Remembering the Funny Times

As I have talked about before, I get great hope, inspiration and comfort from humor. Laughing when sometimes I want to cry is a stress reliever for me and always has been. Sometimes I’m not as “appropriate” about when I use humor I think…but it has usually served me well. Now, when it seems like there is nothing to laugh about, I am working hard at remembering the funny times.

August has always been a funny and charming kid. And he’s done and said some things that have been absolutely hilarious. Here are a few examples of when he was trying and even when he was not:

When we first came home, obviously he didn’t have a great command of English and he was learning words phonetically and quickly. He learned how to count like he did many other things from Sesame Street. And learning by listening meant that he heard the words not quite right and they sounded funny coupled with his accent. So “four” and “fork” both came out sounding like the mother of all curse words. You can imagine standing in the pool with little 3-year-old August on the side counting till he jumps in…”One, two three, F*@K, Five!” We tried so hard to get him to just count to three but he was so proud of his ability that he wanted to show off.

The next one I remembered was about the same time period. Again, August was learning words phonetically. We began as soon as he came home saying Grace at dinner with the poem, “God is great, God is good, let us thank Him, for our food.” As August got better with his English, he liked to do it by himself. But what he heard was, “Got is great, God is good, wet us tank he, ya ya food.” We loved it so much we didn’t have the heart to correct him for many years after he knew the right words.

It wasn’t always language-based that we found the humor. When he got into high school the laughs kept coming. This one he probably didn’t even know how funny it was. At least to me.

He spent 16 months at a residential treatment facility. When he came home we enrolled him in a private school designed for students who behaviorally just didn’t fit in a mainstream school. Smaller class sizes, etc. The very first day he found out there was a basketball team and it was basketball season. Basketball had been one of his favorite things at the RTC. The second day he was begging me to take him for an athletic physical. I gave in, we went. And no lie, by the end of the week, he was on the team and playing in a game. He was thrilled. I thought it hilarious his determination and belief that he was going to be the answer to their prayers.

Remembering these funny little moments helps with things are not at all funny. Here’s an article that supports the benefits of laughter. I encourage you to write down those funny moments with your children to look back on when maybe times aren’t so hilarious. And I’d love any stories you’d like to share. We can all use a laugh!

Until next time,

Shannon

Sometimes You Just Have to Laugh…

 

“Humor is to get us over terrible things.” —Ricky Gervais

I wrote about this a few months ago, but I find myself wanting to revisit it. Because it’s true. Laughter really can be the best medicine. And sometimes you just have to laugh. To keep from crying or screaming. Maybe to keep from giving up or giving in when you know you need to stand firm. Sometimes what your RAD kiddo thinks is the most horrible, awful thing they can say or do is really just hilarious in the big picture of everything that’s been done. As time goes on in parenting a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder your perspective changes a lot.

When August was little we tried to find humor in his actions as much as possible. It got harder as he got older and more aggressive but some of the earlier behaviors were just hysterical. Before we recognized it as hoarding, watching him walk around the house with an old cell phone charger attached to a hair brush, a hanger, a small plastic truck, another old cell phone charger and a toy phone all dragging behind him was delightful. He’d have intense conversations on the phone in a language known only to him (not even Russian) then bring the whole mess to a chair in the family room and pile it on. That was his stuff and his chair and you touched it at your own peril. 

A couple years later for some reason he got scared about someone breaking into his room. Again, not funny but the way he handled it made it hard not to giggle a little. He set up booby-traps on the window ledges of his room which were a variety of miscellaneous things that any intruder would knock over on entry. He also had a bag of Doritos and a spork (yes, a spork) on which he had drawn faces. These were protectors. They had names and they stayed by the bed always to guard against anyone coming in to snatch him. And then there was a prolonged period of sleeping in his closet. We never figured out what triggered this period but eventually it subsided and he went back to sleeping in bed and I believe the Doritos got eaten.

The point of these couple of stories is that our RAD kiddos are always throwing us curve balls. Each child is different due to what they have been through and how they react in different situations. Their triggers are different and we spend a lot of time in “trial and error” parenting, not always knowing what the outcome of our decisions will be. A sense of humor can be one of the best coping mechanisms we can use to get us through when one of those curve balls hits us right between the eyes. It can diffuse a tense situation; it can also help us remember that maybe that situation isn’t as bad as we may think.

So, I jumped on the Internet and searched for “Funny RAD stories” to find other examples from other blogs or sites of when RAD kiddos had done things that made their parents or grandparents giggle. Not surprisingly, that’s not what people who write about Reactive Attachment Disorder devote any time to. Which is unfortunate. So instead, you get a site of funny parenting moments which shows that all parents have times when their kiddos do things that make you tear your hair out. But you just have to laugh. For a little laugh break, click here.

So bad…

My recommendation is find the funny. August is hilarious. And frustrating, aggressive, explosive, impulsive and exhausting. But as all parents do, we try to find the best in our children; make the best of the bad situations. And laugh!

Until next time,

Shannon

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

I Love to Laugh…

10 to 40: The calories burned in 10 to 15 minutes of daily laughter. 15 to 20: The estimated number of times a day that an adult laughs. 103: The ideal number of words in a joke. 3000+: The number of Internet sites devoted to sharing lawyer jokes. 5.8: The average number of bouts of laughter in a typical 10-minute conversation. Top-29-Funny-Jokes16-500x495 I prefer comedies to any other kind of movies (I HATE horror movies-why pay money to get scared out of your wits?) I’m always on the lookout for a good joke. Or even a bad one. Sometimes the best jokes are the bad ones that come right when you just need to bust out laughing at something so ridiculous. August used to hate it when he would say something so outlandish that all I could do was laugh. Because laughter is sometimes all we have as our defense mechanism in the face of a situation so absurd that we can’t believe we’ve ended up here. And with August and I imagine the RAD parents out there reading this can relate, there were more times than I can recall when I was in a conversation thinking, “How did I get here?” The irrational, argumentative, impulsive thinking of a RAD child is so off the charts bizarre at times that the best response, the ONLY response, may be laughter. And that’s OK. Now depending on your child, it may not be prudent to do it in front of your child. Sometimes August would get so angry. But sometimes I could get him to join in and realize the craziness of his thinking and it would help defuse the situation. As I discussed on Monday, feeling angry all the time gets so old. I didn’t want my entire existence with August to be about anger. I still don’t. I don’t want to look back on my relationship with him and only remember the raging and hurt and anger which right now is the bulk of my memories. I am finding ways to re-build a life somewhat separate from him though we still have very close contact (I get to see him this weekend!) But he is an adult now. I hope to be able to look forward to laughing with him as two adults someday. We have occasional times on the phone where we laugh about a TV show we’ve both watched or something my chickens have done or anything else and hearing him laugh makes my heart swell. If you are finding laughter hard to come by, I highly recommend you seek out things that give you reasons to laugh. Maybe it’s a friend who you always know has a way to get you to giggle. May a movie, book or TV show. I’ve listed a few of my favorites below. It is true, “Laughter is the best medicine.” I am a big fan.

Books Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. This is one of my favorites of his but honestly any of his books will have you in stitches. Are You There Vodka? It’s Me Chelsea by Chelsea Handler. This one is not for those who might want something a little “cleaner” but man, she’s funny. Bless Your Heart, Tramp: And Other Southern Endearments by Celia Rivenbark. Like David Sedaris anything from her will be hilarious. I actually got this on CD for a drive with August and he cackled listening to it. Movies The In-Laws. I’m sure the remake was good but I’m talking about the 1979 original with Alan Arkin and Peter Falk. I can’t watch someone run toward me without shouting “Serpentine! Serpentine!” The Princess Bride. Please don’t say you’ve never seen it. It should be required viewing to become an adult. This is Spinal Tap. See above. And pretty much anything else Christopher Guest has ever touched. He’s a funny, funny man. Television Television is much more subjective and with so many stations it’s hard to know what everyone can get access to. But the ones that come to mind are: VEEP Parks & Recreation Curb Your Enthusiasm Brooklyn Nine-Nine The Good Place Modern Family Seinfeld 30 Rock
So send me some jokes or stories of when laughter has helped! Anti-Jokes-640x399 Till next time, Shannon]]>