Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentines Day Wanderings

It's 8 pm on Valentine's Day evening and the first time I've had the chance to write for a while.
Aquaman is patiently teaching The Dude to read his Lego Ninjago book
My Valentine is asleep upstairs. Leading up to today, he worked 4 double shifts in a row. Today he had the whole day off. We all went to church together, and out to lunch. Grandma took the two older boys to Awana and they are both spending the night with her.
So JT and I had a couple hours to take a walk together, eat dinner and have whole conversations together (though we were both too tired to be terribly coherent). We alternated giving each other massages and told each other Happy Valentines day, and then I left him in bed because I've been wanting to write for a while. Needing to. Even though I have no idea what to say about anything.
It's been a hard couple of weeks. A lot has happened.

My sister K got the best news of her life one day and there were so many happy tears. Pregnant. And then, just like that, the tears were the sad kind. Life's like that sometimes, I remember now.
My mom just lost her little brother to the same thing I lost my big brother too a long time ago, and as Aquaman was falling asleep that night, he caught the picture of him that was on Facebook and said "who is that man, and why does he look so sad?"

And I didn't have an answer for him, not really. I mean, the Sunday school one that I know about how he forgot to ask Jesus for help. Because sometimes we get so sad we forget to look up.
It was last week, sitting in church, and then later having a conversation with JT about Aquaman that I remembered how cruelly the enemy seeks to devour us all.
God allows it, He must allow all of it. And he shapes it and fashions it and uses the broken places, but He weeps over it too. He cries with us. I know He does.It's why I've only had the heart and courage and energy to open the Psalms lately. It's the only thing I can relate to, and even then in sort of a most distant way.
I haven't had time to grieve it all, to process it all.
Life marches on like a taunting metronome. No time to stop. Loss has not stopped my kids from needing to eat and dream and play and dirty their clothes.
I haven't felt like enough, like there is enough of me, or like I am doing enough of what I should. I couldn't be there to sit beside my sister on the couch for hours and cry for her babies with her.
But I couldn't be fully there for my own babies, who found me sometimes crying in the kitchen while I prepared their food. "God can do anything" The Dude has reminded me over and over again.
"I love you more than candy, Mom."
Which is pretty much the biggest compliment you can get from a 4 year old kid.
This week the dryer timer knob broke which doesn't seem like a big thing, but it took a week to get the part and in the meantime we had to use pliers. I lost the diamond out of my engagement ring. It's gone. The dishwasher broke. A perfect sized glass got jammed into the sink disposal last night and it took me 10 minutes to get it out and for some reason that seemed like the end of the world.
When I get just a few minutes to get something done around the house, I am paralyzed by the million things that need to be done. Thursday I chose to clean the kitchen. An hour later I picked up The Dude from school and made he and Greystoke lunch and the kitchen was completely destroyed again.
We have been so healthy this winter. Greystoke seems to have survived his last cold with only one night of mild croup and no ear infection. The Dude hasn't wheezed at all with his most recent cold. Aquaman hasn't had so much as a sniffle in months. I'm thankful for that. Last year we all had the flu at this time.
Yesterday, the 4th day in a row of JT's doubles, I was starting to get a little shaky with fatigue, but now, after an evening of rest and conversation with my best friend and forever Valentine, life at least feels minimally possible.
JT and I fell in love in Haiti. We barely knew each other then. I didn't even think he noticed me until the plane ride home.
But he bought a card there from someone who made them. It had a heart sewn on it.
He saved it and gave it to me 4 months later for Valentine's Day.
I love him. We're not really gift givers, and we don't have much time for dates, and right now he is working so much, but when he is with me, he sees me and he listens to me, and he loves me, and there is something so amazing about that.
Tomorrow I will be working and he is staying home with the older 2 who have the day off of school for Presidents Day, They are so excited to spend a day with Daddy, and without the interference of their sweet, bossy and busy littlest brother.
Work is really really hard right now. I am there 2 days a week but they just keep piling more and more on me, and I think that is the hardest thing. I can't possibly be enough at home. I can't keep up with all the work, I would love to have just a few 1 on 1 moments with my oldest son but I never get to do that, and then on top of that I face an impossible task at work too.

But it's not all humdrum life is hard stuff either. Because, life is hard, and it's extra hard right now, and I'm just pressing on and pushing through it. I'm not talking much, and I am listening more, and mostly God is quiet, like He often is when He wants us to keep pushing deeper. I am trying to resist getting busier just to fill the silence. Silence is good sometimes. It's important, even when it is scary.
But there is so much fun to be had each day too, and maybe that is part of my sorrow, because I feel guilty about it, when I look around sometimes and see so much pain, and yet also see how insulated I am and have been from it. But guilt doesn't solve anything.
Things are going better with Aquaman still. He still hates school but his complaining limits are working well. He is still having moments of aggression, and has lost his Legos for whole days at a time, I got him a chew necklace since he always has Legos in his mouth and I think that is one of the ways he soothes himself. He loves it, and wears it around the house, but is too embarrassed to bring it to school.
I also got a wiggle seat for him to sit on while he does homework, but he's too embarrassed to bring that to school too.
We've talked a lot about how all he has to do at school is his best, and how he will never please everyone all of the time, and I think he understands it to some degree.
I still think that, though his teacher is a great a teacher, and especially a great beachside teacher (perfect for all the tiger moms), he just isn't a perfect fit for Aquaman.

I read this quote regarding the high emotional needs of the highly intelligent the other day that summed up perfectly how I feel about it: "They need teachers and programs that focus not on the magnificence of their brains, but on the fragility of their hearts. Unless their heart is intact, no learning can happen."
-Jennifer Aldred
That, I think is what I have finally concluded in my dissatisfaction with my dealings with the school system. Maybe I am not even asking for something that they can give.
Last year, Aquaman's teacher was a gentle and kind soul who went to our church. I still hope The Dude will have her next year.
But really....the school system and I have totally different goals for Aquaman's life and it's hard not to let that bother me.
They want him to be successful. I asked him what that meant the other day, and he told me it meant making a lot of money.
I want him to follow Jesus. That's my definition of success.
So I am struggling a little with this. I know that if public school is where he must stay, which given our situation at this point, it is, that God can and will provide a way through it.
I met with the principal, the teacher, the special ed coordinator, school psychologist, guidance counselor, and gifted teacher this week in an intervention meeting. They basically convinced me that Aquaman is "just" gifted. They feel that he is frustrated that he simply can't make his hands keep up with his head (though they did also admit that he appears to have fine motor delays, but also said that he cannot receive services for this without an identified learning disability, even though dysgraphia is a learning disability that involves fine motor delays and yet they do not want to test him,,,,because he is on grade level even though he is also miserable).
I was ok with that for the most part. I understand doing the cheapest intervention first, which will be to start him in the gifted program ASAP. I am not exactly sure how 1 hr a week is going to drastically change his general attitude toward school but I am trying not to be cynical.
They did say that one of their main focuses in this program is social emotional skills, and I know that will be good for it. His first day will be in 2 days....they are visiting an assisted living facility. I love that.

The Dude is so sweet right now. He is energetic and tiring and his pants are always falling down.
He holds my hand every chance he gets. He loves when I sit and eat lunch with him after school. He likes to make forts and he hasn't been tying as many knots lately but I think that's because he has used up every piece of rope and string in the house.
He still loves school and his teacher. He wants so much to please his big brother. He can be shockingly kind to his little brother, and then trip him onto his face the next instant. It must be confusing business to be a little boy.
And Greystoke, oh Greystoke he is changing so much every day. He is obsessed with books. Everything is books. Always piles of them everywhere and he wants to read all day long.
His speech has suddenly exploded. He is saying occasional 4 word sentences now, though mostly still only 2. My favorite most recent ones: "I ride choo choo Mama?" and "I go pop" when talking about the zoo. And today he got stuck on "ready, set, go!" and said it over and over at the store.
He rides the big swings all by himself. Sometimes he falls off and then he just lays there for a while. Then he smiles and gets up and says "go boom!"

So I guess that's all to say that life is a big fat wonderful mess.
When I think about the future sometimes I want to have a panic attack, and when I think about all the pain in the world, sometimes I want to put my head in my shell.
But instead, I am just living today, one day, one hour sometimes, at a time.
I keep my head poked out, and I make myself look at the pain, even when it's hard.
Because the pain is part of life just like the beauty, just like the really funny parts.
I know how it ends.
God wins.

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