Thursday, October 8, 2009

Cue Dramatic Overture

What I'd really like to be doing right now is laying on the chaise, laptop in hand, blankets galore and watching hours of Ghost Hunters International or Whale Wars but only because we don't have cable and so I therefore cannot watch Project Runway, my one real true vice. GHI and WW isn't much better, but what can I say? I am a dork in that way and my dork flag, it doth fly high.

So, so much to catch up on since joining the PTA. I've sort of sucked in keeping this blog up only because in the wake of so many things happening at once with school, my mind sort of goes to "hibernate" mode much like a computer. I think they should start giving out free shots of espresso to all moms and dads in an effort to keep them up with all the information and, well, STUFF you are inundated with on a daily business. Having a child in school is basically like having a second job. Or fourth, depending on how you look at it.

But it becomes even more challenging when your speech delayed son is also not acclimating at the pace in which you'd hoped. Challenging and somewhat heart-wrenching. I really think the problem started off with us not exactly explaining that the new school had nothing to do with his old school. Expecting familiar faces then being met with a bevy of strange ones would set anyone on their ass a bit. (Of course I'd pay money at this juncture to find my days filled with strange faces but that is another story in and of itself.)

Anyhoo, it's been a transition. That is for sure. And those one or two autistic tendencies that my brilliant child has seem oh so more definitive set against a backdrop of totally typical school kids. So now we have to readjust his IEP and have conversations with teachers and principals that quite frankly make me itch from head to toe.

In the interim of all of this, I've been "boning up" on my biomedical research. For those of you who need a point of reference, think Jenny McCarthy. I read "Louder than Words" in the course of an hour at Barnes and Nobles a few weeks ago and I really wish someone had given it to me sooner. Any child with any kind of developmental delay be it speech or something more significant, could benefit from the wisdom of Ms. McCarthy and the other mothers like her. If your child has ADD, ADHD, behavioral issues of any kind, PDD/Autism, SPD, OCD, or is just generally "out of sorts" sometimes and acts like maybe they have invaded your home from a faraway planet, many of the biomed treatments may help you.

No one knows what causes autism and it's brethren. There is speculation that it's vaccines; metals in our food system; caused by mothers with any auto immune deficiency (ex. allergies!); or just an inexplicable neurological disorder that cannot be repaired. Well, that last part is bullshit. And there are hundreds of moms out there who can prove it. Now I can't say I know for sure what causes the "A," as we call it in this household, or any of the others. I don't know that we will ever have a definitive answer. But the evidence of the first three is there and it could be all of them, one of them, a combo. I don't really know and quite frankly that isn't my issue at present. Right now my issue is just to go at this with the knowledge I have and live from this day forward. I will deal with the why later.

So we are going gfcf (gluten-free/casein-free). I found a great plan online to get you gfcf over a ten-week period so as not to:

  • freak your children out and
  • have your husband divorce you.

  • Oh, hoorah. I do so love it when I can avoid those two things. We area already on DHA/Omega 3 supplements and a mega vitamin full of B12 but we are just beginning our research into the potency and benefits of Vitamin C, all the B vitamins, Cod Liver Oil and such detoxifying methods as Epsom Salts. Now I know there are stronger ways to detox the body of mercury, but first we have to know if that's a problem and we haven't had that test yet so I'm not trying to jump into anything without a "full" education.

    The DHA/Omega 3 makes a difference in attention span and increases speech, that much I can say for certain. I don't know that we see much difference with the vitamins but I think once we go to a full on B Complex liquid, we will.

    As for the diet piece of this just makes sense to me at this point. Especially the casein portion of it. I am so wickedly lactose intolerant that it actually pains me to eat ice cream (something I fully intend on taking up with G-d when the time comes)and it runs in my family. So it would make sense that my little man might have a really hard time processing the stuff. This can cause all kinds of issues with bowels, digestion, moods, irritability, sleeping, etc. Quite honestly, I have absolutely no qualms with giving up cheese...not only because it attempts to tear my innards to shreds but because, think about it, it's kind of gross isn't it? I've been virtually cheese/dairy product free for almost three weeks now and I can tell a big difference. I am hoping that it's as easy for him to give up as it has been for me. We will be replacing milk with rice milk and I've just discovered from another mother that there is quite tasty rice cheese. Ok, that sounds gross. But hell I'll try anything once.

    Now the gluten part of the equation is going to be a much higher mountain to climb because if I didn't know he wasn't, I'd think my beloved child was Italian. He could live off of pasta and garlic bread if I let him. Granted, his blood is probably at least half garlic anyway considering the vast quantities of the stuff I consumed in my lifetime before getting pregnant not to mention WHILE pregnant. And when it comes to pasta, I don't even mean mac 'n cheese, for which I think he'd forget about pretty quickly. I mean gourmet ravioli and penne with fresh parm and pepper. His middle name should be penne. The kid is truly a junky for it. So far, our venture into rice pasta has been seriously horrific. A gelatinous mass of rubbery noodles is just not something you want to force on your child...hell, I don't know that I'd force it on my enemy. So, yeah, I'm aware that this is going to be huge, life-altering and extremely experimental. But I put my kitchen aid mixer under on arm and my gfcf cookbook for kids under the other and I say,"bring it on!"

    Luckily, the smeeky (one of many nicknames I have for my son; the others include but are not limited to: mr. baby, smurfy murphy, shmee...the list goes on)is doing pretty damn well in school now considering our rough start. He's only doing half days until he gets through his separation anxiety issues (which manifest themselves as aggression more often than not) which seems to be working really well. He's got a great teacher and is having a lot of fun. His speech is expanding and he seems to be more comfortable in social situations. We haven't necessarily informed him of this diet overhaul yet but we did let him pick out some gluten free options at the store tonight and for the first time ever IN MY LIFE, I have Bratwurst in the refrigerator. Yes, recovering vegetarian, party of one.

    It's going to be a high protein, no/low preservative, organic, gfcf extravaganza over here, people. I may have to lovingly remove the phrase "Golden Arches" from my husband's vocabulary and pry the pink Baskin Robbins spoon from my child's steel like grip but if it "recovers" him, I'd myself give up chocolate tomorrow. Now, that my friends, would be something.

    lots of gfcf love,

    Tuesday, August 11, 2009

    Holy shit...I joined the PTA

    My child is upstairs reading "Green Eggs and Ham" for about the billionth time. And I, the dutiful mother, am lounging on the red chaise with a glass of red wine. No, I don't really deserve to be propped up down here while my husband is subjected to a new, interpretive version of Dr. Seuss, but it's been a rough day and I needed a little break, so here I am.

    Hearing my son read is the most amazing sound I've ever heard. Especially considering that about two years ago, I wasn't really sure when we'd conquer reading -- I certainly didn't anticipate it happening before Kindergarten! But he's quite skilled, has a natural love for books (yea!) and really loves to understand what is going on on each page. When they say that sharing a book with a child is a gift, they really weren't kidding. Of course, I probably don't need to sit down with my stacks of Galliano and Valentino 90-pounders and teach him how to properly pronounce fashion terminology in various languages, but, hey, I had to share those things with someone over the past few years (now I torture my husband with them...he's very knowledgeable now, a real Tim Gunn).

    Writing, reading, spelling...we seem to be on top of it all (thanks again, husband) so why on earth am I so completely over the top anxious/scared/freaked the hell out about Kindergarten? They say this is normal but I'm not sure welling up at the onset of parent orientation (two weeks prior to the actual start date) would be considered "normal" by any self-respecting therapist. Yes, I did. Lip-biting, chin if I was the one being left in this harmless, clinical, innocuous building which suddenly posed an enormous threat to my safety and, obviously, my sanity.

    I was overcome with visions of a 7 year-old with a handgun; metal detectors; SWAT name it, I visualized it. Of course they assured us of the absolute safety of the building and the vigilant watch of all teachers, administrators and volunteers but when you have my imagination, every dark scenario becomes screechingly possible. It's horrifying. I considered a shack on top of a mountain some place where we could just grow our own food and I could teach him with pencils I widdled out of tree branches but that may be a little too "Nell."

    Ok, ok. So I wasn't a complete lunatic the whole time. There were moments of clarity...excitement even. For instance, the prospect of signing him up for French (my choice) or Chinese (husband's choice) this year really perked me up. And perhaps dance? After all, my son is a wee bit Martha Graham/Twila Tharp-y...or is he more Isadora Duncan? Maybe Mark Morris? (Had to plug in a non-Baryshnikov male here just for the sake of keeping it 'manly' as my husband, who is not a Baryshnikov fan, will most certainly point out...please G-d let him be more like Baryshnikov and certainly not have Morris' hair...ok,ok I digress)? Anyway, it depends on the day of the week, but the kid can interpretive dance his way into a full-blown choreographed number in a manner of minutes (must have been all those years of term papers I wrote for dance class, the image of Isadora's scarf burned permanently on my brain, leaving it's mark on the cerebral DNA I passed to my offspring).

    They went on to covering bus routes, rules, problems (yes, your child may wind up at home and you are in the carpool line...or yes, your child might fall asleep on the bus and we won't know it until the end of the day) but I tuned all that out because yeah, hell no (I'm sorry, no offense, but I am just not ready for that leap not to mention, well, we could quite actually walk to school).

    So then we got around to the PTA part. Laugh if you will but I, yes I, joined the PTA. And so did my husband. This is where I say "it's not like other PTA's, it's really different" and you all nod your heads and say "uh-huh" like people do when you are a mental patient but really, it is different and I'm honestly kind of looking forward to it. They are very into bringing cultural programs to the school which I can totally get behind, don't require your child to sell gift wrap (that was the hook for me) and 80% of the board members are working moms/dads. It really was the SAHM mentality that jaded me to begin with; I feel guilty enough about the hours spent working vs. the hours I have spent parenting and do not need Miss $60K-SUV-Tennis-Skirt to make me feel worse, thank you very much. I also love that dads are involved. There is nothing I love more than finding new activities that the 3 of us can, essentially, do together. Even if it means helping to host the Russian Ballet for a day. I'll just put Jude in a costume and I'm sure he'll be out there leading the Russian Ballet in a manner of minutes, much to the dismay of other PTA moms and dads...ok, wait. Maybe not. Maybe we'll host a bake sale? A cake walk? Do they even have those anymore? I used to get stuck with fruitcake or, worse, saran-wrapped chocolate ice-box cake. Ugh. I can taste it now. Reminds me of Christmas Dinner carry-out from the Piggly Wiggly at Grandma's house when I was about six. Ack. At any rate, I'm sure there's something fun and fabulous the 3 of us can do together and any time that happens, it is a good day in the world.

    Let's face it, there are a lot of things you "swore you'd never do" once you become a parent. Well, get your Memorex out because all that will come back to haunt you. I swore I'd never have a blue and yellow nursery: blue and yellow nursery, check. I swore I'd never have one item of clothing monogrammed: monogrammed knit hat, check, monogrammed school bag, check check. I swore I'd never buy him Patsy Aiken: Patsy Aiken out the wazoo, check. And I also swore I'd never join the PTA. *Cardholder*

    If you don't have kids yet, get ready for it. And try not to make a promise to hold your breath when you make all those vows on things you "will never do" because I promise, in the end, you'll be as blue as the paint on my son's four walls the day he came home from the hospital. Best to go ahead and embrace the dysfunction now. See you at the PTA!

    xoxo, kvlm

    Wednesday, July 8, 2009

    No One Ever Said

    ...that parenting was easy. Now I know for sure it's not, but it's the most fulfilling and worthwhile venture out there. I'm not really sure how you just know how to be a mother but something weird and bizarre clicks in you some time after birth and you realize the mothering part? Not really that difficult. This little person is just a part of you and you have managed to take care of yourself so far, right? Right. The hard part is balance. Balancing being a mother with being a career woman; balancing being a mother with being a wife (which I actually wasn't, thank G-d, when I had my son); balancing being a friend, a daughter, a sister...all of which you didn't really have to think about before but now become ever present in your mind as you long and grasp for adult conversation all the while feeling your brain turn into a Thomas the Train induced puddle of mush. Cloning, party of one...or four as the case may be. And then of course there's the need to take care of yourself and not eat leftover cold mac 'n cheese every night or forget to buy yourself shoes...or to take a shower even. Yes, in the first years, this happens...a lot.

    But the balance becomes an even greater issue when you find that your beautiful child is what some would like to classify as "atypical." Atypical, according to our friends at Merriam Webster, means irregular or unusual. Well I ask you, what exactly is wrong with unusual? Nothing, as far as I can see; some of the most interesting people in the world are "unusual" so what I say to that is, bring it on.

    Well, that's what I say on a good day. Which we don't always have. But not really because there is really anything so very different about my child, who has a speech delay and therefore a social delay which makes unqualified people scream, "AUTISM!", while the qualified put you through every test on Earth to repeatedly tell you "it's just a delay and he has some Autistic tendencies, but who doesn't?" The bad days come because they do. Because no day with a five-year-old can be predictable. Because five-year-old boys have a lot of energy, even more rebelliousness, and ten loads of cocky. Because guess what, all parents have off days with their kids. The typical, the atypical, the perfect, the rich, the famous, the elite.

    So what's this blog for? This blog is for an atypical mother to a totally interesting child. She's someone who maybe goes about parenting in a totally different way. Someone who wants her child to have all kinds of different experiences and not put him in a bubble. Someone who believes in the artistic and creative spirit, who is maybe a little bohemian in her lifestyle, and promotes her child singing Tom Waits and Wilco and also acting out scenes from The Nightmare Before Christmas. She's the mother who read Shakespeare for a baby who had no idea what the heck she was talking about but who calmed down at the first mention of Oberon and Puck. I don't keep up with the Jones', I don't play "my-kid-is-better-than-your-kid," I don't sign up for 800 extracurricular activities because I work and I want quality time with my little man -- I don't do all of that because I don't want to...and I don't really have to. All I really have to do is be a good parent. Atypical? Yes. Totally, that's me. Him? He's just the offspring of a woman who really likes going down all the pathways -- who doesn't believe in picking right or left. And this is our story.