I Don’t Think I Know What I’m Doing Anymore

Bowie’s different than most kids.

He’s super emotional and sensitive and he’s like that most of the time. And he’s been that way for most of his life.

His response in a fight or flight situation is always to fight.

We’ve been told over the years that it’s his SPD. He is much more easily annoyed by things that you and I can deal with, or just plain don’t notice. A breeze. An itchy underwear tag. The hum of a truck parked outside of his classroom. Bright lights. A ticking clock.

One of the things that really gets him going is when another overly energetic kid gets too close to him. Makes too much noise around him. Pokes at him in some way. And continues to do that after Bowie has asked them to stop, which we’ve fought so hard to tell him to do over the years.

Yesterday he hit a kid on the head with his lunchbox (which is metal, btw) for following him around the schoolyard after Bowie had asked him to leave him alone. He told us he didn’t see an adult that could help him, and in his own kid words he told us he did what he had to do.

To add insult to injury, this is a kid that is not in his class this year, but was in his Kindergarten class and his first grade class. A kid that he has a love-hate relationship with. Most of the time they’re buddies and get along great, but when this kid, one of the “overly energetic” types I mentioned, does something Bowie doesn’t like, Bowie responds violently.

He is the roughest with those he loves the most, but how do I explain that to this kid’s parents? And now, after two full years of explaining the whole SPD situation to them, and apologizing profusely after every incident, and doing my best damage control and sucking up to them and planning afterschool playdates so they can “learn to get along better”, it has happened AGAIN. More violent behavior.

There comes a time when sympathy for Bowie’s situation runs dry, and he’s just The Kid That Hurts Other Kids. It’s easy for us to tell him 100 times a day to think before he acts, but not so easy for him to actually do that.

He’s rough with us at home too. All three of us. And we take it, over and over again, because we are so familiar with how hard it is for him to navigate life. We’ve seen him at his most tender times, we know how sweet and loving he can be when he’s got the energy for it. But, most of the time, we generally just don’t like being around him. He feels the safest around us, so he lets all of his emotions run wild in front of us. Anger. Frustration. Sadness. Unfortunately, those are the emotions he goes to first.

So, I’m starting to wonder, when is a kid just a difficult kid, and when do more drastic measures need to be taken?

He’s been in and out of occupational therapy for his SPD for years. And it helps him, it really does. But maybe he needs talk therapy. Maybe all those years of the adults in his life punishing him for just being himself has done some damage. Maybe it makes him depressed that there are kids at his school that are too afraid to play with him. Maybe he’s starting to turn some hatred inward because he’s so out of control of his own impulses.

All I know, is I remember the first time I laid eyes on him, and he lay in my arms so peacefully, just staring at my face as I cooed at him. So calm. I want to rewind and start over. Do it differently this time. Because surely it’s my fault that he’s like this now.

My sweet, quiet, calm boy is still there. I still see glimpses of it once in a while. But life has really got him down lately. And I don’t know what to do.

Bowieatbeach

Happy New Year

second grade

I have a second grader, you guys. A SECOND GRADER. Parenthood is the wildest of wild rides, and the absurdly fast rate at which your children grow is part of that wildness. It’s SERIOUSLY like you give birth, and then you blink your eyes and they are feeding themselves, totally potty trained, reading books, losing teeth, riding bikes, and all the other surprises that lie ahead.

Yesterday was the first day of second grade, and it started off with a bang. Well, a shake. There was a pretty sizable earthquake across the bay, and we felt a little rumble out here at the beach. I was sitting on the couch, trying to enjoy my cup of tea, and I felt the room rumble. I got prepared to yell at my kids to get back to eating their breakfast, and looked at them to find them eating their Fruit Loops like perfect angels.

The day seemed to go pretty well. He was also in an after school program for the first time ever, which has him in school until 6pm, which I worried would be too long of a day for him. But, all things considered, he held up pretty well.

I spoke today with his teacher about his SPD and all of his quirks, and she seemed really positive, and eager to help. So, I’m feeling really optimistic about this year. As you might recall, last year was a total drag and he had a really hard time. We’re hoping things are much smoother in second grade.

SECOND GRADE. You guys.

Four

Dear Bowie,

I can’t believe that you’re four years old already. It seems like just yesterday they handed you to me, my wiggly, bleary eyed, puffy, pink little cone-headed dude. And you did not cry, you just lay in my arms and stared at my face as if to say simply, “Hey.”

Now you stand before me with a head of wild blonde hair (that you remind me daily “really needs to be cut again, mama”), wide, green, telling eyes, and a set of super sensitive emotions that at all times are 3 seconds away from unhinging me completely. But, it’s not your fault, I know that now after a lot of struggle and meetings with your preschool teachers. And we’ll get through it together, I promise.

Four years old. FOUR years old. All at once, I am amazed that our little family has come so far, and saddened by how fast it all has zipped by us.

This birthday means so much to mommy too, I think because my earliest grouping of memories, not my very earliest memory, but the time of my life when I can remember more than one thing about, is when I was 4. There’s something very important about that. You’ve grown up enough now that you will remember this time in your life. It has really made me stop and reflect on what I say to you, how I act in front of you, what we do together.

You are this little man all of a sudden, with ideas and opinions and dreams that are 100% your own, and you can tell us all about them now. We’ve really been pushing the idea that you will be the Big Brother in this family, to help keep your mind open and positive when it comes to having a sibling. But truthfully, it took me a few weeks of this to realize that you really are a Big Boy now, no longer a baby, not even a toddler anymore.

Last year, I remarked how you were 1) not yet potty trained; and 2) completely infatuated with the movie Cars and slated to see your first movie in a theater, Cars 2. I’m VERY happy to report that you are now a fully potty trained kiddo, and though I still have to help you every time, I know you’ll get the rest eventually and I will miss these days. You’re also old hat at the movie theater thing now, even seeing 3D movies, glasses and all, picking movie treats and getting angry when people kick the back of your seat.

You have trouble falling asleep at night if mama or daddy are not in the room until you fall asleep. This has bothered me for a good portion of the last year, but I came to realize that this, just like everything else about childhood, will change and I probably won’t even notice when. I know that it’s a habit your little brother is likely to force you to break. But even if that doesn’t force issue, I know that eventually you will be “too” big for it, and will insist we leave you alone. I’m not looking forward to that day, so even if getting my big pregnant body in and out of your little bed is a challenge, I’ll gladly do it. And to be fair, last year I did write to you, “Here’s to another year of snuggling in your bed with you to help you fall asleep.” So, there ya go. Wish granted.

I love you a million zillion times to the moon and back, and then some. Keep growing, keep smiling, keep being everything that makes you Bowie. Happy fourth birthday, Big Brother Bowie.

Love,

Mama

P.S. I recently read that the average 4 year old asks 437 questions a day. I’d say that number seems a bit low…

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly…

…of this pregnancy. So far.

The good:

1. Just being pregnant. It took 9 long months from miscarriage to conception and I am just so glad it finally happened. I wondered if it ever would, if my body was all done. (I know, I know I’m only 33 for Heaven’s sakes, but that stuff just crosses your mind sometimes.) (Especially when you live in a society hell bent on making you think 30 is “old”.) So, it’s nice to be past all of that.

2. I’ve been feeling the baby move since just 15 weeks! I was probably more like 22 weeks or so with Bowie before I felt his little movements, but now that I know what it feels like, I can recognize even the tiniest flutters. It’s such an amazing feeling during a pregnancy in which I need a LOT of reassurance.

3. The morning sickness was not so bad. I definitely had it, but it ended quickly and abruptly. With Bowie, I was doing the eating-saltines-before-getting-out-of-bed thing until like 20 weeks. With this kiddo, I did that only for about a week, really early on, and then I managed to survive just getting up and getting that first cup of tea in me. And I haven’t even really felt sick since week 12 or so (unless I have a headache, but that’s not a story for the “good” section).

The bad:

1. The soul-sucking fatigue. When I was pregnant with Bowie, I do remember being tired. And I had the luxury of alone time back then, so I’d take naps. And go to bed early. This time, I’m so much more tired. I’m thinking, I finally get what all the books are talking about. I was tired the first time. This time I’m so EXHAUSTED. I don’t have the time to stop and go to sleep whenever the mood strikes. Some days I just have to suck down a guilt-ridden Diet Coke and power through until Bowie is asleep, about 8pm these days. To add insult to injury, all the books told me I’d probably start feeling better around week 14. Three weeks later and I’m seeing no signs of improvement. Bah humbug.

2. I’ve been waking up with these awful headaches, as previously mentioned. Probably 3 or 4 days a week. It’s like a mild migraine, if there is such a thing. I wake up with a pounding head, and mega-nausea. But different nausea than morning sickness. And I have actually thrown up from this. If I can manage to get my morning cup of tea in me, the headache subsides and my day continues as normal. I have the suspicion it’s blood pressure related. And I have a hard time not ending up sleeping on my back. Every time I wake up, I switch to my side, but it never fails, I end up on my back again. And that’s supposed to be not so great for blood flow. Going to talk to the doc about it next week at my appointment. I sure hope there are some preventative things I can do about this.

3. Some things don’t smell/taste “right” to me anymore. I never had this issue with Bowie. With him, the traditional yucky smells would bother me: cigarette smoke, gasoline, garbage cans, booze breath. But this time, random things are starting to turn me off. So far the worst offenders are pizza sauce (I KNOW) and blueberry toaster waffles. And I hope the list ends there. It’s very frustrating.

The ugly:

1. Body hair. Namely, facial hair. It’s the grossest ever. WTF, hormones?

2. I’m already having a hard time holding in pee. At 17 weeks. What’s going to become of me when I’m HUGE and waddling to the bathroom? Ugh.

3. Acne. That lovely “pregnancy glow” is causing me some mega clogged pores.

And, because I’m getting this question a lot lately, here’s an FAQ about the baby’s gender and whatnot:

1. Are you going to find out the sex of the baby? Yes.

2. Are you going to share said information with us? Yes.

3. When do you get to find out? The ultrasound is generally performed around 20 weeks. I will officially be 20 weeks on April 29th. I go in for a regular appointment next Friday, where we will be scheduling the ultrasound appointment.

4. Do you want a boy or a girl? I’m torn. Having another boy would be fun. Boys are lots of fun. And I feel like I know what I’m doing. Although, of course having a little girl would be great too. I’d have one of each. A set. So, I’m indifferent.

5. Does Bowie want a brother or sister? I think he’d be happy with either. But, for a few weeks now he has been insistent that it’s a sister. Even telling me, “No, mama, it’s not a brother, it’s a sister.” I might have a little clairvoyant on my hands, we shall see.

A Conversation

In the car, driving to the grocery store:

Bowie: Mama, do you have a new baby?

Me: uuuummmm, what?

Bowie: Do you have a new baby? The baby in your belly?

I did tell him a few times that there was a “baby in my belly”. But that was it. And I haven’t said a word since the miscarriage.

Me: Uh, there’s not a baby in my belly.

Bowie: Yes, there is a baby in your belly!

Me: Well…that baby got a boo boo and had to go away.

Bowie: Oh. [pause] I can get it back!

Me: I wish we could, but that baby is gone forever. We will have to work really hard to make a new one.

Bowie: Yes. Because I want to have a baby in my family.

Never thought I’d have to have that conversation. Poor kid. It must be hard to comprehend stuff like that. Lord knows it’s tough for adults.