dear science camp

It’s great that you are teaching the kids to dissect owl pellets.

It’s not great to discover, at the dinner table, that our son has brought home the mole jaw and hip bones that he dug out of said owl pellets.

In his lunchbox*.

kthxbai

*ok, in a plastic bag. but still.

July 29, 2009. family life. 6 comments.

on the road again

I’m visiting my mom and her husband with the kids this week. My step-father had some serious health challenges earlier in the summer, which meant that my mom postponed a planned visit to us, and here I am. Landisdad, that bastard, had plans for this whole weekend, so in a moment of folly I thought, “why don’t I take the kids to the middle of Red-State-that-I-Hate (h/t jo(e))?”

Inevitably, when I go to visit my mother, I spend a couple of days beforehand wondering how she will piss me off (and if my step-father’s going to be there, what he will say that will be so patently offensive that I won’t be able to let it slide). Since my mom has been married to my step-father, she’s turned into the kind of person who can only tell a story about a person of color by mentioning their race (I’ve thought about starting all my stories with “so I was standing in line next to this white woman” but I’m not sure she’d get it). My step-father, on the other hand, is just an old-school racist.

When I made the plan to come down here, I got a motel. I know better than to stay with them and my kids for four days. We need a buffer zone. This one is about a half-hour from their house, so it’s a pretty big buffer.

Last night, we went over there for dinner. When we got there, my step-father was sitting in front of his ginormous tv, watching Fox News, which he turned off just to come to the dinner table. We had a fine, incident-free dinner, then my mom suggested that we go see “Bedtime Stories,” which was playing in their retirement community’s clubhouse. Again, fine. The kids got a little squabbly in the car after the movie was over, but that’s to be expected after a long day of traveling.

We dropped off my mom, and the Potato ran in to use their bathroom—when we got inside, my step-father was still sitting in front of Faux News (“WILL THE DEMOCRATS MANAGE TO DESTROY THE COUNTRY & LIFE AS WE KNOW IT WITH SOCIALIST HEALTH CARE REFORM?!?”). As we were leaving, my step-father said, “Have fun over there (at the motel) with the rednecks!” The Potato asked, “what does that mean?”

Sigh.

It means we’re not done avoiding my step-father for another visit.

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July 16, 2009. random other things. 2 comments.

on therapy

A couple of months ago, I posted about the fact that the Bee’s anger management issues were coming to a head, and that we had found a therapist that we liked. I thought I’d come back and update on progress so far.

Here’s a news flash–this shit is hard.

The Good

The Bee has made substantial progress in controlling her violent outbursts. We’ve had many fewer instances of shoving, and have gone 2 months without having anything in the house broken (fingers crossed that I’m not jinxing that just by writing it down). Our ‘active listening’ training as organizers has definitely paid off—having the ability to just say, “I hear you saying that X makes you angry” has helped her feel listened to, and that has made a big difference.

The Bee really likes the therapist (and I like her more and more every time), and wants to go talk to her, and (so far, at least) is willing to hear things from her that she won’t listen to if landisdad and I say them. (Most of these things include the rationale for why we won’t send her little brother to a Turkish prison camp while she finishes growing up.)

The Bad

On the other hand, the Potato seems to have taken the Bee’s dialing-it-down-a-notch as a cue to launch his own personal rebellion. I’m not sure if he’s decided that it’s his turn to be obnoxious, or if it’s that in our somewhat-calmer environment, he’s more noticeable when he’s obnoxious. Either way, he’s clearly testing more boundaries and pushing more buttons than ever before.

There was one session where the therapist wanted to see the Bee and the Potato together. She put them into a situation where they were going to get in a fight, so she could watch them fight and talk to them about how to handle difficult interactions, both together and one-on-one. When she asked the Potato what he liked about getting into fights with his sister, he told her, “she pays attention to me.” Not what I wanted to hear, exactly, but good to know, nonetheless.

The Ugly

I’m coming to the realization that we will never have a calm, quiet household where everyone gets along in perfect harmony. While I don’t think that we are anywhere near where we can be, after more therapy, the reality is that we have a house of yellers. In addition to that, the Bee seems to have some kind of low-grade anxiety disorder, and we will always need to be mindful of the various things that trigger that anxiety. Unfortunately, she tends to manifest her anxiety by being rude to people, including me. Which is not exactly sympathy-inducing.

We’re working on it.

July 6, 2009. parenting ain't easy. 8 comments.