of growing up in an Asian household and kneeling on rice as a punishment. He was sent to the backyard to choose his switch for a whooping.
     We grew up in a time when neighbors and family members were instructed that ass whoppings were allowed and these adults could do it if our parents were not around.


      I saw a shrink once. We barely scratched the surface of my issues, but after just 2 sessions he told me I am far more well-adjusted than most people with like pasts are. I'm pretty sure he was full of shit because well-adjusted is NOT a term I would use to describe myself.


      My ex, M. I spent 9 years of my life co-dependant on him. He was tragically damaged and I needed to be needed. After we moved in together and started growing into our adult selves, we weren't the same teenagers we were when we met. I had learned I didn't want to live with an addict again (Dad is an alcoholic) and he was hiding a gambling addiction....poorly. We fought often and epically. I threw dishes and he swore he'd change. He struck me. Once.
     I was stunned. We'd never been physically abusive to each other. I left for a few hours. I came back and he had notched up the emotional abuse, making me think I wanted him to hit me because it was the only kind of love I ever felt from my father. What an evil fucking dick he morphed into. I stayed because I believed what he said. I stayed because I was afraid to live on my own. I stayed because he helped me financially. I stayed because his words spoke the words I said to myself every day. I stayed when the cheating happened, but I never admitted to him I knew. I feigned ignorance and kept my focus on the degree I was going to school for. When the words coming from his mouth were bitter and ugly about the degree I was earning and the goals I wanted to achieve, I tuned out. It took 2 years of lies, his painful words, his emotional manipulations, to earn my degree. Less than a month later I left my hometown, my family, M and everything I knew. I fell back to him and his lies more than once those early months away from all I knew.
     And then, I just let it all go.


     He crossed a line and I was unforgiving. I went home when my dad was hospitalized after having suffered a stroke. I stopped to talk to a couple friends, M was there. While listening to me describe the insurance mess and my dad's weakened state, M says "Well, no offense, but it's not like he has that many brain cells left to damage after all his years of drinking."  No offense?? A stunned and awkward silence fell and I left.  I could say things like that, a few years later my dad and I will say almost those exact words to each other, but M.....M could not! It wasn't his dad, or even his family. That day I left and never looked back. I mourned the boy M was and the vile man he'd become.
    I found my backbone.


    Sadly, not every abuse victim does. Sadly they stay, for whatever the reason.
      I'm struggling how to tell Nixon about abuse. How to tell him about my own past and why sometimes I read a story or watch TV and feel tears welling up. How to tell him about the pictures of the marks on Adrian Peterson's child, put there at the hand of his father. How to tell him he might have a friend in his life who lives a life like that. How to tell him his parents know the pain that little boy, a year younger than Nixon, feels. How to tell him about the lies I heard about myself from the men I loved. How to tell him about the fear deep inside me, the fear that I'm my father's daughter and I will eventually do to Nixon what was done to me. I'm struggling with how to still be strong for my child and not pollute the love he has for his grandparents.
     I know I need to be honest with him. He's not old enough to hear tales from Mac and I's childhoods. But some day I'll have to tell him. Someday he'll see the damaged goods mom once was.
      For now, I guess telling about about abuse and the types of will be good enough.    I adore Nixon and I've made peace with my past. As difficult as it was, I'm not getting any younger and holding on to that kind of anger, bitterness and hatred was not good for me. I made peace with my parents and the role they played in my fucked-up life.     I'm very angry that people are judging Ray Rice's wife for marrying him and staying. Anyone who has never been in any kind of an abusive relationship can quite easily look at her and say she's dumb for staying. They say she should have left, if anything happens now, it's her fault for staying.     Sadly, she may think she will never do better. As awful as it is, she may feel that staying and dealing with things at home is better than leaving him and the life style he gives her.      It's hard to start over with almost nothing. I've done it. It's one helluva struggle. I had to dig deep and go through some shit, on my own, before I started to accept and believe I was a better person for those experiences. 


    This blog was supposed to be about my struggle to tell Nixon the truth about abuse, but it turns out I needed a little therapeutic outlet.  

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

There's a chance I'm doing severe mental damage to him with my sarcasm

     I've been working a lot lately. Partly because I like the overtime, partly because two of my four co-workers returned to college and now we're down to three people for 16 8-hour shifts a week. The math isn't pretty, but it's all kind of off the real issue at hand: My sarcasm is slowly breaking my son's heart!

    I don't know if my readers have noticed this, but I am quite a sarcastic person. Over the weekend, Nixon and Mac had an unfortunate incident in a parking lot during a walk to the store. I wasn't there, but as soon as I came home Nixon tattled on himself for "having a bad day". He tattles on himself a lot, I'm sure most of it is because he doesn't have any siblings and tattling is a deep-rooted, psychological need in all children, even only children.

    The story goes: Nixon and Mac were walking home from the store. It's about a half mile from our apartment so they make this walk a couple times a week when I'm at work. Mac was carrying the bags and Nixon darted into the parking lot without looking first! He wasn't hurt, thankfully no cars were in the area during this. Mac talked to Nixon about it when they got home and all was fine.
    Until I came home and Nixon tattled on himself.

   Our conversation went something like this:
me: You did what?!? Nixon, you can't do that. If someone would have hit you and you got hurt, I'd have to hunt them down and kill them. And I can't go to jail! I'm too pretty for jail, Nixon.
Nixon: *starts crying* I'm sorry, Mommy. Please don't go to jail.
me: (oh shit! I went too far this time....quick, fix it!) Oh honey, stop crying , I'm not really going to go to jail, but I'd be really sad if you got hurt.
Nixon: I know! I'm so sorry!
me: (why is he still crying, I just told him I was kidding!) *kiss his sweet face and wipe his tears* It's okay but you have to be more careful.

     He continues to cry for about 10 minutes. I finally end up going to Mac and admitting I "broke our child". Together the three of us, talk some more.
me: Nixon, Dad and I only have you to love. I mean, yeah we love each other, but it's a different kind of love than the love we give you.
Nixon: Uh huh.
me: If anything happened to you, where would all the love we give you go?
Nixon: Nowhere. It would go nowhere.
me: Exactly! So please don't make us send our love to nowhere. Be more careful, okay? Because, seriously, I can't go to jail. I'm not built for the hard life. And....I don't look good in orange! Have you ever seen me wear orange?
Nixon: No?
me: That's because I know I don't look good in it! And, if I were in jail we'd have to talk on the phone and have this super thick plastic wall between us.
Nixon: No hugs?
me: Nope, no hugs.
But, since you're going to be more careful in roads and parking lots it's not going to be an issue, right?
Nixon: Right!

    He's recovered, but this is only the latest example of my sarcasm sending Nixon into tears. You'd think I'd learn, but no, I keep doing it. It's okay though, because sometimes he responds back with his own sarcastic remark. He'll get there, I only hope he keeps it in check while in school.

Is it possible to be sarcastic without saying a word? His face makes me believe it is!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

He's 5 and he asked THE question!

    Mac, Nixon and I were in the car, after doing some back-to-school (though in Nixon's case it's more like first-to-school) shopping. I honestly have no idea what prompted him to ask this question, because he's shown zero interest in all things baby in the past, but suddenly from the backseat I hear "Mommy, how are babies made?"
    I turn to Mac and I'm pretty sure the look on my face was one of "Oh shit! You got this? No, fuck, guess I'm up!" not a word was spoken. Dead silence for a couple seconds, then I let the words flow.

   "Baby, it starts with a man and woman. They're naked and alone together. The man has sperm, and a woman has an egg inside her. The man leaves the sperm inside the woman and it joins with the egg, eventually growing into a baby. The baby stays in the woman's belly for 9 months! It takes a long time for the baby to grow. When the baby is ready, it's born, usually comes out of the mommy's vagina. Not always, sometimes the baby is removed in a surgery. You got all that?"
   Nixon says to me "So babies come out of the mommies vagina?" I say yes and Mac tells him "But you don't go around telling everyone you meet that. Not everyone is as open as we are."

   We go to Target and make a Starbucks stop. While I'm waiting for my drink to be re-made (I asked for no whipped cream and it was on there, it was remade), Nixon says to me "Mom, babies come out of the moms vagina, right?" I tell him he is correct, but most people don't like that word "vagina". I could see from the corner of my eye at least 3 people turn when he said that word.


   Look, I'm not going to use cutesy made-up words when the clinical word is a proper word. He asked a question and sure, I could have dodged it, but he deserves to know I'm going to answer his questions. I kept it simple but honest.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Laughing through his tears with me....or at me, it could go either way

   This all started because I went to the bathroom before tucking Nixon into bed. I noticed there was glittery green pieces of something in the trash can in his bathroom. I immediately know what it is and call for Nixon.

"Nixon Mathieu!" which has him scrambling out of his bed to see why I called him. I ask him what the mess is in his garbage can and he immediately says "I'm sorry.", without an explanation. I ask him for the skull that had previously been covered in the green glittery latex paint. He says he took it off because "I wanted to see the bones naked". It's a hard plastic skull, not real bones.

    The problem to all of this is: the skull is mine and NOT Nixon's. He destroyed it without asking first. As I'm explaining this to him, I fall back on my own natural ability to deadpan a sarcastic remark. While asking him how he'd feel if I ruin something of his, he says "sad". I ask him when he did it and it turns out he did it while he was supposed to be napping. (I thought maybe he'd done it when dropping a deuce, because...bored on the toilet). I tell him for a while his naps will be taken in my bedroom with the bedroom door opened (we close his door to keep the cats out of it). He starts crying, telling me "I don't want you to get rid of my bed!"
   He thought I was going to get rid of his bed! While he's still crying, I tell him he misunderstood me and that I would never get rid of hid bed....mostly because it's too big to throw out of his bedroom window! Well, to my little man this was hilarious! The thought of me tossing his bed out of the window had him from tears to laughter in a millisecond! I'm not totally sure he even comprehended that he was laughing as tears were still running down his face.
   We go back to the importance of respecting each other's belongings and Mac mentions "taking the stuffing out of BeBe". Cue the tears again. Before he gets too upset, I stop the tears and probably caused him more emotional upheaval than he knew what to do with. I reassure him that "I would throw your bed out of the window before I'd ever remove BeBe's stuffing." I may have also mentioned flushing Scoot-a-loo down the toilet, but that also caused tears, so I quickly retracted that statement!

   I'm not sure I should be allowed to parent him anymore. I think we're entering the lifelong-emotional-trauma age. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Proof my kid really loves me!

     Not often, but occasionally, like most moms I find myself wondering if Nixon is growing up so fast that he's going to stop needing or loving me overnight. Last night, Nixon calmed those nagging fears with a simple conversation.

    A little background before story time though. Last night, after I got home from work, we all headed to the grocery store for a short trip.  Nixon was told to leave his iTouch in the car, and he started pouting and fake crying. He was warned to stop and got out of the car. He was still a little pouty so I offered him a "job". I gave him my car keys to put in his pocket. He was super excited to do it and we entered the store with one happy child!
   After around 10-15 minutes of shopping, I did a key check. I asked him to shake his pocket. He did...nothing. I dropped down and shook his pockets myself....they were both empty! I was about to lose my mind and Nixon says "Look mom, their in a quiet place!" He put them in the cup holder that's a part of the cart. Mac and I both look at each other and say "I just had a heart attack!"

   During dinner, Nixon and I talk about it:
me: Nixon I think I lost 5 years off my life tonight.
Nixon: What's that mean?
me: It means I'm going to die 5 years sooner that I was before we went shopping.
Nixon: NO! You can't die! Mommy, I need you!
me: Oh baby, I'm not really going to die. It's something adults say to be dramatic.
Nixon: I'm just a little boy still and I need my mom!
me: *hugging him* I'm sorry. I didn't mean I'm really going to die. You're going to have me around for a long time still!
Nixon: Good, I like that!

   See? Totally loves me!

I may not do everything right most of the time, but loving this boy and getting his love back....that comes naturally.