Typical

But then, he’s just so… So… Normal. On days like today, it seems there are no issues. Assuming constant bickering and arguing with your brother is normal, and I know it is, Big Boy was just your typical 8-year-old today.

He got out of bed, ate breakfast, played, dressed himself, and played until time to leave. He was happy he has already aced his spelling test on the first practice test, so we don’t have to study those again. No conduct marks for the day, even after having Dippin Dots at lunch. He has never been able to consume sugary snacks at school, then have a good day with no marks!

Ornery when I got to Nana’s house to pick them up, because he didn’t get his way. Normal. He got over it, read a book to his Nana, didn’t cause a fuss when she told him it was time to stop. Was mostly happy at home while I was cooking supper, and the arguing stopped when I asked him to dry some dishes. He told me about some bullying that happened at school, and told me how he handled the situation. He didn’t tackle the kid or yell at him or hit him, he tried to walk away, and he went and told the teacher when the kid wouldn’t leave him alone. He didn’t just hide and cry, either. Improvement! I told him it sounded like the kid was having a bad day, and sometimes it’s hard to be nice when something is wrong. I pointed out times it has been hard for him to behave when he has had Big Feelings about bad stuff, in a loving way, to help him understand this kid might have Big Feelings too. Empathy is important for kids to learn. Normal.

It’s terrible, but I feel like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. Just holding my breath for the conduct marks to begin again. He is growing up, he is learning to cope, he is still catching up and doing quite well for now.

I’m also trying not to dwell on it, and instead just enjoy the moment. BB is happy that he is improving. We are relieved to see progress. I know the saying is, “If Mama ain’t happy,” but truth be told, the behavior and mood of the children impacts the family, too.

And so it begins

We have begun the process to work towards either an IEP or 504 for Big Boy. The school will be doing their thing, and we will be doing our own thing.

The school counselor will pull him from computer lab time and work with him on staying on task, impulse control, not pestering friends, etc. This is called RTI, and will last for 12 weeks. Then, the team will meet and decide if he needs to be presented to the 504 or IEP committee. He will need to be tested through the school. They will, of course, focus on the educational side of things – vision, hearing, IQ, adhd.

I strongly suspect we are dealing with more – with one or more difficulties that look like, present as adhd. We will be trying to get BB set up to be tested again through the same clinic that tested him a couple of months after we got the boys. Just a few of the things it could be include sensory issues, asperger, anxiety, hypervigilance, ptsd, being born dependent on Methadone, fasd, witnessing domestic violence, changing caregivers frequently, other foster\adoption trauma, even bipolar disorder. Family counselor said he is too young for bipolar diagnosis, since that is a personality disorder and the personality is not completely developed until much later in life. It will probably take a few months to get him appointments there. Which is good, as neither J nor I have enough paid days off to take care of those appointments this year. I am supposed to call Family Counselor to discuss what all we can do as we wait.

I could say so much more, but I will save opinions for when I’m not under the influence of Percocet. Apparently, my body is aware we have paid the deductible for surgeries and hospital stays. At the end of my second day back at work after my hysterectomy, I marched myself to the doctor for some pretty intense jaw pain. I’m being referred to an oral surgeon, because it appears I have a wisdom tooth, partly in, possibly broken, perhaps impacted, definitely causing an abscess to my cheek. Because I certainly can afford another week off work!

We don’t really do “normal” in this family.

No conduct marks all week!

Big Boy had a perfect week! It was so… Refreshing? Exciting? To see him run to me off the bus each day, so happy that he didn’t get in trouble at school.

“Mama! I been good! Me and my brother have, like, switched! Now I’m good, and he is bad!”

Proper English is a work in progress, but we do live in the deep South. I did make sure to tell him that no, his brother is not “bad,” and HE has not been a “bad boy,” he just had some anxiety and stress and needed extra help.

At a monthly family adoption support group, we were talking about the different things going on with everyone. Do any of our children struggle during weather changes? What about clothing issues?  I was telling the other parents about our school goings-on. They said it sounds like we are dealing with a lot of sensory issues.

And so, I think. Analyze, perhaps overly so. Both boys fuss when they have to wear jeans or dress pants – anything with buttons and rough fabric. If they could live in “soft pants” (athletic shorts, sweats, etc) they would be thrilled. BB’s issue with the school breakfast time being “too talky.” Neither child can keep their hands or toys out of their mouths. Teacher talking about BB spinning and spinning and spinning. Constant need for motion, seeming inability to SIT ON YOUR BUTT, FOR THE LOVE! Gotta touch EVERYTHING and be all up in everybody’s grill, friend, foe, or stranger.

I’ve resisted testing. The poor kid was tested multiple times prior to Kindergarten for lots of things. Anxiety and sensory processing disorder were not among those possible diagnoses. It’s possible he was too young for accurate testing for adhd. I resist a diagnosis of adhd, because I know he CAN focus. He CAN sit still if he is engaged enough, because I watched him do it at the Lego table for the duration of an entire movie. In a booth or chair at a restaurant? Forget it. But think about the noise level at a restaurant.

Should we request testing? So many of the possibilities resemble adhd – trauma, anxiety, sensory processing disorder… I was reviewing a chart I found online that listed several diagnoses and symptoms, showing overlap among them all, and I could check “yes” for a lot of FASD or bipolar symptoms. Either of those break my heart! I don’t want to find out something is seriously “wrong” with my baby, but I also don’t want to short-change him by putting off the inevitable.

Follow-up

J, BB, and I met with BB’s therapist Monday afternoon. The main focus was trying to hash out exactly what is going on at school that results in an 85 in conduct with 4 weeks left in the grading period. Therapist thinks it is an anxiety\stress issue. My guess is trauma effects. Teacher hints at just putting him on a stimulant to take care of his obvious adhd. Therapist and I want to know WHY. WHY is he so nervous at school? WHY does he struggle most in the mornings?

I have been curious about this free breakfast situation – a lunchroom full of chaos. No assigned tables or seats, too much free time, not enough supervision. BB says it is “too talky” in there and makes his insides shake. Monday morning, nobody in this house woke up on time. We actually woke up 15 minutes after we usually leave, so the boys had breakfast in the car, and got to school just barely on time. Both went straight to their classrooms, skipping the lunchroom. BB had the best day of the year! So Therapist said maybe we have figured it out. Coincidentally, Teacher also moved him from sitting on the carpet during morning instruction, into a chair behind the class. She didn’t really want to, because that would make him look “different” from the other kids. Well, he *is* different from the other kids, and he is beginning to realize as much. Hopefully these two changes will help keep him calm in the classroom. When I head back to work, we will have to come up with a solution for the breakfast dilemma, because I have to be at work earlier than the time I can drop him off to go straight to class.

I did meet with Teacher before open house last night, to give her more details about BB’s traumatizing beginning, and show her some of Gear to Love by Bryan Post. She was much more receptive to the idea that BB is still catching up, and she kept the book to read it.

The Little Guy is doing fine. His teacher and I are working on eye contact, he has lost his shyness with her, talks all the time, and is a little immature. He is being evaluated for speech therapy, since he still mispronounced the R sound, and a lot of people have a hard time understanding what he is saying.

Now if I could only figure out how to keep them from arguing over e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g, we would be on a wonderful path. See? We *are* normal in some ways!

I don’t think you understand what you say you understand

“I know you don’t want to put him on anything, because he was a drug baby.”

Oh honey, but there is so much more! This can’t be simply reduced to a drug problem.

Witnessing domestic violence.

Moving between 6-10 times in 4 and a half years, depending on who you ask.

Chaotic foster home, with too many high risk kids for one person to handle.

Signs of possible sexu@l abuse. By an unapproved caregiver.

Tested multiple times for a plethora of diagnoses including autism, ADHD, RAD….

Discussions about therapeutic foster care.

History of alcohol and/or drug abuse throughout the entire birth family – including aunts, uncles, cousins.

Taught to hide from Birth mom and her brothers when they were fighting or she started drinking.

Ability to appropriately use the word “Bitch” under age 5.

This child has come a LONG way in under 4 years. He no longer has total meltdowns – ever – instead of multiple times per day. He can help me grocery shop, instead of needing another adult on hand to keep both hands on him, so he won’t climb out of the buggy. He can handle being told no, without melting down or destroying property. Just tonight, I told him no, we had enough cereal at home, and he immediately skipped back over to me and we continued shopping.

Yes, he CAN read much better than 1.7 (1st grade, seventh month), and do math better than 1.8. Stupid testing is not his strong point. Yes, I WANT him to do his best. Yes, I WANT him to be able to stay on task better. No, it is NOT *his* fault, but I would appreciate you not insinuate it IS *mine*. I did not take drugs when I was pregnant. I did not send him back to live with people who harmed him. I did not let him stay with unapproved people who did God knows what. I keep the chaos in the house as minimal as it gets with 2 little boys around. I’m not a perfect Mama, but it seems like I am the best Mama he has ever had, if I may say so. I did not *cause* all of the trauma and inattention and hyperactivity and abandonment issues, but Daddy and I are the ones God has chosen to help heal all of the above.

“Did his doctor tell you stimulants might make him violent?” Well no, because I haven’t spoken with his doctor about this issue. “You know you can’t believe everything you read on the internet.” Noooooo, really?!?!  And so now, I must search. Because I may not have a degree in education, but I DO know my child, and I know a hell of a lot more about adoption than you, obviously.  So now it’s time to dig up some of those articles about trauma vs adhd and how stimulants CAN cause violence in children such as mine.

Not as tough as I thought…

My surgery went well, and I was able to come home the next day. The nurses and techs all said I did great. They had never seen someone transition back to a regular diet so quickly. I woke up asking for a Dr Pepper, but standard procedure was clear liquids. I was asleep when the doctor came in, but my husband was quick to ask the doctor if I could have one, and he put in an order for me to eat or drink whatever I wanted. One nurse told me most women who have the same surgery do not even attempt to get out of bed until the catheter was removed, but I was SO uncomfortable laying in that bed! I spent as much time as I could while I was awake (not often, thanks Dilaudid!) walking up and down the halls.

Being home has been a different story! I only had a minor elbow surgery to compare to, so I was thinking I would bounce right back in a few days. I have 4 incisions and 14 staples in my belly; this was considered major abdominal surgery, and I’m slower to recover than I’d hoped! I’ve been out of the house twice – Saturday to sit at a birthday party for a couple hours, and today for a teacher conference and trip to Wal Mart. Sunday was spent sleeping and recovering from the party. Seriously? It was like 2 hours of mostly sitting in a recliner! Today, I drove an electric wheel chair, but I was definitely ready to come home before we were finished. I don’t plan on going out again until my staple removal on Thursday. Hopefully, after that, I will begin to feel much better!

******I reserve the right to delete or edit this post later, when I’m *not* under the influence of narcotics! I’m trying to get by with just Motrin, but I’m not quite there yet. I thought I was tougher than this!

No cancer, but surgery next week!

Whew. It was a huge relief to get that call. My biopsy came back normal! However, I will be having a hysterectomy next Thursday. Half of everyone keeps apologizing, and I tell them there’s *nothing* to be sorry for! TMI but I have been bleeding since July 3…. JULY THIRD, Y’ALL!!!!!! Even on birth control. It’s time to be DONE with this for good. Probably will not update again until after surgery.

Do I dare say school is going great for both of my boys? A week and a half into school, my oldest has a 99 in conduct. Pretty sure that’s a record high score, but I know it’s early and next week will probably throw us for a loop. I’ll take it for now, though!