Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Stuff and things

Today I volunteered in my son's pre-K class and it was such a huge relief to see him having fun and interacting with his classmates. For the first couple of weeks, I had NO idea what he was doing all day and the boy tells me nothing. His sister has been exploding with details since she learned how to speak. Every day she tells me what her teacher said, who played with whom at recess, which shirt her friend wore, and whose mom packs the best lunches. It's like she got all of the detail genes and left her poor brother speechless. Every now and then, he'll repeat something he heard at school in his best teacher voice, "You write letters TOP to Bottom." This week he came home saying, "barf." He didn't even know what it meant, but he liked the sound of it. I thought school would wear him out, but he's napping every single day. It's so odd having him in school all day. The end of an era. 

I'm so completely grateful to have a few months off to process these changes before applying for jobs. After 8 1/2 years of being with my kids nearly every single day, I deserve a break. That is all. If motherhood were a regular job, I would have had 442 weekends in those 8.5 years, plus at least 16 weeks of vacation. Not to mention, I would have gotten paid. So in 2 years and 6 months, if I still don't have a job, you're allowed to ask me what I do all day. 

In other news, I recently read The Glass Castle and loved every dysfunctional word of it.

Also, my brother's band, Dr Vitamin, released their latest album. It's REALLY good. I'm not biased or anything. Check it out: http://drvitamin.bandcamp.com/

photo by Kenzi Tainow Photography

Friday, August 3, 2012


My eight year old has been suffering from terrible anxiety all summer. Snakes are about the only thing she's NOT afraid of. It started in May during the last week of school. The change was so dramatic, you'd think something terrible must have happened, but it was just a series of small events that seemed to trigger it. She had a big dance recital, her friend moved away, she got strep throat, had a run-in with a tree root (I'll let you use your imagination on that one), and was really sad for 2nd grade to end. She's never been big on change and has always been slow to warm up to new experiences, but suddenly her fears began interfering with our daily lives.

This summer has been rough. She hasn't wanted to leave the house, and she's had separation anxiety worse than she ever had as a toddler. While she has always refused sleepovers, now she won't even go on a play date. Her stomach has been hurting since May 20th. 11 very long weeks. We've been to 4 doctors, had a stomach x-ray, and a blood test to check her blood count and to rule out Celiac and Chron's Disease. Physically, she's fine. Now she's seeing a therapist.

I wonder if my parenting is to blame, if I warn her about dangers too often. I'm sure my helicopter parenting is not only a partial cause, but also a reaction to her anxiety. We feed off of each other. When she was younger, I always had to be prepared with a change of shoes, band aids, water, food, and a contingency plan. Her little brother is a more happy-go-lucky, adventurous kid and he doesn't listen to me when I warn him about dangers anyway. He could be bleeding from the knees and not even notice. My goal has always been just to keep him alive. He doesn't require extra shoes.

Then there's heredity, which is definitely not going to do her any favors. Our family tree is riddled with alcoholism and bi-polar disorders with a sprinkle of OCD on top. While my husband and I are both prone to anxiety, we've learned to manage it. I mostly avoid the things that make me nervous, which doesn't exactly make me the most fun person on the universe and isn't probably the healthiest coping technique. It's really sad to see your child avoiding things like amusement parks and Braves games.  Besides, you can't avoid elementary school just because it gives you stomach aches. I had school anxiety in the first grade and according to my mom I cried every day for over a month. Of course, we had just moved for the umpteenth time and my teacher, Mrs. Looney, paddled kids who didn't do their homework.

I now realize that my daughter was wired differently from the start. Oh, I'd heard stories about babies who slept through the night at 5 weeks, but I convinced myself they were just urban legends. When she was a month old, her Dad sneezed and it startled her so badly that she cried for 20 minutes. From then on, he ran out of the room if he had to sneeze, cough, or breathe loudly. When she was little, if a truck hit a pothole in front of our house or the phone rang while she was sleeping, it would startle her awake. The child never napped for more than 20 minutes. She hated riding in cars. She didn't sleep through the night until she was 7 years old. She's terrified of loud toilets, and FORGET IT if they flush on their own.

But she's funny, spunky, graceful, intelligent, talented, and extremely empathetic. School started this week and she was nervous about it for weeks. She cried the night before, but marched right in there like a soldier going to war. She spent the day befriending the new girl in class. Being sensitive is a mixed bag. Parenthood is too.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

School days

It's the first day of school. After 8 1/2 years of nearly always having at least one kid by my side, they are both in school until 2:30pm 5 days a week. I'm stunned by the silence. The fridge is so loud. There are so many things I want to do, but don't know where to start. All those years of wishing I could just have 2 or 3 hours to myself. Still, I'm going to wonder what Jonny is doing in pre-K every second of the day. He looked so proud wearing his new orange backpack, and not one of those tiny preschool deals either. Lilly is in 3rd grade. THIRD! Her last year at her K-3 school. I remember driving by the school when she was in preschool and pointing out where she would SOMEDAY go to Kindergarten. Man, I sound so old.