Sending Your Child with RAD to Summer Camp

About a month into summer break, most parents can’t wait for those two blessed words…Summer Camp.  The knowledge that you are sending your child to summer camp which means a week of peace and quiet for you with no responsibilities is like winning the parenting lottery. But for parents of kiddos with RAD, that may not always be a possibility. Let’s discuss some of the precautions to take and some of the possible pitfalls. I’ll start with a story about August and camp.

August went away to camp for a week when he was in middle school. At that point he was on three different medications which he took both at night and in the morning. I remember standing in line to drop off the medications and thinking if he gets half these pills in him it will be a miracle. I also remember thinking that when I was growing up, I don’t remember knowing any kids who took medication. This line was huge! And it didn’t even include the kids who were just dropping off inhalers. The child in front of us was dropping off Tums. I remember thinking, “What could be so anxiety-producing in your short life that you need a regular diet of Tums?” Now I didn’t know the whole story of this child but it just seemed odd. But I digress.

After we got him into his cabin and he found his bunk and we got him unpacked he was ready for us to leave. One of the few advantages of RAD; there is no homesickness or tearful good-byes. We couldn’t leave fast enough in his opinion. The next part became how much to tell his counselor. Enough to warn him so he’s not caught off guard but might make him not like August from the beginning? Or not enough so August gets off on the right foot but this young man isn’t prepared for what August can dish out?

Decision made to err on the positive, hugs and waves good-bye and prayers for no phone calls during the week. Pick up the next week didn’t seem to include any weird looks or need to pull us aside. The strangest part was August coming home with some other kid’s underwear…

So there’s the one big “pro” why camp is a good idea: a nice break for you, your child and their siblings. Here are some very real “cons” to consider:

  • Medication delivery
  • Camp staff ability to handle RAD behaviors
  • Schedule/routine disruption
  • RAD wanting same kind of entertaining/attention upon return home
  • Similar triangulation found with teachers or other professionals

If you decide that an overnight camp may not be right for your child at this time, a day camp might be a good alternative. Most cities have a variety of day camp options including general YMCA-type day camps as well as specialized camps dedicated to particular sports or interests.

There are also therapeutic camps designed specifically for RAD kiddos. For example, Nancy Thomas who is considered an expert in the field of Reactive Attachment Disorder runs a series of them over the summer. You can find that list here. I have no experience with them but if you do, please share in the comments It would greatly help other families. I would recommend looking at camps that are specific to RAD. They’re out there. Camps that cater to autism or general mental health issues or children with “behavior issues” are fine but as we all know, RAD is a whole different animal. Quite frequently even trained staff won’t have heard of it. 

I have added a resource page to the site where I will be adding lists of books, camps, treatment centers and other helpful tools as I come across them. If you have any to share, please send them my way. They are by no means endorsements but just a one-stop easy access place to see what’s out there. To head over there and see what’s there now (which isn’t much, don’t get all excited!), click here.

What it boils down to is you know your kiddo and your level of sanity. Would you rather stick it out another week with them at home or send them off to camp and spend the week on pins and needles hoping you don’t get that phone call? August did summer camp away three times I think and I never got the call. Doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have; just means I didn’t. 

Until next time,

Shannon

 

Rainy Day Crafts for Bored Kids

Look like your kiddos?

If you’re like me, the worst sound in the world is when you wake up on a summer morning and hear rain. The plan was to go to the pool all day, or the park or some other outdoor activity that would run the kids ragged. Now, about 30 seconds after their eyes open you’re going to hear the two most hated sentences, “We’re bored,” and, “Can we play video games?” And for kiddos with RAD, this unscheduled time can be so hard.

Breathe. You’ve got this. While structure and routine is important for children with RAD, a little rerouting of the day is not a recipe for disaster. You just need to have something to do that will feed their needs for action and tactile play. So today, I am giving you…instant puffy paint.

Of course this isn’t the only choice, you can google hundreds of rainy day craft ideas but when I saw this, it looked like something I might do by myself it looked so fun. And the other thing I liked is that it required things that you most likely already had at home. There’s nothing like deciding to do something crafty only to find that it needs some ingredient or item that no one keeps around the house. So by the time you head to the store you might as well just go to a movie and skip the hassle.

Clabber Girl is made right here in Terre Haute where I live!

But you’re the super-parent and this is going to be fun! I promise. Here’s the recipe:

  • All Purpose Flour
  • Dash of Salt (around a teaspoon)
  • Water
  • Baking Powder
  • Liquid watercolors or Food Coloring

The amount of flour and water depends on the number of children. I read many recipes and most say a cup of each per child. If you use all-purpose or self-rising flower that already contains baking powder you may be able to skip it if you don’t have it, though some say it makes the paint puffier. However, just a tablespoon is enough. You want to whisk it thoroughly to get all the lumps out and the consistency is of pancake batter. Thinner is fine, it just won’t be as puffy.

Put the colored mixes in ziploc bags and seal and let the children help with the mixing. Make sure those bags are zipped! If it were August, I would add duct tape. These also become your painting bags (think icing a cake). Snip off the small tip of one corner and let the painting begin! You can use regular paper, recycled cardboard, just nothing metallic, of course, as whatever you paint on will be going in the microwave.

Image courtesy of happinessishomemade.net (I’m not that creative!)

The finished creations should be microwaved for 30-45 seconds, depending on how much paint they contain. Watch closely because depending on what the paint is on it could start to burn. The paint will be extremely hot when it is finished so a grown up will have to take it out and it will need to cool.

Now this may not fill up an entire rainy day. You may still need that movie or those video games, but its a good way to connect the family and share some laughs. It practices fine motor skills which RAD kiddos many times have issues with. And it creates some good memories which come in handy when maybe things aren’t so good.

Have a great weekend! Until next time,

Shannon

Top 10 Ways To Help Family Understand RAD

One of the most frustrating parts of having a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder is the feeling of living in a vacuum. Having to parent differently from other parents is one part; having children who don’t socialize appropriately often keeps them cut off from social groups. But it also means that even the closest family members are often distant because they can’t understand the child or how you have to or have chosen to parent them. 

How do you help your family understand RAD and what is necessary for your child to be safe and heal? Following is a list of ways to talk to your family which may help bridge the confusion and bring some new understanding.

  • Many family members believe that traditional parenting will work with children with RAD. They do not understand that your child may not be able to partake in activities that other children can. They need highly structured environments with firm limits. Rewards and behavior modification don’t work. It usually means that family believes that parents are either too hard or too lenient.
  • RAD children are control freaks. Their belief is that they must control their environment is key to their survival. Part of this may include triangulating with parents and grandparents to get what they believe they need or are entitled to. Extended family members need to be educated to what this is and how to recognize it in order to avoid getting trapped and affecting relationships.
  • Many family members believe that love cures all. The early trauma and abuse your child suffered physically altered their brain making the ability to give and receive affection almost impossible. Your family needs to understand this in order to know that this isn’t a quick “fix”. Love is unfortunately not enough.
  • As much as parents know, you still don’t know everything. You may have read everything you can get your hands on but each child is different. Your child is continuing through therapy and medication to change and grow and your family needs to understand there will be good and bad days. And you won’t be able to control that.
  • Your child will seem very “charming” and “delightful” out in public or with your family. That will seem very confusing with stories you may have told them. What they need to know is in these situations they are “shopping” for new parents or other adults they can manipulate. It’s very shallow and all for control and manipulation.
  • If we seem hypervigilant it’s not an overreaction. We have experienced things at home we haven’t told you and we don’t want those things to happen at your house or in public. For example, August stole a variety of things from his grandparents and ran up hundreds of dollars on their cell phone. They need to know how to be just as aware.
  • We won’t tell you everything that’s happening. We don’t want you to know how bad it is. We want you to believe that your grandchild or nephew is smart and funny and charming. We would rather you think that our child is wonderful and I am a monster.
  • Please don’t give us advice. Words like “Have you tried…” or “They’ll grow out of it.” or “Let me tell you what works” don’t help. We are working with psychiatrists and doctors and reading everything. We are doing all we can. We are as informed as we can get. And it’s not for lack of trying.
  • Sometimes the best our extended family can do is be there for us as the exhausted, overwhelmed parents. It may not be able to be babysitting. But maybe it can be bringing over food, mowing the lawn, taking the other children for a day (or a weekend!)
  • Our child is the love of our life. We are going to fight for them to be safe and healed no matter what it takes. We need you to understand that even if it means we make some unusual choices for their treatment. We need you to know that we only have the best of intentions but we need your support no matter what. Please continue to love us and support our family as we work to make our family whole.

Explaining August’s Reactive Attachment Disorder and his behaviors to our family has been one of the hardest part of what I have been through. Why we chose residential treatment. Why he was stealing, getting arrested, behaving the way he was in front of them; in radically different ways to all the other children in our family. Trying to explain why he did what he did never seemed to quite get through. Certainly doesn’t where he is now.

Obviously family is hard under the best of circumstances. They will try. They might fail. You might too. That’s what being a family is all about.

What is Self-care?

My house is falling apart. I don’t mean figuratively. My house is literally falling apart. It started last month with the water heater. Annoying but a typical home repair issue. But it took a month to get it fixed. The day it got done…and I mean THE DAY…one of my garage door openers stopped working. It’s still broken. Since then, the water pressure in my kitchen sink has slowed to a crawl.  There’s a leak in the drain of the upstairs bathroom sink AND that faucet sprays water everywhere. The A/C condensate pump is making a loud noise (just got that replaced last year). And there’s a broken window on the back porch.

Oh and did I tell you I have 15 or so relatives coming for the July 4th weekend?

Now I didn’t explain this looking for a pity party…though if you’re hosting I like Merlots and dark chocolate! But in the world of parenting a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder, we’d call this Tuesday. It’s Spring Break right now so maybe there might be the idea that things are calmer but the morning may have started with the raging because you picked blue socks for them to wear instead of yellow. Or the plan for the day is a trip to the zoo instead of the pool. Or that camp they were begging all year to go to they now refuse to attend. Or it’s yet another battle over taking medication. It could be something very minor to you but it has become a catastrophe to them.

If you manage to handle that crisis, your day has just gotten started. Maybe you have a 9-5 job to get to. Already stressed and frazzled, you have to pretend to waltz in like you got a full night’s sleep, woke to birds singing and a calm quiet cup of coffee while you leisurely read the morning paper before you got ready and came on into work, ready to hit the ground running. 

Maybe you are at home with your littles (which we all know does NOT mean you don’t work!) and you’re trying to do some housework while they play outside until you hear the screaming. Which is about five minutes in. You rush outside, mediate whatever issue has arisen and go back to your chores. Lather, rinse repeat. Every five minutes for an hour until you realize this is accomplishing nothing and you surrender and get ready to head to the zoo.

Now an outing with a RAD kiddo can be like trying to nail jello to a tree. Their impulsive nature and fearlessness will always lead them to wander off or try things that scare you. It’s hard to remember in those moments that it’s not them really; it’s how RAD has them wired. You run after them and shout cautionary demands all day until you can’t put together a coherent sentence. 

Back home, you may or may not attempt a family dinner after this kind of a day. Bless your heart if you do. Because you still have bedtime to get through. and RAD kiddos are not sleepers. If you get them down without a double digit number of attempts, take the win. 

So with a day like this, where yesterday looked pretty much the same and tomorrow is likely to be a repeat, what can you possibly do for self-care? How can you keep your head above water, your sanity intact, your willingness to get up tomorrow and do it all over again preserved, when every day is chaos and stress?

Well, in my case, I painted. Not pictures, I’m about as creative as a rock. But I have wanted to finish painting my stairs and upstairs hallway and landing which I started two years ago and yesterday I got on it. I don’t know how to fix an A/C unit or a garage door or a leaky sink. And I don’t have the money to do all of it at once anyway. But I had the paint and the time so I painted. And the satisfaction of seeing some progress on that project that I’d put off for so long felt so good. Seeing that one spot of my house looking complete and pretty helped me feel calm and relaxed for just a little while.

So here are my tips for self-care, not big grandiose ideas like massages and manicures (though definitely do those things every chance you get) but little ideas for self-preservation:

  • Do a thing, anything. Wash a dish; even one. Put away one piece of clean clothing.
  • Do another thing, anything. Wash a second dish. Hang up a jacket. Fold a towel.
  • Breathe. Inhale for four counts. Exhale for four counts. Do it as many times as you can until the screaming starts again.
  • If your children are old enough, go in your room and lock the door. Lie down on your bed. Laugh. Cry. Scream into a pillow. But have some kind of large loud emotional response to your day for two minutes.
  • Keep a joke book in your purse. Bad jokes. When things with the kids are getting tense pull it out and read some. People cannot be angry with each other when they are laughing together. DO NOT use your phone for this purpose.
  • At the end of the day, write down (or if you’re not a journaling-type), think about 3-5 things you are grateful for.

We deserve combat pay. I firmly believe that. We have the invisible-and some visible-scars to prove it. But we persevere because of our intense love of these also deeply scarred sweet children of ours. We cannot protect them without protecting ourselves.

Until next time,

Shannon

Vacations with RAD Kiddos

So you have a sweet, adorable boy of let’s say, six. And while he’s charming and fun and hilarious and lovable in so many ways, he’s also prone to impulsive actions. Like he’ll push any button that he sees. And he grabs at things. And he can’t figure out “inside voice”. He doesn’t like transitions, so making him pack up or stop a movie or move is an ordeal. In addition, he’s got a quick temper which doesn’t mean he just gets angry. He rages. Red-faced, screaming, hitting, cursing, throwing things fits if things don’t happen like he wants. And you can’t calm him down because he won’t let you. He blames you for not giving him what he wants and doesn’t trust you. Let’s get in an economy middle seat with 200 other passengers for a four-hour plane ride.

Maybe you decide to drive instead.

Now this same child is also fearless. Since he doesn’t trust you, he also doesn’t feel like he needs you. Except for money which he wants all the time for everything because he does feel that his love can be bought. Which is the source of constant conflict even with an 8-year-old. Because he’s super smart and manipulative and sometimes if his love is for sale, you’re buying if it’s the only way it can happen because you’re so desperate for it. Then you try and be the good parent and instill some values and say “no” so the conflicting signals aren’t helpful and you’re back at square one. But the fearless, control-freak child isn’t phased and he’s just as strong-willed as ever and could carry on whether you’re there or not. Except for the money. Let’s take this child to Disney World.

Maybe we’ll just go to the pool.

Yes, of course what I have just described was my own story. And the trips didn’t go quite as horribly as I described but they had their moments. The plane trip was heading home from visiting back East when we lived in Oregon. We flew out of Indianapolis and it involved a short hop to Chicago then a long flight to Portland. We got stuck on the tarmac in Indy for over an hour on a small-ish commuter plane. My younger son was not quite two so we were waiting as long as possible to pay for a seat for him but he was a big boy and a walker. We weren’t all seated together so he wanted to walk back to his Dad and August and while doing so fell and busted open his lip. Blood dripping down his sweatshirt. When we finally got to Chicago, we’d missed our connection and had to wait for the next flight which we weren’t sure we could get on. We were wait-listed. So we had two small children, one with blood on his shirt. August, because he didn’t like transitions, peed in his pants twice. And because I’m the ever-hopeful mother, all his meds were carefully stored in our checked luggage. We even tried to go get them from the baggage guys. He was the one guy who assured us we’d get home that night.

Disney was after we’d moved back East. We were smart enough to drive! We went to the park every day plus the other parks. We blew it out! And everyone got tired, and cranky. And then it started. The boys fought. Their dad got mad at the fighting. I got mad at that. August has an endless amount of energy and when we all ran out of steam he was so mad that we couldn’t keep up. His brother didn’t like the big rides and August got mad that those weren’t the only ones we rode. It was all about him. And then trying to keep up with him. He didn’t understand how scary it was there. His fearlessness was terrifying because he didn’t need us around (except for the aforementioned money). He did want company on the big rides which was nice but honestly he would have be OK either way.

The points of these stories is that vacations with RAD kiddos can be rough. So you need to consider what they are capable of and more importantly what you are capable of. Here are the best tips I can share:

  • Be Realistic: You know what you can manage. And you know what they can manage. And they may be seeing all their friends going off to Disney but if that’s not going to create a good memory for your family, don’t set yourself up for failure.
  • Keep It Simple: Even if you do go to Disney, you can do it in a way that minimizes the stimulus and chaos. You don’t have to do all the parks. You don’t have to go every day. You don’t have to go all day every day. Make sure you are taking your child’s issues into account when you are planning your vacations so that things like transitions, medication times, schedules stay as close to normal as possible. This makes for the best possible outcome.
  • Invite Extended Family: Ok, for some of you I might have said the thing that would make your vacation horrific! But, there is also the “many hands make light work” philosophy. Especially if you have other children. Asking grandma to come along so that she can take the other children to the zoo one day while you take the RAD kiddo to the pool can help everyone have a good time.
  • Take Care of Yourself: Make sure you are keeping yourself healthy. Mentally, physically, spiritually. Remember you are taking yourself out of your comfortable space as well when you go on vacation. Take some quiet time to read or meditate, bring essential oils or candles, whatever will keep you calm and centered during this hectic time.

I’d love to hear your ideas for how to handle successful vacations with your RAD kiddos or your funny travel tales!

Until next time,

Shannon

Summer Reading List

So yesterday we talked about how to get your children to keep the learning going all summer long. You know what is one of the best ways to keep them interested in learning? Modeling the behavior you want to see. And that’s never more true than with reading. There are so many ways to encourage your children to be better, more informed readers by reading yourself. So to help with that, I’ve put together a list of some of my and my friends-courtesy of Goodreads favorite books of the moment to get your summer reading habit started off right!

  • Sissy: A Coming of Gender Story by Jacob Tobia
    This book won’t be for everyone. Amazon describes it as “A heart-wrenching, eye-opening, and giggle-inducing memoir about what it’s like to grow up not sure if you’re (a) a boy, (b) a girl, (c) something in between, or (d) all of the above.” And the New York Times compares Jacob with the likes of David Sedaris and Mindy Kaling. It’s profane and blunt so if you have weak sensibilities it might not be for you. I put this one first because I’ve known Jacob for years and they are one of the most amazing people I know. You want to get to know them too.
  • Do It Scared: Finding the Courage to Face Your Fears, Overcome Adversity, and Create a Life You Love by Ruth Soukup
    I’m not suggesting that you do work over the summer. This book isn’t work. Though it does rPerfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.equire some thinking and maybe getting out of your comfort zone more than a little bit. But the summer is always a good time for reflection and that is a lot of what this book is about. If you have always wanted to start something new or are stuck in something old that just isn’t fulfilling anymore, this book is for you. If you need to understand why you have taken that step to make your big dream a reality, this book is for you. This blog is my big dream and reality is scary, let me tell you! But it’s better than not pursing that dream at all.
  • Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
    “Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.” – Goodreads
    I like this book because it is set in North Carolina and because it deals with childhood trauma. Two things I know a lot about!
  • Bless Your Heart Tramp: And Other Southern Endearments by Celia Rivenbark
    I have read absolutely everything Celia Rivenbark has written. She is hands down hilarious. And this one is the best. If you want an inside trace on the perfect eccentricities of being perfectly Southern, this is give you all you need to know. From why the word snow make a family of four buy eight gallons of milk and 12 loaves of bread to many more secrets revealed. It will have you laughing out loud at the beach!

So this will give you a good start on your lazy summer days while maybe actually getting some motivation to make some change for good! Have an enjoyable cozy reading time!

Until next time,

Shannon

Summer “School”?

Ahh summer break. Brings joy to the hearts of school children everywhere and terror to the already weary parents who’ve endured a school year of homework supervision, lunch packing, carpooling, classroom parenting, reading prompting, field trip volunteering, awards ceremony attendance and now have their precious littles all day every day for 10 weeks and counting…

But the reality is that students lose 20-50% of what they learn in the previous school year over the summer. Isn’t that incredible? And when you add on that in this day and age that the last 3-4 months of most school year’s anymore are teaching to standardized tests I wouldn’t be surprised if it isn’t more than that. So maybe we want the summer to be more productive? Maybe we want to keep some momentum through to the next school year? But maybe we don’t want to go crazy in the process?

The idea of “teaching” your own children is probably daunting for most parents. The idea of “teaching” your own children over the summer probably doesn’t sound like much fun. If you’re a parent of a RAD child, the idea of combining those two probably sounds like the worst idea imaginable! I don’t blame you. When my boys were little, and before some of the ideas I will share in this post, I got workbooks and all sorts of tools to keep them learning through the summer. And getting August to do a few workbook pages and spend half an hour reading every day was like asking him to pull out his own fingernails. He would do almost anything rather than schoolwork. He would do chores, that’s how much he hated it!

So the key is to find ways to make learning happen while “hiding” it in plain sight. Luckily, the technology world is here to the rescue! The following is a list of some of the best ways to get your kids, RAD or not, to do some learning over the summer and head back to school without missing a beat!

  • Freerice.com
    If you only find one place to go this summer, this is it. This site has question to answer on language, geography, humanities, science and math. You can select the difficulty. But here’s the best part: for every correct question, the sponsors donate 10 grains of rice through the World Food Programme. You can watch the bowl fill up and see your progress. You can work as a team! My boys loved this one!
  • playkidsgames.com
    This site was developed by parents for children in grades 1-8 to enhance learning in math and reading. The games are fun and interactive. You can set up an account and your children can pick the games they want to play.

While websites are certainly easy and most children would love to spend the day on a computer or a phone, that’s of course not the best way to spend the summer! Here are some other creative ways to get your children to learn without them even knowing!

  • Let your children pay for groceries or other items during shopping trips. Give them a few dollars and a small list and let them figure out if they have enough money.
  • When driving, let your children practice reading by asking them to look for street signs to help navigate.
  • Do multiplication with spaghetti or sticks in the yard. Go pick 3×5 sticks; show me 3×2 pieces of macaroni.
  • Have your child write a dinner menu
  • Open ended questions are great for building vocabulary.
    I am happiest when…
    My favorite TV show is…because…
    When I feel angry I…
    A trip I’d like to take is…
    This is especially helpful with RAD children to get them talking!
  • Have your child retell a movie you go to see from beginning to end over dinner

There are lots of ways to incorporate learning into the summer that won’t drive you OR your child crazy! I will share more tips and tricks over the next few weeks every Tuesday so stay tuned for more fun ideas!

Until next time,

Shannon

Re-re-tooling

So it’s a new month and that means a new blog design, right? Yep. I did it. If you haven’t heard from me in a while that must be why. Well, of course it is! Much more of course than that has happened over the last few weeks so sit back and as Ricky Ricardo would say, “I’ve got some ‘splaining to do!”

I started this blog as mostly a labor of love. A catharsis for my own heart and mind. It then evolved as I wanted it to become a place where parents and extended families of children with Reactive Attachment disorder could come for comfort and resources and connection. Most of the RAD sites I found had been live for a few years and then fizzled out. I imagined the parents stopped either because the children healed (hopefully!) or it got overwhelming or they just got older and the topic got harder to write about. But I couldn’t find anything newer than a couple years ago. But I am interacting with families going through this daily right now and children in the foster care system (one of the primary producers of children with RAD) aren’t going anywhere.

So I doubled down on my efforts to create this site, this space for those families. I started a course to learn how to blog successfully. I am creeping through it but I am learning how to write more effectively to my target audience, how to get found through the chaos of the great world wide blogosphere and much more. Not to say that I do not love the continued support of you all who have been with me since the early early days as I have built this chrysalis. But I am now ready to become a butterfly!

A couple of changes I am planning to make. First of these Monday posts will be changing from “All About Me” to “Mindfulness Monday”. This is for a few reasons. First, self-care doesn’t have to be just about yourself. It can be about helping others. It can be about learning how to communicate with your partner. It can be about finding ways to get motivated to get things done. It can be about caring for something you care about. Anything that brings you peace and calm is self-care. Also, I hope to invite some friends in to write more posts. Not because I don’t like to write or don’t have a lot to say. Anyone who’s met me knows that! But through my blogging course and other networking I have met some amazing folks with some amazing talents that you all just have to get to know!

So where has all this great new boldness come from? Well, the same person who wrote the blogging course, Ruth Soukup, just came out with a book called “Do It Scared”. And the message of the book is…well, the title. But the beginning of the book starts with an online analysis of what kind of fear predominantly drives you to avoid doing the big things in your life. Mine was procrastinator. Not the kind of procrastinator that puts off things till the last minute (though I certainly can fit that description too). But the everything has to be just right, research over output, needs to be perfect before it starts type of procrastination. Which explains why I’ve redone this blog so much. I just can’t get to where I think I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. But I’m jumping in anyway and I’m going to keep going regardless. I highly recommend the book. You can find it at bookstores, with your prime subscription or your Target addiction.

Keeping this in line with the theme of this blog, last Monday was “Gotcha Day”, the 18th anniversary of the day August’s adoption was legal. I remember it like it was yesterday. Standing in the courtroom in the run-down building in Monchegorsk while a lot of people talked very fast in Russian and then WHAM! I was a mom. Then two days later, a child I had spent all of fours hours with who didn’t speak the same language as me was placed in my arms to be my child forever. Talk about doing it scared.

This week I will go visit him. It will involve a pat down and metal detectors and walls with metal bars and locks and thick steel doors and guards with guns. I can give him one hug and kiss and I have to wait while he’s strip-searched before and after our visit. Talk about doing it scared.

But I did and will do both of these things for my son who is my forever child now and always.

Until next time,

Shannon

Jealousy…

When Harry Met Sally. And if you haven’t seen the whole movie, what’s wrong with you? But it’s the scene in the restaurant where Sally convinces Harry that maybe, just maybe, not all of the girls he’s been with have had actual orgasms. That maybe some of them were faking it. She proceeds to show him how they might have done that. Right there in the restaurant. Now that part of the scene is hilarious but immediately afterward, a sweet little old lady-played by the director Rob Reiner’s mother in case you didn’t know-delivers one of the best lines of the film. To give you a little Monday giggle and make sure you read the rest of today’s blog, here’s the clip. The point of that little story is jealousy. We’ve all felt it. That little (or big) green monster has reared its ugly head probably more times than we want to confess. There’s always times when it seems a relative or a neighbor or a friend or a co-worker has it all together and you just can’t measure up. When you’re a parent with a RAD kiddo, it seems like it’s happening ALL THE TIME. When August started having school trouble, my jealousy stayed in check pretty well. I mean, shouldn’t people feel sorry for me and my sweet injured boy who is struggling so? Then we had to hold him back a year in school and then the run-ins with the law started and somehow his sweet injured self wasn’t so cute anymore. And as much I tried to keep myself from it, I started to feel jealous of parents in church and in my neighborhood who didn’t have to worry about taking their child to his probation meetings on Saturday mornings or the alcohol diversion program at 13 years old. And fast forward to today, I have just in the last month shared with my new church family that August is in prison. I’m watching friends from high school become grandparents and announce their children’s college graduations and weddings. And here creeps that large green monster once again who robs me of being able to feel true joy for them in the midst of my grief. Not surprisingly, today is again an attempt to provide you all with some helpful tips that just maybe by typing them I will get some help for myself in the process. Here are five ways to handle jealousy when it whacks you upside the head (which may not be what it feels like to you, but does to me!)

  1. Be a copycat. When something wonderful happens to a friend and you are immediately jealous, use that. Follow your friend’s example. Maybe you walked into your friend’s house and she’s completely renovated her kitchen. You may not be able to do that but you can change something that will make you happy. Buy new hand towels or a new curtain. If a friend is going on a luxurious cruise, plan a fun weekend getaway. Do something similar enough to make you happy.
  2. Practice gratitude on social media. Holy moly do NOT compare your life to someone’s life on Facebook! That is for sure a recipe for disaster! Studies have shown a direct connection between depressive symptoms and the longer time people spent on social media. So use social media, but spend some time using it to be grateful, do some “Today I’m grateful for…” posts. It might lighten your perspective and you might enjoy the responses!
  3. Focus on your strengths. One of the things I have to keep reminding myself through everything with August is that he’s alive. And he’s healthy. Everything else feels like a hug parenting fail, yes. But now I’m trying to turn my experiences into something useful for other people and hopefully over time I’ll have more lessons to share as August and I continue to grow and heal. Spend time doing what you are good at and what makes you feel good when you don’t feel like you measure up in some other way.
  4. Wallow-briefly-then move on. Be a good friend to yourself. A friend wouldn’t let you stay in a negative space; so follow your friend’s advice. Have a little pity party then get up off the mat and get back to thinking good positive thoughts. Thinking positive is a much better space to operate from and it will serve you much better in the long run.
  5. Don’t hate, congratulate! There’s enough happiness on the planet for everybody. My favorite saying is, “It’s not pie.” If you stay jealous and angry you will miss all the good things waiting for you. And you will miss out on good times with those friends and your kiddos and they will miss out on the wonderful that is you. Let them have their moments and be first in line to applaud.
I’m not for one moment going to say this is last time I’ll ever be jealous now. I will say that even writing this makes me feel lighter about how I feel about my own situation so I hope it might be helpful to one or two of you. If so, let me know in the comments, that’s what they’re for! Till next time, Shannon    ]]>

Finally Another Visit…

Next time you find yourself feeling annoyed by a noisy environment-voices, phones, traffic, lawn mowers-try this one-minute exercise to shift your experience. The idea is to tune in to sounds around you rather than attempting to shut them out. Sit up tall, close your eyes, and let your face relax. (You might feel a connection between your jaw releasing and your ears softening.) Breathe naturally and think of yourself as a sort of receiver, taking in all the sounds around you. Try not to favor one kind of sound over another. Whether it’s chatter or clanging or honking, just hear it. Is it possible to experience this “noise” the same way you might experience the sound of a river flowing? Can you relax and accept what’s around you without wishing it were different? See how you feel after just one minute of sitting with this quality of openness.

It’s a new month. Spring is trying it’s hardest to get here permanently. Always a time for hope and new beginnings. Till next time, Shannon  ]]>