Thursday, July 22, 2010

Allergies and all the attached woes

This has been a particularly weird year for allergies. Those of you in the NW will know what I mean. Summer didn't even start here until well into July.

Yes, that's right. July! Summer in the NW never was kookier.

The good news was we did not have our normal horrible allergy June because it was so wet and cool. The bad news is that now that it is behaving like summer, our grass and pollen allergies are now kicking our butts and winning big time.

The only one who doesn't seem affected is Molly. Go figure! Jake, Shea and I are mucus factories and I fantasize about inventing a tissue box harness so that I can carry a whole box around with me as I try to conduct my daily life. Jake one ups me and decides it needs an i-pod holder with detachable "used" kleenex annex discreetly attached.

I tell him to start sketching, that we may have something here!

Because I have gone through allergy hell for a few years now, I am beginning to notice interesting little things. Like if it rains, our symptoms go away. I guess the moisture knocks the pollen count down or something but it is nice to look outside and be somewhat relieved by clouds and mist in the summer months.

Also, I have eagle eyes peeled on our #1 allergy boy, Shea. Because he is so behaviorally sensitive to his food allergies, I guess I should not have been surprised to find that the environmental allergies have a huge effect on him too. Not just your normal runny nose, scratchy eyes misery but full blown behavior changes.

For example: more clingy, more whiny, less focused, fewer words with a few steps back in his verbal development. I notice that I need to remind him to "Use his words" and that he is reverting back a bit to the crooning and meowing and head butting that he used to do.

Is this all allegy related? I have not the foggiest but it is interesting that it seems to be occurring now.

We are trying something new this year; Claritin and frankly symptoms do seem to dissipate. I feel bad nuking my kid with the stuff but I try to tell myself that the allergies are worse than the cure. If he was a highly verbal little guy, he might be able to articulate whether he feels better or not. But, he is not that fellow.

When asked how he feels he routinely says, "Fine, mom. Good!" Sweet little parrot, spunky positive attitude boy ~ you get my "Put the best face on it" award. But, that is Shea and his life and discomforts are his "normal", miserable with allergies or not.

Unfortunately, our beloved OT takes the summer off and he could be just really missing her and the excellent therapy for Sensory Processing Disorder he usually gets weekly during the school year. Or perhaps his allergies exacerbate the problem? Again, who knows for sure.

So much of parenting is a guessing game. A very humbling, guessing game. I find that I second guess myself all the time, trying for the perfect cocktail of love, work, therapy and play for my kids.

Is it perfect? No. It never is and never will be. It is what it is, as they say.

Wouldn't it be great if we could one day find out if what we did was the right thing to do? Or maybe that would suck! Parents make decisions about raising their children for all different reasons, emotions and situational dynamics. If we found out for sure what did work, we would have to find out what did not work and frankly I am not sure I could handle that sort of reality slap.

So, we skate blind using only intuition, faith, fear, joy and love for road signs. With a bulging box of kleenex in tow. Whatever it takes.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Mid-life crisis? Probably.

I feel there is a very large omnipresent someone with a giant foam hammer smacking me on the head repeatedly just trying to get my attention.

Smack, bang! "Hey, what's that?" I notice something but then the phone rings and then I notice the laundry needs folding and I guess I should run to the bank, gas station and the grocery story and figure out what to feed the family for dinner because the kids will be home any minute and pretty soon the attention that the large someone had won is lost...yet again.

This has been happening all day, every day for about...I don't know...15 years?!

But, NOW the big omnipresent person is dangling a flashing neon sign in front of my face so that my attention can stay on it for more than the traditional 5 seconds even if I am driving or e-mailing or blogging or washing little accidents out of little boys underwear.

It is flashing in bright, bold, RED letters saying, "FIND SOMETHING ELSE TO DO FOR A LIVING, YOU IDIOT!!!!"

The same message has been expressed for quite a while but it seems like the letters are getting bigger and there are more exclamation points being added each time I take notice.

It has gotten so overt to ignore and has driven me to peruse the Craigslist job section extensively and fantasize about going back to school to get my masters degree.

"Is this a mid-life crisis?" my mom asks, hitting the nail on the head.

Yes. Without a doubt. This is indeed a mid-life crisis and it is as full of questions with very few answers as I had heard about.

No, I am not going to go out and buy a sports car and have an affair. In fact I am not even tempted but I did loose 20 pounds and continue to wonder what the hell I am going to be when I grow up. Which is more than a little bit pathetic for a 45 year old mom, dontcha think?

Enough with the self-loathing but I guess the universe has been trying to tell me something for quite a while. Who am I not to listen to the universe? It is not polite to ignore the universe and I think I am suffering from some very uncomfortable angst because I have been trying to.

So, blog friends, things are about to change. Perhaps drastically. How do I feel? Scared shitless!

I remember when I was working at an advertising agency doing broadcast production and my boss, the producer, sat at her desk spacing out at her view. She said, "There has to be an easier way to make a living." And, then she sighed. A big one. She was about my age then, mid 40's, and she had quit within the year.

Of course, they never hired another producer and had me do all her work and my own without giving me any more money because if there is anything that the Ad industry is good for it is exploitation. But that is a completely different blog post.

I guess my point is that it is never too late to make a change. Old dogs can learn new tricks. Calm can arise from chaos and the end of the story doesn't have to be obvious from the middle of the book.

Listen to the universe! Dammit! And, stop being such a weenie!

That is all...for now.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Zero, 6, 12...

I have always been fascinated by math. I am no mathematician but intuitively numbers make such perfect sense to me; the balance, the nice tight little packages, the process to get the correct answer.

You know your are slightly nuts if you find equations beautiful. But, I sort of do.

I also love the slightly mystical aspect of what different important numbers mean. Like your birthday divided by how many kids you have means....who knows but it sure is interesting.

I guess the reason why I have been pondering this lately is because Shea is 6 and Molly is 12.

I look at them and think, "When Shea was tiny, Molly was 6 the same as Shea is now. Now she is 12. Wow!" I know, I know, this doesn't seem like a cloud parting piece of info but it keeps on smacking me in the forehead.

She was 6, now she is 12 before I know it she will be 18!

He is 6 and will be 12 when Molly is 18! Interestingly, I can't even venture to think of Shea older than 12 perhaps because he is still my baby.

I guess the real point is: OMG! My kids are growing up so fast! Duh!

Shea is 6 and turning into a big boy in front of my very eyes. Just over the weekend, he swam by himself without the swimmy vest. He is completely potty trained with very few accidents. He is reading as he goes into 1st grade this fall. If someone could have predicted this for me when he was 3 and not talking, I would have sobbed with relief.

He is confident and independent and gets out there and competes with bigger older kids. In fact, as I watch him he is right in there with the rough and tumble crowd. I am poised to intervene when it gets too much and to remind him to use his words instead of his hands. But I am delighted that he is as confident as he is and isn't shy about jumping into the fray. A trait that will serve his well down the road, I believe.

On another note, I am loving age 12! 11 was so-so but 12 rocks. I was trying to describe it to my excellent mommy posse today. It's like there were all these threads of maturity flailing around and by 12 they are getting tied up nicely into sweet little bows.

Can I be more specific? I will try.

Last summer Molly did not want to do any camps. She wanted down time so I let her. I knew she was bored and she sure got cranky with all that unstructured time. So, I decided I wasn't going to let that happen again this year.

I got turned onto a program through the UW's Robinson Center for Young Scholars. It is called Summer Challenge and they offer a math course. It is 3 weeks long during the summer from 9:00 - 2:30 everyday. I know, epic!

Her math scores were good enough to get in and they also required a teacher recommendation. So, I broached the subject with her. The conversations were at times rocky.

She said, "Mom, that sure sounds like school. If you were my age, would you want to go to school for 3 weeks during the summer?"

I refused to buckle. I finally boiled it down to this and stood firm.

"My job as your mother is to present doors of opportunity for you. I would not be doing my job if I did not. For you, school is easy. Perhaps a little TOO easy and you need to be challenged. You have a gift for math and you need to be challenged to reach your full potential. I think this math camp will be a great experience."

Amazingly, she went for it. There was some typical 11 year old whining but I stood firm. The money was already paid, can't get out of it now, etc.

Oh sure, these was some bribery but basically that new 12 year old was emerging and maybe she dug it that she was accepting into a prestigious program. In fact one of only 5 girls accepted to the program out of 20 kids!

We live on a wonderful little island with great people but it is a small town. And, I want my kids to see that there is a nice, big, exciting world out there with lots of fascinating people. The world does not end at our shores.

So, now it is upon us as I hang out in the University District while she is at her math camp and how is she taking it? With the new calm and confidence of 12. Bless her heart!

12 seems to bring a new sense of contentment, confidence and self discovery; awareness of strengths and attributes are explored and realized; excitement begins to bubble about a bright future; big kid joy, pre-teen wonder and a new more grown up sense of humor.

For example: Monty Python is really, really funny!
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