Monday, November 29, 2010

Tiring Teachable Moments

I love teaching my kids. I wouldn't homeschool them if I didn't. There are times when they really need to learn something and the process of teaching them is so exhausting I really question if it's worth my sanity to do it. Case in point, my oldest learning to load a dishwasher. Now you have to remember my oldest is 16 y.o. and has global developmental delays and a serious memory problem. So the following is not what we go through just a few times until he learns something. The same events have been happening for a very long time (a year or more). He is finally showing some improvements and slowly getting it (HURRAY), but the process is mentally and emotionally exhausting. This is how it goes:

I sit at the kitchen table working on lessons, planning meals, doing grocery lists, etc. while he works at the dishes.

Me: Son, open the dishwasher.  .......(pause)....... Quit playing with the cup and open the dishwasher. What are you looking for?  .......(pause)....... Open the dishwasher.

Son opens the dishwasher and then begins to play with a pair of tongs.  CLACK CLACK CLACK

Me: Son, stop playing with the tongs.  Put them down. (CLACK CLACK CLACK) Put the tongs down on the counter. (CLACK CLACK CLACK) I have asked you to put the tongs down now. Put them down.

Son finally puts the tongs down and then proceeds to pick up a different pair and CLACK CLACK CLACK.  I redirect the same for that pair of tongs and after basically the same exchange he puts them down.

Me: Put the cups in the top rack. Stop rearranging the cups that are in there. Don't even touch them. Stop. Get a cup from the sink and put it in the rack. Don't move another one just put it in. Good job. That's what you need to keep doing now.

Son starts talking about something not pertaining to the job and then stops doing the job as I'm telling him I won't discuss anything with him until the job is done (big eye rolls). I have to talk to another child only to find Son no longer at the sink and sitting on his bedroom floor. After repeated queues to get up and come finish the job he finally gets back there and finishes loading the cups. This is where the improvement is! A year ago I would have had to go back through how to load the cups, redirecting him back to the cups, etc. and now he is able to go back to it and finish that portion of the job. Then he has to start on the plates, but since his mind is stuck on the cups this is what happens.

Me: Son stop rearranging the plates. Stop. What is on the plate you are staring at?  .......(pause)....... Don't touch the plates that are already in the dishwasher. Stop. Get a plate from the sink. Put it in the dishwasher. Now you got it! Get another one. Keep going because now you are doing it. Good job.

This too is an improvement over a year ago. At this point a year ago I would have had to continually redirect him back to the sink to get yet another dish to put it into the dishwasher. He would have been so fixated on rearranging the dishes in the dishwasher he would not remember to get another dish out of the sink. He will also keep working independently with less queues and then ask to have me check what he has done which is a huge improvement.

Me: What are you doing? (his hand is down the drain) Remember you are supposed to answer when someone talks to you. Why is your hand down the drain? .......(pause)....... What are you doing?  .......(pause)....... Answer please.

Son: I'm getting something down the drain.

At this point his hand has been down the drain for almost 5 minutes and he finally pulls his hand out but there is nothing in his hand. I then redirect him to the silverware and after another 10 minutes of redirection and almost 5 more to get the soap in, he is finally done. I give him a high five for completing the job and tell him I'm proud of him for completing the job without getting mad.

It's such hard work for him and I hate to see him struggle like this, but if I never push him or make him do things that are hard he will never accomplish anything. It is so exhausting to keep doing this day after day. I know eventually a switch will flip in his brain and all of a sudden he will get it and on that day we will both be doing a happy dance. I'm not saying he won't forget a good portion of it the next day because I'm sure he will. It will just come back quicker each time until he finally remembers it easily whenver he's asked to do the chore. In the meantime, I will keep up my patient reminders and when he finally finishes the job I will take a few minutes to rekindle my spirit so that we can tackle his next endeavor.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Finding Peace Amidst Chaos

For over a week now I've been trying to write something about finding peace during this time of year and holding on to it throughout the year.  Everything I have written doesn't have the essence of what I'm really trying to get across.

For me, peace is a matter of finding the beauty in everyone, everything and every situation - finding the silver lining I guess.  It's more than just seeing the good, but a matter of internalizing that beauty into an unbelievable feeling of awe and wonderment of how we can be so blessed to experience such a wonderful thing.  Why limit this feeling to only those big things in life?  Why not find awe and wonderment in the joyful noise of children playing, someone letting you go ahead of them in line at the grocery store, or there simply being a pretty day.

When we don't take the time to find the beauty in things, it's hard to keep sight of what's important.  There are so many moments throughout the day we can be part of this - joining in a child's joyful noise just to see their happiness and what is more important, the fact dinner is 10 minutes later and maybe a little overcooked or that time for shared joy and bonding with your child.  What about letting someone go in front of you at the store just to see them smile.  Then maybe you are a few minutes later getting out to your car, but you made someone else happy.

I started coming to these realizations years ago.  We went through 3 years of having three children in the ICU four times, 2 were not supposed to make it and one was supposed to be in a vegetative state the rest of his life.  Then we lived with our one son being diagnosed with a terminal condition for two years before new research pointed to a different diagnosis.  Those events taught me that no matter how bad things seemed, there was always something good.  Most of all, they taught me that peace has a an equal partner and that is acceptance.  If we accept what is negative in our lives instead of fighting all that is bad, we save our energies to see what is good.  With the clearer realization of what is negative we are able to think more clearly in order to deal with it.

My favorite quote is Peace ~ It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.  Please carry peace with you throughout the year and find joy and beauty every step of your life.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Myomunchie Details

I love having this myomunchie.  We use it daily.  We started with putting it in his mouth and making a big deal over it.  How fun it was, show the dog, show your toys, making growling noises, etc.  It says on the web site to work up to 20 minutes twice a day and I've found that is more than likely not going to happen for Cameron.  He just is too impulsive and has very little patience for things that take too long.  Not to mention 20 minutes to a 4 y.o. is a LONG time.

Knowing I couldn't follow the protocol recommended, I began keeping the Myomunchie with me all the time.  Whenever I heard him begin to grind, in it would go for as long as I could get him to keep it in and as many times as he would allow.  There were times it was going in and out of his mouth for close to 10 minutes, each time keeping it in his mouth anywhere from 5 to 20 seconds.  At the same time we started telling him his grinding was biting and reminded him that biting hurts.  Not that he would hurt anyone else by grinding his teeth but eventually it is going to hurt his own mouth which we want to prevent.  Within the first 3 days I noticed I was having to put in the myomunchie less and less.  So that's when every time I heard him grind I would say, "Cameron you are biting.  Remember owies."  Please know I was NOT disciplining him in anyway.  There were no owies involved by us, it was just a reminder so as he gets older he will understand that grinding teeth can create owies in his own mouth.  Anyway, he quickly learned this so whenever I would mention he was biting, he would ask, "Owies?"  Which I could then tell him yes and believe it or not most of the time he stopped grinding at least for a little while.  If he didn't, in went the myomunchie.

We are still using it daily but only a few times a day.  Usually a simple reminder of biting is all it takes to get him to stop.  There are times now he asks to have it too.  He chews on it for awhile and then tries to put it in one of his sisters' doll's mouth, then back into his, then back to the doll's.