Thursday, February 25, 2016

Tomorrow or Never

There's never enough time in the day, and that is why I am sitting here writing, mid-morning, in the middle of the week.
Greystoke is napping and there is one hour until I pick up The Dude from school. Usually this is when I put away laundry, the laundry that is currently overflowing out of the pack n play in the closet which is our makeshift laundry room. This is usually when I put something in the slow cooker, and vacuum the floor.
But today, I decided to be different.
Actually, last Thursday was the first time I decided to be different. Wednesday I kept feeling like God told me I needed to take some time when things were quiet and sit and read my Bible and ignore the mess around me. But for some reason, I just kept hopping up to do all the stuff around me that pressed me to get done.
That night, I was lying in bed, minding my own business and trying to fall asleep when I suddenly felt like I couldn't breathe. My heart was pounding out of my chest and I had a feeling of impending doom.
It totally annoyed me. Panic attacks are what happen to people who are anxious and worried all the time. I'm not those people. Yet here I was. I ended up having to take a Benadryl to fall asleep that night, and I have since also traced my difficulty falling asleep to reading on a backlit tablet in bed too, so I stopped doing that.
And Thursday morning I ignored the crumbs all over my floor and read my Bible during Greystoke's nap.

“God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."
-1 Peter 5:4-7

We've had a lot going on lately. It's been easier to wrap myself up in the busyness that feels like it will fall apart if I pause instead of taking the time to give my grief to God.
Sometimes it feels like the hand of God is holding us down, not letting us up. But what it is really doing is protecting us. When we relax under His hand, when we let go of our anxiety, there is so much comfort under the warmth we find there.
It is pride that makes us run around so constantly, as if the world will fall apart around us if we stop. The laundry was still there when I finished reading. The crumbs were still on the floor. But honestly, they'd be there again in 10 minutes even if it was spotless at school pickup time.
On Saturday I talked to my sister K. During our conversation, she said something that I would have thought would have made me sad, but instead it filled me with admiration and conviction and hope: "I can be happy without kids." she said. She didn't say it through tears, she didn't say it through doubt, though I am sure occasionally the doubt consumes her. She's not giving up yet. She's going to keep praying and trying a little while longer, but she can be happy. It's a truth we all know. We can be happy without x,y,z. We can learn to be content in any and all circumstances because we can do all things through the strength of Christ. But still sometimes you just need to say it and hear it to realize the truth of it. Thanks, K.
School and homework and life outside of school is going better for Aquaman, but not without a fight and more anxiety.
Things kind of came to a head the night Aquaman announced, after crying off and on for several hours over being forced to write a thank you card over and over and having the teacher tell him that 1) he wasn't trying, and 2) his writing should look like that of the perfect little girl's beside him, that "The biggest thing I have learned in the first grade is that there's no use doing my best."
I sent what I thought was a nice note to the teacher because I thought he would want to know how discouraged Aquaman was, and also because I don't think that forcing a 7 year old who has fine motor and attention and anxiety problems to do something over and over again was helpful. But the teacher responded in, what I can only assume was an emotional moment to basically tell me that he was right and I was wrong.

Luckily, my friend S came to the rescue again by writing a response to him for me that respectfully requested some specific interventions to help Aquaman not just do his best, but hopefully enjoy learning again. Things like not expecting him to copy off the board, but giving a copy to him on his desk, giving him lines to write on, sometimes letting him write without picking on his handwriting (he told Aquaman the other day that the words he wrote in his journal were just made up because he didn't write in d'nealian...and mind you they were printed in a way you could clearly read them and were even spelled properly), and grading his 1st try not making him write things over and over.
I never got a response, but Aquaman says that when he turns in his papers now, the teacher doesn't even look at it, just points to the basket.
Aquaman is just so sensitive, and so astute, and sometimes that can hurt you when you're 7.

 He knows the truth. We all know when people in charge of us aren't doing things the right way. A lot of Aquaman's intelligence comes out as emotional intelligence, despite his trouble actually being able to manage his emotions. He has high ideals about how people should respond to each other. He values honesty highest of all. So social nuances, or ways in which adults try to trick children are very painful for him. He wants respect. Everyone needs respect.
And so we try to make things better, because high ideals are good. But we also have to recognize when some things just are, and he is starting to get there now that we are having an open dialogue about it. Sometimes people are just different from us. Sometimes they don't understand us, and we don't understand them. Sometimes people in charge of us ask impossible things of us.

We have to try our best, but we have to let the rest go. It is ok to recognize when someone in authority over us is not doing what's best for us. It's ok  to speak up for ourselves and ask for what we need in a respectful way. And then pray for God's strength to get through it.
I don't think it's any coincidence that Aquaman is having this hard year 1) after he accepted Christ last year. Satan doesn't like kids who love Jesus. They are dangerous. And 2) after we found Coastline Community Church. God knew Aquaman needed it.
Aquaman loves pastor B. He loves going to church. He goes to sleep listening to the children's sermon podcasts. He is not getting what he needs at school, and sometimes it kills me inside that he is not getting the spiritual guidance and is probably really getting the opposite of that at school 6.5 hours a day. But he has a mentor at church. Suffering and difficulty make us thirsty. And he is thirsty for God. He is strengthening his fledgling spiritual muscles stepping every day into situations that make him uncomfortable. And I have to believe, in the long run, we will see beauty come from it.
Almost every day when we pray together before school, when we say Amen, he wipes tears from his eyes. As much as it breaks my heart, I am happy to see those vulnerable and broken tears instead of the anger.
I asked him things have gotten better since we started this journey to help him, and he said "yes!" When I asked what it was, he said "Vista!" The gifted program. He missed 3 boring worksheets in class the first day that he went, and didn't even have to make them up. And: "the kids in Vista don't get mad at me all the time like the kids in my class do."
Tuesday night, I prayed before dinner and thanked God for puddles and Vista and little things that make us smile, and when I said Amen, he leaped out of his chair and gave me a spontaneous hug with a huge smile on his face.
That made some of this fighting worth it.
Aquaman probably won't be a doctor. We've been reading Judy Moody Dr is in the House this week, and taking the time to look up some of the medical terms she brings up, and look at pictures of things. Aquaman has been totally disgusted. The Dude also asked one night how big his heart was, and we looked that up and talked about it, and saw a picture of a heart and Aquaman almost lost his mind. When I told him I guessed he didn't want to be a Dr., he said "Why would I? Everyone comes to you with their disgusting problems and the only reason they are coming to you is that their problems are so disgusting that they can't fix them themselves!"
Such a compassionate child....
But last night he told me...I don't want to see a cut open human body. But a cut open computer...that's my thing!
I giggled when I saw this because it totally looks like the stereotypical engineer's napkin planning. Rudimentary and to the point. This is Aquaman's "map to the Lego store."
The Dude has been thinking a lot too. He'll be 5 in one week, and he is just suddenly recognizing words out in the world. He is very occasionally reading words on books. His writing his even sloppier than Aquaman's was at this age, but mostly because he is so busy looking around at all the things that he doesn't want to miss.
He is a fierce defender of his brother, and I most have to watch out for his being aggressive when he is defending his older brother. He will fly off the handle and punch anyone who gets his brother upset, and considering that is not hard to do, social occasions can be stressful.
He is listening to everything we say, taking it all in, wondering about it.
The night of the dreaded thank you card fiasco, he lay there holding my hand in his bed and said "Mom? Why does Aquaman's teacher want his writing to be as good as the girl in his class? Doesn't he know that Aquaman can jump higher than that girl?"
Thank you.
This is why we don't compare kids to each other. Some write better. Some jump higher. We were all made different. I love that The Dude sees this already.
Right now he is really into animals attacking each other. I have really been trying hard to listen and answer all of Aquaman's and The Dude's many many questions, because I feel like Aquaman is not learning the things he is really interested in at school, so maybe he can learn them at home.
Every day the Dude asks me: "who would win? A hippopotamus or a crocodile?" etc etc etc etc.
I know all the stats now. Ask me sometime.
For his birthday he is getting a skateboard from mom and dad, a tablet from one set of grandparents, and a kid sized guitar from the other. These are all things he is passionately interested in. He is eclectic, and charming, and he makes friends wherever he goes. 5 is going to look good on him, I can tell.

Greystoke is growing and changing every day. He will be 22 months old next week. He is regularly speaking in sentences now, though most of the time he is still pretty quiet. Yesterday after the store he was in the car and said "I want juice box, Mama!" and I had to do a double take because he hadn't said 2 words the whole time we were at the store. He's just that way.
When he leaves the nursery at church, the workers always call out: "I love you!" because he is just so lovey with his white blond still pretty bald head and his ears that stick out just a little and his sleepy looking eyes, and his body that moves at the same time as his mind in this fluid fashion that I have not seen before in one of my children. 
Yesterday I took off his diaper and he ran outside and peed in the bushes. 
He's becoming just one of the boys, but whenever I'm holding him at night as he falls asleep and nursing him and I tell him I love him, he lets go to say "Mama's baby!" with a big smile on his face.
Mostly he's Daddy's boy. Yesterday, in the car, I asked him who his best friend was and he said without a moment of thinking: "Daddy!" I have to pry his fingers off Daddy's shirt when he leaves for work. 

And now it's night-time. Greystoke woke up early from his nap and then I picked up The Dude from preschool and we went to Sears to get a garage door remote, and the library to get more Captain Underpants books for Aquaman and some real books for me to read at night so I can sleep again. When I told Greystoke he could pick out one book to take home he frantically ran to the shelves and stacked 5 on top of each other and then stumbled to the check out desk behind me. He loves books. The Dude didn't want a book, he always wants a DVD. And he came to the check out counter and asked very sweetly if he could have just one more and I let him, and the lady beside me said my children were so respectful and my jaw almost hit the floor, because my children are crazy and usually I am just trying to keep them from tearing the whole library apart.

Then we picked up Aquaman, and on the way home from school he punched The Dude for mentioning writing, and lost his Legos for the day, and was so upset that when we stopped to see Daddy at work for a few minutes he wouldn't get out of the car to play on the playground. When we got home I tried to program the remote but Greystoke and The Dude kept fighting and then The Dude got into the dirt, and then I had to put laundry away, and empty the dishwasher that is finally fixed and make dinner, and quiz spelling words, and do math flash cards, and Aquaman read captain underpants to all of us on the kitchen floor while the little two got smoothies everywhere and I tried to make dinner.

But we got our time together, reading and talking before bed, and then Aquaman fell asleep listening to Pastor B, and I finally got the new remote figured out, and here I am with my peppermint tea.
JT is at the Crowne again, and will be there tomorrow night too. Both jobs are crazy right now, and he is so tired, and I wish I could help, but at least there's dinner in the slow cooker, and the house is about as clean as it gets, and he's got a remote for the garage now.

As always, it takes a lot of time to write, but as always, I am glad I took the time and did. Everything that needed to got done, and the other stuff will get done tomorrow....or never.
And I can be happy with that.

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