Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Finally winter...

Winter decided to visit our corner of the northeast US yesterday, although it wasn't a very nice day to play outside, with freezing rain most of the day. The result, iced with snow overnight, is a lovely landscape that is easier to navigate than it looks (thank goodness). We were saved from an all-out ice storm by lack of wind or heavy snow. Brendan's main concern was would there be outside time at school today (yes!) & he even asked me before we left the house this morning whether or not his snowpants were at school (they are). Not bad for a kid who does not generally think ahead :)

I was worried by having a day off school so soon after the holiday break. It was so difficult for Brendan to switch gears back into school mode... We tried to keep him busy all weekend & not let Adventure Quest be the only activity he looked forward to. He was very much looking forward to re-joining the YMCA so that he & dad could go swimming regularly again. Sigh. The enthusiasm lasted right up until he was triggered by an OCD thought in the lobby of the Y & melted down. Charlie said he kept wondering if there had been anything he could have done differently, but Brendan just wasn't coping well with life in general at that point. The upshot is that Charlie's changed the family membership he took out that day to a single one (he was planning to switch his weekly swimming venue to the Y instead of the university pool anyway) because Brendan refuses to walk into the building now. Back to the drawing-board, in our search for an acceptable physical activity for him. He did mention wanting to try archery (seems to be inspired by AQ) after his monthly visit with his psychologist last Friday, but that will take some research.

Fortunately Brendan had recovered his equanimity by Saturday evening because Grammie was coming over to stay with him while Charlie & I went to a Snipe fleet potluck. Our sailing fleet has monthly potlucks during the non-sailing season & they're such a lovely group of people, we really look forward to seeing them as much as possible. There's always something goofy going on, too, & this time there was a mustache contest with prizes. Women were invited to participate, of course, & any men who did not choose to grow their own. I had been inspired by watching the Marx Brothers last week, so I knitted Charlie a Groucho mustache out of a black boucle yarn (he made a stogie out of brown paper to go with it) & I found some grey mohair to make myself a walrus-style mustache (grey to match my hair :). It was a hoot! Some folks drew mustaches on with eyebrow pencils (there was a whole contingent in berets & pencil-thin mustaches), some had fake furry ones, or nose & glasses-attached ones, & one woman even had a red ribbon bow mustache. Charlie & I both won prizes for our knitted ones (the only knitted ones in attandance :). We got home in time to put Brendan to bed & my mom told me that he'd initiated a conversation about Grampie (my stepfather who died nearly 5 years ago), sharing remembrances & telling her that "Grampie is still alive in our hearts." She was very touched & asked me rhetorically "just how old is this kid?" Never a dull moment...

On Sunday Charlie, Brendan & I performed a song at church during the service (for the offertory). I had been wanting to sing "Walking in the Air" again (from the "Snowman" video) since I hadn't sung it in a few years & it's such a pretty song. A few years ago Brendan & I had sung it together for the service the week after Christmas (very low attendance & nobody seemed to remember us singing it before). This year, as Charlie had been rehearsing the piano part to accompany me, Brendan would chime in from the computer, so I asked him to sing with me again. As we rehearsed it over the past week, we decided to jazz it up by having Brendan sing the last line of each verse by himself. He was having a little trouble counting when to come in, so I'd gently tap his back & he'd jump right in. He did a great job Sunday morning & it was really fun to sing with him. I was unprepared, though, by the response. After the service we got so many compliments & our minister was amazed by how well Brendan sang :) I guess I've just lived with the kid too long to be surprised, though. He's such a ham... :)

Yesterday was a school break day & I made a list of all the things that I wanted to do with Brendan (make banana bread, rehearse his school play lines, write a parody song, start a new weaving project, build a kit he'd gotten for Christmas...) so we wouldn't lose focus. Also, I made the Adventure Quest rules as clear as possible, the new ones that are encouraging self-regulation (if he feels frustrated & finds himself cursing the monsters, take a break- if I have to intervene, he can't get back on AQ all day), so that it would not be a day of Brendan going through the motions until allowed to play AQ again. He really got it, too... When we did stuff together he was present & that's really what I was hoping for. After we made the banana bread we decided to invite our neighbour over to afternoon tea, since she was stuck at home in the inclement weather as well. We worked on the kit, & wrote the parody song, too, & he never one cursed the monsters in the game, chosing instead to play only the parts that he felt competent to do. Charlie had a meeting after work, so it was a long day for us together, yet really didn't feel that way. We had a lovely tea with Evelyn, our neighbour, who asked him about the trip to Japan (her stepdaughter lives in Tokyo & is one of the folks we'll be visiting while we're there). Brendan said, for the first time, that he's a bit nervous about being able to really speak to people there, which was interesting. It made me think about being more proactive about brainstorming a list of things he'd like to be able to say & making sure he has them down before we go. He is very much looking forward to meeting his penpal, Seiji, whom he's been emailing, & I also mentioned for the first time the idea of his choosing some lego kits for us to buy for Tomoko's nephews & then his helping them put them together (particularly the 6-year-old) when we get there. He likes this idea a lot :)

Brendan was moany when it came to bedtime last night- moaning about school today & the end of break. I kept telling him it wasn't a real break (a "blip"?) & he did cheer up at the prospect of a 4-day school week, but he woke me up at 6:40 this morning with a huge groan (I suspect when he woke up & remembered it was a school day). Sigh. He is doing quite well at school these days, though, & the class play is giving him much joy. Not only does he have a speaking part, but he's making some of the sound effects & has taken on the role of cue person backstage in the scenes when he's not on, helping the other kids remember when to go onstage. He's also looking forward to sharing the parody song we co-wrote at his music teacher's request (in music class they have been learning the Carpenter's "We've Only Just Begun" so we tacked-on "...To Eat" & made the whole song about food). So, I keep hoping that we can keep him focused on the fun things (like playing in the snow) at school.


At 12:06 AM, Blogger Zilari said...

The snow and ice look lovely! I have always liked seeing ice glazed on things like tree branches, it makes it look like they've been dipped in acrylic or something like that. Which is cool, though I am not sure why.

Also, I keep reading these posts and remembering I have a new Exoforce kit to put together...I don't know if Brendan has it, but it's the Blade Titan mecha and has a pilot named Takeshi (who has very cool green hair).

I have been following the AQ chronicles and can definitely relate...self-regulation can be very difficult to learn, and one thing I've found is that learning it for one thing doesn't necessarily mean learning it for everything.

One thing I try to do is remind myself of "meta-goals"...like, at work, I have trouble sometimes with spacing out and thinking very perseveratively about something that is very interesting but not work, and I have this whole list of practical things I need to go through in my head to help me control it. Like, I remind myself that I need to keep doing a good job at work because it's how I fund all my fun and afford high-speed internet and that sort of thing.

At 9:59 PM, Blogger Lisa/Jedi said...

Ohhh, Brendan has the Grand Titan. He got the entire Sentai Mountain set for Christmas, brought out all the others he already has, & plays with it every day. He was psyched when I told him you have an ExoForce lego, too :)

To be honest, I think that self-regulation is a life-long goal for many of us, so all this work with Brendan is well-spent. This is one reason that I like his being involved with AQ, because he's learning big lessons in a microcosm.


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