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 Armor. Our president has it, in the blue and grey suits he wears, the solid tie, the crisp white shirt. My son's therapist has it, in his graphic tees and Croc allstar knockoffs. Some people come in crystal clear in the symbols they choose to drape upon themselves, charms to ward against cruelty or derision. Charms to attract acceptance, wealth, happiness. Love. The newest kid in my son's class wraps himself in longer hair and a cool British accent. He was dropped into their midst, popularity assured, bulletproof in his otherness armor. The kids who come from India, from Palestine, from South America, are not afforded such coolness of place. Their color betrays them. My son befriends them. 

My son has no outward wardings to protect him from the offhanded, cruel vagrancy of other children, no symbols to proclaim, "I belong!" He wears handmedowns and thrift store clothes, utterly uninterested in fashion or labels. The cool DCs lie forgotten in his closet as he grabs the closest, easiest shoes to hand. He wraps himself in whatever I shove at him in the mornings, and goes out to life open, unprotected, unwarded against the world.

No wonder he's so easily bruised.
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Two nights ago, I'd pretty much had it. My kid is a prickly sort of kid. He's not easy to love if you're with him 24/7. He's argumentative, loud, in constant motion, won't pay attention, doesn't listen, explodes about little things and is basically a landmine. We've come such a long way since December. I was rereading my posts from back then and our lives have really improved with the medicine and the boundaries, with CTY camp giving him a glimpse of what other smart kids are like, and with another year together, age and maturity.

But the kid's nervous about his new school and still mad at his father. honestly, I don't know how much of that is an easy excuse he knows we won't argue with if he throws a fit and we ask what's bugging him... and how much is truly his anger at his father, and at me, for not being together.

Sunday afternoon was hard. Delicious has been riding KoE hard, not tolerating any of his PITA behavior, and basically finding fault with everything the kid does. Which makes me snippy and miserable. Which makes K hide in her room. Which makes the KoE even more desperate for attention of any kind, so he keeps doing the loud, inappropriate, angry, argumentative shit that kills any hope I ever had of a normal weekend.

Taking out the trash is his responsibility. I told him that there would now be consequences for arguing about doing anything we ask him to do, whether it's his chore, or whether it's his duty as a member of this household to pitch in and help. I will be taking computer time away for bad behavior. I will be taking Pokemon cards away, which he can earn back. There isn't much else in his universe that he cares about. My parents would punish me by taking away extra curricular activities, to a point where I almost stopped signing up for them. I won't do that to him.

He was arguing and angry when he hauled the first bag of trash out. When he saw there was a second pile, he hit the roof, but still had to do it. He tripped on something going down the stairs--something Delicious had specifically told him to move out of the way before he carried the trash down, but of course KoE didn't listen.

I hear him outside screaming at the top of his lungs. SCREAMING. "AAAAAAAAAAAGHHHHHH! I HATE YOU I HATE YOU I HATE YOU!" I go outside to see what's going  on and there he is, on his hands and knees, scooping dirt back into a little pot I'd thrown away. His little pot. With the tickle me plants he hadn't thought to take care of. Which had died. Which I threw away. This, coupled with the fact that he had seen, in the trash, the crumbled remains of something he'd made at CTY camp, set him up for a big blowout.

He was screaming, so I yelled back: "THEY WERE DEAD, DO YOU HEAR ME? DEAD."  Delicious was behind me and starting down the stairs but no thanks, he'd done enough already. This was my kid, who was yelling I hate you, about me, and I was going to deal with it.

Poor KoE. I held him in my arms and rocked him as he sobbed. "If you don't feed a pet, he dies. If you don't water a plant, it dies." He was so angry at me. I told him it wasn't fair to expect me to take care of everything for him. If the CTY thing had been important, it should not have been crushed at the bottom of his school bag with half an eaten something or other and a bunch of other trash. But apparently, it's my fault I can't tell trash from treasure. It's my fault I told him he would have to look after his plants, and that I'd try to remember but it was his responsibility.

And here we have it folks. When Delicious and I went to bed, he asked me why I was so miserable on the weekends. Gee. Let me think. I've married a man with no improv skills ) and have inherited a girl who eats six things and doesn't do anything exciting. And a son who is bonx most of the time. I laid it out for Delicious one more time. I have given up. I'm trapped in a house with people who can't improv. In order to do ANYTHING, we have to plan it weeks in advance. I reminded him that, whenever I make a suggestion, his first reaction is 'No.' I reminded him that, of all the people in this house, I'm the only one who actually seems to give a shit, and whenever I do, I get hurt and disappointed. Birthday cakes failed and unappreciated, Slobs sitting around the television watching Wipeout recordings. Doing the same old brand of nothing every fucking weekend. I'm over it. This house is a prison of apathy on the weekends. I also told him that it is abundantly clear that Delicious doesn't care for KoE right now, in fact, it's pretty obvious Delicious doesn't want to have anything to do with the kid. I reminded him that KoE doesn't have any friends. He's all sharp angles trying to fit into an obtuse world, is my kid, and he's hurting. He told me on Sunday he wishes he were 'normal.'

KoE is normal, in that who the fuck decides what is normal and what isn't? Fuck you very much, society. My son conforms to the rules as much as he can. Yes, I see a lot of his father's disconnectedness, his sneaking idea that some of the rules don't apply to him. I'm hoping having a normally fucked up mother, as opposed to the Wicked Witch of Paris, will count a long way towards tethering KoE to the world at large.  

But Fuck them all. I am going to come up with a list of things I want to do on the weekends. And I'm going to do them. And if anyone wants to join me, tra lala.

All this to say, KoE's nervous about school )





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My passport arrived on Saturday morning, thank goodness! Everything else about the trip is gravy, now.

I am also thrilled by the fact that my library has Mango language lessons online, so I am learning some basic Italian, although I'm having a hard time actually memorizing anything. I'll have to listen to it constantly, I guess. Too bad I can't download it to iTunes, but I think I've found an audio recording I can check out from the library. From my living room. That I can burn to CD or put on my mobile to listen to it while I wander around. Sweet!

My only editing client has at least three documents for me in the next two weeks. That is happy-making. I need more clients like them.

My son is being rebellious, obstreperous, and so many other not-so-good adjectives that end in -ous. And plain old WTF?  So he's on short rations vis a vis Pokemon, screen time, and so help me, I'll ground him so he can't play with his friends across the street this week. It's going to suck, but he will stop yelling at us if he wants to see the back side of eighteen.
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Last week, it started off innocently enough. "Mama, what's chlorophyll?" I started to explain, but then took out my Blackberry. Called up Wikipedia, and spent the next three blocks reading out loud as we walked. We followed links for things we didn't understand. We gawked at the information. We laughed out loud.

By the time we reached the office, we had traveled the breadth of space and washed up, defeated, against the shores of Dark Energy.

Tonight, we wondered out loud if zero was even or odd. We explored prime numbers, figured out somebody's algorithm for finding primes, and by the time Delicious came home, we were talking about squares, square roots, and the idea of the infinitely divisible, approaching but never reaching the terminus.
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My angel. Mine. He's back. We handed him over to my folks on Wednesday after school and got him at three on Saturday. No school on Friday, and administrative day for the school already on the books before little mr. fourth grader brought coke to school on Thursday.

KoE was a total sweetheart. helpful, sweet, cooperative.   lovey. Didn't lose his shit when he found out K would be home late on Saturday.  Helped with chores, was a gem in church on Sunday, oh he was such a sweetie. And then he had some cookies and threw a temper tantrum.

O

Didn't I mention? We went gluten-free this weekend.

Gods, wouldn't that be amazing if his behavior improves this much just by eliminating wheat???

YES!!!

Feb. 2nd, 2011 11:15 pm
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 Alexandria's public schools have a lottery program

I am driving around to schools next week. If the Kid is game, we will put him in a new school. Next week if we have to. If we can. If he wants to.

Fuck this. In all his five years in school, he has NEV ER said he didn't want to go to school.  I'm taking this seriously. I want to find my kid were he'll be happy. Gonna get on that.
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Our two families will be getting married on November 20th.  

Delicious came over last night after a long day at work and we puttered, drinking some wine while i finished the delicious pork loin roast I'd been marinating.  I told him I had decided we'd get married on December 18 and his reaction was less than enthusiastic: "We have to wait that long?"
Seems he had his sights set on getting married before Thanksgiving, so we could go to his folks as a fait accompli. Considering, however,  that tickets to visit said folks for Thanksgiving will run us around 2k, I don't think the Kid and I will be joining them in 29 Palms.  I just can't leave my son behind to go meet the new in-laws. it's just not right. I'll talk to KoE about it, though.  Maybe he doesn't want to spend six hours on a plane for a three hour time difference to hang out with total strangers for a day or two. ;)

Over dinner last night, Delicious told me he'd finally broken all the news to his daughter K, that we were planning to get married in the next couple of weeks, and wanted a ceremony for just the four of us, to become a family, and then a church wedding in the summer. She was really happy, and asked him if she could start telling people now. Her mom? No, not really. Her FRIENDS. 

I like this kid. Apparently, she did a book report last week that brought the house down. The teacher actually said it was the best book report he'd seen.

I'm stressed about money, spending on odd things like a wedding ring for my fiance, tickets to the Christmas Revels, etc.  Doesn't look like there's much proofing/editing on the horizon, either. I'm stuck in a well of apathy that I hope a trip to the prescribing doctor can patch up.  Doesn't help that I'm on day six of excruciating back pain.  But having my Delicious back at my side after a week of being apart was a wonderful thing. 

I spent an hour and a half yesterday with a woman going for her doctorate in shrinkage, and we talked about the KoE. I've got evaluation forms to fill out, and on Friday he spends three hours with her doing diagnostics, with a two-hour stint the following Friday.  I want to know why he doesn't transition, and how we can help him. This is going to break me, financially, but I have to do it. Wait til I have to pay court costs and maybe give the Asshole Client his $500 back. I can't afford this, even with two incomes.
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Pardon the minutae of the day, if I don't write it down, tomorrow it will be gone. It's frightening to lose so much of oneself in the blink of an eye. And so I write as often as I can. It's a digital life, some detail is lost in the algorithm of writing it down, but it's better than nothing.

Thursday morning -- or was it Wednesday night?-- driving along with Delicious, he mentioned his plan... his car lease is up next year, and he is thinking of buying an inexpensive, larger car and probably leasing another sedan. I hate the fact that our married life will force me from a no-car life to a two-car family, but with two kids in two different counties, and a husband to be who travels at least one week of the month, I'm going to need my own wheels. It's going to change my life so much. I'm not necessary thrilled. But there will be freedom, no matter where we live, so that is a comfort. I don't have to stick to a place near the Metro.

Friday night, I picked up my spindle, grabbed a bag of roving, and learned how to use a drop spindle. I get it, now, one length and every thickness from bulky to fingering later. I love it. If I didn't have three sweaters to finish before Christmas, I'd be spinning like a nut. The Romney is natural, with a good bit of lanolin and only a stray bit of hay.

I went to the Kid's flute practice for orchestra Saturday. He'll get the hang of it eventually, and man, I hope he figures out how to pay attention some day. Still, he enjoys it and the teacher thinks he's a hoot, so all is well. We talked to a family of three, one girl in his class with two adorable little siblings who were all over the King of Everything like feathers on a goose. Littler kids love him. He's very kind to them.

As soon as I'd given the kid off to his paternal grandfather for a day at the Science and Technology show on the Mall, I went home, crawled into bed, and didn't wake up til it was time for him to come home. Consequently, I don't feel like kaka. A big plus for someone who thought she was going to have to crawl down the street to the Lutheran church for last rites.

Today was a hectic day. Started off with the KoE Skyping with his French grandmother (AKA Wicked Witch of Paris) and that always makes me nuts. I'm mostly immune to her now, but to sit there and pretend there's nothing wrong, her son isn't a git, she's not a nutcase, and I'm not wishing I'd never have to speak to any of them is rather exhausting, non? Apparently, she's well enough now to brave an intercontinental journey, and wants the KoE's 'schedule' so she can make plans. I suppose it would be quite amusing to be able to tell her, "Oh, you can stay at my apartment while you're here... you see, I'll be married and the place will be empty and we'll all be in Alexandria so have fun while you're in town buh-bye!" But I haven't told my son's father yet, and in all fairness, I think he should know before his mother does. I'm not sure why. The father, of course, was unavailable to speak to his son today at their scheduled time. Another nail in his paternal coffin, I'd say. The KoE hardly blinks, anymore. But I did ascertain that said sperm donor is attempting to be a... wait for it... BLACKSMITH. I can imaging his parents are HORRIFIED, sitting in their multi-million dollar apartment in the 16th arrondisment, with all the august pedigree of the step-father and the oh so dubious reputation of the mother swathed in gilt and lies... their son? a common blacksmith? but wait. It gets better. They paid for him to take some six-week course in ornamental blacksmithing, so he can now make fences and etc. etc. I would be happy for him if it weren't some big scam. Though to think on it, his girlfriend is lucky. There's not much chance he'll meet another woman at work to abscond with like he usually does. He's now living with her in whatever the equivilent of Bumfuck is in France. Maybe he'll stay with his former mistress by default?

But I digress. Off the phone with the WWoP, off to the subway with us to meet Delicious and K near their house. I'd misread the advertising and no, the harvest festival at Mount Vernon was NOT free, so we went to a church pumpkin sale instead. Picked out pumpkins for the kids to carve, and went to the grocery store for lunch fixin's. I made sloppy Joes and apple turnovers NOM. The kids bickered and played together. Delicious watched his football in relative peace. And then we got all pumpkin-gutsy in the back yard carving big pumpkins who were eating little pumpkins. KoE had a total meltdown because K wouldn't let him play games on her iPod Touch. Home. Dinner. Homework. Sleep. The end.
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I heart my kid's teacher so hard. She gets my kid. She gets me. She is so thrilled to be working with him, and agrees that he is a special little guy who needs a bit different treatment than most of her other kids. She was heartbroken to find that he's still being hazed by his classmates, and is thinking of starting some trust games on Fridays at the end of the day to get the kids thinking more positively.

She had nothing but positive things to say about him.  He needs to catch up on adding and subtracting, but otherwise is confident that third grade work is by no means a stretch for him. He is beginning to help others in class, but gets frustrated when his students don't get it, even after he's explained it. I know he loves to share his knowledge, and so I've asked her to continue to encourage that, and I'll work on helping him understand that it's okay if someone doesn't get what he's saying, there's more than one way to learn.  If he can get used to saying, "Well, that's how I know to explain it, but maybe Soandso can try to explain it differently," and involve someone else in the process.

The KoE himself is in a great mood again. I think this time we've spent together over the past four days has helped him regain his balance, and his confidence. My mom will take lunch/recess tomorrow and Thurs, I'll do Wed and Friday.  We'll do this until he has learned how to transition himself out of surprises and disappointments. For now, he needs an external voice walking him through the steps.

And we've also decided that the negative voices in his head need to be given an atomic wedgie any time they show up.

I need a nap.

ETA: I totally forgot the happiest part of what I wanted to write here. This morning, we slept in, and he came pottering over to my bed around nine (nine!!) to snuggle. We had a great snuggle, a rough and tumble interlude, and lots of giggles. More, please.
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When I left my client's office last week, I declined the offer of a drink at one of those Washington Power Establishments, saying, "No thanks, really, I have to get home to my son," and I, who have not a cent to my name until sometime after the beginning of the month, hopped into a cab and went home as fast as I could.  The KoE had called and left me a message asking me to come home. He said he was going to have dinner with grammie, and then come down so we could spend some us time together.

The front door catches all our stuff and we walk into our apartment. The kid takes in the open computer, the papers, the work-related mess all over the living room and asks, "Do you have any work you have to do, Mamma?" his face fragile, hope and resignation dancing across his eyes. 

"Boo, you called and said you wanted to spend some private time together, just you and me. And so nope, absolutely not, I do NOT have to work and I'm all yours. What do you want to do?"

"Can we play Keva planks?" he asked.  When i smiled, he ran into his room and came back with the box.  We made up this elaborate games involving towers and mazes, with little dudes in helmets and dragons and the Ruby Ducky sitting high upon a chair, the object of our hero's attention. Actually, it was a rubber duck that lights up and flashes.  All of which meant, of course, that we had to watch Ernie's Rubber Ducky song. And sing along.

The KoE has created a sort of nest out of his bottom bunk.  All the blankets and pillows and stuffed animals are piled pish-posh in there, with little areas scooped out for a boy body to take over.  And we have cannibalized some crappy, king sized sheets to create a curtain around the whole thing, so he has a safe little hideaway (and the fact that it's still light out at 9PM isn't as much of an issue).  We snuggled, and I was so tired, laying on a blanket lump or three and holding my head up with my hand. 

"Move your hand, mom!" he urged, and I laughed.  "No way, it's the only thing holding my tired head up!"
"Come on, move your hand out of the way!" so I did, and he pushed a pillow at me, smoothing it out and pushing my head gently down.  i closed my eyes.  He pulled a cotton quilt out from the mess and draped it over me, then patted me on the head.  I lay there for a moment and then, "Hmph!" I said, pulling the curtains down. "Hmph!"  which sent him into a giggling fit of glee. "Hmph!" SQUEE.

Finally, he created a parallel nest and placed his pillow below mine.  He snuggled down and was still. "I love you, mom," he breathed, and I kissed him on his forehead. "Do kisses ever go away?"

“I don’t think so, honey. I think they stay forever.”

“I think I have to wait until I’m older to kiss Fiona.” He thought for a minute. “But what happens if you kiss somebody and then you don’t like them anymore? What happens to the kisses then?”

“Oh, don’t worry about that. The kisses were good when they were given, and that’s what sticks around.” Sure, I’m stretching the truth a little, but if my boy can maintain some kind thoughts for the girls who are going to break his heart, I say give him all the support you can.

He began to hum, then sing softly, a lilting melody that had a repeating motif, with magical words that almost sounded like Chinese.  The tune went on for a long time, my boy curled next to me, his sweet little voice without a trace of self-consciousness.  It brought tears to my eyes. When at last it was through I said softly, “That was beautiful, sweetheart. Thank you for singing it to me.”
“I made it up myself, and only a few of the words were Chinese.  The rest were just things I made up.”

He shifted around, and complained that he’d never be able to get to sleep with all this singing in his head.  I reminded him that I used to sing to him when he couldn’t sleep. “Would you like me to sing you a story song?”  And so I sang him “The Circle Game”, all four verses, and all the while he hummed a tuneless accompaniment beneath it.  And when it was done, he told me, “You sing beautifully, mama.  Did you notice what I was doing?” and his voice was so full of pride.
“Yes, you were humming along with me. It was very nice.”
“I love you, Mom,” he sighed.

Oh how I love him too.
He begged for more songs and really, I can’t remember words to save my life.  But I muddled my way laughingly through Bowie’s “Starman” and the kid was full of questions and wonder. Did the kids get to see the space man? Did they go with him? did they find out what he looked like?

There were more snuggles, and his delight that the two of us were curled up in his little bed.  And he let me go to brush my teeth and get ready for bed, but I had to promise to have a sleepover tomorrow night. We’ll argue over who has to sleep on the top bunk, and no matter how I try, he’ll win and insist that I take the cozy bottom bunk.  And we are going to be such tired bunnies tomorrow night, with a full day of camp and work and then the Folk Life Festival to explore.
This is the life I was meant to lead.  I need the flexibility of time, so I can give some of myself to my son, every day.  And get some of his exuberant, shiny spirit in return.
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I'm losing hope that I'm the kind of add that can be medicated to aid focus. I think I'm just FUBAR on this one.  The latest med, Strattera, makes me miserable.  I didn't even wait to ask my doc's permission before I just stopped taking it. UGH. Next, i guess.  But if I can't find a medication that helps manage the chaos of my thoughts, I am going to be useless in an office situation. USELESS.

I am trying to establish an independent contracting sort of lifestyle for myself. God knows I've been happier and calmer since I got canned.  So if you know anyone who needs a content/blog writer, web design or project management, internet online nonprofit communications messaging and strategy type person, let me know.

I've got the go-ahead on the Way Cool Website. not a lot of money but at least it's a really great portfolio piece.  I just have to find more work. And that's difficult. I don't know where to start--a common lament in my ADD panicked head.

I've been eating nothing but bread.  Have to stop that addiction or I'll weight 160 again. Need exercise. need peace. Need my life to make sense.

I think I've had three or four vertigo attacks since I landed in hospital.  Friday night my stomach was miserable, and continued to decline on Saturday.  By the time I got into the car with Delicious, I was seriously ill, and as I tried to focus on the highway it hit me: Vertigo. Couldn't track, everything was catching up with me a few seconds too late.  Misery.  Delicious, who had arrived in a crappy, cranky mood to pick me up, immediately put all his irritations aside when he realized how ill I was, and gently shepherded me (at my insistence, it doesn't do me any good to sit still for some reason, I just focus on the dizzy and the misery. At least walking around I can judge how bad it is and not panic) around Harris Teeter in search of good things for dinner.  Thank god I do carry my meds for vertigo with me, but what I'll do when they run out is beyond me. Dramamine and some sort of something or other I guess.  He gently tucked me in on his couch and we watched stupid TV while the marbles in my brain stopped spinning the wrong way round. The anti-nausea meds kicked in and I felt much better by the time dinner was ready, courtesy of Delicious.  But considering I'd suffered through the vertigo for 24 hours, I was just grateful it had ended. UGH!

Sunday, my mom took the kid to the park so Delicious and I had another wonderful couple of hours lounging in a coffee shop, reading the paper. Heaven.  The head of Peace Child was in town, so he came to my house, while Delicious and the kid were there, and I was so glad to have Delicious there. He's a very smart man, and he is worried about the scope of work PC-USA might do. It's overwhelming, and I can't do it on my own.  l need to be very honest with myself about Peace Child, and let that dream go if it's the right thing to do.

I need more work. I need to know where to find work. This is what I'm going to deal with as well as moving forward with the cool assed website.  And filling out job apps. And networking. And and and. Having vertigo attacks, seems about once a week.  Sleep would probably help.

Best moments of the weekend were on Sunday, after I got my head out of my ass and relaxed, remembering that Delicious isn't Serendipity, or Asshole.  I was tense and on edge while we put together an awesome skyscraper, but identified the tension as old ghosts and got over myself.  And Delicious read the kid another chapter of Harry Potter, and at one point I looked around at all the happy screaming to find my son dangling by his feet down the back of this 6' 1" man who has taught me what it means to be truly cared for.

When the kid went to bed, he said to Delicious, "I hope I get to see you very soon." 

Thank god. 
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So the King of Everything calls me up one morning --staying with my folks for the night so I get some grown up time. "Mom! I made TWO paper airplanes. One was from my book but the second one? Was pure inspiration."

with such pure glee in his voice. How could you not love that kid????
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I am making little bees out of pipe cleaners and googly eyes and tissue paper for my son's Valentines. Bee mine. With a lolly. About 30 of them.

Somehow, it's fun, and I'm glad to do this for him, with him. he'll be so proud. And It's continuing in a long tradition of home made Valentines when all the kids around me just got to go to the People's Drug and buy store made ones.

Ah well.
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He found a curly piece of brown wrapping paper left over from a package I sent out on Friday. He'd been walking around the house with a pencil stuck behind his ear for well over an hour, must have found it in the open drawer full of such things. Suddenly he's at the dining room table, a box of puzzles on one end of the strip, a roll of packing tape on the other. "You tell me how to write the words, mama," he called, and laboriously began.

This is what he wrote... he only asked me how to spell the words, didn't ask my advice on the story or anything:

GO BUT LEV a PACKAGE BUT DNOT BE DiscOURAGED YOU DO L(here he drew a heart, having dispaired of spelling the word 'love' but not wanting to ask me how to spell it) ME WA(mistake)(mistake)TER GO NOB(heart) i

No, I don't understand it, either. But he rolled it up and declared it was a letter like one you give to a king. "You mean, like a scroll?"
"Yeah! Isn't that cool?"

He also uses words like 'egress' and 'surface' in everyday conversation.

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