Posts tagged lessons

Car woes

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Well. My car’s done. I was driving on the Interstate near Knoxville when my oil light started flickering. Since it was just flickering, my dumb ass thought I would be able to make it home so I could put more oil in it there. But then, my car started making a clicking noise and then the oil light came on and stayed on. I was on the phone with my brother who told me to pull over immediately. I didn’t want to pull over on the shoulder of the Interstate; I wanted to make it to the next exit. However, right at that time, I heard a bunch of clanking noises coming from under the hood and noticed a bad smell right as my engine shut off as I was still driving. I immediately put my car in neutral and since I wasn’t in the far left lane and I wasn’t speeding, I was able to coast over to the shoulder without getting hit.

Have you ever pulled onto the shoulder of a busy Interstate? It’s nerve-wracking! People were flying past me, and my car rocked and swayed with each passing vehicle. I told my brother I was feeling really uncomfortable, so he looked up the number for TDoT (Tennessee Department of Transportation) so I could call them to see if they could at least park a truck behind me. As I was on the phone with him, I was nearly hit by two separate idiots. Both vehicles crossed over the white line and the rumble strip and missed me by inches. Let me tell you, my heart dropped into my stomach because I could see them coming right at me in my rear view mirror, and I had John in the car with me.

Right after that, after I had only been sitting there a couple of minutes and before I had a chance to call, a TDoT truck pulled up behind me. I was so thankful because he used his truck to push my car to a safer area where I was less likely to be hit. I called my husband who came down to help until the tow truck arrived. Once we got my car home, Paul checked out my car and said that it looked like the valve cover gasket blew and there was oil on my spark plugs. And my engine is definitely locked up; it wouldn’t budge when he tried to manually turn it over.

So it looks like I’m going to have to get another car. Which would have been great had it been a couple years from now. Bad timing right now with a new baby and a new house, but such is life, right? At least we don’t live out in the middle of nowhere any more. And maybe in a few months, I’ll find a nice little car that’s not expensive. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

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Getting back into the routine of things

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We’ve finally been getting back into the routine we used to have during the week. I’ve started going back to the gym (which is awesome. I’m so glad I worked out throughout my pregnancy because getting back into it is a cinch!) and now we’ve also resumed bible study. After starting back at the gym last week, we’ve already seen a change in Nathan’s behavior. Bringing home a new baby and then moving to a new house is a lot to ask of a four-year-old, so its no surprise he was getting an attitude with us.

He really missed going to the gym. So much so that the first two days back, trying to get him to leave when it was time to go home was like pulling teeth! He would scream, shout, tell me no, run away from me… I told him that we WILL be coming back and he doesn’t have to be afraid that we won’t. Poor fellow loves being there. After that, I had a long talk with him about how that kind of behavior is unacceptable. I explained to him that in order for me to keep bringing him back, I have to trust that he will behave himself and leave with me when it’s time to go. Apparently, my talk worked! So far so good, because now when I go pick him up, he shouts, “MOMMY! HI, MOMMY!” and he will come racing over to me and envelop me in one of his amazing bear hugs.

This week, our church has been doing Vacation Bible Study. Up until this point, he hasn’t been because of his sensory processing issues. When he’s somewhere that’s too loud, too bright, too busy, too many people, etc., his brain goes into sensory overload and he ends up having a meltdown. By meltdown, I don’t mean a temper tantrum. Those are two totally different things. A tantrum is used to manipulate an adult to get his way; a meltdown, however, is a complete and total loss of control. So at any rate, his meltdowns have gotten a lot better as he’s gotten older, so we went ahead and let him to go VBS.

One of my sweet friends is head of the Christian Education Department at our church, and she knows about Nathan’s needs. She put Nathan in a group with an adult who works VERY well with him because she just so happens to be quite familiar with children and sensory issues. He’s still hard for her to control, but she is so patient with him and can actually foresee a problem before they happen. For example, she anticipates he’ll go into sensory overload when he’s around other loud, boisterous children, so she’ll make sure to sit between him and the other child. I can tell when I go pick him up that he’s definitely overloaded, however. He starts screaming and running around the church, plowing into anyone and everything in his path. So for the last two remaining nights (tonight and tomorrow night) I’ll be picking him up 30 minutes early to hopefully help with that.

My sweet Nathan. We’ll get this under control sooner or later. It will definitely make his life so much easier once he can figure out how to control it.

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Positive reinforcement- our secret gem

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So as you guys already know, I started going to a gym that has childcare. The one I go to is great, and the ladies that run the childcare center are wonderful. However, it’s only considered a casual childcare center- it’s not an accredited daycare center. They don’t do snacks, change diapers, or anything like that. And there is a two-hour time limit. But I’m super happy just to have the option!

The childcare at the gym is great to have, but it’s a little zoo-ish and a bit of a free-for-all. There is no structure, which is something Nathan really needs.  The other kids get really wild, which Nathan can’t handle. Don’t get me wrong, the workers try. They really do. But since it’s a casual childcare center, they’re not trained to handle kids like mine.

So we’re working on lots of positive reinforcement. I am innundating Nathan with positivity. Its important to catch him doing something right. But when he acts up, he gets only one warning, and then I discipline him. I’m not going to give him chance after chance to behave. Why, you ask? Because that’s not real life. And because respects me when I give him boundaries and limits and I STICK to them.

As for the childcare at the gym, I’m using a coupon system. You see, the workers had lost control of him. When they try to put him in timeout, he fights. I mean, tooth and nail. Complete with scratching, kicking, hitting, the works. Once he reaches that point, they have to let him go and not force it since he could hurt himself or them. Unfortunately, to Nathan it meant that all he had to do was fight like hell and then he could get out of trouble. It’s not like that with me, though; I’m Mother. I don’t care if it takes me an hour to get him to stay in timeout for three consecutive minutes. Fighting me never, ever gets him out of a consequence. I have never, not one time, given in. Never. He can’t get out of discipline with me. But he knows he can with others. Hence, the coupon system.

So Nathan and I will draw a picture of a special treat (ice cream, popsicle, etc.) of something he doesn’t get often, and we call it his coupon. We hand it over to the workers when we arrive, so Nathan has a visual of the workers being in control of whether or not he receives his coupon when he leaves. And then if he behaves, they give him the coupon and he redeems the coupon for his treat when we get home. However, if he doesn’t behave, we wave bye-bye to the coupon and leave it there for next time.

There has been only one time I’ve had to veto the coupon they gave him. There were about 15 screaming kids running around in there, and Nathan lost control. He started pushing and kicking and screaming, thrashed and crashed and lost control. He fought the workers when they attempted to put him in timeout, so they had to come get me. After I disciplined him, I had to take my shower. While I was gone, Nathan pulled the fire alarm (WHY do they have those damn things within children’s reaches in the nursery anyway??) The building had to be evacuated, the fire department came, the whole kit-n-caboodle.

Let me preface what I’m about to say with the ladies who work there are wonderful women. They have huge hearts and genuinely like the kids, especially mine. They dote on him, and there is one lady in particular who tries to spend as much on-on-one time with him as she can when he’s there- because she’s noticed he does better when she does. And she told me she just loves how precious, sweet, and kind he is. So anyway, this particular worker (I’ll call her A) said although Nathan was quite naughty, he still deserved his coupon because he tried to be good… A told me it wasn’t his fault the other kids were too rowdy, causing him to become overstimulated. She said she could tell he tried so hard to be good, but it was just too loud and too rowdy in there, and he lost control. So she handed him the coupon and said he did a good job trying to be good.

I thought long and hard about that as Nathan and I drove home, and I made the executive decision as his mother to veto the coupon. I understand what A meant, I really do. And I do agree with her. He really DOES try, and it’s not his fault that he has sensory issues. However, trying won’t get you shit in real life. You can try not to be late for work, but your boss won’t give a damn. You can try to turn in a work project on time, but that won’t matter if you miss your deadline. Trying doesn’t mean squat in real life, only what you actually do.

So I vetoed the coupon. Nathan was gloriously angry about it and had a monstrous meltdown, but I stood my ground. We as a society have to remember that we’re not raising children; we’re raising adults. Yes it would have made me feel good in the moment, short term, to give him his coupon and make him happy. But it would have been self-centered of me because I would be thinking of how it made me feel rather than teaching him an important lesson. It would have hurt him in the long run and not taught him anything. Because even though it’s not his fault, per se, that other kids’ rowdiness overstimulates him, as his mother it’s my job to teach him that his behavior was unacceptable. It’s my job to teach him what behaviors are and are not appropriate.

The only way he can learn that is if I teach him. And I don’t want my child to be like this entitled generation of kids we have on our hands now whose only thoughts are me, me, me! I want him to be responsible, successful, and self sufficient.

But you know what? After that incident, he has earned every single one of his coupons thereafter. And the last few days, he has been SPECTACULAR. As in, zero incidents! The workers told me his behavior has been PERFECT. He’s been so kind to everyone, including the other children. He’s been doling out hugs and affection, and today I was told that when he saw a little girl crying, he got her some tissues, dabbed her eyes, and said “No cry, dry the tears” and then gave her hugs.

Stuff like that melts my heart.

In fact, he’s been so well behaved that today one of the male workers made a point to go to the manager’s office after his shift was over (before it was time for me to get Nathan) to tell management to tell me that Nathan was so well behaved that he deserved TWO ice creams (which was his coupon today.) The manager told me Nathan has been a pure joy.

My heart felt like it was going to burst with love.

Being a parent is a rough path to walk, that’s for sure. Its hard to come up with the right strategy to control your children. Parenting is fluid, constantly changing. At least with Nathan. That kid keeps me on my toes, I tell ya. We’re constantly changing our tactics to keep up with what works best for him. And as cliche as it sounds, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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More and more like a big kid

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Nathan is such a big boy. He’s big enough to get out of bed multiple times a night, sneak around his room, and quietly play with his toys. He’s big enough to try to scramble back into bed when he hears Paul or I coming. He’s big enough to apologize for his actions and promise to stay in bed for the rest of the night. He’s big enough to retract his promise and sneak out of bed again. So, he’s big enough to go without his beloved Blue’s Clues and Wonder Pets for the day.

That’s right, Nathan is grounded from TV today for not minding.

He totally gets it, too. After breakfast, we normally let him watch an episode of Blue’s Clues, but not today. He asked for Blue, but I reminded him that he doesn’t get to watch any of his shows today due to continuously getting out of bed last night. “Okay, Mommy,” he said quietly without resisting. He knows what he did. He knows he’s supposed to stay in bed at night. And he understands that he now has to deal with the consequences. I know he doesn’t like it, but at least he’s accepting it.

In other news, Nathan and I still have that cough. Mine is getting a little better, but Nathan’s is still junky-sounding and deep. But on the bright side, I successfully taught him to cover his mouth with his elbow when he coughs. And he does! He’s pretty good at remembering to do it, even when he’s in the process of running or playing with his toys.

He’s losing his baby-ness and is becoming more and more like a little boy.

In fact, Paul’s mom told me about the last time Nathan was over at their house, he picked his nose, opened up a drawer, and promptly flung his booger into it. Can you believe that? That’s not something babies do, that’s for sure.

I have so many more similar antics to look forward to, don’t I?

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