"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Whack-A-Mole

Today was Evan's first appointment with our new pediatrician.

The first step along our path towards answers.

It was a nice, comfortable, big step. After talking for almost half an hour, I felt as though I had had a chance to fully explain Evan's medical, social, emotional, and developmental history. (I had to do this, as it turned out, because the old office STILL has not forwarded his records. Anyway.) I felt as though the new doc Listened to me, Heard me, and asked good follow-up questions. At the end of the talking, she suggested she put in a request for a psychological consult. I totally agree with this suggestion. I think I (and Sam and I as a parenting unit) will gain as much as I hope Evan will.

And then, although he had just been examined a month ago at his six-year well-check, she said, "Well, since we're here, let me just give him a quick once over and then, off to school, big guy!"

As soon as she had completed her exam, he needed to use the potty. Of course. So I walked him across the hall to the restroom. I walked back into the exam room to see the doctor adding more notes into his chart.

She looked at me seriously, with slightly furrowed brows.

"Has anyone ever looked into his heart murmur?" she asked, "What's the history there?"

???

Whaa??

Heart murmur?

"Uh? What? No. No one's ever mentioned a heart murmur....."

"Yes. It's clear as day.....When did you say his last check-up was?"

"A month ago."

"A month?" Raised eyebrows. More notes in the chart.

I left the room to help Evan open the heavy bathroom door.

We came back in together.

"So, in addition to the psychologist, I also put in a request for an appointment with a pediatric cardiologist. I'll leave it up to him, but I'd like to see an echocardiogram."

Lesson Learned:
It's probably nothing. It's very common in children.

But, holy shit. It's medical Whack-A-Mole with this kid.

Friday, May 24, 2013

frogs!

We started this tadpole project along with some friends of ours and Evan's class. We had collected the tadpoles WITH our friends AT THE SAME TIME as our friends FROM THE SAME POND as our friends. And the tadpoles in Evan's class CAME FROM OUR VERY OWN TADPOLE HABITAT.

Yet, somehow, several WEEKS ago, both our friends' tadpoles AND the tadpoles in Evan's class had already started growing legs and turning into froglets. 

Ours?

Still swimming. Legless.

I wasn't taking it personally.
[But I was. I mean, who can't raise tadpoles?]

But then....magically....or, maybe because of the last few warmer-than-average days we've had....
we have legs!


And....


We have frogs!

Okay. Technically, some of these frogs came from Evan's class. 
It turned out the frogs we thought we "donated" to the class were just "on loan" to the class. I think Evan's teacher was more than happy to return them to their original home. 

I don't blame her.
She has, after all, had a lot going on in her classroom. In addition to the 19 6-year olds in her care daily, she also hatched chicks from eggs and had a butterfly chrysalis habitat. It's life-cycle madness in Kindergarten in May. 

Anyway, as far as amphibians go, these froggies are pretty cute.



They're about the size of your pinky fingernail.



And Molly wants to hold them.
And kiss them.
And swim with them.

Evan wants to catch them and release them on repeat.

Max wants absolutely nothing to do with them.


Lesson Learned:
We did it! Yay for biology! Now for a field trip to the creek to return this little buddies to their natural environment....

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Evan's Big Week

We're not better. But we're getting there. Our appointment is less than a week away and we no longer feel like we're in crisis mode. After my last post about Evan's struggles, things actually started getting worse. My not-eating, losing-weight kiddo started vomiting in the middle of the night. He'd wake up in the morning fine....not really hungry, but no longer sick to his stomach. Turns out, when you Google "random middle-of-the-night vomiting" some pretty scary results come back. Results like "leukemia" or "brain tumor." My Mommy Gut (or sanity-preservation instincts, maybe?) told me to bypass these search results and keep reading. So I read on until I found something that felt righter. Without throwing around what WebMD wants to diagnose him with--because I'll wait until after we talk to the doc and get some real diagnoses to do any of that--I think he may have some irregularities related to blood sugar. I think low blood sugar (whether it is chronic or a result of his not-eating) may even contribute to his meltdowns, sleeplessness, and anxiety.

I'll leave it to the doctor to figure out which are the root causes and which are the symptoms, though.

For now, we're managing. He's been on a probiotic for over a week now and the results have been dramatic. He's eating again. And there haven't been anymore midnight vomiting episodes. I had forgotten all about probiotics and what a life-saver they were when he was an infant and diagnosed with "colic." The colic turned out to be food allergies, but maybe the probiotics that were so helpful in settling his tummy then are just what he needs to keep him tummy settled now. I don't know how long we'll keep him on them, we'll figure that out at our next appointment, too. Certainly the next time he's prescribed an antibiotic, we'll start supplementing again.

In my Googling about low blood sugar, particularly when it presents with nighttime vomiting, I found the suggestion to carb-load. We've been careful to offer starchy sides with dinner, but this is a kid who often brings home an untouched lunch box. We needed to get this kid to eat at school. After discussing it with Evan's teacher, she suggested having him take a Pretzel Break at each class transition. Every time the class ends an activity, he pops on over to his cubby, has a pretzel or two, and rejoins his class. It's working, I think, with keeping the tummy filled...which, in turn, helps the tummy not feel so nervous. Which cuts down on the trips to the clinic and the calls to Mom to pick him up early from school. In fact, per our new plan, there would be no more trips to the clinic for tummyaches. Evan is learning to distinguish between the "nervous tummy" and the "sick tummy."

Until....

I got an email from Mrs. C on Monday afternoon. It was a head's up: Evan would be bringing home an apology note. He had been in Time Out for the first time. Apparently, as soon as Mrs. C dropped off the class in Music class, Evan went to the Music Teacher complaining about being sick. She, not-knowing of Evan's nervous tummy, sent him to the clinic. Mrs. C intercepted. She knew it was coming. Evan has a nervous tummy about Music because of the performance they're practicing for. They had discussed how, even though he doesn't like the thought of singing songs on stage with his friends, it's part of school and he can Do It. He doesn't have to like it, he just has to try. So Mrs. C and Evan discussed the two mistakes he made by going to the clinic. First, he was dishonest. He told Mrs. J he was sick when really he was just nervous. Second, by leaving the practice, he was sending the message to his classmates that he didn't want to be with them and that he didn't want to help them prepare for their performance. The consequence for these two mistakes would be to apologize to Mrs. J for his dishonesty and, because he had "wanted" time away from his classmates during music, he would have to write his explanation note away from them....in the classroom next door, aka: Time Out.

I love this response to his behavior for a lot of reasons, but mostly because it just shows, again, how much Mrs. C knows this kid. She holds him accountable for his actions and she knows when to be firm.

And, he did it. He apologized to his music teacher and he wrote a keep-forever kind of note to Sam and me. It includes the line: "My tumee hrt frum beeing nrvist not beeing sick." And: "I will go to moosick next time. I do not haf to like it." I mean, come on. Have you seen a cuter apology note?

Because Mrs. C had thoroughly handled the transgression during the school day, I wasn't going to follow up with more than a conversation in support of his teacher at home. But, it only took one glance at the dejected look on his face and his slumped shoulders to know that even that conversation could wait. This kid was torturing himself.

I ignored the note and the issue all afternoon, and we had a great day. At bedtime, as I laid next to him in his bed and tickled his back, I said, "Buddy, let's talk about today." His hands immediately flew to his eyes in the classic don'tcrydon'tcrydon'tcry gesture. "I'm not upset that you were sent to Time Out today. Everyone makes mistakes. And! It's almost the end of kindergarten! This was your first time to Time Out! What if you had finished kindergarten and had NEVER been to Time Out?! You always would have wondered what Time Out was like, wouldn't you?" By now he's just staring at me, wondering what my problem was. I went on, "And now, you know. You know that Time Out is boring and embarrassing and...well, you know what it feels like to disappoint your teacher and yourself by being dishonest. So, it was a mistake. Mistakes are for learning. So learn from this. Okay? Be honest. Be sweet. Try hard."

"Okay."

Smiles, hugs, kisses, one last potty joke to my rolled-eyes, and off to bed.

And that was that.

On Monday.

On Tuesday, he came home from school with something new. Nope, not another apology note.

A girlfriend.

O.M.G.

I did my best to underreact. I think the best way to handle Kindergarten Boyfriend/Girlfriend Nonsense is to ignore it....unless one of the parties is being overly annoying to the other. Then, by all means, intervene. And now, my kid is the one at risk of being overly annoying to this sweet little girl in his class. Oy.

So, after school he said, "I have a girlfriend."
"Oh? What does that mean?"
"You know....like dating."
"Oh."
[pause]
[pause]
[pause]
"So, what do you guys want for snack?"

Then, of course, I had to do my Mommy Recon to find out what REALLY happened on the playground. And, from the friend of the mommy of the girl, here's what I know: Evan approached E and said, "Do you want to go on a date?" And she said, "Well.....where?"

"To the swings."
I mean, come on. Have you heard of a cuter pick-up line?
[I mean, ahem. Not cute. Inappropriate. To be ignored until it shrivels up on it's own.]

So she went swinging with him, but refused, when he asked, to be his girlfriend. I think he tuned that part of the conversation out.

Girlfriend?
Seriously?
Gag.
I totally thought we had a few years before this.

How can he be so "nrvist tumee" little and so dating big at the same time?

Lesson Learned:
What a week.

Monday, May 20, 2013

make-your-own LEGO maze

 I'm a sucker for kids' activity/preschool blogs. I love them for their BIG ideas....the science projects, the arts and crafts, the kinds of activities that look like playing but incorporate so much learning and discovering....which, is...well, playing. The kind of activities that I'll set aside a morning for....make a special trip to the store for...talk up BIG to increase the anticipation for....the kind of activities that make me feel like I'm back in the classroom.

But my absolute favorites are the ideas that I read about during naptime and can pull together super fast while the kids have a snack. My newest treasure trove of ideas is this--> Kids' Activities Blog. My friend Clare introduced me to it and at the perfect time. This week has featured one LEGO activity after another and we are in Lego Heaven around here lately. In addition to the Ninjagos, Evan has been amassing his Lego City collection, his prize being the Police Station he got from Mom Mom and Pop for his birthday. As much fun as we have playing with his sets, though, nothing makes my Nerdy Mommy Heart sing like Lego Brick free play. Evan is quite a vehicle builder and Max makes the most creative "machines" that do everything from designing princess gowns to laser-beaming bad gargoyles off castle towers. And Molly. Oh, sweet 15-month old baby girl has been so surrounded by these tiny choking hazards for so long that they're no longer choking hazards. I mean, she's never out of my sight while she plays with her brothers [all three, playing together? Swoon.], but I can confidently be out of immediate reach. Her favorite thing is to take all of the Lego guys and swap their hats and hair. I kid you not. This girl has some serious fine motor skills.

Today's activity: The LEGO Maze


The Kids' Activities Blog has lots of ideas about using Legos to make mazes, so I'll direct you straight to <the source> for more info on that...but if you're like me and just want to pull out the bricks and the board and help the kids go at it, it's just that easy.

Child's play, really.


Once we finished our maze, Max's guy was off on his way through the labyrinth. He was on a quest to find the Sphinx's missing treasure. (He's pretty big into Ancient Egypt right now...it was kind of awkward when he started to describe mummification to the sweet little girl on the playground the other day.) Evan was in charge of setting booby traps. This lever here would make a wall move out of the way, but this brick here would make a trap door open. And watch out for that ramp--it leads right to the dungeon!


Luckily Max's guy made it through. And then, it was like an amusement park ride because everyone else wanted a turn.


The Lego guys waited patiently while Max adjusted their outfits and Evan reset the traps.


Molly just wanted to smash the maze and knock down the line of guys by this point, so while the brothers played, we had some fun with the iPhone camera, instead. 




Lesson Learned:
Go get out those Legos, mama! This was over an hour of total brother cooperation.


[And don't you just love those two Classic Kid Poses in this photo? I'm so happy for camera phones to capture these little moments that you think you'll remember...you hope you'll remember....but best just to capture it and print it out so you'll never forget.]

Friday, May 10, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

The other day I hired a house cleaning service.

I'm a stay-at-home mom. Because of various school, meal, and nap schedules, it turns out that I'm even at-home a good portion of each and every day. At many, many points during the day I could grab a dust cloth and dust those baseboards. Or the Windex and clear some hand/Max's face prints off the windows. And I feel like I do. Well, maybe not a dust cloth, but I definitely run my socked foot along the baseboards once in a while. And though the Windex may stay shelved, I do pull my sleeve over the heel of my hand and rub Max's kisses off our back door. And I must, simply MUST, take a Clorox wipe to the toilet just about every day. I do have boys, you know.

But it's never enough. Because, unlike SOME crazy people I know (I'm looking at you, Mom), cleaning brings me absolutely no satisfaction. I can look at a sparkling shower and, instead of thinking about the accomplishment, I think about the fact that in less than 24 hours there will be spots on the glass again. And the toilet, my god, the toilet. Just once I'd like to walk into a bathroom in my house and find the seat down and no dribble (I'm looking at you, Evan and Max).

And so, I delegated. I decided that, even though I'm a Mom, I don't actually have to do it all.

And neither do you.

Because if you think about what you DO do (okay, I know I've lost the mothers of potty-humor-aged children who are all so conditioned and are therefore chuckling over the fact that I said doo doo), you do enough.

You feed, clean, clothe, and protect people other than yourself, before yourself.

And...
you keep your spare-battery reserve fully-stocked so the fun of a remote-controlled car never has to stop
or you throw Pinterest-worthy birthday parties
or you clip coupons
or your kids eat vegetables
or you continue to purchase, cook, and present vegetables even though you know they won't eat them....because, some day, they will
or you only have to ask your kids to put their shoes on once and they do it
or you spent months researching and interviewing daycares/preschools to find the Best one for your family
or you make Weelicious-worthy school lunches
or you remember to send your kid to school with lunch money each day
or you nervously but silently watch your child climb to the top of the playground by himself for the first time because you know he's building his muscles and confidence
or you play Candyland four times in a row and don't sigh (audibly) when you pull the Gumdrop card. Again.
Or you manage to balance work and mom responsibilities...most days
or you have memorized how to rebuild Lego sets so it doesn't matter that you can't find the instructions
or you always send in the Field Trip money on time
or your toddler has never thrown a fit in a grocery store check out lane
or your kids' closets are ready for the change in season before the first warm spring day
or you manage to wait until the kids are in bed before cracking open that bottle of wine after a tough day
or you don't answer your phone, even when it's your best friend, with whom you've been playing phone tag for a week, because you're wearing your tiara and your kid has just deemed you Belle of the Ball and it's time to dance
or you do answer the phone because you know it's healthy to let those kids play by themselves sometimes, too
or you never leave clothes sitting in the washer or dryer over night...or for several days
or you know exactly what it means when your kid says he wants his bagel "no butty, no toasty" and you make it the right way every time
or you are the Room Mom
or you let your kids get muddy
or you let your kids "help" you cook
or you remember to schedule the kids' well-check ups and dental appointments
or you have 26 bedtime stories memorized so you can "read" to your kids while "resting your eyes"
or you make your kids' halloween costumes by hand
or you remember to set the DVR for the Sophia the First premiere and the Curious George special, even if that means that there's no room for The Daily Show reruns
or you let the kids eat cake for lunch every once in a while
or you know the magic words or Look to stop a tantrum dead in it's tracks
or you let your kids sleep in your bed
or you have taught your kids how to happily sleep in their own beds
or you know all the names and team affiliations of the guys from Ninjago or Skylanders or Fairies of Pixie Hollow or the NFL
or you arrange your weekend to accommodate a play date that your child insist you accompany them to
or you somehow managed to get your third baby's first step on video
or you are up-to-date on photo albums and baby books
or you remember to get all of your groceries in just one trip to the store
or you aren't afraid of creative messes
or you have perfected your macaroni and cheese recipe...which may or may not include opening a blue box
or you're happy to eat sandwich crusts and leftover grapes for lunch, while standing over the sink
or you can clean vomit off the walls in the hallway without gagging
or you have created a beautiful garden in your yard, yet you smile as your kids dig it up to search for worms or to "plant" dandelions
or you have memorized the phone numbers for school and your pediatrician, though you have to look up your husband's work number on your contact list
or you can clean a runny nose with your bare fingers and the back of your jeans in an emergency
or, even when you're bone tired, you can't lay your head on your pillow until you've checked on each one of your kids, asleep in their beds...and no matter how tough the day was...no matter how many drinks were spilled or tantrums were thrown or sibling disagreements were negotiated or pairs of underwear a single kid went through that day....seeing them sleeping there, so peaceful, so perfect, makes you wish the night away to hurry-up tomorrow. Because you love those high-maintenance little beasts more than life itself.

And, if you're like me, you don't do any of these things all the time, but you do most of them most of the time, which is worth celebrating.

Because you're a great mom.

Lesson Learned:
Happy Mother's Day, mamas! Now go enjoy a hot cup of coffee all by yourself!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

my deep breath

I need to unload. I need to empty my brain that has been swirling and stressing and worrying and taking my heart to dark and scary places.

This kid.


This child who is so like me it breaks my heart.


This boy for whom life is So Hard, even though it doesn't have to be. Even though it isn't. It is.


My Evan who, since the day he was born, has kept me up at night. As an infant, he didn't sleep for longer than 2-hour chunks of time, day or night. And those were the good nights. As a toddler, when I was up in the middle of the night nursing Baby Max, I'd see him on the video monitor, wide awake at 2am, twirling his hair. He'd still be awake and twirling at Max's next feeding. Once he realized he could get out of that big boy bed all by himself, he would include us in his insomnia, needing one more sip of water or one more potty try or one more tuck-in because the stripes on his comforter were no longer straight.

I would get so frustrated and vent about my not-sleeping boy. Experienced parents would listen to me and chuckle. "You'll forget these sleepless nights soon enough," they'd promise, but then they'd finish with the ominous warning: "Just you wait. Little kids, little problems; big kids, big problems."

They were wrong. Little kids can have big problems, too. And forget those sleepless nights? You can't forget them when you're still having them. Even when he sleeps, I don't. Now, I'm the one up in the middle of the night, worrying about my sensitive, worrying boy. Trying not to cry and promising myself that it only seems so bad at night. The dawn of the new day will bring clarity and I will find the answer I'm looking for and fix him.

Only, I still haven't found it. I'm not sure I ever will. I'm a Mom. I'll always worry about each of these three little people I gave birth to....but Evan? He's the one I'll Worry about. Forever.

We are, once again, in a bad, bad place...like we circle back to once every six months or so. This time is hard because his anxiety is starting to affect him physically. He's not eating and he's losing weight. My 5th percentile string-bean has lost three pounds in the last week.

Usually his anxiety manifests as atrocious behavior at home. Arguing, demanding, screaming, etc. He is stubborn and he explodes easily. He is never violent and he rarely loses control outside of our house, but to Sam and me, he can be Mean. We also see his anxiety in separation. He longs for the weekends, even though he loves school, so that we can all be together. We have struggled with getting onto the bus in the mornings at various times during this school year. We've explored everything and we don't think there's an issue with the bus or the driver or the other kids...we think it's the saying goodbye. As much as he would protest riding the bus, he was always equally adamant that he didn't want us to drive him to school either (which I gladly would have done to alleviate that one worry...). He "didn't like" the car drop-off lane, even though he'd never experienced it.

And then there was the worry about Art Class, because he's not an artist and is still developing his fine motor skills and doesn't work quickly enough to complete his projects in the 45-minute class period.

And then they started practicing for the Kindergarten Musical. Which will include, obviously, singing. And a stage. And, probably, thousands of people staring right at him the entire time. Never mind that the only people who will be looking at him will be Sam, Max, Molly, and me...never mind that no one cares if he actually sings or not. Never mind that it's just a Kindergarten Musical. To a kid with anxiety, nothing is ever....just.

He's a little kid, but these are Big Problems. School anxiety is a Big Problem.

I tried to talk to his pediatrician about some of these issues at his 6-year well check-up on Monday. He brushed off my concerns about his not-eating and losing weight: "Kids go in spurts with their appetites," he said, "Just keep offering healthy meals and he'll eat when he's hungry." The kid comes home with a full lunch box and eats four carrot sticks with hummus for dinner. This is not a control issue. This is not a picky toddler phase. This is real.

I wish our former pediatrician had moved here with us.

I wish I knew the magic words to soothe his worried mind, or my own for that matter.

If we're using the oxygen-mask analogy....how will I ever help him put his on if I don't even know how to put on my own?

Lesson Learned:
You know when your kid wakes up with a drippy nose and you think, "Hmm? I wonder if I should take him in to the doctor..." But you decide to wait and see...and then the next day, you take one look at his sick eyes and you just know it's time....there's not even a moment's hesitation before you pick up that phone and schedule the appointment.....I'm there....sitting, phone in hand, knowing it's time to call someone. Now I just need to figure out who to call.

And, in the meantime, I need to enjoy the many happy, carefree moments that are to be found between the worrisome ones...because they're there.


I love this boy.