Tag Archives: parenting

Hello 2015

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It’s a new year and it’s a good time to reflect on 2014 and think about the possibilities for 2015. I’m not big on resolutions but I like setting a few manageable goals to guide me over the next twelve months.

I did pretty well in meeting my goals for 2014. On the sewing front, I started and finished my Staples dress.P1040384

I also made a zippered sleeve for my laptop, which is very useful.

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The zipper is sewn in a little tight (it was my first time putting in a zipper), so it jams from time to time. Usually not a big deal, except for the time it decided to seize up entirely as I was going through security at the airport. Fortunately, the security guard was very nice and didn’t demand that I take my laptop out of the case (that would have involved scissors).

I made a few pieces of jewelry, for the Bead Soup Blog Hop and gifts for a few friends and relatives.

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Earrings – Bead Soup 2014

BD gift for a favourite niece

BD gift for a favourite niece

I finally organized my craft space, which was a 2014 goal (no pictures until I can improve the lighting).  It’s small but functional. While my paper and sewing supplies are easy accessible, I still need to spend a bit more time on organizing my beading supplies. Mostly because I need to find my box of jump rings – as I discovered recently, it’s pretty hard to make a piece of jewelry without them. In the course of the cleanup, I collected and sorted all my art beads and various hand-made components to several containers, so when I do find the jump rings, I’ve got lots in my stash to work from. So much, in fact, that I don’t need to buy any beads.

The one thing I made lots of this year was cards. Once my supplies were in one place, it was relatively easy to spend an hour putting together a card or two. In November, my sister-in-law and I went out of town on a crafty weekend. It was organized by a woman who sells StampinUp products and she brought all her own dies, punches and equipment to use. It was scrapbooking/card making heaven. It was fun and I got a head start on birthday and Christmas cards.

Birthday card for a friend

Birthday card for a friend

Crafty weekend Christmas card

Crafty weekend Christmas card

Christmas card - my own design

Christmas card – my own design

However, my SIL and I discovered that while we like making cards, 12 hours a day, two days in a row is a bit much for us. Between the weekend and my own time, I made about 25 Christmas cards. Unlike last year, I actually sent them out too.

2014 was a good year for M. He wasn’t too happy with his marks at the end of Grade 7. We didn’t make a big deal about it as neither his dad nor I care much about his grades. He’s a bright kid and we figure if he does his work in class, he’ll do fine. Sure enough, since he started Grade 8, M’s been completing most of his assignments and his first term grades were significantly higher than last year’s. He got a zero on a French assignment that he didn’t hand in (and no sympathy from his parents who thanked his teacher – much to her surprise). When he told me about it, he said that would be the last time that would happen. He was recruited by a couple of very high-achieving girls to be on their team for the school’s annual stock market event, which was very good his ego, even though he told me they were bossy. He’s even keeping up in Art – the bane of his existence last year. He still has the same teacher as last year and while they’re getting along better this year, it is not his favourite subject. He snapped at me when I suggested he could take it next year, in high school.

That’s our big family challenge for 2015 – M starts Grade 9. I expect I’m a lot more nervous about it than he is. He decided he wanted to go to the same school as most of his friends, which is fine as it’s a good school and has a good support system for ADHD students. It’s closer than the middle school, so he can walk. But it’s big – well over a 1000 students. That’s a huge change compared to the program he’s in now, which has less than 200 kids. I worry that he’ll fall through the cracks or fall in with a “bad” crowd. Even with his meds, M is pretty impulsive. The challenge with having a child with ADHD, is that as a parent, you’re never quite sure if silly behaviour is normal 13-year-old boy stuff (with two younger brothers, I know teenage boys do goofy things) or the attention deficit. It’s reassuring that M tells me that drugs and drinking are really stupid, but I fully expect he’ll drink before he’s 18 and try at drugs at some point – to think otherwise is naive on my part. I do try to live in the moment and enjoy my child – he’s much easier to live with at 13 than he was at 7 or 8, despite the occasional bouts teenage angst/surliness. But past experience has taught me that if I don’t acknowledge possible M’s challenges and work with him to plan for them, the results are usually messy and stressful for all concerned. M’s in a good space this year and I want to help him maintain his forward momentum, throughout the rest of Grade 8 and into Grade 9.

In terms of my goals for 2015, I’m going to continue to run and go to the gym regularly. After a hiatus of several years, I started running again in July and ran 3x a week until the late fall. Between the time change and a couple of illnesses, I dropped to 1x a week and then before Christmas, after a bad cold, I stopped altogether for a few weeks. However, I’ve discovered that I really love running and am going to work harder to get out more often. I’ve already been out twice since Christmas and will start going out for my long runs on Sundays again. When we finally get some snow, I can go x-country skiing on Sunday mornings with friends. Going to the gym a couple of times a week breaks up my routine, plus it’s helps strengthen my muscles for running.

My personal challenge for 2015 will be dealing with my hearing. It’s gone from being a minor annoyance to being an impediment. M now automatically puts the closed caption function on when we’re watching TV together, but following along in large groups, movies and plays is often a struggle. I attend a lot of meetings for my job, so being able to follow the conversation is important. I’m getting a hearing aid for my left ear, which is a big step for me. However, I continue to have issues with my right ear. At my request, my specialist put a tube in it just before Christmas and my hearing is worse than it was before. Having a hearing aid in one ear may improve my overall hearing, so I’ll wait and see. I keep crossing my fingers that my right ear will improve. However, in the grand scheme of life, a hearing problem is a minor bump.

For 2015, I’ve decided to complete at least one craft project a month – sewing, knitting, jewelry, etc. Cards won’t count, unless it’s a particularly elaborate project, a  set of cards or mastering a new technique. A project a month may not sound like a big deal to most people, but it’s realistic for me. I’m going to do my best to start and finish the project in the same month, but I may use this as an opportunity to complete a couple of works-in-progress. By December 31, 2015, I want to have completed 12 projects.

I’ve already got the January project lined up. It’s a sewing project, as a belated Christmas gift for a friend.

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2015 project #1

I’m not going to commit myself to posting the finished project on a specific day of the month. I want to nurture my creativity, rather than setting conditions that will get in my way. I haven’t selected any of the projects beyond January, so that will be part of the fun each month.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2015.

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Parenting…in a galaxy far, far away

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A redevelopment of Image:Milky Way Arms-Hypoth...

A redevelopment of Image:Milky Way Arms-Hypothetical.png: details about method below. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As M gets closer to 12 years old (he just had his half-year “birthday”), we are all entering into uncharted territory. Some days it’s almost as if we’ve passed through the time/space continuum and entered into a whole new galaxy. There’s still some discussion as to whether or not it’s a black hole or a distinct new solar system. But we’re all in agreement that it’s a whole new world and none of us has a map.

As often happens, we came across this new system quite by accident. M was the first to notice the presence of a strange planet called “Hygiene.” It’s very popular with parents, but apparently the planet’s environment is quite hostile to 11-year old boys. I maintain that the planet is benign and can have a long-term positive effect on its occupants – at the very least, they smell nice and have clean hair. However, M is convinced that the planet houses destructive forces. He prefers to visit as infrequently as possible.

I discovered the next two planets – Polite and Respectful one morning as M was getting ready for school.  They are quite close to each other and share the same strange customs – for example, children  do what their parents ask them (the first time!), are helpful around the house and enjoy spending time with their families. Talk about out of this world. The populations of Polite and Respectful fluctuates quite rapidly, often during the same day. M is a pretty regular visitor to both planets, but he has been known to make a quick and unscheduled visit to nearby Rude.  It’s my understanding that the atmosphere around planet Rude is highly unstable and re-entering the atmosphere around the other planets can be a bumpy ride, often involving slamming doors and stamping feet.

M’s dad (or DH, as he would like to be referred to from now on) made the most recent discovery.  This planet, Healthy Eating, is another parental favourite, but M prefers to keep his visits short. Even though he visits Healthy Eating 3x a day, he takes great pains to avoid the Fruit and Vegetable regions. He`d happily hang around Pizzaville, but there`s always some adult trying to sneak a piece of broccoli or a carrot onto his plate. According to DH, what makes Healthy Eating so fascinating is that it hides a smaller planet. Electronics. Apparently,  Electronics, can only be reached by passing through the force field of Healthy Eating. This is probably M`s favourite planet and in an ideal world (e.g., no parents) would spend all his time there. But the planet’s atmosphere, while particularly alluring to boys, is actually very dangerous, except in short doses. Too much time on planet Electronics and their central nervous systems become over-whelmed and they turn into demons. Turning them back into children is very messy and unpleasant. In our experience, visits to Electronics must be closely monitored – and sometimes extraction is required. Full-body armor is recommended.

I expect we`ll continue to discover strange and far-off planets over the next few months and years. As time goes by, M`s going to start making more trips on his own and he`ll be gone for longer each time. Scary and exciting at the same time.

The week that was

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English: A calendar like a clock

Image via Wikipedia

This has been a long, tiring week.  I came down with a cold – not surprising since M was sick last week and there has been something nasty sweeping through my office.  It was a particularly hectic week at work, so I went in every day.  Except today, when I woke up with a squeaky voice and a cough.  M kept telling me not to talk today – ostensibly to rest my voice, but also probably to give his ears a rest.  I sound like Minnie Mouse swallowed a helium balloon.

So here are the highlights for this week (at least what I can remember)

Monday – After being sick on the previous Friday and all weekend, M was finally feeling better.  He went back to went back to school, but not surprisingly, he was wired for sound.  This is a kid who needs to be active every day.  He didn’t walk to school, he bounced.  Apparently, he was pretty hyped up the whole day.  The principal wondered if it might be because they were heading into break week and M  has trouble with transitions.   I reminded her he had been sick and hadn’t been outside in 3 days.  Sure enough, he was much calmer on Tuesday.

Tuesday – M’s dad picked him up from daycare and took him to the doctor’s.  Afterwards, they ran some errands and it wasn’t until they got home, that my husband realized he had forgotten his briefcase at the doctor’s.  M was patient about going back – usually he gets highly annoyed with this sort of parental goofiness.  I’d like to think he was becoming more tolerant, but it’s probably more about getting additional time on his iPod Touch.

Wednesday – I took M to meet the facilitator for a social skills group that he will be starting at the end of the month.  M is usually pretty uncooperative about any meeting with an adult that involves talking about his feelings and emotions.  But the facilitator was young and had lots of neat play-doh games in her office.   Apparently an irresistible combination for M as he spent a good 45 minutes talking with her.  She did remark afterwards that he seemed to have a little trouble with focus.  I didn’t bother pointing out that most kids who need a social skills group probably have trouble focussing.  As I said, she’s young and I am not sure how much experience she has with this sort of group.  She’ll learn.

Thursday – M brought home some old circuit boards from daycare.  As if we need more junk at our house.  My husband is a total minimalist, but M and I are collectors (nicer than saying we are hoarders).  The circuit boards are now strewn across the family room floor with a bunch of other projects M has been working on.  Classic ADHD.  Plus he’s not a naturally tidy kid (= messy; another trait he inherited from his mother, much to his father’s chagrin).  We could have insisted he pick everything up, but it takes a fair amount of cajoling and just plain nagging to get M to clean up after himself.  Neither my husband nor I neither had the energy at bedtime to go through this song and dance.  It may well make it a little bit harder to get M to pick up his stuff the next time we ask.   Sometimes slacker parent mode is the path of least resistance.

Friday – since I was staying home from work, M asked me to pick him up at school, instead of taking the bus to daycare.  We hung out together and ran some errands.  We stopped by Michael’s craft store and picked up a couple of the balsa-wood models M loves and some craft supplies for me.  As we were heading to the cash, he spotted a book about making paper monsters that he “just had to have.”  Like most kids, M wants lots of stuff, but we try not to buy him too much.  He gets an allowance of $10/month (plus another $10 that goes into the bank – 2x his current age) – and he has full rein over how he wants to spend it.  He had already picked out 3 models at $7 a pop and the book was $20 – no way his allowance could cover the cost. 

While I love anything crafty, M isn’t usually interested in these types of activities.  So when he does express an interest, I tend to indulge him.  Today was no exception.  We did compromise on 2 models and the book.  Since it is March Break and almost everyone we know is going away, it will help keep him occupied over the weekend and in the evenings.  And I’ll be reminding him whenever he claims to be bored and wants more TV or computer time. 

Saturday – since it is the weekend, M woke up at the crack of 7am.  On weekdays, we have to pry him out of  bed, but on Saturday and Sunday, he’s up bright and early.  His parents are generally not so energetic, so we usually sleep in.  This is a double-edged sword:  we get a couple more hours of sleep, while he watches TV or plays on the computer, but after a couple of hours of non-stop media time, he’s over-stimulated and rangy.  This morning, he had gotten himself an apple to eat – he usually waits for one of us to plonk a bowl of cereal in front of him and tell him to eat. 

Yesterday, M had agreed to go to a 10 am karate class, but having over-loaded on media, he had trouble focusing on getting dressed and taking his meds.  He tried to negotiate going to a later class, but my husband wasn’t in a patient mood and started laying down the law.  This type of strategy has limited success with M – more often than not, he starts doing the opposite of what he’s been asked to do.  Plus, he’ll throw in just enough attitude to annoy the parent-in-charge even more.  This morning M was flitting around in his pj’s, while his father’s voice got more and more strident.  Although these situations often end badly, I have learned not to intervene.  Otherwise, everybody gets worked up.  Eventually, M got his act together and went off to karate without further incident.

 We’ll see what the rest of the weekend brings.  My husband and I always insist on a family outing at some point on Saturday or Sunday, which entails some intense negotiations with M, since he would prefer to sit on the couch and read or play computer games for the entire weekend.  We will definitely being doing some tidying around the house.  But mostly, we’ll just hang around and enjoy each other’s company.  That’s really what weekends are for.

Money talks

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International Money Pile in Cash and Coins

International Money Pile in Cash and Coins (Photo credit: epSos.de)

A couple of weeks ago, M mentioned that one of his classmates paid him $5 to stop talking for the rest of the afternoon.  He managed to keep quiet for the required time, so and  spent the money on chocolate milk and cheezies at the canteen in the building where he goes after school.

We have learned that it is always good to ask M questions about these sorts of interaction. M doesn’t usually lie outright (unless he thinks he is in trouble). However, he does tend to have a unique perspective of events that may or not bear any resemblance to  reality.

It turned out that M had been talking…a lot.  The teacher, a substitute, offered him 10 cents to stop talking. M thought he was just joking. But one of his classmates upped the ante and offered him cold hard cash. Five dollars is not an insignificant amount to a 10-year old.  With the promise of cold hard cash, he was quiet for the rest of the afternoon. It didn’t sound like M had coerced the other child into giving him the money. It was a straight forward contractual arrangement and M held up his end.

My husband and I weren’t particularly alarmed by the incident, but I did mention it to M’s regular teacher the next time I was at school. Kids understand, even at a young age that, in our society, that money talks. There are lots of examples of people doing goofy things for money – isn’t this the raison d’être of most reality tv?  In that context, paying another child to keep quiet doesn’t seem completely outrageous.  As a parent, not something you want to happen every day, but not the worst thing either.

As it turns out, the issue wasn’t so cut and dried. The school was concerned about the appropriateness of one student paying another to do something else. As we thought about it, we realized that this was not a good message for M. While paying someone to be quiet is innocuous, what if M was offered cash to do something much more risky? M is impulsive and not known for always exercising the best judgement – $10 bucks to throw snowballs at a car or jump off the play structure might see like a good idea at the time.

While I could agree that the other child shouldn’t have offered M money, it was less clear to me whether M should have taken the money or not. On the one hand, he fulfilled the terms of the deal. On the other hand, he shouldn’t be talking to the point of disturbing his classmates.

In the end, we paid the $5 back. It was a pretty small price to pay for a life lesson for all of us.