On Parenting Milestones…

The one where your kid finally leaves the house.

Parenting sucks a lot of the time. They (you know, “they”) don’t tell you that.

I feel like I have totally fucked up one of the most important things I was charged to do – raising my son.

Long-ass story and not enough blog.

Anyhoodle.

Before I fell pregnant at sixteen I had no plans whatsoever to have children of my own. I wasn’t the one who baby sat for pocket money, or helped out the younger classes at Sunday school and I have a terrible temper. So much so that I was afraid I might literally hurt a child in a fit of blind rage.

And then I had my baby boy

The first few months with my baby were rough. I had the full support of my friends and family and my church, but I spent so much time waiting for that beautiful, tear jerking, soft-focus, golden, glowy moment that you see on TV and in movies – the one when the new mom and the tiny, half asleep, mewling baby magically join their souls together forever and ever and are bonded for life.
That didn’t happen for me. I have come to learn that it NOT happening is normal and common. I love him, fiercely. And I will go mama bear on your ass if you fuck with my boy. But for years I was afraid I hadn’t “bonded” with him enough or correctly.

As a young mom I also had ass-vice and opinions from all and sundry on how I SHOULD have been doing it. I had teachers looking over my shoulder for my boy’s parents when I walked into a classroom on parents’ evening or arrived to register him for a class.
And having a special needs son with severe ADHD Combined Type didn’t make my critics go any easier on me…

I’ll bet those critics are now nodding their heads sagely and smirking at how right they were.

Mother fuckers. Thanks for nothing.

My knucklehead and I have hit a really rough patch and he’s using it to assert his independence whilst at the same time trying to manipulate me the way only he has ever known how to do.
And I’m trying hard not to shake him and scream at him that he’s not ready for fucks’ sake!
He won’t listen to sense or reason.

He’s moving out.

He’s moving out because I finally told him to fit in or fuck off and meant it, and he’s moving out because its something he’s wanted to do for a long time.

I know where he’s going but I am terrified of not knowing where he is.
I am terrified of not seeing him every day but I long for the peace this will bring me.
I am terrified of him burning his fingers but I want him to learn a lesson or three.
I am terrified he’ll never come back.
I want my baby boy back. I want stories snuggled on the couch. I want “I love you mommy” with that little sweet smile.
And I want him to be a grown up and do well for himself and by himself.

Where Did South Africa Go Wrong…!?

Have you ever heard the phrase, “charity begins at home”?
Well bunnies, so does morality.
In the last few weeks I have heard and read so many questions asked about why our country has the crime statistics it has. It comes down to what we teach our children. And in this blog post I am going to use the collective “we” regardless of the way I raised my own son.

We ignore any and all traffic laws- with our children in the car and without- and complain about the drivers around us who do exactly the same. And when we teach our children how to drive, we try to hammer home how important it is to follow the rules we’ve been ignoring so that they can be safe.
But children do as you do, not as you say.

We allow our children to drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes when they are under age because “I’d rather have him do it when he’s with me than sneak off to do it elsewhere” or “its okay if she’s with me because I can keep an eye on her“, and then we expect them not to do exactly that, when they’re out with their friends.
But children do as you do, not as you say.

We buy pirated DVDs at the traffic light because they’re cheap, and tell our children that they mustn’t steal because its against the law.
We disrespect our police force and people in authority, spouting about how respect should be earned and how they’re so corrupt, and then we expect our children to respect their teachers.
We don’t pay our TV licenses or traffic fines, and we tell our children that there’s a difference between wrong and right.
But children do as you do, not as you say.

Our police officers drive around without their seat belts, they don’t use their indicators and they use their cellphones while they’re driving. Our politicians break so many rules that even they lose count.

And children do as you do, not as you say.

Children With AD/HD And Friendship

I was reading Friendship Friday: When your Child struggles with friendship on Unwritten and she asked several questions at the end of the blog post:

  • Do your kids struggle with friendships? If so, how do you help them?
  • Do you assist them with nurturing their friendships?
  • How do you suggest I navigate the friendship issue with Child1?
  • Do you think that our kids learn  HOW to be good at friendship based on how WE are as friends?

My comment was long enough for a blog post so I thought I’d post it as such right here!

Children with AD/HD are- sadly- notoriously bad at maintaining friendships. They get home on a Friday and get so involved in self-indulgent weekend activities like PS2 or Xbox, they forget all about their friends (or girlfriends) who then assume they don’t care enough to make contact. On Monday the friends don’t want anything to do with them and the child with AD/HD has no idea why!
Many continue with this battle into adulthood- bosses, friends, girlfriends…
For one thing they do not read body language very well and don’t understand sarcasm or jokes. They take things very personally and over-react. Friends and family members will battle to understand this.
On another level, their immaturity annoys children their own age so they often gravitate to older kids who think they’re cute, or younger kids ‘coz they’re on the same “wave length”.
Because they like to be the centre of attention; “the boss of the game”; they battle to wait their turn; and more often than not are sore losers, other children are quickly put off playing games with them.
My recommendation, when asked, is to find a mom you can talk to (or make contact with someone you already know, obviously :) ) who has a child your own child might like, tell the mom of the other child about your child’s diagnosis and then arrange supervised, one-on-one play dates at your house.
This way you can keep an ear and an eye on the interactions without hovering too much, and you can use the play dates as learning opportunities for your child. How to wait your turn during board games, how to share, how to talk and laugh in company.
You can develop signals you can practice to use as social cues. Mine and my son’s were related to volume and channel controls on the TV, so I didn’t have to embarrass him. If he got too loud or obnoxious I asked him to turn the volume down a little. If he went off on a tangent I’d remind him that we had changed the channel and were now playing a different game or doing something else. In fact, we still use those little cues when we’re in company.
If the play date goes well, fantastic! Wash, rinse, repeat! If it doesn’t, you call the other child’s mom to fetch the friend and you try again another day.

I Want My Baby Boy Back!!!

I swear I break new parenting ground every week, and most of the time I feel like I’m floundering!

It wasn’t easy raising my knucklehead on my own, we had ample drama- as does any parent.

Sometimes my little boy made me wish he was older so he could bath-dress-feed-clean up after himself. Sometimes my little boy threw tantrums. My little boy often hugged me for no reason. Sometimes my little boy could be clingy and got into trouble at school. My little boy often drew pictures just for me. Sometimes my little boy made me wish I had more time for myself. Sometimes my little boy fought with his cousins and broke things. Sometimes my little boy picked flowers and wrote love letters for me with dreadful spelling and no punctuation. Sometimes my little boy got on my nerves and didn’t always want to eat his vegetables. My little boy always loved bedtime stories. Sometimes my little boy cried when he couldn’t have his own way and he didn’t always want to go to school. My little boy always loved his mommy.

When he was a little boy, I knew where he was pretty much all the time. I organised play dates and replied to invitations. I  drove him around and I fetched him. I knew when he would be home. If I wasn’t driving him to wherever he was going or collecting him from somewhere, I knew who would be. I knew exactly who his friends were, and I had their parents’ phone numbers.

Now my little boy is a grown up.

I don’t know most of his friends and I have very few contact details. Often times he arrives home from work, showers and leaves again. Whole weekends go by that I don’t know where he is or who is driving or is he walking and is he being careful. Does he know who is driving him around? Are these people drunk or stoned? He usually tells me where he is on his way to- but where he goes from there I don’t always know. He knows he can call me to fetch him if his ride is too drunk for him to be safe, and he has done so once or twice. But he is a grown up. Telling me where he is going and when he will be home is mostly a courtesy because he lives in my house. If he lived on his own I would never know where he was or who he was with!

Tonight when he set out, every fibre of my being wanted to beg him to stay home where he was safe and where I could keep him safe. When he is out, I have to force myself not to phone him and ask where he is and is he safe and how is he getting home.

Would I worry less if he was driving himself around? If he had his own car? Probably not.

How am I going to cope when he moves out of my house one day?

Memories…

I was reading acidicice’s post today about babyice’s first proper haircut and I was instantly transported back in time about 17 years!

The knucklehead’s first professional haircut! I forget the date, I can’t even remember the time of year, and there are no photos since this was pre-cellphone and 35mm film was too expensive to use willy-nilly…

Anyhoodle. I phoned the salon from work the day before to make the appointment. I felt it was a ridiculous expenditure for a three year old considering I didn’t even take myself to salons, but I had the money and I wanted to do it.

This was a regular salon, it didn’t specialise in kids or anything and it was a far cry from the clued up kiddies’ salons you can go to nowadays! When we arrived for the knucklehead’s appointment and they called a hairstylist to tell her she’d be cutting his hair I could see by her face this was the last thing she was in the mood for! But she was a pro and she would handle this- her determination was obvious!

We went through to her station and the knucklehead was put onto a raised cushion in the chair and draped with a colourful sheet that fastened around his neck. The stylist spritzed his hair to dampen it and tried making small talk with the two of us as I anticipated having to help her deal with a squirming screaming Damien, and to both our surprise he fell asleep in the chair! It wasn’t 5 minutes and he was out like a light! I had to hold his head up for the hairdresser to finish her job!

It didn’t take long, and when I went to pay I actually got a discount because it was so easy!

I didn’t take him back to a salon or a barber again until he was in his teens, ‘coz I started cutting his hair myself. I think I would have taken him regularly had I had the money and had I known he’d be that good every time!