Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Peak at the Next Book

I wrote this this morning and it spoke to me. I know that's just weird to think that a writer can write part of a book chapter and have it really hit home with them, but it's amazing how I can figure things out when I start to write about them. This is from the chapter "Focus on Small Accomplishments" from the book with the working title, after much input from you, of "Which One Of You Took My Sanity? A Fun 12-Step-Guide to Foster, Adoptive, and Other Kinds of Parenting."

I'm bringing you in half way through chapter nine....

Another name for this chapter might have been, “Recognizing that Small Accomplishments Might be Huge Victories.” For example, Dominyk started dressing himself completely in the morning without tears at the beginning of eighth grade. It may have been a morning the spring before that made the light bulb come on so that he could recognize that he was not growing up at quite the same pace as other kids his age. I remember the morning well.

It was in May the year he turned fourteen and he was wailing through the house about how he needed help with his shoes. “Mommy! Mommmy! I can’t do this by myself. You have to put on my shoes.” To which I would respond, “Really, Dominyk? You’re 14 and you need my help? I think you can put your shoes on by yourself.” To be followed by, “My belt, my belt. Moooooommmy! You have to put my belt on.” Finally, after he finally got all of his items on alone and dried his tears, he caught a glimpse of himself in my bedroom married and suddenly, in a very deep voice, spoke outloud to himself, “Wow, it looks like I need to shave again.”

Imagine a world where it takes concentrated effort to control your impulses. Think about what it might be like to have life always be a bit puzzling that you never quite understood what was happening around you. What if it took triple the amount of effort for you to focus on the task at hand or if organic brain damage made it impossible for you to connect your actions with potential consequences? Picture what life might be like if the trauma you experienced caused you to be in a constant state of fright, flight or fright.

In a world like that, maybe it is not a small accomplishment to sit through a day at school. Maybe it is not a little thing to be able to wake up, unmedicated when medication is relied upon, and find all the necessary items and get them on a sleepy body. Maybe it is not something that should go unnoticed to keep from punching a brother who is annoying me, not talk back to a mother who is bossy, and to be respectful to a teacher who is being dumb by assigning way too much work.

I’m guessing that the world that each of my children live in is a very different world from mine, but too often I forget this and I hold the bar really high. We all need those reminders now and then that it is a HUGE deal for some of our kids to accomplish a small thing.

Yesterday one of my adult sons saw that the lawn needed to be mowed before I did. I had slept only four hours the night before and was taking a nap, and so he did not wake me up to ask me if he should mow the lawn. When I woke up he was mowing the lawn. He did not ask to be paid for it, he did not complain about how hot it was outside, and he did not stop half way through because he was getting tired. It is possible that many kids could do this at the age of 12 or 13, but many kids do not have a combined diagnosis of FASD, ODD, Pervasive Development Disorder, RAD, PICA, Adjustment Disorder, and PTSD at the age of 11 when they are finally provided with permanency after 15 foster care placements. Did I overdue the praise I gave him for that act of kindness? I tried to, but seriously, could I have?

Sometimes I need to be reminded of things, even though it's me who does the reminding.... it kind of sounds like what happened this morning which I am about ready to post on Facebook as a status update:

Technology is amazing. This morning I was in the van when I heard my own voice in my sons pocket. Suddenly my phone let me know I had a voice mail of my voice telling my son that his pocket must have called me." Mind boggling.

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