Periodically, I will either keep your interest or bore you to death by telling you about my life away from the stove. Life is the reason I blog. That probably doesn’t make sense, but it would if you knew me. It stems from the fact that I wasn’t really prepared to adopt. Oh, I thought I was. I was desperate to have kids. I knew I was meant to be a mom and because my body wasn’t cooperating, I was sure adoption was the way to go. And it was. I am not in any way sorry that I did, it’s just that all the preparation in the world couldn’t really prepare me for parenting children with mental illness or baggage from poor prenatal care.
Anyway, lest you think that life is all sugar and kumquats, I’ll let you in on what’s up with my life these days.
1. It’s Spring Break. All of us are enjoying the opportunity to sleep in past 5am. The boys fight a lot when they are home together, though. The Musician believes he is king of the castle and that his brothers are the peasants who must serve his every whim. Too bad no one sent them that memo. The Thinker absolutely will not do anything his older brother says. I can see their chests puff out a bit as they circle each other like roosters fighting for supremacy.
2. The Musician is playing a piano/organ duet with a friend for a special musical number in church soon. I took both boys over to the church to practice this week. I had a hard time convincing the organ player to be quieter and the piano player to be louder. After an hour or so, they had a really nice sound. I am pleased to see teenagers sharing their talents. It seems like my generation of friends and I were more excited to sing and play in public than my kids’ group.
3. This year, the Musician was accepted into a program called Upward Bound. I think it is basically a way of helping under privileged kids get into college. The leaders of the program are affiliated with a local university and bend over backwards to make sure the kids in the program are getting good grades and have opportunities to grow. He will get to tour all of the state universities, see plays and operas, do community service and get extra help in subjects that challenge him most.
4. Last update on the Musician: his school participates in a lot of great extra curricular programs. He was able to be a part of both a mock congress and a mock trial competition last grading period. Despite the fact that he told us that he needed a suit at 8:30pm the night before the mock trial (which resulted in a frantic drive to 3 stores), he learned a lot from both competitions.
5. The Thinker is a military geek. There is no other way to describe his passion. This week, his scout troop went to Luke AFB where they were given a full tour. He got to see planes taking off, drive a bomb squad robot, see a room full of every kind of shell, bomb, etc, see a guard dog attack a man in a pink fat suit and then got to go shooting at a range. It was a great day for him.
6. The Thinker has also joined the Civil Air Patrol. I didn’t even know that the CAP existed for kids. It’s an off-shoot of the Air Force. They perform search & rescues, transport blood and teach kids leadership, responsibility and order. For the Thinker, who with ADHD struggles with organization and follow through, but dreams of military glory, this could be a great opportunity.
7. The Thinker has also started therapy to learn to deal with his anger issues. After he lost control and pummeled the Comedian’s face with his fists, we knew it was a problem that had to be formally addressed. I wonder how much of it is nature or nurture. All of my boys’ birth-fathers are felons. How much of that miscreant behavior is genetic?
8. The Engineer. This year, I finally got a teacher to agree that he is dyslexic. Mrs. P has gone the extra mile to help him improve his handwriting, his organization and his math skills. We had him evaluated by the school reading specialist, but she couldn’t help him. I am discovering that dyslexia is too broad of a term. In the Engineer’s case, he flips bs and ds, qs and ps, he flips numbers like 14 and 41, he switches words like deal to idea. When I found an expensive reading program that might help, he absolutely refused. I told him I’d do it, that it would be just between him and me, but nope. He doesn’t want anything to do with it. I wonder if because he was in speech therapy at school for a few years if he just doesn’t want any more stigmas attached to his school work. Maybe he is too young to realize how much it could help him. I am stumped.
9. Now that the weather has turned warmer (fingers are crossed that it’s real), the boys have gotten out their roller blades. The Engineer and the Thinker are really good. They race around the block or play street hockey almost everyday. I love to see them whooshing by with great big smiles on their faces.
10. I think we are going to have to adjust the Comedian’s meds again. He is spacing at school and not completing assignments. He is at the max for his ADHD meds. He cannot take stimulants because that sends him into strange psychotic episodes. His bipolarity isn’t completely stable. I can tell that some days he is manic. He acts super hyper and goofy. Then, with no warning, he will get mad…really mad. He isn’t as dangerous as he was before Depacote, but I watch him. I don’t think I will ever trust him completely.
11. On a good note, the Comedian has learned to do his homework by himself. I cannot tell you how happy that makes our entire family. I blame myself for his bad learned behavior. When he wasn’t stable, I felt like I needed to help him. As he actually learned his math and writing skills, I started to wean him off of my help and that made him mad. It wasn’t until this year that I could finally see that he could complete his work alone and that he just wanted me to sit next to him for hours. It was like getting a baby to stop using a pacifier, though. He cried and yelled and swore that he was never going to do his homework, but when he realized that I really wasn’t going to hold his hand, he stepped up to the plate and did it himself. We still battle over big projects like state reports, but for the most part, he is doing his work and getting decent grades on his own.
12. Princess Pat has been a gift. She is able to cajole her brothers out of bad moods. She has softened them as no one else could. Oh, she still bugs them, still gets into their stuff; but her presence brings more smiles than anything else. She is learning her letters now. Her drawings have gotten to the stage where there is a great big head with big eyes, a line for a mouth and long lines descending out of the head for legs. She likes to grab a piece of paper and pen and go up to all of us and ask us what we want to eat. She will scribble down what we say and then return with any toy of her choice and designate it as the food we ordered. She prefers to watch Food Network over most others, excepting PBS Kids, of course. Although she doesn’t look much like me, she is a mini-me in all of her mannerisms.
13. I’d like to thank you all for your comments and emails. When you tell me I am doing something right, it makes up for the “I hate this family, why did you ever adopt me”s that I hear more often than not. Because I grew up mostly as an only child, I have no clue what to do with sibling rivalry. Because I grew up in a calm, quiet house, I have no clue what to do with yelling and fighting. Thank you for giving me a break. Thank you for half an hour or so of sanity every day.