Due to time constraints, I'm not feeling very organized about this post, so am going to just jump in. I didn't want to let 2009 come to a close without taking at least a minimal look back, and there is Essie's Too True Tuesday to participate in, and I received an award (!). Oh, and I want to at least mention some of the details of our Christmas. Going in backwards order:
Our Christmas, along with the lead-up and aftermath, has been smooth and enjoyable. Christmas Day was mostly calm. Our big Christmas present was Leg* Mindst*rms, and it is really really cool! We got a dump of snow starting on Christmas Eve, so were able to spend Christmas afternoon sledding like maniacs. B is proving to be quite the daredevil -- we are going to have to keep a serious eye on him for his safety. P made a sledding friend on the hill and played with him appropriately. Younger kid, as is usually the case, but it is always heartening to see him interact appropriately and not have to intervene. I still watch and listen like a hawk though. P and B both helped a ton with all the cooking of the Christmas meals -- brunch and dinner. P can follow a recipe pretty effectively but still needs a lot of supervision with the execution of the various kitchen skills (or else I will have a crazy mess to contend with), whereas B can't yet read the recipes independently but possesses really excellent skills with all the hands-on stuff. Between the two of them it is starting to feel like a lot less work and more like actual help to have them with me in the kitchen. P, B, and I did our first volunteering at our city's major food bank just before Christmas. Both boys loved it and felt good about doing it. I loved that we volunteered alongside people of much different social strata. This means that P and B saw and experienced firsthand a bunch of things that just talking about (without seeing) wouldn't give the same insight of. Things like someone who is visibly poor can be an expert at something and it's worth listening to them. P and I will continue to volunteer there once a month in 2010. (It's too late a night for B to weather midweek, but I'll start taking him when he's older.) Last night we had a bunch of M's extended family over for dinner. We could tell P was getting wound up. But he responded well to 15 minutes of lying on his bed with soft lighting in the room followed by a few prompts from us to leave the group and go do deep breathing. He'd baked cookies -- salted caramel bars -- earlier in the day and was very pleased to serve them at dessert time. I was proud as proud can be.
On to the award. Thanks so much to the amazing Lisa for presenting me with the Happy 101 award. Lisa teaches me so much and inspires me more than she can know.
Here are the Happy 101 rules: List 10 things that make you happy and try to do one of them today. Tag 10 bloggers that brighten your day. For those 10 bloggers who get the award, link back to my blog and create a list of things that make you happy.
Ten things that make me happy? I could go on and on, but I think I mentioned that I'm short on time so I'm just going to spout off the first 10 things that come to my mind, knowing that I'll probably look back on this and think how crazy I was to have left out such-and-such.
- Hearing P and B's laughter ringing through our house.
- Watching P's healing process -- it really is clearly observable now, and we get moments of true thrill and fun when we see him handle a given situation or choice in a healed way.
- Tickling B.
- Waking up ahead of everyone else and enjoying the solitude.
- Working out.
- Cooking, baking, and teaching P and B to love these activities too.
- Drinking wine.
- Playing with our cats.
- Being at the ocean.
I have done several of these already today!
I'm going to be a complete slacker and not pass this award along. Sorry sorry sorry. I just don't have time right now to try to figure out who's gotten this award already, who might want it, and try to to make anyone feel excluded.
Essie had another Too True Tuesday earlier in the week, and I always like to try to participate in those. The topic this time is how we discovered the Santa lie, or how our kids did. I have no recollection of my own revelation (or burst bubble), so I will give an account of P and B's respective discoveries. P was skeptical of the whole Santa thing from the start. His first Christmas with us, at age 5 (and having crossed cultures to one with our version of Santa and all its trappings), he was already struggling with the logic of it all. So I immediately had to come clean about the Santas we saw in stores and all being merely "helper Santas." But P wasn't satisfied with that. He had all sorts of questions about "how does Santa keep his suit from catching on fire" and so on. We attributed everything to flame retardant fabrics and what we dubbed "Santa magic." At age newly 8, P proclaimed that he knew we were Santa. When I asked him how he knew, he said that was the only way it could ever work out that he and B always got some of the exact gifts they had been wanting. We explained that, for people in the know, "Santa magic" is still very real and it takes the form of having fun watching the joy and wonder of those who still believe. These last two years, P wholeheartedly participated in many discussions with B about Santa and how all the magic of Christmas could possibly work. All the while, P and I would wink at each other. I now think these were great bonding moments -- those little genuine snatches that we are so lucky when we get them with our RADicals. So about a month ago, at age newly 8, B started to voice inklings. But he wanted to remain in the wondrous dark for awhile longer. Then one day he asked for the real truth, and when I asked what he thought and he said it was that M and I are Santa, and I asked him was he sure he really wanted to know, he finally said he did. And I think this was our best Christmas, with them both knowing. Logistically, it was way easier being able to be out in the open about gift buying and wrapping and what parts of the house were being used to harbor Christmas secrets. And I think psychologically for P and B it was way healthier for Santa to be relegated to pure basic fantasy.
OK, on to a little tour of our RAD changes during 2009 as I shake my head in disbelief that we are already to 2010. P has come a long way this year. There is still far to go, but I am feeling so much better about his future prospects for happiness and contentment now than I was a year ago. I posted a bit about this in my previous post, so I won't rehash that material here. But some very specific signs of progress (in the order I think of them) include:
- far far fewer rages and really not much threat of a rage that we have to try to head off
- less of the incessant/nonsense chatter -- we still have a ways to go on this front but at least these days I can often mention to P that his chatteriness leads me to believe that something is troubling or worrying him and I can watch him take a deep breath or two and get it somewhat under control
- skills at participating as what we call "a good member of a group" have improved markedly; this makes it less cringe-inducing to witness him in action in a group swim lesson, at a school event, or other such situation
- less defiance of all forms across the board -- again, a ways to go in this area, and there is always concern that he slips back into the really irritating "slight/subtle" defiance too readily
- waaaaaaayyyyyy less stealing; so much less!; we still struggle to trust him entirely in this area, but I think we have to let go of some of our past hypervigilance in this area -- this is an area where transition is hard
- waaaayyyy less lying, and way less clinging to a pointless lie and looking completely inane; this is an area where we can see him actively working, so I know it is still a very difficult area for him where he's still got major impulses to lie but more and more he is fighting those impulses; I will be glad to see those impulses gone (if they ever are), but for this year I gladly settle for his improved impulse control in this area
- eye contact with "normal" size pupils -- continues to improve and improve
- improved/improving capacity to negotiate his point of view when he disagrees with us or doesn't like something we've decided, rather than slipping into "RAD mode"
- improved ability to pull himself out of what we call "moving backwards in RAD" -- feeling himself going down a RAD-type path, or having us point out that it feels like he is, and being increasingly willing and able to change things up;
- taking responsiblity for his choices and actions/being more accountable -- we have seen tremendous strides in the area of admitting fault when he's made a mistake or screwed up in some way, so we are having a lot fewer of those roundabout derailing talks that make you feel like you're losing your mind because the RADish keeps avoiding accountability by twisting the conversation
- improvement at being able to really relax into a situation and let down his guard; this is mostly at home so far -- we increasingly see him appearing to be truly at ease and settled and not displaying any hypervigilance; it is so awesome to see him emerging in this way -- it's the times his true self can really shine; need to see more of this in other arenas, but home is a good start
- significantly improved attention span
- reduced need to make himself the centre of attention innapropriately
I'm losing steam here so I'll stop. Bottom line is that M and I are at a stage where we have to remind ourselves and each other that P is working hard on his healing, that much of the time he is doing that cooperatively with us in a very active and meaningful way, and that we should thank our lucky stars that we are now in the luxurious position of facing the struggle of figuring out how to effectively parent a trasitioning RADical.
B is blossoming too in his own ways. He is a more confident kid than he was a year ago. His verbal skills have improved exponentially this year, along with his attention span and willingness to self-regulate. He makes so many good choices, empathetic choices, generous choices, but also is showing a developing ability to assert himself in ways that protect his self-interest (appropriately).
P's birthday is Jan. 10, and I think since Christmas he's starting to show little signs of being on edge about it. So we are borrowing a page out of some y'all's books and surprising him with his birthday celebration this Saturday. All preparations are made, and now we're just waiting for the big day to arrive. He has no idea! His gift from M and me is a big upgrade kit to his electricity set. It is going to be a big jump in what he can do with his set. I can't wait to give it to him.
Finally, wonderful 2010 wishes to all of you moms who help me so much in so many ways. I wish I could know you all in person, as I'm sure you're even more amazing in real life than you come across in your blogs. Keep up the good and inspiring work.