Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Shyness or Anxiety, What's the Difference?

Unless we are out in public. Then you can have the job.

It was funny that when in the confounds of our own comfortable home, Jordan kind of put herself in charge. But if we were outside of our home, it was a very different scenario. Jordan would always push Kayla into a room first, even though she was 19 months younger. Not a hard push, more like a light shove, so Jordan wouldn't be the first to enter into an uncomfortable, unknown.

As the years went on, and we began to let them go up to a counter and buy their own food, Jordan would hand the money to Kayla. And Kayla would pay. I guess it was strange, but it was kind of how it went in our family, and Kayla didn't seem to mind. Although for many years I felt much more comfortable when Kayla went on field trips, or away with other families, than I did with Jordan. We eventually had her work on speaking to adults in the outside world, and acting like the "big sister". It was difficult, and she sometimes got angry at me for pushing.

We still find ourselves in similar situations today, except now I remind her that she is 18. I try to bring it up in a positive way. Something like: "You are 18 and I know you are going to surprise yourself with what you are capable of doing on your own."

Damn, I sure hope I'm right.

One time when we were at a park, a couple of boys told my girls that they were not allowed on the slide. Kayla immediately came back at them, saying they were not their mommy and daddy. so they could go down the slide if they wanted. That's my girl!  Afterwards, Jordan said a similar statement to the boys, but then ran over to me and asked me if it was alright for her to say that to them. It was so cute. I told her that yes, it was definitely okay to stand up for yourselves.

I was just excited that they stood up for one another. Kind of like Team Beck.

Thank you.

Us Too

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Losing it, Gut Punches and Knock Downs

Or, I assume, being a Father.

I know there are many kids out there who don't like to lose. Surprise, surprise, Jordan was one of them. Actually, she hated it. One night Adam was showing her how to play chess using only the pawns, to help simplify the game. As he was teaching her the rules, he let her win the first game. She picked up the rules very quickly, so Adam played fairly, and won the second game.

When she lost the game, she also lost her mind. It was intense like the old days, during those terrible twos and threes.

I actually chuckled a bit. I believed/hoped that one day, if she found something she was truly passionate about, she would have it made. I am still saying this about her today. To be able to focus all of her emotion, intensity, perfectionism, and energy into something positive... it could really lead her to big things.

I realize that many traits Jordan possesses are shared with other children. The stubbornness, the tantrums, the freshness, the hating to lose. I don't want to sound like we had it so much worse, or more importantly, that all strong willed kids will follow the same path as Jordan.

Yes, when she was young, her tendencies did affect her life, sometimes on a daily basis. But back then, they didn't stop her from living a vibrant, inquisitive, dare I say "normal" young life. Maybe it's because her world was much smaller, and it felt safe to her. I don't have regrets that we didn't seek out professional help for her at these early ages. Besides, in my mind, there was no way we would ever medicate our children for any emotional reason.

My, how things have changed.

Parents still ask me how you can be sure that your child needs treatment. My only answer to this (and of course it's all very personal and individual) is that, at a certain point, it just kind of beats you down. The unhappiness, suffering and struggling of all family members, becomes so apparent, that it feels like a recurrent punch in the gut. And in our situation, I think we had a few too many punches, before we realized we needed to take action.  

I'm sure I will be unpleasantly reminded of this as I get further through my journals, because there were many times when I totally lost it. I remember being told when I was a young parent, something to the effect of, "Just wait, because what seem like big problems now, only get worse as your children get older".

At the time I laughed it off. But at a certain point, when I began to see the truth in this statement, I stopped laughing. This is when we were faced with some of the most frightening, difficult decisions of our lives.

Thank you,

Us Too

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Pushing of My Buttons

Ain't that the truth.  

Besides dealing with the whole 'treatment of Kayla' situation, another of Jordan's main objectives seemed to be speaking to us with HUGE attitude. No matter what she was asked to do, I would get: “But Mommmmmm.” She sounded like a teenager. (Actually, now that I am seasoned at being the mother of teenagers, we tend to get the eye roll much more often than the whine). I wondered when, and where, she even heard that tone of voice being used.

Afterwards, if I reprimanded her for not doing what was asked, I would get: “Fine. Then I'm not going to play with you". She said this, to me. Her mother. Why, at this point, she thought I would even want to play with her, was beyond me.  So if I had to guess what my reaction towards these situations were, since I didn't write down the specific details,  I think I have a pretty good idea. Let's see... I was probably frustrated, surprised, pissed off, and somewhat competitive. And I'm sure all these emotions were blatantly apparent. My buttons were pushed, and they were pushed hard.

All of this back and forth, the bickering, the clashing of heads; it got old. I understand the complications of living with our three teenagers, who are slowly struggling to transform themselves into young adults. It can be difficult, since they each have their own unique ideas and idiosyncrasies. And we take care not to squash, or shut down, their emerging individuality.  But Jordan was four. How can you have a power struggle with someone who, in theory, should have no real power?

Who knows, maybe her intention was to get under my skin, because I gave her a reaction. My reactions, even today, tend to be a bit predictable.  Maybe she just wanted (or needed?) everything done her way, all of the time.  Maybe our chemistry, our way of communicating. just didn't flow smoothly. 

Again, trying to figure out all the answers, probably isn't what's most important.

Because today, with a lot of hard work and patience, we have learned a few things. We both learned to listen, we both try to think before we speak, and we both apologize, if we (inevitably) forgot to think before we speak.   

Thank you,

Us Too

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Why Can't She Just Stop?

Just as I was surprised at how harsh Jordan's behaviors were towards Kayla, it also seemed as if her actions bothered or confused Jordan, herself. One night, out of the blue, she said “I'll try to be nicer to Kayla tomorrow.”  Who knows, maybe she was telling me what she assumed I wanted to hear.

Another time she asked me if I knew why Kayla cried so much, when she was mean to her. She was serious. Well, let's see... Maybe it's because she totally adores and looks up to you, and you repeatedly knock her down, while also trying to control her every move. (Of course, I didn't say this aloud).

Grandma Weeze and Grandpa Tony used to sing a made-up lullaby to the kids before they went to bed. Some of the words were “Oh you make me so happy, because you're such a special girl.” When they weren't visiting, she would sometimes ask me to sing it to her. You can imagine how thrown off guard I was, when she said  “Mommy, I don't always make you happy.” Ouch. My reply was “No you don't, but I love you and I always will, no matter what you do.”

In retrospect, maybe I should have made a large poster of my reply to her, and hung it on our bedroom wall. There were times when I could have used it as a gentle reminder, during those joyous tween and teenage years. Especially the part that said; 'no matter what you do'.

I realize that even at age four, she was so introspective. After she behaved a certain way, she would question it, talk about it, and wonder why it happened. I was totally confused, because in my mind, she was the one making it all happen. So why didn't she just stop making it happen? It was almost as if a different person was present, once she was able to calm herself down. A person who may have behaved in a somewhat irrational manner, but afterwards, seemed to be able to rationally think about the situation. As she got older, all of this introspection and doubt led her to have strong feelings of guilt and remorse.

I can't tell you how many times throughout the years she cried because she felt badly about her behavior's towards Kayla. And I can't tell you how many times my not-so-proactive answer to her was "Just stop being mean to her."  

The thing is, after a while, I basically had nothing else. I had no other suggestions. I just didn't understand.

Thank you,

Us Too

Saturday, May 21, 2016

A Parent's Roll in Sibling Rivalry


But, what if one of your children is 'standing in the path' of the other one?

Remember when I first began writing this blog, and I explained that my behaviors and reactions towards Jordan, were not always my proudest moments? Well, these moments became more prevalent as she got older.

The day before Jordan's 4th birthday she told Kayla “I want you to go out right now, and get me something special at the store”.  Keep in mind that Kayla was only 2 and a half. I guess this wasn't quite as bad as her saying to Kayla, “Don't play with me. Don't even talk to me, and don't play with your hair”, which is something Kayla did often, to self sooth. Kayla just looked at her with those bright blue eyes, not really knowing how to react. Jordan was just nasty, mean, and aggressive towards her. It was as if one of her daily objectives, included being cruel to Kayla.

This made me angry. so in my ultimate wisdom, sometimes I would treat her in a similar manner. I would make it a point to play with Kayla more often, and more enthusiastically, as if I was having the time of my life. She did not enjoy when I behaved like this. I realized the normalcy of an older sibling being mean to their younger siblings, but I still didn't like it.

So I ask myself today, was my behavior childish? My ultimate intention was for her to realize that treating someone like this wasn't nice, and that it hurts. I hoped she would stop treating Kayla so negatively. But seeing your mother do it, doesn't that just help to reinforce the negative behavior? Would she think 'Well, if my mother treats me like this, then it must be okay.'? I'm not sure.

I do know that my personality is somewhat “an eye for an eye”. If you hurt me, I will most likely retaliate in some way.  If you hurt one of my children, I will most certainly try to hurt you back. It surprised me that this held true, even when it was one of my own children, who caused the other one the pain.

I don't think I ever considered anything like this, before becoming a parent. There are actually many, many things that I hadn't considered before becoming a parent. So many things...

Thank you,

Us Too

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

You're Only Human (Second Wind)

Someone posted on The Mighty an article about Billy Joel's song 'You're Only Human'. She explained how it helped her to get through her depressive episodes Here's what an article in Songfacts said about the upbeat song:

"After Billy Joel attempted suicide back in 1970 (by drinking furniture polish), it failed to kill him and he wrote the song "Tomorrow is Today" as the suicide note. Later on he was asked if he could write a song that could help prevent teenage suicide. Joel agreed, but the first recording concerned him because it had a dreary and depressing tone that he thought might give troubled teens the wrong message. As a result, he created a new version with bouncy, joyous beats and lyrics about personal forgiveness and optimism for life."

As if we really need another reason to love Billy Joel and his music…

My favorite line from the song is  "You probably don't want to hear advice from someone else - But I wouldn't be telling you if I hadn't been there myself."


Because... the more it's talked about, the more there will be understanding, acceptance, and hope. Have I mentioned that before, because it sounds vaguely familiar? ;) Then again, this song was written way back in the seventies. I guess Billy was very ahead of the times.

Thank you,

Us Too

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Validation, But In a Positive Way

And my father. :)

It didn't take me very long to realize that the type of discipline which worked for me, and for many children, didn't seem to be effective with Jordan. I (and the more I learn, the less I take credit for this) had the ability to control myself, to stop crying, and to look ahead and predict the consequences of my actions. After an unpleasant situation, I would try to change my behaviors in order to avoid the conflict from recurring. For instance, if I didn’t want to be sent down a basement again, I realized I needed to calm down and find a way to change my ways. Thankfully, I was able do this.

Jordan, it appeared, did not have these skills to fall back on. It was very difficult for her to calm herself down, and she rarely changed her behavior to avoid the inevitable and repetitive drama, anger, and angst. I guarantee you, if she could have, she would have avoided all of the pain involved. Because if it was torturous for us, it was certainly worse for her

I'm not sure when I tried to explain this dilemma to my dad. I do know that it was around the time when we were struggling to find a diagnosis, or anything that could help us cope, and basically survive. Here's my theory as to why Jordan didn't appear to "learn from her mistakes":  After a traumatic episode, she would block the entire experience out. She would remember nothing about what had happened. I guess it was a subconscious coping mechanism. How can someone learn from a negative situation, if it is completely erased from their memory? 

They can't. And they usually don’t.

Sure, I realize this now, but for many years, I assumed she was lying to us. Whenever we asked her what she did and why she did it, she would answer "I don't know", or "I don't remember". I didn't understand how such a bright girl, who had an incredible memory, could forget something that just happened minutes ago. It all seemed rather convenient to me. And it made me angry.

During this conversation with my dad, he told me he did realize that she was very different than I was. He also expressed to me that he wasn't sure how I was able to cope with raising a child with such severe tendencies and emotions. Well, that was the main gist of what I remember.


This was HUGE for me, especially coming from him. It was like everything we were struggling with, and worried about, had been instantly validated. It helped me to realize that what we were up against was big, it was difficult, and it was real.

Thank you,

Us Too


Sunday, May 8, 2016

Kind of Like a Mother's Day Epiphany

I think as we get older, and hopefully more mature, so much within us changes. I have become more aware of this on days like today, Mother's Day.  If I'm totally honest, I will admit that I used to be more self centered about days like my birthday and Mother's Day.

When the kids were young, it was up to Adam to recognize these days, and in effect, recognize me. It's a bit embarrassing to admit that, but it's the truth. Then, as the kids became teenagers, I expected them to step up and acknowledge me, and my day. Forget the fact that they sometimes had trouble just keeping their own social and academic lives on track, and their heads above water.

I know how hard it was some years, when I had to make sure they made a card for Adam on Father's Day or his birthday. It was like pulling teeth to get them to find the time, and more importantly, to be able to separate themselves from their own issues, and ultimately, think about someone else.

This may sound like I'm being condescending, especially if you are a bit older than me. (I'm 47). But I'm not. Because I have realized something. The world is a much different, more complicated place than it was when we were kids. I loved making arts and crafts, writing poems, and giving small gifts to my parents. It was exciting and fulfilling for me. I also had the time.

How hard can it be for our kids today? All they need to do is take a few minutes out, and think about someone else. But it takes more than that. They also need to be able to act on those thoughts. Herein lies the problem, for some. The being able to act on those thoughts and feelings.

I know with all of my heart that our kids think about me, appreciate me, and love me. And that's more than enough for right now. 

Don't worry, I did have a very nice Mother's Day today. But do you want to know my favorite gift of the day? It was when Jordan got herself out of bed before 1:00 pm, came down, ate breakfast, and helped empty the dishwasher. All on her own

Because I understand that doing these small tasks are not easy for her these days. I also know that she did them all for me. Best. Gift. Ever. :)

Thank you,

Us Too

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Raising A Spirited Child

I have to admit, sometimes I did wonder how things would have played out with Jordan, if my parents were raising her. Like all of the time. Would they have done a better job than we were doing? Was there a better way to handle a 'spirited' child like her? The realization that she did not instantly back down with them, seeing her act out in her "Jordan" fashion, did help reassure me of one thing. Her behavior was most likely, not solely in response to our actions and parenting techniques.

At least that's something...

Yes, these anxiety-laden thoughts actually did enter into my mind. Remember, she was our first child. There were times when we were fumbling, trying to understand and deal with her intensity and extreme emotions.

So this was the second time Jordan pushed my parents to a level that I assume, surprised them. After they told me what had happened, I explained that I wasn’t at all surprised. I knew how Jordan was. When she didn’t get what she wanted or expected, she would certainly let you know how displeased she was.

After a few minutes of calming, coaxing conversation from Grandma Weeze, Jordan decided to come up the stairs on her own. She exhibited a blatant exercise in self control, and took responsibility for her behaviors. I do see this as positive. I really do.

Here comes that inevitable but, I'm so adept at bringing to light...

But, the thing is, this same scenario would most likely have repeated itself over and over again. Unless the unconditional love of Grandma Weeze and Grandpa Tony was enough to help her find her internal self control; because the intense love of her mom and dad certainly didn't appear to be enough to help her acquire the self restraint. Someone could tell her it was time for bed, time to clean up, time to leave, or get dressed, or stop playing, or eat, or, or or…

If you think about it, it's always time for something.

Thank you,

Us Too

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Another Meltdown With Grandma and Grandpa

We decided to take a short break and leave the kids with my parents. They loved spending time with them, and we really appreciated getting away. We had the chance to reconnect, and take a break from tending to the endless parental needs of an almost four year old, a two and a half year old, and a 9 month old.

After they played, and had their fill of fun and unconditional love, my parents put Kevin and Kayla to bed. They were, I assumed, treating Jordan like the big girl by giving her some special two-on-one time. All was fine until they told Jordan it was time for bed. Not surprisingly, she did not want to go to bed. And she had no problem making them fully aware of this. She screamed and cried (as Jordan had been known to do) very loudly. They told her she needed to stop screaming before she woke up Kayla and Kevin, but she didn’t stop. So my dad explained to her that if she didn't calm down, she would have to go down the basement, where there was no chance of waking them up.


If I would have been there, I certainly could have predicted where this was headed. Fact number one: Once Jordan gets to the point where she is screaming, it pretty much has to run its course. There is not much chance of distracting, explaining or coercing. Fact number two: No matter who they are dealing with, even if it is their beloved, first born grandchild, you can bet money that they are still going to follow through.

So they made Jordan go down the big, cold basement by herself, with the understanding that when she stopped screaming, she could come back up the stairs on her own. The ownness was totally put on her. (Oh... do I remember those days well).

Now I’m not sure just how long Jordan was down there screaming at the top of her lungs: "grandma help me!", but I am sure that it had to be pretty torturous for all involved.

Thank you,

Us Too