Thursday, December 30, 2010

a week of quiet

A surprising result of our family being forced to stay at home thanks to a drained bank account (Christmas in general expenses and ridiculous holiday care fees) is that we have all had a week of the calm and quiet that each one of us needed.

The melt-downs have just about receded as Erin has had run of the house, choosing when to play intensely, eating when hungry and playing in the pool with his step-brother when the moment calls.

This is not to say that there have not been any moments where negotiation and reminders of 'green thoughts' have been needed - in fact I can hear in the next room that this is exactly what is happening as Erin turned on the TV in his room and found a different dvd playing than the one that he had expected. All minor though.

For me, this quiet, gentle time has resulted in spontaneous thoughts about the writing of my thesis and an insight into just how much of my thinking-time was devoted to running this family this previous year and the difficulty in staying focused on my studies.

Next year will be much the same, only I will be that little bit older, slightly wrinklier, and hopefully a little better at organizing our lives so as not to get constantly sick, run-down and pulling-my-hair-out stressed as was the year almost past. With a little bit of luck, Oliver will feel more secure living in this family and Erin will get the support that he so much needs from his new school; I am really hoping that the school's motto 'love one another' manifests in the ways that the children relate to each other in the playground.

Although there is no magic in the turning of the calendar's last page, I still hope that this year will bring with it renewed energy, a completed and submitted thesis and most of all two content and healthy boys. For now I will revel in the last day of quiet reflection and celebrate making it through the first year of Erin's diagnosis intact.

I wish you all a wonderful year.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

two lies and a blow-out

There was screaming and yelling and hiding in a tree along with confused stares by other parents as well as one mum, me, who pretended that this was the most normal thing in the world.

The back story to this outburst begins the night before and reminds me how Erin holds on to incidents where he feels, is, hard done by and then without regard for the (un)suitability of the context lets loose on those who have wronged him.

His step brother was the target of this out-burst. "You lied, Oliver. You said that (insert step-dad) said that I would be banned from telly if I got on to your bed again! And Mum said that he didn't say that. You lied and (insert jumbled angry words)"

"I didn't say that", said a walking away, cool as a cucumber, Oliver - who lated admitted that he did.

An assembly of parents missed this part but saw, a second later, Erin growling, holding his fists tight, pacing, climbing into the root system of a near-by small tree, climbing back out and growling some more. They looked at me, wondering, I'm sure, what this mother will do to 'handle' this child whom they wouldn't have seen act this way before.

Like the eye of a storm I stayed calm, still and made very little movement. I guided Erin towards me with my hand and remind him to breathe. "Take a deep breath", I said near his ear, being careful not to send my words directly down his ear cannel thus causing more distress at the yucky feeling of someone's breath hitting and wiggling into ear.

The next day, at pick up, I saw one of the more interested observers waiting for her son, she saw me and I watched as her eyes lit up as she asked, 'How is Erin going?' An innocent enough question I'm (not)sure and it's not as if this person isn't a genuinely nice enough person albeit one whom I have started each of the half a dozen conversations we have had over the last two years.

The twenty-twenty that hit me on the drive home told me that I should have used this as an opportunity to educate and advocate. I should have explained that Erin has trouble understanding why his brother would lie (so as not to get into trouble) and that for Erin - who can be painfully honest - this was a gross injustice. Further, and more importantly, that Erin isn't aware of the social rules, i.e. you shouldn't express such anger in front of other people, and an injustice is an injustice no-matter the audience.

Instead I did my best chicken impersonation and answered as though I completed missed the sub-context. "Yeah, he's pretty good. How's your boy? Is he looking forward to the holidays?" Total deflection, denial and more than a little chickeny.

What did I learn from this? How did this situation help me understand myself, my son and my step-son?

  1. The boys need their own rooms as soon as possible. Okay maybe I missed the point with this one....
  2. Staying calm, being gentle and activating my parent-judgement-deflector helps to calm the situation quicker than if I were to be blinded by the judgement that I perceive. 
  3. The other parents may not have been judging me, it was probably just concern.
  4. While it is good to advocate and educate when you have the chance, there are many chances in a week to do this and maybe it's okay to look after myself, after all what harm can a little lie do? Oh yeah, that's right.