July 13, 2012
June 27, 2012
We met with a new child psychologist this morning. So I spent last night organizing and re-filing the mountains of old paperwork we've collected over the years. Old evaluations, assessments, treatment plans, progress reports, IEPs, re-evaluations, insurance rejections and appeals and God knows what else.
Something old, something new, something photocopied, something blue.
(The cup. The cup is blue. The cup is also full of vodka.)
Reading through those old files is both oddly inspiring and completely masochistic. On the one hand, how far he's come! The things he says and does! The mind-boggling number of victories, both large and small (and medium and miniscule!), that we've celebrated since that fateful day when I took my non-verbal almost-two-year-old to the pediatrician. When that pediatrician cocked his head to the side and asked, "Does he walk like that a lot? On his toes?"
He did it. We helped. I have no doubt that the things we've done and the people we've worked with have absolutely helped. There are miracle workers in that pile of papers. Bona fide.
And yet. Ugh. The mistakes are all there too. The consent to discontinue services form I signed for Early Intervention. The progress reports from the mainstream preschool he never should have attended. The very first psychological evaluation that revealed a child buried so deep within himself, that made me wonder if we'd ever be able to pull him out, that made me wonder how in the world I'd missed how serious things were. Noah wasn't just "challenging." Noah was...well, something with an acronym. Something with a diagnosis, a code, something that probably wouldn't just vanish at the end of the "terrible threes."
(And the money. Oh my God. The money.)
But then this morning, we were asked for that diagnosis. And for the millionth time we sighed and shrugged. It's complicated. Little from column A, a little from column B, a little from column Planet Quirkozoid of the Weirdo Nebula. Nobody will commit to Any One Thing and there's always an asterisk after every evaluation. He's Spectrummy and Inattentive and Hyper and Uncoordinated and Anxious and Rigid. He's also Smart and Imaginative and Verbal and Affectionate and The Type Of Kid Strangers Watch At Parties And Declare That There's Nothing Wrong With That Child, So Why The Hell Do You Have An IEP Again?
We talked with her for close to two hours. We probably could have talked for another two, easy. At the end, I handed her the freshly organized binder, full of the Old.
I'll pick it up next week, when we once again start something New. He'll visit and play and talk about his feelings and fears and what it's like to live inside his head. They're going to do some yoga together.
In with the New, onward, ever upward, packed to the gills with hope and optimism. He can do it. We can help.
June 13, 2012
At the airport:
On the plane:
At the dinner table, night #1:
At the lunch table, day #2:
At the beach:
At the beach:
At the beach:
(Not pictured: Ezra, Ike and Mama similarly tanked out in the back row.)
At the dinner table, night #3:
In the crib:
In the bed:
June 12, 2012
SHUT UP NAPKIN YOU ARE DRUNK.
Noah graduated from kindergarten yesterday. My god.
At last year's preschool graduation "ceremony," he threw a fit about the hats and tossed his certificate on the floor in protest just seconds after receiving it.
This year, I left with video footage of him holding hands with his classmates while singing a song ("First Grade, First Grade" sung to the tune of "New York, New York"), complete with choreography and a dramatic bow at the end.
There are still issues, yes. We are still struggling with some things and will be taking steps this summer to deal with those things (anxiety, attention, self-esteem, etc.), lest anyone reading these last couple entries think I'm like, "ANNNNNNNDDDD CURED! All done, that's that." Noah remains a bit of a tough nut in some respects, but then in others....
Well, he's just another kid in the big ol' general education kindergarten room. And I can't begin to express how happy that makes me.
And now that the school year is over and this topic has been thoroughly (and hilariously) discussed over on Instagram, I suppose I can finally address the former professional soccer player in the room. Yeah. Noah's kindergarten teacher. He's...uh-huh. I know.
Both Noah and Ezra had male teachers this year. It's a shame that men in early education are such a novelty, but they are, and I was admittedly pretty surprised that we ended up with two in the same year.
On Back to School Night, waaaay back in September, there was like, a laughably palpable wave of ZOMG amongst the room mothers when we all realized that oh, him? That's the new teacher? Wait. He's. Kind of. Ridiculously good-looking? Okay! No afternoon pick-up in pajamas THIS YEAR THEN.
The classroom volunteer sign-up sheet has been solidly full ever since.
I should also go ahead and zoom in on the classroom aide, as well:
WHAT THE HELL, RIGHT? ON WHAT PLANET DOES THIS HAPPEN?
Now, even if these men are not your particular type, try to imagine watching them do stuff like...pouring tiny cups of apple juice. Straightening hair bows. Tying shoes. Giving gentle, reassuring head pats and pep talks to scared, vulnerable little humans. Magically bringing the din of close to 30 children down to silence with nothing but a couple hand claps and a soft-spoken "okay boys and girls..." Teaching your child how to read.
Right? You see it now. YOU SEE THE PROBLEM I HAVE BEEN DEALING WITH ALL YEAR.
I like to think of myself as a sensible, non-giggly sort when it comes to omgboyssss! I'm happily married, I don't flirt or get crushes, and I've even gotten much better about not falling apart into complete doofusdom when confronted with minor celebrities.
And yet I am sure Noah's teacher thinks I have some kind of brain damage, because whenever I'm around him I just talk and talk and talk and flap my hands around and try SO HARD TO BE FUNNY AND COOL that eventually he's like, "Uh...I gotta go like, teach and stuff now. Young minds of America and all that."
Then he backs away slowly while I stand there grinning and nodding like a crazy person, probably failing to notice that Ike has once again managed to yank my shirt down and my nursing bra is showing.
Ezra, at graduation yesterday: You bitches be crazy. Talk to me when there's cake.
For the record, he's married and his wife had a baby a few months ago. Noah came home super excited because he decided that he also wants to be a daddy AND a teacher when he grows up. You can be both, Mom! Isn't that cool?
Yes, dude. It's very cool.
Anyway, thanks for being such a cool teacher, Mr. D. Sorry for being such a spaz, but my kid loved you. Turns out that's a slightly contagious emotion.
June 08, 2012
Once upon a time, I was the mother of a little boy who was scared of the bathtub. Who was scared of so, so many things.
He wanted to be brave. He tried to be brave. But when your brain sends you into fight-or-flight mode over the sound of a nearby lawnmower, or the feel of grass on your bare feet, it's hard to brave. It's hard to try new things when you can't process them, when you can't articulate what you're even afraid of, when you can't work those new things out to their logical conclusion.
Even when the logical conclusion is: This is supposed to be fun, dammit.
"I know what that is!" he said, pointing at the rental snorkel gear. "It lets you breathe underwater! Can I try it?"
Uhh. Okay? Sure. Yes.
The thing is, if we'd asked or offered, he probably would have said "NO." And that's okay. We've finally figured out how to sit back and wait for him to ask. To surprise us.
And to always say "yes" when he does, even if it scares us, a little.
Way to go, Noah. You're officially and for-real the bravest kid I know.
May 31, 2012
1) On Friday night, Jason slammed the car door on Noah's fingers. When I tweeted about it later, while the two of them were off having a Great Emergency Room Adventure Involving All The M&Ms, I felt compelled to include all 12 characters of the word "accidentally." You know, just in case anyone might think he did it on purpose, or for fun. You don't get to be thousandaires on America's Funniest Home Videos without the occasional grievous bodily injury, son. Now hold still. KASLAM!
An x-ray revealed that his fingers were fine. Just bruised. He had to wear a metal splint on his pinkie for a day or two, which mildly cramped his Lego building abilities but gave us all ample opportunity to point at his hand in horror and exclaim that oh my God, Noah, you're turning into a robot!
Noah: You're just kidding, right?
Asshole Parents: No, we're totally being serious.
Noah: (deep, weary sigh) Stop.
Asshole Parents: Oh my God, Noah, you're turning into a ro-
Noah: I'll be in my room.
2) Yesterday Ezra woke up with a swollen face and jaw. At first we thought it was another mosquito bite but on closer inspection turned out to be...huh. Not a mosquito bite. What the hell? The lump was hot and he squealed in pain when we touched it, and within 10 seconds I was like, HE HAS THE MUMPS. GOOGLE IMAGE SEARCH SAYS SO.
Of course, Ezra has been vaccinated against the mumps, but I was certainly not going to let that detail stop me, especially if you Google "mumps after MMR vaccine" and start reading about an 80% effective rate and the fact that Ezra is still a few months away from getting the booster shot and and and...
Not the mumps. A clogged/irritated salivary gland. That had all but cleared up on its own by the time we got to the pediatrician's office. They told us to give him hard lemon candy to suck on for a couple days.
Asshole Parents: Yes! Prescription candy!
Ezra: I LOVE GOING TO THE DOCTOR YAAAAYYYYY!
Asshole Parents: So hey, can I make his four-year visit appointment while I'm here? And please put him down for every damn shot you've got back there, mwa ha ha.
3) Later, I walked into a toddler bed that's been cluttering up our narrow upstairs hallway for...oh, I don't know, about two months now? We put it there because we intended to move it to the attic, but it won't fit unless we take it apart, and despite being from Ikea and owning approximately eleven thousand other things from Ikea, we have been completely unable to locate a hex key that fits into the screws. So we can't unassemble it and fit it into the attic. So...we've just left it in the hallway and been sort of scooting carefully around it ever since. Good plan.
Anyway, that's how I broke my pinkie toe for about the fifth or sixth time in my life. I've lost track. The first time I broke it was on a beach trip with my church youth group and I stubbed it on the back of my friend's heel while we were walking. We were both barefoot, and of course no one believed me that my toe bone had just literally cracked in half right then and there because it wasn't like I stubbed it on steel-heeled combat boots or anything. Sack up and keep walking. The church van couldn't find any free parking so we've gotta meet it on the other side of the bridge.
Later that night, the ER doctor held up an x-ray of my foot and asked, "What was your friend wearing? Steel-heeled combat boots? Good God."
But there's not really much to be done about a broken pinkie toe, no matter how bad the break, beyond taping it to the next toe and trying to stay off of it. Because my bone really had broken all the way through (and because it was a slow night in the ER and I had good insurance), they gave me crutches and a special shoe. But then the first time someone asked me what happened and I had to answer, "I BROKE MY PINKIE TOE," I decided I really didn't want to use the crutches or the special shoe. Apparently even I had a limit to how big of a drama queen I was comfortable being.
POINT IS. My pinkie toe never healed right and basically cracks under the lightest pressure. If I stub it, I break it. It swells up and turns a variety of interesting colors and I hobble around for awhile, cursing mildly under my breath the whole time.
So I broke it again last night, no x-ray or doctor's visit required, because my toe-taping skills are quite practiced and excellent. Plus, it's a PINKIE TOE. We only care about pinkie fingers and rogue salivary glands in this house, these days. I need to up my injury game, man.
Oh God, now everyone knows that I am a total klutz who lives with a random toddler bed in the hallway AND that I paint my nails with sparkly polish from the Kardashian Kolors Kollection and I AM SO EMBARASSED.
May 15, 2012
You may have noticed (or...not, probably not, but allow me a moment to wallow in delusional self-importance) that I have not posted a single non-camera-phone photo in a very long time. I think Ike's birth was the last time we pulled out the "real" SLR camera, and even that was a last-minute scramble of BATTERY! CHARGER! MEMORY CARD! LENS CAP!
And then it was still easier for me to grab my phone off the nightstand and snap photos. And in a way, the ease of always having a semi-decent-ish camera in my back pocket (and the forgiving hazy glow of Instragram filters) has probably saved poor Ike from the worst of the third-baby photo fatique. Sure, not every picture of him is a professionally framed shot in high resolution, BUT AT LEAST I TOOK A LOT OF PICTURES. I DESERVE PARTIAL CREDIT.
But probably the biggest reason I abandoned my trusty SLR is that it maybe kind of sort of got accidentally punted down the basement steps by my children and/or one of their friends, I don't know who, I was too busy enjoying wine with my friends to pay attention to the fact that our children were playing soccer with several hundred dollar's worth of camera on the stairs. I mean, come on. It's not like I have eyes on the front of my head, or anything.
The camera was in its protective padded bag, at least — I think someone was using it as a purse or backpack before the game turned destructive — and everything SEEMED to work afterwards, but not ever like it used to. Photos turned out blurry a lot, like the auto-focus thingamabob went semi-kablooey (IF I MAY GET TECHNICAL ON YOUR ASSES FOR A MINUTE). So even when I did make the effort to take "real" photos, the results hardly seemed worth it.
Jason was adamant, however, that we sack up and replace the camera eventually. So I started saving up my Amazon affiliate gift cards (thanks, Ultimate Master Lists! I should do you more often. I should turn this blog into nothing but lists! SEO synergy coupon extreme-Amazoning buzzword Skrillex!) until I had enough to cover a new Canon Rebel camera body and one of those fancy Eye-Fi memory cards that all the Kids Today are using, filling the wifi networks around our skulls with a digital smog of photos and videos and probably giving us all brain cancer or something. Hooray!
The first thing I did was harrass my children with my new toy. And I realized that — like the concept of life without DVRs and touchscreens — they have absolutely no idea what to do when confronted with flash photography:
WHAT THE WHAT WAS THAT.
NOT SO VERY MUCH SURE ABOUT THAT NO THANK YOU.
Baby Ike was not alone in his disdain for my sudden paparazzing.
IT BURRRNS SO ANNNNNNOYINGLYYYYYYY.
Eventually, Ike seemed to warm up to the camera, or at least accept the fact that I wasn't putting it away until I'd messed with every single setting possible:
He's a bit of a hammy clown, yes. Also part shark, apparently.
His first birthday is in just over two weeks. 16 days! I need to take at least seven hundred million more pictures before then. Sorry, eyeballs.
April 25, 2012
My child would like a word with you:
Now, you'll be getting that letter personally in a few days, but I figured a heads' up might be helpful to let you know 1) that it was not sent by a serial killer and 2) what on God's green 16 x 32 baseplate it actually says.
PITHOR. AND DLIVR
it For ME. THANC
Yes. So. You heard the boy. Get on that. His allowance is waiting. I think he can currently offer you three dollars for your trouble.
I think I've mentioned that Noah's current all-consuming singular obsession du jour is Ninjago. Which, for the unitiated, is a line of Lego toys and a cartoon featuring...well,Lego toys. It's a carefully market-researched and deliberate mash-up of EVERY SINGLE THING little boys have been known to love over the past three decades.
It's a Beyblade-Magic-the-Gathering-Samurai-Ninja-Star-Wars-Indiana-Jones-Meets-The-Voldemort-Mummy-Chosen-One Mystical Magical Land Powered By Martial Arts And Also Jetpacks. And since the entire universe exists for the express purpose of selling toys, it is completely unencumbered by things like logic, setting or making much sense at all.
The ninjas live on a vaguely Asian-esque flying Viking ship (suggested retail price: $79.99). While the show appears to be set in fuedal Japan, everybody flies around in Storm Fighters (retail price: $24.99) and Rattlecopters ($29.99) and the red ninja drives a motorcycle ($14.99). (I'm sorry: BLADECYCLE.)The bad guys are skeletons and snake armies and there's an Evil Dad who will one day face his Chosen One Son. Oh, and the white ninja is actually a robot. (Spoiler alert! Sorry!) (White ninja minifigure suggested retail price is $9.99, but GOOD FREAKING LUCK YOU GUYS.)
Does it sound stupid? Because it's kind of stupid.
So of course my children LOVE it. LOOOOOOOVE it.
They're clearly not the only ones — the Ninjago shelves are seriously empty at every store, the popular sets are sold out online or have the prices jacked up to nearly double what they should be — and yes, they are anxiously awaiting the next wave of Ninjago sets, due out this summer. Hence Noah's idea to write Lego a letter and put in his formal request that Lego create a Pythor minifigure and deliver it to our house.
Ezra drew a picture of his request. It's either some kind of ground assault vehicle or the Great Devourer from the cartoon's season finale. Or possibly a fried egg on toast.
I have no fucking idea who Pythor is. I don't understand any of this. It all makes me painfully aware that I am a girl. A girl who gave birth to boys.
I promised we'd mail their letters today. I found the stamps and an address on Lego's website. I know it's ridiculous and stupid and pointless, but they don't. Not yet.
And I don't want them to figure that out for a very, very long time.
April 18, 2012
After Noah learned to ride his bike sans training wheels, and after the trip to the toy store and the coveted Ninjago Lego Set Of Six Hundred Eighty Four Infernal Fucking Pieces Are You Kidding Me was procured and assembled, Noah calmly asked us to put his training wheels back on.
Uh. Well, see, the point was...
"I'M NEVER RIDING MY BIKE AGAIN," he shrieked, before I even finished the sentence. He may have stomped up the stairs and slammed his bedroom door, but I can't specifically recall if that was over the training wheel thing or any of the MILLIONS of hideous injustices his six-year-old self is forced to endure on a daily basis, including but not limited to:
1) not being allowed to watch TV
2) being told he really shouldn't wear that sweater, it's 80 degrees outside
3) YOU HAVE TO EAT ACTUAL FOOD SOMETIMES
4) AND GO TO BED
5) being told to bend over all the way to the ground to pick up the thing that he just dropped, I mean, MY GOD, he's tall for his age. It's like, three whole feet away, down there. YOU DO IT, MOM.
He stuck to his stubborn little guns for a couple days before we could lure him back outside for more bike-riding practice. It went well, but I think he protested for longer than he actually spent on the bike. He didn't fall, he got better at getting going by himself and staying in a straight line.
He still couldn't wait to get back inside. Sweet, sweet inside! With Legos and soft places to sit! Heaven on Earth for the Inside Kid.
So I don't know what came over him yesterday, just like I never, ever know what triggers a change in Noah, in his brain or just in his heart. Because if I could figure it out I would bottle that shit up in a spray bottle and keep it in my purse. Maybe sell it on infomercials. It's Noah's Amazing Rigidity Anti-Starch! Penetrates the Toughest Quirks! Long-Lasting Flexibility In Every Spritz!
All I know is that he got on his bike and rode back and forth, up and down our sidewalk. Up the hill, down the -- HOLY SHIT THAT'S FAST -- hill. I sat on the yard with the baby and cringed through my cheerleading, because HOLY SHIT THAT'S FAST.
I don't know how to parent Noah, sometimes. Blah blah advocate cheerleading decision-making research good mother all that blah. Yes. In a big-picture, theoretical sort of way, I know how one should parent a child like Noah. I think we're getting the big-picture stuff right. I think we're doing a good job. I hope. Mostly. 70/30. I'd take that.
No, I struggle more with the little details. The day-to-day life with a kid who turns on a dime minute-by-minute. Who is hyper and quirky and boisterous and stubborn and sweet and infuriating. Who tests and challenges and misbehaves and pushes, like any kid, but also like one who is perpetually turned up to 11.
I yell and scold too much, I'm afraid. I push back against behaviors I should lean gently into. I lose my temper, or at least let my annoyance get the better of me and show through. It drips into my voice and body language. I get irritated over things he cannot help, and get angry over the things he can, and some days I can't tell the difference. "DSTSS," Jason and I have taken to hissing at each other, when we see the other making too big of a deal out of something, of being too hard on him, or just fighting a losing battle of wills.
DSTSS. Don't sweat the small stuff. It's the small stuff I suck at, though.
Noah rode his bike again, some more, better. He went down the hill super-fast and scared the living daylights out of his overly-nervous, fellow-Inside-Kid mother.
And after each run, he'd stop, and let out a whooping cheer for himself at the top of his lungs.
"I AM SO SUPER AWESOME!"
April 13, 2012
Hey! So what's it really like having three boy children in your house, all the time, all on top of each other's business, and yours?
What's it like trying to celebrate each individual child's accomplishments while simultaneously warding off jealousy, rivalry, fighting and GUYS PLEASE STOP THAT BEFORE SOMEONE STEPS ON THE BABY?
This. This is what it's like.*
*Which is to say: poorly lit, with inferior cinematography, and a soundtrack that could effectively double as birth control.**
**Also, awesome. Though it helps to always have everybody in their pajamas so you can randomly decide to send them to bed at any given moment. I DON'T CARE THAT THE SUN IS STILL OUT, YOU'RE BEING TOO SCREAM-Y AND I'M TIRED.