Every day the wonderful happens…

and I'm here to blog about it.

A Glimpse October 8, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Elizabeth @ 12:26 PM

As parents we all worry.  I would have to guess that parents of kids who struggle socially and emotionally worry on a different level though.  We don’t always have time to worry about grades and homework and sports, because we worry about friendships, relationships, and especially the future.

Will my child treat others kindly today?

Will they treat him kindly?

Will he participate in the give and take of conversation?

Don’t even get me started on the future…..

Will he ever have a girlfriend?

Will he be teased?

Will he develop meaningful friendships?

Will he even care to?

It can be a lot to process, especially when troubling things are happening.  Things that show that he doesn’t quite understand how friendships work.

And then we get a glimpse.

Jason came home from work on Friday afternoon feeling sick.  At dinnertime, he went up to bed and fell asleep.  Later, when I went upstairs, I found Jason asleep in our bed but saw something out of place.  I turned on the bathroom light to see better and I saw a red, fleece blanket laid over Jason.  It neatly covered him.

And the blanket was Matthew’s.

I told Matthew that I saw the blanket and asked if he put it there.  He looked scared at first, like he thought he might be in trouble.

I didn’t want Daddy to be cold, he said as he looked away quickly.

I told him how kind he is, and what a good son he is.  That it means a lot to think about what other people need.

And I thanked God for the glimpse.  Everything is not perfect now.  We still have problems, but Matthew instinctively knew to do that.

Sometimes those glimpses are the hope we need to keep slogging through……the manna from heaven that is just enough for this day…..not tomorrow, not forever, but enough to get us through today.

And enough to give us hope for the next day.

 

The Attachment Disordered Christian August 27, 2014

Filed under: faith — Elizabeth @ 9:40 AM

I was recently invited to join a new bible study called Idol Addiction.  It worked with my schedule and was pleasantly lining up with a message series that my church was doing, so I accepted, although I wasn’t sure exactly what it was going to be about.  I know that even though most of us aren’t worshiping a golden calf, we do have things that we put before God, and I was intrigued to see what I’d learn about myself.  I began to worry in advance about what unhealthy habits I would uncover.  Did I idolize food?  Social media?  Work?  What??  I wasn’t exactly looking forward to finding out, to be honest, because once I found out, I’d need to work on fixing that.  Gulp.

I had to miss the first week of the study, but my friend brought me the DVD to watch at home, and here is what I learned about idols and addiction.  Idols are something that you strive for and feel most secure when it’s in place.  Like image….wanting to portray yourself in a certain light.  Maybe a happy, well-adjusted, picture perfect (on the outside) family or marriage is an idol.  Aspiring to a certain level of financial security or possessions.  None of these things are wrong, but they become problematic if you can’t feel secure without them.

So now that the idol part is addressed, what about addiction?  (and I haven’t forgotten the attachment part, we’ll get there in a minute)  Well basically, we start with a desire.  Let’s use financial security as an example, because I think we can all relate to that.  Who doesn’t want financial security?  We have this desire, and we don’t take it to God, for whatever reason.  Maybe we think that’s a silly thing to pray about.  Maybe we just don’t believe that this is a part of our life that He cares about.  So we go about trying to attain this ourselves.  Through whatever means necessary.  That could be scrambling for more work.  Juggling your money like crazy.  Maybe even gambling.  This part is your addiction.  Working more or harder is not the problem.  The problem is that you didn’t take it to God first.  That you have this disbelief in your heart and you are trying to fix it yourself without stepping back for a minute to see what He thinks about all of this.

Now some adoptive parents in the room might be having the A-HA moment that I had.  Because here’s a little primer on attachment.  When you adopt a child, it is very likely that the child has had multiple caregivers through their life, whether through foster care or orphanages.  “Mommy” and “Daddy” are words that likely don’t mean anything to this child, because they’ve learned to take what they can get from whoever will give it.  In some cases, the caregivers are not reliable so the child learns not to trust adults at all.  In some cases, the child learns only to trust themselves.  If the adults have proven useless thus far, the child may believe he or she must survive using their own wits.  So when an adoption takes place, adoptive parents are encouraged to foster attachment with these children.  To teach them that I am Mommy.  He is Daddy.  And to show them what that means.  That means that we are responsible for feeding you.  You will always be safe with us.  If you need food, come to us, and we will always be here for you.  If you get hurt, we take care of you.  Adoptive parents, above all must prove to their children that they are reliable.  For this reason, new adoptive families are encouraged to keep their world very small, to cocoon with their children for awhile to help these attachments to take place. 

For us, personally, even years after the actual adoption, we have to revisit these issues.  When a large family gathering is taking place, I reach out to my family and remind them.  If my son comes to you for food, with questions, asking permission for something, please send him back to me or to his dad.  Remind him that we are here to meet his needs.  Sometimes I have to remove my son from a large, hectic situation.  I take him aside or go with him up to his room and make his world very small again.  I remind him that I am here and that I can give him what he needs.  But he needs to come to me.  I am mommy.

So as I watched this video, I realized:  I am a Christian with an attachment disorder.  I am not counting on God to meet all of my needs.  I am not trusting that He is capable or reliable.  So I go out and try to take care of these things on my own, through whatever means necessary.  Many times I don’t even run any of this by Him.  And as I scramble, He has to make my world smaller and smaller, until I realize, “OH.  I see.  You’re the solution.  I was supposed to be coming to you first all along”.

So I’m only 2 weeks into the study, but my takeaway so far is this: 

How small is God going to have to make my world before I trust that He is the one who meets my needs?

 

Goals August 12, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Elizabeth @ 3:14 PM

There are a few bright spots to parenting a child with different needs.  I’ve gained perspectives that may have otherwise eluded me. 

Before Matthew started kindergarten, I couldn’t fathom him ever learning to read.  I secretly worried that it would never happen.  And then he started kindergarten and, voila, he learned to read.  And I realized that was the easy part…..for him.  The interpersonal stuff was harder.  The ability to roll with transitions.  The eye contact.  The give and take of conversation….of friendship.  That’s the stuff that takes work. 

So when asked to set goals for him this year, I knew that math and reading weren’t on my radar.  Obviously, we’ll do the homework and care about his schoolwork, but that will come in time, no matter what.  He will catch on.  What we are leaning into is the harder stuff.  The stuff that comes naturally to most.  The stuff that will build him up for future grades….and future relationships.

Here’s to setting goals.

august 11, 2014 070

 

A Bulgogi Sandwich August 11, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Elizabeth @ 10:04 AM

One thing I’ve noticed about the difference between a school morning and a weekend morning is the willingness of the kids to get up.  On school mornings, they lay in bed moaning, telling me they are too tired to move.  Whereas, on weekend mornings, I am awakened from a sound sleep by footsteps running into my room at 6:15 on the dot. A kitten is tossed haphazardly at my head because she is hungry and therefore I should attend to her, and there are excited requests to play Mario.

This school year, I’ve made it a point to try to wake up with enough time to cuddle with each boy before school.  Don’t be too impressed yet, it’s only the third day of school, but so far, it’s going well.

First I go into Isaac’s room.  He’s already awake, but still very sleepy.  He is excited to see me and he immediately pulls up his covers and scoots over.  I get to take over the warm pocket in his bed.  We wrap our arms around each other and he presses his face into mine.

Did you have a good rest? I ask.

yes he says.

I tell him about a dream I had.  I was in a maze and it was dark and scary.

I would have helped you find your way out, mama.  I’m good at seeing in the dark.

I lost my flashlight in the dream.

I would have found it for you.  I would have carried it and we wouldn’t have lost it.

My sweet goose.

My sweet mom.

We continue to cuddle in silence for awhile.

Let me go cuddle Matthew now I say and he reluctantly lets me go.

This could go either way.  On the second day of school, Matthew told me nicely that he’d rather be alone.  He’s still asleep.  I sit down on the edge of his bed and rub his back.  He cracks his eyes and his body immediately flinches in disagreement, like an earthworm being poked with a stick.

I keep rubbing softly.  Would you like a cuddle? I whisper.

Ok.

I lay down slowly.  I dare not attempt to get under the covers.  This is a delicate operation.

I tuck my face into his neck and he lets his body press in to mine.  Our breathing starts to line up. 

And then I sense another presence.  Isaac is standing next to the bed.

Is there room for 3?

I ask Matthew if it’s ok and he says yes.  Isaac wants to be in the middle, but I tell him, this is Matthew’s cuddle, and he gets the middle.

So we all 3 lay there, on the twin bed.  Matthew entwined in 4 arms. 

I tell them we are a sandwich.  Isaac and I are the bread and Matthew is the meat.

A bulgogi sandwich.  And Matthew thinks that is the best thing ever.

Not a bad way to start a Monday.

 

 

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Filed under: Uncategorized — Elizabeth @ 9:37 AM

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Riding With Strangers, Food Hoarding and the Cha Cha Slide January 29, 2014

Filed under: faith — Elizabeth @ 11:30 AM

Yesterday was just supposed to be cold.  Really cold.

Snow was predicted south of us (2-4 inches, which is a lot for South Alabama), but in Birmingham, we were just supposed to have cold.  As a matter of fact, Isaac had a field trip to a science museum yesterday.  The night before, I pondered (online) if his field trip may be delayed.  After all, there was a chance we may get a dusting of snow.  But even then the weather men said that there would be no problems on the road.

So I sent the boys to school as usual (but with undershirts for warmth).  I met some friends for coffee.  As we chatted, we began to see flurries out the window.

“eek!  Snow!  So pretty!” we squealed.  Then we drank more coffee.

“Whoa!  It’s kind of sticking!  Cool!” we exclaimed, as we put on our coats to leave.

My friends, whose kids are in different preschools, both pondered picking their kids up early to play in the snow that we assumed would be brief and transient.

I decided I would go home and sit in front of a window and drink coffee while enjoying the rare view.  Then on the way home, I hit a patch of ice.

That’s strange.  That wasn’t supposed to happen.

When I got to my exit, I wondered why the van in front of me was just sitting there not moving.  Then I realized that its tires were spinning on ice.

Hmmmm.  I bet they will close schools early.  Maybe I should head there now.  I sure hope Isaac’s class stays put at the science center.

Just then my phone buzzed.  A chaperone from the field trip letting me know that the bus was going to head back to the school before things get bad.  Immediately after, a notice that schools are closing.

Please note, that things got unexpectedly bad in our city in a matter of about 15 minutes.  All children were at school.  All parents were at work or home.  Everyone was told to get their kids NOW, but they didn’t realize how bad it had gotten.  Wrecks were happening everywhere.  Cars were sliding off roads, into poles, into ditches.  Not because we are Southerners who can’t drive in snow.  Because the roads were sheets of ice.  Because it happened in 15 minutes.  Because the few pieces of equipment we have to help with these kinds of emergencies were deployed elsewhere.

I got to the school, thinking that the buses would be there within the hour.  I waited in the library and pulled up Facebook.  I saw this picture/caption posted by a local news agency:

“Take a look at the Birmingham Metro. I’ve NEVER seen so many accidents at once. BE CAREFUL.”

wrecks

Not really what you want to see when your child is on a school bus without you.  In the heart of the Birmingham Metro.  But I told myself it would be okay.  I prayed.  I imagined the kids eating their sack lunches on the bus to pass the time.  Then I realized that usually a chaperone carries the cooler of lunches in a separate car.  A quick text to the teacher confirmed it.  They didn’t have any food on board.

A knife in my heart.  But okay, at least they are on a heated bus.  Things could be much worse.

As minutes turned to hours, and the snow continued to fall on top of the ice, I realized that Isaac may not make it back today.  That even if he did, the longer that Matthew and I waited there at school for him, we would likely be stranded at school.  While grateful for a warm place to sleep, I began to panic about food.  I had a pack of seeds and dried fruit in my purse.  I allowed Matthew to eat half of his lunch, but conserved the rest.  I realized that if Isaac made it back, his lunch would still be somewhere else and he would be starving.  Anytime a volunteer came by with random snacks, I would swipe anything I knew my kids could safely eat.  A box of raisins.  An apple.  A bottle of water.  I refused to eat anything because I just didn’t know how long we would be there, and all I could think about was Isaac.  Hungry on a bus.

After a few hours, it hit me.  What if the bus runs out of gas?  Right now they have heat, but what if they are hungry and then cold?  I looked at the room full of children, and realized–they have no idea that their parents may have run right off the road trying to get to them.  They have no clue that they will probably be sleeping here tonight.

That pretty much did it for my calm.  I made sure Matthew was watching the library movie, and I skulked off between 2 bookshelves and cried my eyes out.  Matthew found me there a few minutes later, which freaked him out, of course.  I pulled it together as best I could and we read some library books together.

Around that time, I noticed that the library was nearly empty.  Where was everyone?  I walked into the hallway and heard music.  We gathered our stuff and walked into the science lab.  All of the kindergarten teachers were there and the PE teacher was leading everyone in the “Cha Cha Slide”.  The kids were having a blast and I almost lost it again, right there.  Because here were the teachers who couldn’t get to their own families, but were making sure the kids were occupied, loved, having fun.  My heroes.

After observing the party for about a half hour, the librarian came to get me.  “Is your child in Mrs. King’s class?”.  Yes, I said.  She grabbed my sleeve and just said, “come with me”.

My whole body went numb.  Did the bus careen off a cliff?  What is going on?  Where is she taking me?  She took me to the vice principal who said that Isaac’s bus was rerouted to another school, and that I should go there.  You know, on the roads that no one should be on.  They asked if I wanted to leave Matthew with them.

Nope.  We are all going to be together in this.  I’m not going to leave one child to get another.

We got to the car.  I mobilized prayer through Facebook.  It took the car 10 minutes to thaw out enough to try to move.  I tried to explain the gravity of the situation to Matthew.  I prayed aloud for supernatural safety.

He asked if we could listen to the “Frozen” soundtrack.

I prayed for patience.

We pulled onto the solid white road and got started.  Friends, I am here to tell you, that we had not a single issue.  The roads were clear of cars and we went oh so slowly.  I passed some cars in ditches, a garbage truck on its side, a car slammed into a pole.  I made it to the school with not a single slip.

Isaac ran to my arms, having been fed a hamburger patty, raisins and an apple.  We were together now.

Anything else we get today is bonus.

I gathered up my boys and a field trip chaperone and her son who needed a ride back to their car at the elementary school.  We piled in the van to go back to our elementary school.  We picked up a mother and son and drove them a few hundred yards toward their destination.  As we turned onto a main road, I saw a woman walking alone.  She wasn’t even wearing a proper winter coat.  “Where are you trying to go?” we asked her.  She was walking to the middle school……about 6 miles away.

It worked out because the chaperone I had with me was going to try to get to the middle school after I got her to her car.  And the two ladies knew each other.  Divine intervention.

We made it back to the elementary school with no issues again.  How this was possible in the earthly realm, I have no idea.  A close friend, who is also a neighbor called.  He had been walking up and down our road helping people who had wrecked or abandoned their cars.  I told him we were going to try to make it to the CVS near our house.  From there things get very hilly and wrecks were abundant.  I felt confident that we could walk the half mile home from there.  It would be miserable but doable.  My friend generously offered to walk to the CVS and meet us there to help me get the boys home.

Have I mentioned that Jason is in Florida on business?

We prayed over the van and the situation again before heading out for CVS.  We prayed that if there was anyone who needed help that we would be able to help them.  We were able to give one more woman a ride to her home.  We made it to CVS with no issues even though there were hills.  I was tempted to just go for it and try to get home, but reminded myself that we were lucky enough already.  We were together and safe and we didn’t need a wreck.

My friend met us at CVS.  We sat in the car for a while so he could get warm and so that we could prepare ourselves for the walk.  I looked at my kids.  Isaac was wearing slip on canvas shoes and thin, unlined athletic pants.  He had 1 cloth glove (his other hand is in a cast).  Matthew had refused to bring his scarf or gloves.  But at least he had on thick tennis shoes.  I had no gloves, but good shoes and a scarf and a coat.  I had 1 pack of hand warmers.  I gave each boy one to hold.  We got out, leaving backpacks and non-essentials behind.  We walked across the road and Isaac’s shoes were already soaked through.  This was not ideal.

Right then a huge truck pulled up and offered us a ride.

He drove us slowly and safely home.  Right to our front door.

Where Matthew promptly asked if we could play in the snow.

I wanted to lay in bed and sob.

My friend generously took Matthew outside to play while I texted and Facebooked to let people know we were home.  Safe.  Together.

So many of my friends didn’t have it as easy.  The 2 ladies I had coffee with both had to abandon their cars and walk miles through terrible conditions with children younger than mine.  All of our husbands just happened to be traveling.  The two other school buses on the field trip weren’t as lucky as Isaac’s.  One made it to an alternate school around 6 PM.  The other ended up at Children’s Hospital downtown for the night.

My sister in Atlanta was creeping along until 2 AM with my nephew in the car.  My sister in law was rescued on the interstate by a school bus in the middle of the night.

More and more are not nearly as lucky.  It hurts my heart and my spirit to hear the desperation on Facebook and to know there isn’t anything tangible I can do to help.

But I am praying.  And if yesterday taught me anything, praying is the most important thing I could be doing.

Please join me in praying for my city.

 

Winning at Carpool November 21, 2013

Filed under: everyday life,Matthew — Elizabeth @ 12:46 PM

I worry about Matthew.

Anyone who has been here for any amount of time knows this.

Last year, he was the smallest kid by far in his class…..in kindergarten for that matter, which basically made him the smallest kid in the entire school.  Add his ridiculous cuteness and crocodile tears o’plenty to the mix and you can imagine how teachers and students babied him alike.  Matthew will often rise to the occasion when people expect things from him, but last year, the bar was set low.  And he cried throughout the year, and everyone fretted and babied.  And he didn’t make much progress at all.

Which is why he is repeating kindergarten this year.

We started out the year right, with a more no-nonsense teacher who knows our family (she was Isaac’s teacher last year).  We explained that many times his crying is a simple side effect of his neurological condition.  Many times it comes and goes for no reason whatsoever, and drawing attention to it draws it out much longer.  It is best to move forward, offering him help as needed.  She has been awesome with this and on the rare occasions that he does cry, it is very short lived and (other than making sure he is okay initially) there is no fanfare drawn to it.  This, in addition to the fact that he is much more confident (being a student who knows the ropes) has led to a much better year for him.

There are still issues, of course.  One being his refusal to acknowledge his friends in situations outside of his classroom.  If we see a friend at a store or even on school grounds, but with us there, he will absolutely pretend he doesn’t know them.  If they persist, trying to get him to acknowledge them, the tears come.  I try to tell him gently….this is hurtful.  They are thinking that there is some reason you don’t like them.  If you would like to be their friend, you should at least say hello.

But he struggles.

I chaperoned the first field trip his class took.  Right when I walked in the classroom, I was smitten with a boy in his class:  Joe.  Joe is the smallest.  And he is PRECIOUS.  So cute and animated and you really want to squeeze him repeatedly.  I immediately understood why everybody was so over the moon about Matthew last year, because here I was swooning over teeny, tiny Joe.

Anyway, what Matthew never told us (because he doesn’t really tell us anything about what goes on at school) is that he and Joe are big buddies.  They spend all of their time together at recess (per Matthew’s teacher).  Apparently one morning in the Good Morning Room, Joe even sat in Matthew’s lap because he was scared (per Isaac).

All of this background info brings us to this morning.  Jason helped me with the boys this morning and we were ready much earlier than usual.  So when we got to school, the safety patrol wasn’t even out yet.  When the safety patrol are out, they say good morning and there are usually also some adults there making sure everything is running smoothly.  But today, it was just an empty sidewalk with an open school door (when kids are early they go to the Good Morning room where there is usually a DVD on).

So while my kids are getting out of the van, I see little Joe.  He is standing in the vicinity of the school door, looking concerned and confused.  No one is there to tell him good morning or to guide him indoors towards the Good Morning room.  My kids are already out of the van and the door has closed and all I can do is send intense psychic signals to Matthew.

Be a friend.

Take his hand.

Please, my mind pleads with the back of his head.

I sit there, frozen.  I see Joe recognize Matthew.  His face breaks into a smile, and I see him mouth “Matthew!”.  I have no idea what Matthew’s face looks like or how he is reacting.  I say a thousand prayers in one nanosecond.

Then I see Joe reach for Matthew, and I know that it all comes down to this.

Matthew reaches back.

They embrace.

We all win.

 

 

 
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