Tag Archives: parenting

The Second Time Around – Part 2…

3Rs

I left you after we had consulted an educational consultant for options of elementary schools.  We found a wonderful school, called The Dunblaine School, where Henry began his “academic” career.  This school is a place for children with learning disabilities, which encompasses a whole grocery basket of learning differences.  The first year of course, was chaotic.  New environment, new kids, new teachers.

The second year in, his teacher (same one as first year), met with us and encouraged us to get a diagnosis for Henry.  His teachers needed some guidance in how to help Henry.  A lot of the kids that were enrolled in the school, already had a diagnosis.  In fact, when meeting other parents, you quickly got to the “what does your kid have?” part.  When I vaguely talked about a speech disability, a Mom who became a very good friend, said, “Ah…  he’s NYD.”  In the world of short forms, (ADD, ADHD, OCD, ASD/PDD), I was confused.  I had not heard this one.  “What’s that?”  I asked.  “Not yet diagnosed,” she replied.  Yes – it was time to find out specifically what the trouble was – not some half-assed, vague language/speech difficulty.

I began with my family doctor.  She knew about a reading disability study that was being conducted at The Hospital for Sick Children.  She thought it would be helpful to participate – although it was a significant time commitment.  All of the members of our family had to be assessed.  But she reasoned that it was a back door way of getting into this department and having Henry assessed by the best.  She also referred me to a consultant paediatrician, who specialized in ADD/ADHD.   Let’s start with the Sick Kids study.

I just read over that report again.  It makes your head spin.  First of all, I tallied the number of “tests” that were administered to try to gain an understanding of Henry’s difficulties.  I counted 33 tests!  This kid was 8!!  Can you imagine sitting for any period of time and taking 33 different tests?!  Anyways, out of the 33, he was above average in 5 of the tests, and average on 4 of the tests.  If you’re doing the math…  that means he was well below average on the remaining 24 tests; many of them below the 1st percentile…  If you’re a parent – how would that make you feel?  I felt like throwing up on the spot!  And scared….  Even reading this report again after 11 years, I feel light-headed…  And they reported that his answers on some of the tasks were nonsensical.  An example:  He was asked, “What must you do to make water boil?” and his response was, “with some blood so I make it into poison.”  WTF??!!  I mean – did the clinicians think that this kid had no sense of reality or his parents were devil worshippers?!  I can only surmise that when Henry felt stressed, he mentally checked out into his own little world and was maybe recalling some reference – and let me tell you – he was stressed almost every day.  If you have processing difficulties and you’re in school all day trying to decode what the hell people are trying to tell you, aren’t you going to “check out” on a regular basis?

So…  were we freaked out?  Yeah!   But since this study was not to provide an assessment, they could not give us a diagnosis.  But what they did give us was a referral to a Psychologist, who had a practice in Developmental Clinical Neuropsychology (yikes!)  So…  here we go again…

 

The Second Time Around…

I just love Nespresso!!!

I just love Nespresso!!!

Get a cup of tea or cappuccino and get comfortable – this post is going to be long…  This has been a very busy summer.  I’ve been on a lengthy paperwork trail.  It’s tedious and time consuming – but a necessary evil.

One of the things we had to accomplish this summer was another psychological assessment for Henry.  I had suspected as much when we began to apply for colleges.  Henry’s previous assessment was 10 years old – he was 8 when we had it completed.  First, let me tell you about that journey….

I’m often asked, “When did I know something was “wrong” with Henry?”  I don’t think that the word “wrong” is accurate.  I can tell you this….  I knew that he was a very difficult baby!  He never seemed to sleep – except on top of me!  When I tried to lay him in his crib, he would wake up and bellow – whereupon, the whole rocking, trying to fall asleep business would start all over again.  When he woke from naps or in the morning, he would cry for at least 30 minutes – nothing could soothe him.  And he wouldn’t take one of those soothers – every time I desperately tried to plug him with one, he would spit it out!  He hated transitions… (enough said on that subject!)  He didn’t seem to feel heat or cold… or pain – which really freaked me out!  His food sensitivities seemed to start when I cut off the bottle.  He was obviously a late talker – you really couldn’t understand anything until he was 5.  But did I know something was wrong?  Not really…  until preschool.

Where's the couch??

Where’s the couch??

His teachers expressed concern…  He was apparently staring off into space while the rest of the children were engaged.  There were some incidents of him acting out (that’s politic speak for hitting, tantrums, etc.)  It got to the point where I sometimes dreaded picking him up from preschool – with one of his teachers approaching me with a quasi-smile to tell me of the latest incident.  So – I started with some consultations.  Before preschool, I had consulted some specialist because he was in his hitting/biting phase (at that point, hitting and biting me when he was frustrated – which was frequently).  I had no idea what to do.  The books were useless…  There was no internet.  I received some excellent advice at this time.  Then after he began preschool, I was referred to the public agency that “does” assessments.   But before they did that, there was a hearing test administered (something that Left Brain has insisted I do recently because I can’t understand his mumblings…)  It was actually pretty funny watching him behind the glass – he couldn’t say yes or no or lift a finger but he kept looking left and right for the sounds.  The good news was – his hearing was perfect.  But you might be horrified to learn that I almost started crying.  Because if his hearing was okay, then what was wrong?  They then saw him (after a lengthy wait list to get in), for a total of 30 minutes – this with a break in-between…  I was given a one-page, 3-paragraph report that stated he had a speech disability.  No shit Sherlock…  Not helpful.

We decided that Henry was not ready for elementary school at that point and enrolled him in another year of senior kindergarten.  Henry was born in September anyway, so wouldn’t be that behind his peers.  I consulted an educational consultant to try to find an appropriate school for him.  I basically quit everything that year…  I used to play competitive tennis – not only was it a wonderful respite, but I enjoyed the social aspect of it and hey – it’s fun to be good at something that’s only about you.  She did not give me any kind of diagnosis, but was helpful in finding us some options.  Now to get those schools to accept him – but that’s another story….

By the way… just so you know?  This has been an incredibly hard blog to write – I’ve been taking breaks constantly…  It’s hard to relive this and to try to accurately describe what this time was like.  So I’ll pick up the story in another instalment…

Moving Up – Part 2…

So, it’s Sunday night…  We moved him in this morning.  Henry was tense – I was tense.  He was “snappish” with me – although, to be fair, trying to put a duvet into a duvet cover is an exercise in patience and frustration…

When we left, he walked out to the car with us, where there were prolonged hugs.  I got in the car and started driving, and thought – OK!  I’m good!  This is an exciting time for Henry and a new chapter for me (and Left Brain).  This is what you work for, right?

We decided to golf today – why not?  Beautiful day – no reason to have to rush home…  We met a group of friends who immediately asked about Henry – thankfully, I had my sunglasses on.  The problem with writing a blog is that everyone knows what’s going on in your life – which is also a good thing.  But today – all I could do was nod – “yes – Henry’s good – I’m fine” – and then I had to go to the bathroom where I began to cry in a piteous way.  And I’m afraid I’m one of those “ugly criers”…  I had to do this privately.  Once recovered, I rejoined the crowd (with my sunglasses firmly planted on my nose – no need to share my swollen, red, puffy eyes…)  Later, my eyes would be red and puffy because of the pathetic “play” on the course, but that’s another story…  Just as an aside, I have to send big thank you’s to all my Mom friends, who have been so supportive and understanding during this time.  They all “get” what a big thing this is for Henry and for me.

I kept my phone on today, just in case…  Henry hardly ever calls me, unless there’s a money emergency!  He called three times today.  I was pathetically glad to hear from him.

So…. my baby’s gone for good.  But even worse, what if he comes home?  Will he make friends? Will he leave his room for fun stuff, and not just to eat?  Will he have a good time?  When you’ve spent so many years controlling an environment for your child, this loss of control is excruciating.  I know I have to let go, but jeez – it’s hard.  I have a headache – think I’ll take two Advil and go to bed….

Moving Up?

Wasn't sure whether the Clampetts or Jeffersons should be used for this blog...

Wasn’t sure whether the Clampetts or Jeffersons should be used for this blog…

We turn the corner into the driveway – it has become a familiar drive – and I have an overwhelming sensation of wanting to throw up!  This is something that I haven’t felt since pregnancy, and/or an unfortunate experience with Harvey Wallbangers…..(and Long Island Iced Teas… in fact, any drinks whose syllables are longer than 3 should be avoided altogether – but include in that category wine which is being “refreshed” by your brother-in-law, who has decided that food is an unnecessary distraction!  But, I digress…)

I am moving Henry into residence today.  I’m so conflicted….  We have been working towards this goal for almost 19 years – I’m not sure we’re ready… (Henry and I… not Left Brain (he says he’s looking forward to some quiet in the house – I may have to become obnoxiously loud).

So – let’s talk about Henry first.  He is at turns very excited, and then lashing out at me.  The lashing out is always explained by him…. “I’m under a lot of pressure right now Mom…”  SO AM I, I want to shout…  Back to yesterday…  We paid extra so that he could move in early, before the throngs of kids who will be coming on Sunday and Monday.  I had prepared and purchased everything that I thought he would need (see earlier post, “Please Don’t Make Me Go….”)  If he was missing anything, then I would have time to get it before his official move-in date.  We forgot a few things at home (my fault – I should have checked exactly what he was packing in the car…)  After a bed check – this one is too soft – this one is just right;

IMG_0071

we began to put a few things up on the walls.  I bought some of those sticky things that don’t mark the wall.  And they don’t mark the wall!  But they also don’t stick the desired poster to the wall!!!  Figures!  So Henry laboriously peels and sticks 50 more little squares to adhere his calendar (so he can stay organized) to the back of the thing and then repositions it on the wall.  Two minutes later – clunk!  Not working – whereupon he’s about to launch into the stratosphere.  I am making a list as we go along to note anything that we need, or isn’t working.  When he’s calm (sort of), I show him the list so he’s reassured that we won’t forget anything.  Also, so he can contribute anything that he thinks is necessary!

Now… how am I doing with this transition?  I don’t know yet – we’ve been so busy this week that I am at turns agitated (read:  can’t sleep), and then so exhausted I sleep straight through with no remembrance of dreams.  Of course, I can hardly recall my name when I wake up, but that could be a menopause thing…  One of my BFF’s asked me this morning whether I needed a hug… I said yes, but declined because I was afraid I would start crying and not stop.  I called my Mom and Dad today (it’s their 55th wedding anniversary – way to go!!!  that’s a looong frikking time….)  She remarked that I’d probably have a great weekend (number one son left today as well).  I said, “Noooo – I don’t think it’s going to be a great weekend….”

We move him in permanently on Sunday.  I’ll let you know how it goes….

Please Don’t Make Me Go…..

I am prepared to bust a commonly held myth today….  Not all women like to shop.  There!  I said it!  In fact, some of us dread it….  Especially when they have to shop for and with their very particular, sensory challenged sons.

So – let’s set the scene.  I tell Henry last week that I will have time to shop with him on Monday for his new bedding for his dorm room, and maybe a couple of new shirts (he doesn’t seem to grasp yet that he won’t have someone doing his laundry twice a week come September…)  I let him know we’ll be going when I return from yoga in the morning – not at 1:30 or 2 p.m. when he rolls out of bed (quite the summer schedule – but let’s not go into that right now…)  So – I go to yoga to try and get into the right frame of mind and stretch out my muscles – try, if you will, to get my shoulders down from around my ears!  I’m trying to breathe into one of my last poses, which after 3 1/2 freaking years of practising, I still can’t do without assistance!!!!  (“Ohm – serenity now,” she thinks as she’s grunting into this pose….)

Marichyasana A (pron. marry-ches-se-na) - and that's not me!

Marichyasana A (pron. marry-ches-se-na) – and that’s not me!

So I get home, get ready and get Henry in the car.  I feel relaxed!  I’m ready for this!  I’m pumped!  We’re going to have some quality mother/son time….  I look over at him — he’s got a huge frown on his face.  Great!  This is going to be the usual torture….  Can’t I just have an outing where we cheerfully pick something out, pay for it, and go home?  Even better with him saying, “Wow Mom!  Thanks!  Really appreciate you taking the time and effort to get me something that I’ll like!”  Nirvana!!  Something to shoot for?

Anyways – that’s not what happened.  At this time of year, finding flannel sheets is damn near impossible….  But that’s what feels nice against his skin….  Christ!  I find a clearance table with amazingly, flannel duvet covers!  Unfortunately, most of them are Christmas themed – I also don’t want him to look like a dork in his dorm….  We find something appropriate – but no go on the sheets.  I want pillow protectors, but all they have are waterproof – does that mean they will make that crinkly sound every time you move your head?  That’s not going to fly!  Jesus!  Can’t anything be easy?!  We try to pay and the little zippy-thing that takes your card isn’t working…  The sales lady has to re-enter everything again on the other side….

We schlep everything to the car and come back to look at shirts.  We start to peruse….  He’s says he’s NOT buying anything that HE DOESN’T LIKE!!!!  (He thinks he’s being discreet….  he’s not….)  We pass the underwear department – “How are you fixed for underwear Henry?”  “I’M FINE!!!!”  You see where this is going….

On the way home, I’m silent.  I’m so pissed off I’m afraid if I say anything, I’ll start shrieking uncontrollably….  I park…  We start talking….  It’s always the same….  When he’s feeling anxious or stressed, he lashes out at me (while I’m trying to do something for him incidentally…)  Knowing this doesn’t help when it’s happening.  It sucks.  My shoulders are somewhere around the crown of my head – I don’t have the energy for more yoga….

News flash….  As I was writing this last paragraph, Henry came into my office, hugged me and told me he was sorry….

May I Help You?

That was my opening line….  “GO F–K YOURSELF!!!  AND F–K YOUR MOTHER TOO!!!”  OK… so this is not going to be a productive discussion….

Let me explain.  About a week ago, a Homeless Dude started sleeping on a bench outside the bank, which is at the corner of our street.  A couple of days ago, said Homeless Dude started exploring the neighbourhood – and decided inexplicably to target our house.  We live in a very distinctive looking house, in a large city, just off a main street which is on the subway line.  Very convenient for us and our kids to get around – and Homeless Dudes….  So, on this particular day, I heard a “ruckus” (that’s code for a guy yelling obscenities) in my driveway, whereupon the above “conversation” took place.  Upon realizing that nothing was going to be gained by engaging in conversation, I went back into the house and proceeded to lock it down.  As I watched and listened, he paced around the front of the house, yelled that he “did too live in this house, you f–king b–ch” and generally did not give me a sense of well being….  I called the police.

“What does he look like?”, the dispatcher asked.

628x471

“Kind of like Santa Claus, except he’s wearing a red and white hockey jersey, dark pants and a baseball cap – and he’s extremely angry and yelling obscenities,” I say.  But he’s a dirty, nasty, belligerent Santa – like Dan Ackroyd in Trading Places!!!  (I don’t supply this helpful information to the dispatcher….)

The police came and I assume took him to a homeless shelter somewhere downtown.  But in the meantime, I tell Henry not to go out because this guy is wandering around outside our house.  No need to impress Henry with this info – his eyes are as big as saucers, and he’s pacing upstairs in his room.

Fast forward to Saturday night…. 9:45 p.m.  Homeless Dude is back and pacing outside our house again – in the middle of the street so that cars have to slow down.  Some of the drivers try to talk to him and are greeted with the same kind of scintillating conversation that I encountered on our initial meeting….  I warn our older son, who is due home from work soon to be watchful when he gets home.  Henry is pacing again – and completely pissed off – his pizza schedule has been disrupted!  Homeless Dude wanders off after yelling at the front of our house for awhile.

I’m jerked out of sleep at 2:45 a.m.  I think there is someone in our room!!!  I grab Brian’s chest hairs and yank!  (He was already awake… now he’s really awake…)  Nobody’s in our room, but Homeless Dude is standing under our bedroom window in our backyard, rambling and yelling obscenities at the top of his lungs.  I call the police again – Henry is pacing upstairs (he’s on the third floor)….  After I hang up the phone, I talk to Henry, who’s crouched and looking at me through the stair railing.

I guess the point of all this is that besides the obvious problem of these poor, disenfranchised people having nowhere to go; Henry was terrified – and we were here with him to reassure him. He’s leaving to live on his own in two weeks (granted he’s in a dorm room)…  But he was totally freaked out – how is he going to deal with the weird, wacky shit that happens from day to day on his own?  All I can think of is that scene in “Big”, where Tom Hanks spends his first night alone in New York City in some seedy hotel room, and he starts to cry and wants his Mom…..

Moving from the Kids’ Table!!

Remember the kids' table?!

Remember the kids’ table?!

The other day in yoga, it felt like my shoulders might be finally opening up after almost 4 years of doing the practise (yes… I am persistent!)  Could this be coincidence?  Certainly there’s something to be said about doing something more or less consistently – it’s going to kick in at some point.  As Left Brain* says – “even the blind squirrel finds the nut once in a while”….  Now before you wonder whether or not he’s still alive after uttering something so incredibly “sensitive” – there is some truth to it.  But I think there’s something deeper here…  (Yes – you are about to get a glimpse into some of my DEEP THOUGHTS – she said in a thundering, low voice….)

My boys have finally finished high school.  Holy crap!  That time flew by!  As other parents of teenagers know, there is an undercurrent of stress, anxiety and worry during this time – it’s all Drugs, Sex & Rock ‘n Roll!!!  It was a lot more fun when we went through it, wasn’t it?  And our kids aren’t exactly reinventing the wheel – even though I was advised once to admit to NOTHING that I might have done (I’m lucky to be alive, frankly….)  As a parent, it’s NO FUN AT ALL!!!!  Brian and I basically curtailed most of our social outings the last 2 years our older son was in high school.  We had to be around to see what was going on – and as an aside – the more you know your kids’ friends, the better (or worse) you’ll feel about how they’re spending their time while out of sight!

It’s also such a huge, scary and exciting time in their lives – they are trying to figure out where and if they want to continue their education – and I wanted to make sure that they had options to do what they wanted to do.  This is not the time to be asleep at the wheel….

So maybe – that new found flexibility in my shoulders is a result of the burden that has been lifted.  We’ve made it through the first 2 legs of a relay race – grade and high school.  There’s at least 2 more legs in the relay – finishing university/college and then dealing with either further education (which seems likely in this economy) or employment in the real world!

I guess you could say – I feel like I’ve graduated from the kids’ table.  I’ve made my way to the adults’ table – and it feels pretty good!  Of course, to get to that table, I also have to prepare, shop, cook and clean up the mess at that table – but it’s all good….

* Left Brain (Brian) says I should include an explanation of this reference – I’ve attached a short YouTube video of Jeanne Robertson, a southern humorist (who is hilarious – honest!!)