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A weekend in a day

Today was an absolutely stunning day outside, and we went to the mall.  Well, first I took a walk and he hit some balls in the batting cage and I sat on the porch and worked a bit, but then we did go into the climate controlled craziness of a mall.  Mythankfulboy is as hot-natured as I am, and he is growin’ like a weed, so he needed shorts.  And a few tank tops.  It was fine.  We don’t live especially close to a mall, so there was a drive involved.  We listened to Prince and he commented that players in his current favorite Xbox game, Destiny, had all made their body armour purple in tribute.  Cool.

Watching as B carefully made choices about clothes to avoid asking for too much, I remembered something that he said recently that I wanted to be sure to get down in this diary about gratitude.  Another mom and I were talking in front of him about how the teen years are often filled with reactions of the eye-rolling and generally put-out sort.  He said he didn’t think he really did that, and I agreed, rubbing his head affectionately.  I’m forgetting exactly what he said next that was so perfectly happy, but he said something to the effect of, “I don’t really have anything to be upset about!”  Warms a momma’s heart.

In baseball news, B’s school ball team won their second game, this time only by one run – a much more satisfying win.  He had an awesome hit to right field that the outfielder watched sail right over his head.  B did make a big mistake at a different time when he was on first, though, which was kinda funny, because it was classic B.  The coach had told him to get himself into a “pickle” between 1st and 2nd bases (where you try to steal and get stuck between bases with the ball being thrown back and forth over you until someone can tag you) so that his teammate on 3rd could steal home without anyone noticing.  B headed into the steal and then forgot to turn and run back (to extend his time in the pickle), and, instead, barrelled into the second baseman.  Honestly, I can’t remember now if the guy on third made it home or not, and, at the time it just looked like B got a late start from first if he was trying to steal, which caused a grandparent of another player (sitting right next to me in the stands)  to comment angrily that B needed to learn how to steal a base if he was going to try at all.  I thought the whole thing seemed odd, but I didn’t know what had actually happened until B explained it to me in the car on the way home.  Oh well.  When he told me about it, he was over it, laughing a bit.

Tonight, B took a break from Destiny to do the chalice-lighting so that I could go on to bed while he stayed up.   I was thankful for beautiful weather.  He was thankful for “a good weekend”.  I reminded him it was only Saturday.  He said, “Oh yeah – it seemed like we got the whole weekend in just today!”

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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On the same team

Mythankfulboy and I get along really well, which is spoken with great gratitude and trepidation since he is a young teen.  Still, I offer this thought to preface a description of a brief period of tension and angst we had over the weekend.

Over the weekend I had a fever, and was in a bit of a fog for most of Saturday.  In the afternoon sometime I realized that B had been gaming (Destiny on Xbox One) pretty much since he’d been awake.  He’d checked on me as he passed by for food or the bathroom, but otherwise he had been gaming.  So, I asked him to come in to where I was sitting and I asked him to calculate the number of hours he’d been at the console.  He calculated, “About 5”.  I said, “Then that’s plenty, don’t you think?”  He wasn’t sure how to answer this.  He knew the expected answer was “Yes ma’am”, but everything in his adrenaline-pumped being was saying “Uh, no.”  What he actually said was, “Ok. Can I just finish this one thing?” then he returned to his room, finished that one thing, and joined me in the living room where he proceeded to talk over the Hallmark Christmas movie into which I’d been sucked.  It crossed my mind that I should have waited until my movie was over to take a stand, but instead I just told him to hush and let me watch my movie.  So he pulled out his iPod.  Ok, well, I wasn’t going to fight that screen when I was screening, myself.

When my movie was over I built a fire in the stove and moved to the new location.  He joined me there and, after some quiet fireside contemplation asked, “Can I just ask why, if it makes me happy, you don’t want me to do it?”  A good question, right?  I chuckled and gave him the not-all-things-that-make-us-happy-are-good talk, mixed deftly with the gaming-turns-your-brain-to-mush talk and the being-able-to-postpone-pleasure-is -correlated-with-better-life-outcomes-according-to-the-marshmallow-study talk.   He harrumphed and went to bed at 8:00.

The next morning I asked him if he wanted to make monkeybread with me, and he happily bounded into the kitchen.  After a few minutes of working side-by-side, I asked if he was still mad at me.  He said, “Well, yes.  I mean, I don’t know.  What’s the difference between angry and frustrated?”  I told him that angry was when frustration overtakes you, and you go from feeling like you can deal to feeling like you can’t.  He never really said if he was actually angry (based on that definition), but he expressed, again, that gaming was something he loved to do and he wished I wouldn’t put a time limit on it.  Then he suggested that he be able to game several hours, as long as some of the time was in the morning and some was in the afternoon/evening.  I told him I thought that was a really good step towards self-monitoring, and that I could work with that, but I still needed to say no more than 4 hours on weekends.  The only reason I allow that much is because I hear some really wonderful things being discussed and managed socially when he’s online with his friends.  Earlier today I heard him chastise someone for using the word autism in what must have been a derogatory or flippant way (“Man, autism is a trigger for me when you use it like that.  You’ve gotta find a different way to say that” – we may need to talk about the word “trigger”, but I thought he handled the situation fairly well).  He also has no problem with my listening to his side of the discussions – he doesn’t have much choice because we live in tight quarters.

So, the discord was over just like that, but his questions are still with me.  Why not do whatever makes you happy?  What is the difference between angry and frustrated?  When you’re a teen, who should be in charge of your time?  I’m reminded that his brain is gearing up for independence, but isn’t there yet, and he still needs – craves – boundaries, assurances, and information he can trust.  So, tonight, as I listen to him talking, planning, and giggling with his game-friends, I am grateful that he and I are still on the same team.

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Happy in kindness

Last evening, at the chalice lighting, mythankfulboy said something that made my heart swell.  He goes to the YMCA several afternoons a week after school to work out, and they have had a contest of sorts going that you can only enter if you can prove you have done all of the things on a “good living” list.  These include things like eating fruit, doing a kind deed, donating to the YMCA charity fund, etc.  B was excitedly talking about all the things he’d done that met items on the list when he got tongue tied and put the flat of his hand to the side of his face (as if surprised) and said “It just makes me so happy to do nice things for people!”

Now, my mother spent a fair amount of time over the Christmas break telling me that 12 year old boys just don’t say such things (as in “you’re raising him to be weird and he’ll never have any friends”), but I don’t engage that argument, because I am of the belief that 12 year old boys do say such things when they are given the training and encouragement to go out of their way to help people, and the opportunity to wax poetic about their feelings about it without shame.  And this boy has found a group of friends who value such things, which makes me so glad.  I realized last night none of his current middle school friends went to his elementary school, but all came from the other feeder elementary school.  He said, “Yeah, elementary school was a lonely place.”  I am sorry if that was true, which I suspect it was some of the time, but yay for B that he came through it happy and healthy, and without compromise.

I’m afraid I don’t remember exactly what he said he was thankful for after that, but I think we can take the fact that it makes him “so happy to do nice things for people” as his entry for the evening.  As I always tell him, I am grateful and proud of these glimpses of the man he’s going to be.

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Asking the right question

Last night was a report card night.  B did well academically.  His teacher praised his academic skill, attitude, and effort, and then commented that B “needs to stay focused and work cooperatively during science group activities.”  Ah.  There it was.  The part he’s been stressed out about for weeks. 

For months now I’ve been hearing from B about difficulties working with this partner or that group in science.  The frequency, really the urgency, of the reports, has increased steadily over the last several weeks until a few nights ago, at the chalice lighting, he said he was thankful that “maybe my report card won’t be as bad as I think it might be”.  Oh dear.  I pointed out that the chalice lighting was really more about gratitude than wish-casting.  Tonight, though, with the teacher’s comment, came streaming tears.  And with the streaming tears came the eventual bottom line that he didn’t feel liked in his class in general, and in his science group, he felt discouraged from participating by his peers, at best, and ignored, at worst.  He was sure they didn’t think he was smart (apparently because the other members of the group openly decided that another person was the smartest in the group, and that they would all listen to her).  Now, I know my kid at his best and his worst, and I have my suspicions about his contributions to the dynamic (some literal thinking, some leaning into perceived injustice…).  But I’m not there, so I asked questions, and did a lot of listening.  

Before long, the topic shifted to kids in the class more broadly, and to a name I had heard before.  This time, though, B spilled his guts about the boy he considers to be the class bully.  Incidents ranging from the boy’s catching the ball on the playground and kicking it over the fence and then telling on someone else for doing it (or swearing it was an accident), to his waiting until the recess aide leaves the room during indoor recess, and then crossing the room to stand next to someone and sniff them in a theatrical way, saying “Ew!  Raise your hand if you think so-and-so is smelly!”  He reported situations in which the kid had made fun of a boy B said “is probably a different learner, but I don’t know for sure”, and in which he laughed out loud at a kid with autism.  He said he (B) has stood up once, each, for the last two  kids, and now the bully has called him “retarded” twice.  At this point in the telling he was crying so hard he was gulping for air between words. 

I took a deep breath, and I told B that the kid that scared him so much was a kid who was very unhappy; that there was very likely to be an adult or older sibling in his life who belittled and humiliated him, and that he took it out on other people when he wasn’t in their care to try to make himself feel better.  B listened carefully.  I told him that, as long as this kid was hurt and unhappy, that nothing B did was going to change him very much, and that, because this was true, B had to learn to sort the things the kid did into three groups: things to let go, things to speak up against (and to take the consequences as a badge of honor), and things to turn over to adults.  Before I could begin my eloquent description of each, though, he asked the most stunning question:

“Why can’t we do something so he can be happy?”

I was momentarily speechless.  Why couldn’t we?  Isn’t that the most human of solutions?  Not to mention the most direct and far-reaching?   

Right.  Because we can’t make the bold assumptions that I made when I simplified the situation for B.  And we can’t assume, even, that he’s unhappy.  For that matter, we can’t assume he’s being a bully, especially since he seems to be able to so easily explain away his actions to adults.   We can, however, let hm go on hurting other people, and in the process, hurting himself. 

I set this internal discussion aside to get through the external discussion with B, but not before I told him how much sense his question made.  I also told him I thought it was bigger than he was — that my point in explaining the probable source of the bully’s behavior was to say that punishments would probably not work, and neither would trying to make him see other people’s viewpoints or pain.  That B was going to have to let some little stuff go, he was going to have to decide what to stand for, and he was going to have to let me help when it got bigger.  This time, my 3-point plan evoked panic — he begged me not to get involved for fear that somehow the kid would find out it was me that told and it would come back to B.  For the second time in the discussion I found myself without words. 

In the end, we agreed to both think about it.  I find though, that I have gotten more and more frustrated at not having a plan of action — yep, I just keep leaning into the injustice of it all.  Wait.  That sounds familiar. 

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Loving life

Earlier today B and I saw a hitchiker, or perhaps he was just a solitary traveler, who had a very large pack, and sticking out of the top of it was a sign that said “Love life”.  B said “Hey – did you see that sign?  I do!  I really do love life!”  Later, when he was moaning his approval over a bowl of mac and cheese at lunch, I asked, “Are you happy, Love?” and he answered, matter-of-factly, “No, not happy. I love my life”.  There are things you question, always, about the choices you make as a parent.  Will this way of doing things teach him the right lesson?  Will it make him happy?  Are they different things?  Is it necessary no matter how he feels, and he will grow despite its happening?  So when you get a spontaneous announcement of happiness, it is almost all you need to live on.  He didn’t have to tell me he was thankful, and I don’t have to tell you how thankful I am.

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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