Monday, December 19, 2016

"Every Child is Gifted...

They just unwrap their packages at different times". I love this.

Jordan just missed the cutoff, which would have gained her access into the world of the gifted. Her scores on the verbal section of the WISC, are what pulled her down. The verbal section. Let's think about this.

Jordan was pulled out of her comfortable classroom, asked to sit in a room with a total stranger, and prompted to answer a bunch of questions. Out loud. Jordan, who at this point in her life wouldn't ever, make eye contact with adults. Every time we went to her pediatrician for a well visit, and the doctor would ask her the usual questions regarding her health habits, I would constantly have to remind her to look at the doctor, not at me, when she was answering. I was aware that her brief answers were only the tip of the ice-burg, as compared to the information she wasn't sharing, but I didn't want to come across as a helicopter mom who hovered too closely, and spoke for her child. For whatever reason, she was uncomfortable when speaking to adults.




Initially, I was angry. I wondered who would get in, if a child who gets 100% on basically everything, did not. It was obvious, at least to me (and I certainly wasn't the least bit biased) that she was a child who had been graced with many gifts. So that would mean she was gifted, right?

Eventually I got over the initial, parental sting. It took a few conversations with Weeze, Dad, and Adam, for me to gain a better understanding of the situation. Perhaps the gifted class would not have been the best fit for Jordan. She wasn't bored in school. She also didn't strike me as the type of student who thought "outside of the box”, to the point where she wasn't benefiting from the standard curriculum.

What Jordan was, was a smart, motivated, organized, diligent, rule following, happy (albeit sometimes overly emotional), eight year old.

Who needs labels anyway?

Thank you,

Us Too

Saturday, December 17, 2016

To Be Gifted, or Not to be Gifted

That was the question.




Jordan's second grade teacher recommended we have her tested for the gifted program. At the start of this year she came home and said happily, “Every year the teachers just keep telling me how great I am!" Now I ask you, who wouldn't like hearing that every year?

We weren't surprised by the recommendation because she was reading at the fifth grade level in second grade, and her memory seemed to be almost photographic. At this point, school was not very challenging for her. We had reservations about the program, so we met with the principal. He told us we were the first parents ever, who contemplated not putting their child in. Here's why; Adam was in the gifted program in elementary school, and it wasn't a good fit. For a number of reasons, the program ultimately had a negative effect on his self esteem and self confidence. But after this meeting, we felt that perhaps it would be a good fit for Jordan.

She was tested, and she didn't get in. They said her IQ was not high enough.

Whatever...

If you know anything about me at this point, you can probably sense the sarcastic, annoyed, somewhat competitive tone in my reaction. Wait until you hear which section of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) pulled her score down.

Thank you.

Us Too


Monday, December 12, 2016

Self Pity Sucks



Before moving on, I would like to make sure I'm portraying our stories accurately. I don't want to minimize, or sugar coat any of the difficult experiences we went through. If I did, the ultimate purpose of Us Too would be lost. Again, it's purpose is to reassure families that they are not alone. No matter how isolated, frustrated, or dysfunctional you think your family is, there are most likely other families going through similar situations. People just don't like to talk about it.

One of the many benefits of journaling, is it allows you to write down the initial, emotionally charged thoughts, which are bombarding your mind. This is a good thing, because I know first hand, that nothing positive comes from verbalizing these rants. Here's an excerpt from my journal, written after Jordan gave me the note:

How about just clean your damn room when your dad tells you to! How about not getting into an argument about it, refuse to do it, and then pull the "poor me" attitude. All because your mom and dad had the audacity to confront you about it! You're life is unfair? What about my life?

Feeling sorry for myself in this way was never my thing, but it was slowly and meticulously beginning to creep into my psyche. I didn't like it.

It was frustrating to deal with this kind of crap over and over. Once again, I didn't understand how it was possible for me to have a child who was so different than I. One who felt sorry for herself. One who appeared to give up on difficult situations so easily. One whose choices and actions seemed to be self defeating, and to defy logic and rational thinking.

It was very difficult for Adam and I to stay attentive and consistent all of the time, especially with two younger children. There were numerous occasions when life was moving along so smoothly; Jordan was sweet, even tempered, and extremely pleasant. It was these times when we would inevitably ease up on her behavior chart. That's when life would become more tumultuous. and the crap would begin to hit the fan again. We would be forced into having one of our “talks” with her, and try to explain why her actions were unacceptable, or worse yet, unhealthy..

As the years progressed, and her behaviors became more extreme and hurtful (to herself and/or to others), so did my reactions to them. It wasn't good.

But remember, with patience, communication, professional help, and most importantly, love, we got through the seemingly impossible times. Nothing is ever perfect, but I can honestly say that today, I thoroughly enjoy spending time with Jordan. I am constantly in awe of, and inspired by, the strength and persistence she is forced to tap into each and every day.

Hope is a wonderful thing. :)

Thank you.

Us Too






Sunday, December 4, 2016

You Would All be Better Off Without Me...



For better or for worse, when I was growing up, I couldn't stand the girls who pulled the whole “feel sorry for me crap”. It drove me nuts. My attitude was: Suck it up, get on with your life, and please don't involve me. Cringe? I don't think I was never rude about it, I just tried to avoid the drama.

And now my own child was throwing the ultimate feel-sorry-for-me-drama", at me. I felt emotionally manipulated, and I didn't like it.

After Adam helped calm me down, we talked to Jordan, making it vibrantly clear how good she had it growing up in our home: we respect her, we love her, and we value everything about her. We added that we will always be there for her, and conversely, we deserve the same in return. Lastly, I informed her that this type of behavior will not ever be tolerated.

What would possess an eight year old to throw this type of guilt trip on her parents? I wasn't even sure it was a guilt trip. I didn't know what to think. Was her plan to upset us or to run away? Maybe she didn't have a plan. Maybe she felt too much after seeing me lose it on all three kids, and she had no idea how to cope.

Although this post appears to be filled with only negativity and angst, I hope you can see it differently. We may not have expected the note, but at least we reacted to it in a calm and loving manner. And thankfully, Jordan heard us. She was receptive, and the look in her eyes showed that she understood how truly important she was to us.

And there's nothing negative about that. :)

Thank you.

Us Too



Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Kids versus Parents



As in any family, our lives kind of went in waves. There were times when I thought my heart would explode with pride, joy and love while watching our kids play, learn and build never ending friendships with one another.

Then there were the more challenging times. For instance, there were those occasional moments when, almost as a united entity, all three kids would out and out refuse to do what we asked of them. Or how about when, no matter what, they could not get along with one another? And I can't forget those glorious moments when all three kids cried at the same time. Ah! Depending on how far I had been pushed past my limit, I wasn't sure whether I should have felt completely overwhelmed, or triumphantly victorious. Cringe?

Adam and I would find ourselves yelling, trying to regain some sense of order or control. Who am I kidding? We were yelling out of anger and frustration. One day I came home from running, and Adam was upset with Jordan for blatantly refusing to clean her room. (Which is kind of ironic, since today she keeps her room beyond organized and clean, and her closet is color coordinated.)

In a perfect world, it would be presumed that I returned from a run with a certain level of clarity and calmness. Sadly, that didn't happen. I lost it. I freaked out and went on about how all three kids were driving us completely nuts. It was quite a scene.

At this particular moment, I'm ignoring the small urge to write the word cringe. And here's why; I believe this situation periodically occurs in most homes. Having young children can be stressful, and moms and dads sometimes lose their sh*t.

You may be asking yourself; Is there a point to this drawn-out, somewhat commonplace, narration? Of course there is...

While I was getting ready to shower, Jordan wrote a note and slipped it under my bedroom door. It was succinct and to the point: It said: “You would all be better off without me.”

She was eight. WTH?

Thank you.

Us Too

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Us Too's Purpose


Something has been bothering me, especially after writing my last two posts. I feel as if I'm losing the focus, or the purpose, of this blog. Ultimately it was (and still is) a way to help families who are struggling, feel less alone and less isolated. Your family may be experiencing pain, frustration, and feel completely lost and overwhelmed, but guess what? Us Too. We too have struggled over at the Beck household, as many families have.

In my mind the most effective way to accomplish this, is to share our story. Here's where I begin to have concerns and doubts. I don't want Us Too to be a mom gripe-fest. I don't want it to portray Jordan as the "problem child".  There is never a problem child. There is only a problem that needs to be addressed.

As I have said before, raising a child who possesses all of the "super powers" that Jordan has, ultimately made me a better parent. And it certainly made me a better person. Yes, at times I was shocked, confused, and angry. But these were MY issues, not her's.

I felt as if I needed to make this clear, not only to those who read Us Too, but also to myself. Sure, we have been through some difficult times, as all families have. But it was, and is, never the fault of one person. A family is an entity. All of it's members have the responsibility to do the best they can, to help this "entity of love" thrive and succeed. That is what each of the Becks have always done, and will continue to do.

Thank you.


Us Too

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

As if One Sad Baby Wasn't Enough


Obviously, I was furious. I couldn't believe Jordan would hurt her younger sister in such an exclusionary, mean manner.  Was she jealous, envious, or angry that Kayla was even born? At the time it didn't matter why Jordan told her friend to erase Kayla's name, only that she did it.

After I calmed down, Jordan and I had a long talk. I explained how I wasn't concerned with the behavior of other people's children. What was important to me was how my kids reacted, and more importantly, how they treated others. Again I spoke of Team Beck, because if they didn't stand up for one another, who would? I had a hard time getting over this one. Kids being mean to my baby girl was one thing. One of my babies having a huge part in it...

I spoke from the heart, mostly because mine was hurting. I made sure I wasn't cruel or cutting with my comments and observations, and I didn't know how Jordan would react. She began crying hysterically and told me she didn't know why she was so mean to Kayla. Her exact quote was "I know how nice Kayla is, and I know she doesn't deserve to be treated badly."

Um, okay?

This was confusing for me. In only a few minutes she flipped everything around. I didn't (and still don't) believe that she was turning on the tears to get attention, or to "play" me.  Call it Mother's Intuition, but her reaction felt real. She was beside herself, sobbing, telling me she didn't understand why she acted the way she did, and that she couldn't help it.

I did sympathize. My baby was struggling. But in my mind, at this specific time, her treatment towards Kayla, by far trumped her internal conflicts. I made it clear that it was unacceptable, and I didn't expect it would ever happen again.
Not fun.

Thank you.


Us Too

Monday, November 21, 2016

Knowing When to Walk Away



Obviously I was beginning to understand that occasionally, within the safe confine's of our home, there would be some disharmony between our children. This basically holds true in all families. Sharing a living space with people who have different personality traits, can be challenging, to say the least.

But outside of our house, it was my expectation that we were, DUN DUN DUUUN... Team Beck.

That was until I began noticing Kayla sitting by herself on the school bus. She was in first grade and Jordan was in second. I asked Kayla what was going on. (I know, shocking, right?) She told me that her best friend would sit with Jordan and then quickly ask her older sister (Jordan's best friend) to sit with them. Jordan then proceeded to tell me that the older sister erased Kayla's name out of her Friend Book. I thought to myself: I don't like this, but it's okay. Kids can be mean, and I can use this as a life lesson on how to handle bullies. But then Kayla informed me that Jordan told her friend to erase Kayla's name.

Honestly, at this moment I had no idea what to do. I thought I might lose my sh*t, so I got in the shower, and proceeded to cry like an angry baby.

How's that for dealing?

Thank you.
Us Too


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Accountability vs. Responsibility


Back to the somewhat unwelcome, but also necessary, modification behavior chart. I knew I needed to do something, because things were getting out of hand. The goal was to keep track of how often Jordan was rude to Kayla. Here's how the chart worked:  Each time Jordan lashed out in one way or another, I would put an X on the chart. (I never said it was a positive-behavior chart.) If she got three X's in a day, she was not allowed to read before bedtime. Again, books worked as the leverage we needed to gain better control.

Yay books!

Once this chart went into effect, Jordan's behaviors improved dramatically. It was almost as if she didn't need the chart as a reminder. Her actions towards Kayla were much more patient and kind. It was a joy to see the girls getting along and enjoying each other's company again.

The ultimate goal of this behavior chart was to hold Jordan accountable for her behaviors. In actuality, I think the chart helped hold me accountable for my own behaviors. I was forced to take notice, to keep track, and to follow through.

I guess this means that behavior charts are also beneficial for... well, for those parents who need them. You know, the difficult ones, the ones who have issues.

Well that's something to think about...

Thank you.

Us Too


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Some Election After Thoughts





I think many of us would agree that the last few months allowed (or forced) us to get an inside view into the internal thoughts and convictions of our friends and family members. Right now, because everything is so new and raw, my opinion is that some things may have been better left unsaid (or unread). Honestly, we don't need to know everything about those we love. We really don't. Each one of us had our beliefs long before this election, and most likely none of us are going to change them now.



That being said, there are people who will get past all of this within a few days. Obviously they won't forget, but they will be able to get on with their lives and move forward.



Others may require a bit more patience, support and understanding. They may need their loved ones to watch out for signs and symptoms of distress. Through no fault of their own, they may not have the ability to let go. It's not a choice. It's not an over-reaction. It is a subconscious reaction.

I picture it like this:  Some people are like huge magnets. But instead of attracting pieces of steel, they attract emotions. When they perceive the world as moving along smoothly, they have the chance to suck in happiness, hope, and the promise of better things. It helps life feel at least more bearable. (Because remember, quite often these super heroes are already struggling.) But if the world feels unfair, unsafe and is teaming with hatred, they are instantly bombarded with all the hurt, fear and feelings of injustice.

It's hard for me to imagine how this might feel, but I'll never stop trying to help those who are painfully aware.

Thank you.
Us Too.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Parents Do What They Need To Do




Like I had mentioned, 'back in the day' the Becks were dealing with some sibling rivalry. I'm not sure why this bothered me. It wasn't the first time (or the last) that I became overly involved in the intricacies of my children's lives. But Kayla was younger, innocent, and genuinely a sweet little girl.

Looking back at my childhood, I feel it necessary to admit that I was certainly not an angel. I was actually a royal pain in the butt to my older brother. Truly. But he possessed an important self-preservation defense mechanism.  He could easily outwit me with his quick comments and big words. I may have been the more relentless and annoying one, but he could bury me verbally. Subsequently, I would sometimes walk away confused, frustrated or plain-old bored.

The situation with our girls was different. Jordan was older than Kayla, and her verbal skills were quickly advancing. Unfortunately for us, she was getting more and more effective at 'making' her point. Kayla, who was in kindergarten, seemed defenseless. I couldn't bear to watch and allow it to continue.

So I did something I swore I would never do. I created-- a behavior chart. Ugh. Anyone who has ever taught pre-school before becoming a parent, will probably understand this line of reasoning; Yes, behavior charts have the potential to be effective tools in helping to make a lasting change in behavior. But behavior charts are only beneficial for... well, for those kids who need them. You know, the difficult ones, the ones who have issues.

And here it comes...... Cringe. (And/or karma. It depends how you choose to look at it.)

Thank You.

Us Too

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Perspective



It's been a while since I last posted. There's something about this time of year that, at least for me, makes it more difficult to... well, just be. I love the colors and the cool breezes. I wait months for the opportunity to lay next to our puppies and roast myself like a chicken, in front of our pellet stove. The craziness and stress that September brings, (Remember the post The Three P's of September Survival: Persistence, Pliability, and Patience?) has finally subsided.

So what's the problem? Why is it more difficult, and require more effort, for some of us to get moving these days?  My theory is simple. It's because humans are not nocturnal. When I'm outside I try my hardest to suck in every last bit of sunshine through my eyeballs. But it's not the same as those long summer days. It's almost as if there's a daily, unfounded sense of urgency.

If I begin see these signs and symptoms present themselves in my kids, it complicates matters. As I've already mentioned, I kind of feel it twice. The normal events of life:  injury or illness, homework, applications, sports seasons ending, getting through the college midterm schedule, which equates to having more free time... all of these seem to attribute to a certain level of doubt, angst and irritation.

Am I writing this to send a message that the Becks are, once again, a mess. Of course not. We are totally fine, We are better than fine. Am I realizing/admitting that I am overly involved in my children's lives? Possibly, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Ever.

I think my purpose for this post is to have it act as a reminder. A reminder that contentment is not always a given. People have to find the peace and patience within themselves, especially if they desire to be examples to others.

So do what makes you happy and what brings you joy. And don't forget to keep sucking in the sun!

Thank you.

Us Too






Tuesday, October 25, 2016

One-Sided Sibling Rivalry


I'm not sure why we decided to start Jordan in piano lessons when she was in first grade, but we did. Wasn't I the one who mentioned not too long ago, that we were overwhelmed with our already busy schedule? Again, maybe it had something to do with that damn Jones family. We found the sweetest, most patient instructor in our neighborhood, so at least we didn't have to travel a long distance to get to the lessons.

Jordan enjoyed learning how to play. Initially we had to limit the amount of time she spent practicing because she would do whatever it took to avoid hitting the wrong notes.

Even as Jordan became more confident and more capable, she continued to have an attitude towards her younger sister, Kayla. When Kayla would walk into the room Jordan would instantly yell “Get out!” or “Go away!.” Then there was the “Kaylaaaaaaaaaa” which she stretched out for a good 5 seconds. She may as well have said “Kayla, I really don't like you.”

Although this scenario didn't happen often, sometimes Jordan would actually push Kayla's face away from her, by pressing on her cheek. It was gentle, but she would physically move Kayla's head. Um... no. I talked to Jordan about how it might feel if she had an older sister who tried to make her sad all the time. I wasn't positive if she understood what I was saying, or if she had the ability to empathize, but I had to say something. And after this type of conversation with me, Jordan would get very upset. It was almost as if she didn't like to think of herself as someone who treated her sister so awfully.

Even back then, I didn't just fall off the turnip truck. I was fully aware that sibling rivalry was normal. But clearly, I had trouble tolerating blatant disrespect and well... meanness. It drove me nuts. Kayla didn't ask for it, or deserve it. I would have loved for Kayla to "give it back" a little bit, but at this point in their lives she was young, and she didn't.

There were a few times when Kayla didn't need to do, or say anything to get back at Jordan. One time all it took was Jordan having the opportunity to watch Kayla play and have fun with a friend. Jordan longingly looked into Kayla's room, and very dramatically uttered (I assume for my benefit): “I hope Kayla remembers me the way she did, before she hated me.”

I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried. ;)

Thank you.

Us Too




Friday, October 21, 2016

Thankfulness


I've been thinking about how life changes after having children. Those tween and teen years could have the potential to ruin relationships. Please try to remember that no matter how unpleasant, belligerent, angry or antisocial a child may become, no matter how hard a child tries to push their parent away, a parent can never go away.

No child wants to be locked in their bedroom feeling alone, misunderstood, and hopeless. Even if someone isn't capable of, or willing to verbalize it, everyone wants to be heard, accepted, and loved for who they are.

It may not be easy. It certainly wasn't always easy for us. But the results of communicating throughout those tough years, could be momentous. Because one day a child may be doing his or her very best to find success. But if the realization "I deserve, and will be happy", is slowly replaced with the overwhelming, all consuming, downward spiral into hopelessness... no one should feel alone.

All things considered, a little bit of attention, intervention, reassurance, closeness, understanding, and love, may be all that's needed to get someone back on track towards finding inner peace again.

Thank you.

Us Too