Facebook is the new fridge door

*** Disclaimer: To all my Facebook friends who might read this post. Please don’t let what I’m about to say make you think that I don’t want to see the posts you put about your kids. Cranky pants complaining is always more ‘read-worthy’ than happiness and sunshine. Feel free to ignore me and carry on as you were :)***

Lately I’ve been scrolling through Facebook a lot more than I would have previously done. One reason is that I am often sitting with a sleeping baby on me and can’t do anything else but pick up a book or my phone. Another reason that I am a member of a number of really great homeschooling Facebook groups, including one for the parents of Gifted and Talented children. I get a lot of great ideas and information from these groups and get a chance to ‘chat’ to other parents all over the country.

The problem I have with all this Facebooking I’ve been doing is that I have to constantly be bombarded with the photos and posts of friends and family who put up pics of their very ‘normal’ kids achieving certificates at school, or starting school and looking all smiley and happy in their too big school uniforms. Yeah, OK, I get it. Your kid goes to school. Yeah I get it, they complete their work and do good stuff, and get recognition for it. Some of them have kids who are super athletic and getting trophies. Some of them have awesomely talented kids in the arts. Great. I’m happy for them. I just kinda wish they’d keep those proud moments on their fridges like the old days so that I don’t have to see them every day.

Why?

Well, it sorta makes me mad. Or Sad, or to quote Oh from the movie Home “mad sad”. My kid doesn’t do any of that stuff. He did come home from school one day with a ‘smiley’ on his chart.

“What was that for sweetheart?”

“I didn’t punch anybody today!”

“That’s fantastic! Well done!”

sigh.

See what I mean? Each day in this house is a struggle to get my son to do anything even remotely resembling things that the rest of society would consider an achievement. He’s smart. Very smart. But when you refuse to even sit down for ten minutes and try to do your maths or writing, there is no way to show the powers that be, or the regular folk who think that education is based on output and testing just how smart he is. If he was tested in a conventional ‘school’ way, he’d probably be two years behind.

Him being behind in that way doesn’t really bother me at all. He’s smart, when he’s ready, he’ll catch up all that stuff. Right now, all his energy is going into his Lego models and learning stuff that he is interested in. I try to direct some of that energy into learning how to live in the world. He is better off knowing how to get along with people and not get into trouble every five minutes than learning his times tables right now. Although I know all this stuff deep down, I still find myself rolling my eyes a little bit at Facebook when people post their kids on there. Yes I do it too. I post the Lego models he builds.

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I post the strange things he does like catching wild birds with his bare hands and baking Minecraft cakes.

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I post the cuteness of his baby brother.

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But.

Would I put those things on the fridge if I didn’t have Facebook? Probably not. He doesn’t really care about certificates or stickers or prizes, so I guess our fridge would end up still just being plastered with calendars showing the next therapy session, and drawings of mines and trucks. That’s just who he is.

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Words I hate hearing…

I have a brief respite from being Mummy right now. Why? The baby is asleep and the nine year old is making his first ever youtube video. Yes, you read that right. Oh how it pains me. He’s on his X-Box, (that we recently purchased second hand) playing Minecraft. He has set up our video camera pointing at the screen and he’s giving a running commentary of what he’s doing. It’s making me laugh. He just said, “If you could smash that like button and subscribe so I can earn a bit of money and upgrade from this crappy video camera. I’m just a Noob, I don’t really know what I’m doing and I know nothing about how to put his on Youtube, but don’t turn it off if you haven’t already.” Or something like that! Too funny.

He’s just generally gab gab gabbing and it’s hilarious. Well… to me anyway. Right back to what I wanted to post!

At the moment, there are a number of things that annoy me hugely as soon as I hear them. Lack of sleep probably has a lot to do with it, but I have to say that when I hear the following, I tend to kind of lose my blob, which is not my usual response!

1. “Mummy!” – Yeah, I know, there is really nothing I can do about this one, but let me tell you that when you are tired, and all you do all day is feed, wash bottles, make food, wash dishes, wash clothes, change nappies, answer questions, and then repeat all that again, hearing this word can make you seriously lose it! This word is often followed by some other things that send me over the edge!

2. “Guess what?!” – Sigh, I really hate this one. I usually answer with a gentle “what?”. Sometimes it becomes a quick angry snappish “What?!@” Other times it is uttered with a resigned sigh. I asked him why he keeps asking me to “Mummy, guess what?” when the next thing out of his mouth usually, “nothing” or “I’m hungry” or “look at this thing on Minecraft”. Clearly, he doesn’t really want me to guess anything! Or perhaps because I know what the top three things coming next are, he asks me to guess because I’m usually right! Anyway, when asked, his response was,

“I don’t know, I think I’m just bored.” That leads me into my number three thing I hate to hear.

3. “I’m bored!” – I usually reply with, “OK, go and read a book, do some schoolwork, learn something, build something, do colouring in, make up a story, play a game, jump on the trampoline, daydream, have a nap..” The list is actually never ending, yet somehow, despite all of these things, boredom still strikes him down with dramatic and infuriating regularity.

4. “I think I have depression.” Pardon? Yep, he actually says that. Yesterday he insisted that he has depression because he was so mad and upset and it was the worst day in the world. EVER. “Why?” I asked with concern, “What makes you feel like that do you think?”

Mr 9: “I can’t tame a horse on Minecraft! You are probably going to ask me to do some schoolwork soon! I never go anywhere or do anything! I hate being here.”

Me: “Well, I can understand the not going anywhere thing, that is depressing I guess. Let’s go to social group tomorrow after trampoline. You can show off your new baby brother to everyone.”

Mr 9: “No, I hate going to social group. All the other kids are horrible. They only play with me for about three seconds and then they run off and do other stuff.”

That conversation went on for quite a while believe me. I did the whole explaining that he can’t control the kids and the game, and has to follow them and do other stuff sometimes too. Anyway, the end result was that he absolutely did not want to go to social group… or the museum… or the park, or for that matter, ANY of the interesting places I offered him so that he can GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!!! Yeah yeah I know it’s his anxiety, but honestly, what else can I do for him?! It’s not easy getting a four week old baby out of the house with all the paraphernalia you need! I would do it though, so that he gets out in the world and doesn’t feel trapped at home. I would take him to all the amazing homeschool group activities organised in our area. We could do something interesting, educational and social almost every day if only he would do it!

And, my final thing I hate to hear?

“You never let me do anything I want! I always have to do everything around here!” – I’m good at ignoring this one for the most part, but sometimes I respond with a tirade about all the boring things I have to do repetitively all day every day. I don’t think he cares ;)

I guess I better go and sort out the bottles now before the baby wakes up! And probably make some more food for Mr 9… and think about what’s for dinner and whether we have the ingredients for it. Oh dear, can you tell I’m bored by how boring my subjects for blogging are?!

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Big Plans for Little Brother

Upon just hearing that Duchess Kate just gave birth to a little girl… a princess… Mr 9 comes in while I’m changing a nappy.

Son: Mummy, do royal people have to marry other royals? Or are they allowed to choose who they marry?

Me: They can marry who they want to.

Son: Even a foreigner?

Me: Yes, even a foreigner. Why?

Son: Well, a baby princess was just born today and my little brother is just a few weeks older than her. So he could marry her and he will be royal!

Me: Yes, that’s true, you never know!

Son: approaching to stroke his brother’s head. “Well, I’ll make sure that his hair is always combed straight and neat and cut short then. He’ll be very handsome, so he can marry a princess. And he’ll be smart too.”

Awwww…. so cute. I love that he’ll make sure his brother’s hair is neat and cut short! Have you seen Mr 9’s hair?! He refuses to let us near it with either scissors or even a brush! I’m lucky if I can get him to wash it a couple of times a week!

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And… he’s here!

Well, I haven’t written for what seems like a million years, and although I have so many things to tell you all about how my son (number 1) has handled all the changes in the last few months and various experiences both bad and good and how we’ve handled them, I find myself with only ten minutes before I round up the troops and head off to trampoline class!

I have very likely lost all my readers through lack of posting, but I thought I’d do a super fast update for those who are still interested.

On April the 9th we welcomed our son (number 2) into the world at 2:30 in the afternoon. He weighed a respectable 2.9kgs (6 pounds, 4 ounces) and was 53cm long. Babies are quite often crinkly and weird looking with misshapen heads. Mine however, is beautiful of course. I’m not the only one who thinks so! The midwives kept saying they thought he was a girl because he is so ‘pretty’. The really great thing is that he’s a calm and happy little thing.

Yes, 3 hourly feeding is hard work, especially when it takes an hour or more to actually do the feeding. I feel like I can’t really get anything done at all, so everything is in a mess. Now that my husband has returned to work, I feel like there is even less time to get things done, and that I’m really ignoring son number 1.

The birth itself was pretty quick. 1hr and 25 minutes. Even the midwives were a bit shocked at how fast I progressed from just small and inconsistently spaced contractions to strong contractions only a minute apart. I did end up with second degree tearing, but all in all it was a ‘good’ experience. I didn’t have any pain relief except a bit of the gas and air on the lowest setting just for the most strong contractions. That means that I have a really clear memory of everything that happened in the room and was aware and lucid the whole time which is really great. Hopefully over the next few weeks, I’ll get around to posting a bit more on the behaviour of son number 1 and give my followers some insight into how the birth of a sibling has affected a kid with anxiety disorder. For now though, here is the new little fella :)

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Oh the drama!

Seriously, I have the most dramatic child. Here are some of the things he has come out with this week.

Son: “mummy, you HAVE to play with me!!!”

Me: “I just did. We played chess.”

Son: “not that kind of playing. You need to play pretends with me.”

Now, I don’t know what parents of other kids do, but I believe that around the age of four or five, most kids move on to playing those pretend games like cars, planes, vets, mums and dads, with their peers. Mine sort of skipped that and still wants us to play it. And. I just. Can’t. Do. It. Anymore!!!!! I can’t! He’s nine. I’ve been doing it for years. Sorry but he has to suck it up and deal because I refuse. I will play chess, board games, watch movies with him, talk to him, cook with him, walk and bike ride with him, play cricket and many other things, but I won’t do pretends! 

Me: “no sweetie. I have to get this washing done.”

Son:”ugh! That’s it! I am leaving this house! I have nothing left in life. There is no one to play with and I have no toys so I might as well just leave.”

Me: “That’s a shame that you feel that way. I hope you find something to do.”

He did of course, but the request to play with him still comes about forty times a day.

Tonight, he came inside sweaty and very dirty from jumping on the trampoline and rolling around the yard. He sat next to me and I noticed that he had multiple band aids that he was about to open and put on. I told him he couldn’t use band aids for mozzie bites and that he needed to have a shower first anyway because he was filthy. His legs were black! 

Son: “no! I’m not having a shower!”

Me: “yes, you are. You can’t sit on the lounge or go to bed with all that sweat and dirt. Go on, off you go, then I’ll put some stuff on your itchy bites.”

Son: “arghh! I hate it! Why should I do what you say after what you did!?” (Upon asking, I found out that what I did was to disallow the use of four hundred bandaids….)

His dad called out from the Loungeroom to stop arguing and get in the shower. Off he went stomping and moaning. His dad then reminded him to take a towel with him.

Son:”Why? Why should I dry MYSELF?!”

That caused me to crack up laughing. Really? Why should he dry himself? He still wants one of us to dry him most days. He’s nine!!!! And then, just because he’s a boy, we reminded him to use soap. And then, after he got out and I asked him if he had used soap?

Son:”oh! Bum I forgot!” 

Sigh. Drama. I’m tired now. And soon I’ll have two boys! :)

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Why is it so hard to be honest?

In many of things I’ve read about raising children and particularly children who have issues like ADHD or ASD etc, I’ve encountered the same theories about why these children lie a lot. I’m pretty sure I agree that my son in particular lies because he is afraid of being in trouble. His experiences from quite young have been that many of the things he does get him trouble, and so his first instinct is to lie. I get that.

He’s a smart kid though. So why, when he repeatedly gets caught doing the same things that have got him in trouble previously, does he still continue to deny and lie? He knows full well that his parents aren’t stupid. He knows that we know when he’s done something. We don’t use many techniques other parents use, like entrapment or asking him questions where we know he will most likely try to lie first. We come straight out and let him know that we know what he’s done. We even show him how we know and what gave it away! Yet, he will repeat the behaviour.

We’ve changed our methods in terms of punishing the lie much more than the actual behaviour. We’ve made a big huge fuss if he does something and is honest about it, even to the point of rewarding the honesty, despite the fact that he did something he should have been in trouble for!

Despite all these things we’ve been working for years, my son is still really sneaky and dishonest. I know that sounds like an awful thing to say about him, and I don’t think he is those things deep down. I think there is something that is just making him not think about the consequences… except over and over and he doesn’t seem to learn! Every single day this week he has tried to sneak foods that he is not allowed to have without asking. Every. Single. Day.

When he thinks he’s the only one up in the morning…when he thinks I’m not listening because I’m resting in the bedroom…when he thinks he won’t get caught. Nothing seems to stop him. I’ve expressed my disappointment over and over. I’ve allowed him to have the food if he asks for it first (not after he’s tried taking it of course). I’ve talked and talked to him about how it makes him feel when he gets caught and whether he feels good about himself or bad about himself when he does something like that. I’ve threatened to remove those kinds of foods from the house. (Yes, in the past, I did remove them completely… he stole them from other people when he was at school!).

Arghh! What do I need to do to get him to understand that stealing is not OK. That being dishonest is not OK. That taking food he knows is off limits is still stealing. He’s finally come around to understanding that taking fruit of other people’s trees or flowers from their gardens is stealing, but when it comes to things in his own house, he just doesn’t get it. I’ve equated it to simply breaking my rules, which is not allowed. I’ve equated it to being dishonest and sneaky, which is not respectful to either himself or me. Nothing is getting through. Just 20 minutes ago, he asked if he could have a second ice block. I said no, but if he wanted a snack, he could have (insert list of things I said he COULD have). I then went into my bedroom to do some uni work.

He said, “fine, put your headphones on and listen to your lecture then.”  my suspicions were immediately raised and I called out,

“don’t you go and get an ice block while I’m not in here!”

Less than 10 minutes later, I heard him in the freezer, unwrapping an ice block and sitting down to eat it! I marched out and took it from him and angrily pointed out how dishonest that was, and that he only did it because he thought I wasn’t listening and he wouldn’t get caught. I asked him how that made him feel to have disappointed me so much. He just got angry and said that he was starving and I wasn’t feeding him so had to do it!

I reminded him that we had just had lunch together a short time ago, and I had in fact heated up and given him two servings of lasagna at his request. I had also given him a list of foods he was allowed to get, just that the ice block was not one of them as he had already had one today!!

Man I hope this doesn’t continue all the way into his adult life where he just lies and sneaks and steals, because he’s been doing since before he was three! I just don’t know what else to do to show him how bad it is. :(

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What to do when you are talking to ‘Anxiety’?

Well, this week was our first week of getting into extra curricular activities with other actual people. Trampoline went quite well on Monday. Yes, he argued and even got a little rude with the teacher, but she was able to bring him back on track (mostly…) to do what was required. The important thing there is that he did some good exercise and used his muscles, which can only help in the long run!

We were supposed to go to a social group on Tuesday, but neither of us really felt up to it, so we stayed home and did some reading and book work instead.

Wednesday, again, we were meant to go to a social group, but I just felt so exhausted and over it all with the new diabetes medication I’m on and watching my diet so carefully.

Thursday we went to the Museum of Sydney and had a great time at the Lego Towers of Tomorrow exhibition. We also got to learn a little about Sydney’s history, and the history of tower building and Lego stuff. :) The boy wasn’t particularly interested in knowing or listening to anything at the Lego exhibition, he just wanted to get in there and build, loudly telling everyone he came across (which thankfully being a weekday morning, wasn’t that many!) that he is a Lego expert and could easily build the best tower. While I cringe inside when he does that, I try not to say anything in front of people. He often ends up realising for himself that he isn’t infact the best at these things. He was amazed and outraged at some of the other models people had built, but that didn’t stop him having a go this time thankfully. He did build quite an awesome tower in the end, and was proud of it.

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On Friday, we went to our first group glass. A science class run by one of the Homeschooling mums on the norther beaches. She is a scientist and it was a nuture learning class run in a very free-form way about the universe, that ties in with the NSW syllabus for my son’s age group. I knew it would be a bit tricky for him as he’s so against any kind of group or formalised learning, but I really didn’t realise just much his anxiety would set him off.

We got there, and I had already set him up before hand by letting him know that he could just sit quietly with me and listen if he didn’t feel comfortable joining straight in. He told me that would be embarrassing if he had to sit with his Mum. I explained that was a lot less noticeable and embarrassing than knocking things over, yelling and running away. Anyway, we got there and there was quite a lot of interesting stuff around in the learning area. There were younger siblings, lots of books and papers, and toys and Lego. So immediately he was distracted. I quietly gave him a few little warnings that when the class started he would need to come away from the Lego and move over to where the lesson was going to happen. He got mad at me for that, saying that he would.

When the teacher asked all the kids to gather, he didn’t. He got mad at her for asking him to come over, and pulling on my arm on the way past, he exited the house to hide in some bushes outside. Sigh.

I followed and tried to emotion coach him back in. He swiped at my face a few times with his clawed hands, and hissed at me. That’s what he does when his anxiety hits it’s highest point. I tried to keep my patience and explained to him that he couldn’t do that. I also explained that he hadn’t given the class a try like we’d agreed. He had left before even waiting to see what was going to happen. He insisted that they were just going to have to sit and listen and stay still. I explained that actually they had all been given a very quick instruction on something and then were all standing around a table making sun dials right now. He came back inside, but went out the back and sat on their back step.

Every time I approached, he threatened to hit me with a stone he had found.

At the moment, everything seems to make me cry, (pregnancy hormones and lack of chocolate I’m sure!), I insisted that the needed to take some deep breaths and come back inside. I was slowly losing my ability to think clearly because I was also a bit embarrassed by his behaviour in front of the other Mums, even though I know none of them were judging me as they all homeschool for various reasons.

He left the house and ran out the front door again. This time I couldn’t find him at all, up or down the street. I rang my husband in tears and told him that, “he’s being a little poo and I can’t get him to even go inside and sit at the back and listen. Oh, and he’s run off and I’ve lost him.” Thankfully, my husband was able to calm me down from the other end of the phone and told me to offer him an ultimatum. Either he joins the class in some way that is positive, or he goes home and sits at the dining table for the rest of the day doing book work and writing lessons out.

Thankfully, about five minutes later, my son entered the house again,

Son: ” I walked around the block and I’ve calmed down now.”

Me: “That’s great. Are you ready to join the class now? If not, we can go home and do book work instead for the rest of today.”

Son: “Yes, I’ll try it”

He then went and apologised to the teacher, sat down and made a sundial! That is definitely progress. He still didn’t really participate like the other kids for the rest of the class after the break (it only went for an hour!! with a 10 minute break in the middle…), but afterwards when I asked him what he had learnt I found that he had actually absorbed most of the lesson quite well, despite not even facing the area it was happening. He insists of course that it’s crap and he’s not going back, but I’ve offered the alternative of group classes with more interesting learning, or book work at the dining table, so hopefully I’ll get him there every Friday and he’ll start to settle in a bit more. Fingers crossed.

I can tell you though, dealing with his anxiety when it’s up is still not an easy task, especially when you are as slow as a turtle and can’t bend over because you are 30 weeks pregnant!

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