Monday, May 20, 2002

May 20-24, 2002

MAY 20, 2002

Have you noticed that it's not possible to buy a simple box of bandaids anymore? I'm thinking about those hinged metal boxes of my youth that had one or two of just about every size of bandaid you could possibly want, from stubbed pinkie toe to bicycle-accident gash, just plain and simple brownish plastic bandages you could rely on. Now, of course, there's no end to the variety. Standing before my store's first-aid aisle I'm confronted with all manner of cartoon character bandaids, see-through bandaids, fabric bandaids, no-stick bandaids, medicated bandaids, bandaids specially configured to wrap around fingers, bandaids treated for curing warts, large wound bandaids, wound moisturizing bandaids ... it's all a little overwhelming. I'm never sure if I'm buying the right thing, and so we have all different boxes with all different bandaids cluttering our closet, to be sorted through frantically when blood is flowing. Ah, things were so much simpler in those primitive days of my youth.

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MAY 21, 2002

I'm feeling like a bad mother these days. It started last week when the moms on one e-mail support group started going on about how horrible TV is, how tremendously damaging it was, and how any decent mom would not let her tots take in so much as a stray second of Sesame Street. I was reading these messages as my daughter started at her third straight hour of the Disney Channel and my son spazzed out to SpongeBob SquarePants. And what's worse is that sometimes they want to stop watching, and I make them keep at it, so I can, you know, keep reading e-mail and stuff. Bad mom.

Now this week the "Barbie Is Evil!" thread has made its semiregular appearance on another e-mail group (it circulates on a rotating schedule with flame-throwing discussions of circumcision and working vs. stay-at-home moms). It always starts with Barbies and then expands into a discussion of other terrible toys and overpriced fashions and all manner of materialistic excess. And I'm glad that my fellow group members can't peer through their computer screens and see the enormous piles of toys and junk I've purchased for my kids, or allowed to be purchased for them. Bad, bad mom.

Now, it's true that my daughter never, ever plays with her Barbies or shows the least bit of interest in them; and it's true that my son would rather play with a shopping bag than just about any toy in the house. But it's also true that I would buy them just about anything if I thought it would buy me a little peace, and that I'd be happy for my daughter to be label- and fashion-conscious if it meant she would stop wearing the same pair of grubby sweatpants day after day after day. Bad mom, maybe so. But goodness, you know, I can't be perfect all the time.

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MAY 22, 2002

We're having the inside of our house painted this week, which has me in a total harried panicked frenzy. Emptying out one set of rooms, then filling them up again with the stuff from other rooms, nothing in its place, clutter everywhere, dust thick in the air, and paint smell, paint smell, paint smell. It's disruptive to my small sensory-integration challenged boy, who cherishes his high-piled mishmash of STUFF and now has to live without it until we can get everything finished and put back together; it's disruptive for my language-challenged daughter, who likes everything predictable and just so and now finds them just so not. But mostly, it's disruptive to me, and that makes it doubly disruptive to everybody else, because I'm not doing stress particularly well.

Perhaps the most sobering thing about all this moving about of junk is realizing just how very much of it we have, hiding beneath tables and under sofas and in corners and on top of desks. It doesn't help that my husband is not a packrat and would just as soon shovel the stuff up and throw it all out, and so I have to supervise every movement of debris from one spot to the next. It's gotten so bad that I yelled at the poor man not to even think about throwing out the sack of ripped up plastic bags and pieces of paper my son had been hoarding in his room. Clearly, the clutter gene has been passed to the next generation, and since he's adopted, that's quite a feat. I know we'll both feel better, though, when all our cherished useless items are back in their proper place, free to gather dust once again.

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MAY 23, 2002

Last night, my daughter performed in the band and chorus concert at her school. It was probably more exciting for me than for her; she was a little nervous, and a little self-conscious, afraid everybody would be looking at her. I tried to assure her that the only ones looking at her would be her loving family, but she’s not even all that thrilled about US looking at her. She’s like the sun; we must always look at her obliquely. But she got up on stage, and she played her trombone, and she sang, and to this mom’s ears it all sounded sweet. There were times during the year when she hated that trombone, and times when she begged to quit the chorus, but she kept at it and made it through. And that’s the highest note of all.

I have to say, though, that I was also pretty proud of her brother last night. He’s in neither band nor chorus; too young for both, at this point, and too rambunctious for both for always. But we did bring him to the concert, although it was against my better don’t-put-him-in-positions-where-he-can’t-be-successful judgment, and darned if he didn’t sit pretty quietly through the whole hour-long thing. Of course, he did kick his shoes off and lie down across the laps of his aunt and uncle, demanding to have his feet gently tickled, and one time he did ask to go to the bathroom, but other than that he was the soul of decorum. The second most thrilling part of the evening, after watching and hearing my girl make music, was being able to look around at other, much noisier younger siblings and tsk.

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MAY 24, 2002

I think this is about the first year in school that my son has really had buddies. He likes most of the kids in his self-contained class, and they like him. They play together, and sometimes they get in trouble together. The energy level coming off the lot of them at a birthday party or play date is intense, and I can imagine they often ramp each other up in the classroom, too. But that's boy stuff, and it's nice to see my son, finally, being one of the boys.

And so, of course, it's now being proposed that he leave that old gang of his and move to a different classroom.

This is just another one of those cases in which children with special needs, who need MORE consistency and predictability in their lives than non-impaired children, actually get less of it. At a birthday party last weekend, a few moms were talking about how their regular-ed kids had started pre-K together and now here they were all the way in the fourth grade. And I had to reflect on how my daughter, now in fourth grade at age 12, had attended three schools and been in four completely different groups of children during the same period -- all in the same school district, but bopped around special-ed style. My son, at age 9, has also been in three different schools and four completely different groups of children. Now, maybe 5. Whereas the optimal situation for him, at least, would have been one teacher and one perfectly suited group of kids staying together for years, learning and growing with and from each other. Ah, well. Pie in the sky.

I'm sad to think of my son losing his buddies, and moving to yet another group. But I'll probably say yes anyway. There are good things about the change. For one, it's at the same school, and so he'll still be able to play with his pals at recess. For another, the proposal is to skip him ahead one class, and since academics are his strong suit, anything that keeps him sharp and high-functioning on that score will be a plus. And I have to admit that the teacher is probably right when she suggests that getting him away from his similarly high-tuned buddies and into an older, calmer group will only improve his behavior. Whether it will improve his social development, which is way delayed, will remain to be seen. He's certainly gotten social this year, if talking to your friends when you're supposed to be studying counts. Maybe not.

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