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I Am (the start of an awesome Meme!)

Thanks to Robin over at The Forgotten Wife blog for posting this “I Am” piece. I see “meme” written all over it, and I think it will spread like wildfire. It makes you take a really hard look at yourself and how you see your inner you, and it shows what others potentially see as your outer self.

On this Mother’s Day, I think it was the most perfect post to write (more like copy, paste and edit to make more use for my own self lol) and use as a tool of reflection. Feel free to do the same and see how special you are. To yourself and to others in your life.

And Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mamas out there!..

I am depressive.  It does not define me, but I do not ignore it.

I am a survivor. Of the loss of my mother at a tender age of childhood. And of medical situations that should have killed me at birth.

I am an only child.  But I always wanted a sibling and didn’t always get my way or what I wanted.

I am a GED Diploma Graduate. And I’m proud of myself to have finished High School, even if not under the circumstances I had hoped for.

I am a mother.  I have three beautiful children, two girls with a boy squished in the middle.  Even when they’re being bad, they’re great…. well, maybe not in that instant.

I am the proud mother of a special needs child. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I am a Stay-At-Home Mom, but I work.  I have a 24-hour-a-day job that gives no vacation or sick time. And I’m okay with that.

I am an avid reader.  I love to read.

I am an avid movie watcher.  Especially Nicolas Cage movies, Marvel Comics-based movies and a fan of comedy.

I am 5’0″.

I am a horrible cook. But thus far, no one has died or gone to the E.R. to have their stomach pumped. And even the house is still erect and in tact.

I am a lover of Chinese food.

I am a horrible housekeeper, cause I hate housework.

I am a former smoker. Almost 4 years now.

I am a lover of wine, but only in moderation.

I am the person you send your plants to if you want them to die.

I am a lover of animals.  All animals, even scaly ones.  However, this love does not include any kind of arachnid or roach.

I am generous, most of the time.  Or, I try to be. And other times, I am TOO generous and it comes back to bite me.

I am a talker.  I’m working on my listening skills.

I am a toucher.  When we talk, I’ll touch you on your arm or hand numerous times.

I am polite.  Everyone I meet is “sir” or “ma’am.”  These will never steer you wrong.

I am a disciplinarian of my children, and yours if you refuse to do so.

I am the person that knows that family is not defined by blood and I have many family members around the world.

I am someone that loves thunderstorms.  Nature’s fury makes me smile.

I am very empathetic to almost anyone’s situation… as long as it’s not caused by their own stupidity.

I am a person that gives her heart fully when she decides to give it.

I am a football fan and can’t wait for the football season to start!

I am more comfortable hanging out with guys than girls.

I am a master at putting my foot in my mouth.  What can I say?  I like the taste!

I am the person you see singing and dancing in the passenger’s seat of her car.

I am someone who talks to herself.

I am a proud person who understands the value of humility.

I am the person that says “yes” when you ask for help, even when she should say “no.”

I am fascinated by organized religion, but don’t claim any affiliation with one.

I am an absolutely, positively lapsed Catholic. And I’m down with that.

I am a one-time divorcee.

I am the bearer of scars from past relationships, but still give love freely.

I am the person that will find a silver lining in any situation, no matter how thin that lining is.

I am the person that has learned from past mistakes.

I am stronger than I thought I ever could be.

I am married for a second time and loving it!

I am all of these things and more.

I am who I am and I’m alright with that.

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The Bully & The Brat… And One Mama That Is Fighting Back.

As some know, my son has a lot of problems mentally and behaviorally (which stem from the mentally disabling aspects). And for YEARS he has been bullied. But only primarily by one particular boy.

Now another boy is in the mix. As is a girl as of late, and where this morning’s call to come down and intercede is rooted. Because my son completely shut down on his teacher and the student teacher (or whatever his area is).

So we got myself, the teacher, my son and the other person who was TRYING to handle things together and got the complete story. We (as in my son and I) talked about what he should have done (again), versus what he didn’t do. And what he wouldn’t let the adults do to rectify the situation.

Yes, my boy will be punished (at home) for how he mishandled all this and not cooperating with his authority figures, and for not coming to the phone to talk to me as requested, resulting in my having to go down there.

But the girl is also in trouble for starting crap and calling my kid names and making fun of him.

Hell, I’m so classy and I’m so awesome, I have the balls to not be ashamed of leaving the room and crying in front of the teacher. Again. I’m just sick of this BS. Add in embarrassment and the fact that once more, I felt like I failed him, and it’s a mess of reasons behind why I broke down.

And people are wondering WHY our youth are offing themselves?

Gee! Let’s take a look at how them bully kids are being raised in a home of intolerance and no teaching of respecting those that are different from themselves in terms of disability (of ANY nature). It’s not just the teen and pre-teen GLBT group.

Then, opportunity knocked on my imaginary door… Have (one of the few of them) bullys in room, take a chance. That’s how good I am. I don’t have to talk TO you, for you to know I am referring to you.

Let’s hope my conversation with the brat being present sinks in. It was dealing with the one boy that has picked on my son for YEARS in this school. And now, they are BOTH going to the same Middle School next year.

I even made certain the little demon heard about MY OWN problems with being made fun of as a kid.

I KNOW he listened because if I turned to glance at him, he turned his eyes from me like he wasn’t paying attention. And he now knows I will NOT tolerate it, am utterly sick of it, and this is DAMAGING my child.

Believe me, bullying today is on an entirely different level than it was in my days as a kid with physical differences. I would NOT want to be a kid in today’s society.

What A Difference A Fish Makes!

Meet Lumineon, formerly known as “Petrie”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who knew that a fish, of all things would be just what Dr. Mom ordered?

B’s birthday was on the 12th, and his grandparents gave him $10 to spend HIS way. So, he thought about it, and knowing that the girls were saving for a hamster, he wanted a pet too. And I thought that between the three, they were going to break me. Because, whatever the $10 did not cover, Dad and I would have to make up the difference.

To my surprise (and relief) B said he wanted a Tetra Beta fish. He’s been actually bugging hinting towards having a fish for a while now. But it really picked up steam once he had received money for his birthday. So, seeing as his older and younger sister had saved up enough of their money from chores, and he had his birthday money, a-shopping we did go!

My husband went downstairs to the fish department with B, as I stayed upstairs with his sisters. The guys (as usual) were done WAY before us ladies were. But everyone was happy when we left the pet store.

After Dad set up Lumineon in his bowl and placed him back in to B’s room, the next morning, I’d found something that my son had written. Something that kind of had taken me aback.

A *reminder* note! No one told him to do so. He had thought of this on his own.

Basically, it was stating to feed his fish in the morning and evening with 3 or 4 food pellets.

So far, so good, too. He has been doing well to remind me to feed him if he couldn’t, or to feed Lumineon himself. Let’s just say, we have a VERY happy Tetra Fish.

Oh, and as for the name? Petrie (pee-tree) was initially the name. For one thing, it made sense. The other was that it was easily stated. But, of course the boy just had to switch it on me. And being the Pokemon nut that he is, why was I even surprised at this? Because apparently, the fish is the same colors (blue and red) as some Pokemon that is named “Lumineon”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I honestly HATE typing the name out too, because my fingers get tongue-tied and I cannot for the life of me, get the name spelled straight on the first try. But I will have to admit, that the Pokemon version of Lumineon is cute.

In the end, having a fish called Lumineon is teaching my son, who usually is one to pass off responsibility to others, and not take ownership of pretty much anything, that HE is responsible for HIS pet, and it’s proper care. And it is teaching him about ownership, not just of a living creature, but that he must take ownership of his own actions and decisions, and of his own things. Plus, B seems to be more focused with tasking than before Lumineon came in to his life.

Thanks, Lumi (my short nick-name for the little guy) for helping my son see the true value of being a responsible, honest and reliable person in his community, and within his home. You have accomplished what most “experts”, and even us as his parents have failed in doing. He may have his “quirks”, but now, we have you. And you, my friendly fish, are showing him the way to being the kid I know he can be, and you are helping to let his full potential shine through.

Judgment

Those of you that have a child with Special Needs knows exactly what I speak of.

It can be judgment from a stranger (most usual form). Or from a friend. Judgment can happen even with families.

Judgment is defined as… (via dictionaryreference.com)

noun

1.

an act or instance of judging.
2.

the ability to judge, make a decision, or form an opinion objectively, authoritatively, and wisely, especially in matters affecting action; good sense; discretion: a man of sound judgment.
3.

the demonstration or exercise of such ability or capacity: The major was decorated for the judgment he showed under fire.
4.

the forming of an opinion, estimate, notion, or conclusion, as from circumstances presented to the mind: Our judgment as to the cause of his failure must rest on the evidence.
5.

the opinion formed: He regretted his hasty judgment.
    The type of judgment that we are talking about today is within the definition of choice numbers ONE, and of FOUR.
    Although, the basis of judgment more often than not, is primarily upon choice number ONE.
    Because most “outsiders” will not know (even within the family circle) TRULY what life is like for our children, or for us as their parents and their caregivers.
    My son, even at almost eleven years old, is a “safety risk”. He has no “I better be certain it is safe” button. He has a “‘wow, that’s cool and I want to go to it’ button”. He can only see what he wants. Not what it takes to get it. Including safety. I worry every time he wants to walk to school (which is not even five minutes from my home). Mainly because the section of road we live on is high-traffic early in the morning. But I have to let him be independent. If I see him crossing the street in the wrong manner, then after school, when he gets home (via the bus), we have (yet another) talk about safety when crossing the street.
    I have had him walking with us in the mall, and he suddenly is far back behind, because something caught his eye and he ran off to check it out.
    Because of things like that, and because of an incident at a huge Theme Park, over in the water area, I for a good while used harnesses on my child. I never have had to do so with the two girls. But then again, they don’t have the problems that he does, and they are really good about listening, staying close and asking to check something out or to go somewhere.
     The times that I have used the harness, be it a wrist one, or one that straps around the chest and over the head, I have gotten “the look” of disgust and judgment. And I say, KEEP ON JUDGING! You have no idea about my child. You don’t know the dangers he can get in to. You have no clue as to how fast he can honestly be.
      To judge ANY parent, based solely on what you see, and nothing on what is known (which in most cases you don’t due to not knowing the people at all), to me is demeaning and rude. And it’s something that sadly, millions of us mothers and fathers must endure every single day. Because people just don’t understand. Some don’t WANT to understand. Some cannot begin to. Not until they sadly have a situation like I have had. And we aren’t talking about a grocery store or a neighbor’s house.
      My son ran off from us at a Theme Park that has a Water Park built in. We were in the section of the Water Park for the younger kids, playing laughing. Back then, my youngest was a baby. About eight months old at the time. In one moment, when both my husband and I turned for a brief second, he was gone. We called and called for him, only to find him nowhere. That’s when panic set in. Next thing I know, we have Park Security, ourselves and a couple of strangers helping us to look for my son.
       Thankfully, he was found (by Dad) not too far off, in the other section, waiting for the huge bucket to dump water on them (Dad took him there a bit before and played with him and had the bucket splash them). He wanted to go back to the bucket area, but told no one, and just took off. He just got it in his head that he wanted to go back, but forgot the step to get his wish. Instead, he (literally) ran with the thought and took off.
        Hence why the next year, we placed him in a strap harness. It helped us, and it kept him safe. Back then, if it were on the wrist, he surely would have been slick and removed it, only to jet off to God knows where. It was a safety tool. Not an abusive parenting tactic. Abuse would be to NOT do it, and let him run off to anywhere he felt led. With no worry of what COULD happen to him. That’s abusive.
         These days, we are no longer using the harnesses. But I tell you what… IF there EVER came a time to need one, you can safely bet that I WILL indeed use one on him. It’s better than him being kidnapped and have unimaginable speaks of horror possibly done to him. My child is TOO trusting and has no boundaries where his social interactions and self are concerned. So, he is an easy target. Personally, I refuse to take that chance. Even at his age.

At almost eleven years old, even a wrist harness may be embarrassing for him to wear, and for us to have to use it. We will I’m sure get nasty stares and a few finger points and snickers. But it’s worth it when I KNOW my son is safe.

Retard!… That’s So Retarded. *Let’s Change.*

“That’s so RETARDED!”

“I feel retarded for saying/doing that.”

“What a retard!”

Have you ever heard someone, or heard yourself say any of the above statements?

How about, “I’m sorry, but your child is retarded.”

When you say things like “I’m/that is so retarded” or “what a retarded thing to say/do”, you are not just cutting down those that have said or done something out of the so-called “norm”. You are hurting those with in the Disability Community. Especially those that have cognitive/mental delays and/or brain injuries. You are implying that they are stupid. Even without aiming the R-word directly at them.

Yes, there is a medical definition of “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded”. But now, as a move and as a means to help end the use of the R-word, medical professionals have become known to now use the terms “mentally delayed”, “mentally handicapped”, “mentally disabled” or “cognitively delayed/handicapped/disabled”. Where in those latter terms do you see “retarded”? Nowhere. And that is a GREAT thing!

Take my pal, Holly over at Holly’s House; Not A Perfect Mom’s Blog and her little girl, Brooke, who has Downs Syndrome. Brooke is what you would call “Retarded”, but that word is NEVER used. She is cognitively delayed, but perfectly cute (and sly) in every way imaginable. And like Holly, I deplore the R-word. And I think it shows one’s ignorance when a person uses the term in a way of means to cut themselves or someone else down. Intentionally or not!

When I was little, I required a trache to assist me with my breathing due to other health issues with my lungs and airway. I had that thing in my throat a good chunk.. no my entire childhood. Had it removed 17 days before my 13th birthday. For years I was ridiculed, called names, mocked and made the butt of my peers’ jokes. And…

I was labeled “Retarded” by children and adults alike. Especially the adults that knew NOTHING of me, except my appearance out in public.

For years, I had to fight that R-word label. Seeing as I was NOT cognitively/mentally disabled. And even if I was, would that really and honestly be a “good” name to label me with? I didn’t think so either.

Please spare me the “Politically Correct” crap. I really don’t need to, or want to hear about us parents of Special Needs kids (or being a currently or formerly disabled person ourselves, possibly) getting all so-called ‘uppity’ over a “word”.

Maybe if you had to wear the label for a day, or even a week, and see how it feels, then rest assured, you would change your mind in a hot second, my friend!

So, join me and take the pledge to “Spread the word to end the Word”.

Go to R-Word; Spread the word to end the Word and tell everyone that you want to help us collectively say “this is wrong and it needs to stop!” today. I did.

Spanking a Disabled Child vs Not Spanking & Punishment In General; SN vs NT Kids

I’m a spanking parent. I have spanked my son as needed through the years. Of course, he is of an age and height that I have been able to find other means of punishment (like taking toys/games/computer time away). But the youngest who is 7 years old, though a rare thing, still gets spanked IF the “punishment fits the crime”.

I have a friend on FaceBook who had been faced with a dilemma. Her child is three years old, disabled, and has yet to be diagnosed with Autism or any other mental delays. The other day at a family function, her husband had spanked their daughter for BITING, as well as hitting. And not a child, but another adult.

Her husband works a lot at his second shift job and only really sees the child on the weekends.

Mom isn’t much on spanking, but Dad is. And when the little girl bit and hit the adult, the Dad got a hold of his daughter and spanked her for her actions. Needless to say, Mom wasn’t pleased with how he handled the situation. She said it was more about the embarrassment of it happening in front of the family than anything else.

After hearing (or shall I say, reading) everything, I stated that the Mom can’t really be mad at him. If he isn’t able to be there due to working a lot, then he hasn’t had the time (or maybe even the energy) to be TAUGHT (by her) of what works best with their daughter. You cannot just “assume” he SHOULD know how to help handle her, when he isn’t there a lot of the time to learn by watching, listening or hands-on.

She needs to (calmly) approach him when they are BOTH free to get together, and talk with him and teach him what works best with your child. If she doesn’t take the time to voice to him what works/doesn’t work, then he won’t know the BEST options of how to punish/redirect/handle his child.

In time, she will learn the differences of when it’s her daughter just being a typical kid getting in to trouble, and between it REALLY being the disability showing through.

But even for as long as I have known the lowdown on my kid, I STILL have moments of wondering which way it is really swinging. In the end though, I try really, REALLY hard to NOT use the “he is disabled and has a lot of problems” excuse with him.

He is treated, talked to, and (most of the time) interacted with on the same level as his sisters. As in, he gets in to trouble just as much as they do.

I don’t let my kid use his disabilities as an excuse 100% of the time. If I do/did, then HE would think that he can get out of trouble ALL of the time.

To me, he is just as “normal” as his nutty sisters are. He is just more matter-of-fact and sensitive emotionally than the girls.

I sometimes get HIGHLY embarrassed due to my son’s actions, reactions and behaviors. No doubt. But even then, you cannot always “excuse” their behavior on their disabilities.

You have to learn and KEEP a balance between typical kid and disabled kid. Or else, they WILL grow up to think that they can (some literally) get away with murder.

And don’t EVER be embarrassed to defuse a situation (such as biting and hitting someone) in front of others. I have done it on many occasions and WON’T be afraid to do so in the future, if need be.

You just need to find that balance, and the key to successful behavior management where child’s concerned. Because they are unique individuals, and what works for me or any of the other parents, may not necessarily work for YOUR child, and you BOTH as their parents. There MUST be a middle ground that is firmly established.

Believe me when I say that I have had to (literally) peel my son off of one of his sisters as he bit them and used them for a punching bag. Seriously injuring the baby when she WAS a baby (bruises and a bonked head from being shoved off a toddler bed). Over NOTHING at all. Just got it in himself to start beating the holy hell out of her.

I don’t care if a person spanks or not. When it comes to hitting and biting, you MUST take care of the problem RIGHT THEN. Not later in the day. Be it if the child is one year old or 15 years old. Biting and hitting, especially an adult, or a child YOUNGER than the one doing the hitting/biting, is a huge “no-no” that has NO excuses.

In that instance, wrong is wrong. No matter the reason. No matter the mental capacity. No matter if the child is “normal” or “disabled”.

My philosophy is, if my “normal brained” girls are NOT allowed to behave in a certain manner (hitting, biting, stealing, cursing), then neither is my “mentally challenged” son.

How is honestly fair for me to excuse the actions of the one, and not of the two? That can and will build up resentment in his sisters against their brother, and against me if I was to excuse everything on the basis of his diagnoses.

Every single day it is indeed a struggle to find THAT balance between “normal childhood” behavior, and “disability-driven” behaviors. Some things though, should be no-brainer behaviors that no matter the mental capacity, should NEVER be tolerated or excused due to said disability.

And like a fellow group member had stated, not everything will work with everyone, nor will everyone believe that corporal punishment should be utilized. I say if used CORRECTLY and in the right situations, it CAN be an effective tool.

But not every offense deserves having a spanking. Just like not every offense deserves a month-long grounding.

I think a lot of my views stem from my own childhood. I WAS a disabled child. And my dad treated me as a normal kid. My mom on the other hand “babied” me. And she did it so much, to such an extent, that it really did tarnish my childhood, and made me resent her later on in life, for YEARS. Even after she died.

There is a time to use the “disability card” (my name for it), and when NOT to. Most times, it was just me being a kid. But to her, I did NO wrong, even when it was clear that I WAS in the wrong. So, I never got in trouble (if I did by her, it was VERY rare) unless my dad was there. And then, I got what he felt I deserved. Yes, that did include a spanking here and there.

The more I recall it all, and the more I think on it, I truly believe I got myself in to trouble, especially around my dad as much as I did, was because I THRIVED on it. I felt like a “normal” little kid.

Enabling vs Disabling

Thanks is going out to a fellow Special Needs mom, Amy, over on FaceBook, who I have become friends with, and her “push” for me to post the following.

We met in a WONDERFUL group for parents like ourselves who are parents to kids that are disabled. And it’s a locally-based group for our region, but we accept people from outside the Virginia state lines, as well.

The group is called Parents For Progress, or P4P for short. Our kids have ALL different types of disabilities and mental capacity. We sometimes DO disagree, but never get cut-throat.

So without further ado…

Just two summers ago, I learned how to swim/float for the first time. I was 33 years old (now 35)! If I had what I needed to have done BY the time I almost turned 6 or 7 years old, then I would have learned to swim much earlier, among other things.

Sometimes, even all of these years later, I can find myself angry at my mom for disabling me even more and literally taking away my childhood. And I refuse to let my son to think/feel about me, let alone his sisters for doing the same to them.

I love my mom, and always will. But ever since I can remember, I vowed and have kept my word to it, to NEVER be like her, where parenting is concerned. Even after she had died. And to this day, I will have a moment of anger and resentment pop in to my head. Especially around the anniversary of my “official removal” of my trache tube (December 1, 1989… not even two months after my mom died).

Heck, the way I have been told in the past, I was THE reason why my parents never had anymore children after me. She was scared another baby “would turn out to have the same problems”… Um, MY problems were *somewhat* because of her (having a 50 LB tumor sitting next to me in-utero).

I was extremely tiny and lightweight at birth. I was born almost a month early with extreme fluid on my lung (which collapsed from the pressure and weight of the fluid) and a esophageal fistula (a break in my esophagus tract to determine between the airway and the stomach routes). I died on the operating table like 2 to 4 times in the 18-hour repair surgery (after a touchy care-flight ride to another hospital when I was LESS than 24 hours old), which forever changed the appearance of my shoulder blade area on the right side (and left me asymmetrical in the breast area).

From the day of my birth, she basically (at first, I understood being that I was so tiny and helpless, and gravely ill with having NO hope for a chance at life, really) became a “helicopter mom”. Later in my elementary school years, she was STILL so overly protective, that not only did she volunteer, but also was a yard duty person at lunchtime, a lunchroom supervisor, but decided to also become an “assistant” for MY classroom or one near me as to “keep an eye on Missy”… In other words, I had NO break from her. She watched me like a hawk. 24/7. If I did go to a friend’s house, most times, she would constantly check on me in one way or another.

Now, maybe some people, especially fellow parents, like myself, of disabled children, can see it from our kid’s perspective as well when it comes to being either too lenient, too harsh or too overprotective (or even NOT protective enough).

I know all too well the fine line EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US walks on a daily basis with our kids. It’s such a difficult balancing act. But they also thrive on being treated as “just another normal kid”. Even when getting in to trouble.