Monday, December 28, 2015

It was a Very Merry Christmas

It has been 12 years since we have had a Christmas celebration (well really any holiday celebration) without incident.  This year December 25, 2015 was the year that we were incident free.  For this I am praising the Lord!

For those of you not understanding what I mean by an incident free holiday, let me explain. In the midst of a time full of wonder and excitement, it has been almost every parent's experience that our small ones are so full of themselves that they have some behavioral problems.  We experience this exponentially, especially at Christmas, as this holiday brings with it  a high level of anxiety, and large dose of unmet expectations, and a pile of outwardly ugly behaviors.  Not because there are many dwarfs, but because many of the dwarfs have special needs.  The unique way that they are wired causes them to ask for nothing that they really want, or to ask for complete and absolutely ridiculously out of this world gifts.   As if by asking on either end of the spectrum, will produce in us the parents this innate ability to mind read and get them what they really wanted but did not ask for, or somehow there really is a magical short fat man in a red suit that will make all their wildest dreams come true.

Top this by deviating from a regular schedule of sleep, wake, eat, school and church activities, in combination with many social requirements that they already struggle with often makes the days leading to Christmas and the day of Christmas less than joy filled.  In years past we have had children who have thrown gifts, cried because they did not want a certain thing, stare blankly at the items they received without sharing any emotion regarding the gift, no matter how perfect, thoughtful, or have been so overwhelmed by a gift the sibling got that they did not that they wrecked the gift opening experience for everyone.  We have administered time outs. We have had to take gifts. Yes, even attempted bribes and bartering skills to regain calm.  Many times one or more of the dwarfs had to be sent out of the room so that gift opening could continue without them.  Once they were able to get themselves back under control, they would then return to the room to finish opening gifts with the other family members or alone, depending on the length and severity of the meltdown.

This year we got through the entire day of Christmas without a single meltdown. (We are not going to discuss the day before, or the days least not in this post.)  As I sit and ponder the wonderful day, I would like to think that it is the Prince and I and our amazing parenting skills that got the dwarfs to this milestone, however I know that realistically, maturity may finally be weighing in on our side.

Could it have been that what helped was that for the first time,  this year, everyone had money of their own with which to gift their siblings and parents (and we did not make participation optional). This year there was an excitement among the dwarfs to share that "perfect" gift that they labored over to select and counted pennies to purchase.  In using their own monies, and laboring over selecting the perfect gift, I would like to hope that they also learned another valuable lesson about how much work and money goes into the Christmas gift exchange and about the excitement leading up to it sharing with someone your efforts.

Maybe it was the huge inflatable obstacle course that our eldest dwarf rented for the day. This allowed anyone that was feeling a bit antsy to run outside, throw down a challenge and race through the course.  Or just spend a few minutes alone, going through the course forward and backwards to blow off some steam.

Perhaps the Prince and I have finally gotten through to the dwarfs regarding what is appropriate to ask for as a gift.   Since we now also have them write their lists, if there are items that are not ever going to be in my budget for them or me (super bowl tickets, a Bugatti) we can begin damage control weeks in advance, hence reducing the disappointment factor when the wrapping paper starts to fly. Additionally, if we look at a list that is just a request for  3 different kinds of chap sticks, and we can sit and discuss what other things they may be interested in for Christmas, hence helping them create a list that is reasonable and obtainable.  

Whatever the reason, we are rejoicing in the kingdom this year about the wonderful day that was had by one and all.  It seems that everyone got at least one surprise item, and this year the Prince and I worked really hard to get that "one" had to have item for each dwarf.  We rested, we ate well, we enjoyed each other's company and that has not happened in the kingdom on a holiday, let alone Christmas day in a very long time...

I suppose we will know in 361 days if we can repeat the day with such success, but in the meantime...

Our 2015 Christmas Miracle and  I am so glad that I did not have to make this one up!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Some Days I Just Want to Bang My Head on the Wall

Some days, really, all I want to do is bang my head on the wall.   Would anyone notice I wonder if I sat in the corner and just moved back and forth in the same monotonous motion, banging my head on the wall?

When dealing with teenagers, I know that each of us has felt as if the bulk of the parenting that we accomplish is nothing new and earth shattering, but just the same repeated phrases and motions, as if we literally are banging our heads against the wall.

Recently, like last night, we had this situation with Grumpy.  Now you see Grumpy for all of his wonderful traits... has recently began a slide into a world based not on reality, but completely on the false lies and stories that he tells on line to his Instagram friends, his snap chat buddies and his texting comrades via his cell phone.   At first the changes are not so noticeable.  We can chalk it up to "typical" (although there is nothing typical about him) teenage boy behaviors.   But as the web he weaves becomes more tangled, it is more and more difficult for him to sustain the lies, which causes extreme obsession with the electronic devise, overt hostility towards having to do anything that does not involve the devise, and an unwillingness to see the strangle hold that the devise and it's apps have on his behaviors and attitudes.  I mean really, a dwarf who has lost a "homie" in a drive by, probably doesn't have to do sweeps at the end of the day, or water the dog.  A dwarf that has been in prison probably is not having to do dish once a week for a family of 8, and certainly a dwarf that sells drugs and makes some "fat stacks", could pay a sibling to handle his light work around the house....

So, after weeks of the slide, and a random phone check that happened because the Prince got mad that he would not get out of bed one morning, and a mom that is not so tech savvy but knows way more than Grumpy wishes she did, here we are, confrontation.

The confrontation, um, I mean conversation,  starts out with the Prince laying some ground rules for Grumpy and his cell phone.  New rule #1, the devise must be docked at night.  In our room.  No exceptions.   New Rule #2, the devise must be docked once Grumpy arrives home from school until he completes all his chores, school work and other assorted tasks that he is privileged to participate in, as a member of this fine kingdom.

Well it seems that this conversation was not received in the manner in which it was intended.  Our intention is and will always be to come along side a socially short sighted, concrete thinker, to provide additional safety for him while providing him and opportunity to build trust and show his maturity,  through use of the tool that he insists on having, a cell phone. To teach him appropriate behaviors, acceptable ways to interact with people, and for explaining the often missed yet very obvious (only to us) innuendos and intentional slams that others message and text to him. Yet, shockingly, Grumpy thinks this an affront to his privacy.  Of which we remind him that as a minor in our home he really has no right to privacy if in that he is causing himself or others harm.   Additionally, because he  bought the phone and pays for the minutes on the phone, he thinks it is INSANE that we have any rights to, or should expect him,  to hand it over for random checks or docking.   Funny that without access to the electric that we pay for, his phone would cease to work.  Just like that it would be a paperweight.

After far more conversation than the situation warranted, (insert me mentally banging my head into the wall as ONCE again we repeat the same things to him)  an amazingly calm Prince agrees that Grumpy should look for an alternative living arrangement.   The rules would be as follows, he can leave freely, we will not call the police and report him as a run-a-way, if we are able to first talk to the parents of the "friend" he would be living with for the next three years. Because if he is leaving, he is leaving for good.  He can become emancipated even if just leaving is not enough for him. All the while Grumpy is running his mouth about all his home boyz that will let him crash with them.    The Prince indicated that Grumpy should call his "homie"now, get his parent on the phone, so we can authorize his departure, and obtain his address so we would send Grumpy in a cab, right then and there to live with him. Wipe our hands of him.  Be done so that he can get on with his life without rules and us with ours.

"Fine!, I'll do it right now!", Grumpy states. Oh, but wait, he can't call because he does not have his number, he can only message him. The Prince encourages him to do so right then, which Grumpy does. Keep in mind this is his "go to guy", his I know I can hang with him, we have discussed it before, ace in the hole, relief from his miserable home life, guy!   The text response is, "Sorry man, we are full here." At which point the Prince takes the phone and starts texting his "go to guy", with the a message that indicates Grumpy needs a place to stay for the next three years.  "Like I need a place to live, not just crash for a night or two."  His "go to guy's" response... Priceless...  "You need a motel."

Even in all this, Grumpy is struggling to see that this person is not a friend, is not anything but a person that he passes by and most likely just tolerates him, is being nice to him, because he feels in some way bad for him in his social awkwardness.  Again, I feel my head banging on the wall as we have had so many many conversations about this acquaintances VS friends situation.  Grumpy will latch on to an acquaintance and call them a friend because to have and maintain friendships takes a host of skills he is not willing to use or work at.  Skills like being real,  being honest. putting others before yourself.  I would guess that the most of the people that he calls friends would be shocked and would have to think hard about who Grumpy is.    This is the sad reality of a dwarf with Reactive Attachment Disorder.   Even sadder is that they desire to live in this alternative reality, where they think that they can control and manipulate situations to suit them.  Not realizing that they are straining real relationships to the brink, they are risking losing all that is real in their lives and that they are turning into a train wreck attempting to juggle the lies and the deception that they spin to so many.  Can you imagine how much energy he has to spend trying to remember which stories he tells to which person.  Was this the person I told I was a high school football star, or the one I told I was not a snitch and I was looking to make some quick cash?

At the end of the day the issue with Grumpy is that he refuses at all costs to fall under authority.  He has convinced himself that there are people in the world that live without rules, or accountability and they can do and say and behave how they want.    Why? Because this lie is easier than the truth; which is,  life is hard.  Life takes effort.  Sometime life is a hard lesson teacher.  In all things we have to fall under authority. The authority of the Lord, as believers.  The authority of the law in our government. The authority of our boss's at our jobs (yes even the crappy ones).  The authority of our spouses or significant others in relationships.  The authority of the communities in which we live.

So yes, last night Grumpy was going to leave home forever,  because his parents want to be able to access his phone, and have the log in information for his accounts.  This was the hill he was willing to die on.   He was willing to leave with $60 in his pocket and a pay as you go cell phone, with only the items that fit in a suitcase, with no job into the big bad world, because he can't stand the thought of falling under authority.  "Grumpy, why did you leave home?  were you abused?  Did they not feed you?  Did you have to sleep on the floor in the garage?" " No, "I left home because my mom follows me on Instagram, and she knows all my passwords to my cell phone and accounts."  And this was a valid, compelling and logical reason to him for leaving home and never returning.

Prayerfully his good night's rest, (without the distraction of his cell phone) with some time to consider the folly of his thoughts, brings a new understanding to his mind regarding the easy road he is currently on.   Only time will tell.  What I do know is that if you need me I will be in the corner...

My Mom Followed Me on Instagram and I was Embarrassed, the Main Reason I left Home at Sixteen:  a memoir of Grumpy ... Really some days I wish I could make this stuff up.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Maybe Three Weeks Is Not Long Enough....

Many of you know that Bashful is currently attending a camp in Punta Gorda, Florida, for boys that are emotionally and behaviorally disturbed.  You also know that this is not anything that we are unaccustomed to, since his older brother went through a similar program in PA.

I am sure that we have not done a very adequate job of updating you all on his departure and his status since he has been gone, so here is a summary of all that has happened with Bashful in the last four weeks.

He has become the reigning fire starter in his group, he is working hard on his goals, he has been on a three day canoe trip with his tribe, he is often helpful around camp, he is learning how to carve, he usually has no troubles getting up in the mornings, and he is working very hard at keeping a clean and neat space in his footlocker and making his bed.  Oh and my heart was happy to see that he had not been eaten alive by the mosquitoes!


I am not sure what I was expecting to find upon our arrival to camp.  They say that disappointment is based on unmet expectations.   I was so uncertain about what I would find or see in my dwarf, yet  I in some ways I was hopeful for such "great" things.

We were greeted by a young man that looked, and smelled, and sounded like Bashful.   While his teeth are cleaner than they have been in years, thanks to the hygiene station at camp, and a little intense peer pressure (see photo below of where the magic happens) there was a bit of a standoff posture to him. Oh, he greeted us appropriately.  Hugs all around.   He was excited to hand over a gift that he made for his eldest sister, and was super excited to see the Prince because he thought that I was the only parental attending....but there was just something that rubbed at me.  Something that made me think (and say out loud to the Prince) that three weeks away had done nothing but change his geographical location to me.  My heart was not softer, my attitude was not kinder and my words were a great struggle.  Much about him just, well, sort of annoyed me.  In a deep place.

I know that moms that have children that are a delight to your hearts always, may be struggling to read the words that I am writing, but I think in the span of our visit, even though here in the kingdom, I was doing what needed to be done to get through the day with Bashful, (sometimes the hours or the minutes) I realized just how much his attitude, his behaviors and his brokenness have affected me.  I am hurt, and I am resentful and I am saddened.   I can not place my finger on an exact thing.  I just started to realize how deep and how raw the emotions are that run through me.    Did I expect him to gush all over us, no.  Did I expect that the boys in camp would be excited to meet us and that he would be excited to introduce us to the others, no.  Did I expect that he would have had something profound to say to express his remorse, or to show me he understood his brokenness, or our sacrifice, or the need for him to get this help, maybe? Sort of?  Mostly no.

What I do know is that God is not surprised by Bashful's station in life.  That because of our diligence and because of God's great love for Bashful, He is also not surprised about any of our stations currently in life.  God knows my heart and my hurt.  He has created Bashful, and is working diligently through the chiefs at camp to assist him in his growth and maturity in ways that we could not here in the kingdom.  As much as he loves Bashful, he love me too, and if I allow, he will show me how to work through the hurt of having and loving a broken child.

Here are some ways that you can pray for Bashful.  Pray that he is able to start to "own" things.  Be responsible for his words and his actions (or lack of them). That he would understand that no one is out to sabotage him, but many are championing  to set him up for great success.  That authority is a component of life that is necessary as a child so that you can learn, and grow and be successful in a protected environment.   Pray for the chiefs that live with these boys in the woods six days a week.  Pray for the camp as they continue to grow and offer hope to other parents that find themselves with boys in the same condition as Bashful.   Pray for our family for healing and grace.  Also for the upcoming Thanksgiving break where we have Bashful home for a week.

It was towards the middle of the visit when we were able to take this photo and Bashful actually seemed to be relaxing and able to smile... this is the dwarf that I love and miss... Here's to his healing, and his growth and maturity in the weeks and months and years ahead.

You just can't make this stuff up....

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

It Never Is Good to Hear In the Middle of the Night... Dad... I Hit Something....

It never is good to hear from your eldest son, in the middle of the night, the words, "Dad, I hit something..."

Oh of course not only was it the middle of the night, but it was also a dark and stormy night this summer when Dopey, arriving home from work in the wee hours of the morning, comes barging into our bedroom, where I might add the Prince and I are soundly sleeping.... and clears his throat.

Dopey, clears his throat, and awakens us, with "Dad, I may have hit something on the way home tonight."  "What?"  responds the groggy Prince.  "You either hit something, or you did not hit something, there is no "might" about it."

Dopey goes on to recount that as he was driving home, at "an appropriate speed" for the weather conditions (pouring rain) on the main road to our house, he thinks he hit something in the road.  I am now fully awake.  "How do you know you hit something?"  He replies that he knows that he hit something because he felt it on the side of the car.   So of course my next response is, " was it an animal or a person?"  "What did you hit?"  "Oh no, not either of those things he replies as he continues to tell us that when he got out on the side of the road, in the pouring down rain, to look at the car and when he did, he could see his tire was flat.

I would venture to say, he did more than hit something... If I were a betting Momma, I would guess he ran off the road in the rain and scraped up against something....  or there was debris on the roadway that he did not see because of the rain and ran in or through that.... Needless to say, flat was an understatement.

Flat in my mind means, it can be repaired.  Like a nail in the tire.  Or a pinprick that slowly leaks. Not this.  This was shredded.

In this situation, Dopey has the joy of learning a few life lessons.  One tires are expensive.  You typically can't just buy one without a second for balance of the car.  At the very least some of the other tires need rotated around to help achieve the maximum ride and wear and tear on the vehicle.

Oh, and he got to learn how to change his tire to put on the spare. He found out from a neighbor how to find out the identifying information off the tire so that he could have the privilege of calling around for tire prices.  Once he secured the best option, he then had the joy of  using his hard earned money to replace said flat tire.

In the midst of all this I think that Dopey is beginning to understand  a few things with  a little more appreciation. One is to pay attention when driving period (this does seem to be a struggle for the boy who has had his license less than a year and has had two altercations thus far), another, is to drive under the speed limit in poor conditions, and to always be grateful for the help of neighbors and friends, and your sister, when you are required to change a tire!

You really can't make this stuff up!

Friday, August 28, 2015

One lone boy sitting in the hallway...

 If I were a betting person, I would have bet that the first call from school administration, in the 2015-2016 school year, would jingle my phone on or between days 7 to 9.

Glad I do not bet.  Two and a half days into the new school year the administration from the high school called to discuss their concerns and schedule a meeting regarding those concerns with us.  For not the dwarf that we would have anticipated being in trouble, but regarding Happy.

"Happy?!!?" I mutter in astonishment.  Wow, that is a surprise.  "What has he done?" As my mind imagines all the possible scenarios.   I am thinking maybe he pulled the fire alarm, or got lost in the maze of hallways and was late for class, or even that he just wanted to be part of another class and went there instead of his assigned class.

None of the above.  He staged a sit out.  A peaceful, passive aggressive, for one, sit out.  A lone boy, sitting outside his classroom in the hallway.  He refused to go to class. He refused to talk to the teacher.  He refused to make eye contact with anyone. On the first day of the sit out, after about two hours he asked to speak to the assistant principal.

The second day more of the same.

On the third day, half way through the morning I get the call.  

They want to know if I have any idea what the problem is.  NO!  Each day after school, Happy was "happy" to tell me he had a great day.   How would I know what the problem is.  If there was a problem the first two days of school and it is carrying over to the third day, why are they just now calling me is my question.  Clearly, I could have driven over in the first ten minutes of the first day's protest and fixed this...

Upon his arrival home at the end of day 3, we have a chat, Happy and I.  It seems, according to him, that he is upset because the teacher is making them repeat work from the end of last year.  His words, not mine, "It makes me feel like a stupid retard." I look at him with an amused and puzzled look on my face.  Rolling around in my mind his statement.  A statement about him remembering something that he did over three months ago? The boy can't remember what he did yesterday for heavens sake.

So I explain to him that in this situation all the students are doing work from last year.  It is a way for the teacher to figure out which of her students retained information from the year before, gauge where her new students were in their learning currently, so that she can make a plan for the new year.
I also kindly explained that his placement in this classroom was a gift.  The classroom he started in was very restrictive, with many students that had no verbal skills at all, and that if he was not able to turn around his behaviors, he would have to go back to that classroom.  Well no, that is not what he desires.  I suppose if I were to read the look on his face when I explained what the consequences would be if he kept up his protesting, that he did not for one second consider that his actions would require the school to take action and institute a consequence for his behavior.

As the story unfolds, and I have a chance to speak to the teacher, I hear that many measures were taken to help Happy be successful in the classroom. Because he is a returning student to the program they made him a mentor to a younger student. (Happy LOVES to tell others what to do)  Moreover, he loves to be helpful and have a role of importance, yet even in that he was unable to manage and over come his feelings of anxiety, anger and frustration.  Clearly he was not even able or willing to use his words to discuss this with the staff.    In further conversation with the teacher we believe that we "figured" out the problem.

It seems Happy is not so abnormal at all!  His pride over rode his good judgement.  What my gut as his momma is telling me, is that Happy really had no idea what skills and assignments they did the end of last year. However there was a student or two in the room with better memory than Happy and they were giving the teacher fits about "having to review" and grumbling things out loud like, " we did this last year" , "why do we have to do this again," so Happy, in his quest to be like the rest, jumped into the grumbling.  However, when the work needed done, he had no idea what to do, and was unable to complete the task.  Insert pride here.  Insert inability to communicate well here.  Insert self perceived embarrassment here.   Mix it all together, and you get one anxious, frustrated boy, sitting alone in the hallway, silently stewing.

Oh the joys of parenting special needs kids.  I informed the school that yes I would come to the meeting and yes this was concerning to us as well.  Additionally I explained to them, that they really do not have to go this alone with Happy.   I am more than willing to drive the three miles anytime during the day for a mom-vention, which should be able to put the dwarf back on course, ASAP without the waste of administration's time and energy.   In the meantime we are looking into options here for him so that he can be more successful. Academically he is just not interested or able (he has not made gains in his learning since he plateaued at the second grade learning level 5 years ago) and unless it is in his wheel house of interests, and hands on, forget him retaining information.

So we press on.   He is almost an adult in the eyes of the state, and our goal as always is to have him set up for success at the most appropriate level for him.  We will be meeting with the Easter Seals organization next week to see if we can find a new program for him that is highly supervised and hands on so that he can continue his education without feeling the need to stage a protest.

You really can't make this stuff up!  2 1/2 days into the new school year is a record in the kingdom for sure!   -

Friday, August 7, 2015


Want to know what it looks like to love an emotionally disturbed child.  Here is your invitation to glimpse a small window of time in the life of a home with special needs children.  Keep in mind that I am so grateful that out of four diagnosed children (even though they are in denial) we are able to contain the mess, the chaos, to one of them going "off the reservation" at a time, but none the less someone seemingly is always off.  There may be one major issue a day, or ten small ones but daily we deal with struggles that others just can't relate too.

As I sit in the relative quiet of my house I think back over the last few weeks, months and can't really find a space in time in my mind where all was well, with all the dwarfs, all at the same time.  We are not talking simple issues like ADHD or punky disrespect of elders.  No, this is more than a hormonal induced snarky retort, the typical eye rolling and loud huffing that accompanies children from age 12 - adult.( But we do have plenty of those attitudes in our home as well... )  No more behaviors so extreme that you can not believe that this is your life, and you wonder in the midst of the situation if there are others out there that live like you do?   On pins and needles, not knowing if this is the day that your child will respond appropriately to a directive, or if they will go off the deep end and throw your house into chaos.  Irrational complex behaviors that would scare sensible people.

I used to be a sensible person.  At least I think that I remember that I was sensible. Now after years of fighting and struggling, I am beginning to wonder if  I may be the one with the loose screw.  Perhaps my expectations are too high. Take oral hygiene for example, we desire them to brush twice a day.  I will accept once if it is done exceptionally well, but for some of them three or four days can go by without a good or even an attempted brushing, and unlike when they were small and I could bribe them, or do it for them, if they are not going to do it now, my recourse is limited to natural consequences.  So at this writing I have one dwarf awaiting a cap in pain, and another that has spent their summer enduring root canals, and extractions and receiving 9 fillings.

For days ( I mean like weeks) Bashful has had a problem with respecting and obeying me.  Sadly, I am almost at a place where I am unable to "handle" him physically.  So he "gets away" with a lot, at least in his mind. There is nothing that I can say to him, that he does not fight me on or mouth me about.  If I said the sky was blue, he would say green.  I told him a television show he had turned on was not appropriate it was TV14 (he is 13), which lead to a fight about how there is nothing for him to watch on TV they do not make shows for people his age.  Hum, the Disney Channel, or I don't know how about the Food Network, or the Fishing Channel, heaven forbid read a book for entertainment...I digress.  

There is not a solid grasp on reality in their lives either.  For example today, when I tried to share with him the reason that his behaviors have been escalating, is because he has not been taking his medication properly, he tells me that he is and does take them every day.  Upon examination of the the prescription for the controlled substance, that is suppose to expire tomorrow (meaning there would be one pill left) I find there are 15 pills left.  Instead of accepting the facts,  he runs his mouth about how I am trying to trick him, and how I am always bossing him and telling him what to do.  The clear thought never enters his mind that if there are 15 pills left, and by law the pharmacy can only give 30 at a time... well I wait for the ah ha moment that never happens.... I envision it as something similar to this:  "Opps mom, maybe I have not been taking my meds like I thought". The truth is that since he does not want to take medication, he pretends every day to take them, (is not smart enough to actually remove them from the container and dispose of them) going through the motions of shaking to container and slamming the cupboard door to make us think he has taken them. Creating his reality based on his efforts of deception.

Here is your glimpse into the chaos that erupted the other night without warning and a bit of the back story:

The Prince tries at every turn to teach the boys the art of respect for others, of caring for your family, holding your sisters and mother in high regard, for obedience in all things. We believe in doing so we are laying the ground work for years of successful relationships in their personal life and in their professional lives.

So after the kids got home from church, the Prince goes to talk to Bashful about his disrespect of me that day. It is apparent that Bashful, in his own mind, believes that he had gotten away with the acts of disobedience and disrespect since it was well after 8PM and he had not been confronted. Hence where consistency comes into play as he expects the "hammer to drop" every evening after the Prince gets home from work or after dinner. But consistency is only one way in Bashful's mind.  In sticking with the consistency theme, not once has the Prince caught wind of disrespect even in the smallest form, and not addressed it, with any of the dwarfs, male or female,  so today when he hears the list of infractions, it should be known to Bashful that he will be seeing the Prince tonight and hearing from him regarding his willful lapses in obedience.  Bashful is surprised and perhaps confused  (being confronted so late in the evening) thinking that he has gotten away with his poor behavior; and in his mind has turned things around for the day, we find his response tonight is one of fight and flight not acceptance or humility.

Bashful immediately begins his fight mode verbally combating the Prince with his version of the story (which for the record never flies).  Then he amps his behavior with thrashing and yelling and cursing (he could make a sailor blush).  He flies out of house through the garage, grabs his bike, in his bare feet shorts and a tee, flipping us the bird and screaming obscenities at us at the top of his lungs,  rides off down the road.  Eventually he  starts looking back at the house, and within minutes is back in the driveway.  Now he is storming the front door, flings it open and demands money.  (I would think that he came back to demand shoes, but I am after all the village idot, what do I know?)
As a side note, over the years when our dwarfs threaten to run away, we have offered them time to pack their suitcase, and  a bit of cash for road.  It used to be $5 but with inflation we have raised it to $20.   So when the the Prince gets to the door to discuss the small one's demands, he calmly reminds Bashful that the dollar amount given to any kingdom run a-way is indeed $20, he however owes his mother $35.  So sorry no funding for you. The Prince shuts the door.  Now Bashful is not going to be deterred.  Additionally, his foul language is over the top. I have a moment where I wonder what the neighbors are thinking.   I briefly thought about the muscles in  his hand hurting along with the muscles in his forearm, from the force of which he is using as he flipped us the bird, so high, so often and so long for such a short period of time.   But again, a rabbit trail, but really these are thoughts that scamper in your brain in these moments of time.

Now the screeching, screaming, possessed young dwarf is attempting to barge in to the rear of our home as he is determined  to secure his &^%#@  funding for his road trip.  Still no consideration that even if we gave him money, he could not enter a store, a restaurant, or a gas station to use the funds to purchase anything in his bare feet !   I have been an observer until this time.  But I indicate to the Prince that I will go out and attempt to talk and reason with Bashful.   By now about 9 -12 minutes of his ranting has transpired.  I walk out to the lanai, and am greeted with what appears to be a raging lunatic.  Rapid flapping arm movements, darting eyes, agitated responses screamed at the top of his lungs, laced together with profanities.  Eyes that are not seeing anything around him, Ears that really are not hearing any words that are being said, so angry and so over come by his anger that he is unable to even concentrate or be coherent in his rantings for his money or anything else, so he just takes to cursing and pacing, leaving the enclosed patio and stalking around the yard yelling, ranting and raging.

Blind rage is a thing.  I saw it.  It is scary.   I would guess he never even knew I was on the back porch desiring to talk to him.

Now somewhere in the midst of this tirade we are also "playing normal" with the family that is inside the house.   The siblings of the dwarf going off the reservation are also special, and are freaking out.  How do I know this, because they are stalking, rubber necking, greedily attempting to secure the Prince or I in conversations that they would think are normal (yet they rarely attempt normal conversations with us for any reason, and rarely seek them out with us) When we try to disban them, tell them to go watch tv or get a shower, they lurk not in their rooms or in their usual spots for such activities, they take seats in the main part of the house, closest to doors and windows so that they can continue to "nonchalantly" observe what their train wreck of a brother is doing.   At some point in this process I determine that there is one neighbor that Bashful would potentially go to as he is running away barefoot, so I go out the front while he is in the back and I walk over to let them know what is happening and request that if Bashful would come their way, to just ignore him, call us if they need to.

Now I am guessing that about 15-17 minutes of time have transpired since the onset of the Prince and Bashful's original conversation.  At points it has felt like an eternity,  At points it seems like a blink. During all of this time there is no normal, no balance.  Thoughts race through your head as a care giver, about how to interrupt the next tirade, trying to guess where or what the dwarf will do next, mentally assessing calling the authorities, attempting to force him into a car for removal to the hospital, just grabbing him and restraining him on the ground.  I return home after my brief jaunt to the neighbors to find the dwarf's still elevated voice in the area of the rear of the house.  I walk around and enter the pool area and see that the surrounding misc pool deck items, 6 pool blankets and 17 pool towels have all gone for a swim. As has Bashful, as he is still yelling and cursing at the Prince who is standing on the side of the pool.

I believe at this point the Prince is trying to determine if he should jump in or stay on the side as now he is desiring Bashful to empty all the items he threw into the pool, to the side of the patio.  As I enter the lanai, I see Bashful gathering up the soaked soggy items from the pool bottom and am watching him tossing them with anger at the Prince. I go sit on the side of the pool with my feet in and attempt to talk to the dwarf.  I feel myself getting angry (and it happened quickly, less than 20 seconds) because of all the work that this dwarf is creating for me, laundry (He wont be wringing out or washing or drying these items that he tossed in the pool ) and how dare he, continuing in his anger throw things at my husband, the Prince, who busts his butt day in and day out for this family.... (see what I mean, even the most sensible person becomes irrational in thought at times like this).

I jump in the pool and I am sure, to the dwarf,  I now am the one that looks possessed.  I grab his hand with the towel he is about to throw in anger at the Prince,  and yell at him to stop and back away from the mess. I begin to dig out the towels and lay them on the side of the pool.    The Prince tells me to grab Bashful and walk him to the stairs.  I am thinking in my mind, "Are you kidding me, if I grab him, in this pool where he can't touch I am going to hold him under... that should cool him off." However I grab his arm, and to my surprise he doesn't attempt to strike me and walk him to the pool stairs.  The Prince takes the soaking wet boy out of the pool, leads him out of the lanai, to the side yard, soaked to the skin, still with no shoes and places him on his bike and tells him to leave.  He is now screaming that he just wants the Prince to call the cops.  The Prince replies that there is no reason for him to call the police, as the police will find him.   Bashful, the head to toe, wet boy, with no shoes with a deranged attitude and appearance, ranting and riding in circles on his bike in no time flat will certainly call some attention to himself should he choose to actually ride off in the sunset.

His brothers and I wring out all the towels, throw them in the bin also rescued from the pool and the boys drag the seemingly 100 lb bucket to the laundry room, where I begin the process of washing and drying these items three or four at a time.  After starting the first load,  I am not sure what it going on with Bashful, I can still hear raging loud voices out front.  I wrap up in a dry BATH towel and head out to the front door.  I think this is when I really loose my mind.  In his continued rage, Bashful has not only tipped over my bird bath, but has knocked all the plants and planters off the front porch that just that afternoon, had spent significant time on rearranging, watering, weeding, pruning, and restoring to health.    I find the boy on the ground with the Prince crouched in front of him attempting to talk to him.    If the Prince knew of the destruction of the items on the front porch or not I can't be sure.   Still is raging, is the dwarf.  My next words are not ones that I am proud of.  And admittedly I knew that these would be the most hurtful things I could say to Bashful, but at this point I was no longer caring about hurting his feelings (right, we are all selfish), don't judge me til you walk in my shoes. After a few ranting words about his ignorance and how he trashed all my things and made all this work for me, and knowing that Bashful struggles with abandonment issues, knowing that he freaks out in other ways when he can't find us, or thinks that we are leaving him for any reason... I walked over (and what a mess I was) soaked head to toe, with a bath towel wrapped around my clothing, wet hair dripping and said;  "Bashful, since it is so hard for you to live with me and respect me, I will be the one to leave so you do not have to."

I headed into the house, picked up my wallet, and my car keys. The Prince in the meantime did force the dwarf to his feet, and insist that he begin cleaning the messes up.  At which time the Prince also borrowed my cell to place a call to 911 as now 30 + minutes into this Bashful is still not calming down. To his credit he has begun following the Prince's instructions, but is till angry. I waited a few seconds until the Prince was done using my phone to "call" 911, and I began walking to my car to leave.  (Now the sick twisted part about this is that I was only going to pick up another dwarf at an after church activity) so my play on his insecurities was purely selfish on my part.  But as I stated earlier, I am starting to also question my own sensibilities.

As I drove away leaving the dwarf  less of a mess, in the capable hands of the Prince, as he began to descend from his rage, and focus on the threat of the 911 call, and my abandoning him. I am sure I do not have to point out the irony in that last part of the statement.  He hates to respect and obey me, but freaks out if he thinks I am leaving him.  As I am leaving, the neighborhood, I take notice to a group of neighbors (about 6) standing trying to cover their gawking by "walking" their dogs... I am struck by the fact that this is my normal.  

It is no wonder that people are hesitant to adopt.  It is no wonder that families with biological children with these issues feel lonely, isolated and disconnected.  Aside from the Lord, the only way that I can survive this is knowing that not one of them has my genetics, not one of them has my DNA, I did not create this brokenness.  That thought however, leaves me heartbroken for the families of the children where these issues are biological and generational.

My normal is chaos.  My normal is the unknown.  You do not know which dwarf it will be, or what the tipping point will be.  These situations can happen in an instant.  There is no warning, there is no preparation for it. You become a hostage to the situation, for the span of  3 minutes or three hours.

You can't get back any of that time.   Bitterness barks at your feet as you "fix" all the damage done to the physical items in your home.   Sadness lays on your heart as you recognize, but can't fix the damage that the other  children in your home suffer from as witnesses. You often cry because in your exhaustion, and frustration over the most recent issue, you inappropriately deal with another situation through that lens.  You become harsh, critical of others, you are often alone.   As you recognize the signs of stress in your other family members lives during your attempts to neutralize the aftermath you question what is the plan in all this.  Anger flares in your mind as outsiders assume that this is an isolated incident, or that some how your poor parenting skills, or lack of communication skills have gotten you to this place.  No child would act this way unprovoked.    You bite back retorts because, you don't want to paint your child as the monster that he or she really is. Society, is harsh and uneducated and unforgiving.    No one understands that these broken humans, play nice in society. They can and do often hold it together everywhere but home.   While there are beginning to be issues at school and in the community, they are still perceived by others as "normal" teens exhibiting "normal" teen behaviors and attitudes.

I know that our home is not alone in this struggle.  Special needs parenting goes on all over the world, in homes close to you. I venture to say behind closed doors.  I suppose that the point in being transparent in regards to latest struggle is to ask each of you who are reading this to pray for parents everywhere. Pray for your family members raising kids, for your neighbors, for your friends.  Wisdom, strength, direction for the easy fixes and the more challenging ones.   Praise God if you are fortunate enough to really just deal with "normal" age appropriate challenges.

If you are a family in the fire of parenting special needs kids, share your story, be transparent.  Only through this will others gain knowledge and insight to the truth and in many cases the severity of the situation.  In your transparency you will find encouragement and a network. Do not let your pride over ride you.  No one should journey this alone.

Offer aide.   It may not be much, but at the least be a friend.   Listen.   Offer to stop by for coffee.  Offer to bring coffee.  Most times these kids will not behave this way for others, so offer to take a child for ice cream, or to a movie, to the park.  In doing so you are providing a small break for a parent to breathe.  Pray about what you can do to minister to the parents or to the child.  It will become clear how you can assist.

Do not impose your opinions about how to parent.  (Trust me on this, if their child is over 5 years of age. they have already tried all means to get them to comply with "normal" behaviors. These kids are broken. They can not or will not do what they need to with consistency and regularity.    Remember the medicine example from earlier? For 11 years this dwarf has been on medication and the house rule is when eating breakfast you get and take your meds. Bashful has NEVER in 11 years missed breakfast, but every day, for 11 years, I have to remind him to take his medications.

Don't judge.  Until you have walked the path, come along side and witnessed the chaos and aftermath, do not judge.   Do not talk to us like we are making this stuff up.  Life is exhausting enough to have to try and convince you that we are dealing with a hot mess.  Trust us on this, support us and come along side to help find solutions. When you tell us how delightful the child is and how wonderful your interactions with them have been, remember that is the game.  They are master manipulators and first class actors and actresses. If they can break up a friendship or destroy a marriage, ruin a reputation, they feel that they have the upper hand and that they win. No one wins, but by the grace of God interceding in their lives hearts and minds. Which gives those parents in the trenches hope, and encourages us for one more day, minute or hour based on the current situation we find ourselves in.

By the way, who has that kind of time,  to Make this Stuff UP?

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Boy Who Cried Wolf

It is not an unknown, that the dwarfs in the land of Lingle, are not only special; but in addition are hormonal young adults, prone to make decisions based on what they want in the moment. Without the ability or the desire to follow the impulse through long term to make a logical conclusion about the end consequences in their mind, there are often moments of great stupidity uncovered long after the fact, allowing them to think that they have gotten away with something.

Daily we pray that their sins are found out, and thus far, the Lord has been good in honoring our heartfelt prayer, by revealing to the Prince and I in sometimes the funniest ways, their mistakes, lapses in judgement and down right poor choices.

Two weeks ago, I had to be out of the house for 6 hours of the day. Of course the Prince was at work, Doc, Sleepy and Dopey were all in PA and Sneezy was at work. Literally they were going to be going it alone for the first time in a long time. As I was preparing to leave I spoke to all the dwarf boys in the house, and gave clear instruction for the expectations of the day.  They were to do the lawn, pull brush of the back lot, have lunch and after lunch they could watch some television  if their chores from inside the house were completed.  I reminded them that this was a great opportunity to show that they were maturing and could be responsible. All entered into the day with great enthusiasm, with chorus's of  "We can do this mom." " Don't worry about us."   So out the door I go.

Well a lot of things happened that day.  But not much of it was good, trust building or edifying.  The dwarfs assumed they had gotten away with their antics. One issue was discovered that day and was dealt with, but the other bigger issue lingered for many days... Here is how we pieced it together.

Every Friday is lawn day. The Prince makes sure that the gas can in the garage is full so that the dwarfs have enough gas for both the mowers and the mix can be made for the trimmer and the leaf blower.  Half way through Friday's work session, the dwarfs were out of gas.  Literally out of gas. The can that had just been filled two days prior was bone dry.

See Dwarfs dance, see dwarfs lie, see dwarfs skirt around the reason that the gas can is empty and the lawn is not completely mowed...

- the can was not full
- it took all the gas in both the mowers because they were so empty

Here is the truth.  The day before, two of the dwarfs thought that taking two cars from the driveway out in the neighborhood for a joy ride was a grand plan.  When they got home and began to consider their actions, they panicked. Their total collective smarts and skills of deduction brought them to the conclusion that the owners of the cars would be tipped off to their one mile excursion when they looked at their gas gauges, so they figured they should replace the gas to the cars with the gas in the can for mowing.  Of course when the Prince started to question them, they fell like a house of cards since one dwarf is equipped with an automatic lie detector...his ears turn bright red when he lies.

Here is the funniest part of all this, Bashful, who never shuts up, ratted them out to Doc's finance.  He assumed since Bashful is always talking and trying to get others in trouble, that he was just making stuff  up. The finance did do a bit of diligence, asking Grumpy and Happy if they had been in the cars, to which they replied,  they moved them off the grass to mow, solidifying in his mind that Bashful was indeed just making this stuff up !

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Proverbs 26:11

"As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness."  

I must say, I love that we have lives filled with hope.  Without hope, we truly would be desperate. We would be a sad pathetic bunch of people that scurry throughout our days and for what?  At a basic level, we can hope for all sorts of things. We hope that the sun will come out after a particularly long cold rain.  We hope that our favorite sports team will win the championship game.  We hope that mom is not serving liver and onions for dinner.  We hope that our sick family member will feel better soon.  

As parents, I would venture to say that as we hope, we also pray as it pertains to our children.  We pray with hope that they will make wise decisions when they are not in our company.  We hope that they will take hold of the opportunities in life that they have before them, while we pray that they have the wisdom to see them as such.  We pray for their futures with hope of success for each at the level they can achieve.    

  1. 1.
    a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.
    "he looked through her belongings in the hope of coming across some information"

So knowing what the Bible says about the fool repeating his foolishness, in the manner of a dog returning to its own vomit, I still had hope for Grumpy.  Hope that in the midst of this thing called life, that he was growing and maturing and learning appropriate skills needed to be successful in life. ( Come on already, in less than two years the state will consider him an official adult.)   However, it has become clear that my idea of his success was mired by an excessive amount of hope.  

So here is the back story:  Grumpy has been working a part time job for about 3 months, and he has been moderately successful  (while he doesn't have the  best attitude about going to the job) he manags to be prepared for work, dressed appropriately (except the one day he wanted to go in his pj's because "no one else wears their uniform") being on time and according to his boss, he is doing a fine job.   While all he talks about are all the free lemons and pickles he can eat, and the free meal he gets after each shift, it seems that this position is a good fit for him currently.  When he grumbles about how much he dislikes being a dishwasher, we share with him the multitude of reasons why he must continue to work hard at bettering himself, increasing his academics, be considering a trade school or college, all so that he doesn't have to be a dishwasher for his entire life. Not that a good dishwasher is not a needed and necessary part of any restaurant, as we tell him, if this is what God has called him to, then he needs to be the best dishwasher there ever has been.
Now because there is a host of generational and emotional issues going on in Grumpy's life, he has a history of highs and lows.  When he is in a high, he is easy going, helpful, respectful and falls into the parameters of what a "normal healthy" 16 and half year old male should be.  Enjoys being active, playing sports and is motivated easily to do the right thing.
In a low however the mood is drastically different.  Most often in lows he is controlled by an unrealistic reality that he has created in his mind, and when living in that reality he is quick to anger or to be pushed to extreme foolishness or out bursts when he is held accountable to the "real" world in which he lives. In this reality (or escape from it) he believes that he is the sports figure on the x-box game he is playing, that the shows he is watching are normal portrayals of real life. (shows like COPS or Locked Up of Zoey 101.) In these times of lows he will be irrational if asked to do a simple task reasoning that he should not have to do his laundry because, "LeBrone James doesn't have to do his laundry, he has people for that."  It is a hard line for him to be able to distinguish fact from fiction and he is often confused when watching movies etc about the real people and the roles that they are playing, as he often considers that the role is a portrayal of their real life.

Additionally, because he has no true friends, only what we as the adults in his life would consider acquaintances, he is emotionally lazy, and lonely.  The adage, to have friends, one must be a friend is a concept that is beyond the scope of what he is able to comprehend on a good day.   When he has someone over to the house, he cares for himself first and thinks of their needs as secondary. He will get a huge glass of water for himself and then almost as an aside, offer to the friend. He will with no announcement or explanation, walk away from a basketball game in the driveway for a wardrobe change, or a wardrobe enhancement, a snack, or to grab his music while said visitor stands wondering where Grumpy went, what they should do; follow or stay behind... social conventions are lost on the boy.

Okay I know, I sure am taking the long way around this to get to the meat of the story right?
So with much prayer, and a healthy dose of hope that Grumpy was starting to "get it", we entered into a two week conversation and consideration of allowing Grumpy the privilege of a cell phone.  Now I do not mean, we as in the Prince and I would pay for it, put him on our plan, and just let him run with unlimited usage.  As with all the other dwarfs in the kingdom, the first phone you have is a trac phone, that you are either gifted (holiday or birthday) or you purchase yourself, and then as the owner of the phone you are responsible for the purchase of the minutes, tracking the time and making sure that you are able to keep up the contract without voids in the service, hence showing yourself to be responsible for paying for a contracted service.  Additionally your phone, while you are the owner, is subject to frequent checks as we as the parentals determine if you are socially responsible enough to make good choices with said electronic device.

Now any of you that know Grumpy's past know that he is not a fan of accountability.  And when he wants something, he pretty much finds any crack or breach in the contract that will grant him access to what he wants.  He has in the past had opportunities with ipods and computers to use them with stringent parameters only to access other peoples electronics to look at and access questionable sites and engage in risky behaviors that could/would/should be considered cyber stalking and or bullying.  He has also gone as far as to purchase stolen electronics, only after a failed attempt to steal a phone for said selfish purposes.  Again, with much much conversation through out all these trials, and with many follow up conversations, removal of privileges and gains in other areas of his life, the Prince and I entered into this world of cell phone ownership with trepidation, and as I stated before a large dose of hope.

We even went as far as to write up a contract with him, to ensure that he would only add females to his phone that were his sisters, or myself.  That there would be no access to Facebook, twitter, or Instagram.  No usage of the phone while upstairs in the house, in his bedroom or in the bathroom.  No usage of the phone prior to noon during the week except in the am to check his text messages, as we have a no electronics or television until noon rule in affect in the summer.

So Tuesday July 7th, the Prince and Grumpy go to the Walmart to make their purchase.  He comes home and is super excited.  The novelty of a phone that is his very own, not stolen, not purchased without parents knowledge is a freeing experience for Grumpy.  He is able to use it out in the open, share videos with his siblings, text his friends and set up his devise with wallpapers, and notification sounds, all things that were the desires of his heart.  Life is good for about 3 days, and as I am the monitor of all things electronic, I start noticing a few little issues on the phone.  Calls to numbers that are not in his contact base, which I am assuming are girls numbers.  I just went through and deleted the numbers and the history of these from the phone.  His google searches were fine, there were a few items I questioned him on, however for the most part I was still filled with the hope that with gentle reminders, the consistent accountability of monitoring the devise that we would be able to make this work.  For the record,  I really did want this to work for Grumpy!   I wanted in my heart for him to have the things he desired, and to be able to use them appropriately and to enjoy the blessing of technology and all it has to offer.

I began to notice a shift in his disposition about four days ago, and I started to watch him even more carefully with the phone.  He was drawn to it like an addict.  When it was on the charger in my room, he would sneak in to it and begin using it. When he disappeared after work on Sunday to "go for a walk and listen to music" without seeking permission and then being bent that we would not trust him to do that, (that which he has NEVER done before) go off alone... my suspicions that I was missing something became stronger.    I again accessed the phone records, this time to see threads of text messages interrupted and prior conversations that were on record having been deleted.

So yesterday afternoon, I logged on to his gmail account only to find out that in a little more than a week's time he was able to have 161,000+ google circle chats and was following over 569 people/places or things on google.   Now I will admit, this circle thing is foreign to me.  It is confusing.  But after about two hours of noodling and wading through it (with my hope fading fast) I was able to determine the following about Grumpy and his ability to make wise choices.

1) my hope was overly enthusiastic.
2) and as with a dog that always returns to its own vomit, Grumpy was unable to step away from the lure and sin of electronics and the alternative reality it creates, to enjoy the blessing of the technology afforded to him.

It is a very sad commentary on his life. In his mind all these greats and not so greats were his friends.  They were doing what he longed for, communicating with him, and he did not have to make any effort in the "relationship" aside from moving his fingers to tap out a message on a screen.   The synopsis of the types of circles that he had pushed his way into were either stars and professional athletes of whom were in his homeboy or family circle, or beautiful half dressed women in his love circle.    When initially confronted about this extreme increase in his number of following circles, we did not know the number of chats, nor could I find the content of the chats so he was able to do a little back peddling with the Prince, and explain his way out of the mess by claiming ignorance of how it all worked.  I believe the Prince also shared my hope that we could still get Grumpy to understand if we explained it well enough, or discussed the risks of this type of behavior.

Another 30 minutes of my time, and he was no longer able to dance out of any of the circle's as I found out how to read his comments and threads of comments.  Shocking for him, as initially he tried to claim that he did not say or make those comments on these circles.  The best I can figure is that he started following on a whim.  Waited for me to censor his actions and when I did not he built up his courage to begin chatting with these people from France, United Kingdom, the Netherlands...  so I began doing what any good mom would do.  I started deleting these contacts.  100's of them.  Because somewhere I still had the hope that if I "fixed" this, then we could start again.

While I am exterminating his friend circles, I notice that curiously those that it would be appropriate for him to interact with, he did not.  Not one note to a sibling or a friend from school or church.  Yet as I am listening to him and the Prince talk about this breach, he did not understand that all those people could also see his circles of strangers and his inappropriate communications with them.   As the Prince is sitting and talking to Grumpy about how this behavior is like that of an addict, and that it makes him seem desperate and makes him vulnerable, I begin to find chats where he was giving out his phone number, asking repeated times for people to chat with him, to call him, did they like him, because he thinks they are hot.... oh the list of social improprieties was vast!  Yet as I got to the deletion of about 246 of these so called "friends", a strange phenomenon began to occur.   These strangers, from other countries, began re adding him to their circles.  The world is full of Grumpys.  Socially unstable, unrealistic in their views of friends and relationships, that once their following drops by just 1 friend, they are seeking them out to restore the "relationship".

That was the straw that broke my hope.  I deleted the whole dang google account.  The prince took the phone.  For how long I can't say.  I do not care that this may be a very expensive lesson for him to learn, I in my heart I now believe that it will not make a dent in his deluded reality.  As with the fool who returns to his foolish ways, Grumpy is wired in a way that the line between fantasy and reality is so slim, that in no time they blur.  As I listened to him talk to the Prince, he could not understand for the life of him the magnitude of over 161,000 chats in 8 days.  That is an average of 20,000 chats a day... granted we are not talking about inspired literary responses, some were just a "k" or "lol" but none the less his fingers should be cramped for weeks based upon the sheer volume of chats.

I find that in the midst of parenting these special dwarfs, I need to remember that none of this is a surprise to God.  He has Grumpy right where he wants him.  I can only imagine the mess that he would be had he not spent the last 9 years with people that only seek to help him be successful.  Will the Prince and I ever see the benefits of the years spent in consistent parenting?  Probably not.  However none of this is about me.  This is his story, one that I have to trust to the Lord in the details of, as he loves Grumpy far more than I can even imagine.

Again, there is a hope each day, that for him success is in his reach, and today may be the day that he reaches for it, captures it and calls it his own.  He just will not be able to text anyone about his greatness or post it on social media!

You Can't Make this Stuff Up!


Saturday, July 4, 2015

Ahoy, Matey!

So, here is a story about a dwarf that has had little coverage in my blogging history,  Dopey.  Aside from the occasional retelling of his tales of large feet and moments of complete "accidental" tomfoolery... he is a dwarf that flies under the radar.

Many months ago, the Prince received an email from our internet provider indicating that there was some questionable activity taking place on our account.  It was not specific, it was in no way enlightening as to what the "questionable" activity was. So the prince talked with all the kids and asked them not to download music, or movies or other items that they did not purchase.   All agreed.  A month later another note to the inbox.  This time it was clear whom to talk directly to, Dopey.

The Prince and Dopey had a long chat about the fact that downloading items, like his favorite movies, from sites that he "thinks" are safe is not a good idea.  If he wants movies then he should consider saving his money and purchasing them at the store.  Dopey indicated that he understood and would stop downloading movies from the internet.

Flash forward to this past Tuesday.  One by one, those in our kingdom, begin attempting to log on to the internet for various reasons through out the day, only to be given an error message:

Due to an account- related matter, your ability to browse the internet has been temporarily disabled. 

Since Doc needed the internet, to do some job related work, and she began the process of restoring our service.  After entering the correct access information, she was presented with a video to watch about copyright infringement, with a question and answer time at the end of the video.  In all her wisdom, Doc forced Dopey to watch the entire video from start to finish.

It seems the video may have been able to convey what the Prince was unable to do.  Project the severity of pirating movies from the internet.   Phrases like your records will not be released to the FBI without them attempting to warn you, the consumer first.  Penalty for pirating movies could include but are not limited to, suspension of services, slower internet speeds, fines, and imprisonment.   Well those things, all made Dopey sit up and take notice.   ( Yes, I know that I have said this before... that Dopey gets it)  Time will tell.  

The Prince however did institute a rule... for the next 30 days, Dopey has to start every sentence with Ahoy, Matey... and end each one with Arg!   This is the reminder that pirating movies off the internet is not acceptable EVER!  Maybe this time it will stick!

You really can't make this stuff up!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

As We Look to Repeat

This morning while I was sitting in the quiet (and quite hot) silence of my lanai, pondering my morning devotions, working on some projects and preparing my to do list for the day, I happened upon a recently posted video from a time in our lives that we are looking to soon repeat.

I was stilled as I began to watch the video, that was full of hope for me as the momma of not one graduate, but also as I prepare to repeat this choice for another of my boys. I loved to see the grown men sharing about their time as adolescents at camp. I took great joy in the fact that they had been able to look back and share the good that they received from their experiences.   Imagine my surprise, when I heard my own voice on the video.  (It had been well over a year since I had been taped by this organization, and frankly had assumed that my portion had hit the editing room floor.) But as my words were being said, my current situation is again mirrored with another of our boys.  

Grumpy's youngest brother Bashful, is about to embark on this same journey (although in a different state and a camp with a different name) the feelings and the anxieties are the same for me, the momma.  It is one of the hardest things to do. Send your child to live a life away from you.  To trust that they will be cared for and loved in the same manner that you love and care for them.  To be able to see past the immediate of exhaustion and frustration and selfishness and trust that it will all be worth it in the end.  Is Grumpy fixed?  No.  Will Bashful be fixed?  No.  However, the things that they learn at camp, the experiences they share and work through in life away from our home help growth and healing to begin.  Let me be real for a moment.  The benefit to having the difficult, troubled, trying child/young adult being out of your home, especially after a prolonged journey to the pit of despair, is almost one of relief.  But healing is needed on all fronts.  Not just for the child that is hurting, but for the family unit that has had to deal with all that comes from their brokenness; explosive anger, and hurtful words and situations.  It takes time for all parties to get to a place where they desire to spend time together again as a unit.  Healing does and will happen. When I look back on where Grumpy was 5 years ago til now, the change is significant.  In the light of watching Bashful head down the same road the differences at times are glaringly obvious.  The similarities also glaringly obvious.  The end result still unknown. Hence hope.

I do not know the men in the video.  Grumpy is still many, many years away from being a fully grown man, but yet still I can see the hope for him.  The opportunities that are available to him because we did the hard thing, and sent him to camp, are limitless.  The changes in him are many.  While the day to day often blinds me to the progress that he has made, in these still small moments I am able to see and take stock of what they look like.  Today I rejoiced in them.  

As I wait on the opening in the sister camp here in Florida for a spot for Bashful, I can again relate to the feelings and emotions of being at the end of my abilities to provide emotional, physical and spiritual help for my son. Knowing that they are each created differently, yet so much the same, the only thing that I can hold on to is the hope that comes from watching this video, and the reminder of how far Grumpy really has come.

Now as we prepare to repeat the camp experience it is our prayer that as in the past, we will soon begin the healing, growth, and maturing process that we have seen beneficial in the past; in the life of yet another of our boys so desperate for help.   Join us in praying for a spot to open  soon (they are saying it will be fall) and for grace and unconditional love along this bumpy road of waiting.

While this is not a situation you ever think you will find yourself in as a parent, I am so grateful for the men that serve these boys, selflessly, graciously, pursuing them relentlessly as they hold them accountable to standards that will grow them into men that can love and serve their families and communities some day.... You really can't make this stuff up.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A trip to the dentist for Bashful

There are many many issues that Bashful struggles with... and when confronted with these issues,  he always says that he "can do" the required item, he just chooses not too... understand no amount of prompting or redirecting has thus far changed his mind about how he should handle his dental health (or any of his other struggles).

The process that got us to this place has been a slow and painful process.  Painful, in that every day sometimes three or more times a day, even at the age of 12,  I send Bashful back to the bathroom to re-brush his teeth.  Most times I watch him stand in the bathroom, in front of the mirror with a wet toothbrush, tap in on the sink counter, and dance a little and replace it, with the brush never going into his mouth.  On other times he has been observed, putting tooth paste on the brush, running the brush under the water (which is turned on so high) that the paste is blown off the brush into the bottom of the sink, and he places the empty brush in his mouth, and chews it and removes it.  Additionally there have been times when the brushing has been a straight in and out, on one side or on the top only, rarely in the front of his mouth, never on his tongue.

As with all our dwarfs, we set the course for good oral hygiene by setting a good example. (the Prince and I combined probably brush 5 or more times a day.) By doing it for the dwarfs when they were small, by shadowing them as they grew into toddlers, encouraging them through electric toothbrushes, fancy colorful and flavor filled kids toothpaste options covered in cartoon characters and bright colors, and we have purchased gallons and gallons of fast acting, mint tasting, plaque identifying rinse agents. Feel free to relive the fun oral hygenie story posted many years ago to understand how long we have been working on these type of issues.

However with all the tools he needs for the job, and all the redirection, teeth checks, and regular dentist visits, he has earned the affectionate name of "dog breath" here in the Kingdom, and has been directed on more than one occasions, randomly in the middle of the day to go brush away the funk... our motto is this:

"Brushing your teeth each morning is your gift 
to all that you are going to come in contact with today." 

A year ago, before the move, we had all the dwarfs go to our family dentist.  Everyone checked out just fine!   About four months ago, I noticed that Bashful had some additional "fangs" growing in his mouth over his already in place adult teeth. So, I started working on finding a dentist here in Florida that accepted our insurance, dealt with special needs, and had some good ratings as providers.  I called and had to wait many weeks for the appointment... and the day arrived finally.

X-rays are done and we sit in the chair. The hygienist "T" Bibs him up, tips back the chair and so begins the fun.  Literally she is not even putting pressure on his gums to brush them and they start to bleed.  As a casual observer from the corner, I can see that this is going to only get worse as she is just at the bottom rear of the first side of his mouth.  (for the record this dwarf has an incredible tolerance for pain, and a pride-fulness that never allows for him to admit pain or defeat) As T continues to work her magic cleaning his teeth, the blood is flowing freely, and they are having to clean out his mouth often as to keep a clear image of the teeth and the process of cleaning them.  Yet the dwarf has yet to flinch even once. I on the other hand am averting my eyes and feeling a bit squeamish. 

T gets the job done, and completes his final rinse... how she did it without a flinch or a raised eyeball is beyond me!  I am not sure if she was judging me as a parent, but I let her know in the beginning, (as I smiled brightly for her to see my dental hygiene routine was stellar) that Bashful was special, and that we are aware that his mouth has a lot of  potential problems, most concerning was the new arrival of the "fangs".

So we get his new toothbrush and toothpaste and floss and wait for the dentist to arrive...

What a delightful woman she is !  She scrubs up and settles in to take a look at the dwarf's mouth - she is reviewing the x-rays and matching up the mouth to the films... calling out the teeth by number and then adding the details of what needs to happen at each one if anything.  The progression is shocking as the mom, 9 cavities in total need drilled and filled, 2 of which will most likely need root canals because of the extent of the decay, and two removals (the fangs) as well as a diagnosis of gum disease.    Did I mention we are not discussing a 50 year old, but a 12 year old boy?

As the dentist begins to talk to me about the issues. I kindly stop her and instruct her to speak directly to the dwarf in the chair.   While I can see that one would assume that the parents are some how at fault or are ignorant of good oral hygiene, the words she was saying as the professional, but not the mom, are words that I say everyday, to him, sometimes multiple times a day which fall on deaf ears, cause significant attitudes, and often times complete meltdowns. Many times a week I hear his response to which is always the same.  " I don't want to brush, it is stupid.  I do not care if my teeth rot and fall out because I will buy new ones."    So I manage to redirect her, by also encouraging her that perhaps hearing it from Dentist, since I sound like Charlie Brown's teacher to him, would make this seem more serious, more pressing. 

To her credit she did a good job of discussing the seriousness of the situation with him.  He perhaps still did not get what she was saying until she told him that for a few weeks she would like his parents to oversee his brushing and flossing and that if we thought it was beneficial for him, that we should just brush and floss his teeth for him.  (that did not sit well with Mr I Can !!)  He wanted to make excuses of course and also asked if he could have braces to straighten his teeth, to which she indicated that no one would take the risk of putting braces in his mouth since most of his mouth was rotting.  (that was a good shock tactic)  Perhaps the final conversation that got his attention was this one:

Dentist: " Do you still think that girls have cooties?"
Bashful: "No."
Dentist: " I see, so you are starting to see that girls are cute and have nice smiles right?"
Bashful: "Yup."
Dentist: "So the smile is one of the first things you see about someone and it makes a big impact on others... when they see your smile they see gum disease and rotting teeth."
Bashful: "Fine I will stop smiling."
Mom: " I think what the Dentist is saying Bashful, is that when you are able to go on your first date you have to sit at the table and watch her enjoy steak while you sip on soup."
Dentist: " While I have never heard a mom be so blunt, she has a point."
Bashful: " Why can't I have the steak?"
Dentist:  "Because if you do not change the way you care for your teeth now, you will either have nothing left in your mouth but your gums, and you can't gum a steak and get it to your belly easily, OR you will have to spend all your money on new teeth, and you can only afford for one of you to eat the steak."

So Bashful has a summer of oral surgeries and procedures in front of him.  None of these will be pleasant and while he is a bit freaked out about the root canals and why he can not be put to sleep for them, we indicated that each and every day that he has fought us on proper tooth brushing procedures, refused to do what he is instructed  and to do it the right way, he was laying the ground work for this visit to the dentist.  This visit today was all about consequences that he has brought on himself.   He really should be grateful that we do not require him to get a job to pay for all this dental work!! I think a little discomfort and a couple root canals is more than fair consequences for years defiance, meltdowns, mouthing off and refusal to do one simple hygiene item...

You really can't make this stuff up.... but I am guessing that Bashful wishes that perhaps some of this was an exaggeration.... but it's not! 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

"Your Momma..."

 I know many of you will read this post and will be thinking that Bashful was framed.  He is innocent.... well here is how the story goes, you determine which side of the story you land on at the end of it all.

At 11 AM yesterday my phone rings from the middle school number and I am greeted by the principle's voice on the other end.  "Mrs. Lingle, do you have a moment?"  Well of course I do.  He proceeds to tell me that Bashful is in his office, and that he has been involved in a fight and that he threw the first punch.  "Did I understand that the school has no tolerance for such behavior and that his (the dwarf's punishment) will be three day's out of school suspension." My response is really not one of more than our working out the details of the time off.  As  I wait for Basful to arrive home to tell his side of the story I vacillate between irritation and anger, however not knowing the whole story I try to keep my temper under control. 

As a side note, I think that out of school suspensions are just a big pain in the bum for the parents.  I can't imagine what working parents do... or how other parents deal with three days of "entertaining" their suspended children.  According to Bashful they get to sleep in late and play video games.  At our house an out of school suspension causes much work for the momma, because I refuse to allow the dwarfs to sit and do nothing. There is no sleeping in, no video games...   This is a consequence, and an interruption of my regularly scheduled day, so as the suspended dwarf, you will not be experiencing a vacation.   We have organized PE for 45 minutes, a writing assignment (on the first day it is typically a round of apology letters to the staff and students that had their day interrupted by the shenanigans that sent you to OSS ), math, as well as a list of chores created to suit the "crime".  But I digress... back to the story.

At first Bashful had a mouth full of attitude and sass as he began to tell his tale. I stopped him, and implored of him to lose his attitude, and to consider that a large amount of attitude and sass from him, in the manner that he relayed the story to the Prince and I, would only increase our irritation with him, and cause us to the "throw the book"  at him in regards to his punishment.  At this statement, his eyes got big, and he paused, shaking his head, and asked ..."Why are you going to throw a book at me."  If you do not find the humor in this exchange please refer back to my previous post about life with concrete thinkers!

So it unfolds; as Bashful was working with his reading partner, the class thug reportedly came up to him, and started posturing and trying to interrupt the work that the boys were doing,  All of which Bashful was able to look over and ignore, until in Bashful's words... "He then leaned into my face and said, Your momma is a big fat whale." " Mom, you know I don't play like that, nobody is gonna talk about my momma like that!"    Well there is a shock!  He talks about his momma that way.  However "game on" if someone else repeats what he says. So he stood up and swung, the other boy and he landed on the floor rolling around, and not only was the sheriff called to the room, but the class was disrupted, both boys got suspended and Bashful got rug burn on his arm as a souvenir.   

Now the Prince and I have some conflicting responses on what we would have liked Bashful to do in this situation.  I wish he would have just gotten up and walked back to his seat up front by the teacher so that the thug would stop bugging him.  The Prince's unofficial statement on the situation is stand up for yourself, and if you throw a punch, make it count. Especially if you are going to get three days of out of school suspension. 

I still find it laughable that a dwarf that spends the majority of his day disrespecting his momma, would stand up and get into  a fist fight to defend my honor.   I suppose there is still hope for our relationship!

You really can't make this stuff up!  And to prove it, today during his math lesson I asked him what number was in the middle of number 100 - to which he replied a zero!!  still chuckling here!