29 June, 2009

"Someone Like Me"

Last night, before she went to sleep I reminded Lucy that she was going to camp this morning, and that her little friend Mali would not be at this session of camp, as she was last week.

Me: There will be lots of other kids your same age at camp.
Lucy: (emphatically) I don't want there to be kids my age!
Me: Why not? It will be fun.
Lucy: Because girls my age don't talk.
Me: (sad for her and kind of proud and disturbed all at once) Oh honey.
Lucy: I want there to be someone like me.

I gave her a big squeeze. I changed the conversation to be more about making new friends. I sang her a Ditty Bops song and I held her and realized that this will be a long road for her because really, there is no one like her.

How many little girls in the whole world live in a little pink room carved out of a bigger room, so small that there is only room for a bed and a fish tank, and a pocket door which she must keep closed to keep her brother who cannot follow rules, or even instructions, from coming in and taking over her little nest? How many other people in the whole world have a brother like Jake, with a mom like Jennyalice and a dad like Descartes? No one. No body, at least, who also has three sets of grandparents, two giant golden retrievers and a scar between her eyes because she ran into the dishwasher at 8 months old. No one who has a mom that drinks and swears like a sailor but makes her say "Yes, please" or "No, thank you" when answering any question.

I'm being an extremist, but I know that ache of trying to find someone, anyone who was like me with out me needing to change to have that feeling. I am 37 1/2 years old and I finally feel like people see the real me most of the time. I keep some things private, even from close friends, out of respect for my marriage, or, more likely my own self-respect, but just recently I feel like I am getting somewhere in my quest to be the same person wherever I go.. and to accept that I might not find anyone like me when I show up somewhere. I used to change who I was to fit in, to feel more comfortable or to make other people feel more okay, but while I am quite certain I am more apt to iron my t-shirt when visiting Southern California, my wrinkle-free look is possibly more to do with an ability to find the time while vacationing to do it rather than a fall to the unrelenting pressure to fit in.

I feel compelled to teach Lucy during every moment, and while doing so I am walking the fine line between raising her to be the best, brightest, leader-of-the-pack, top-of-the-heap while rewarding humility, honesty, selflessness and grace. How do I encourage her to win and to stop and help someone who has fallen on the track? How do I tell her she is the most beautiful creature I've ever seen without impressing on her all of the vanities that girls engage in today? How do I raise this amazing girl when I am hardly past what I am teaching, and not always living up to my own ideals?

[And, as I just re-read this I am a little embarrassed that it is my assumption that she can do all of these things, that it is just a matter of teaching and encouragement, when it is actually possible that she will have no interest or even an aptitude for leading, or helping, or winning or even playing]

23 June, 2009

"That Airplane. A Happy"

I took Jake and my nephews to the cafe local airport and the little guys both keep telling me now that "That Airplane. A Happy!" Generally they are both very understandable, their language only misunderstood by those of us who have not figured out a few of their "twin-speak" vocabulary words. They have their own language, but who's to say those words won't wind up in a dictionary someday... but this sentence "That Airplane. A Happy!" I think they were just too excited to get it out right, and once they got it in their heads like that it just stuck. So with my limited translation skills I think they enjoyed sitting in the cafe, eating grill cheese sandwiches and watching small commuter planes take off.

You know who else liked it? Uhm Jake. A lot. He is the perfect height to put his arms on the rail and lay his head upon them so he can look at everything at an angle. He followed verbal directions with minimal physical prompting, sat nicely at lunch and even ate new foods. I apologized to him for not taking him there more often (not that they are very kid friendly around there...) and suggested we go there every once in awhile on our date days.

I wonder what Jake wanted to tell me about the airport today? I translated his happy noises.. it was something like "That Airplane...A Happy"

22 June, 2009

Superparenting Week Begins!

Jaster and Demanda arrived last night with their little squirts who will be under my guardianship until Friday. j&D are going on their 10 year anniversary trip, something Descartes and I did last year to celebrate our own milestone.

Hawk and Wolf are precious boys with all sorts of emerging skills, and just like Lucy they change in the blink of an eye. Jake's growth has always been harder to see. I know it's there, but when I see these little boys use longer sentences, learn how to tease their mom, figure out how to share, self-soothe, clamor on to benches and chairs and scooters... it is just amazing. I'm glad I know the sadness of missing developmental moments, so I can truly be in awe when I see a kid who gets to them, and passes them without blinking. Watching a child hold their own cup...most parents don't really think about that as being a big deal, but Jake couldn't hold his own straw-sippy cup until after he was two years old, and he still cannot drink from an open top cup. He might never have that skill.. so when I watch Hawk sneak in to the kitchen and get his own cup of water and slurp it down.. I am, of course, mildly irritated by his outright defiance, but so deeply and fully thankful that he can do these things.

Jake is finally feeling better after what can only be called a REALLY BAD WEEK or so of not sleeping and thrashing about. He is covered in bruises from dropping to the ground and being manhandled trying to keep him safe, or just do basic custodial care. It was bad, but he has made up for his lack of sleep then by sleeping in until 10 am or later.. in fact he just ran up the stairs.. so I will go give the boy some breakfast.

Lucy had her very first day of Summer Camp today. So exciting .. so grown up. I asked her if she was worried, and she said "If Mali is sad, I will play with her and tell her it is okay."

19 June, 2009

I just burned the hot dogs


Summer Break: Day One

10:00 PM (the night before)

Family of seven arrives , Jennyalice’s dear friends from childhood and their precious clan of children

10:03 PM

Lucy gets out of bed to join the party. She wasn’t sleeping anyway.

11:00 PM

Dinner is served.

11:40 AM

Dishes are loaded from feeding the 7 house guests and daughter who is still awake.

12:00 AM

Descartes goes to bed, Guests go to bed

12:24 AM

Jennyalice goes to bed

12:30 AM

Everyone sleeps including Jake who was given Ativan again

2:00 AM

Everyone sleeps

5:30 AM

Sun screeches into my room, beating down on the deck outside sending early morning wafts of warm air into the crack in the door which had been left open to *cool down* the room overnight. Room becomes unbearably stuffy, sleep becomes impossible.

7:00 AM

Descartes gets up in order to get to newly scheduled permanent Friday morning meeting (which of course means we can never go to Tahoe on a Thursday night again.)

7:03 AM

Lucy wakes up and begins crying immediately that she wants to go upstairs and see "all of those children"

7:05 AM

Mommy brings Lucy upstairs where there are 4 children sleeping the living room. Lucy is not surprisingly not quiet enough and wakes 25% of them.


Jennyalice begins making bacon, french toast, eggs, Dutch Baby and securing orange juice from outside fridge. This wakes up everyone else.

7:30 AM


8:35 AM


9:30 AM

Jake finally wakes up, heads straight to the backyard and eats nothing except the yogurt with his drug regimen hidden in it.

10:42 AM

baby sitter arrives to watch over Jake and Lucy while Jennyalice races across town to IEP

11:04 AM

Jennyalice proclaims in IEP "If anyone has a hidden agenda that Jake needs another placement can they PLEASE just say it out loud?"

11:05 AM

IEP participants protest that there is no hidden agenda

11:06 AM

IEP discussion immediately focuses on where Jake should be placed in the fall considering that the teacher will be on maternity leave, Jake does not seem to like is overly punitive aide and the one aide he loves (who is our home aide) cannot manage to get to work on time

11:07 AM

Jennyalice learns that the most stable classroom aide will also be on maternity leave in the fall.

11:08 AM

Jennyalice gets over her need to have Jake never leave the side of his current teacher and never transfer from his current campus

12:00 PM

It is pretty much decided that Jake will have a different placement in the fall.

12:01 PM

Jennyalice goes in to full research mode and begins to email program directors while still in the IEP.

12:40 PM

IEP ends with a to-do list which includes Jennyalice and Descartes looking at new schools over the summer, Jake discontinuing a medication temporarily to see if behavior changes and Jennyalice feeling like once again she has failed her son by waiting so long to make a positive change for him

1:00 PM

Jennyalice arrives home, pays the babysitter, and thanks God that her lovely house guests have figured out lunch for the entire clan, found paper plates and have all of the children putting away 700 pounds of toys which had previously scattered across the house in the wake of 7 children.

1:20 PM

Jake plays in the backyard pulling debris out of the flower beds

1:45 PM

Lucy and Jennyalice walk our friends down to their camper and car and wave farewell.

1:46 PM

Lucy asks who is going to come over to play with her

2:00 PM

Jake continues his quest for a zen backyard

2:20 PM

Lucy passes out in the living room sprawled out in a bean bag chair

4:46 PM

Jennyalice realizes that Jake is still in the backyard in the same flower bed, but since he is still making happy sounds, she decides that she is not under-parenting, but rather she is indulging him his true desires

4:47 PM

Jennyalice realizes there are no dinner plans, changes the propane tank and prays that there are hot dogs in the outside fridge… and indeed there are!

5:00 PM

Jennyalice finishes off her “GoGirl” watermelon jolly rancher flavored energy beverages

5:05 PM

Jennyalice decides that Monday will be the first day of summer instead.

5:11 PM

Hot dogs on grill

17 June, 2009

It's always one thing AND Another

I have a bunch of really great posts in edit mode right now... Memorial day in Tahoe, Lucy's birthday party, Lucy turning three, Jake being precious with my parents, me enjoying time with my family.

  • Lucy turned three. She had about 7 million birthday parties: Saturday with 2/3 sets grandparents, Thursday with friends at daycare, Thursday evening with mom & dad, Cousins, Aunt Demanda, favorite baby sitter, Jake's aide and her son, Friday Pizza lunch party with family friends, Saturday surprise sing at an end of the year function which she then thought was another party for her, then Sunday with other 1/3 grandparents, Aunt, cousins, family friends, IRL friends, and anyone else who managed to not be at the other functions. Mommy. All. Done. Birthday. Giving birth to her was a few hours from water breaking to the two pushes it took to get her out... which, as it turns out is WAY easier than celebrating her third birthday.
  • Half of my parents came into town on the third and left on the seventh.
  • On Thursday the 11th which really was Lucy's birthday Jake had sedation to undergo his annual dental work.
  • My sister came with the boys an hour or so after I got home with Jake.
okay I can't even finish this list... it's been crazy, but mostly because Jake has not slept since Thursday night when he slept about half the night. It looks a lot like when he was younger and did that crazy bout when he was three or four? I think When he didn't sleep for 52 days in a row... not longer than 20-30 minutes in a row and not more than 1-2 hours in a 24 hour period. Back then he would scream and thrash the entire time between the small resting bits.

Last night, so he would rest (not sleep) , I layed down with him, which is never something he really wants.. and last night he took my arm and pulled it around him so that he drew me close and I was spooning him. I heard his breathing change and he slept a bit. He woke up when Lucy started crying in the other room (she is beginning to have some wild dreams lately.) He sat up, but layed back down when I came back to bed, where he pulled my arm around him again. [silver lining moment]

He has had to leave school every day.. kicked the fire extinguisher off the wall, knocked over chairs.. mayhem

but today he got to go home because he SAID

"Want home NOW."

Clearly so that everyone in the room had heard him. [silver lining moment]

so that is my report for now. Jake has been playing nicely this afternoon in the backyard (I have tied the gate shut in case I fall asleep sitting up/standing).

11 June, 2009

Lucy is Three

Lucy at Three:

Has made up her first joke:
Q: How do you get a chicken in a tree?
A: A bathing suit!

Is a bit of a brute: she pushed Jake's aide's son (who is nearly six and weighs twice as much as she does) over while they were washing their hands. He landed in the tub with a giant goose egg on his head.

Hates to go to sleep.

She also:
loves her "whole fam-uh-leeeeee"

knows about date night, time outs, being "done with this" and taking deep breaths.

recognizes where we are in relation to where we've been and where we're going, both physically, as if she has a good internal compass, and often emotionally, as though she is working on her moral compass.

has tremendous empathy and a capacity to love and be tender that is very precious.

loves books, words, and talking with people.

is one of the most stubborn, preteens on our block.

enjoys the beach, the mountains and going "out to lunch"

is going to be the kind of girl who can hike Tallac in heels.

Not surprisingly she has friends, several of them, whom she can name as her best friends, and has even made a few that have nothing to do with me or her brother.

She has a great memory,and recalls information that is both obscure and has occurred relatively long ago in her past (considering we've only had her for 36 months, having her remember something from 6 months ago seems pretty amazing to me.)

She is not phased by having three sets of grandparents and does not find it odd that her mom has two moms and two dads, except to say that "Daddy only has one mom and one dad."

She likes to bake, and can manage a rolling pin, cookie cutters, whisks and bowls much larger than her head.

She is the sweetest mommy to her dolls. She will however admit that she loves her "beautiful black baby" the most.

She says she want to have hair like "Malia", and when I didn't know who she meant, said, "Mommy! Barack Obama's Malia! The President Obama, mommy"

She loves her brother and is able to "translate" for him.

Lucy has an opinion about everything.

She loves candy, especially candy hearts and lollipops.

She is the coziest sleeper and is great to nap with.

She likes the color pink, but purple is her favorite, but she also likes orange, and wants to know if anyone's favorite color is white, because that's a silly color and really not a color at all.

01 June, 2009

Tomorrow, Which is Now Today

Because that's how it's been lately. 

We talked with DB last night for quite a bit and she was complaining that while I updated my "stoopid Twitter" "every 5 minutes," she found nothing in my blog which explained the 140-character snapshots of my life. I am a little distraction for her as she wraps up what has been One. Hell. Of. A. Year.  Lessons I walked away with: update my blog more often, because someone might need to read it and be entertained, and more importantly, divorce is a very ugly thing.

In my own attempt to stay married (and that's what they call a segue folks...) I am going to the GGRC (Golden Gate Regional Center) to ask that they send Jake to the same summer camp he's gone to since he was 5. This is truly the only time each year when Descartes and I can leave town together knowing that Jake is safe *and* we are not burdening our friends or family with what we know is a very demanding child (although we have left little miss Lucy with Descartes' parents.. Lord help them). I cannot explain how important it is to me to have just a a few nights away with Descartes when we are not responsible for Jake. Of course we still worry when he's at Camp, but we know he will be okay and that there's a huge staff of people who can care for him.

We have been smart enough to install that weekly date night, which feels very decadent most of the time, but those few days he is at camp, and the date nights, I think that's the only way we are going to make it through parenting these children for the next gazillion years. We need to still like each other, even just a little bit, so we can make good decisions and feel safe, and protect our kids.. and if we get through with that.. we can try for emotional growth and well-being, a sense of self which is grounded in strong relationship blah blah blah.. all I know is that if Descartes and I hadn't taken those 4 days last summer to celebrate being married for 10 years I think I would still be sad right now about all of *those things* that we don't get to do. 

And then there's the idea of providing some kind of parity with the children. Lucy does her best to ensure that she is not ever forgotten, but she is told quite often to "Wait just a minute. I'm helping Jake right now."  How many times can she hear that line and be okay? Maybe we'll be lucky and she will have an amazing depth of grace, but I imagine it will be easier for her to bear it all if she feels like she has us to her self a few days a year.  

And so.. I have my notes together and I'm off to bed.

and DB.. just so you know I have at least 8 drafts saved... things I've been meaning to post. Maybe June will be a turning point in the writing department. 

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