Hustle and Bustle

Last week at work was brutal. I am not quite sure how I made it through. I think I’m still recovering.

Amidst the stress of work, I had THREE posts published elsewhere. I revamped and combined my prior posts about my dad for World Aids Day and posted it on Band Back Together, and I wrote a brand new piece for Postpartum Voice in which I talk about the details of my postpartum depression for the first time. The third I won’t directly link here due to its sensitive nature, but you can hit me up on Twitter or via email if you are interested in it (and haven’t already read it).

We’re still dealing with fear at home. Jack is sleeping with his bedroom light on every night now, which is a change from the first 5 years of his life. He now watches Dora the Explorer and Berenstein Bears instead of Scooby-Doo and Ben 10. We’ve acquired the Scaredy Squirrel books and “When I Feel Afraid.” Nothing seems to be particularly helpful. We may just have to ride this one out.

With that said, and while I know that this is a phase that kids Jack’s age go through, I’m wondering if some of the stresses his families are dealing with (unemployment in both households, for one) might be contributing and/or if school issues may be having an impact on him. It seems like he has more trouble sleeping and is tired more often these days.

Jack’s teacher has started sending his incomplete classwork home for him to finish. This is super fun (not)! I don’t even know what to do about that. For now we are just continuing to encourage him to finish his projects in class and emphasizing that we all want him to do his work well. This may be another area where the reward of money will motivate him (that’s how he potty trained)…hm…

On the good news front, I recently won a $500 Apple gift card thanks to my attendance and participation in a Twitter party hosted by LiveOn.com. WOOHOO!! The site is pretty cool – you can basically create a digital scrapbook of life’s events with photos and such and it’s got some nifty social media enhancements. I haven’t had much time to play around with it but I did create an account and will definitely futz with it. It looks fun!

I also won passes to the new Children’s Creativity Museum in San Francisco. I’m super psyched to take Jack there!

My birthday is at the end of this week and so the promise of cake and dinner with friends is keeping me in decent spirits. Oh and I’ve gotten nearly all of my Christmas shopping done and the presents are mostly wrapped, too! Now I just need to take down the Halloween decorations…

Tackling Fear

Jack has suddenly become uncharacteristically afraid of everything.  He can’t go into another room of the house by himself AT ALL.  When he goes to the bathroom, he requires that I stand outside the door – he needs to be able to see me but I have to make sure to turn away so I can’t see him (he’s very private).  This morning he freaked out because he ‘couldn’t stop peeing.’  WHY he wanted to stop midstream is beyond me…

We’ve talked to him and cut out the scary stuff – no more spooky books or Scooby Doo until he feels safe again.  He’s gone back in time and is now watching Super Why!, Blues Clues, and Dora the Explorer.  Chip and Dale is his favorite, which is great but sometimes (like last night) we lose that DVD and the other stuff he has to choose from includes Monsters vs. Aliens, Finding Nemo, How to Train Your Dragon…all of which are apparently too scary.

We talked about his fears on the walk to school this morning.  He admitted he felt afraid when people get mad at him – he worries he’s going to go to jail when people get mad at him.  When I asked where he got that from, he said his step-uncle went to jail as a kid.  I have NO idea what that’s about – I’ll have to talk to his dad about that one.

Apparently this is a stage that many 5-6 year olds go through but man, is it weird!  It’s especially odd since he’s never been afraid of much – he loves monsters and aliens and dragons!  Holy regression, Batman!

We’ve talked about various things that Jack can do when he feels afraid (sing or pretend he is a fierce dragon and can chase away the fear) and I think I’ll get some books to reinforce these ideas.  I know there is a series called Scaredy Squirrel that would be helpful.  Anybody have additional recommendations?

Once again, he’s surprised me with an issue that I never thought we’d face.  Ahhhh parenthood!

Mixed Bag

We had Jack’s parent/teacher conference almost two weeks ago and things since then have been fairly calm.  I don’t know if it’s the fact that Jack knows we adults are working together to keep him in line or if we are all just being more organized and routine about everything.  In any case, the conference was pretty positive, even with the mixed bag of “your kid is brilliant but he has trouble staying motivated to finish his projects.”  His kindergarten teacher is willing to let him read special books that we provide if it will encourage him to finish his work, and she is supposed to be moving his desk so that he sits near some girls who are better at finishing their work and cleaning their desks.  We’re hoping their habits rub off on him.

School went really well last week.  Jack got a happy note every single day!  Woo hoo!  We no longer hear “I hate school!” all the time.  One morning when we were running late and I had to break the news that Jack wouldn’t get any playtime prior to the bell ringing, Jack surprised me with, “Well, Mom, that’s okay! I’ll have recess later!”

So things seem to be improving there.  I’m cautiously optimistic because, as the parenting gods have taught me, as soon as you say something positive about how well things are going, it all falls apart.

Honestly, though, things aren’t exactly going GREAT.  My husband lost his job on Friday and that is also a mixed bag.  The job was pretty awful and causing major stress to him and us so it’s not like we’re sad.  I’d been encouraging him to look elsewhere for some time but, as I’m sure many of you know, it can be difficult to look for work while working full time, taking classes, and dealing with family stuff.  In any case, the job ended rather unceremoniously on Friday and we traded the stress of him having a shitty job for the stress of him having no job.  We are angry at his ex-employers yet relieved he doesn’t have to go back there.  We’re happy that he has plenty of time to find a new job now but worried that the lack of job will be a liability in getting a job.  And, of course, the financial implications are not fun to think about.  That house we wanted is now pushed further into the future.  But what are ya gonna do?

As for my mom’s health, her various organ and head scans came back clear and so it doesn’t look like she has any evil diseases lurking.  She got a hysterectomy Friday so she is recovering from that and once I am both less stressed and less ill (I spent a good month transitioning to a new preventative migraine med; now I’m fighting off my second cold in 6 weeks) I will go visit her.

So, that’s life lately.  This, and my work with Band Back Together.  We went non-profit, did you hear?  We got our state designation and have applied for federal recognition.  I’m on the Board of Directors, as well.  I’m damned proud of the growth over there.  If you don’t know what the heck it is – I encourage you to check it out.  It’s a group blog where we invite everyone to submit stories survival and get support and kudos for being all ‘eye of the tiger.’  We have stories about post partum depression, cancer, bullying, friendship, hope, single parenting, caregiver burnout, etc. and are expanding all the time.  I would like to formally invite you to join our Band.

By the way, Happy Halloween.  I’ll be over here eating candy corn and peanut M&Ms.

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All Grown Up and Nowhere to Hide

I keep sitting down to write and nothing comes out.  It’s been the same with talking.  David told me to talk the other night and I didn’t know where to begin.  I guess I’ll begin here with what I said first then – I said one thing and everything else just flowed.

I hate our house.  It’s too small, too drafty, too difficult to keep organized, and kills my allergies.  We’d really, really like to move.  We are saving like crazy in the hopes that we can buy a house next year.  Meanwhile the market isn’t looking as promising as it was earlier this year (hopefully that’s just because it’s nearing the end of the year) and it feels like our savings plan could be derailed at any moment…which brings me to…

David’s job sucks.  His commute is an hour each way and the job is high stress.  Prior to Jack starting kindergarten, David had arranged to start working from home in the afternoons so that he could pick Jack up from school.  This hasn’t been the best arrangement, honestly, since a lot of David’s work is on the phone and Jack gets bored when David can’t play with him and doesn’t like to stay quiet.  But, well, we figured it was a temporary solution and there were a few changes that would be coming down the pipeline that would make it all easier.  Except then a change came that said that David couldn’t work from home anymore due to asshattery by others.  Arg!  (We are still in limbo waiting to see if this is negotiable.)

There is an option of an after school program for Jack.  That costs money, of course…and that would mean delays on house buying.  It also means Jack is in school for longer during the day when he already doesn’t care to be there.  (On the plus side, his homework would be done before we picked him up for the evening.)

We’ve thrown around some other options but nothing has really crystallized yet.  So we wait and hope that the working from home option is reinstated.

Meanwhile, we’re still in a bit of agony over this school maladjustment.  Jack’s been acting out more and his teacher always has some piece of criticism, it seems.  It finally dawned on me that it might be a cultural thing, as the school is pretty strictly focused on academics (Jack’s classroom has homework 4 nights a week, and the other classroom has it 5 nights a week; I know of another school in the district that sends home activity-based homework for the weekends only).  The teacher (maybe the school?) seems to have an attitude of “what skill can’t this kid do yet?” rather than “what skills can this kid build upon?”  I am not the only class mom to notice some worrisome behavior with regard to self-esteem in the kids.

While I do think that Jack will learn a lot at this school, I’m wondering if emotionally this is not a good fit for him.  He is a sensitive and emotional individual and that isn’t likely to change (i.e. see his parents).  On the other hand, maybe he’ll learn some coping skills that could be useful later?  (He has to learn them from someone other than me; I am notorious for my crappy coping skills.)  And, regardless of whether it’s a good fit or not, do we even have the option to be choosy?  It is public school, after all.  And, really, would private school be different and different enough to be worth it?

And that’s when I go back to wanting the house like NOW.  ‘Cause we’ll move out of this neighborhood almost certainly and he’ll move schools almost definitely.  We’d have some sort of indication of whether this is just what a kindergarten transition is going to be like for Jack or if it’s THIS kindergarten that is the issue.

So, we’re in a holding pattern on the school front as well as on the job front.  In addition to those two things…

I spoke to my mom last night.  She has been dealing with ongoing health issues (the medical mystery tour, if you will).  Some time ago, probably close to 10 years ago, it was discovered that my mom had a benign tumor on her pituitary gland.  She was given hormones to shrink the tumor and then sent on her merry way.  When other weird issues started cropping up, they were dismissed as peri-menopause symptoms; however, recent tests show she is a good distance away from menopause still at age 49.  Unfortunately, she is already showing signs of bone loss and she now has a CT scan on her pancreas and an MRI on her head this week to look for tumors.  Not to mention that she is going to have a hysterectomy as soon as she can because of complications from endometriosis (except she has to wait to see what’s up with her cortisol – she may have Addison’s Disease!).

Needless to say, I feel very much like I want to crawl into a hole and hide from all of life’s complications.  I am young, dammit, and I don’t want to be dealing with all of this shit.  I feel overwhelmed and ill equipped to handle even one of these things at a time but all of them at once?  Ugh.

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Senor Quesadilla

I am a mom of a Kindergartner…I think I am finally somewhat comfortable with that fact.  It’s not quite so scary to think about anymore, although it sure does make me feel old.

I went to pick Jack up from school on Tuesday and found out from a fellow student’s mom that my son has acquired a nickname.  This is apparently a “not nice” nickname and one that Jack doesn’t like – “Quesadilla.”  He hadn’t mentioned it to me, but his classmate/friend told his mom because it was upsetting him.

I asked Jack about it and he seemed annoyed that I had found out and pouted on the way home.  We talked about what to do when kids called him names.  I didn’t have much to offer, but suggested that he make a joke of it and asked to be called Chocolate or something else that he likes.  Or to respond with, “If I’m a quesadilla, you’re a taco!”  Or something.

What the hell kind of nickname is Quesadilla, anyway?  There are worse things to be called, for sure, but Jack is pretty set on being just “Jack.”  I just can’t figure out why in the world he’d be named after a Mexican food item.  😛  Kids are weird.

This week Jack also came home with a piece of paper that a girl in his class had written that said, “I love Jack.”  He couldn’t remember which girl it was from, though.  At least the good and bad balance out a bit, right?