Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mother DOM DOM DOM DOM DOM!!!!!!!!!

Last night Sean and I were brainstorming various ways to regain some parental control over Lola. Maybe we never really had any? She's always "ruled the roost" as Sean likes to say. During our meeting with her teacher and pricipal yesterday Sean was relaying our parenting skills, or I felt, lack of! I was cringing as Sean said we (ME!) placate her, try to reason with her, and give her far too many choices

"She's always bored and wanting things to do! She snacks all the time! It's a snack train at our house!" "We give her (ME!) too many choices at dinner time!" We (ME!) try to reason to her and explain our actions!" I felt any minute Social Services was going to trample the door down and take me away for overindulgence of a 4 year old!

I was on the offensive last night hashing it over with him. Throw me a bone at least would you! I get it though. Maybe it is because he's not at home and parenting 24/7 that he sees our interactions differently. I'm in the thick of it, in the trenches, eating, breathing, sleeping all that is motherdom! It's not criticism it's "maybe try it this way." I'm open to it, believe me! We are fantastic at co parenting. Fantastic in the way we do listen and respect each other's opinions and want the best for our kids, while keeping our sanity.

I parent based on what I know and equally what I DON'T know. For me, parenting is this complicated mess of memories from your own childhood and how you feel you did or didn't get what you needed. I think parents of this generation in our 40s have so many resources now and intellectualize our pasts and mistakes we feel were wrought against us as kids. It might be a bold proclamation to say our generation is taking parenting more seriously, more cerebral.

It's a slippery slope. I find I'm explaining to Lola why I'm taking a certain action when she's done something she knows she should not have done. She's almost 5 but still a child. I have to set boundaries and reinforce them. Lately I say "because I'm the mommy and this is my job!" I need to take my own advice.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Fine! Wear Your Pajamas to School!

Sean and I met this morning with Lola's teacher and principal to discuss her behavior lately. She has always been an extremely tactile child and very aware of how textures feel against her skin.

Last winter it was the battle of the snow pants and equally menacing snow boots. They either were too small, too big, too squishy or just plain "bunchy!" Her unwillingness to get dressed for outside snow play was disruptive to her friends and taxing on the teachers. New snow pants and boots seemed to eventually placate her and she would eagerly tell me she had no fits and wore her snow pants and had fun outside in the snow!

New season, new challenges. She loathes getting dressed in the mornings lately. I've tried almost everything but promise her a pony if she'll just put her @#*&! pants on! If it's not a "stomach ache" it's her underwear are too big or too small. Her leggings are either too tight at the ankle or too "bunchy!" I've tried having her choose her clothes the night before to avoid these morning meltdowns to no avail.

Neither of us want to start our mornings this way. Sadly it clouds her entire day and she continues to be melancholy when I pick her up at the end of the day. Her teachers are amazing and recognize how it effects her. This is why we had our meeting this morning.

We agree she is incredibly smart and verbal and reaches a maximum boil over level comparable to the Manoloah! How did this child become so stressed and riddled with anxiety? Damn genetics and how she is uniquely wired I suppose. This incredibly animated, verbose, artistically inclined child becomes crippled with worries. Lately she asks, if she's done something verboten, "Mom, do you still love me?"

We agreed she should see someone who deals with children and anxiety and help us with coping skills and effective boundaries. I blew over $20 purchasing books on Amazon which I'm sure will contradict each other. I bought such titles as "How to talk to your kid, so your kid can talk" and "Setting Boundaries for Easily Frustrated Children." I also Googled "Escape to the South of France for under $200." Amazon didn't seem to have that book!

As I'm blogging about this, I received a call from the school's behaviorist. She recommended someone who she feels has a better grip on these types of childhood behaviors. I can't help but feel somewhat guilty in all of these. Not the best emotional reaction from me, I know. Somewhere deep inside of me, I parent a certain way to compensate for things I feel I may not have gotten as a kid. It can be a vicious cycle. Then little labels pop into my head like "challenging" child or "difficult" or better yet "defiant." I know none of these all encompass or begin to even describe Lola, but the drama lobe of my brain just goes there. Huh, the apple doesn't fall far from the banana tree.

Like all parents, I want the sparring and morning battles to stop. I know it could be far WORSE! It's a bit of a relief that I feel I need a new bag of tricks to help her navigate. It's also a relief that I have a husband who is just as concerned and an equal in the parenting department.

I'm lucky she is happy, creative, theatrical and sharp as a tack even if she is a tad manipulative! I'll schedule an appointment and read my books and hold off on buying that pony.....for now.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Just a few things that burn my toast!

Enough of Tiger Woods and his Mea Culpa!!!!! The guy is a rat bastard who repeatedly cheated on his wife. The many bimbos along the way are equally greasy for telling their stories and letting the world in on their steamy texts!!!!

The Jessie James/Sandra Bullock saga...If I see another photo of the tattoo tramp I will throw my computer out the sun room window!

Why can't people walk their grocery carts back to the stalls conveniently located all over the parking lots? Must they leave them in the parking spaces? Is America that lazy or inconsiderate? Open up your recently purchased bag of Doritos and walk the cart back where it belongs!

Cashiers that don't look up at your or acknowledge you. They mumble and thrust the receipt at you. How about a friendly hello. Worse yet, they ramble to their bagger/coworker about what they did the night before or how they're pissed they have to work Saturday!

People that toss cigarette butts our their car window.

People that let their dogs ride in the back of pickups.

People that don't buckle their kids safely!

OK, I could go on and on about cruelty to children and the lack of compassion locally and globally. I could rant about racial and religious intolerance. I could rant about lack of respect. I could also get off my ass and join a cause to support these rights.

On the more humorous side...Lola asked the other day for a piece of bread and asked "could a have a little toast on it?"

Friday, March 19, 2010

What Does She See?

I registered Lola for the big K a few days ago!!!! She is super excited to attend "big kid" classes. Her school (if I chose this one) is a five minute walk from our home.

Flushed with excitement and nervousness, we stormed through the front doors. The building had that paper, pencil, Pine Sol, institution odor about it. We registered in the library and copies of her birth certificate and immunization records were made. We passed by the gym and cafeteria looking for the Kindergarten classes.

Lola was running ahead of me pointing to all the student artwork on the walls. "I draw better than that!" Gibson was leaving a trail of pretzels falling from the stroller, marking our way to this higher education adventure.

We entered the first classroom. I had to abandon the stroller at the bottom of the steps and carried Gibson. There were several small tables set up with crayons, paper, puzzles. The room was open and sunny with waist high artwork and education posters tacked about the room. Bright cubbies held children's belongings. Further down the hall, windows overlooked the playground.

We met the first teacher Mrs. Bell. I recognized her from my church. Introductions were made and Lola was asked to make herself a name tag. Mrs. Bell noticed Gibby desperately squirming to get down and investigate. "And who is this?" I picked up a hint of iciness in her tone. "This is my baby Gibson" Lola proudly said. Mrs. Bell didn't ask in that "he's so cute I want to dunk him in my coffee" kind of way. Uh, was she irritated? I reserved my judgement to see what would happen next. "Do you mind if I put him down? There aren't any ramps or access for a stroller." Much too quickly she said it would not be a good idea and he might make a mess in the room and then "every parent would want to let their kids roam around." Wasn't that the point of this open house? The postcard I received in the mail said children and families welcome to pre register??!!!

With a dismissive turn she told her assistant to set Lola up with a project. OK, I thought, let's try this again. I asked how large her classes were what the kids were learning about. She was sitting near her desk and waved her hand over to another table. "There's a photo album and a book we put together about Chinese New Year." She genuinely seemed disinterested and was not making eye contact with me. With the photo album in my hand and Gibson in the other arm I asked if her classes were ethnically diverse. Not looking at me and with her hands on her lap, shrugged "I have no control over that." Without missing a beat I retorted "Of course, if that were the case I would ask you to tell me today's winning lottery numbers!"

By this point my blood was boiling and Gibson and I had had enough! Lola was coloring a picture and I said we had to go. Other parents had filtered into the room and Mrs. Bell was handing out name tags to be filled in. Among the chaos we slipped out. I could hear parents asking questions and children's voices from the hallway. We found the second class and tentatively walked in.

"We have a Lola, I've never had a Lola in my class before!" Lola looked down at her name tag and beamed at Mrs. Isles. "Welcome come on in, I see you already made your name tag." Mrs. Isles was enthused and eager to know us. I asked if I could let Gibson down and she held her arms out to him. He happily went to her and she set him up with crayons and paper at a little work table. She asked Lola where she attended pre school and what her interests were. She explained what her kids were working on and showed me a daily schedule they followed. She told me I could schedule a time to sit in on her class and observe or have open play with her students so Lola and even Gibson could join in for half an hour.

Later that evening I told Sean about our day. I mulled over my exchange with Mrs. Bell for a few days. I am not one to pull the race card. Fortunately, I've had positive exchanges in my community as a multi racial family. My town is not an ethnic hot spot but there is a percentage of African American families and Latino families. I did have one nasty comment from a woman in the grocery store, who asked if I was "babysitting" that little boy.

I phoned the school Principal and relayed my experience. Only later in my telling did I reveal Gibson's race. She listened and apologized and said somehow she would see to it that Lola would not end up in Mrs. Bell's class. Her professionalism and consideration was well appreciated.

Did Mrs. Bell discriminate against us, against Gibson, and ultimately against Lola? Was she just having a bad day? Were we the target of a frustrated teacher on her way to retirement? I think I will give her a second chance. I will schedule open play for Lola and Gibson in her class and see what happens.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Should Race Matter in Adoptions? - ABC News

Should Race Matter in Adoptions? - ABC News

I have spent all morning Googleing this subject!!!!!! Watch the video. I have watched and re watched it several times today.

From my earlier posts you may have learned we adopted Gibson almost 2 years ago. His birthday is June 15th!!! He is a gorgeous mocha mix of African American and Puerto Rican heritage. Sean and I are "white." He is of Irish heritage and I am of Italian and German. There is a wee bit of African American in my lineage as well. I'm sure most of us have a wee bit as well if we investigate.

We did not set out to adopt a child of a different race. We simply wanted another child. I had a hell of a time conceiving. After several years we hit payday and Sean had to move his drum kit to the attic. We lost that pregnancy on a New Year's Day. I was five months pregnant and we had just picked out a name for our baby girl.
After several years of grueling fertility treatments we were blessed with success!!!!! Lola will be 5 this April.

Our doctors advised against another pregnancy but said it was ultimately up to us to try again. While pregnant with Lola, I was ordered to strict house bed rest for the last five months of my pregnancy. Needless to say, I was not up for that again and was truly afraid of more complications or worse, another lose. Adoption seems to be the perfect answer.

We took 12 weeks of classes to educate ourselves about fostering through the state. We knew there was such a need for these kids in our own backyards and felt this was how we wanted to do it. Our caseworker said "It's free to foster but expensive emotionally." We had no idea how emotionally draining this experience would be. The stories these children carried with them from foster home to foster home were horrendous and heartbreaking. Just like the few belongings they had in black garbage bags they carried them from place to place. These children were essentially damaged by their families.

Our experience with The Dept. of Social Services was not a positive one. We knew what we could handle. We did not want a special needs child or a child older than Lola. It seemed every panicked call received from DSS was in need of placing a special needs child with us immediately!!!! I felt horrible saying NO. Time and time again they would phone me at work and say there was a child who needed placed ASAP, but then the caseworker would never call back. Emotions were running high and patience was running low.

Then the call came. I left work an hour early. A child would be at our home for placement. He wasn't "legally free" for adoption. We were to foster with the hope of adopting him. The caseworker said there would be no way the mother would or could get him back. He was African American and about a year old. He had just learned to walk. He was incredibly clingy and cried constantly. He had a stomach bug and diarrhea. With only an hours notice, I borrowed a crib from Lola's daycare and went clothes shopping for him the next day. It was a rough couple of days. I learned from our caseworker he was kept tied in a crib for almost his first full year and his mother had tried to drown him several times in the bathtub.

Before the weekend was over, he was gone. A family member spoke up for him and he was off again. The caseworker came to pick him up and asked if I could make him some sort of lunch. "These kids never get to eat" she said. I remember making him peanut butter and jelly and packing a granola bar into a baggie for him. I had bought him a pair of little Converse high top sneakers. I watch those little sneakers being carried down my front porch. I couldn't look at him.

After taking a break for a year or so, we decided to permanently adopt. One door slams shut, and a window opens to usher in the spring air. Our story of adopting Gibson is miraculous. He was born on Father's Day of 2008. We along with about 7 other families had submitted photos and a biography to the birth mother. The hitch for us, we were notified the night before that she had signed papers giving up her parental rights. Other hopeful families had spent years perfecting their life stories on hand pressed paper and having glossy family portraits done to show. Our story was the last to be given to the birth mom. Sean drove the papers to the hospital 45 minutes away. He couldn't find our caseworker and was leaving in a panic when he spotted her with a baby in her arms in the parking lot. She was just handing over the baby to the foster grandmother. Sean got to see our Gibson that morning. Our caseworker Laurie stammered and looked embarrassed. It was fate that Sean saw him!

When we first talked about adoption we wondered if it would be complicated integrating a black child into our family. We were concerned about heritage and birthright. We wondered how Lola would feel having a black brother, how would they treat her at school? How would he be treated if he were attending a predominately white school? But what we really wanted was a child, a sibling for Lola, a completeness to our family. To sit in a booth at a restaurant. Two to each side!
Black, white, purple, red. He's a glorious boy with the widest, infectious smile. He adores his big sister and has to do everything she does. He has a great sense of humor and squeals when his "Dada" comes home from work. Gibson races our family dog to the front door to see Sean first!

It won't always be the fairy tale it now is. Will he feel he fits in? Will he resent his birth mother and not want that connection? Will he not want any of his cultures or want to deny his heritage? Who will his peers be? For us, for now, we want to celebrate who he is, to maintain his cultures, to support him, to be there for him, to listen, to celebrate who he is, our son.