Monthly Archives: July 2015

a little bird made me

July 25, 2015

If you want to get me cranky, protective and outraged, give one of these statements a try when you are next talking to me.  Even better, use most of them in one conversation, and do it in front of my son.  That is a sure fired way to ensure that I will discount your helpful suggestions on how I can better do my job as his mother.  (It will also 100% guarantee that I will write a blog post about it.)

1. He just needs to fit in with everyone else

You think?  Wouldn’t it be great if just telling him to fit in with everyone else was the answer.  Wouldn’t it be great if we were all cut from the same mould and could fit into the designated slot in life that you think we should fit into.  Oh, and while we are at it, thank you for telling me, after knowing him for a very short time, how you know what he ‘needs’.  Because up until now, while I have been dealing with schools, psychiatrists, paediatricians, psychologists, police, social workers and the government, it never occurred to me that I could solve all of this by telling him to fit in.

Fitting in.  What does that look like?  Is that where he doesn’t say anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, doesn’t question whether something is fair or not, doesn’t overreact when he feels he is treated unfairly, and doesn’t interrupt your vision of what your life should look like?  Wouldn’t it be nice if he did fit in.  Did it ever occur to you that perhaps all he wants himself is to fit in.  To not be the kid who can’t cope with too much noise, or with not being perfect at something the first time he tries, who can’t understand why other kids don’t get his sense of humour, who worries that other kids don’t like him because he gets angry when he is overwhelmed.  To be ‘normal’.why fit in when you were born to stand

Guess what?  I don’t want him to fit in.  If he fitted in, in the way that you want him to, he would lose himself, and all the good things that go with being him.  His awesome sense of the ridiculous, his ability to give hugs just at the right time, his sharp mind and amazing strategies, and the endless possibilities that are open before him because he has to work so much harder than everyone else to do the same things that other kids in his class do with ease.

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2. He is just doing this to get attention

Of course he is!  What kid climbs an electricity pole in the middle of winter and declares that he won’t come down, in order not to get attention?  What kid rings his mother who is many hours drive away and threatens to kill himself, in order not to get attention?

The question is not whether he wants attention, it is WHY he wants attention.  What overloading of his senses, his ability to cope, his sense of fairness has happened that is causing him to act in such an extreme way?  And what can we do to help him to see that he is loved, supported, and cherished, so that he doesn’t need to behave in this way in order to get our attention.

3. He needs to understand how this makes (insert name of choice) feel

Ouch.  There it is again.  What he ‘needs’ to do.  If only he can rewire his brain circuits so that he understands other people’s emotions clearly, and take them into account when those people are contributing to his need to seek attention, then everything will be okay.  You will love him if he understands how his behaviour is affecting you.

Maybe, just maybe, you might like to think about how an 8 year old kid sees the world.  Forget whether he has special needs or not – most 8 year old kids are still fairly egocentric in their actions.  Telling him to take your feelings into account and to stop this behaviour is not, unfortunately, a magic cure-all.  If it was then I would be rich, having saved many thousands of dollars on specialists because I could have taken your advice for free.

4. He needs to understand the consequence of his actions

Uh-huh.  Again, what he ‘needs’ to do.  Because if he can just think about what his behaviour is doing, then he will stop it, straight away.  Can I remind you again, using small words, that this boy is 8 years old.  He doesn’t like hurting people.  He doesn’t like feeling hurt.  He doesn’t like constantly stumbling through life, letting people down, making mistakes.  If he could, at this age, think of the consequences of his actions and therefore change his actions, don’t you think he would?

5.  He is going to have a miserable life if he doesn’t start to improve his behaviour

Grrrrrrr…….how dare you presume to tell my son what his life is going to be like. And even worse, how dare you tell him that his life will be bad.  He believes the things that adults tell him.  Ever heard of a self-fulfilling prophecy?  And quite apart from my emotive response to how an adult can be so cruel to a child, how on earth do you know what his life is going to be like?  Have you seen the amazing steps he has taken over the last couple of years?  Do you know just how bad things were 3 years ago?  Do you know how much work and support I put into ensuring that in fact he has a wonderful future ahead of him, and how much he looks to the positive future now? And finally, do you honestly think that this is his choice?!  What on earth is he hoping to gain by ‘choosing’ to behave in this way, particularly when not behaving in this way has so many more rewards!

 

Lead by exampleAnd finally – don’t ever, whether a child has special needs or not, talk about that child in such a way in front of him or her.  It is cruel.  And slightly ironic.  While you are so busy telling me that he needs to control himself, behave better, understand the consequences of his actions, you are doing the exact opposite.  Perhaps leading by example would be a better way to help him.

Vent over!  Regular programming will resume shortly!

A small post-script.  If you think you recognise yourself in this post, you probably do.  (And we may never have met.)

 

Rural update #489

Guess what?  It is still winter.  I know – who would have thought?   We are deep in the midst of the short days, frozen mornings, thick fogs, and wood fires.  There has been a significant investment in thermal underwear, ski jackets and gloves – and that is just for around the farm!  Although, much to the disappointment of the children we haven’t had heavy snowfalls on the property so far, there have been some in the area, and the snow on the mountains around the area certainly makes for icy winds.  It is that time of year when finding a spot in the sun, behind glass, warms your bones and makes it hard to leave.  And when the sun across the ground in the late afternoon makes everything glow golden.

Afternoon sun|a little bird made me

The number of livestock on the property has grown.  No more dogs (yet) although we have been introducing Dottie to a friend’s Labrador who is quite obliging and lets her be in charge and boss him around, so we will see how that goes.  No – we have progressed to horses. Even better – they aren’t ours!  We have leased our big paddock to our neighbours who have quite a few horses, and they are keeping some in the paddock (which helps keep the grass from simply feeding the kangaroos).  The artist-in-residence is beside herself with joy, and goes to visit them several times a day on the holidays and weekends, and every afternoon on school days.  She will have a riding lesson with the neighbours tomorrow and could not be more excited!  Dad has great plans for collecting the manure for the garden.  The boy thinks that he might learn to be a blacksmith so he can make horseshoes for them.  The eldest is a bit bemused by all the fuss, and  I just like the sound of gentle neighs and harrumphs across the night air when I am lying in bed – true country life!Horses|a little bird made me

The 11 chickens are now all sharing one coop and run, with little drama so far.  The white and black (unknown breed) speckled ones should start laying soon, which is good as our original brown girl is coming to the end of her laying life.  The shells of her eggs are getting more and more fragile and she only lays one every few days now, rather than one a day as she used to.  She is healthy and spritely though, so I am sure that there will be great debates about what should happen to her once she stops laying.  (Dad being practical and farmer like, and me being sentimental and protective like!)

The big news is that we are having a party to celebrate Mum and Dad’s 70th birthdays (which are about 6 weeks apart).  Apart from the obvious Pinterest frenzy that I have gone into (decorations, drinks, presents, signs, more decorations…..) it has also turned my mind far more sharply to re-decorating.  As I type I am sitting surrounded by swatches of carpet.  YES!  The ugly multi-coloured casino style carpet will be replaced soon!  I have found the carpet I want (seriously – anything with a 25 year guarantee on wear, stains, colour, etc will get me in) but the colour?  Boy that is a tough one!  And why is the carpet so important?  Because once we choose the carpet we can choose the paint for the walls……. etc, etc, etc!  Grey, beige, greige, mushroom, oatmeal, silverfern, koala, chirp – these are all names I have been considering. Really – what colour is ‘chirp’?

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I am not sure how much will actually get done before the party, but it has turned everyone’s mind to the topic.  The boy has asked to trial sleeping in the spare room to see if he likes it better than his room.  He wants dark blue walls, which to be frank is an improvement on his previous request for black.   The artist in residence has created her own Pinterest board with decorating ideas and has settled on a colour scheme (aqua, pale pink and gold).  We have spent quite a bit of time discussing how to best carry out her ideas.  (There will be recycling, freezer paper stencils, a staple gun, and fabric involved in the current iteration of the plan!)  The eldest is just desperately trying to avoid any suggestion that she might have to change rooms (hers is the biggest by far!)

We stayed home for the school holidays.  This time last year we had our spontaneous trip to Hawaii.  This year life and funds are significantly different, and the weather was horrid, so we stayed home.  We had friends come to visit, and family!  My nephew managed an evening with us whilst in town on a school trip (he lives on the other side of the country) and my cousin and his wife came to stay for a night, which was so much fun.  The kids caught up with friends, had pyjama days, and we played cards, watched movies, went to appointments, etc.

I took the artist-in-residence, the boy and one of his friends, to the theatre to see the Flying Fruit Fly Circus performance ‘Under the bed’ at the Canberra Theatre Centre.  (The eldest declaring that she was too old for such things.)  It was the first time I have taken the boy to the theatre and it was the perfect performance for it – it started at 6pm, and went for one hour.  He enjoyed it, although he and his friend talked non-stop through it.  Their commentary was amazing at times – where adults might cringe at a mistake like a dropped hula hoop they were marvelling that it was only one that had been dropped. At other times it had nothing at all to do with the show.  I tried to shush them without stressing them out but it had little effect. At the end of the performance the people in the row in front commented that they might be the two biggest chatterboxes in town, but it was mostly good natured.  I was a bit amazed at how I coped and didn’t let it stress me out.  I explained afterwards that they weren’t misbehaving – they were just coping with this new experience by talking it through.Theatre tickets|a little bird made me

By the end of the holidays I was exhausted, and sick.  Having the kids back at school was a relief on one level, as it meant that I could sleep and recuperate, but stressful on another level, as the boy has not coped with the return to school.  I am learning more each day about how to work with him, and by Thursday night had got to the bottom of what was bothering him, so today was actually a good day for him.  I feel like it is one step forward, two steps back at the moment, but then I look back at where we were a year ago, and have to recognise that we have come a long way.  Learning more about how his mind works, and how he interprets the world around him helps, but then trying to convey that to his teachers, my parents, his father, etc becomes exhausting.

For now though, carpet swatches and Pinterest boards are calling my name.  (Yep – its Friday night and I am partying hard here on the farm!)  I hope that you are well, and that your weekend is full of creative moments.

Oh – and if you want something to cheer you up and entertain you, check out the page called ‘My Awesome Life’ on Facebook.  Very clever stuff.