Tag Archives: parenting

Silver linings

My brain is full to the brim at the moment, teasing out new ideas and strategies to support my boy. I have moments of intense clarity, and then moments when I feel like I am swimming through custard (which sounds tastier than it feels!). Thinking about starting new sewing projects seems a bit overwhelming when there is so much else to think about. Instead I have finished one project (the beautiful pile of capes – more detailed photos will follow after the recipients have tried them on), and played with the camera on my phone to capture some of the colourful and positive things happening in our lives. We have much to be thankful for, despite my feelings of gloom.

The stress of trying to find the right support for my beautiful boy has triggered some fairly intense anxiety moments, so I have decided to use that for good and not evil, and today began the room by room clean up of the house that has been required for so long. Nothing like finding the silver lining in this cloud! The other silver lining? Everything I am doing to support him this week is working. He was so proud to report to the paediatrician today that “I have made good choices for four whole days!”. Yesterday morning I went to wake him up and he wasn’t in his bed. I presumed that he had snuck into my room to use the ipad. Instead I found him sitting on a chair in the lounge, cuddling the dog and having a gentle morning chat to her. Moments like that melt my heart and remind me of why I am fighting for him, and why I can’t give in or give up.  My two girls also need some extra love and support at the moment.  Thank heavens for Miss N the au pair who is proving to be just the beautiful soul that we all needed in our lives.

So please bear with me while I have a break from regular crafty blogs and instead provide the occasional photo of something that is making me happy. You never know – I might even finish cleaning the house and start sewing furiously! It has happened before……..

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Sharing the wisdom of Christopher Robin

No list of Friday finds tonight. I have found many things today, but none suitable for a list worth sharing. I have been re-arranging the house in preparation for the arrival of the au pair. Beds have been moved, floors cleaned, couch covers washed, drawers emptied, desk legs swapped, bookshelves slid, and many, many dust bunnies uncovered. Nothing like an impending guest to have the complete Spring clean kicked off! We can now navigate the hallway without having to detour through other rooms to pass the piles of linen, soft toys and assorted ‘things’ I have found, but we are not quite there yet. I, however, am exhausted.

Yesterday was draining, so a day of cleaning, sorting, moving and creating new spaces was just what the doctor ordered. The boy had a day at home with me, at the request of his school, and it was a happy, calm day.  I am continuing to explore strategies and options to support him.  Last night I read pages of material on ADHD, in an effort to develop another strategy.  The MIML rang and talked through some suggestions and ideas.  It all helps to push back the feeling of helplessness and being lost.   Today I made some enquiries with some local schools that offer different approaches in teaching.  I will do some tours and investigate further, while I explore the idea that he may learn more in an environment that allows a more flexible approach to learning, with a higher ratio of teachers to students.  I don’t think it will be the answer to everything, but might offer some different options.  In the meantime I decided that another quote is required.  This one, from AA Milne, spoken by Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh, is needed by both the boy and myself at the moment I think.

We are our toughest critics ... so give ourselves a break and reflect on this.

On that positive note I welcome in the weekend, and all the joy (and electioneering) that it brings.

If you are in Australia – don’t forget that your vote counts!!

 

A reminder from Dumbledore

Ah the ups and downs of life! Enjoying the spring weather and a happy mental state one day, down in Melbourne in the grey gloomy rain and being called home to deal with dramas the next. When I found this, from the website Striking Truths, pinned by a friend on Pinterest this evening, it resonated with me.  JK Rowling, with her Dumbledore Manifesto, got it right.

I have to admit that I need a bit of extra inspiration at the moment. Parenting a child with a complex diagnosis is challenging.  I have lost count of the number of times I have sat in the Principal’s office and said “I don’t know what we do now” as something new has transpired.  Today was another of those days.  Although I always manage to pick myself up, start working on the next strategy, the next plan of attack, the next piece of analysis to try to understand what is making him tick so differently from everyone else, there are times that this all seems unattainable.  Today was one of those days.  I still don’t have an answer to the latest conundrum, but a bit of a reminder from a fictional wizard that that I can turn on the light and find happiness in the darkness, is just what I needed.

On a different note, proving that my mother’s assessment of me as impulsive was probably much truer than I gave her credit for, it appears that I have an au pair!  I had started the search through a site recommended by a friend, and noticed that one of the au pairs was already in Australia.  After exchanging emails I found out yesterday that she was in Melbourne – and I was flying there for meetings this morning.  Deciding that this was more than fortuitous I arranged to meet her in the 20 minute window between the airport and the first meeting.  Within minutes of meeting her I had the call from Canberra that I needed to come home again – but even having that window into the dramas in our life didn’t phase her.  She was so warm and bubbly, sensible and open and honest that my colleague also agreed that she was just right for us, and we both felt the need to hug her goodbye!  The chicks and I spoke to her via Skype this afternoon (after I had checked her references on the phone) and the boy begged her to come and live with us (!!!!).  So she arrives on Saturday!  Oh my!  (Hmmm….. mental note – might need to clean the house a bit so she doesn’t run on the first day!)   Much quicker than I thought, but the very idea of some respite and flexibility has me giddy!    That might just be the light in my darkness today!  Even though I have moments of complete despair, little things like this remind me that someone upstairs is looking after me, despite my balance sheet looking more than a little skewwhiff these days.

 

 

The holiday is over. The chicks are back in the nest, ready to return to school tomorrow. While I am delighted that they are back, healthy and happy, I did like my little break while they were away! The chance to only worry about me was truly like a holiday. So today we are back to the usual Sunday night routine. The eldest chick has baked cookies for their morning tea at school this week, the clean laundry pile is threatening to hide half the family room, and I am turning my head to the week ahead and trying to recall what I want to share about the week just past.
One thing that I can report is that we have returned to Geocaching after a long, unintentional break. I introduced one of my colleagues to it a couple of weeks ago. He took his family away on holiday and found 23 caches in one week. After one year we were only sitting on 46! Being the competitive creature that I am…..that was enough to spur me on. So while on the road trip to collect the chicks yesterday we found three (and searched in vain for a fourth). Today we went for a walk, with some friends, up the mountain that we live on and found three more. Given that there was a threat of snow and the temperature didn’t get above 6 degrees C, you might start to get a picture of how determined I am to keep ahead of him!! We haven’t stayed true to our aim of achieving 365 this year, but staying ahead of him should keep us going for a while! One of the caches we found yesterday was a delight. It contained ‘licences’ including the laminating pouches for them. The chicks are so proud to now be licensed as follows:

I do hereby grant myself permission to use multi-million dollar military satellites to find hidden Tupperware.  Furthermore I certify that this license is issued in accordance with no known legal requirements in any jurisdiction whatsoever.  This license expires with its owner.

My plan for the time while the children were away was to sew, sew, sew. Although I don’t regret the things I did do (a story for another day) I didn’t get to sew very much. So I set myself a target, (and told my Facebook followers to make myself accountable) that I had to make one colourful bag this weekend. I have done it! And once again I feel like my groove is coming back as a result!

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The return of my chicks has been a little confronting in some respects. I have debated writing about this for a while, but think that to not do so leaves an unexplained gap. Everything in our life is so intertwined and so much results from the issues of my chick, that I think it is better to write about it than to not.

Having a diagnosis for my chick with ‘issues’ just before they went away means that I have had time to think about the implications, to research the options, and to contemplate it all in isolation. It also meant that I have had time to doubt the diagnosis, to think that maybe we (me, teachers, doctors, etc) have all been over-reacting and that I haven’t tried enough, or used enough strategies, or been a good enough parent, or, or, or……… But upon their return, with my eyes wider open, I can see that the professionals are right. My boy, who I describe as all boy, who is always on the go…..is really always on the go. He climbs the door-frames, can’t sit still on the couch, can’t play without talking non-stop, can’t shift his focus to listen to me, including to stop stepping out in front of cars on the road. He gets one idea in his head and can’t be shifted from it, and he moves, non-stop, even in his sleep. My boy, my beautiful boy, who comes into bed in the morning and answers my question of ‘what are you doing’ with “Coming to sleep with you Mummy because I love you”, my boy who loves hugs, and animals, and his family and his friends, my boy has Attention Deficiency Hyperactivity Disorder. There. I have said it out loud.

I love him. I love him with my whole being. But he exhausts me. And I am still not sure how I have managed to care for him for nearly 7 years without realising that this was more than a behavioural reaction to his father’s absence, or because I work full time, or because he went to daycare, or because he has anxiety issues, or because his diet needs improving, or, or, or…… That this is biological, and not a minor glitch.

So, after struggling for 20 months, he has started on the prescribed medication today. I was so scared. I thought it would change my boy and stop him being the boy that I know and love. But I need to give him a chance to sit in class for a whole day. To not be labelled the ‘bad’ kid. To learn and succeed. With much trepidation I started……….and nothing happened!! We are starting on a low dose and building, in accordance with the doctor’s instructions, so I expect that there will be some gradual effects. However after being so worried and feeling so guilty and alone this morning, it was almost a disappointment that there was no effect! Talk about a very silly mother! I will persevere and keep loving him and advocating for him and trying to balance his needs against those of his sisters who have suffered so much as a result of the issues we have faced over the last year or two. And I will keep sewing, and making things, and staying as calm as possible. He has a long life ahead of him and we have much to do in order to ensure that it is a good and happy life. I predict many, many bags being sewn over the next few years!!

This week starts off with the hope of things to come, of great opportunities, of colour and creativity, and of love and strength. In other words, back to normal in the nest! I hope that you have a wonderful start to your week, wherever you are.

Judgement

Not a lot of crafting photos to share today. In fact none. Just words. And many of them not about crafting. Some of them are about parenting, and questioning your own judgement as a parent, and others are about some of the shameful things that have been happening to women and reported in the media.

First of all a disclaimer. I am sick. Head cold, cough, aching body sick. So my coherence might be affected. But my thoughts on these issues are not clouded. Just my ability to write coherently.

This week I am waiting to hear from a professional whether my judgement as a parent is off or not. I am sure she doesn’t see it that way, but it is certainly the way I feel. One of my chicks, as I have said earlier, has some ‘issues’. I have sought a lot of professional help, advice and support over the last 18 months. Many strategies have been put into place, and some positive results have occurred. But there is no magic wand to make the ‘issues’ disappear, because life, as we all know, is complex. I have been advocating for my chick, and educating about the triggers for behaviour, and trying to keep my chick safe but let them have freedom to fly. (Gee who doesn’t agree that finding that rhythm as a parent is hard?) The school have been very supportive. I know that other schools would have given up by now. But the school sees different things in my chick’s behaviour that I don’t see. And this is the point at which I wonder whether I am too close to the issue to be objective. Despite my professional advisors agreeing with my understanding of the ‘diagnosis’ over the months, I have agreed to start down the road of a different diagnosis to see whether there are more complexities than I was aware of. The school and I have both filled out a questionnaire. And our answers are very, very different. So I am questioning whether my instincts as a parent are skewed by my love, and by my wanting everything to be ‘normal’ (even though little about our life is normal anyway). And I am waiting to hear the compiled results of those questionnaires, to see what someone independent thinks. The world will not stop if I am wrong. But I suspect that my belief in my judgement about what is best for my kids might shudder a bit before it restarts.

I know that some of you don’t live locally, and so may not have seen all the ridiculous things that men have been saying and doing about gender issues in Australia. Comments on our prime minister simply because she is a woman, suggesting women shouldn’t speak in public, etc. Those things bother me, but not as much as the reports from London about the public ‘tiff’ between Nigella Lawson and her husband. While the only ones who know what actually happened are the two famous people themselves, so much of this story disturbs me. First of all, someone took photos of a man putting his hands around the throat of a woman in a restaurant, while someone else said ‘it was obvious she was scared’. And no one walked up and told him to stop. No one.

Then he took to the media and said ‘it was just a tiff’. He had ‘only’ put his hands on her to ‘make his point’. He had only agreed to the police caution in order for it to ‘go away’. The media reports that he and his wife had eaten at the restaurant again since the incident. His wife moved out ‘on his advice until the media furore stopped’. Oh my. Every single one of those statements scares me. This is a man who is so comfortable that he is justified in hurting his wife that he does it in public. This is a man who feels so justified in what he did that he publically tells everyone that he is in charge of what is happening in his house, and that he lied to police. This is a man who is exhibiting such significant signs of control and power and of being a long term perpetrator of family violence that I am worried for his wife. The fact that his wife ate out in public with him again does not mean that it didn’t happen. It possibly means that she is still scared of what happens if she doesn’t eat out with him again in public. I hope for her sake that this isn’t a sign of long term control and abuse issues. But the chances are that it is, and so as a humble blogger, who previously had no interest in the life of a celebrity chef from England, I say to her, and to anyone else who lives in fear in their own home “There is no excuse for domestic violence. None. Please keep yourself safe. You deserve better.”

Right. Rant over.

A few crafty words for those still reading. While I can’t do much in my current state I am making lists. Lists of things to make for the school craft stall. Lists of things to make if I ever want to have my own craft stall. Lists of things I want to make now. Add those to the lists I wrote about in my last post and I will need a new notebook soon. Lists seem to be the best way to keep my brain from exploding with all the creative ideas that are running around in it! I feel I have unleashed a creative monster as ideas generate new ideas, that spark different ones. Lists are helping me keep it all in check.

So as I head back to bed for my last bit of sleep before I collect my children from their after school care program (which I am so thankful for on a day like today) I hope that your week is going well. If it isn’t, try making a list. And reading this inspirational post by another blogger that a friend sent me today.  They are powerful words.

Piecing it together

Half way through the week already?  I need time to slow down a bit!  I am fully recovered from the virus I had on the weekend – it seemed to be a 24 hour thing, thank goodness, but it did make a dent in my plans!

To make up the lost time I baked for the children’s morning tea for the week at 6am on Monday, managed to get the grocery shopping done with two children in tow that afternoon after work, while the eldest chick had a playdate (what did we call these when we were young – I am sure they weren’t ‘playdates’ then!), and then picked her up and shopped for the few bits we needed before she left on camp.  Phew!  So the chores of Sunday were recovered, but the crafting time was lost.

I have managed to make a library bag that my sister-in-law requested for my niece, and was quite delighted to use a scrap of fabric from the boy’s cot quilt (made by his Nana) and that I am incorporating into his ‘big’ quilt, into the ladybugs’ heads and bottoms – the family connection for his cousin will probably be lost on a 5 year old, but it gave me a nice sense of symmetry.  I also found this lovely piece of fairytale fabric in the stash that my mother sent me recently, which I used for the monogram – I think it adds a magical touch to the bag!

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ImageThe eldest chick has gone on her school camp for two nights.  She has been so excited.  She has memorised the packing list and, it turns out, has been grilling all the teachers while they have been on playground duty, to get all the details she possibly can about the venue, the activities, the food, and the rules.  She decided not to take her new birthday Dr Who bag as it is ‘too special’ and I must say I was relieved with her decision when we woke this morning to rain and the associated mud.  I did make her a toothbrush roll (that I forgot to photograph for posterity) from a face washer and a scrap of the fabric from her pyjamas and pillow case, so she will be the most coordinated child at night!

Her persistent gathering of information, coupled with some recent incidents with the other two children, and my own history, have had me thinking about anxiety and the different forms that it takes.  My artist-in-residence middle chick has high levels of anxiety that manifest themselves in different ways.  Working with a counsellor when some specific manifestations were affecting her quality of life saw that situation improve and her overall anxiety improved dramatically after her diagnosis of coeliac disease.  (And on this, and the association of depression with coeliac I commend the post by Shauna Ahern on her blog Gluten Free Girl to you – it is raw but so, so, important to read.)  However I always knew that I had to manage her emotional needs slightly differently to the other two, and was very clear that this was something that had been evident since birth.

The boy was and is a sunny and very energetic child most of the time.  He is confident in most social situations – sometimes too confident, but when he is angry and frustrated or feels vulnerable we can have some significant behavioural problems.  I have always thought of these issues as related to anger or frustration.  Recently I was told that the diagnosis is actually anxiety.  Huh.  That made me stop and think.

Today, after school, I had the middle chick curled up in a ball, terrified and shaking and in complete meltdown because she had done something wrong at school, and by her putting her own black lens over the incident had magnified the consequences and the incident completely out of proportion.  An emotional phone call from her mother to the teacher shed light on where the message had been misinterpreted and she has calmed down and is happy to accept the consequences (which are mild compared to what she had interpreted them to be) and has written a note of apology to the teacher un-prompted.

Where is this all leading you ask?  Well, it got me to thinking that perhaps my eldest chick, who I rely on to be sunny, transparent and reasonable, is also experiencing her own anxiety, but that she manages it by collecting as much information as possible, so that there are no surprises, and she can cope with new situations.  And then it occurred to me that she is well and truly her mother’s daughter.  Because that is exactly what I do.   I know understand that I ‘suffer’ from anxiety sometimes, and that I manage it the rest of the time, blithely unaware that it is still affecting many of my decisions and actions.

The thought processes then lead me to wonder about the old ‘nature vs nurture’ argument and wonder how much of my eldest chick’s methods of coping are genetic and how much are environmental (i.e. ‘caught’ from her mother), and, more importantly, what skills can I give her so that she doesn’t have to wait until she is in her 40’s to recognise what she is doing and to learn to manage her own levels of anxiety so that they don’t affect her quality of life.

Food for thought for this little bird, trying to manage a nest of little chicks and keep them safe and on the right path for a healthy and happy life.   I don’t have any answers but in identifying what is going on in my nest I am hopeful that I can support them to be strong and confident when they need to be. (A bit heavier than my usual posts, but hey – that is what blogs are for – to keep you on your toes!!  Or something like that!!)