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More or Less Sober October??

Cheers!

Cheers!

Wondering how I’m doing with my very brave “Sober October” manifesto?

We are halfway through the month… And in the interest of full disclosure – I did drink over Thanksgiving weekend – that was my hall pass. What have I observed about this process?

That some people think I’m nuts! And I get it! Why can’t I just not drink during the week and then have a glass on the weekend? Well…. As I said in my earlier post (https://mypuzzledlife.com/2015/09/30/sober-october/), the summer cocktail party had to end. But also – if I like something, I just want MORE! “That’s the best meatloaf I’ve ever had!” I want more. “That’s a very tasty cocktail!” Great! Give me another one! “That might be the best mini cupcake I’ve tasted since the last time I had a mini cupcake!” I had 3…. (which was noticed and pointed out to me by a friend’s husband – very appreciated…)

I think I have an obsessive/compulsive personality. This is good in some instances… It has allowed me to quietly and obsessively slog away at a yoga practise that I’m not very good at – I have attacked and learned a game which is quite hard to learn at an older age – when I have a project in front of me, I try to peck away at it methodically. But when I like something, I WANT MORE!!!!

And I do like my wine – and gin and tonics – and who doesn’t like champagne??!! So – I am going to try to persevere in October – more or less….

In the Nick of Time…

Time is of the essence....

Time is of the essence….

So – where are we at with Henry and could our luck be turning? It depends on how you look at it – and I’m looking at it with a “glass half full”.

A week ago Wednesday, we were still debating options for Henry. It had pretty much been decided that he would drop out of his university courses… His confidence had been so shaken – he kept saying that he wasn’t sure he was cut out for it – that he didn’t know if he could do it – what happens if??? So, I began to make phone calls. First – to the residence people. If he dropped out of classes, but was returning in January, could he stay in residence in the meantime? Left Brain and I agreed that he was better off at school with friends, and in the environment of the intelligentsia (!!!), than upstairs in his room by himself for 2 months. And Henry wanted to stay at school – he loves his independence – and as he pointed out to me… “You know, I do have friends here and stuff to do…” Okay – great.

So – they said yes. As long as he didn’t party too much and disturb the other kids. I almost snorted into the phone. I told her, that although she might want to take it with a grain of salt, as it was coming from his mother and all…. Henry is not a party-er – and he definitely would not disturb anyone. One thing down….

Next up – talk to the Admissions people at the college to find out what his options were for January. So keep in mind… this was Wednesday that I made phone calls, and/or sent emails. Late Friday afternoon, I heard from the Admissions people that indeed, he could start some programs in January (I had asked specifically about 4 or 5 programs); but the deadline for applying for said programs was THE NEXT DAY!!! Cripes! Okay…

Thank goodness that everything these days is done online. And since he had been a student of the college last year, they already had high school transcripts and his marks from the first year. So he made his applications – although he was beyond stressed that he had to do it at 7:00 p.m. on a Friday night. So to simplify things, I picked two programs for him that I thought were up his alley, and he picked a third (horticultural practises or something – where’s the job in that if you’re not a farmer??!! Perhaps I’m being shortsighted, but I think he was grasping at straws… And I wasn’t prepared for a debate on his long-term goals at that point!)

Then on Monday, I called the Admissions people (again…) to make sure that there wasn’t anything that they needed for these applications to be considered. Everything was fine. And so we waited.

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and I am happy to report that he has been accepted into every program for January. And we start all over again. That glass is definitely half full!

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving Canada!!

Happy Thanksgiving Canada!!

It’s Thanksgiving in Canada – today is turkey day for our family. It is a time of giving thanks for the harvest traditionally. For me, it is a time to give thanks for all that I have. And it is my favourite time of year, bar none. I love the colours, the temperature, the food, the feeling of new beginnings that it engenders with the beginning of another school year.

What am I most thankful for today? Of course, my 3 boys (that includes the big one too, of course!) And with Henry’s recent struggles, I am thankful that what Left Brain and I have been telling our boys forever actually sunk in. No problem is too big that we can’t solve together. There is nothing that they cannot come to us with. Together, we are a team and we will help them, no matter what.

When Henry was in trouble, he came to us. Instead of muddling through on his own for whatever reason, he came to us. So today – that’s what I will be giving thanks for.

Sober October

Aaaahhhh....

Aaaahhhh….

Recently, I spent a night at a friend’s, with a bunch of other gals after a delightful day of golf, to be followed up with some bridge. Our host suggested that October be dubbed “Sober October”.

I found this intriguing. My summer party has lasted into September – and there has to be an end in sight. Some discipline needs to be enforced!!!

Needless to say, the negotiations that ensued were quite hilarious… After the initial collective gasp of horror, we debated the merits of this notion. One proposal was reasonably suggested that wouldn’t it be enough to just not drink during the week? Well – of course, the definition of “the week” continued. I thought to myself that “the week” would be Monday – Thursday (that’s including Thursday). But one gal pointed out that a lot of social activity happens on Thursday nights – so how about no drinking Monday – Wednesday?

This continued down a path (away from sobriety) – wouldn’t it be enough to just drink one glass per night? And then – who are we fooling? – let’s be realistic and all agree to not drink more than 2/night.

There is one thing that we all agreed on wholeheartedly. We all need new doctors/trainers/nutritionists who won’t force us to lie about our habits! That would let go of a lot of needless anxiety – which probably contributes to the drinking in the first place, right?!

Having said all that… I really am going to try. What with everything going on with Henry right now, I need all the sleep/rest/calm/Zen I can get! This does come with a rider however… Thanksgiving is approaching (in Canada), and there’s NO WAY I’m hosting Thanksgiving without drinking!

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s the last day of September – and if I have any hope at all of achieving my goal, I need to go and get my fill before tomorrow!

An Unscheduled Visit…

“Mom?” His voice is shaking – I know he’s crying – or trying really hard not to. “What’s up bud?”

It’s 6 a.m. – I’ve been up for an hour and a half. It’s too early to put out the garbage – I’ll wake up the neighbours with the rumble of the bins. I’m trying not to touch the side of my mouth or the inside of my nose – I have cold sores brewing. How am I doing otherwise? Just peachy…

We’ve gone from a nervous start (at university), to dropping a few courses to lighten the load, to considering dropping out for the semester. Left Brain and I have had several visits for discussions with Henry about his options. I’ve had many more visits with advisors and counsellors to look at alternatives.

Henry was so proud and excited when he started school (was it really just 3 weeks ago?) Then he started doubting himself… Could he do it? Did he make a mistake? Could he handle the load?

Then a Chemistry Lab with an impatient Teaching Assistant, who got mad at him for asking questions (!!!) How does a teacher get mad at a student for asking questions???!!! Isn’t that what we tell our kids to do when they don’t understand something? Isn’t that what teachers are there to do? Teach?!

So… now we’re trying to figure out how Henry can stay at school – because he loves being independent… But he’d have to stay in class – and as he said the other day… “How long are you going to make me suffer through this?” We know we can switch to something else for January – but what do we do in the meantime?

So… we are trying to avert a nervous breakdown in our son. And give him options to make him feel confident and excited again.

And who’s preventing my breakdown, you might ask? Thank God for Left Brain….

Dance Like No One’s Watching!!!

Dance with abandon – with joy – with a carefree spirit! Dance like no one’s watching. Because you can – and you should when there is something worth celebrating. And this is how I feel.

I'm a dancing fool!

I’m a dancing fool!

Now – just on the dance… I did try to upload the Elaine dance from Seinfeld, but I couldn’t find a clip that didn’t come with ads. And I must say – I do a mean rendition of the Elaine dance – but I’ve had to pull back on some of the moves, because I don’t want to put out my back!!!

So – why am I so happy?! Is there a calorie-free chocolate fudge sundae out there? Have I discovered that I actually can eat Blizzards whenever I want without retribution on the scale? Did I shoot 72? Uh – no…. This is even better. We made it!!! Henry and I – that is.

First – Henry. He made it through his debut year of college. He passed everything and gained entry into his program of choice at university. And what is the program? Biological Science… Holy Cow!!! He had to maintain a combined average of over 70% in the math and sciences to get into this program. And this is the kid that I wasn’t sure was ever going to “get” math. When I think of the hours we spent trying to figure out how to explain math word problems. Talk about a double whammy!!!

And he managed residence and living on his own. Was this without some anxiety spells and many calls home? No – but who cares? He stuck with it, put his nose to the grind and got it done.

Secondly – me. My first year with an empty nest. Did I shrivel up and die? Did I drown myself in a mountain of Oreo’s? Although I wanted to at times, instead, I embarked on the “I’m Worth It” project (see https://mypuzzledlife.com/2014/11/). I’m down 30 lbs. and feel fantastic. I feel like me again – when there was just a me. Now I have Super-Duper Me, plus my wonderful boys (FYI – that’s the kids and Left Brain).

So – hooray for Henry! I’m so proud of this kid. So I’m dancing like no one’s watching!!!

The R Word

images

“Are you retarded?” Or how about the ever popular, “You’re such a ‘Tard….” (Had to capitalize that – my computer kept correcting it to yard…) We’ve all heard these before – perhaps these days in the schoolyard, or searching back, in our childhoods.

So – when is it okay to call somebody retarded?

Recently, a FB friend posted a video by Elizabeth Plank, who asked this very question. She is a Senior Editor at Mic, a leading news and media company for young people. I’ve included the video – it’s a short watch. She interviews a young man who has Down’s Syndrome, and who also happens to be gay. She also interviews his Mom. He is a delightful, joyful, artistic, enthusiastic young man and I can’t imagine that he hasn’t brought anything but a great deal of joy and happiness to his family.

Out of curiosity, I googled “mental retardation.” The Wikipedia definition is as follows: “Mental Retardation, also known as intellectual disability, a disorder characterized by significantly impaired cognitive functioning and deficits in adaptive behaviours.” Okay – so that’s the technical definition. Down’s Syndrome is “typically associated with physical growth delays, characteristic facial features, and mild to moderate intellectual disability.”

If you have a child with special needs, and particularly, a child with developmental delays, you are definitely familiar with the DSM-5. This stands for the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition. This is the go to manual for figuring out what your kid’s deal is; the Bible as it were (if you’re into that). Interestingly, there is no definition in this manual for mental retardation. First of all, to characterize someone as “retarded” is too non-specific (in a clinical sense). But I did look up Autistic. The definition is; “These disorders are characterized by social deficits (check) and communication difficulties (check), stereotyped or repetitive behaviours (check) and interests, sensory issues (double check!!), and in some cases, cognitive delays.” So – this last part is very important. If your child is autistic, there may or may not be cognitive delays. Hence – my concern regarding the whole “retarded” moniker. There are many ugly words out there – they can hurt so much more effectively than a quick jab to the chin.

When Henry was young, people would ask me what was “wrong” with him? Can you imagine doing that to a stranger? Imagine how I felt…. I would mumble something about a speech delay, while inside I was screaming… “I DON’T KNOW WHAT’S “WRONG”!!!! WE ARE HAVING HIM SEEN BY SPECIALISTS AND NOBODY CAN GIVE US A DEFINITIVE ANSWER!!! DON’T YOU THINK I’M TRYING AS HARD AS I CAN?! DON’T YOU THINK HE IS?!” And then I would continue on as quickly as possible – my mind a whirling dervish of thoughts.

When people casually and carelessly throw out words like “retarded”, they have no idea how hurtful they can be. I know how hard Brian and I have worked to try to get Henry to where he is today. And the amount of work that it takes for Henry to navigate his way through a world that is too often judgmental and conformist is staggering. I can only imagine it…

So – when is it okay to use the word “retarded”?

Never…

-PAXP-deijE

Letting Go – Part 3 – Cleaning House

The stuff - before it gets donated....

The stuff – before it gets donated….

This can conjure all sorts of images – but for me – it feels like new beginnings. And it’s a pretty powerful feeling saying goodbye to fat pants (and shirts, and shorts, and golf clothes that I never felt good in….) So – what makes the cut and what doesn’t? Well obviously – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Meaning – if it still looks good and makes me feel pretty – then it stays. But otherwise – be brutal!!! If it’s just okay – if you can’t bear to get rid of it because there’s nothing wrong with it (other than the fact that you never felt good in it, or it doesn’t look that great); then get rid of it!! There are others who will enjoy it.

When I was a kid, right before school began again in September, my mother made us all do a “spring” cleaning of our desks, bureaus and closets. My sister went in her room, closed the door, and immediately went to sleep. I, of course, being the diligent daughter, painstakingly went through everything. Could this be my OCD at work? Definitely another characteristic I share with my mother. It makes me feel GREAT to get rid of stuff – detritus – junk – crap. Whatever you call it – it feels good.

Now while I was going through this process, Left Brain was observing with some trepidation. He comes from stockpilers – he’s one of those people who have stacks everywhere in their office, but miraculously know where everything is. Or, at least, that’s what he tells me. He finally issued this statement…. “You can throw out all my s–t, as long as I can stay…” And his golf clubs of course. Can’t be messing with the equipment graveyard. There’s any one of 6 putters to choose from…

But I’ll give him credit – he wholeheartedly got into the act and got rid of a bunch of worn out, sad looking items in his wardrobe. He even went through his office and discarded some of the piles.

The golf clubs remain… Oh – and he’s still here too!!

Letting Go – Part 2! – The Kids

Again... not me!!

Again… not me!!

I seemed to really hit a chord with a few anxious Moms out there, who might (!) have a little trouble Letting Go. And I totally get it – obviously I write about stuff that either interests me or troubles me too! There’s probably a whole book in this subject, but for today, I have a few more thoughts. (To see the original post and poem, go to https://mypuzzledlife.com/2015/03/23/letting-go-part-1-the-kids/).

A friend of mine once said, it’s easier when your kids are little. Their problems are little too. If you have a typically developing child (this is PC talk, BTW…), who is also healthy of course, the above statement is generally true.

When your kid is nearing the end of high school, and they have miraculously gotten through said high school alive (Thank God – and I’m not being facetious… those experimental years were tough!!); the next big thing is where am I going to college/university and what am I going to study? Let’s think back to when we were 18 or 19… Did any of us envision how our life actually turned out? How the heck does an 18-year old know what they want to do for the rest of their life? And humans are living longer lives now – this is not just for the next 50 years or so – it’s probably going to be for the next 70 years at least!

When my older brother was going through this, he was “encouraged” by my parents to study business. What he really wanted to do was something in sports – he lived for sports. But he did as he was told – and then after graduation, slogged away at a sales job in the food services industry that he absolutely hated. Finally, just before his 30th birthday, he went back to school and teacher’s college to become a high school teacher and coach football. This was what he was meant to do – it was and is his passion – he loves it! This made quite an impression on me – especially when my boys were going through this process.

For Son #1, all I asked him was, “What do you like to do?” And as far as a choice of university, we told him he could go anywhere he wanted – we had no vested interest in his choice. It had to be right for him.

Henry was another story. Now remember – this is the kid that I wasn’t sure would ever graduate high school. I wasn’t ever sure that he would “get” math. He has a significant communication disability. But – is this kid ever creative!!! And with a quirky (read “out there”!) sense of humour! And as far as doing anything on the computer? He could do it in his sleep…. This is a piece that he produced where he was supposed to write a poem, using only 6 words….

6words

So… did he pick graphic arts? Or graphic design? Or comic development? Or anything to do with computers??? NO!!! Maybe as a result of being a huge fan of The Big Bang Theory (I mean – I get it – there are huge overlaps between Henry and Sheldon…), but maybe more due to the fact that his high school science teacher, “Z”, was hugely enthusiastic, fun, encouraging and a significant mentor to Henry – he wanted to study science – in particular, biology. So… I began a search for small colleges that were within a 2-hour drive. And we looked into residence. Although we live in the largest city in Canada, and there are a slew of excellent colleges and universities for us to choose from, Henry indicated that he had no intention of living at home for his collegiate experience. Well – good on him! And he’s doing well! But he’s picked a program that requires a combined average of over 70% for the maths and sciences. And he was not to be deterred! So – we are hopeful that he will gain entry into this program. And we will do everything that we can do to help him get through it. And if it doesn’t work out – we will go to Plan B (remember I said – always have a Plan B?).

So – it is tough to Let Go and let them make their own choices. But I far prefer that alternative to always hovering over them and making their decisions for them! And on that note, I have to go make a To Do List for the stuff that has to be accomplished before his summer semester begins! (For him, of course….)