Sunday, October 27, 2013

Summer’s Last Coronation

The nearly melodic ringing,
        of wooden chimes,
chimes worn and tattered,
by past Winter’s grinds.

By the fire I linger,
buttoning coat and collar
enjoying the moment
watching ashes, spark and shower.

Observing the coronation,
of a nearby tree,
upturned leaves shimmer,
while Summer bends knee.

The tree is anointed,
a rising crown of white,
at the sun’s recession,
shines Summer’s last light.

The walnut grenades thunder
off of; roof , chair and ground,
burrowing divots into earth,
by squirrels to be found.

This night will not be quiet.
The chimes will not hang still,
for it is a breezy wind blowing,
heralding a noisy chill.

A wind that warns with its ringing,
  “Leaves, let go and fall,
your Summer’s reign is o’er,
it is time for Winter's Ball.”

“Yield to the equinox,
look for warmth from within.
Seal all doors and windows,
this cold…, may never end.”

The chimes are just a clanking bother now.
Dead embers lay black.
A turn up of my collar and rising
        It is time and season to go back.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Starting School with Serenity!

Back to Class!

The books are bought and the bags are loaded.  Labor day looms, while corn tassels still bloom and yet school has already begun.  I wonder who is ready?  The school doesn't seem quite ready. I spoke with a counselor the other day and 400 some new students were still trying to get a schedule.  The counselor I spoke with seemed a bit frazzled.   Well, I'm sure other parents are frazzled as well.

There is plenty of reason to worry about lots of things.  How will your child do this year?  Will he or she get the right teachers, the right classes or the right medication?  Will they find the way to the right classrooms and will they get along with their peers?  Parents can make themselves crazy thinking of all the things that will go wrong.  It is important to remember that old maxim, "you can only control what you do!"  So do what you can, review the rules with your kids, make sure they get to bed on time, check on homework each night and if anything comes up try and talk with your child and the teacher without getting into blaming and shaming.

The school will be sending things home for you to sign.  Try not to take the things they send home personally.  Some of them will appear to treat parents like they are idiots. You probably already know that your kids are responsible for their own homework but the school will remind you of that.  You probably know that they are responsible to get their homework in on time but they will tell you that anyway.  They have to do this to make sure that later if there is a question they can say, "we informed you of this at the beginning of the year."

There is a lesson here.  Start off the year with a clarity of expectations.  Remind your kids of the things they already know.  Don't take anything for granted. Later when your child turns in homework late you can take the phone away and not be arguing with them about whether they knew the rules or not.  It is always better to start of strict and ease up on the rules and expectations than it is to try to tighten them up later.

Control what is yours to control and seek serenity in accepting the things you cannot control.

Have a great school year!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Weeding out the problems

Growing a garden provides 'plenty' for your home.  If you grow a garden you can occasionally find it overrun with weeds.  This usually happens if the mosquitoes are bad, you've been on vacation, or it has been exceptionally humid.  This year the weather has been pleasant and I have managed to keep up nicely.

Kid's on the other can get out of control for any number of reasons. Maybe you've been distracted by work or just tuning out while they play too many video games.  Sometimes its because of relationship discord and splitting with your partner.  Sometimes its negative peer influence.  That can creep into your home like cockleburrs into your garden.  Once its infested it is tough to root out. Whatever the reason your kids are acting up they can get to that point where the rules aren't working anymore.  Like your garden it can be overwhelming trying to get back to parenting again.

When I am reclaiming my garden. I can say "I'm gonna go clean that garden top to bottom," the reality is that energy doesn't last long.  Usually, I do better if I pick a section and just work a little bit. Maybe the buttonweed needs to get cleaned out of the beans. Once, I am started it usually goes fairly well and I do a little bit more than I planned.  The main thing is that I have gotten started. The hard part of weeding is pulling the weeds and making sure you don't pull the plant with it.  If you try to work to fast or grab too many weeds at once you end up damaging your plants.

It's the same with kids.  Pick a behavior and focus on that.  Try to eliminate all the negative behaviors at once and you will end up making the kid feel like you just want to get rid of them.

Like weeding you still want to nourish the plant and cherish the produce.
I'll let you finish the metaphor.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

If you are worried about Summer Camp!

Time for Summer Camp.

You may have spent March, April and May trying to figure out what your kids will do this summer.  By now they may be signed up for a plethora of camps.  Band camp, scout camp, church camp are just a few camps that parents send their kids to for the summer. You can spend a lot of time watching the weather channel trying to figure out what is the best chance to send him or her for camp.  Will the pollen count be too high or will it rain non stop?  Who is the best counselor to put them in with? How many can's of bug spray will they need.? The list of worries goes on and on.

Congratulations! If  you found yourself worrying about all these things and more, then you are probably a pretty good parent.  That being said, stop it!  Just stop, OK?  Let us simplify things just a bit.  Start with the basics.

1) It's almost July.  If they don' go to camp they will end up spending the next two months playing video games and probably getting grumpier and grumpier.  Then, if they haven't already, they will drown you in a chorus of "I'm bored."  So they need camp (If you aren't sending them to camp please check out the column from last year on "Fun Free Activities")
2) Most camps now have websites and can give you a list of what to bring and not to bring.
3) You can't control the weather.  If the weather service is predicting a 'torrential hurricaines, downpours and flash flooding' all week long you can go ahead and cancel and eat the loss of deposit.  Otherwise, pack some rain gear, a couple of good books an extra set of batteries and hope for the best.  Any competant camp counselor will be able to find fun safe activities to keep them busy on a rainy week... expect them to come home and tell you about playing wink em or murder (it's a game not a crime!)
4) Water bottles and sun lotion are good and gameboys, i pads and other electronic gizmos are bad! (unless, you sent them to gaming camp...occasionally confirmation camps do something like this to try to engage the kids....I know, but you gotta do what you gotta do!)
5) Don't send snacks unless you send for everybody in the entire camp.  Why people choose to ignore this is beyond me. It has got to be some sort of Maslow-ian security issue that hasn't been resolved by the parent.
6) If you are worried about missing them write them a letter in advance so they can get it the  second day of camp.

There is a ton more advice but the biggest is this.  If you have confidence that they can handle camp that gives them confidence that they can.  If you are anxious and fearful, that will make them anxious and fearful.  So reach for  your bag of self reassuring statements and remind yourself that you have given them the tools they need to make friends and handle new situations.  If you haven't, camp is a good place to start.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Medication Holiday's for the ADHD Child???

Parents often ask about summer vacation and stopping medication during the summer.  That question is always tricky.  I recently saw a statistic (sorry, I cannot remember where, I will keep looking and update when I find it.) that indicated that ADHD kids who go on medication holidays have a high rate of emergency room visits due to burns. That is always the concern with medication holidays.  Impulsive kids need to be monitored when they are off their medication.  They need to be monitored more closely than other kids particularly in the summer.  The medication is not just there to make them behave in the classroom.  It is there to help them keep their bodies under control.  Yes, the medication does have concerning side effects and it is nice when we can give them a break but the summer is full of danger and lets face it, you want to let them run without yelling at them constantly.  So if you and your Doctor decide to give them a medication holiday, make sure you increasing the structure and monitoring when you do.

Medication Holidays for the ADHD child
We desire to let them be
We want to let them run
We want to set them free.
To let their body's grow
To give their hearts a rest.
The years been long and hard
and they probably did do their best.

Just remember that the disorder isn't gone
because the books are put away.
The impulses still run rampant
and it's a long summer day.

It is not just fire,
that fascinates the child
and lurks and lures his whims.
A summer without supervision
can become quite grim.

It is firecrackers and older kids
whom he must impress.
It is  bicycles and the neighborhood teen
that drive just a little too fast..
It is all the fun you've ever thought of
and all the fun you didn't.
when you were just a child.
Now that is what I call risk!

So take some time to consider
all the pro's and con's.
Take the time to reconnoiter
What's beyond the closest pond.

Enjoy the heat of summer
Enjoy the rest from school
Enjoy the confidence of supervision
and rest when summers through.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Spring Fever

Spring fever can make fools of anyone. Don't let it make a fool of you as a parent.

I was driving to the high school the other  day and passed the car wash.  I watched a father vacuuming his car, oblivious to his 4 year old daughter playing in the street gutter on Hwy 14.  I stopped at Hy Vee on the way home.  When I came out of the store I watched a family cross the parking lot.  They must have come out the wrong door.  They cut through the parked cars and across 4 lanes... in progression; father, mother,  aunt, oldest kid, middle kid and a full car lane later came the youngest, maybe age 6.  No one thought to hold his hand and not one of them looked back to see if he was okay.  It made me sad.

Please, grandparents and aunts and uncles and parents, please teach your kids three things in parking lots. First, teach them to hold hands. Second,  teach them to look at the car windows and see the steering wheel and if anyone is behind it.  Third, teach them about back up lights. While you are at it, teach them to jump stop at corners and intersections or whenever they cross the yellow line.  Teach them to look both ways before crossing a street. Then check to see if they actually do it.  Don't just turn them loose but teach, monitor,  reteach and consequence, repeat. If they can't do it on their own, don't let them.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Spring Cleaning

Trying to get kids to clean is always difficult.  We always recommend establishing a routine, providing positive reinforcement, and working with your kids so they feel connected as a family and not like a servant.  Breaking tasks up into smaller pieces.  Sometimes chore charts help. Whatever you do, try to keep it fun and not let it become a battle.  These discussions always make me think how much things have changed...

 "While you're there..."  My mother would begin to say.  These are the words that would always  make me cringe.  They were words associated with taking a routine cleaning task and making it into an in depth cleaning task. It didn't really matter what the routine task was originally, the add on task was often cleaning a window or vacuuming out an air vent.  As near as I could tell, the only requirement of "While you're there..." was that I be in the general vicinity of the 'add-on' task. Dusting the television top would soon become, "let's move the TV, dust behind it and you might as well clean that window while you're there."   I recall one time when  I was asked to take out the garbage. What followed was "While you're there, you can help your father in the garden."   My hopes for spending the afternoon watching the "Wide World of Sports" died on the spot. So much for not exasperating your children. Though a careful reading of that rule apparently applies to fathers, not mothers...go figure?

My mother wasn't an expert cleaner, though she seemed determined to make me one.  She was however, excellent at organizing.  She could organize all of my siblings, my father (no easy task there!), do in depth cleaning herself, find time to inspect our work and with impeccable timing, always sense when we were about to say good enough and interrupt it with "While you are there".   This was a process we repeated every Saturday.  Saturday's became a symphony that began with a fairly simple chore and progressed into a chorus of "While you are there's  accompanied by the 8 track recording of Henri Mancini's "Baby Elephant Walk" and resolving into Harper Valley PTA or Leapin Lee's "Little Arrows."    Around 5 pm or so the symphony would decrescendo into a routine of showers and supper  accompanied by Lawrence Welk, Wild Kingdom and climatically finish with Hee Haw.  I was never quite sure how cleaning always ended up being bed time but it always did.

A common difficulty for parents of kids with ADHD is to help their kids stay on task.  There are a few simple rules but the reality is that it is hard work for the parents to help ADHD kids develop self esteem and pride in their cleaning and organizing skills.   One piece of advice is to break the task down into simple steps.  A second piece of advice is to recognize that ADHD kids can get obsessed with minutiae that is interesting to them such as lining up their matchbox cars and then lose interest in cleaning by the time they get to picking up their laundry.  "But Mom I've been cleaning for hours" they will say, and the inevitable response follows,  "No you have been playing for hours."   Let's face it, you need to help them organize the task so they work big to little. Start with three big tasks 1) pick up all the clothes off the floor in your room, on the closet floor and under your bed and put them in the laundry.   2) Make your bed.   3) Put all the toys that are out into a box.  Once that is done  you can then start putting the toys away and organize them as much as  you want.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Child's Winter

A covering blanket
unmarred by hand
before the turn of blade,
the new fallen snow
grants reprieve from
muddy ground and
frozen earth

Silently, wind blown flakes collect,
to our homes we scatter.
A perilous winter's trek
for those of weakened bone,
and blessing sweet for those who learn
and those whose yearning is relief.

Over the night and course of day,
The white adorns the hills and trees.
A beckoning call to
all the boards and sleds
and bindings that fit one's feet.

A parents love
willingly given
can bless a messy hearth
Adorning hope upon the child
who just cannot...seem to mind
Blanketing shame of thoughtless deed
and forgiving broken vase.

Over the night and course of day
Let peace adorn the child
withholding curse and critique
that  your lips so often blather.
With smiling eyes, no wint'ry looks
to blast or bury further.

Over the night and course of day
Let the blizzard  flurry
Let each unique flake of love descend
like new fallen snow  to gather.
For those who learn and
those who yearn and
those who seek reprieve,
like midnight snow
fall the love
to pile a blessing
oh so sweet.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Time to Eliminate the Negatives

Happy New Year!.

Have you ever met someone and knew that they were someone that brought you down? Most of us have met someone like this.   They may be charming on meeting.  They may be humorous or thought provoking.  Initially, you may tell yourself that they are worth getting to know better.  However, each time you talk with them you leave them  feeling a little bit worse and you have trouble figuring out just why it is so.  How did they slight you?  Was it something they said about your appearance? Did they tell racially charged or demeaning jokes? Did they disagree with you? Did they make you look bad in front of others. Did they put down someone or something you care about?  There is a chance you may not be able to identify what they did.  Worse yet, you can identify what they did and revealed something about yourself you didn't want to think about. 

First things first.  The goal of a crises is to get out of the crises.  If you ever wake up and smell smoke and find the house is on fire...(May the Lord forbid this happen to you!)... you don't grab your cell phone and call an architect to start designing a new house.  You don't!  Well, if you find yourself talking to someone and they are getting their needles in under your skin.  Don't stop to contemplate the meaning of why these barbs hurt you.  Just excuse yourself and go as quickly as you can.  

Once you are away, quickly write down what they said and seal it in an envelope.  On the outside of the envelope write down "After further consideration!"  Then, put the thing in a vault someplace and put it out of your mind.  Go for a walk or read a book.  Later, if you are not able to get it out of your head... it may be time to address what it was that upset you. If you have collected several of these envelopes from contact with the same person write the name on the outside and bind them together.  It will be important to figure out what they are doing and how they have identified a sore spot they can exploit.  If you have collected several of these envelopes from several different people its also time to get help.

Maybe, you are overreacting, chances are you are not.  Usually, when I see this, I find that the concern is legitimate and it doesn't take long to sort things out.   Developing the skills to stop this person from harming you can be very uplifting and raise your confidence and wouldn't that feel nice? 

Whenever you are ready, help is here!