I have to admit, I put a lot of thought into yesterday's blog letter. J. What could I do that started with "J"? So, my daughter and I were walking around, saying, "J...juh...juh...juh...." I considered writing a "journal" entry. Then I considered doing a journal entry that was about a fictional character. As I sat down to the computer, I thought, "Dummy! Your book starts with a J!" Joy Comes in the Mourning. Yep, could have written about that. But, instead, I decided to put in a short story I wrote called simply "John 3:16." I can't wait to get to X if I had this much trouble with J!
For today, I decided to write about my kiddos. This is my business blog and I don't want to make a habit of bringing my personal life over here. However, my kids are the reason that I work from home. They are the reason that I try to make my Etsy shop and my photography business work and why I try to publish my books. They are my motivation and my inspiration and sometimes my models. They are the reason for this blog. I can guarantee you that as much as I like to write, I would not be spending hours each day writing blog posts, promoting blog posts, learning how to write blog posts, guest blogging, stalking Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram for followers if I wasn't doing this for them. And while my husband and children probably deep down think that I am just goofing off on the computer all day, I am working for them.
I have three children, who are all very unique and challenging and special and wonderful and terrifying.
Arrena is my oldest and she looks the most like me. She is currently thirteen and in the seventh grade, but the months are marching quickly by towards her fourteenth birthday and eighth grade. I am mortified that I only have her for five more years and that she will be driving and in high school in a little more than a year. It seemed like just yesterday that she arrived. I tried for over a year to get pregnant with her. And, I won't go into her birth story because it was one of those that I hoped would never happen to me. She is a well-rounded kid that seems to roll with the punches. She is helpful and responsible and dependable. She struggled with reading when she was younger, but she muscled through. She still doesn't read fast, but she is pulling in straight A's and in higher level English and math classes and has been invited to take some advanced courses for eighth grade, giving her high school credit. Math is usually her favorite subject, but this year's teacher and curriculum have really put a sour taste in her mouth. Academics don't come easy for her, but she is a hard worker and gets through by sheer determination and willpower. She is somewhat of a ditz and she jokes that she is really a blond. But, she is sweet and kind. We went through a bit of a rebellious streak last year, but after going to church camp, she came back determined to follow Christ and was baptized at our church two weeks ago. She used to want to be a chef, but now she is undecided. She just knows that she wants to go to a Christian college and not one too far away. She is very active in our church's youth group and girls' discipleship group. She was recently asked to join the hospitality team as a door greeter because she is so friendly and responsible. She is also joining our newly-formed drama team after having been in the school drama troupe for the past two years. She is leaving it next year to try her hand at volleyball and basketball. She also likes soccer and has played the violin for four years. She likes watching pro football and college basketball. She is a Titans/Chiefs fan, like me, and she loves the KU Jayhawks like my husband. She and her sister have started a baby-sitting team. I haven't gotten the full story yet, but she has been upset and crying for the past two days over something a guy friend did. With two in middle school, the drama never seems to end.
Kimberly is eleven for two and a half more months. She is in the sixth grade. I had planned to wait five years in between having my babies, but God knew better and he gave me Kimberly. She was a mama's girl. She has always been the "different" one, very eccentric. When she was little, she insisted we call her Cinderella and loved pink, but she also loved Diego (Dora the Explorer's cousin) and would wear cowboy boots with her dresses. The glasses she has now are similar to a fake pair she insisted on wearing when she was small--they were a pair of sunglasses with the lenses popped out. She was always the comic relief in the family and was always saying something funny. She was also a manipulative little stinker. Everyone thought she was so cute and she had these darling little ringlets and she learned at a VERY early age that she could use her charm to get what she wanted. She had people carrying her around and giving her things. When she was three or four, I realized that she was changing her voice, depending on who she was talking to, making herself sound more babyish. That was the day that mom stopped babying her and started seeing through her manipulations. She has always been highly intelligent. She learned simple reading in kindergarten, but over the summer before first grade, she taught herself to read chapter books. She now reads at a college level. She did so well on her state assessments in fourth grade that they tested her IQ and placed her in challenge, the modern-day term for "gifted." However, her work ethic and her maturity level do not match her intelligence. She has been getting some less than desirable grades lately, just because she doesn't do an assignment or doesn't study. Kimberly has some issues and challenges. She managed to inherit my and my dad's chemical imbalance that leads to severe depression. She has experimented with cutting and is now on antidepressants. She battles this daily. She also has high blood pressure, so she has to take meds for that and we have to limit her salt intake. Kimberly is a pistol. She has no filter on her mouth and she has no self-control. Her mouth gets her in more trouble than you can imagine because she tells people off, she says what she thinks, and she mouths off to adults. I always knew that she would be the one to watch out for, but we have really struggled with her and her behavior in the last year or so. She played the cello for two years, but decided she didn't want to continue. She is in the youth group and the girls' discipleship group and a Christian club at school, but she isn't quite sure about God yet. She has lots of questions. We just had an argument this week spawned by her trying to listen to a band that was totally inappropriate. That's what started the argument, but she apparently bottles things and ended up exploding with all her doubts and questions and many other things that were bothering her that she had been holding back. She and I and our pastor's wife are working through her questions and concerns. She is going through a phase of liking the goth style of all black. I don't mind my kids expressing themselves in their clothes and appearance as long as they are modest and their choices are not morally questionable. I can handle goth style, just not goth LIFEstyle. She was born with strawberry blond hair, which darkened to a light brown. In the past few months, she has dyed her hair red and now black. She wanted to do drama at school, but her sister protested, so she is going to try drama at church and maybe at school next year when her sister goes to sports. Kimberly tried soccer once, but doesn't really care for watching or participating in sports. She will root for the opposite team as everyone else, just to be different and create arguments. We got her into karate this year to try to help her with self-control and self-confidence. She just got her yellow belt yesterday and seems to really enjoy class. She is quite boy crazy right now, which confirms why I don't allow them to have boyfriends yet. She used to want to be a zookeeper and then a vet because she loves animals. When she was just tiny, she would watch Animal Planet all day long and spout off tons of facts about animals. She still goes back and forth on what she wants to be, but I can guarantee that she will be a strong, independent woman. When her maturity catches up with her brain, she will be a force to be reckoned with. But, for now, we never know which Kimberly we are going to get when she wakes up: friendly, lovable, talk-your-ear-off Kimberly or the sullen, touchy, hide-in-my-bed-in-my-dark-room Kimberly.
And, last but not least, we have Billy. Billy was another surprise from God. He's mama's boy. I know people think that's a bad thing, but there are worse things to be in life than someone that loves his mama. I was afraid to have a boy because I didn't know what to do with one! I knew girls. But, when Billy came, that little newborn would stare into my eyes for several minutes before getting down to the business of nursing and he made me feel like I was the greatest person on earth. I knew from early on that something wasn't quite right with him. He was such a fussy, demanding baby, but I figured it was just colic. He was a mean toddler, pushing kids down the stairs and slapping babies. I thought it was the terrible twos. Then threes. By the time he was four and I put him in preschool because I had to go to work when their dad and I divorced, it was obvious that something needed to be done. His teachers would call me and say he was out of control and describe him as a "whirling dervish." When I moved and remarried, we started taking him to a psychiatrist and a therapist. Initially, they said it was ADHD. But, that just didn't cover all we were seeing. And after his psychiatrist retired and we were passed to a pompous jerk and his therapist virtually quit on him, we looked for new doctors. We had been at it for two or three years and things were getting worse, not better. His self-important doctor called it severe mood dysregulation, but what little I found on the subject didn't match up with what he was telling us. We tried med after med. And occupational therapy. We strongly believed that he had high-functioning autism, possibly Asperger's. Other parents of autistic children believed he was too. But, his doctor said it wasn't. I finally took him to KU Medical Center and Children's Mercy Hospitals for evaluations. Previously, his outbursts had been primarily at home, but now they were mostly at school. He was hitting and kicking and biting and running away from the adults and several times, his classroom had to be evacuated because he was trashing everything and scaring his classmates. He began to threaten to kill himself and we had to disarm him twice and hide all sharp objects in the house. I began to wonder if I would have to sleep in front of his door at night to be sure he wouldn't hurt himself because he would get up at night and play with whatever he found, pouring medicine and shampoo down the drain, calling 911, etc. He climbed out his window once and another time, he took off from me in a parking lot towards a busy highway and I had to literally tackle him. We were desperate and having to face the reality that we might have to check him in to in-patient treatment, which is unthinkable as a mother. KU said he was not autistic, but possibly had intermittent explosive disorder. Ok, that sounded pretty self-explanatory and like a diagnosis you might give if you didn't know what else to call it. Children's Mercy saw what we saw and thought autism fit too, but upon further testing, the only thing that disqualified him was that he can recognize emotions in other people, most of the time. They think he may be bipolar, though he is too young to be diagnosed. I think he is caught somewhere in-between autism and bipolar. He has been having staring spells too, which they think might be an absence seizure. Meanwhile, the school was suspending him (I ended up having to quit my job to stay home with him--can't really afford to, but I had little choice) and refusing to test him for special ed, so I had to file a complaint with the state. The school eventually complied and he was deemed eligible for services, though only two hours a day, plus one hour a day with para support. His testing was ludicrous, with contradictions and questionable conclusions, but in the end, it succeeded in getting an IEP. It also showed us that his strengths are his IQ and his memory. His processing speed is very low, so it takes him a while to "get" things, which is very frustrating to him. If his IQ were not so high, he would be repeating third grade because even with the IEP, he still spends a lot of time in recovery and his outbursts have intensified. Just when we get him on a cocktail of meds that work, his body metabolizes them and we are back to square one. We are in that trial and error phase again, just now. His new therapist agrees with me that he should be in a different school environment, but we are still trying to figure out how to proceed when the school is unwilling. I would homeschool him because I think making him meet the status quo is ridiculous when he learns differently, but I need the respite. He will be nine on Tuesday and every day I wonder how we are ever going to get this under control. And every year he gets bigger and stronger and it becomes harder for me to restrain him. He is frustrated with himself. And I feel so sorry for the poor little guy. He is so sweet and caring. He just cannot control his explosions. He loves video games, but we have to limit those. We had to do away with computer time after he somehow gained access to my Amazon account and managed to purchase a game. He loves tactile things like sand and play-doh and legos. Lately he has been playing a lot of basketball and he learned how to make those magic loom bracelets without a loom, so it has become a bit of an obsession. We found a free martial arts class for special needs kids and he has really enjoyed that. I hesitated to teach him new ways to hurt people, but the exercise and the self-control are a positive. I know that everyone tells me it will work out and that he will get it someday soon, but there is one thing that I do know: God doesn't make junk and He has a purpose and a plan for my little guy. I have to remind him of that sometimes when he is down on himself.
|~ Robin ~|