Monday, February 17, 2014

I Love Three Day Weekends

Happy Presidents Day everyone! Today is a three-day weekend for me and school vacation week for the kiddo. The downtime feels so nice.

It's funny how three-day weekends used to be times to plan short trips to visit friends and experience adventures within driveable locations. Now three-day weekends mean I can get everything done I need to get done without completely exhausting myself.

This past week was rough because we had not one but two snowstorms so in addition to my normal crazy schedule, I also had to add in longer commuting times and shoveling to my day.

For example, here was my last Thursday, when we got 4 inches of snow throughout the day:

  • Woke up at 5:30am -- 15 minutes before the alarm
  • Bundled up and took the dog out for a 15 minute walk
  • Back at home got myself ready for work and the kiddo ready for school
  • Drove the kiddo to school
  • Commuted by train in the bitter cold into downtown Boston for work
  • Put in a full day of work
  • Commuted (slowly) back to our town
  • Went grocery shopping
  • Picked up the kiddo
  • Came home and walked the dog
  • Spent 45 minutes shoveling the driveway in the cold and dark
  • Went back inside and made dinner
  • Fed and bathed the kiddo
  • Read books before bedtime then tucked the kiddo in 
  • Bundled up one more time to take the dog out to do his thing
  • Came home, put PJs on and climbed into bed
  • Was asleep by 9:30
So yes you can see why this long weekend was so appreciated. I actually stayed in bed until 8am today! Sure the kiddo came in and tried to get me up at 6:45 and then again at 7:15 but I held firm and got that much needed rest regardless of his "pay attention to me" efforts.

Also, my house is actually clean enough where I'd feel comfortable letting an outsider come visit. It's not spotless by any means but I spent enough time sweeping, doing laundry, organizing and de-cluttering that I feel satisfied. For now at least.

I've already completed my grocery shopping for the week and make crock pot meals for lunch and dinner for the next several days. Even the dishes, pots and pans have been cleaned and the counter tops wiped so we're good to go there too.

And last but not least, the kiddo and I are having fun! On Saturday we went to a friend's house and played in the park, where we built a snow fort. 
Photo: Buildings forts with friends and having snowball battles was probably more fun for the grown ups than it was for the kids..

Yesterday we went sledding. And today we will go ice skating on the Frog Pond. Fun times right?

So I am glad for the three-day weekend and I wish I could somehow manage working four days a week but unfortunately this mama has a mortgage and bills to pay. I think once it stops snowing every other day (literally) it will be easier to manage the routine. Apparently we're getting another storm tomorrow, which makes me kind of want to cry. But at least I will be well rested and it will be a shorter haul to next weekend. And the good news is that the weather's warming up to high 40s during the week and that will make life infinitely easier as well. Soooo looking forward to that!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

School Rules: Keeping Kids Safe or Overreacting?

I had a rough Monday with the kiddo's school and it really got me thinking about the role that schools play in caring for our children vs what parents want for our children.

Early Monday morning, I got a call from Christopher's Kindergarten teacher. She told me that she noticed an scabbed-over injury on Christopher's wrist and she wanted to know what it was. An injury? I was confused. Don't all little boys get scrapes and scabs on them? I didn't know what it was off the top of my head. He'd been active all weekend, with a play date at Imajine That on Saturday and 90 minutes of soccer on Sunday. It really could have happened at any time. On top of that, really what business is it of hers to call me and ask why my highly active 6 year old son had a boo boo?

When I told her I wasn't sure what it was as it really could have come from anywhere, she tosses out, "well it looks like a cigarette burn to me and I'm going to take Christopher down to the nurse's office to have it assessed."

I'm sorry...what? A cigarette burn??? I very pointedly told her that there was no way Christopher had a cigarette burn on his wrist. And I certainly didn't appreciate the insinuation that I'm burning my child with cigarettes. She told me, "well I just have to be honest with you." And then she said she was off to the nurse's office to have Christopher's wrist examined.

I got off the phone and asked my manager sitting next to me, "did I just get accused of child abuse?" Not only am I wondering what the hell this injury is but now I have to worry that the school is launching an investigation into my parenting? Seriously?

I was pretty upset about this so I called the Principal. He said he would look into it. About half an hour later, he called me back and told me that the nurse deemed the injury to be a "scrape". I literally laughed out loud. A scrape? I am upset, wasting time out of my busy work day with back and forth with the school because my active 6 year old has a scrape on his wrist? This is how we best use our time?

I spoke with the teacher and the Para at the end of the day and was told that whenever a child has a visible injury (bump, bruise or scrape, etc.) that the teacher will call the parent to find out what it is and if she doesn't get the answers she needs from the parents, she will escalate by taking the child to the school nurse and the assistant principal to have the injury assessed. So yes, after I wasn't immediately forthcoming, my child's 1/4" scab was assessed by both the school nurse and the assistant principal.

Oh and when I spoke to the teacher she said, "we have noticed another injury...between his fingers." You know what that turned out to be? Magic marker! Seriously. They are investigating coloring injuries now. Talk about overreacting.

Okay so no one understands the importance of keeping kids safe more than I do. I became a mom to Christopher because his birth mom was not able to keep him safe. However, there are ways to handle this and there are ways to overreact. And the school, in my opinion, overreacted.

Do you really need to know what every scrape is? Really? I would suggest taking that sort of notification down a notch.

Also, perhaps treat the parent like a partner and not as a child abuser. A little kindness on the phone goes a long way: "hey Miss Ecker, I'm just calling to check on Christopher. He seems to have some sort of a scrape on his wrist and we like to follow up on things like that, if that's okay. Do you remember how he got hurt?" Leave out any mention of a cigarette burn if in fact you have no idea what it is. Especially if you haven't even seen the nurse yet. The teacher told me Christopher has a cigarette burn but the nurse said it was a scrape. Those are two very, very different things.

For the record, when I picked Christopher up, he remembered that he got the scrape when he was going down the slide on his belly at Imajine That. This is an indoor playspace near our house where we had a play date last weekend. He didn't tell me about it at the time because it didn't hurt. And he didn't want to stop having fun.

Christopher loves his Kindergarten Para and he feels comfortable in his class. He likes his friends and the structure of the classroom. So I'm not going to move him into another class. However, I will say that this experience was rough for me. I work very hard to give Christopher a good life and you know, a little positive reinforcement would be kind of nice. I don't ask for praise but I could sure live without unverified accusations, thank you very much.

Anyway, as I told the teacher on Monday afternoon, I'd like to put this behind us and move on. There are only a few more months in this school year and let's just get through it shall we? I'm not happy but I'm no going to keep being upset so I might as well just move on. I learned a little something about dealing with the schools this week though and I won't forget that, that's for sure.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

How Do You Get a Picky Eater to Eat?

My son takes a stimulant medication for his ADHD and it has done wonders to control his focus and his behavioral issues. The downside of it though is that it suppresses appetite. He is also very sensory specific and that translates into being a "picky" eater. He doesn't like anything mushy, ingredients cannot touch each other and there is an entire range of tastes that he just does not like. So with all of that, I have a heck of a time getting the little guy to eat.

Christopher had a wellness check at the doctor's the other day and we learned that he's grown a few inches but has actually lost weight since his last visit. She was concerned about this, to say the least. I am as well.

Today I haven't even given him his meds yet in the hopes that I could get him to eat but I'm not having much luck here either. I even pulled out the blender and thought maybe I could make him some tasty yogurt smoothies that were chock full of protein and vitamins.

The first one I made had greek yogurt, a banana, dutch chocolate, peanut butter and milk. I blended and presented to the kiddo in a glass. He took one sip and said yuck. He didn't like that it smelled like peanut butter. So I drank it. I thought it was tasty actually.

He said he would drink it if I made it with fruit. So I made him a fruit smoothie with banana, greek yogurt. a frozen triple berry blend and protein powder. I thought it tasted great. Once again...yuck from him.

I asked him what he didn't like about it. All he said was that he didn't like the taste. Ugh.

So this time I really stripped it down. Now it's just milk, the triple berry blend and a very small amount of greek yogurt. And you know what? Finally. The kid likes it! Whew.

So it's not nearly as fattening as I would like it to be--the peanut butter or banana would have been a great addition--but maybe I can start with this and start sneaking in little bits of other stuff as he adjusts to the taste. I might try Almond Milk when he's not looking. A coworker suggested I add half and half but I'm not sure how that would taste with the fruit? Could taste like a fruity berry ice cream. Sounds good actually.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

When Your Son Doesn't Believe This is his Forever Home

What do you do when your adopted son from foster care tells you that he doesn't believe this is his forever home?

Ever since Christopher's therapy services ended, the lack of consistency for him has caused him to doubt his stability here. Just this morning over breakfast, Christopher looked down and admitted, "I don't believe this is my forever home. I think you're going to send me back to foster care".

How freaking heartbreaking is it that my child believes this?

I tell him all the time...I mean ALL the time...that I love him and that this is his forever home. I ask him if he believes me though and he tells me no. I honestly don't know what else to do.

His teacher tells me he appears to be depressed at school. She said he often cries and that she and the two Paras will try to make him smile.

I also know that when I get upset with him, he thinks I'm going to give him away right then and there. I try to explain to him that sometimes little boys don't make good choices and that makes mommies upset. But as his momma I will always love him. He just doesn't believe me and that's what makes it so hard.

I do have Christopher signed up for new therapy services through the school so that will start soon. I think this will actually be a better fit for him and I'm highly optimistic for him. The therapist has been with the school for 16 years and told me that she's not going anywhere. This will provide Christopher with the consistency going forward that he desperately needs.

Also I think she's a little more seasoned than the previous ones I had (they were both in their 20) and I think understands how to really truly help. I think that the other therapists understood the issue but were more about solving for the immediate need than about long-term therapeutic care. When I would say Christopher struggles with believing that this is his forever home, I would get told that this is something that he'll have to work through his entire life because of his trauma history. Well, yeah...isn't that what we're in therapy for?

Also one last positive note for this therapist: She's in the school and right down the hall from Christopher's classroom. So she and the teacher will communicate (hopefully) and that information could be used to better provide the kiddo with the treatment he needs. Before the teacher was not speaking to the therapy team and everyone was operating in a vacuum. Better to have the team approach, me thinks.

So I'm happy and relieved to have new therapy services starting but how do I deal with Christopher's fear of being taken away again in the meantime? I try to be there for him. I hug him and cuddle with him and tell him that I love him. Sometimes it just doesn't seem to be enough for this little guy. Makes me sad.