Monday, November 23, 2009

Spoiler Alert!

Do not read this if you believe in Santa.

Many moons ago, The Ex and I decided that we'd let the boys believe in Santa as long as they wanted. But if they ever ask outright, we'd tell them the truth.

When Pokemon Boy was little - like somewhere around two and a half - he visited a mall with a professional Santa. A few days later, he saw another Santa. Totally different. When the man said hi in character, my little 2 yr old genius recoiled, pointed and said, "You're not Santa."

Around the age of three, he asked if Santa was real. We told him, no, he's not. He's a nice concept and it's fun to be generous and pretend. I don't really recall what we said. He was very ok with the answer. So we assumed that Christmas, we'd be Santa-free. But as Christmas rolled around, he kept asking how Santa would get in (we had no fire place). How would he find us (we had just moved to a different town). The Ex and I just shrugged and went along with his selective memory.

He was five when we moved to Texas. That year, he asked again and again we told him Santa wasn't real. That one took. But we told him how we like to pretend and still leave cookies out, etc. It didn't ruin anything for him. He still loves his stocking. He still loves his big Santa gift by the fire place.

SO...along comes Lil'Bro. As we kept the myth alive for Lil'Bro, PB would mention Santa-type things and give me a wink. My co-conspirator. Too funny.

Last week, Lil'Bro asked me, "Mom, is Santa real?" I asked, "Do you really want to know?" "Yes," he replied. PB came closer - preparing to do some damage control. "Well, honey," I began, "no. Santa is not real." Lil'Bro's face blanched. A look of pain brought his eyebrows together. A little piece of my heart broke. Oh man, look what you've done. I answered so matter-of-factly. PB had no issues either time we told him. He was like, "Hmm...interesting." Not so with Lil'Bro.

Both PB and I tried to reassure Lil'Bro that it's ok and how we can still pretend and it doesn't change any part of the holiday, etc. His pained look didn't change. I said, "Are you ok with this?" He shook his head. "I just want Santa to be real," he said in the saddest little voice. I said, "Honey, you can believe whatever you want."

A few minutes passed. Then Lil'Bro started asking PB and me questions about Santa. So apparently, he decided to discard the painful and unacceptable information. I can respect that. Sorry. I don't like that information. I'll just put that right over here [plunk] and move on.

So the week has passed with many questions about how Santa makes it all the way around the world in one night. How does he know which presents go to which house. How does he get in with no chimney.

When he's ready for the spoiler, he can ask again.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Rough Week for Pokemon Boy

Pokemon Boy is an awesome kid. He's loving, empathetic, creative and silly. Unfortunately, he inherited a double sided whammy of anger and worry. Both his father and I have had our issues with temper tantrums. Some as kids, some as adults. And we're both pretty big worriers.

This week, PB has gotten his Nintendo DS and computer put off limits for 4 days. Then two more days were added. Then he got grounded for the first time ever. For a week. He will also have to do some kind of "community service". He'll help his teacher after school on Monday for one piece of it. And for the other, I'm not sure. I'm toying with having him pick up the dog poop from a neighbor's yard.

This is just a ton to dole out in a week. At least for PB. He very rarely does things that actually require consequences beyond losing his DS for a day.

The first incident came on Monday. He was told to put away the laptop in class. When he didn't, a friend started to do it for him. The friend didn't realize that turning off the laptop just lost PB's unsaved work. PB lost his cool and pushed the friend, yelling "I wasn't done with that!" The email I got said he hit the friend. But in school, pushing or hitting, it ain't cool. So that lost the gaming screen time (DS/computer) for 4 days.

On Wednesday, he had to skip recess to make up 2 assignments that he had forgotten and left in his desk. When his teacher told him he'd have to work through recess, he had a big anger thing. It was bad enough where she had to escort him to the library for study time (he usually goes on his own with no problem). So for this one, it was two fold. We've been working on remembering to bring things to and from school. Nothing was working so a month ago, we agreed that, for each assignment or thing he forgets to bring home or take to school, he'd lose gaming time for a day. Since this was involving two assignments he left in his desk, he got the added 2 days of no gaming screen time. For pitching a fit that required his teacher to escort him to study time, he is doing the "community service" of helping her in her classroom after school on Monday. I actually think he'll have fun doing it. But he's worried about it so it fits the consequence bill for me.

Then, Friday, he told me that he had another physical altercation with a classmate. It was the classic "Hey, I was here first" thing when getting lined up. PB actually thinks he may have been wrong so he felt doubly bad about it. But he ended up shoving the classmate. And this just after we'd had a talk about this. I told him that, since we had just addressed this in the same week and the gaming loss wasn't driving it home, I grounded him for a week. In my house, laying hands on another kid in anger will not fly. You can call me wimpy or over-reactive. Knock yourself out. But in my house? Boys will be boys. Boy will NOT be little hooligans.

I watch little boys pummel each other on the playgrounds all the time. In school, too. I know teachers ignore quite a bit of it. But I also see an unspoken agreement between those boys. It's part of their play. But PB is not a pummel-player. We have never allowed anger-based hitting or pushing. I would never allow another kid to do it to either of my boys. I certainly won't wave this off when he's pushing another kid just because he can't control his frustration.

We talked a long time about how the gifted math program is stressing him out. I asked if anything else was stressing him out - waiting to see if he mentioned missing dad or my being out of work. But in his conscious mind, the advanced math is what's frustrating and stressing him out the most. I do wonder, though.

My brother-in-law, TallGuy, mentioned to BigSis that PB's recent issues with stress and anger are classic child-of-divorce stuff. I hate to admit it but I definitely think that's a factor.

Each time we've had to address any of these issues, his self-esteem has been in the toilet. Each time, he is a mess of worry. Worry about how angry I'm going to be. He told me that, every time he gets in trouble, he thinks this will be the one that makes me really really angry. He actually told me once that he wonders if each time he's bad, this will be the one that makes me stop loving him. When I started one of the discussions this week, I said something like, "PB, we need to talk about..." and he quickly added, "...that I'm a bad kid." He really has an amazingly low self image at times. And other times, his ego is off the charts. I don't really understand it but I do. If that makes any sense.

Someone recently told me he just needs to stop being so overly dramatic and move on. Yes. There are times when he's just being the drama king. But these other times - like this week - it's real. And it's deep seeded. I'm not going to ignore this and expect him to just move on. He's nine. He's in a world of stress. Even if some of it is created in his mind, it's real to him. And while I won't enable it, I won't ignore it.

I'm praying a lot. I don't have all the answers. I get good feedback from friends and family. But as anyone knows, even the best advice may not fit you perfectly. I really want God to show me exactly how to be the best mom for PB. I want PB to enjoy this advanced math opportunity. I want him to appreciate that not everyone gets this chance. I want him to know he's special without becoming arrogant. I wish he could see himself the way I see him.

This is quite rambling. Sorry.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Creative Friends: #3 In A Series

My weekly series on my creative friends requires care. Not everyone I know will appreciate my thoughts on their lives being plastered where anyone can see them. You know, like Johnny Depp is a very private guy. Hahahaha! Oh that was funny.

I figure the next pal can handle my blogging adoration:

Trish/Trish's Dishes
I'm pretty sure Trish was the first non-family member to start reading and commenting on my blog. I met Trish back in 2005 while I still lived in Boston. If you've followed my blog for a while, you know that story. I was going to link to a story about her but, after searching my blog, I realize that I write about her ALL the time.

Anyway, Trish is of a group that intimidates me. She's a Writer. She and stuff! I mean, what kind of craziness is that? She's the kind of person that can catch me using not correct grammerificationating. She knows the difference between 'effect' and 'affect'. She knows when to say "Trish and I" or "Trish and me". She can correctly use big words! These are scary people to me. I'm a former math major. A college drop out. A computer geek. I depend on spell check. I depend on hanging around with people like me who won't care when I end a sentence with a

Thankfully, Trish is as imperfect as she is awesomely talented. She is the last person to point the red correction pen at anyone. She is amused at my word makeupification.

Trish wrote a book back in 2008 called 'He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not'. I love it. I have given out probably 10 or more copies to family and friends. Quite a few people that read the copies I gave them told me how much they loved it. They could all relate. They loved her writing style. They were drawn in by her humor mixed with accessibility. I think a lot of women were able to relate to - if not all of it - parts of her story. My sister read it and then gave it to her teenage daughter to read. My niece loved it, too.

Trish just finished her 2nd book and I am eagerly awaiting its release next April. Book Anticipation rocks! And now Trish is trying her hand at a novel. Can't wait to read that one, too.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Creative Friends: I Have A Butt-Load

So I had this idea that, every Friday, I'll post something about one of my 952,000 creative friends. Especially if they have wares to sell. I'm realizing I'll never get through the list if I only feature one a week. So here are two of my Creatives from differing sides of the artistic spectrum.

Jaime Lee/Like Nailing Jello to a Wall
Jaime is one of my Awesome Blogger Chicks that I've never actually met. I don't really recall how we first connected. I think she found my blog through common pal Trish and left me some comments. We then connected on Facebook and leave each other silly comments and messages. She is beautiful, funny, inspiring and very supportive. Especially for someone who doesn't actually know me.

Jaime is a singer from my previous home city, Boston. When I first saw that, I wasn't expecting much. And let me explain that.

An Aside: Anyone from a huge music city like Boston, Austin, Nashville, L.A., NYC, etc., will understand. When you live in one of those music-centric cities, you run into every 3rd person and their brother saying, "I'm in a band!" or "I sing," or "I play [insert instrument of your choice here]." The first few hundred times I heard this, I would get all excited and be like, "Wow! Where are you playing? I want to see you!" and I was an instant fan. After sitting through painfully horrid set after painfully horrid set, I became more cautious with my fanaticism. So then, when someone told me they were a performer of any kind up in Boston, I'd be like, "Yah, you and everyone else I know." Which is mean. I doubt I actually said it. But I thought it. Also, keep in mind that I worked in a rock club for 4 years. Man, if THAT doesn't kill your love of music, I don't know what will. I saw 3 bands a night. The newbies would come off the stage as if the had just rocked the Garden. "Well? What do you think?!" To be honest, most of them didn't make an impression. If I can't recall anything you did 45 seconds after you left the stage, you have some work to do.

There were the rare gems. And many of them have moved on to cool things like performing with national touring shows like Blue Man Group or Rocky Horror or Stomp or Hannah Montana. Many are making a living creating music for sound tracks in NYC or L.A. Many are professional songwriters, producers or music managers. You'd be surprised to find out how small the world is. I guarantee you that you've heard something that one of my friends has touched.

So you can see how I'm a bit jaded when someone declares them self a musician. Then add to that the fact that I have a very unforgiving ear and am a vocal snob. Oh yah. Good times.

When I finally heard some of Jaime's songs, I was very happily blown away. She's GOOD. And not in that "but my grandma says I'm amazing" way that all those Idol wannabes are "good". She is VERY good. Like I will buy her stuff when it's available. And I am now campaigning to be her backup singer. Granted, I can't tour and I live about 1600 miles away. But still, why can't she just shift her whole life to accommodate me?!

So if you like what you hear on her MySpace link I provided above, you can download those 3 songs on her music website for free. I personally think she'd be a great addition to anyone's iPod who loves beautiful vocals.

Jane/Painted House 52
My friend Jane is like family. Like family that you can bare your soul to and expect to end up laughing. Like super close supportive loving family...that you've never met. Yes, she is another of my Awesome Blogger Chicks. We met a couple of years ago through my blog. She found my blog while looking for...I think she was looking for other moms of exceptionally awesome kids.

So Jane and I initially bonded over our boys. She has become a staple of support in my life. We talk on the phone all the time. We are good sounding boards for each other.

Jane is an artist in the physical mediums. And I say mediums - plural. She can paint. She can sew. She can refinish old furniture and make it look like something people would pay HUGE money for here in Austin. She makes gorgeous jewelry. I'm always astounded by her works. She makes it look so easy but I know I couldn't even come close!

This is an ottoman Jane recovered and painted.

If you want to see some of her current stuff for sale, she has an esty store. She is an amazing talent and I could easily see her making a living from her sales. While I'm not an art snob like I am a vocal snob, I don't like everything. I love her stuff. It's very "me". So go check it out and see if it floats your boat. Even if you don't buy anything, I bet you'll enjoy browsing.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Pokemon Boy is struggling this year. His teachers, counselors and therapists use words like "genius" and "brilliant" when they talk about him. As such, he has coasted through school in years past. He could float into class, listen with half an ear and still get As and Bs.

This year, he is in the gifted program for math. He's in 4th grade. And even I (former math major) have trouble understanding his homework. Part of that is that I haven't touched geometry or algebra in over 30 years. But the concepts are hard. They require focus and his full attention.

Pokemon Boy has the ability to comprehend almost anything. But if you can't give something your full attention, you usually will not succeed 100% in that thing. That pretty much applies to life. It certainly applies to advanced math. Pokemon Boy struggles as much with staying focused as most of us struggled with calculus.

For the first time, he is in a class where he will have to listen, work to understand and struggle to get As. This is a painful adjustment for him so far. He has brought home grades that span from the 60s to 100s. Somehow, he made the A/B Honor Roll for the first semester. It has shaken his confidence to the core. He has told me he isn't smart enough to be in the gifted program. He thinks everyone else is coasting and smarter than him. He's embarrassed to tell his teacher that he's not getting everything the first time. It's heart breaking.

In 2006, when Pokemon Boy was first diagnosed with Tourette's, the psychiatrist told me that she had thought ADHD when he first bounced into the room. But after talking with him, she ruled that out and honed in on Tourette's.

His inability to stay focused is rather typical in that he can be obsessively focused on something he loves. If they could figure out how to present algebra in Pokemon terms, he'd be all over it. But if he doesn't totally love something, he is easily distracted. And by easily, I mean, he's usually mentally checked out within seconds.

It's not all defiance or poo-poo-ing subjects he doesn't like. He is more inside his head than anyone I know. He thinks. Way more than a 9 yr old needs to. As he told me recently, every thought leads to a new one. You stare at a wall and think, "I wonder if that's cinder block or cement...I wonder who figured out to make cinder blocks hollow....bricks are solid..." then you're off picturing the brick making scene in The Ten Commandments which leads to thinking about what it must be like to make costumes for Hollywood movies which jumps you over to picturing the big Hollywood sign which leads to you pondering which font those letters are which makes you think of a little alphabet train you had as a kid which makes you think how fun it would be to travel across the country in a train which makes you picture the train scene in White Christmas and how sleeper cars don't look like that any more.

That's just a real-time sample from my head (which tells you I watch too many movies). Pokemon Boy gets like that. I've watched it happen. He glazes over. I always say, "He's just not there." It's not so much that he's tuning out his surroundings. It's more that he's diving so deep into his thoughts, he can't hear the surroundings that are way up there in that fading light of the surface.

So the boy's confidence is shaken. Deeply. His teachers see it. I see it. I tell him he's smart enough. I tell him I know he can do it. We discuss techniques to help him focus. We limit screen time. And if this were his only stress, I think it would be easily overcome.

But add onto that his worry over mom not working. What it mom can't find a job? What if we lose the house? What if we have to move? How much of our stuff would we have to sell?

Then toss on to that pile all the worry about his dad. Poor dad. He's lonely. I miss him so he must miss me. I want to go live with dad for a while. But that will upset mom. And I'll miss Lil'Bro.

Et cetera ad nauseum.

Other than praying, I can't think of a thing to do to remove the pile of stress. To build up his confidence. To help him enjoy the advanced classes.

Other than praying. I say that like that's nothing. I know it's something. It's more powerful than any physical thing I could say or do. But this imperfect physical being wants to DO something. I want to take an action to solve my son's problems. I want to jump into my Wonder Woman suit and save his world.

Well, his teacher is going to confer with her colleagues to see if they have suggestions. I will probably make an appointment to get Pokemon Boy reevaluated. It's been a while since he's seen a psychiatrist. I'll work with his teachers, school counselor and play therapist.

And I'll pray.

I will never stop praying.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Braggin' On Me Big Boy-o...Again...

Today was the assembly for 4th graders. They don't get as many dog tags as kindergartners. So it was a much shorter assembly.

Pokemon Boy got an A/B Honor Roll dog tag. I'm so very proud of him. Last year, he got All-A Honor Roll all year. But this year is his first year in the gifted advanced math program. So he has had to struggle. He's brought home tests and homework with grades spanning the alphabet. I didn't think he'd get the honor role this semester due to the struggle of adjusting to the kind of effort most of us have to put into math. The years of coasting are over for him. But he's worked hard. He stepped up when he wanted to quit. This A/B Honor Roll rocks. He missed the All-A because of one B. And that was in math. Which makes sense.

My boys are a mother's dream. They make my life so awesome.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Braggin' On Me Wee Boy-o

Last spring, I was bragging about Pokemon Boy's awards from school. Well, Lil'Bro seems to be following in his footsteps.

Yesterday, I attended the kindergarten award ceremony expecting that Lil'Bro would only get the one dog tag every kinder kid gets to start them off. He got FIVE. So cool especially when you're not expecting them!

The dog tags are...
The Tiger tag - the initial tag that comes with the chain. All kinder got one.
Paw Pride - most improved - 2 per each class.
Star Student - Art - the Art teacher chose this.
Reading/Writing - knows all letters and sounds.
Math - 1 - 21 # recognition and counting to 100.

So cool.