Blogging through Tears

I’m typing this at a 16 font – because I can’t see anything smaller through my tears. I write from a broken heart. I write of broken dreams, unmet expectations, pure frustration, and uncertainty of the future. I’m actually a little surprise how genuinely downcast I feel.

I chose to drop Rose from ballet. Not life changing – but for me it is.

ballet-8

She loves to dance. Since she was little she has put on a tutu and danced around the living room performing for anyone who was available. Heaven forbid you don’t clap after her 28th twirl – even if you clapped for the 27 prior ones. I knew she would love a dance class and performing on stage where hundreds of people were clapping for her.

Travis Academy of Fine Arts was the perfect fit for her. It’s focus is training artists to use their gifts and talents for the glory of God. The staff and the teacher were so accommodating, loving and supportive of her disabilities. It was perfect.

ballet-6

After the first two classes, she happily put on her ballet uniform at home after class and demonstrated her “happy toes, sad toes” (flex, point) and her  popcorn – “pop, pop, pop, explode” (releve, releve, releve, jump). We clapped.

The third week she was comfortable with the class. She made “friends.” But everything changed. The teacher had to send her out in the hall with me because she was invading her “friends’ personal space, and the other students were upset (a social clue she missed).  She was supposed to sit with me for a couple of minutes then go back to class. Instead she had an all out melt down – fell on the floor, kicking, screaming, sobbing – and it didn’t end. I picked her up, and took her to the car and drove home.

ballet-1Since then, every time ballet is mentioned – she becomes anxious – her entire body becomes tense, she contorts her face, and she rubs her fingers together until almost raw in obsessive, repetitive manner. Last night, as I put her to bed – I tried to reason with her that ballet class would go better this week, and she’d like it again – you know, “if you fall off the horse – get back on” – right? She started crying uncontrollably and gouging her arms with her finger nails. I simply held her and prevented her from hurting herself farther. I realized – getting back on the horse was not possible at this point in time. It may only take one good class to make her enjoy it again – but that one good class was not going to happen. She is incapable of bouncing back and having the “one good class.”

I dropped her from the class – and I cried the whole time I did so. It is about so much more than a ballet class. Enrolling her in the class had made me feel like a “good parent” – I was giving her a social outlet, I was building upon her interest – her gifts and talents. Enrolling her in the class had made me feel like she was a “typical” “normal” little girl – instead it opened my eyes that she is not “typical” or “normal.” I knew that in my head – but dropping ballet touched my heart – and I can’t seem to stop crying over it.

Ballet was my wake up call. At this point in life – Kymee doesn’t need her gifts, talents and interests encouraged as much as she needs skills to pursue her gifts, talents and interests. She needs social skills so she doesn’t “pop other people’s bubbles” (invade private space). She needs skills in dealing with change and transition (being sent out of class was an abrupt transition). She needs skills to manage her anxieties – so she’ll stop harming herself and start enjoying life. She needs therapy not ballet.

That’s a hard pill for this mom to swallow and I can’t stop crying I will reset the type to 12 now.

 

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Thanks, Evil Queen

The book, Healing Stories for Challenging Behaviour by Susan Perrow asks the question, “Could truths contained in the rich realm of story reach children more directly, and in a way more in tune with their innate imaginative capacities?” I can firmly say, “Yes!” – and sometimes itś from the least likely story and character!

kymee-6I do not fully understand how such a beautiful sweet little girl can struggle with such strong feelings of anxiety and insecurity. Rose has been adored and uplifted her entire life – by countless friends and family members who love her – she often complains that “no one loves her.” These feeling of being unlovable are exaggerated when those closest to her pay attention to anyone but her.

I told a little girl she had beautiful curly hair. Rose cried, “You don’t love me. You don’t think I’m beautiful.”

“You hate me – you are holding the baby and not me.”

“It is a horrible day – you love the dog more than me – he is always on your lap.”

I was singing praise and worship songs as I drove through traffic. Rose began screaming and crying uncontrollably. I finally got her to calm down enough to tell me what was wrong – “You love Jesus more than me!” she stated through her tears.

I am at a loss. I have no idea how to deal with this issue. I cannot reassure Rose of my love enough. I cannot stop loving others, complimenting others, or singing praises to God because of her insecurities.  I’ve been praying about how to deal with this egocentric need for love and affirmation.

Enter -stage left – Snow White’s stepmother – the Evil Queen.

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After a year had passed the King took to himself another wife. She was a beautiful woman, but proud and haughty, and she could not bear that anyone else should surpass her in beauty. She had a wonderful looking-glass, and when she stood in front of it and looked at herself in it, and said—

“Looking-glass, Looking-glass, on the wall,

Who in this land is the fairest of all?”

the looking-glass answered—

“Thou, O Queen, art the fairest of all!”

Then she was satisfied, for she knew that the looking-glass spoke the truth.

But Snow-white was growing up, and grew more and more beautiful; and when she was seven years old she was as beautiful as the day, and more beautiful than the Queen herself. And once when the Queen asked her looking-glass —

“Looking-glass, Looking-glass, on the wall,

Who in this land is the fairest of all?”

it answered—

“Thou art fairer than all who are here, Lady Queen.”

But more beautiful still is Snow-white, as I ween.”

Then the Queen was shocked, and turned yellow and green with envy. From that hour, whenever she looked at Snow-white, her heart heaved in her breast, she hated the girl so much.

Little SnowWhite from Grimm’s Household Tales by Margaret Hunt

Rose’s eyes opened wide – “That’s not nice. She’s not nice.” Then she began to cry – not her uncontrollable meltdown sobs – but a watering trickle that brightening her already blue eyes. “I don’t want to be like her.”

I had expected Rose to relate to Snow White – beautiful, kindhearted, helpful – because that is how I see her. Instead, she was confronted with the self she struggles with.  Since the first step in changing is realizing and admitting you have a problem – I see her self-reflection as a huge breakthrough.

stepmother-1

Tomorrow, I’ll pray where to go from here, but today – I am thanking God for the Evil Queen.

Take it from Herb: Have Patience

My older kids HATE the Herbert the Snail song which I would sing to them when they were impatient – “Have Patience. Have Patience. Don’t be in such a hurry …” Now I’m singing it to myself.

After reading and watching Helle Heckmann’s work, “Chidhood’s Garden” I was convicted to slow down my life, I just didn’t realize how frustrating it would be.

We go through our morning routine – personal devotions (thank God I didn’t forget this one today!) , breakfast, dishes, chores …

“Time to play outside Rose. Would you like to go to the park today?”

“Yeah!”

“What do you need to do before we can leave?”

“Put my puzzle away. Get dressed.”

Patience 1I’m thinking ten, fifteen minutes max – think again.

Three out of five of my children would throw the block puzzle pieces into the toy box – never to be found again. If I was lucky, one of my five would have put the blocks back in the original case haphazardly and put the case away. Then there’s Rose …

She has to put the puzzle together inside the case.

5 minutes later, she’s done. Or not …

She has done the puzzle – cow picture up – on the window of the case, so when she shuts the case and looks through the window the tractor picture and not the cow picture is showing through the window.

Therefore, she must redo the puzzle.

She dumps it out.

She thinks it through and realizes she must put together the puzzle on the opposite side of the case – away from the window.

10 minutes later (between the thinking and redoing the puzzle) .. she’s done.

Or not … When she closes the case, holds it by it’s handle, and looks through the window.

Sure enough, the cow picture is showing … but it is upside-down!

Patience 5

She opens the case and dumps it.

She sits and stares at it.

10 minutes later, she asks how to do it – No kidding she stared at it for almost 10 minutes without saying a word!

I take a deep breath and tell her – when really I wanted to throw the puzzle pieces into the toy box abyss.

She proudly completes the puzzle so that the cow picture is correctly seen through the case window.

Patience 3

Patience 6

Now time to get dressed.

She picks her clothes and lays them out to look at them (is this normal?).

She decides she wants two pig-tails, so grabs the pack of rubber bands.

Patience 2

Unfortunately there are five colors left on the scrunci pack.

She methodically takes two rubber yellow rubber bands off the pack and lays it on top of her shirt and stands back and looks a while.

She places the yellow bands back on the cardboard holder, and takes two orange off, lays them on her shirt, stands back, contemplates.

Returns the orange and slides the pink off – does the same.

Exchanges pink for red – same old, same old. Puts red back and tries out purple. She finally decides on one yellow and one purple.

This whole process took 20 minutes of my life! I have to admit I sat and watched and was somehow mesmerized by the entire process.

If you’ve been figuring … that’s 45 minutes to put one puzzle away and get dressed before we can head to the park.

I’ve been learning:

  • to sit on my hands – instead of jumping in and doing it myself
  • to bite my tongue – instead of scolding, rushing, or nagging
  • to observe – not instruct
  • to appreciate how God made her – much more meticulous than myself
  • to have patience – we really didn’t need to get to the park at a given time

I also realize that the process she took to get ready taught her valuable lessons …

  • critical thinking and problem solving as she figured out how to put the puzzle in the way she wanted it to go
  • Creativity and self expression in choosing clothes – and Scruncis
  • Self -confidence in being able to do it herself at her own speed

Maybe it was 45 minutes well spent. Maybe I will someday learn to enjoy this slower pace , for now I have Herb in my head singing,  “Have Patience. Have Patience. Don’t be in such a hurry …”

"Off with her head" – Bullying

Charles Robinson – 1907

Yesterday, I witnessed three 10 year old boys hanging out at the pool. One squirted another with a water blaster, the third boy cried out to his friend who was being sprayed, “He’s just a bully, let’s not play with him anymore.” 
Is the boy who squirt the water blaster any more of a bully than the one who labeled him as such?
Are we teaching prejudice when we label children as bullies?
As Christians, how do we handle the issue of bullying with our own kids?
I know I am tackling an issue with lots of emotions tied to it. I myself have many emotions attached to the word. I’m not an expert in “bullying” – I am just a mother who has lived through and is living through a generation obsessed with the concept of bullying. 
I know what it feels like to be the mother of a bullied child. Remember “My Space”- the social networking site prior to facebook? My junior high daughter had a “My Space” page entitled “I hate Emily.” The cowardly, unidentified author of the site proceeded to rip apart my daughter and write everything negative that he thought about her on the open internet forum.  She cried. I cried. I was angry. The only redeeming thing about the experience was that she had so many friends defend her and write sweet things about her on the site. Her friends stood up for her, and eventually the angry cyber bullying stopped because his comments fell on deaf ears.  I wanted desperately to protect my daughter – but there was little I could do. 
Charles Folkard – 1921

I know what it feels like to be the mother of a “bully.” I say this very loosely – because I really don’t believe my child is a bully, in fact I think it is impossible for a three-year old to be a bully- but she has been labeled as one. You see, my daughter has disabilities which include “behavioral issues.” I hate the term because it always makes me think that normal discipline could fix these issues – I also think people have much great sympathy for those with physical disabilities than with kids who have “behavioral issues.” But, back to the bullying situation. My daughter can be overly aggressive without knowing it. She also deals with melt-downs in which she hurts herself, things, and others in her uncontrollable anger.  The hurting others has cost me relationships – there are friends I have who will not bring their children around mine because they are afraid my child with hurt theirs. I rarely leave my daughter – there are only a handful of places or adults I trust with her. But everywhereI have ever dropped her off – at church, or nursery situation – I have seen a toddler run and hide and say, “don’t let her hurt me.” I have witnessed child care workers talking with each other, and parents talking to each other and I have heard them say my daughter is a “bully.” I am sad for these other kids –I don’t want them to be hurt, and I want them to be hurt at the hands of my child even less. I want desperately to protect my daughter from being labeled a “bully” – but I don’t always know what to do. 

I can tell you from experience that parenting a child labeled a bully is just as painful and heart-wrenching as parenting a child who is bullied.

John Tenniel – 1865
Researching this topic has been eye-opening. Statistics show that 1 in 4 children claim to have been bullied, and 1 in 5 admits to having bullied.  Sometimes the same child experiences both sides.
So how should we as Christian parents address the issue?
1) Teach Children to be self-confident.
“Students who have been bullied exhibit depression, low self-esteem, health problems, poor grades, and suicidal ideation.” BullyingEducation.org
All children will be called names on the playground or be roughed up a little. If a child is self-confident, he can deal with the everyday stuff.  You, or another adult, won’t need to step in unless the situation is ongoing or excessive.
How do you teach self-confidence?
                Teach them who they are in Christ. Have them memorize Psalms 139:13-14
“For you created my inmost being;  you knit me together in my mother’s womb.I praise you(T) because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
                Tell them how much you love them, how they are special, and how blessed you are to have       them.
                Encourage them to try new things, and get them involved in things they love and things they are             good at – but don’t pressure them to be the best or perfect.
Surprisingly, I have seen my 16 year old son “bullied.” But when asked, he states he has never been bullied. I believe it is because he feels good about himself, believes the best in others, and forgives easily, so he is able to let hurtful words slide off of him easily.
2) Teach children to be kind.
                Memorize Eph 4:29
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
                Have your home be a positive place where children can be themselves and kind words are          spoken.
I attended my dad’s 30th high school class reunion. My dad was a sports star, so when one of his classmates ask me, “Do you know what I remember most about your dad?” I assumed he’d tell me the story of an amazing touch down. Instead he said, “I can’t remember your dad ever saying anything negative about anyone.” Wow. 30 years after graduation –that is what is remembered! I want my kids to learn this lesson and be remembered for the same.
3) Teach your children to love people.
                Teach your kids to encourage the kids who are being bullied

Matthew 25:40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.

                Teach kids to stand up for those being bullied
“Bystanders too suffer from bullying which goes on around them. They suffer from feelings of guilt, fear, powerlessness and, if the adults fail to react and to put an end to it, they often find themselves joining in. They become frustrated by the lack of action on the part of the adults and the inability of the victim to stand up for themselves. Later in life these same students suffer from feelings of guilt and depression for not having done more to help a classmate.” BullyingEducation.org
                Teach your kids to love those who are bullies – kids bully for many different reasons – but most               have deep hurts, dysfunctional families, suffer from low self-esteem or simply do not have               social skills.
Matthew 5: 44 “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”
When Emylee was in swimming, a boy came into her club. No one liked him, but Emylee was kind. One day the boy lost it – he matched into the pool area – said hello to Emylee and went into the locker rooms where he took out a BB gun and shot some of the boys.  He was sent to a detention center and when asked, he said he did not shoot Emylee because she is the only one at swim who had ever been nice to him.
4) Have open communication with your kids and step in when needed
                Listen to kids when they talk about the stuff you don’t care about, so they will come to you        when they are being bullied – many times listening is all a child needs to recover from the hurt
                Take kids seriously – kids handle bullying differently, and you will know when your child has had               enough and can’t deal with it themselves – this is when you must step in and protect him
5) Model godly love and social skills
                Learn who you are in Christ and live in it
                Be kind with your words – it’s easy to be kind those you love , but are you kind to the lady in the              checkout line who is price checking every item, while you wait with your 3 toddler screaming in    the cart?
                Love others – how do your kids see you reacting to those who are unkind to you?
                Remember – Your children will act like you do when placed in a social situation
Gwynedd M. Hudson -1922
Bullying is a tough issue.  It is not a new one, but has become a social buzz word. Let’s not buzz ourselves and label children as bullies. Bad behavior must be dealt with – but labels can harm someone for a lifetime.  Let’s raise confident Christian kids who can positively impact both the bullies and those being bullied.