Wednesday, September 28, 2011


My daughter has always been different, from birth on.

As in infant, she slept only in 30 minute increments... at night sometimes we'd get up to two hours, but rarely more than that.  She didn't sleep through the night at all until she was 2.5 years old.  I nursed, but it was tiring... she only ate for a few minutes at a time before she'd get fussy and want to stop.  I thought it was me, until she got older and I realized that she wouldn't eat because she wanted to look around.  She would repeatedly latch and unlatch, latch and unlatch to look around... feeding her took forever.  I had little time to do much else, so at 5 months I started giving her bottles so I could have a break from the endless feeding.

When she became mobile, she never sat still again.  I would read her books, and she would be all over the place... running, playing, examining something, hanging upside-down.  I got often got frustrated and put the book down, only to be subjected to a hissy fit because she wanted me to keep reading.  She wasn't verbal, though, so she couldn't tell me.  My daughter barely spoke until she was 3.5 years old.  Once she really started talking, though, she would tell me "I want to read!  READ!"  I accused her of not listening, but she would recite back to me everything I just read.  She was listening, but simply could NOT sit still for it.  It was as though she had a desperate NEED to move.  Even watching TV she never sat still... she would jump, run, play, hang off the back of the couch, twirl, do somersaults... anything.

As she got older, I started to notice that she took no notice of social cues.  She was (and still is) very friendly and outgoing, but she just didn't get it when people were shy, or standoffish, or even downright mean to her.  She just plowed ahead, kept talking to them, and invading their personal space.  She has no concept of personal space whatsoever.  I've had other kids run away and hide behind their Moms to get away from her, because her lack of boundaries upset them so much.  She will talk to anyone, anytime, and is seemingly impervious to 'looks', snickers, or rudeness... she just doesn't seem to notice at all.

We still, at age seven, have potty training issues - something I always assumed would be long over by now.  She gets engrossed in what she's doing sometimes and will not switch gears, even to use the bathroom.  Or she starts to go to the bathroom and notices a bug... and never makes it there.

Even the most simple instructions have to be repeated over and over again, because she gets sidetracked so often.  I even have to remind her constantly throughout mealtimes to EAT.  She forgets what she's at the table for, even with the food in front of her.  She is messy and disorganized because her mind jumps from one thing to another so quickly that things end up all over the place.

She cannot stand to be wrong, and will argue sometimes until she loses it.  Her temper can be downright scary, and she can be incredibly rigid, stubborn and belligerent.  She's even broken her bedroom door during one such episode....

I know that some people see it when she talks back, or melts down in public, and they think that she's a misbehaving little brat who doesn't listen and won't sit still.  I know they think that, because before I had kids, I immediately jumped to that conclusion too, when a kid was melting down in public.

She's always been different, and I admit, she presents me with challenges that I sometimes have no idea how to deal with.

But oh, how I love this child.

You know what those people see?  They see the ADHD symptoms.  They don't see my little girl.  They don't see the child who has a mind like a steel trap... she never forgets a fact, an experience, a story.  They don't see the child who collects bugs, looks them up on Wikipedia, and lovingly names them all before setting them free a few days later.  They don't see the little girl who, in times of quiet clarity (that her meds afford her), reads her little sister 8 books in a row at bedtime.  They don't see the child that is so infectiously friendly that she delights adults and makes everyone feel special and worth talking to.

People talk.  They give me 'looks' and I know what they are thinking - that I can't 'control my kid'.  That I'm a bad mother, and that a good swift hand to the backside would solve my problems.  I can tell you now, it WON'T.  It doesn't.  I promise you.

I have one thing to say to those people, and I wish I could print it on a t-shirt:  GOOD MOTHERING CAN'T REMOVE A PHYSICAL CONDITION.  IT CAN ONLY WORK WITH IT.

My daughter is a little different.  But by god, she is fiercely loved.  I love everything about her, even if sometimes those very things frustrate the hell out of me.  She is this amazing little person, this little pinball ricocheting around in my world.

See the good.  Don't be so quick to judge a child... or her parents.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Why Didn't I Think Of That?

Hi, my name is Dawn, and I'm a sing-aholic.
(And before you ask, no.  I cannot sing worth a damn, but that doesn't stop me, much to my kids' dismay.)

I'm always singing or humming, because there is ALWAYS a song stuck in my head.  The other day it was Bon Jovi (specifically, Never Say Goodbye).

My kid didn't like it, apparently.
(I prefer to think that it's because she has questionable taste in music, rather than that I sound like a cat being tortured....)

Me:  "Never say goodbye.  Never say goodbye-ee-eyeeeeee...."
Ella:  " I can't take it anymore.  Sing Lady Gaga songs... that will get it out of your head and you can stop."

Um... thanks for the advice?
(She clearly had no idea what she was getting herself into with that one.  If Lady Gaga gets stuck in my head, it doesn't go away easily.  By the time I get rid of it, I've found myself considering at-home brain surgery to destroy that particular sector of my brain; THAT'S how desperate I eventually become to be rid of it.)

Yep, seems my kids are FULL of great advice.  Like, about how to avoid getting peeved off about a messy office, for instance.

Me:  "You girls need to clean this mess up right now.  It's a DISASTER in here, and I'm tired of it."
Me:  "Did you two hear me?  I want this cleaned, now.  I am SICK of looking at your mess all over my floor!"
Ella:   [sighing patiently]  "OK Momma.  Just lay down right here.  Right here on the floor... relax, and look up.  Now all you see is the ceiling, and you won't have to look at the mess on the floor anymore."

Right, chickadee... nice try.
I have to hand it to her for creativity and thinking on her feet, though.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Talk About A Sugar High....

The other day, the dog found a treat.  Oh yes she did, and she enjoyed every second of her secret binge.

 Unfortunately I discovered said binge when we came home from a birthday party and found a massive pile of disgusting, curiously-colored puke.  BLECH.  Only... it looked like melted chocolate.

Yep.  We trawled the house and found that one of the kids left some dark chocolate-covered raisins on the floor, and it seems Olive simply couldn't resist.  The temptation was just too much to bear, and she ate a good bit of them....

I was so worried.  SO very worried....  I love my doggie, and I have warned the kids over and over about the dangers of dogs having chocolate.  I hoped she'd be OK, because it looked like she vomited a good bit of what she'd eaten onto my kitchen floor (never thought I'd be HAPPY about dog puke).

As the night wore on, I watched her... she started to shiver violently.  I was in tears, thinking she was a goner.  (There's nothing the vet can do, apparently, but induce vomiting and hope for the best.)  My negative side (that does tend to win a lot) was convinced that my wee furball was dying.  :(

Eventually we went to bed, and I tucked Olive in with Ella.

I'm drifting off to sleep when I hear: 'Thump.  Thump, thump, thump.  BANG!' 

I had no idea what was happening so I'm lying there, frozen with fear, listening...  It's the dog.  The dog apparently has a caffeine/sugar high, and has decided she wants in my room.  NOW. She is repeatedly throwing herself against my bedroom door.

I scold her, and put her back in Ella's room.

Twenty minutes later, I wake with a start.  'Bark.  Bark, bark, bark, BARK!'  

Yep.  Her again.  This time barking at the baby gate to be let into the living room.  I obliged and went back to sleep.

A bit later... 'Scratch.  Scratch.  Scratch.'  I get up and let her out where she proceeds to run around the yard like a madman.  Then, back in.  She wants to play....  Um, no.  It's 10:30, and I want to sleep thankyouverymuch.

I try letting her in my room to sleep.  Ten minutes later... 'Thump, Thump, thump, thump.  BANG!'  Seems she wanted back into Ella's room.  FINE.

Finally at about midnight I was able to fall asleep to the sound of little feet pitter-pattering up and down the hallway and around the house.  The darned dog was HYPER.

No chocolate, ever again.  If it doesn't kill her, I just might!

Friday, September 16, 2011

I Wish

Sometimes I wish I was:

A heartless bitch.
Someone who does only what's best for herself and uses people for her amusement and pleasure.  Maybe if I could master this, what people say and think wouldn't matter to me. Because if you don't care about people, what they say and do are of no consequence.

A true cynic.
If I were a true cynic, I wouldn't believe in fairy tales... then I wouldn't be hurt/disillusioned/defeated when the path to 'happily ever after' is strewn with obstacles.

If I were unforgiving, I would never have to deal with people disappointing me more than once, and making me wonder if I'm just a really shitty judge of character.  For unforgiving people there is no 'three strikes' rule...  you piss them off once, and you're out of there!

If I had no experience, I wouldn't know any other way.  I wouldn't have longings, past hurts, or dreams to haunt me.  Perhaps true contentment is afforded only to those who are sheltered from any other sort of life than the one they live, with people they've known their entire life.

If I cared mostly for myself, people would be mere accessories rather than thinking, feeling beings.  If I were self-centered, I wouldn't feel devastated when someone I love hurts me with careless words.  I wouldn't feel like a failure when I can't help someone, or be who they expected me to be.

If you are beautiful, at least when someone rejects everything else you have to offer, you have that to fall back on.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Dog Ate My Homework

So the wee one started Kindergarten on August 26th. (Hooray, Huzzah, Yippee! OK, I'm done now - I swear.)

 Ah, Kindergarten... the land of play centers, ABC's, reading, toys, and homework.  Huh? Homework?

 Yep. Homework. Not much, mind you, but homework nonetheless. And the teacher gave wee one many great ideas as for her first assignment/masterpiece.

 You see, the 'homework' was to decorate a gingerbread man for school, to hang in the hallway. Mrs. S gave them all sorts of clever ideas, including one that E latched onto immediately: decorating with Cheerios.

 We decorated that gingerbread man beautifully... she colored, glued buttons on, and even coerced me into sewing a SKIRT for her gingerbread LADY. But that was not enough... she was absolutely fixated on the Cheerios, so I obliged and pulled out the Cheerios. Honey Nut Cheerios, to be exact... and she gleefully glued them down, feeling that her masterpiece was then complete.

 E was very proud of her homework, and wanted to show everyone, and so she kept pulling it out to show it off as one might a priceless artifact, or fine jewels. The thing is, though, most people don't leave masterpieces lying on the coffee table after showing them off. This is where E went wrong, and ginger-lady met an unfortunate fate.

 When it came time for ginger-lady to return to school (and to her rightful place on the wall outside E's classroom), she couldn't be found. Fabulous. The kiddo's first homework assignment, and it's been misplaced. At least that's what I thought... until I heard a blood-curdling scream from the living room.

 I walked in not knowing the carnage I was about to witness... it seems that ginger-lady met with a formidable foe: the dog. Olive the dog apparently has a penchant for Honey Nut Cheerios. Who knew? She smelled those bad boys and went to town, leaving disembodied construction paper limbs and bits and pieces all over the living room rug. The Cheerio eyes and nose, however, were history.

 I found it a bit funny, but couldn't laugh, of course.

 No, I couldn't laugh, because E was quite upset and it's my job to calm her down. So I did. I calmed her down with hugs, kisses, and promises to re-do ginger-lady even better than before. That is, until this exchange:

E: [sniffle] "And if we don't get done in time, I'll just tell my teacher." 
Me: "So let me get this straight: If we don't finish in time, you'll just tell her that your dog ate your homework?"
E: "Yes."

 I'm sorry to say that hearing that, I lost it and laughed my head off.

 In all my years of excuses as a kid, I never thought I'd see the day when "My dog ate my homework" was actually TRUE.