Blog byte #1...
Thanks so much to you patient souls who have continuted to read & comment in this blog! I have had so little time & energy for writing lately, but have been slowly finding the inclination (&, really, the need) to continue to write & update. So I've decided to think of updating as "blog bytes" rather than blog entries, in order to fool myself into thinking that it won't take as much time as it usually does... it's all in how we think, isn't it? Here's hoping my mental chicanery works!
I really appreciated the comments on Brendan's poem :) One thing I wanted to note is that the kids wrote their poems based on a template (a format & questions to respond to) that their teacher provided, which is why there are refrain-ish bits. The choice as to the refrain was Brendan's, of course. His teacher explained that the template helps the kids to organise their thoughts & also brought out some really deep ideas from all of the kids... I thought it was much more effective than saying "write a poem about "blah blah".
Life is still moving a bit faster than I can keep up with, but I'm managing to enjoy it (most of the time) anyhow :) This was our year to go visit Charlie's parents for Thanksgiving (about 5 hours by car) but in light of the not-so-cordial relations between me & them these days we decided to stay here for the holiday & have Charlie & Brendan take a "road trip" Friday afternoon to Sunday to see them. So we had a smallish (for us) 10 friends & family for Tgiving dinner. This year we decided to have everything but the turkey, which really worked well! (Brendan cannot bear having meat in the house- he calls it "desecration"- or being around meat being cooked or eaten because it's harmful to the animals.) I made roasted vegetables as a main course, plus a quorn (veggie) roast (not Charlie's fave, but I love it & it was well-received by some) & Brendan's favourite- mashed potatoes. Brendan had seen "Rattatouille" courtesy of Grammie right before Tgiving & was very excited about helping us cook- yay! He & Charlie peeled & chopped most of the veggies for roasting & mashing, which was a huge help. Everyone else brought side dishes & pies for the meal, & we all had that overly-full sensation you're supposed to have after Thanksgiving, even without the turkey (& even though I forgot the cranberry sauce...). My brother came with his 2 oldest sons, so Brendan even had cousins to hang with, which he really enjoyed. Afterward we sat around & played (or watched- I was pretty tired by that time) games & it was just a lot of fun.
Charlie worked Friday morning & then he & Brendan took off in the car for their trip. Brendan finally twigged (on Wednesday) to the fact that I wasn't going with them & asked why. Charlie & I gave a brief explanation (that his grandparents were having some trouble getting along with me these days) & we kept it light, & Brendan accepted it. He loves spending "guy time" with Charlie, & he also loves being in the car. When I asked him why, he said that he likes riding & listening to tapes & eating snacks :) Charlie & I also think that it's a safe, secure, & predictable environment, which also makes it very comfortable for him. I was having some anxiety before they left, which Charlie very sweetly acknowledged with lots of hugs. Last time they were away I ended-up talking Brendan down from an anxiety attack by phone & it was really upsetting not to be able to be with him & hug him... We weren't quite so concerned this time, since this trip wasn't quite as intense as driving for 3 days to pick up the new boat (their previous road trip, in September), but I was still worried. I knew that Charlie was up to the task of single-parenting Brendan, but couldn't avoid feeling a bit guilty leaving him to do it on his own. Fortunately, I had planned some big projects for the weekend, so I got to work as soon as they left & it really left little time for worrying. I had decided to run some more dye pots- an extension of my summer experiments with shibori-style resist dyeing of yarn using natural dyes- plus do some more tie-dyeing for holiday presents.
So other than a church meeting/dinner Friday evening & japanese lesson Saturday morning (& church on Sunday) I spent nearly all of my time prepping, tieing, dyeing, untieing, rinsing... you get the idea. Tie-dyeing takes 3 days, so it was perfect for my 3 days on my own. The colours are such a gift- there is nothing like untieing brightly dyed cloths or skeins of yarn. I also was smart & brought my laptop upstairs in the evenings, so that I could sit in bed & watch anime & stuff until I was tired. It really helped me to avoid the night-time heebie-jeebies this time...
They got home just fine on Sunday afternoon, having had a nice trip. Brendan was very happy to be home, to his computer & his legos (& to me, he was very clear about that :). We had a honeymoon few hours & then the transition anxiety set in. By bed time he was hoarse from screaming at "fleas" (what he calls his OCD thoughts these days) & we were exhausted from trying to get him calm & comfortable enough to sleep. He finally was able to concentrate on listening to the Harry Potter book on tape they'd begun in the car (HBP- Stephen Fry version), but didn't fall asleep until nearly an hour past his usual bed time. It was one of those nights that leaves me feeling like an inadequate parent, for sure... But it also made me realise that so much of our relationship with Brendan these days is changing. He's fully into pre-adolescence, which means that he's developmentally, appropriately beginning to start doing some of the things we've been doing for him- but he's not nearly ready to fully take the ball & run with it. It leaves lots of gaps, lots of frustration for all, lots of feelings of inadequacy for all... it's also a real opportunity to meet & greet the emerging, neo-adult Brendan. I really like this unfolding person! He's got a great sense of humour, & when he's not feeling overwhelmed by life he's witty, thoughtful, creative... I just need to remember these things when he's in the midst of a crisis :) Monday morning the "fleas" started in at 6:30 am & kept up all day, making school difficult. He could barely get things into his locker, he was feeling so attacked by the "fleas", & he kept either screaming or freezing up, unable to move. He told me that he was just too tired to try focusing on something other than the upsetting thoughts, which made me sad, but I also reminded him that practicing is absolutely key to learning how to focus, & that we need to start daily practising. I spoke to his teachers that morning & they were prepared to give him loads of space, which really helped. When he wearily got in the car after school he asked if we could go somewhere for coffee, & I said sure, as long as he thought the "fleas" were sufficiently under control (& wouldn't bother him too much while in a new, unfamiliar place) & he said yes, so we went to Starbucks & had lattes & shared a goodie. It was so much fun :) We talked anime & spoke japanese to each other. I could tell Brendan felt very grown-up doing this & he was really at his best- because he was feeling grown-up. It was a nice way to finish a trying school day & he had little trouble with "fleas" until nearly bed time. Charlie decided that if Brendan needed to yell them out, then that's what they'd do, so they called down the stairs to me to "plug your ears, mom" & Brendan just yelled until the fleas flew... He took a bit longer to fall asleep again, but not nearly as long as the night before... & he even managed to his homework beforehand!
This morning Brendan told me that maybe we should practise together at least 5 minutes a day, to help him learn to intensely focus on something other than the OCD thoughts. I agreed with this plan, & also recommended we do some more "ki" work, so that he can use his "ki" to protect himself. This was something his OT suggested, & she showed me a tai chi technique to use with him to help him do this. We tried it this morning when when he got stuck by a "flea" in his room & it really helped. He seemed a lot less vulnerable this morning, too, & more businesslike about the OCD thoughts. During brreakfast he was actually telling them off- saying that they weren't worth his energy! I heartily agreed... :) He seemed much more together & powerful when we got to school this morning, which was a delight.
Soooo- so much for "blog lite" huh? There is so much more to tell of our very full lives these days, but I've got to get going. I'll be back as soon as I can. Thanks again, friends, for your support!!