Thursday, March 25, 2010

An Update For The Clamoring Masses

Apparently, my fans are upset that I haven't been blogging. And by "fans", I mean my good friend Kristen. But when my "fans" speak, I act. So Kristen, my wonderful friend? This post is for you.

An update on Pokemon Boy finds him well, sassy and tic-free. Or at least, if he has any, I'm not noticing them. I kind of feel weird if the Tourette's thing comes up in conversations. When you say, "My son has Tourette's," the reaction is usually much more severe than his illness calls for. Which is really freakin' wonderful, from where I stand. I mean, yah, you don't notice he has Tourette's? Rock on, God! But sometimes, the conversation arises and that statement must be made.

I have made an attempt to not mention it when he's in ear shot. He has told me that, when I mention it, that's when he feels like he needs to tic. He feels that urge. That itch. So, if I don't keep bringing it up, he seems happy enough to ignore whatever urges or itches the TS causes.

The one tic that has never quite gone away is that Spidey-hands thing. No matter what he's doing, if his hands aren't actively engaged in something, his fingers are moving. I wish I could video tape it and post it here. It's not a wildly flailing or conscious wiggling of the fingers. Like I said all those years ago, the only other time I've seen hand/finger movements like this are with severely autistic and mentally retarded adults when I was a teaching student in college. It seems to be one of those physical repetitive movement things that soothes or calms. Pokemon Boy never seems to notice he's doing it. I notice it when I try to hold his hand and his fingers are moving. I notice when he's playing his Nintendo DS and has to balance it on a knee to free a hand for the Spidey-hands thing. It's very minor. It's extremely benign. And if that is how his body is releasing the need to satisfy that TS tic? Go for it.

In other PB news, his stressing over his advanced placement math class seem to be gone. I really wasn't sure if he'd stick it out. Going from coasting through classes with barely an effort to suddenly having to think and work hard - that's a blow to a comfort hound like PB. We worked at it every day. He complained. I encouraged. There were days when the stress was so overwhelming for him, I wanted to just pull him. But then one day, a few months ago, I remember suddenly realizing we hadn't had any issues with it in a long time.

He doesn't come home with all 100s or all As like he used to. That was hard for him at first. His first B nearly undid him. And it wasn't a competitive anger. He was horrified at the thought that I'd be disappointed. I told him that As, Bs and Cs are completely ok in my world. We endured weeks of conversations full of what-ifs. What would I do if he came home with a C minus? What if he had a D? What if he got an F? I have reassured him over and over that, no matter what happens, if it seems like he's taken a dip in grades, we'd sit down and talk about it to figure out why. I have no idea where this constant worry about punishment comes from. I have to tell you, it baffles me. I come down hard on things like hitting or being mean or . . . I can't even think of anything. But I have NEVER ever said anything about a low grade. I've talked about them. But never punished. So I'm not really sure where this worry comes from.

Over this school year, however, I think he's finally learned that grades are just grades in our house. If they're top notch? Awesome! If they're anywhere under that and are passing? Awesome! I want my kids to have a normal childhood. I don't want them stressed because they haven't mastered differential equations in 4th grade.

I'm thrilled pickles over PB's grades. He has had everything from 100s to something in the mid 60s. The first few horrid grades came within a few months of each other. I think it was the beginning of this school year. His lack of focus meant he forgot everything. He'd leave assignments at school. He'd forget finished homework at home. At first, I'd try to call the teacher or hunt down assignments so he could turn them in on time. I'd drive homework to school for him. Wrong approach for this kid. I finally told him, you have to start remembering. We came up with routines and lists. His teachers worked with me on it. We tried everything. He kept leaving stuff.

Finally, I said, ok. From now on, it's up to you to remember your assignments. To bring them home, to do them and to get them back to your teacher. When you don't? You'll get zeros and you'll have to deal with what that does to your grade. It was hard to watch him get some really crappy grades - knowing full well he'd probably have an A+ average if I had just hounded him. So he went from getting the All A Honor Roll to the A/B Honor Roll. Yah, I know. My life's hard. But for a little kid with an anxiety disorder? This was a huge blow.

So it took a while for him to see that the bad grades were his consequences. I didn't give out any more punishments because of the bad grades. After a shaky few weeks of this, he finally started understanding the cause and effect of leaving assignments at school or homework at home. I'm totally proud to say he has hit the A/B Honor Roll every grading period this year. And he's finally ok with that.

Now, having said all that, let me update you on Lil'Bro.

Lil'Bro is doing awesome. But he's been a bit frustrated with a few things lately. Namely, any time he perceives that he could be doing better at something, he gets frustrated.

For example: Reading. Lil'Bro has no idea that PB was reading little words at the age of two and was reading a kinder reader at age 3. I will make sure that little bit of trivia eludes him as long as I can. Lil'Bro is in kindergarten. And in kindergarten, those huge differences between kids abilities are glaringly evident. All those over achieving kids for varying reasons (only kid, first kid, competitive overachieving parents, true genius, whatever) can make the average right-on-track kids feel like they're behind. I had just assumed Lil'Bro was happy with his progress and didn't really ask him about it.

So the other day, we're watching TV and that "Your Baby Can Read" commercial comes on. Don't get me started. I can write an entire series of blog posts on that kind of early education. But as a service to humanity, I won't. Anyway, he watches that and sees these babies reading. He turns to me and asks, "Why didn't you get that for ME?!" I was like...what? I said, "Honey, you weren't interested in letters or things like that. You were interested in crawling, walking, climbing and running." He flatly stated that I should have gotten that for him and resumed watching TV. That exact conversation due to that exact commercial has happened about 4 times now. Gah.

He has also been frustrated with the fact that he isn't Tony Hawk on his skateboard. He's upset that he can't ride a bike yet. The bike thing is all me. We rarely have the time and I rarely have the back muscles. I need to rent a dad to come teach both boys how to ride their bikes.

Anyway, as my mom pointed out, it's awesome that Lil'Bro wants to excel. I think I have sold him short for many years. I saw PB as the cerebral one. I saw Lil'Bro as the physical one. I remember joking years ago that PB would be the NASA scientist and Lil'Bro would be a famous stunt man. As it turns out, Lil'Bro is a budding engineer. He wants to know how everything works. He builds and takes apart. He loves books on how things work. He loves TV shows on everything from Pluto (which is still a planet in THIS house, thank you) to dinosaurs to robots to space to the Bermuda Triangle (although that last one scared him this evening). The kid is bright. Extremely bright. I probably would have picked up on that much earlier had I not been so engrossed in his older brother's combination of Tourette's and genius.

Ah well, I will never win Mother Of The Year except in the eyes of my boys.

I was informed by PB this evening, as I put both boys to bed, that I am the best mom a boy could ever hope for. Or something to that effect. I think I was leaning on the bathroom doorway, waiting for Lil'Bro to finish up and had just let out a big tired sigh. Does PB have timing or what!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Survival Kits by Pokemon Boy

Monday night, we had an adventure. After picking up the boys from after-school care, we went straight home. We walked into the house through the garage door. My mind doesn't usually register the quick "beep beep beep!" of our house alarm telling us the door opened. But this time, it kept going, "beep beep beep beep beep beep beep beep beep" when we walked in. Pokemon Boy and Lil'Bro came running back toward me going, "WHAT IS THAT?!" Just as I opened my mouth to say, "I don't know," the house alarm went off. Oh my goodness. That thing is LOUD! Shocking and terrifying all at once. The only reason I didn't just wet myself in the kitchen right there and then was because it was still daylight and I knew we'd been having issues with the alarm battery for the last few months.

Anyway, I ran and pushed every button I could think of. Making an extremely long story short-ish, the alarm wouldn't silence. After 5 minutes, the huge alarm stopped. But the control panel near the front door that emits the little "beep beep beep" when doors or windows open was now a non-stop, high-pitched, constant scream. No amount of button pushing changed it. Its volume was almost as deafening as the louder house siren.

The boys were in a mild state of calm panic. Pokemon Boy decided we would not be able to stay in a house with this kind of acoustic pain. He began putting together a backpack full of "everything we would need." I had no idea what he was putting in there. I was annoyed. I couldn't stop this noise and every time I opened the door to let a helpful friend in, the huge alarm went off again.

My wonderful neighbor Mr. S came and disconnected the battery. The alarm kept going. We pulled the screeching siren out of the wall but the wires weren't easily disconnected. We pulled the control panel off the entry wall but those wires were even more complex.

Finally, we abandoned ship. We went to Mr. & Mrs. S's house. They fed us dinner. Our alarm back home blared. As the hours passed and the alarm company didn't call me back as promised, I started wondering where we'd sleep.

After a couple of hours, I went back into the house. I was going to pull every wire out of the wall if I had to. I was going to STOP that noise!!!

I finally got an alarm repair dude on the phone. He walked me through some wiring issues enough to silence the horror. They're coming out to check out a possible wiring problem due to a power surge (thanks to the lightning that day).

After we got home, Pokemon Boy started unpacking his survival kit. Again, I didn't really pay attention. I saw all three of our toothbrushes carefully packed into a Ziploc® bag. It was packed full of a lot of other stuff but I didn't notice what.

Just before heading the boys up to bed, I noticed my chronological bible out on the couch. It's usually on the table by my bed. I asked him, "Hey, what's my bible doing down here?" Pokemon Boy casually replied, "I packed it for you. I figured you'd want it."

As he packed the most important things like Nintendo DSs and precious stuffed animals for his brother and him, he grabbed what he knew I couldn't go without. My bible.

Man, that kid is awesome.