Monday, May 2, 2016

Not needed- Judges disguised as people who care.

     I've been pretty frustrated with some of Royal's ongoing hard-to-understand/live with behaviors. I'm not making them up either because two of his teachers, and a handful of family members have confirmed to me this week that they are pretty frustrated with him too. One teacher said, "Royal used to be one of the best kids in our class, and now he's the worst. We need that good kid back." This was said in front of him as a way to "show love," or "show solidarity," or whatever. 
     I know all he heard was, "You're a bad kid. You never do anything right," because that's what he believes about himself.

     If Royal was in a wheelchair because his legs didn't work and we were mad at him for not walking, that would be our problem, not his. If he was in Kindergarten and couldn't solve an algebraic equation and we were mad about it, that would be our problem, not his.

     Why is it so hard for us (me, family, teachers) to realize that the mad we feel due to his behavior is our problem, not his. 

     We can't continue to be disappointed with him all the time. We can't keep telling him he's not good enough, not performing well. We just can't. 

     He isn't acting out to make us feel insecure about our ability to parent, teach, or coach.  What he doesn't need (and what I don't need), are judges disguised as people "who care." If you really care, say something privately to me me like, "I've noticed Royal is having a hard time lately, is everything okay?" Or, "I'm praying for you and Royal. I know what you're going through is hard." Or- nothing. Keep all advice to yourself and trust that I've read every book, and tried every method available to me to help him behave in a way that makes everyone more comfortable. 

     What he needs are grown-ups who can swallow all those controlling, he just needs more discipline, he's infringing on my personal view of the-way-kids-SHOULD-be thoughts, and simply accept him, love him, and take joy in him as a little human boy. He's been through a lot.

     He's really good at soccer, cards, playing with friends, Magic, and capture the flag. You should watch him do those things and then tell him how awesome he is at it. Watch his face light up. 

     He's doing the best he can.


Thursday, April 21, 2016

"Nutrition Challange?" No thank you.

My church serves cinnamon rolls. They're gooey, sweet, sugary, and heavenly. I'm pretty sure Jesus wrote the recipe and I thank Him for it.

When I walk into Larson Hall and realize it's cinnamon roll day, I squeal. Then I kick myself for snacking at home before church. When eating them I think, "If I were Paleo, I would have to pass up this little morsel of heaven, and that would be an ungrateful act."

Reasons I've banned myself from food restrictions:
Blue Bird Salted Caramel Ice Cream in a Waffle Cone. Oh Lawd!
Beautiful pear pastries with almond paste
Actually I hate to pass by any bakery that makes beautiful, handcrafted baked goods
Speaking of almond paste- Danish almond pastries from Larson's bakery
Dark Chocolate
Cappuccinos made with half and half
Kettle Corn
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie- with whipped cream
Oh my gawd- whipped cream

I'm not even really into sweets but I am into:
Burgers with blue cheese
La Panzanella Rosemary Crackers with blue cheese
Baguettes with unsalted butter, or ham, or brie cheese
French Dip Sandwiches
Tuna Melts
Fried Chicken
Fried Clams
Fried Oysters
French Fries

And also drinks:
Any fancy grapefruit cocktail
Beer oozing with cascade hops
Big fruit-heavy red wine
And sometimes, Coca-cola with my burger and fries

This list is just the beginning of the food that fills my stomach, delights my mouth, brings joy to my heart, and nourishes my soul.

Fresh peaches, chicken pate, mangoes, pizza, peanut butter and jelly, apple crisp, T-bone steak, smoked salmon, Beecher's macaroni and cheese, Thai food, Gyro's, chocolate chip cookie dough...

To all of you jumping on the crazy-diet bandwagons (I've done it many times myself so I'm not judging), I am the small voice saying, "Eat, Drink, and be Merry!" (Don't gorge yourself, get drunk, and act like a jerk). Chew slowly, sigh a little while you chew, close your eyes, smile and be thankful. Life is short.


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Something Pretty Great is Happening

Royal has now been with us for as long as he was without us. When we were adopting him, I read that adopting a 4 year old was considered an "older child adoption." This sounded so ridiculous to me. I mean, four? That's practically a baby.

He was actually almost 5- two months shy of his birthday. Which is where we are now in our timeline with him- two months shy of our 5th Gotcha Day.  I recognize now just how much can happen in five years.  He had around 1,764 days of life before us. 1,764 days of instability and habit building.  He experienced quite a bit, much of which remains in his mind as clear memories. Although he was a baby for half his time there, he was a walking, talking, listening and learning child for the other half.

The first years of life are the most formative- the time when kids not only learn to eat, sleep, walk, and use the potty, but also what it means to be loved (or not loved), to trust (or not trust), and to treat others with kindness (or not).

Something great has happened recently.

You know, I've been waiting to say that Royal is completely healed. I want to stand on my roof top and yell, "We fixed him!" I've been waiting to tell you that we no longer see the signs of trauma that often plague him and me and Kyle and his brothers and sister and his teacher (but not his friends because he's that crazy hilarious kids that kids love to play with).

Guess what? I'm not going to say any of that. Instead I'm going to say that I'm the one changing.

I'm slowly learning and implementing therapeutic parenting skills.  Here are some of my emerging skills:

1- Praise and encourage, praise and encourage, praise and encourage (otherwise shut up and walk away because nothing else is helpful).
2- Remember, trauma caused real physical brain change and therefore...
3- Teach his brain to connect the left and right hemispheres (I'm reading about how to do this)
4- Speaking of the brain, when the survival part of the brain is activated (AKA he's flipped his lid), he can't hear any of the logical things I'm telling him so I'm better off just breathing with him.
5- Don't take bad behavior personally. Just don't.
6- Take care of the victim first (thank you Lisa Q.). Meaning- If he's being mean or teasing (or vice versa cause my other kids aren't perfect), comfort the one being hurt before dealing with the mean kid's behavior.
7- My new mantra about everyone but especially Royal: HE'S DOING THE BEST HE CAN (thank you Brene Brown). Remembering that everyone is doing the best they can do takes the pressure off trying to fix them.
8- Radical Acceptance (thank you my therapist). Google this if you want to know more.

My brain has taken nearly five years to figure out how to parent Royal and Ena. I feel like I'm finally getting into the groove. I'm not as good at this as I wish, so when I start to fail I ask myself, "Why can't you just me nice?" and sometimes I get more firm with myself an say, "Hey! Just be nice!"

Also, I'm recently obsessed with The Archibald Project. It reminds me that I feel very passionately about orphan care. It reminds me that I want to move to Ethiopia and set up a house to feed and bath the street kids, but since that can't happen anytime soon, for now I just want to be someone that encourages people to love other people. Go check it out and go love your people.