Bigger Issues

The world of SPD never goes away

I’ve been posting a little bit about how the juggle of returning to work part-time was quite an adjustment for our family….

Initially, this mostly revolved around trying to accommodate drop-offs & picks-ups amongst terrible local traffic & a husband who has a completely irregular & all-consuming schedule in the land of our own start-up versus my not-an-inch-of-flexibility work schedule.

But as the weeks past, & we got more into the swing of a new routine, we realized there was another side effect to me working that we did not anticipate. Nor, did we manage very well.

As it turns out, my return to work, albeit part-time, did nothing but exacerbate Mylo’s struggles & SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) symptoms. I began working again sometime around April this year & now that October is approaching, Mylo is finally finding a place where he can cope a little easier with life.

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Once I returned to work & when summer vacation & the absence of school hit, poor Mylo just turned into a big ball of distress & frustration. Seeing him now much happier & more able to self regulate on occasion, has made any qualms I had about being at home, disappear in an instant.

Mylo is so much more secure & stable when I am home & that in itself is a huge blessing to witness as a parent.

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Anyone who has a kid struggling with SPD will attest to the fact that it takes many different shapes & can vary in degree. And just when you think you’ve got a strategy down… a new issue arises or an old one takes a new spin.

For Mylo, we’ve always struggled with shoes – over summer it could take us 40 minutes of massaging his feet & trying many different socks to find a way to leave the house without pain in his feet. And to his credit, he tries so hard to make himself comfortable, he really does (which in itself is naturally heartbreaking).

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He also suffers from a sound & smell sensitivity limiting our surroundings at times. So once out, he often wants to immediately return home.

He is easily overstimulated when his little body can no longer process the sensory input he cannot avoid and this tends to manifest in tantrums & bouts of rage where everyone around him can suffer. Socially inappropriate & the flying judgments are painful.

Another result of this, if Mylo isn’t consumed by frustration & rage, is a high. He can become so high in his behavior that trying to communicate becomes almost impossible. Sometimes he’ll fall asleep in the moment. But sometimes not.

Reasoning & trying to communicate logically is becoming more a part of routine as kids approach 5. They may not agree, or like the way things are, but unlike with a 2 or 3-year-old, they can form a much greater understanding & thus acceptance of circumstances & reason out a means of coping. Mostly.

Mylo though has delayed development & interacting with him currently, requires the recognition that he is more often than not, needing a 3 1/2-4 year old level of communication as opposed to a 5-year-old. But as he is very tall, no one else gets this fact.

There are many more issues that affect Mylo, resulting from SPD but for the most part whilst I was working, getting through the day was actually a challenge for all of us. Both Kevin & I had to constantly check our patience & empathy; I needed time out I wasn’t able to get & Ethan, the big brother, really has to adopt a much more mature stance in that living with Mylo requires flexibility, understanding & acceptance not usually required of a 6-7 year old. He is a trooper that kid. One I am so proud & also inspired by.

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Currently though, I’m pleased to say, we are all truly enjoying the here & now. It is like taking a deep, satisfying breath, as Mylo comes down a few levels of intensity post summer. He has always been the most personable, quirky & popular kid I’ve known. You cannot do anything but adore Mylo.

Back in OT, back in school & me being available for drop offs, pick ups, sick days & everything in between – means we can enjoy those parts of Mylo more & more often. And that is making our family unit, much more, a family unit.

We are coming back together again rather than feeling like we are splintered apart & barely holding on.

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Categories: Bigger Issues, Family Life, Life as it is, Mummyhood | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Who does America really protect?

Lately I’ve been making it my habit to get back into my 6am gym sessions as while I really don’t like that alarm going off, I do love freeing up the rest of my day & I love the boost of endorphin’s to the system first thing.

Getting home at 7am, knowing I’ve worked out & feeling energized is my prefect start to the day.

One of the other things I love about the gym (other than that I am ALL ALONE) is that I get to watch the news.

I try, most days to skim the headlines of Huff Post, our regional paper in New Zealand or CNN… just to have a vague idea as to what is going on outside my bubble.

But watching it is a great way to distract me from my cardio struggle while gaining a decent coverage of events.

Even if they’re very State-centric.

Of course, Wednesday morning there was yet another school shooting (Roswell, New Mexico) & I wondered to myself – in all honesty –

What the hell are we doing here?

There are no school shootings in New Zealand.

There are very few shootings at all in fact.

Why have we just spent an exorbitant amount of our savings on green cards & as a result we are in fact putting our kids at risk daily in their local school.

Ethan’s school could easily have been Sandy Hook, Newtown.

Anyone can walk into his school at anytime. There are no guards or security checkpoints. No metal detectors. You do have to sign in & grab a “Visitor” sticker when volunteering.

But I doubt an armed gunman would consider this necessary upon entry.

I sometimes wonder – do my friends kids – those in Elementary (Primary school) school in New Zealand – do they practice lock down drills?

Along with fire & earthquake drills – do they all file into the bathroom with their teacher, lock the door & practice being silent because of the “bad guy” in the school?

Do their teachers face the possibility of having to use their own bodies to protect 20-something little ones?

Do their kids say things like “we’re lucky to have a police station so close by in case a bad guy comes into school with a gun”?

We have a choice to raise our kids here & we’re making that choice knowing the risks.

Will I come to regret that choice?

People here in the States are often surprised when I tell them people in New Zealand, ordinary people like us, do not have guns at home. We do not have such options that I am aware of & as far as I know, the path to legally acquiring a gun for the purpose of hunting is stringent in its protocol. You cannot simply purchase one over the counter.

Like candy.

Having a gun for recreational purposes is not heard of (legally that is).

And then when you tell them that even the police don’t carry guns… well, the looks on many faces are priceless.

At the risk of offending those in my community, I have to admit that I cannot wrap my head around the fact that people here see guns as a right & that they are willing to sacrifice others – potentially their own children to uphold that constitutional right.

Is that constitutional right really worth it I wonder…. Could we not just give a little on that one…?

Just to y’know – protect a few children here or there…?

For me, in the context of my upbringing, it is most definitely not worth preserving. However I do try to appreciate we all come from different places, bring different elements to the table & there is much about this nation I have not experienced & do not understand. Thus I have tried to reserve judgement & appreciate the argument of the other side.

However. Wednesday – another shooting.

More lives damaged both physically, emotionally & psychologically.

And the quieter mention of this event also made me wonder – is this “school shooting” phenomena becoming like the phenomena of televised conflict? The images of the Vietnam war, the first true war images available en masse for the public were shocking; horrific; traumatizing; objectionable. Real.

But since then, we’ve been bombarded with images from conflict after conflict – war in the Middle East, genocide in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Africa. Civil War … well in so many places…. how many of us see them, feel our hearts break a little, then go on to boil some pasta for dinner & pour ourselves a glass of wine?

Are school shootings going to follow the same path – we see another but we have to jet off to soccer, quick lets go, turn off the tv….

The difference I can’t help noticing is that many conflicts we see – recent ones such a Syria for example are horrifying. Horrifying. It is beyond words to see children suffering chemical attacks… We pray that peaceful, strong & moral nations can help defend their human rights.

Help defend & protect those without the resources to do so themselves. The UN – it’s there, maybe unable to do much, but it’s there. There is something happening albeit entirely inefficient.

Bit it’s in Syria.

It is not Newtown. Roswell. Columbine.

So while we can donate, volunteer, petition & support the populace. We cannot actually affect legal & constitutional change by our own votes, through our own chosen representatives.

To protect those that need it & do not have the means to do so themselves. Such as our children.

These contemporary atrocities are not happening in a nation which apparently defends the rights of those who need it. A nation with an apparently democratic, peaceful, legally & morally riotous government that, at it’s very core, functions to protect & promote it’s people.

Isn’t that what America boasts?

Yet 26 children died in Newtown. 26 children who were 6 years old. They didn’t even know yet that Clifford the Dog – the giant, red mutt is not actually real. They still believed Santa actually fits down billions of chimneys in one night. That Nemo is free & happy thanks to Gill.

How is this – “defending” the constitutional right to bare arms; the lack of gun control; allowing the power of the NRA to dominate politicians & so on – how is this, protecting human rights? How is this protecting people?

Gun manufacturers, sellers, owners & those in government who are funded & supported by the NRA are protected.

No one else.

Categories: Bigger Issues | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The “glare”

On Friday’s, my 5-year-old (Ethan) has a 30 minute swimming lesson & it’s later in the afternoon so my 3-year-old (Mylo) comes along after pre-school.

Mylo’s treat for sitting still & not leaping in the pool or trying to strip down for his own lesson (which is actually on a Sunday), is to watch/play the iPad or to read books with me which is sometimes what he ends up choosing over the iPad.

Sometimes. Naturally the iPad wins on occasion too.

We’re fairly new in the iPad world… we’ve had one a few months but the kids have literally only just gained access recently & on occasion. Mostly I let Ethan play some educational games but in truth we don’t have many instances where it’s employed.

Hence why it’s such a “Friday Fun Day” treat for Mylo.

Anyhow – picture the scene: Mylo engrossed in his iPad; Mummy engrossed in an email reply which had taken all day to get on to; a small gathering of children edging their way toward Mylo, naturally seduced by the sounds & flashing lights that is “Bolt” the movie.

And then come the glares.

Mothers employing the old eye-drilling glare of disapproval. I could feel their wrath reaching deep within my bones.

Comments pouring out – like “Mary! Let’s COUNT the number of flags you can see – isn’t that a good Mommy-Mary game?”… And “Mary, what colour are the flags?”

And of course there I am struggling to remain “oblivious” & vacillating between heart-racing guilt & a desperate need to apologize for my poor, poor parenting (I am a total people pleaser BTW). Completely resenting the fact that I could no longer just enjoy the peace & serenity of a half hour swim lesson.

Without the iPad, I can’t (guilt-free) actually watch Ethan & cheer him on without chasing Mylo around & literally wrangling him – physically manoeuvering him into some semblance of a restrained position, without having CPS (Child Protective Services) called on me.

(That image you may be concocting is, by the way, our usual scenario sans iPad.)

Thus I either take the hit for using the iPad or take the hit for possible child abuse-like behaviour.

When the laser-sharp glare of “the perfect mother” hits, my gut reaction is to launch into an explanation about Mylo having CP & SPD & that TV is his “go-to” in times of anxiety/need of self-regulation; to explain that this is his weekly treat – something I use to entice him (half an hour is a long time in little peoples’ world); that if he let me, I could teach him “stuff” on the games.

I want to explain that our daily reality is also thus: Mylo has SPD which can at times, present like ADD/ADHD. He can get extremely “high” at any time & it doesn’t take a lot of stimulation to do so. Usually it is his reaction to a task that is beyond his physical capabilities. But in addition it comes because Mylo cannot regulate his body like other little people can; he has motor planning difficulties & fine motor delay which simply means that engaging him in things that are challenging is not a wise move in certain environments.

Ethan’s swimming lesson being one such example.

I want to add that in fact I am extremely happy with the progress we’ve made – we can now actually attend swimming for Ethan. Six months ago that would not have been possible without Kevin.

I’ve posted about SPD before – we were in a really tough phase & I wrote partly as I needed to share my struggles; I needed the outlet.

This time I do it in part to make my own lack of directed parenting seem less neglectful (I feel I need permission perhaps?) but also to say if there’s one thing I’m learning from our experiences, it is to be careful when judging children & their behavior  It’s not always what it seems at face value. And, it can be incredibly hard to sit surrounded by judgments when you yourself would like to be experiencing this situation in a very different way also.

We make such progress & mostly Mylo is like any other over-energetic 3-year-old & he is so damn cute & personable, I am actually in love with him head-over-heels, just as he is.

However those subtle, imperceptible delays & challenges for him, make for some moments that are not in the “Perfect Parenting Handbook”; moments I don’t keep have immediate solutions for or the right preventative steps either.

So today I offer up my story for anyone struggling with guilt & judgement & just trying to do the best we can – whether it be because we have tired kids, hungry kids, frustrated kids or kids with more.

Categories: Bigger Issues, Family Life, Mummyhood, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

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