Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Texting Tyler

Sitting here at work, in my office, and for some reason, I almost picked up my phone and texted Tyler.  Yes, Tyler, my 5-year-old son (that doesn't have a phone). 

Sometimes at work I just think about them, a lot.  I wonder what they are doing. 

I remember that today is Wednesday, which means it is "sprinkler day", so I hope that Tyler found his swimsuit and towel today at daycare.  He has been known to lose them.  They are good about holding the kids accountable for taking care of their things, so if they can't find their suit that day, they can't go swimming.  I would say that is good motivation!  But being a mom, I would drive down from Cedar Rapids and bring him another suit if that meant he got to go to the pool that day or play in the water, since that is his favorite thing to do.  When it's happened before he just said "Yea, I couldn't find my suit today until after swimming, so I stayed here with some of the kids.  It was okay.  I played with Legos.  I need to be more careful of what I do with my stuff.  I found my suit in the clean laundry basket anyway because I didn't pick it up when they asked me to..."  (Holy Crap!  This is my kid???  Holding himself accountable?)

I had to run to Walgreens at lunch, and they had a sale on those silly bracelets that are in style with kids these days.  Those bracelets that are all different shapes that they trade and stuff.  (Reminds me of the rubber bracelets I had as a kid.)   I picked him up 4 packages of them (as he loses them quickly).

It really made me stop, when I thought "I should text Tyler and tell him I picked up some of the bracelets he had been eyeing at the mall...", but quickly remember... I can't. 

I wish there was a way I could send him messages in the day, just to tell him I love him and Connor.  And I'll see them tonight... that they can help me cut the grass, and we'll play outside and enjoy the warm evening air. 

Someday I will...  I'm missing you boys right now.....

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pure Joy

We have some of the most awesome friends that asked us to go boating with them this past Saturday.  I haven't been out in a boat on the Coralville Reservoir in years.  I grew up boating with my parents, and my mom and dad always used to tell me that I was born to be on a boat, and I now believe them.  It was one of the most awesome days I have had in a looooong time.  It was just purely beautiful...

Connor was all decked out and ready to go the minute we hit the water.  He had such a blast, and I think he's going to be just like me with the water.

Connor sat on my lap for most of the trip (mostly so I could hold on to him), but you can tell by this smile that he's having a blast.  I think you can tell by my smile that I am too.  (Please pardon the Flock of Seagulls hairdo I have going on - the boat was going pretty fast when I took this!)

It was nice to see the old bridge again.  The bridge that gets painted with friendly graffiti every time the water gets as high as it is now.  The water on the lake is extremely high in this picture, but made it extra nice for us since they were limiting boats on the water.  The early boaters got the lake to themselves.

The boys were so excited to tube.  We even got Tyler in the tube with goofy Kyle and our neighbor, Dylan. 

We stopped in a cove and just sat in the sun or floated around.  Your choice.  I sat in the boat and soaked in the sun with the most absolute joy I have had in a while.  Although my lips are still sunburned, and my forehead and nose are peeling, I would do it again in a minute.  (In this picture, I think Kyle and Connor were having a very deep conversation.)

The best part of the day was when I got to ski.  I hadn't skied in twelve years.  Yes, twelve.  So, it took me three tries to finally get up on the skis, but when I was up, I remember being pulled along and just smiling from ear to ear, and trying to soak it all in as fast as possible.  There is just such a freedom, to me, when you're being pulled along the water, that it just made me the happiest person in the world at that moment.  It was incredible. 

I got to hang out with my friend Sarah, who had her LAST chemo treatment today for breast cancer.  Her tumor has shrunk with every chemo treatment, and will have surgery here soon, but they are confident that the chemo was successful.  She had such a blast too.  We drank beer, and talked, and just laughed.

I love being on the water, and about halfway through out day, I looked at Kyle, and he looked at me.  We knew exactly what each other was thinking at that moment...

"I love this..." he said.

"I do too." I replied, "5 year plan?"

"Yep, 5 year plan."  he replied, "buy a boat."

I couldn't wipe the smile off my face for the rest of the day.  Nor, did I want to....

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Tyler's excitement as he watched a gator at The Rainforest Cafe when we were in Chicago.

Today was the day.

It was the first day that Tyler decided he wanted to take his OWN money to the store and buy a toy.  He usually gets cards for his birthday and holiday from his grandparents with money in it, and has been sticking it in his bank for a long time.  He recently starting putting some of that money into to his wallet that Grandpa got him.  He was "cool" doing this.

Connor took a nap (and I SO wanted to also, but since Kyle was already napping on the couch, I decided it would be a very bad idea to have both of us napping with a 5 year old running around - so I forced myself out of the chair).  I went and found Tyler, and asked him if he wanted to go to the store.  "YES!" He immediately answered, "but only if I can bring my wallet because I want a toy!", he replied.

"Awesome", I thought to myself, "he finally wants to start taking this into his own hands."  So, we head off to the store with myself, Tyler and his wallet containing $28.  I stopped at Starbucks and got a triple shot of espresso (seriously, I was that tired), and I was good to go.

We arrived at Wal-Mart, and we double counted his money just to make sure.  We took out one $2 bill and I explained to him why we couldn't possibly spend that, but the rest was good to go.  $26 was good to spend on anything he could afford in the store.

We got into the store, and made a beeline to the toy department, where he immediately found the Nerf gun section.  To me, what a total waste of money, but to a 5 year old boy, that must be the Holy Grail, because there was no other aisle he was even closely interested in except Legos, which cost $50 for any set he wanted.

He picked out his gun that he drooled over for a couple of minutes, and it was $19.96.  He was so proud.  He smiled from ear to ear, and picked it up, and his whole face just beamed with happiness.  I don't know if I have seen him that happy in a long time...

"This will be MY gun, Mommy, that I bought with my OWN money...." he said very proudly. 

"Yes it will, Tyler, yes it will..." I replied, with tears in my eyes.  Seriously.  (I don't know why - maybe because I realized how fast he is growing up.)

We had to meander through the store back to the infants department to get Connor some pull-ups for nighttime, and then walked to the registers.  The whole time, he just talked and talked about random things, and it was so nice.  We had so much fun.  It just makes me smile to think about it.

As we walked to the register, I found one that was open, and as we walked toward it, I asked him if he was ready to pay for his gun, and then looked at his hands.  All he had was his gun.  His wallet was gone.

"Tyler, where's your wallet?" I asked him.  He looked at me with the most panicked look on his face.

"I don't know, Mommy, I don't know, where is it, where is it???" he started to say... having an absolute panic attack.

"We'll walk back through the store at anyplace where you may have set it down, and see if we can find it... it's's okay..." I told him.  I had to keep telling him it would be okay.  He was nervous, and the tears were starting to form.

We looked and looked, and we didn't find it.  He was heartbroken.  I was heartbroken.  I told him I would pay for the toy and he could pay me back WHEN we find his wallet, and he just stood at the cash register and cried and cried.  I have never seen a more heartbroken cry from Tyler, ever.  He was so disappointed in himself, he didn't even know what to do.

We walked to the Customer Service counter, and gave them our name and number, and a description of it, and the whole way home, I had to explain why we might not see it again, but hopefully a nice honest person will find it and turn it in.  Then I had to explain what honest meant, and that it could, but why it might not possibly turn up.

I kept telling Tyler that this was a good lesson learned, and everyone has lost a wallet, and I bet he'll (I'll) never do that again.  I'll make sure we have it in hand at all times, just so I don't have to see that heartbreak again.

But, I'm checking my cell phone every 5 minutes to make sure I haven't received a call from the store saying they have Tyler's wallet, and heart, for us to pick up.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Explosive Child (My very long post)

All I can say, is it's been difficult lately.  Tyler has had a tremendously difficult summer.  I'm not sure if he's growing into himself, getting extremely tired, just frustrated at life, or if it's a combination of everything.  In the picture below, I am sitting with Tyler on a Saturday morning.  I think Connor took this picture (as he randomly will pick up the camera and start taking pictures of things - and yes - I'm still in my pretty pajamas.  Yes, sporting my classy beer shirt.)  It wasn't until I saw this picture, until I realized what I really needed to do.

 Could you imagine a more unhappy 5 year old?  And if I remember correctly, there really wasn't anything that spurred this.  This is a normal emotional reaction for Tyler.  

Today I had some time, so I sat on our deck and read the book "The Explosive Child".  I had a good friend I met on the internet recommend this to me a while ago, and when I got it, I read the first page that was the story of a 15 year old child, and thought, "This book certainly isn't for me...", and put it away.  I'm not sure what spurred me to pick it up today, but I think it might've been out of pure desperation, hope, and maybe prayer that guided me to this book that is going to be a total savior. 

I always knew Tyler was a "different" child.  And by different, I cannot describe it to anyone.  My friends don't understand, my family doesn't understand, and sometimes, even Kyle doesn't understand.  He was different from the day he was born.  From the day we had to blow up that stupid "bouncy ball" in the living room (the exercise ball that to my dying day, I will hate) just in order to soothe him.  He did not like to be rocked, and did not like to be left alone.  He wanted to be bounced, constantly, and it. was. exhausting.  And that is putting it lightly.

Okay, okay... everyone reading this will say, "Yea, yea,  babies are babies, and he couldn't have been that bad...", but seriously, to this day, I have never had a sitter for more than an hour that wasn't family.  Wasn't someone that I could bare my soul to, and tell them just how it was going to be, and would still love me when it was all over.

This summer, Tyler had T-ball.  What an awesome opportunity to meet some new friends, play a sport he liked, and hang out with daddy, who was going to be one of the coaches.  But it didn't turn out that way.

 Daddy pitching to Tyler, the last time Tyler hit for the season, right before a massive meltdown.

It was horrible.  Just, plain, horrible.  I dreaded the nights as they came, because we knew what we were in for.  Tyler would decide about 2 minutes into the game not to play, and would just sit on the bench, as the rest of his team was on the field, and then would throw the most MASSIVE fit in the world when we wouldn't let him hit the time it was his turn, because he wouldn't play the outfield when it was his turn.  It was embarrassing, it was exhausting, and it was just plain horrible (I've run out of words to describe it).  

Tyler getting "gloved up" before he hit.

We threatened to take him home, to shave off his mohawk when he had it, and take toys away.  Nothing worked.  When Tyler decided he didn't want to do anything, he wasn't going to do it.  

So it was a combination of all of this, that made me pick up this book today, and I actually cried while reading it.  Chapter 2 is titled "Children Do Well If They Can".  Reading the following part brought the tears to my eyes:

"Some children are inflexible and easily frustrated from the moment they pop into the world.  For example, infants with difficult temperaments may be colicky, have irregular sleep patterns, have difficulties with feeding, may be difficult to comfort or soothe, may overreact to noises, lights, and discomfort (hunger, cold, a wet diaper, etc.), and respond poorly to changes.  Other children may not begin to have difficulty with flexibility and frustration tolerance until later, when demands increase for skills such as language, organization, impulse control, regulation of emotions, and social skills.  

Here's the important point:  The children about whom this book is written do not choose to be explosive - any more than a child would choose to have a reading disability - but they are delayed in the process of developing the skills essential for flexibility and frustration tolerance.  It follows that conventional explanations as to why children explode or refuse to do as they are told - "He's doing it for attention", "He just wants his own way", "He's manipulating us", "He could do better if he really wanted to", "He does just fine when he chooses to" - miss the mark.  There's a big difference between viewing explosive behavior as the result of the failure to progress developmentally and viewing it as learned, planned, intentional, goal-oriented, and purposeful.  That's because your interpretation of a child's explosive behavior will be closely linked to how you try to change this behavior.  In other words, your explanation  guides your intervention." 

Wow, I kept thinking to myself.  This is Tyler.  You can see in his eyes how he just doesn't understand what is happening at times, why he is the way he is, and how embarrassed he is after an "episode".  I even made a list of their "suggested triggers" for one of his meltdowns, and on their suggested list of "possible" triggers, I did not need to go far beyond it.  Getting ready for school, taking a different route home from school, stopping at the store - unexpectedly, or sometimes just a tag in a shirt, is enough to send him totally over the edge, into a complete meltdown.  I've been late for work before because he had a meltdown over the socks he was wearing.  Socks.  Seriously.  

I'm really excited to put into practice some of the suggestions the book made, and even used one, very proudly tonight.  We were at a friends house across town, and Tyler wanted me to just go home and get his scooter because there were other boys in the neighborhood on scooters.  I got down to his level, and talked to him.  Instead of simply barking a "NO" at him and yelling "I am NOT going home Tyler, that is NOT an option", we talked through it.  Why it really wouldn't be a good idea to drive all the way across down for a scooter, and since that wasn't an option, is there anything else we could do that would help make him not so mad.  (And seriously, I used that simple of language).  

Guess what - no meltdown.  No tears.  And I kept my cool - something that normally wouldn't happening in that situation.  The books say you will feel like you are "giving in" to them, and in a way, I did, because he didn't get mad, but that's the point.  I am finding a way to communicate with Tyler in a way he understands.  I'm teaching Kyle what I learned too, and it's amazing.  I'm excited to see where this takes us, and where we can take Tyler now. 

Maybe it's the hidden psychologist in me that is just dying to come out.  I've listened to CDs about brain development, and read books about "What's Going on in There", which explains the brain development of children, and all children are different.  I knew Tyler was a different, but not different, special, child, from about the time he was 2 weeks old.  I knew most kids weren't like him, and I knew it would take me, changing myself, to help get us (both him and I) to where he needs to be.

Kyle and I talked to what do we do next summer, with T-ball.  Do we register him and not have him play a full game again, or just save our $20 and forget it?  I think we'll make it now. 

And as one of my favorite bloggers, Kelle Hampton says,  "Look for good, and you will find it..."