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! 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Has it been 11 years?

It is amazing how fast time flies.  Eleven years ago the Prince and I embarked on a journey.  One that we knew we were called to, one that we knew would be a challenge. At the time we began the the journey did I have the ability or knowledge of so many unseen factors, nor the understanding that this may not end as a "happily ever after story".  I would say sincerely no.  I am not sure what I thought would happen as we progressed in this journey and the children started to age, and this post does not address those deep issues.....

However, as we have begun to meet folks here in our new home state, I have heard more times than I care to count these words and phrases:

" Wow, you must be amazing people."
" Your rewards in heaven will be great!"
"Those kids you rescued must be so grateful."    
" I would guess that your adopted kids are so grateful to be in such a wonderful home." 

While I am sure that these words  are intended to encourage us, or they are platitudes said because silence would be awkward, I would like to just comment from the heart about the above statements:

The prince and I are not "amazing" people.  We followed the calling of the Lord in our lives.  The amazing part is that in our sinful selfishness, we were able for the moment, see past ourselves, and focus on the clear direction of the Lord in regards to what He was calling us to do.   Yes, our rewards in heaven will be great, but not because of the fact that we adopted four special needs kids, but because we love Him, and it is our honor to serve Him.  That in times of goodness and in times of struggles we praise Him for the gift and for the trial.  We trust Him for our needs, and with our children's future, all 7 of them.

For the record, we did not rescue anyone.  If the truth is to be told, they have rescued us from a life filled with short sightedness, narrow mindedness and of being judgmental of others.  Because of them, and their uniqueness (sometimes I do call their uniqueness, their issues...) we have become more well rounded and tolerant of others, of who's stories we do not know just by glancing at them in passing.  In the midst of the hard things in life, we recognize that there is no way to know what is behind the "moment" in time that we are witnessing.  When your 12 year old pulls down his shorts in the store to show you that he is wearing the same underwear as that on display, I know that all who witnesses that scene were judging me, my parenting skills and the fact that my dwarf "looks normal".  However because of moments in time such as these, I am able to smile at the mom that is stressing over a situation with a "normal" looking kid, and not stare or be judgmental.  The only words that would come forth from my lips in that time, and only if it were appropriate, would be offer assistance or encouragement, as all to well I know the feeling of being judged wrongly based on a snap shot of time. 

Grateful by definition is feeling or showing appreciation.  In making a statement like the above mentioned, one would be assuming that my children are able to understand, comprehend and on some level have the emotional and intellectual abilities to be grateful.  I am sure on a basic level that they are thrilled to have a full pantry, indoor plumbing, electricity, comfortable beds and other niceties of a home as we know it, but the fact that many forget about,  is that these items to them are just expected because "everyone else" has them. They also think that when they grow up will be drafted to professional sports teams upon turning 18, that they can save their allowance and buy and drive expensive foreign cars, that the Lord has made a mistake in creating them and they are the wrong ethnicity, that they have no problems with math (even when they add 1/2 a cup of baking soda to a recipe instead of 1/2 a teaspoon), that they completely have a grasp on their finances, even when they turn over their entire wallet to pay for a purchase.  What additionally, they are unable in their minds to comprehend, is that they did not constantly have basic survival items prior to their coming to live in our home(running water, electricity, full fridge or pantry)  nor did they have any hopes of getting them or maintaining them during their existence prior to our home.  Yet at the same time,  they have an unrealistic remembrance of what their life was like prior to life in the kingdom.   A life where they ate grass because they were tied to a tree for the day and were hungry, or where the water was shut off and they drank ketchup when they were thirsty, or that when they were removed from their home the only thing in the fridge was a jar of salsa.    They live their current lives steeped in what they knew the first years of their lives, which was not so luxurious despite what they have been living in and with consistently for so many years.  They have an innate fear that this (the kingdom) is not real, even after 11 years that it will some day disappear.  (Side bar; as their ages creep closer and closer to 18 it is becoming obvious to the Prince and I that it may disappear for some of them as they are failing to grasp the tools we have been imparting to them for success outside our home.) 

Is our home wonderful?  We think so.  However not because of the list of stuff that is inside it, or the access to technology, or the full fridge, or any other specific "item" you could list.  Our home is wonderful because inside these four walls, one can grow, succeed, fail, mature, learn, and achieve while being protected, championed for, instructed and loved unconditionally.  Do any of us deserve unconditional love, NO!  However it is not about what we deserve, it is about modeling this in all situations so that the dwarfs can see the love of Christ.  So they can understand what it means to be committed to something greater than one's self, selfishness is what was modeled for them in their early years, and is hard wired into who they are now by extension.   However, what makes it wonderful in our eyes, makes it not so wonderful in their eyes, as accountability, the bar of responsibility, the anxiety of kind living, interacting with others, showing the love you are granted in return makes them extremely uncomfortable, and causes them to respond in the opposite manner you would expect.  Anger, frustration, tantrums, emotional shut downs, extreme blow ups, regressive behaviors, are exhibited by one or more dwarfs on a daily basis.  These extreme behaviors are rooted in a deep recess of their mind, one that they are unable or unwilling to let go of. 

In writing this post, it is my intention that when you hear a story similar to ours, that you give some deeper consideration in responding.  Sometimes silence is golden.  A smile or a handshake or hug and a simple Thank you can go a long way.   Sometimes if you know the person and or family in a more familiar way, the communication will be simple and clear.  For those that you meet, and you are hearing the story for the first time, perhaps consider other ways to phrase similar sentiments...

" Wow, you must be amazing people."  " I am amazed by what you have done." Or "I admire what you have chosen to do."

" Your rewards in heaven will be great!"  " I am sure this is more difficult than you imagined at times, but praise the Lord as it seems He has equipped you well for this journey,"

"Those kids you rescued must be so grateful."  " I would guess that your adopted kids are so grateful to be in such a wonderful home."   " I would guess that it is hard for kids to express their appreciation or even have an understanding of what you have done/provided for them, but I hope that someday they are able to understand and express gratefulness." 

I do know that those we are meeting, really are just trying to find a way to connect with us. I also recognize that most people now days do not have large families, and that fact alone makes people a bit uncomfortable.  But when they find out the large number of children was a purposeful and intentional act, then folks start feeling a bit off.   I can't say why, I have just seen it happen.  In a conversation that starts simply enough with, "Oh, how many kids do you have?" or "Is this your only daughter/son?"  there is a subtle shift in their eyes when the hear that we have 7 children, or we have 4 boys and 3 girls.

Look from what I hear, (again another often quoted phrase given to me as encouragement after hearing their ages) "You're in the home stretch now!"   Yes, if only that were so.  One is getting married, and one is graduating this year, and three will be in college next year.... but there is a lot of living and life to be done with a 12 year old who is mentally 8, and a 17 year old that learns on a 2nd grade learning level, or with a 16 year old that is just doing the bare minimum, because at 18 he becomes a famous sports figure.... Chances that I will ever be an empty nest-er are slim to none.    But I just smile and nod....

You really can't make this stuff up, but know that I can retell the tales of life with a large family, so that everyone we know and love can get a snap shot of life in the Kingdom.