Archive for the ‘New Parents & Babies’ Category

The Real Santa Story

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

The Real Santa Story from MomAdvice.com

From our Parenting Contributor, Kristina Grum, from Thriving Parents.

This past December it finally happened.

All 3 kids asked the question every parent dreads during this time of year.

“Is Santa real?”

Over the years, they had occasionally asked this question.  It had always been easy to pacify them with a question in return.  I always asked them the infamous questions every parent uses:

“What do you think?”

Except it was no longer working.

It was late afternoon while I was getting dinner ready and all 3 kids came and sat at the kitchen island. Our 9-year-old led the conversation.

“Mommy, we have something important to ask you.”

Our 6-year-old followed her.

“Is Santa real?”

Before I could respond, our 8-year-old said, “We know you’re going to ask us what we think, but we want to know the truth.  The real truth.”

The 6-year-old then started in with questions:

“How can one person get around the entire earth AND deliver presents in one night?”

“Reindeer are real but can they really fly?”

“If elves make toys, why do they look like the Lego company’s toys?”

“How can a fat man get down a skinny chimney?”

“Why would it be okay with you to have a stranger come in our house in the middle of the night?”

Ouch.

Are we here already? Weren’t they just babies and we decided what Christmas traditions we wanted to have as a family?

We never put a lot of focus on Santa around the holidays.  We tried to focus more on Jesus since he was the reason we celebrate Christmas.  Most of what they know was learned from friends at school, books, and Christmas movies.

I wasn’t prepared.  I had no plan.  

I thought I’d feel cornered when this moment came but honestly, I felt relief.

“No,” I said. “Santa, the person who wears a red suit and has a white beard isn’t real.  At one time there was a man who delivered presents to children on Christmas but this was hundreds of years ago.”

I told the girls the story of St. Nick and how its earliest origins were of a man who brought presents to children on Christmas and how his story has evolved over the years.

The Real Santa Story from MomAdvice.com

I explained how we all have the spirit of Santa in us and told them it was our responsibility to continue giving presents and doing Random Acts of Kindness for others.  As a family, we do Random Acts of Kindness once a month.  It’s really taught them the importance of giving to others and being more selfless.  Because of this, it was easier for them to see the correlation between giving gifts to celebrate Jesus and being a light in someone else’s day.  

I asked the girls if they could think of some of our Christmas traditions that resemble the spirit of giving.  

They needed some prompting but were able to list a few.  

  • We sponsor a family each year
  • We give the kids Advent boxes at the beginning of the season
  • We bake cookies and deliver them to other people’s mailboxes
  • We pay for the car behind us when we go look at our local light show
  • We donate toys
  • We collect coats and hats and gloves to donate

I was worried our kids would be devastated with this news.  I was especially worried they feel betrayed and lied to.  They didn’t – thank goodness!

I’ll be totally honest, I always felt a little icky about not being truthful with our kids about Santa.  We loved how much fun it was for them but it never sat well with me.  I was more than happy to finally come clean with them and felt Christmas became, even more fun, for them this year.  We did more special surprises and when they wrapped everyone’s gifts, they signed Santa’s name to them.

I think every parent gets to the point where they know they can’t continue to avoid answering questions.

Here are some tips for finally having the real Santa discussion:

  1. Don’t avoid the topic if they’re directly asking about it.
  2. Answer their questions honestly.  
  3. Talk about the importance of gift giving: finding the perfect gift for someone, making people feel special and important, etc.
  4. Ask them if they have any questions.
  5. Be empathetic if they get upset with you.  
  6. Try to find things you can do as a family to make others feel special and to embody the spirit of Santa.
  7. Ask them to not discuss this topic with their friends.

I asked our kids to not discuss this topic with friends at school.  Our kids know children from different cultural and religious backgrounds so it was easy to explain to them.  “Different families have different beliefs and it’s not our responsibility to talk about it with friends.  They can discuss it with their own parents.  If anyone asks you, tell them to talk to their own parents.”

Ending the belief in Santa almost feels like it will be the end of childhood.

I assure you, it isn’t.

Our kids still wake up and crawl into our bed in the middle of the night, still get scared by bad dreams, and still need us to help reach things in the kitchen cabinets.  They still cry when they fall and still want us near by when they’re upset.

There’s plenty of childhood left in them.  

xoxo

–k

Kristina Grum is a Certified Parent Educator who has over a decade of experience working with children, including being a classroom teacher. She took the (very) long route to loving motherhood. These days she strives for ways to connect with her kids, while using shortcuts to manage and organize her home. She is a postpartum mood disorder survivor who thrives on helping others find the joy in parenthood that is just lurking around the corner. She currently teaches positive discipline parenting classes in her local area and she believes that every parent can shift from barely surviving to thriving in Parenthood. Visit her on Thriving Parents today! 

 

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5 Reasons I Let My Kids Watch TV

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

5 Reasons I Let My Kids Watch TV

From our parenting and marriage contributor, Mary from Giving Up on Perfect

Anyone who knows me knows I love television. I also love my family and cats and mysteries and queso and long drives by myself, but it’s often more fun to talk about TV. (And, let’s be honest, less divisive than the never-ending debate of cats vs. dogs.)

Given my love for TV I have struggled as a parent, acknowledging and respecting the frequent (and valid) advice from pediatricians and other parenting professionals to limit my children’s screen time. When I had my oldest daughter, I was determined to keep her away from all screens for her first two years. Yes, I was a typical first-time parent that way. And my good intentions and determination did not last for long.

Kudos to those of you who adhere more strictly to the screen-time guidelines than I do. I don’t judge or criticize your choices by any means; I’m sometimes even envious of them. But I’ve found that, while we do try to keep screen time to a couple hours a day, it actually has great benefits for our family.

And I’m not just talking about the fact that I would hire Daniel Tiger to babysit my preschooler in a heartbeat.

Much more than mindless entertainment or free babysitting, watching television with my kids has turned out to be an active and, I believe, healthy part of our relationships. Here’s what I mean:

5 Ways Watching TV Together Benefits Our Family

1. It gives us special time together. After I put my youngest to bed, my nine-year-old and I slip back downstairs for some together time. Our days feel rushed from the first alarm to the bedtime prayers, and my daughter’s love language is quality time – so this pocket of time is high on her (and my) priority list. Sometimes we go through her papers from school, and sometimes we work together to finish some chores or clean up dinner. But most often, we settle into the couch for an episode of Girl Meets World, Just Add Magic, or Project MC2.

I’m super selective about the shows that my kids watch, steering clear of the ones with sarcastic tweens and clueless parents. And when my younger daughter is with us, it’s all-cartoons, all-the-time. But a few nights a week, my older daughter is able to watch a “big kid show” (or the occasional American Girl movie) while she also scores time with her mom. And as long as she wants that, I’m going to give it to her!

2. It creates inside jokes just for our family. Because my girls are young, we don’t have a whole lot of pop culture-related jokes yet. We do have an entire catalog of Daniel Tiger songs and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse cheers that we repeat, but I am sure more quotes and jokes are coming soon. I know that because my brother, parents and I still quote TV shows we watched together, and that was twenty (or more) years ago! I also know this because my daughter already loves processing and remembering plot lines and dialogue after a show is over, which is likely to lead to inside jokes someday.

3. It brings up tough topics and promotes open communication. While I anticipate inside jokes becoming part of our family’s language, I’m already seeing this one happen. Even when I’m selective (or protective, whichever word you want to use) about which shows my kids watch, serious issues are addressed in most every program these days. (I had to laugh when we watched episodes of Doc McStuffins and Girl Meets World in the same day that both dealt with being jealous of your friends. So many struggles are universal through the ages!)

Often, when I’ve needed to discuss tough topics with my oldest daughter, I’ve turned to picture books. But as she’s getting older I’m learning that TV shows are a better medium for raising subjects that we need to talk about. The characters are more relatable than two-dimensional characters in a “kid book” and less threatening or embarrassing than an unexpected lecture from me. Watching a TV show together and letting the conversation develop more naturally has allowed both of us to warm up to some hard things that led to heart-to-hearts.

4. It plays a big part in our holiday traditions. Singing songs, making crafts, eating special food. Serving others, spending time with family, wearing matching sweaters. All these things and so many more are part of our family’s holiday traditions. But so is It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and the Claymation Christmas Special (not to mention Christmas Vacation and other classics we’re saving for when the kids are a bit older!). Watching the Grinch’s heart grow every year is as much a part of our holiday celebration as drinking Grandma’s green punch, singing Silent Night, and exchanging white elephant gifts.

5. It teaches us valuable lessons about life. I used to feel guilty about my love of television. But I’ve realized that those stories we watch aren’t simply entertainment. If we pay attention, they can also teach us something – about the world, about family dynamics, or about social situations. (After all, which of us doesn’t remember the dangers of abusing caffeine pills, courtesy of Jessie Spano and Saved by the Bell?!)

That’s not all. My family also learns about history or the world from all the History Channel shows my husband insists on watching, and we have lots of animated conversations when we watch DIY shows and make up plans for our next home project. And, of course, we also bond over a shared love for sports teams (or shared dismay when they lose!)

Now I want to hear from you! Does your family watch TV together? What are some benefits you get from family screen time?

Fast Talk Faith

If you enjoy learning lessons from your favorite TV shows, you might be interested in FAST TALK & FAITH: A 22-Day Devotional Inspired by Gilmore Girls. Available on Amazon, this devotional offers relatable messages of hope and encouragement with humor and grace, based on stories about our favorite friends from Stars Hollow.

 

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Teaching Kids the Importance of Failure

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

Teaching Kids the Importance of Failure from MomAdvice.com

From our Parenting Contributor, Kristina Grum, from Thriving Parents.

Failure is a funny thing.  As adults, we hate to fail.  

Our mistakes look bigger than they really are.  

We think about our mistakes much longer than necessary.  

We replay situations and think about what we should have done instead.

When it comes to our children, however, we should approach failure in a completely different way.

We should want our kids to make as many mistakes as possible.  

I’ve always encouraged learning from mistakes.  Recently, our family began celebrating them.  Yes, you read correctly – we CELEBRATE mistakes.

It all started with a book.

We go to Barnes and Noble often.  We love to sit and read books and look at the games they have for sale.  I never walk out of there without buying a book for someone.  The girls in our house (me, included!) have an addiction to books – which is a good problem to have.

Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty

A few weeks ago, we met our close friends there and their daughter pointed out the book, Rosie Revere, Engineer.  A few people had already mentioned it to me and said we would love it.  Our girls love to build and create and often use the most random things to do so.  Once, Caroline used a knitted afghan and had it suspended from her bedroom ceiling with paperclips, yarn, and packing tape.

We read the book in the store and loved it so much we bought it immediately.  I love how the story reinforces the importance of failure and how failure is the best way to get on the path to success.

This passage reinforced for me how important it is for kids to experience failure over and over again:

She turned round to leave, but then Great-Great-Aunt Rosie

grabbed hold of young Rosie and pulled her in close

and hugged her and kissed her and started to cry.

“You did it! Hooray! It’s the perfect first try!

This great flop is over.  It’s time for the next!”

Young Rosie was baffled, embarrassed, perplexed.

“I failed,” said dear Rosie.  “It’s just made of trash.

Didn’t you see it? The cheese-copter crashed.”

“Yes!” said her great aunt.  “It crashed.  That is true.

But first it did just what it needed to do.

Before it crashed, Rosie…

before that…

it flew!”

We celebrate failure every day.

Every day, sometime after school, I ask the girls what mistake they made during the day.  It can be as simple as not paying attention in class, saying something mean to their sisters, or throwing their backpacks in the middle of the living room floor.  Sometimes it’s more serious as not speaking up for someone, being disrespectful, or hitting a sibling.

The best thing we can do is to teach our child that everyone makes mistakes.  It’s important to own up to those mistakes and try to do better the next time.  

What this looks like:

Read the book Rosie, Revere, Engineer to your child.  Talk about the feelings Rosie has throughout the book.  In the beginning, she feels embarrassed by her failure because her uncle laughs.  Her great aunt embraces the failure and shows Rosie how it will lead to finding success with her inventions.

Talk about a time you and your child has failed at something.  Talk about something in which you failed as a child or an adult.  Then the next day ask your child, “What did you fail at today?” or “What mistakes did you make today?”  They may be perplexed and not remember what you are talking about at first.  Remind them.

“Remember when we read Rosie Revere, Engineer and she became excited about making mistakes because it meant she was learning? What mistakes did you make today?”

At first, they’re going to have a hard time thinking of one.  That’s okay.  Instead, you tell your child what mistakes you made during the day.  It’s really important for adults to participate in this activity too.  We need to be modeling that it’s okay to make mistakes.

The most important part of talking about failure is…

We talk about what we’ve learned from these mistakes and how we can work to change them for the next time.  It’s important to acknowledge there’s a high chance the same mistake will be made again.  That’s okay.  People are flawed and we make a lot of mistakes, some of them over and over again.  We hope each time the mistake is a little less so we can begin to learn from it.

We should want our kids to make as many mistakes as possible.  

During these formative years, we’re available to help guide them on how to pick up the pieces and repair their mistakes, if they need it.  When they’re old enough to go out into the world on their own, they’ll be better equipped to handle mistakes and uncomfortable situations.

Here are some great books that help reinforce the importance of making mistakes.  They go in age from youngest to oldest audience.  I hope you find them helpful.

xoxo

–k

Rosie Revere Engineer by Andrea Beaty

Rosie Revere, Engineer

rosie-reveres-project-book-engineers

You can pre-order Rosie Revere’s Big Project Book For Bold Engineers, which will have projects your child can work on.  I know our kids are going to love it!

Teaching Kids the Importance of Failure from MomAdvice.com

Other books to check out on teaching the importance of failure:

The Most Magnificent Thing

What Do You Do With a Problem?

What to do When Mistakes Make You Quake

Feats and Failures

How They Choked

Teaching Kids the Importance of Failure

What are some ways you have taught your children the importance of failure? Please share!

Kristina Grum is a Certified Parent Educator who has over a decade of experience working with children, including being a classroom teacher. She took the (very) long route to loving motherhood. These days she strives for ways to connect with her kids, while using shortcuts to manage and organize her home. She is a postpartum mood disorder survivor who thrives on helping others find the joy in parenthood that is just lurking around the corner. She currently teaches positive discipline parenting classes in her local area and she believes that every parent can shift from barely surviving to thriving in Parenthood. Visit her on Thriving Parents today! 

This post contains affiliate links that help our site! Thank you for supporting me! xoxo

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The Truth About Disney’s Beauty & the Beast

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

The Truth About Disney's Beauty & the Beast from MomAdvice.com

I’m so thankful that Mary screened this movie for our readers and could give us her perspective on the highly anticipated Beauty & the Beast film. I ask the commentary today be kind and respectful, as always! 

Before I walked into the theater to watch an early screening of Beauty and the Beast last week, a man in a suit took my cell phone and put it in a brown paper bag. He frowned and reminded me that phones were not allowed in the theater for our special preview. Before I handed it over I took one last look at the screen to make sure my oldest daughter’s school or my youngest daughter’s babysitter hadn’t called. Satisfied I wasn’t missing anything vital, I stepped into the dark theater and found my seat.

Giddy to see the live-action version of my absolute favorite Disney movie, I had no idea that my phone was blowing up with concerns and controversy about the very film I was watching.

After retrieving my phone I immediately checked all the places I might have messages and was surprised to find notifications in nearly every one of them. As I listened to and read messages, I learned that Disney had announced that the new movie featured scenes with a gay character – and the world reacted strongly.

beauty-and-the-beast-3

I’ve read lots of rants but few reviews because, well, this is a movie that has not been released yet. Since I have actually seen the film in question, I thought I’d share with you the truth about Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

You might be wondering how to weigh my opinion or what perspective I have about this topic. That’s a fair question, so I’ll start with those facts.

• I am a Bible-believing, Jesus-following Christian.
• I am more conservative than some, more liberal than others; an objective evaluation might label me moderate.
• My husband and I have two daughters, ages three and nine. I am careful about what media they consume, sticking exclusively to programs and materials rated PG or G.
• I love Disney movies, though I’m not a Disney super-fan by any means. I do, however, unabashedly adore Beauty and the Beast, and I could probably recite most the of the 1991 movie and sing every word of the songs for you at any given time.

Now that you understand where I’m coming from, I’d love to answer your questions! Keep in mind that this post will include SPOILERS for the movie, but I’m assuming that if you are interested in this film, you’re familiar with the story.

The Truth About Disney's Beauty & the Beast from MomAdvice.com

Does the new movie include a gay character?

Maybe. Lefou, played brilliantly by Josh Gad, is a silly character. He’s over the top in his adoration of Gaston and cracks jokes throughout the movie. Is it behavior based in hero worship? Is it a romantic crush? I think you could take it either way. To me, it seemed like hero worship and extreme devotion, just like it was in the animated version. Yes, he is exuberant in his affection for Gaston, but no more than in the cartoon and no more than the adoring sidekick typically is in this kind of story.

In the Gaston song, where Lefou sings verse after verse about how no one can compare to Gaston, he has a short scene with three villagers. The men are standing at the bar, and Lefou sings to and/or near them about Gaston, eventually physically turning their heads. I interpreted that as him making sure they paid attention to the main event (Gaston), and nothing more.

Later on when the villagers attack the Beast’s castle, those same three men are caught by the wardrobe. Her defense is to throw clothing at them, leaving them wearing dresses and wigs (and possibly make-up, but I don’t remember for sure). Two of the men are embarrassed, while one lights up with a grin. As he runs away after his friends, the wardrobe sings, “Be free!”

In the final scene all the characters are seen dancing in the castle’s ballroom. The focus is on Belle and the Beast-turned-back-to-prince, but we also see Mr. and Mrs. Potts, Mr. and Mrs. Cogworth, Lumiere and Plumette, and other couples dance. The style of dance involves a lot of turning and twirling and some switching of partners, and Lefou ends up dancing with the villager who didn’t mind wearing a dress. They both look surprised but happy.

Each of those three scenes are only a few seconds long and take place in full, fast-moving acts that include stunning (even overwhelming) visual details and spirited, full-volume songs.

Will my kids notice the implications that a character is gay?

It depends on your kids. But if they’re early elementary or younger, I doubt it. As I mentioned, the scenes that imply Lefou or the villager might be gay are brief and, in my opinion, subtle. Nothing is explicit or spelled-out, and if your kids haven’t been introduced to homosexuality before, they probably won’t think about it now.

Obviously I don’t know your kids, how observant they are or what they’ve already been exposed to. I can’t guarantee they won’t ask any questions. But I am confident that when my girls (ages 3 and 9) watch this movie, they will not notice any character’s sexuality.

Should I take my kids to see this movie?

Maybe. (I know, you’re loving my definitive answers, aren’t you?!)

I can’t wait for my girls to watch the new Beauty and the Beast, but I won’t be taking them to see it in the theater. My oldest is sensitive to intense scenes, and the wolves and the attacking villagers would scare her on the big screen. My youngest is only three, and I’m afraid those same scenes would be too much for her in the theater as well. When we’re at home I can distract them, remind them that it’s make-believe, or simply hit fast-forward.

Nothing is gory or graphic in this movie, by the way. My kids are just sensitive. If they weren’t, I wouldn’t hesitate to take them to this the day it opens.

The Truth About Disney's Beauty & the Beast from MomAdvice.com

Should I go see this movie?

I think so. It’s fantastic! I shared a full review of the movie on my blog, but the short answer is that this version is incredible and I’m already plotting ways to see it in the theater again. The music, the costumes, the acting – it’s all beautiful, and I was delighted by every part of it.

If you’re concerned about a character being written as gay, this might not be the movie for you. I personally was not offended by any of the characters. But even if you believe differently about homosexuality than I do, I believe you could still love this movie. Nothing about it was in your face with any kind of agenda; honestly, Zootopia was more political than this. And as with many things, you often find what you’re looking for. If you watch Beauty and the Beast for the wonder, the magic, the truth that beauty lies within and girls should be allowed to read books and dishes should be allowed to dance and sing, then that is what you’ll find. And you will be as enchanted as I was.

The Truth About Disney's Beauty & the Beast from MomAdvice.com

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3-Ingredient Cloud Dough With WeeSchool (FREE- Limited Time!)

Monday, March 6th, 2017

3-ingredient cloud dough recipe from MomAdvice.com

This post was created in partnership with WeeSchool. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! We need this exact call to action language early in the post: Download the WeeSchool App here by June 1 and you can register for free, lifetime access to all premium WeeSchoool content and features.

Although much of the mothering I have done for my kids has felt instinctual, I found many challenges and had a lot of anxiety about them meeting certain milestones. My son, for example, had a significant delay in speech and sensory issues in his early years. I had no idea to help him and relied upon a community program that provided at-home guidance to help teach me how to help him overcome these hurdles.

I, honestly, have no idea what our life would have looked like if we had not had early intervention, and I attribute much of his academic success to these programs that intervened and helped guide us.

Now my kids are getting older, but I still recognize the importance and need for early intervention for other families. That is why I am SO incredibly and genuinely excited to share with you about a new app called WeeSchool that you must download ASAP.

It is, truly, like having a family educator right at your disposal to help guide you to help your child succeed.

WeeSchool App Milestones Month by Month

As you can see, this app gives you a quick at-a-glance look at what key milestones your child should be reaching each month. Play Plans are provided that help guide your child to reach those milestones.  These allow you to play smarter with your child with a list of recommended activities, toys, books and music.

In fact, it is the first-ever curriculum for babies from birth to age 3 that can help you learn how to play smart with your baby.

This helps you to not only track the milestones, but to support you and your baby in the process. WeeSchool wants to enrich your daily routines by creating activities you can do with your child, providing guidance on practical toys to support milestones, and even books on the different milestones you are working toward with your baby.

WeeSchool App Journal

Imagine going to the pediatrician with your child’s milestones marked and even a photo to document those moments to share with your family and friends. I can’t imagine how reassuring it would have been to come armed like this for my doctor. Could we have flagged our son and gotten him help sooner if we had something like this? I, truly, believe we could! This is a transformative tool for new parents.

Get a FREE Membership to WeeSchool Today!!

I am so excited that WeeSchool is offering our readers a free premium membership! Parents can sign up until June 1, 2017 to become a Charter Member and receive lifetime access to all Premium WeeSchool content and features!

 

3-Ingredient Cloud Dough from MomAdvice.com 3-Ingredient Cloud Dough from MomAdvice.com 3-Ingredient Cloud Dough from MomAdvice.com

If there was one thing I learned from our early childhood intervention classes that we did with our son, it was the power in creating from things you already have. In honor of today’s partnership with WeeSchool, I wanted to share with you this easy 3-ingredient Cloud Dough recipe that you can make for your kids! This fluffy dough is a great sensory activity for kids and is so fun to play with that even adults want to get on the action.

Sensory stimulation is so important to a child’s neurological development, and playing with this simple and safe flour mixture offers a pleasant (even therapeutic) sensory experience. Playing with cloud dough also encourages fine-motor development as your wee one explores and creates using tiny hands, delighting in the tactile wonderfulness of this unique medium.

Pair this with items from your kitchen drawers like measuring cups, spoons, ice cream scoops, silicone cupcake molds, or cookie cutters.

We are using Tempera Powder Paint to create the vivid hue in this dough because it blends so easily into this recipe. If you are worried about your child ingesting it, feel free to leave the color out of this one!

3-Ingredient Cloud Dough from MomAdvice.com

3-Ingredient Cloud Dough
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • A spoonful or two of Powdered Tempera Paint (order online or check a teacher's supplies store/craft store)
  • Large Plastic Container with Lid for Storage
Instructions
  1. Measure flour directly into container.
  2. Add a spoonful or two of powdered tempera paint and mix well with a wooden or metal spoon.
  3. Add vegetable oil and mix well until it is fully incorporated.
  4. Store in an airtight lidded container for up to one month.

3-ingredient-cloud-dough-recipe

 

 I hope you can take a moment to download this amazing app and mix up a little cloud dough to keep your kiddos busy! Download the WeeSchool App here by June 1 and you can register for free, lifetime access to all Premium WeeSchool content and features.

This post was created in partnership with WeeSchool. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

 

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How to End the Year Well

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

How to End the Year Well from MomAdvice.com

Last week I read an article about how to create a dumpster fire ornament, in honor of the year we’ve had. It was hilarious – and sad. I mean, yeah, I laughed, but only so I didn’t cry. Because, for a million reasons, this year has been difficult at best and devastating at worst.

I know I’m not alone in looking forward to a fresh start as we flip over the calendar.

But before we head into a new year, we still have a few days left in this one – and I’m determined to make the best of them. Rather than simply throwing up our hands in disgust or defeat, let’s take back what’s remaining of this challenging year. Let’s celebrate what actually worked or went well, and let’s give thanks for the blessings we received in the midst of hardships.

No matter how this year has treated us, I believe we can still end well. Here’s how:

1. Make a gratitude list. I know, I know, you’ve heard this one a thousand times. But there’s a reason for that: it works! No matter how bad a situation (or calendar year) might be, we always have something to be thankful for.

Are you healthy? Do you have a place to live? Is your family nearby – or far away? Do you have at least one person to love and who loves you? Did you read a good book or see a great movie? Have you created a piece of art or finished a project? Did you make it through Thanksgiving or the election cycle or a trip to the post office without coming to blows with anyone? Then you have something to be thankful for!

How to End the Year Well from MomAdvice.com

2. Look at the photographic evidence. Instead of clicking over to Facebook one more time, open up the gallery on your phone. Scroll through your own photos and take time to appreciate those goofy smiles, those messy faces, the trips to the zoo or the doctor’s office, the impromptu road trips or picnics, the selfies and the you-can’t-make-me-smile serious faces. Remember the sunset, the finish line, the delicious dessert, the colorful leaves.

Whether you’ve already printed all your photos and placed them in a lovely album or scrapbook, or they’re stacked up on your phone (and hopefully saved in the cloud), I bet you have some evidence that this year brought something lovely, something beautiful, something good.

3. Find the silver linings. I’m not sitting at a desk gazing out the window to a pastoral scene as I type this post. Nope. I’m sitting in my living room, balancing my laptop on a TV tray while my toddler sits on my lap smelling slightly of her overnight diaper and watching Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. And as often happens in our house, Daniel Tiger is sharing a message that is almost unnervingly relevant for our day. Daniel and his friends are singing about disappointment, and here’s the advice they have for us all: “When something seems bad, turn it around and find something good.”

Seriously, Daniel Tiger? Seriously.

You really can’t argue with that preschool wisdom. And as I’ve reflected on the last year, it really is something I’ve considered. What are the silver linings hiding on the edges of this hard season?

For me I’ve had to face how my fear of confrontation has led to unhealthy relationships and behaviors. (Which is, initially, still a bummer but ultimately a good thing to realize.) I’ve also been forced to stop waffling on some political issues as this divisive year has made it clearer than ever what my priorities and values are. And, most importantly, going through a tough season is always a catalyst for appreciation and gratitude for me, making me more thankful than ever for my family, my freedoms, and my faith. All of these silver linings come at the cost of some very dark clouds, but I am grateful for them nonetheless.

How to End the Year Well from MomAdvice.com

4. Give back – and then some. One of the most encouraging messages I’ve seen following some of this year’s troubles is a call to action. No matter where you fall on all the issues that have divided our world, every one of us can reach out to others, serve others, love others. Just like the well-known and oft-quoted advice from Gandhi suggests, rather than complaining about a dumpster fire of a season, be the change you wish to see in the world instead.

The benefit goes beyond what you give to other people, too, because not only does helping those in need combat injustices you perceive, it also helps you adjust your perspective. It gives you a bigger picture and more accurate way to gauge your own circumstances. It also gives you a sense of more control and therefore increases your overall satisfaction. Talk about win-win!

5. Don’t wait for January 1. We don’t have to start a new habit on a Monday, and we don’t have to wait for January 1 to turn over a new leaf of gratitude, compassion, and positivity. We can do that today. The world may seem like it’s spinning off its axis some days, but we are still in control of our own choices. We get to decide how we receive news, how we process situations, how we respond to circumstances. We get to choose.

Let’s make the best of the days we have, friend, no matter what the calendar says. Let’s be kind when we don’t have to, let’s be thankful even when it’s difficult, let’s look for the good and be the good. Let’s end this year well.

How to End the Year Well from MomAdvice.com

 

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I Hope You Brought a Second Piece of Luggage

Friday, November 11th, 2016

America

Our son is preparing for high school this year and, in our district, that means choosing a field of interest he might want to explore at college and selecting what option might fit his needs best. It was quite the process because it was really important to us that we pick the right thing for him. We went to hours and hours of meetings, we poured over the information that was sent home and spent lots of time talking to parents about how it all worked and their experience with the school. After all that time vested this year, we were relieved to find a school that would fit his needs perfectly. We can’t wait for this next chapter with him!

For me, the election season was like that. I never go into voting lightly and this year, I believe, was my most informed voter decision that I had ever made. I took unbiased quizzes to try to figure out what issues aligned with me most, I watched each of the debates, I spent hours reading articles from both sides of the coin, and I talked endlessly with my husband about what we were looking for in this presidential election. I was very vested when I placed my vote, as I know many of you were, and the person that I thought would do a good job did not win.

I expected what I saw on social media, but it’s been an awful scroll from both sides.

I hope you will humor me for a moment and envision the voting process a little differently than maybe the way you did before. I want you to imagine that when each person went to vote they carried behind them their luggage of issues. Maybe you came with an overnight sack of a couple of things that were important to you and placed your vote or you just had a week’s worth of stuff that was easier to roll and to manage while you were voting.

Others though were backing up moving vans of issues and trying to haul that in with them when they voted. That van was loaded, heavy, and packed to the brim.

When we got home, maybe your overnight bag was easy to unpack and you felt good about the outcome of the day. Even if it didn’t go your way, you felt good about unpacking and moving on to the next chapter.   You went about making your coffee, feeling good, and you gazed out your window and saw your neighbor with all this stuff just strewn all over the lawn.

It was a mess over there.

They looked overwhelmed and they were just sitting in the middle of it looking bewildered at how they were ever going to put all this crap away.

What is your knee jerk reaction to this view?

Do you roll your eyes and tell them to declutter? You laugh and head to your computer to make a hilarious meme on hoarding- your friends are going to LOVE this!

Do you head into the house and message them a helpful article that outlines why they should have hired a moving service? They should have known this was going to happen. You always saw it coming and had shared with them lots of articles before they moved about outsourcing this. I guess they did not read them.

Do you yell out the window, “Get up and put it away! You look emotional and you need to get over it and make your lawn look like mine!”

Do you put your coffee down, get your coat on, and tell them you want to help? You’re overwhelmed with their mess, but you know it might lighten the load if you did something. You know you are good at praying, listening, and organizing. You know they are hurting and and you are good at many of these things. You can’t do the unpacking, but wouldn’t it be nice to tell them that you are their friend.

What I worry about is that some of us may have forgotten a second piece of luggage in baggage claim. It was the bag with the empathy in it that helps you see your neighbor with love. Some people unpacked those bags and used them, but I fear that others of us forgot them. That second piece of luggage was really important for both sides to be able to work together. That second piece was the key to helping unpack the first one.

I’ll admit, this family still has some stuff on their lawn so I apologize for the view. We are hoping the view will change, but we haven’t gotten everything put away yet. We will get there, but we are trying to distribute that second piece of luggage to our friends while still unpacking our own. It wasn’t a moving truck size, but it wasn’t an overnight bag.

The silver lining to this story is that I know that we ALL want this country to succeed and this is the common theme that I am choosing to focus on.  I love our people and our country. I am praying that the transition is a good and hopeful one. We need it!

If you are feeling in the dumps right now, I hope that this will be an enjoyable scroll as I highlight the good in the world.

Good In Action

Parenting a Child With ADD: Working With Your School

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

Parenting a Child With ADD: Working With Your School

With my son’s blessing & permission, we are sharing our story of what is like to have & be the parent of a child with ADD in this continuing series. To read Part One of our diagnosis story, click here.  Part 2 continued the diagnosis and treatment process!  Today we tackle working with the schools! We welcome your comments and hope our story helps other families facing the same challenges.

I think one of the biggest challenges for me as a parent wasn’t just the treatment process, but more the stigma and worry about what having a label like ADD can do.  Before we dealt with this, I had always thought of this as kids being crazy (and probably indulging in too much sugar), but ADD/ADHD can be so different for each kid. Maybe you had an idea for that label too? It isn’t always necessarily hyper kids- I don’t think I would have identified my child as that. In each child, it looks a little differently with similar characteristic traits.

Today I want to talk about how we tried to set Ethan up for success at school.  I already told you, this kid is SMART (he gets it from his daddy!), but we needed to get certain tools and people in place to help him be the star that we know he is!

Parenting a Child With ADD: Working With Your School

Start Talking Early

We knew that Ethan was struggling at school and we felt like we needed to let our teacher know that we were working really hard to improve things for him and hopefully for her too! I set up a meeting with the principal and his teacher and tearfully explained that we were working with our doctor and were in the process of figuring things out and asked for a little patience until we had some answers. They both were genuinely kind and sympathetic as we were floundering to figure out how to help Ethan.  Looping them in early bought us a little grace during the diagnosis process because they knew we were trying very hard to make things better for all the parties involved.

Once we had a diagnosis, we were able to begin making the accommodations necessary through our public school system and our principal explained how we could get a 504 for Ethan in place once we had this paperwork. Depending on your needs, you may need an IEP or a 504.  If you are trying to figure out what you need, I love this table that breaks down what each of these means on Understood (a great resource for parents!). At times, with speech services we needed an IEP. When speech was dropped, we just needed the 504. It depends on what type of accommodations your family needs to determine which type of paperwork is filed.

What The Heck is a 504?

Once we had the official paperwork from the testing with our diagnosis, we put a plan in place for Ethan.  We set up a meeting with the principal, his teacher, and with someone who could set up something called a 504 plan for him. A 504 is basically a blueprint or plan for how a child will have access to learning at school that is written together.  It provides services and changes to the learning environment to meet the needs of the child as adequately as other students and is provided at no cost to you.

Here is the thing… I did not want to ask for special favors or inconvenience our teacher, but I knew that there were things that really needed to happen so that Ethan could perform successfully at school. It pained me to ask for “favors” (I am a big people pleaser and hate being a bother to people), but I knew this could help him so much!

Our 504 has pretty much remained the same since elementary school with a few tweaks here and there for his accommodations.

We Need To Be In the Loop- Our biggest issue was that we felt in the dark about what needed to happen during the day and if the teacher needed something from us. We asked that Ethan write in his agenda daily what needed to happen and requested the teacher initial to verify everything so we weren’t missing important papers and deadlines anymore. We also asked that any further communication that she wanted to do with us also was on the agenda so we could be sure not to miss anything.

We Need Access to Quiet Spaces Sometimes- Some classrooms are rowdier than others. He had a hard time focusing when there was a lot going on and we wanted to be sure that he could take advantage of a quieter room if he needed it. This is something we only have cashed in on once, but it’s nice to have in place.

We Asked for A Little Grace on Late Papers- This is never to be abused, but sometimes our disorganization has caused us to be late on assignments. We just asked for grace, particularly transitioning into our new school routines since having zeros for late assignments could really lower his grades.

We Need Extra Time At the End of the Day- This was particularly important as we headed into middle school so that he had enough time to get his books and papers gathered and organized before getting on the bus. That extra 5-10 minutes made an enormous difference in our organizational level and our grades. I think this was the best thing we asked for!

Where Does the 504 Go?

For us, one of our biggest transitions was going from an elementary school setting to a middle school setting. Although we had communicated with his teachers that he had ADD, we did not know that we need to communicate with the middle school that he had a 504 from elementary school and that we wanted to make sure everything was set with it moving forward into our new school. If there is one thing we learned through this process, we learned that we need to check in every year about this and make sure that it is communicated with his teachers. The first year of middle school taught us a lot about making requests known as we were struggling to even pass because the accommodations weren’t there.

What ends up being the difference in the grades if the 504 is not addressed?

We went from barely pulling C’s to High Principal’s Honor Roll!

That’s an incredible difference for a child and for their family.

It’s also an incredible difference in my child’s confidence about himself.

Parenting a Child With ADD: Working With Your School

How Can I Continue Making His Day Better?

Not only do we have the 504 in place for Ethan, but we take advantage of anything that the school offers that can continue improving those grades and helping him feel confident.

Confidence is such an important thing for a kid.

When our middle school offered free tutoring, we took advantage of that so he could stay after school and tackle that homework with help. We found that he was more productive in that environment than he was riding the bus trying to work on his homework when he got home.

We also looked into ways that he could burn off energy in a positive way. We were lucky enough to have gotten the scoop on cross country in middle school from another mom and this helped Ethan burn off some energy and be a part of a team that really fit with his personality.  I love that his coach focuses on each child doing their own personal best and that he has managed to find fun ways to encourage my child to run with a system of great rewards that Ethan finds motivating. We also love that running is an activity he can always do when he needs to burn off a little steam at home. What a great gift!

I wrote a special note to his coach to thank him for all he does to encourage our son because it has meant so much to us and to Ethan. His positive influence has been a big gift to our family.

How Can I Set My Kid Up for Success?

Success at school starts at home. I can do all of these incredible things for him through the people he interacts with at school, but if I am disorganized at home, those repercussions follow Ethan and make his day hard. It’s a team mentality and I struggle each year as the new school year starts. I can barely keep myself organized most days, let alone stay on top of someone else’s stuff too!

As a parent, I have to make sure that I communicate with his teachers from day one, I have to make sure the appropriate paperwork is filed on his 504, and I have to be the one to stay on top of everything with his homework and projects.

Being organized at home is important because it can be the difference between a good day and a bad day for my son.

As he gets older though, I am trying to push a little more back to him. Someday he will be an adult and he won’t have a mom setting everything up for him in his workplace and in his home. I want to raise a self-sufficient child so I have to do my part to help him do that. Sometimes he will do great with it, sometimes he won’t.

We don’t expect perfection, we are proud of him for trying and doing the best he can.

We certainly aren’t perfect either.

Parenting a Child With ADD: Working With Your School

The Nagging Mom Transformation

I needed to work on my nagging as much as Ethan needed to work on better habits.

In the morning, the routine was the same:

Do you have your papers?

Did you get your agenda signed?

Did you do your homework?

Do you have your gym clothes?

(said in a nagging mom voice)

I started utilizing a checklist that I would sit by his backpack to go through and would just remind him to check his checklist in the morning instead of the daily nag. I turned off my own distractions and just focused on a good breakfast and building that kid up at the bus stop. I made more time for hugs and less time for Facebook-checking. I tried to tell him one thing I was proud of him each day. All of this has become such a part of my routine that I don’t think about it anymore.

I don’t think this makes me an amazing mom and I don’t say this to brag, I just say this because part of the transformation of this diagnosis is the transforming I had to do on myself.  I had to see the psychologist so I knew how to respond to my child better. I have to invest the time monthly in check-ups and making sure his medical needs are addressed. I have to communicate with the school staff so they know I care. I have to make room in our schedule for activities that make my son feel confident.

It has all been worth it.

Every.

Single.

Moment.

I hope that sharing this story offers some encouragement to you. As a blogger, there is a difficult balance that we have to deal with when sharing about our families. I shared this because I felt so very alone in this process and I know our story can help others.

If you are working through this with your child, I want you to know that you are not alone and that you are a good mom.

The process of discovery, diagnosis, and treatment can be transformative for a family.

Your process might look different than mine or you might explore other avenues than we did. Each family must figure out what works best for them.

I have found I was a much harsher judge of other moms before this experience. Now I just look at all of our different paths (with all those winding turns) and say, “I am so proud of you for doing what’s best for you!”

If there is anything I have learned from this experience it is that it takes a village.

I am so thankful for mine.

xoxo

Parenting a Child With ADD: The Diagnosis (Part 2)

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

Parenting a Child With ADD: The Diagnosis (Part 2)

With my son’s blessing & permission, we are sharing our story of what is like to have & be the parent of a child with ADD in this continuing series. To read Part One of our diagnosis story, click here. We welcome your comments and hope our story helps other families facing the same challenges.

Testing day could not come quickly enough, but it first required a session with the psychologist to explain our concerns. We didn’t just talk about his inability to follow through on tasks and disorganization (although that was frustrating). Our biggest concern was the emotional outbursts and anger that we were dealing with. We knew we weren’t handling these situations well and were concerned that not only were we dealing with a possible ADD diagnosis, but that maybe something emotionally was wrong too.

I remember that the doctor said that often by treating the ADD that these emotional outbursts lessen because the child is not so frustrated.  I certainly didn’t want to pin my hopes on that, but wouldn’t it be incredible if we were able to help both elements of our struggles as parents?

He said he would get us scheduled with some weekly visits for the anger issues though so we could get that under control.

Good, we needed it!

Testing, Testing

Testing day had finally arrived. We had lots of questionnaires to fill out and even ones to pass on to our teacher to share about how our son performed in the classroom.

Testing can be done in a variety of ways (every family needs to explore those options with their own doctor/psychologist)  and the psychologist we chose diagnosed through an IQ test. I remember nervously dropping him off with a big snack and a kiss for the morning.

Once the test results were done, we got to come back in and chat with the psychologist about the diagnosis.

What did the results show us? He was incredibly smart (you don’t have to tell us that!), but his memory/processing/sequencing (I apologize that I don’t remember the specific category) was extremely low. Since those numbers don’t correlate, he had every characteristic listed on every ADD site we ever visited, and the questionnaire filled out by us and by his teachers supported this theory, the psychologist said that he felt confident that our son had ADD.

Parenting a Child With ADD: The Diagnosis (Part 2)

He has ADD, Now What?

Hallelujah! We have an answer!  In my mind, someone gives us a prescription and we go along on our merry way and live happily ever after.

It wasn’t like that though.

The psychologist gave us the paperwork and we had to set up an appointment with our physician and then the doctor had to outline the treatment and then we had to go back to the psychologist.

Of course, we haven’t even touched the anger issues so we need to set up appointments for that.

Oh, and loop in our teacher and the school system.

Instead of relief, it felt like a million more pounds of stuff I needed to do.

First, we contacted our doctor and he had a complete physical that gave us information about where we were starting at (particularly his height & weight) and then she recommended a medication that we could try, letting me know that we could start a small dose and then increase the dosage based on what we needed. Since I know nothing about medication or dosage, I left this piece of the puzzle in the doctor’s hands.

She assured me she would keep a close eye on things since I would be seeing her once a month now.

WAIT, HOLD UP. I have to go to the doctor with my kid every month for this?

Granted, I know other moms who have had a much harder time with their kids and medical issues so this feels really ridiculous for me to feel like this is a burden, but the idea of going to the doctor monthly for physicals and having to have a handwritten prescription every month that I could not just get filled annually, but have to bring in a physical prescription every four weeks seemed like a lot to deal with on top of our counseling appointments.

It goes without saying, but the cost of all of these tests, medications, and physicals were also unexpected.

Pass the wine!  But just the boxed stuff because BILLS.

Treatment Begins

This is probably the hardest part of our journey and this journey can look so differently for so many families.

This was the part of the journey that Ethan wanted me to share specifically with you.

The struggles with figuring out the right medication and the right dosage for our child were extremely difficult as were the side effects that he experienced. Remember how I said I left the medication piece of the puzzle up to our doctor to figure out? We had no idea that the dosage was too high for our son because we had no idea what an appropriate dosage would be.

Although it is typical to experience side effects from medication as your body adjusts to it, our child did not even resemble my child anymore.

He could not sleep at night.

He barely ate.

He seemed like a robot.

After the first day in school on his medication though, he told me something though that nearly brought me to my knees.

“I finally feel smart.”

This beautifully bright boy had never felt smart until now and that just about broke me.

I was still riddled with the guilt of yelling at him and feeling like I failed him as a mom. What if I would have caught this sooner? What if I could have helped him feel smart years ago?  The guilt and the part I played in this story really bothered me.

We headed to our weekly therapy appointments to deal with anger.

Guess who sat out in the waiting room?

The kid with the anger management issues.

Guess who went to therapy?

My husband and I!

Oh, that made me so mad…

I wonder where he got those anger issues from.

As the doctor had suggested though, Ethan wasn’t angry anymore. We didn’t experience emotional outbursts, but we wanted to be prepared if they started back up again. My husband and I headed to anger management class and my son sat out in the waiting room reading his book, unaware how cool we were going to be after all this training.

Parenting a Child With ADD: The Diagnosis (Part 2)

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Go With Your Gut

Even though Ethan felt really smart, I did not love the side effects of this medication he was on. I went along with the the plan despite my misgivings.  I regret that I did not speak up sooner for him and for our family.

After a year of living with a zombie, we ended up needing to switch doctors and I got a referral into one of the best doctors in our town. He immediately put him on the lowest dosage available and also selected a pill that would have very few side effects. Instead of changing my kid, it would just act as a little aid to help him tap into those smarts that he already possessed. I started to see my boy again and I knew we were on a better path.

What I learned from that experience was that I may not be a doctor, but I need to always be an advocate for his treatment.  If I’m not comfortable with how things are going, I need to speak up about it.

Since he is growing like a weed now and doing so well with this pill, we don’t have to meet with our doctor monthly, but we still have several meetings a month where our doctor talks to him about school and learning to tune in to the things that he experiences with his medication and learning how to utilize those cues as life skills if he doesn’t want to continue a medication later in life.  This is a conversation that the two of them have and I chime in as needed. It’s a good place to be in when you have such a great dialogue with your physician.

Now that we got through our biggest hurdles, we still had to address how we handled everything at school. Next week I’ll share what it has been like going to bat for Ethan in the school system and what I have learned from this experience together!

 

 

Parenting a Child With ADD: The Diagnosis (Part 1)

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015

Parenting a Child With ADD: The Diagnosis (Part 1) from MomAdvice.com

I am sure if you have been a reader here, you know how fiercely I guard the privacy of my children. Over the years I have struggled a lot as a mom and one of my biggest struggles was my son’s diagnosis with ADD. Through his diagnosis and treatment, we have had the opportunity to help so many parents locally who have been going through the same difficulties and  point them to doctors and resources that have helped improve their lives.

It is with his blessing and permission that I share our story today, in hopes we can help someone else going through the same struggles.

I am so proud of our boy for sharing his story to help other families! I hope you will leave him a little note to tell him that! 

Parenting a Child With ADD: The Diagnosis (Part 1) from MomAdvice.com

When Your Kid Doesn’t Fit in the Box

Ethan was the kind of kid that never fit into the box and this is just one of many reasons why I love him. From his shocking entry into the world (early and complete with a placental abruption that could have killed us both), I should have known he was going to challenge everything I thought about parenting.  Ethan hit most milestones normally with the exception of one… speech.  He was a silent baby and did not make any noises at all.  He rarely made eye contact with us and never turned to us when we said his name. Since he was my first baby, I had no expectations of what he should be doing, but others in our family and our pediatrician were concerned about his lack of speech. At ten months he qualified for early intervention speech therapy in Massachusetts. When my husband lost his job, we relocated around that time to Indiana, and I decided to hold off on the speech therapy and see if Ethan might blossom in his new location.

At eighteen months, he still made hardly any audible sounds and still would not turn to me when I called his name. We were placed into the First Steps program where he benefited from an incredible therapist who helped us both with Ethan’s speech delay and sensory issues. I remember thinking how ridiculous this all seemed as she played with playdough and blew bubbles with him on my kitchen floor. Clearly I knew nothing because not only did he start speaking, we couldn’t get this kid to shut up! The ability to speak helped curb some of his frustrated outbursts and baby signing helped us until he could communicate fully.

Instead of speaking like a baby though, he went full-out sentences and would fixate on one particular thing and talk about it nonstop. It began with trains and then later it was dinosaurs. This child who could not even say mom now said Ankylosaurus and had memorized an entire dinosaur dictionary. It was so wild to me!

Parenting a Child With ADD: The Diagnosis (Part 1) from MomAdvice.com

Everything is Fine Until You Have to Go to School

Since Ethan was an only child, our therapist thought he might benefit from being around other kids his age more, so we looked into a school program for him when he turned two. He loved school so much and I loved seeing his vocabulary growing. I remember that he was so busy and I couldn’t believe all this big energy that could be in such a little body!  Socially, we were struggling. Ethan would only do things he wanted to do, preferring to not interact with other kids at all unless they played his games. He never listened to anyone else- and only talked excessively about what he was into. In circle times, he did not sit like he was supposed to, preferring to get up and do laps instead of sitting.

To help improve our circle time at school, I took him to storytime at the library. As the kids sat in their mama’s laps and sang songs and listened to the librarian, my son refused to sit with me and spent the entire time lapping the room, ripping open the cabinets behind the librarian, and screaming if I tried to hold him in my lap. I sobbed in the parking lot and vowed I would NEVER do that to myself again.

We held Ethan back a year to see if he might benefit from an extra year of preschool before we put him in elementary school, thinking he had some social issues to work through. That year of Pre-K was one of the worst years of my parenting life. Ethan was bored in school and every morning to take him there was a battle and not the kind of battles I had ever seen any of my friends deal with. He kicked and screamed. He hit me. He would stretch his arms and legs as wide as they would go and refuse to get in the car. Many days, I took this five year-old kid and left him outside of his classroom, kicking and screaming. I would walk away and be glad I didn’t have to deal with him for a few hours.

It wasn’t my proudest moment as a mom.

I screamed at him.

I was embarrassed by his outbursts.

These moments of frustration were peppered throughout the years until he turned nine. He would have toddler-like tantrums about doing homework.

One night he barricaded his door with all of his belongings just to keep us out of his room.

He was always disorganized.

He would not bring home papers for me to sign, he would do work at school and just fizzle out at the end of worksheets for no reason, and he was always angry and frustrated with us.

Harder than that though, were the apologies after the outbursts and the crocodile tears down his face as he told us he was sorry and didn’t know why he was doing this.

I became a broken nagging record every single day, begging him to just, FOR THE LOVE, do your homework and bring your stuff home. HOW HARD IS IT? IT’S SO SIMPLE.

In fourth grade (for lack of better words), the shit hit the fan. As his teacher was preparing him for middle school, our frustrations got bigger and the homework got longer and the outbursts were out of control. He was so mean and so angry.

I was so mean and so angry.

As I shared my frustrations with a family member, she said, “That reminds me of so-and-so in our family.”

That so-and-so in our family had ADD.

Wait…what?

ADD- Is that Even a Real Thing?

I didn’t think ADD was a real thing, but was an excuse for disorganization and lack of discipline. Feel free to throw rotten tomatoes at me! I tend to believe that good exercise, a healthy diet, and vitamins are the cure for anything that ails you. The idea that my son had something that might require a doctor’s care and treatment baffled me.

I also felt ashamed that it made me feel relieved too to know there was something wrong and I wasn’t just a terrible mom.

If there is something wrong and we can figure it out, I can help us all.

As I clicked through website after website, these things that I thought were problems that only Ethan had, were actually characteristics of someone who had ADD.

  • Constantly fidgets and squirms
  • Often leaves his or her seat in situations where sitting quietly is expected
  • Moves around constantly, often runs or climbs inappropriately
  • Talks excessively
  • Has difficulty playing quietly or relaxing
  • Is always “on the go,” as if driven by a motor
  • May have a quick temper or a “short fuse”
  • Doesn’t pay attention to details
  • Makes careless mistakes
  • Has trouble staying focused; is easily distracted
  • Appears not to listen when spoken to
  • Has difficulty remembering things and following instructions
  • Has trouble staying organized, planning ahead, and finishing projects
  • Gets bored with a task before it’s completed
  • Frequently loses or misplaces homework, books, toys, or other items

It was as though someone knew our family personally and the struggles we were experiencing. Not only that, but when I flipped through his report cards, the teachers had even said some of these same exact phrases on his report card. Were they trying to clue me in?

Now that I thought I might know what the issue was, I was more determined than ever to get a proper diagnosis and not a quickie questionnaire in the doctor’s office. I wanted a true capture of what we were dealing with and how we could help our child.

We reached out to a psychologist in town for an evaluation and waited an excruciating two weeks until he could come in for testing.

That test changed our lives and our interactions with our child forever!

Come back next Tuesday for the continuation of our story!

 

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