Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Kind Kid.

I try to teach Kade kindness. It's something I focus so strongly on, I feel like I'm nagging most days. Be patient, say thank you, give hugs and kisses, clean up your mess. And often, I feel like maybe I'm doing it wrong. Maybe I'm not displaying enough kindness myself; kids learn by example, right? I can tell him all he wants but if he doesn't see it, he won't know that it's necessary. I panic sometimes. I'm afraid he won't learn before he starts school. Or worse, he'll learn and be teased for it when school does start. I sometimes fear the world I'm sending him out into. I hope my sweet, caring boy has a good head on his shoulders. I hope he knows self-respect and stands up for his rights. I hope he holds onto his morals and teaches others how good life can be if you give and teach and learn and love.

I'm trying to find randoms acts of kindness that he can relate to. Like giving a wide-eyed toddling passerby a quarter for the Ninja Turtle arcade game after his mama says they're out. Or helping a lady at farmers market pick up a crate of peaches that were knocked over. Kade normally does these things because I initiate them. I say something like, "Uh oh.. we should help!" and he cheerfully follows my lead. Other times, he initiates the kind acts. For example, breaking off a piece of his organic chocolate bar and giving it to a random baby in a stroller. Luckily for us, her mother was okay with that and recognized it as the sweet gesture it was. These acts are few and far between but they give me the encouragement I need. It's a gentle reminder, you're doing something right

I'm finding a new balance with Kade. He's shifting into a more independent, brave and stubborn kid. It's necessary for me to shift with him. There has to be a balance. Finding out how to do that, however, hasn't been easy. Bedtime was our biggest struggle. Kade would get up over and over again. I always started out calm and reassuring but by the 50th time out of bed, I was frustrated and tired. I often threatened, go to sleep or else!  He would cry and I would feel totally lousy. 

One night, we walked into the bedroom and told him he didn't have to go to sleep. We recognized that maybe he's just not ready. Maybe he needs to ease himself into it and wind down on his own. He stared at us in bewilderment as we turned on a small lamp, insisted he play or read books and that he put himself to bed when he was ready. The only catch was that he had to stay in his room. The conversation went something like, "Kade, this is Mom and Dad's time. You had your time today, now it's ours. You are welcome to stay up and play or read but you must stay in your room. When you're ready to sleep, you can climb in bed yourself." Now, Kade plays by himself for about 15 minutes. When he's ready, he comes out and asks for hugs and kisses. I tuck him in and he stays in bed until morning. 

This was a big success. Of course, there are other things (whining being number one) that we haven't cracked the code to yet. But we're learning that freedom within boundaries is the key. He also insists on picking out his own clothes and shoes now. I've decided that's fine as long as they're weather appropriate. He also has to wear pants. He hates that rule but usually agrees if I let him pick out which pants.


I'm in a state of total, complete restlessness. I'm anxious and itching and irritable. I'm ready for the ocean, I'm ready for clean air, I'm ready for a job that doesn't leave me bruised and raw and sore. 

Fourteen hour shifts in a freezer are overwhelming. My hands don't work, my anemic blood is frozen solid in my veins, my head pounds out the same rhythm as the slug former machine. I'm ready for Seattle. I'm ready for growth and change and moving on

This city is tugging me back. It says stay a while. My sister has always said the only place she'd live other than Ogden is New York. It's a city that Al Capone said was "too rough" for him. But if you really know this city, you'll fall in love with it. And saying goodbye to it is bittersweet. Like saying goodbye to an old friend. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Boys Will Be Boys

Since the day I found out I was pregnant with Kade I was convinced that He was a She. I couldn't imagine it any other way. We'd always joked in my family that my sister, athletic and comedic, would have the boys. Me, being emotional and willowly, would have the girls. We had a girl named picked out-first and middle- and had hesitantly kicked around only a few boy names.

When the doctor asked, "Do you want to know the sex?" We both grinned and nodded. I was discreetly praying that it would not be a boy. Please God, spare me. My doctor told us it was a boy. He said it's a boy! Congratulations! and shook my limp hand and left the room hastily and excitedly. I sat in utter shock. Ian grinned and hugged me and grinned some more and practically hugged himself. 

What am I going to do with a boy?

 It all seemed surreal, to the very day he was born. The baby shower gifts; overalls and blue blankets and basketball clad onesies. The sweet patchwork animals I had bought before we knew the sex; pink and white puppy and giraffe, now out of place in his all-boy bedroom. When he was born, of course, I was overjoyed. Who cared about the sex? He was mine. 

I've been very fortunate to have a well-behaved, well-natured, calm boy. In Kade's first three years of life he was so well-behaved that I had sworn it was because of his health problems. God gave me a good boy because he knew I couldn't handle health AND behavior problems. Kade has excellent table manners. He sleeps through the night regularly, eats his veggies and (usually) remembers his magic words. He's sweet and smart and kind.

Flash forward to Tuesday afternoon, in my kitchen. Kade is standing on top of my kitchen table. I ease him off and remind him, as calmly as I can, that we need to keep our feet on the floor. He does it again. This time, spitting at me and smiling. As many times as I pull him down, he gets back up. Time out? A joke. He won't sit no matter what distraction I provide for him. I tell him to go to his room to cool down. He goes to his room, knocks everything off the shelves and goes back to standing on the table. When I reach for him this time, he lunges, kicking my milk glass bowl off the table and onto the ground, where it laid in a million tiny pieces.

Kade felt bad for this. He started crying and even reminded me today, Kade broke mamas thing. Kade sorry. I felt bad too. I was exhausted and overwhelmed. I raised my voice and shouted, Go To Your Room Now.  When did I lose a grasp on him? I was sure that my parenting was "working," whatever that means and that Kade respected me. I think we put a lot of emphasis on whether what we do as parents "works." I also believe this is especially true for boys. 

At the library, titles glare down from dusty shelves. Titles like, "Why Boys Fail" and "Raising Boys; A Full Contact Sport" can be discouraging. Boys in general have a bad rap. Lower test scores, poor social skills, higher risk for drug abuse and criminal mischief. Boys go through their "phases" and by the time they're teenagers, it's common to hear mothers exasperate that they've given up. They insist they can't parent their boys anymore, that it's time to "let them go."

This is my biggest fear as a parent to Kade. I fear that I'm just not equipped to raise a boy. How do I teach him to be a gentlemen? How do I show him the path of least resistance? Convince him to get good grades, to be a hard worker? Teach him how to choose good friends? Encourage him to go to college, not spend time playing video games, be active in sports and march to the beat of his own drum all at the same time?

It all seems like a big game of "follow the leader." I've had to learn to stop and pay close attention to Kade. To follow his little drum beat. Every day is a learning experience- but I'm getting the hang of it.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Canvas and The Painter

I write about writing itself more than I write about anything else. I think that's because of my on-again, off-again relationship with the sport. Yes, I said sport. I can associate writing best to the Wasatch mountains. For my entire life they've been there, glaring at me from the east. They're a constant reminder of where I am and which direction I'm facing. They're also a sore thumb, throbbing; a reminder that I'm still here, in the same place I've been my entire life and that makes me panic a bit. There is an entire world out there waiting to be seen and I've been crowded to this corner. Everyone once in a while, it feels nice to be lost. Writing is the same for me. It feels nice to be expressive and get my thoughts in an orderly manner. But sometimes, it's better to be lost. At least then you can push thoughts to the back for a while. 

Having a writers brain though, thoughts don't stay hushed back there for long. They lunge themselves to the surface, aggressive and urgent. We're running out of room in here, they say, let us out. 

I've been trying to.. chill out, if you will. I think people are hurtful, by nature. They talk about others without hesitation and things are said that can't be taken back. Word travels fast and friendships are ruined and pride is damaged and reputations don't go unscathed. I guess I could dwell on this but I've decided instead to focus on me and my little family and forget the rest. You know that old saying, those who mind don't matter... 


We were sitting in an In & Out burger when a young woman started swearing, profusely, loudly across the restaurant. She was chatting with her boyfriend, nonchalantly, as her language forced rosy red color to any sweet old lady sitting a few feet away. An elderly man very politely asked her to speak quietly, not even suggesting she change the words themselves. There's young kiddos here, ma'am. She swore at him, telling him she didn't give a flying fluff and maybe he should, ahem, turn his hearing aide down instead. 

I tried to ignore the language but this woman took the incident as a reason to start talking louder. Soon, Kade started watching her, fascinated. I gently explained to him that those were angry words and that he needn't use them. She laughed, a sort of sneer, and said to me, "He's gonna learn it anyway." When the woman finally left the restaurant, the nearly full lobby clapped. They actually applauded her departure.

The statement itself makes me uncomfortable. In my humble opinion, that attitude is the force driving our kids to be careless and disrespectful. They're going to learn it anyway. Unless, of course, we change the way we speak. If we all teach our children respect and love and kindness, they don't have to learn it. Who said that's a common thing to learn as an adult? They're going to learn swearing and disrespect anyway but not forgiveness and patience and charity? This is backwards; it's wrong. 

Working at the daycare, I saw a lot of violent kids. It was a regular ache in my heart because I knew that they must have learned it somewhere. Kids aren't born with violent thoughts or intentions to hurt others. Children are born pure and wonderful. They are a blank canvas. We are the painters. 

I hope I'm painting a masterpiece. I hope he learns to love without condition and give without reason. 


We're getting ready for a Seattle, slowly but surely. We've applied for two apartments and are getting the car ready for a 863 mile trip. I guess you could say I'm settling down. That feels good. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Time to Thrive

I have a tendency towards over-sized sweaters and combat boots. I drink copious, nauseating amounts of coffee and in fact, if you sliced me open, would bleed espresso. I call rain "writing weather" and have been known to wear long johns in July heat waves. Winters in Utah leave me manic and sleepless, summers leave me sticky and cranky.

Do you know what happened when the search for the best asthma air in the U.S. began and turned up with Seattle, Washington in the number two spot? I choked. I literally choked on my white chocolate mocha and dribbled it down my chin and onto my sweater.

On October 1st, we're moving away. Onward to the land of rain and coffee, where sudden exposure to cold air is less than likely, inversion is unheard of and rain in a constant sprinkle, 300 days a year.

Last winter was hard. Hospital stays blur together in a haze of thick black coffee and monitors and half-sleep. Terms and triggers float through a numb mind; sudden exposure to cold air,viruses, oral steroids, inhalers, duo-neb treatments. Kade was poked, held down for suction treatments, tested for cystic fibrosis, hooked up to oxygen and forced through breathing treatments. Veins were blown, noses were bloody and answers were few and far between. The term most familiar, made a dull and aching home in my chest: failure to thrive. It's scribbled across most of Kade's medical records. Knowing my son, you could shake your head at this. Kade thrives. My baby loves life, he teaches us joy and love. He is fantastically silly, his giggles erupting an entire room into a ball of light.

It's time now, for his health to thrive as much as he does.

Things are going to be hard and different. But they're also about to be wonderful and adventurous and new. We're ready to thrive, as a family.
It's time.