when my son feels all the feelings

Thursday, February 19, 2015

I sat right next to the window of the Chick-fil-A playground as I always do. The glass between us gives Archie a feeling of independence, but allows me to keep an eye on things, especially on those crowded days. This particular day was quiet. Just Ace and Archie and a couple of other kids running around in there. Both of my kids are pretty quick to make friends in those situations. Ace organizes games and Archie follows her every step. They had a game of hide-and-seek going, and were having a blast, when I noticed the game come to a pause. Ace and Archie stood in the middle of the room side-by-side, across from a little girl, probably about six years old. 

I could see that they were talking. I couldn't hear anything, but no one was smiling or laughing so I was unsure of exactly what was going on. It looked pretty serious for a Chick-Fil-A playground conversation. Then all of the sudden Ace grabbed Archie's hand and pulled him out the door with her. As she approached the table dragging Archie behind her, I saw her eyes begin to fill with tears. "Mom, someone in there doesn't like Archie." 

I acted like I hadn't noticed the confrontation with the little girl, and asked her to tell me what happened...
Ace: "She told me, 'hey, I don't like him', and pointed to Archie"
Me: "Okay and what did you say?"
Ace: "I said, 'well, he's my brother'. Then she told me she didn't want to play with him because he's weird and so I just brung Archie and came out here." 

She was upset. Archie was confused. 

And for the first time ever, I knew that Archie understood what had just happened. Up to that point he was oblivious to teasing, or people saying something not nice about him, being made fun of. This wasn't the first time something like this had happened, but it was the first time that I could tell he FELT it. 

He looked at me and asked, "why geel (girl) no like me, Mom?" 

That moment rocked me.

This was going to be the first of many of these times. This wouldn't be the last time someone didn't want to play with Archie. Or would call him weird. 

Here's the thing: At times, Archie can be the most annoying human being I have ever encountered. That's the truth. He's LOUD. Like very, very loud. There is no such thing as volume control with him. And as much as we work on it, he still hasn't grasped the whole personal space thing. He's in your face and grabby. And to be perfectly honest I totally understand when other kids don't want to be around him at times. That sucks. But it is our current reality. As he has gotten older, it has gotten more difficult. When he was little, it was cute and he could get away with so much. Not anymore. 

His impulsivity, hyperactivity, inability to bring it down a notch. We work on these things daily. And he is aware. He understands what behaviors are appropriate and which ones are not. The comprehension is there, but the follow through is not. Sometimes he just loses all control and it takes him a long time to get it back. 

I know that it is a good thing- him being able to understand and be able to feel when someone doesn't like him, or doesn't want to be around him. For him to be able to tell when he is being teased. But in those moments when he comes to me and tells me that someone was mean to him. Or when I ask him why he did something he knew was wrong, and he tells me that his friend told him to....and he realizes that said friend was not being a good friend at all. His face in the moments when he feels that sadness. Sometimes I wish he couldn't. 

I don't want Archie to be anyone other than himself. But the fact that we are still so far from where he needs to be in the socially acceptable behaviors arena is discouraging and disheartening. It just is. 

But we will get there. 
Can't stop. Won't Stop.

Lots of Love!

the day the dam broke (and i survived)

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Our move to Birmingham has been less than smooth. To put it incredibly lightly. We were supposed to get here and spend a few nights in a hotel while we prepared to close on our house. Glitches that were out of our control kept popping up and the nights in our tiny, one bed hotel room started adding up.

Radko, who has been sleeping through the night like a boss for a very long time, could not sleep in the hotel. Most nights I was lucky if he slept for a two hour stretch. I couldn't let him cry at all considering that we shared paper thin walls with people on both sides of us. So I spent the majority of every single night in the hotel pacing back and forth with him. There were times when I was certain I was going to fall over while walking with him. But if I made the slightest attempt to sit down, he would scream his little head off. Not just a cry. An "I am being tortured" shrill.

Then one lovely evening, we all got sick. I started feeling nauseas. Then Ace told me her stomach hurt. And the next thing I knew she was projectile vomiting in my face. I was next, then Radko. Archie somehow escaped it. But the rest of us were down for the count. Ace threw up literally the entire night. Radko too. We ended up with not one single clean sheet or blanket. We had two tiny hotel towels. You know the kind that are so rough, you rub your skin raw when drying off. The bed was stripped down to the mattress and we covered up as much as we could with the towels.

The next night was super fun. Ace and I had recovered, but Rad couldn't keep anything down. It must have been 11 o'clock at night. Radko was crying and I was pacing back and forth from wall to wall with him. He puked about every third lap. I tiptoed around the room as if I were walking through a land mine. He finally got still and quiet when there was a knock at the door. I ignored it at first and "shhhhhhhhhhhhh"ed loudly in Rad's little ear. But the knocking continued. With vomit caked hair, I opened the door to find the hotel manager standing there. He told me he had received a noise complaint. In my mind I throat punched him and slammed the door. In reality, I said "Ok thanks" and quietly shut the door. That woke Radko right on up and we started back from square one. You get the idea.

The hotel nights continued to be sleepless and I was reaching a point of really nasty exhaustion. My sweet husband who was working in Oklahoma felt helpless. I desperately needed him. I desperately needed my mom. But I kept reminding myself that this right here was what it was all about. I could do hard things

I wanted to break down. I wanted to cry all the time. I was far from home. Far from my family.

But I told myself that if I broke down down, I was failing. So I pulled it up by the boot straps and kept on trucking as best as I could.

Fast forward to yesterday. I thought being in our house would solve everything and I would be magically rejuvenated. That those hellacious weeks and all that I kept inside would fade away.

I was sitting at my house dealing with the security system guy and the television guy when Joey texted me:

JOEY: The ADT guy is coming by but I told him you wouldn't be there cause you are picking up the kids from school
ME: I'm here
JOEY: Well who is picking up the kids?
ME: They get out at 3:55, babe, I am leaving to get them in just a bit.
ME: Weirdo
JOEY: What the heck, Lisa, they get out at 2:55!!
ME: (Look at time, it's 3:15) Holy shit!  (excuse the language, Gigi, just keepin it real)

I ran to my car, threw the baby in his seat, and drove off (entirely too fast) to head to their school. I called and told them I was so sorry and was on my way. They had just brought the kids in from the completely empty and finished carpool line to the office.  As soon as I hung up the phone, I felt it coming. The dam was about to break. My eyes started to fill with tears but I took deep breaths and held it all back.

I got to school in five minutes, though it felt like an hour, and ran into the office to find my two kids sitting in chairs. Ace was crying. I have never been ashamed of being "that mom". I've always been that mom. But I had never been THAT mom. When I saw Ace crying, it was over. The dam broke. I broke. There I stood sobbing to a room full of strangers.

I don't embarass easily. But I was humiliated.

It continued when we got home. I let it all out. And I thought, "well, Lisa, that's it. You lost. You screwed up. And you couldn't endure hard things."

I beat myself up for a while before I finally came out of the haze and was able to breath.

And in the end, I realized I hadn't failed. It was okay not to be okay. I let myself feel all of the feelings. Even the hard ones. The tears didn't mean I had lost. In fact, they were exactly what I needed.

Lots of Love!

eicherumba adventures

Monday, February 2, 2015

For thirty one years I have lived within the boundaries of about a five mile radius. Five might actually  be a stretch. I never went off to college. I chose to stay home and go to the University of Houston, and live with my parents. A decision I will never regret. Those years own some of my absolute most favorite memories. Most people probably think I stayed behind and didn't venture off because I didn't want to leave Joey who still had a year of high school left. And while, yes, the thought of being miles away from him was not a fun one, I really didn't want to leave my parents or my siblings. I was the kid who could never even go to overnight camp. I tried. It was ugly. {My sincerest apologies to anyone who had to witness that. Damn, that most have been so annoying.}

I was comfortable. And I was afraid of anything unknown. But over the past couple of years Joey and I have talked about moving out of Houston. Adventuring off and being "on our own" so to speak. I never thought it would happen because I was too afraid. Somewhere along the way though, I started to realize it might be something I needed. The first time we visited our friends in Birmingham we thought "this is a place we could be really, really happy". Everything was a little more simple. Slower paced. There were mountains and hills and all sorts of things that made our kids very happy.

We didn't think about actually moving until things at home started to get more complicated. Houston real estate wasn't even something we could look at without having small panic attacks. Trying to find a house zoned to the right school for both Archie and Ace was pretty much impossible. Last year we hit the jackpot when they were able to be transferred to a school with a great program for Archie and also perfect for Ace. Then at the end of the year I got the dreaded phone call that they were shutting down Archie's program. So that was no bueno.

We started doing some "just for fun" searches for houses in Birmingham. And eventually I stumbled upon my dream house. It was just out of our price range at the time, so I chalked it up to a "woulda been nice!" situation. But then a few weeks later the price dropped right into our budget. After lots of discussion and mind changing between me and Joey, we decided to go for it.

Everything started happening very quickly and feeling very surreal. Before I knew it we were on the road, headed east on our new adventure. The kids and I came last week to get them enrolled in school and to be here for closing details. There have been a couple of logistical glitches and we have been all cooped up in a lovely extended stay hotel. If adventure was what  I was looking for, I sure as heck got it. (More on all of the excitement since we have been here which includes several noise complaints thanks to Archie's elephant loud walking, much projectile vomit, sleeping on a bare mattress using towels as covers, to come!)

In spite of all the madness and my insane exhaustion, all is good. The kids are getting settled in their new school and are loving it. Joey has been working out of town but will be joining us in a couple of days....thank you Baby Jesus.  And then we move into our "treehouse in the woods" as Ace likes to describe it. We don't know if we will be here forever. We have no idea what the future will bring our way. For now, we are here and we are excited. (And, of course, I am counting down the days until my mom arrives for a visit in just a couple of weeks). I am homesick. No doubt. But I am also growing and learning a whole lot about myself. And that is good.

For now I will leave you with some pictures and a promise (mostly to my grandma) to keep you regularly updated with all eicherumba happenings.

Living in one tiny hotel room means lots of cuddling

She can quite literally sleep through anything

Late night Target run

Doing what they do best
First day of school
Our new home
Looking out our bedroom window

Here we go!

Lots of love!