Friday, October 25, 2013

He did it

M's biggest school struggle right now is realizing when he is bothering other people.

He is not without empathy- he can tell when someone is sad and knows that we should try to comfort them.  He prays for us when we are hurt and sick. He cares for people and wants to be kind.  But if he's having fun, he just can't seem to put himself in the other person's shoes and see that he's annoying someone.
So we are practicing recognizing expressions.

And having conversations with these guys:

And working on it little by little.

Yesterday, after a long and lovely day out, I suddenly realized I had left my bag somewhere.  My work bag, with my laptop and my passport....  It was a little stressful.

We all piled back into the car, despite the long hand pointing directly to bedtime, and headed back toward my school.  The boys were in the back bantering playfully (probably no louder than usual) and I asked them for help.  I said I was stressed about my lost bag and I needed them to stay calm to help me feel calm. 

And lovely M said, "You're worried about your bag.  It's like when I'm worried about my own stuff."

Yes!  Yes, just like that!  Thank you buddy.  And they did.  And we found it!

Strawberry-humble pie

Yesterday our friends came to town for a volleyball tournament, all the way from Korea.

I've written about Malia before, and Mika, and how she will always be so special to me as M's first friend.  And she was just as lovely as ever.

The kids played together so sweetly.

And I got to entertain sweet baby Kona  for a while while the big kids played.

And, as it happens, have a generous piece of humble pie, too.  As toddlers do, Kona reached for my snack - strawberries.  I (embarrassingly) couldn't remember exactly how old Kona was or exactly when babies eat what, so I asked her big sister. "Does Kona eat regular food?  Like snacks?  Could Kona have this?"   She assured me that she could, and I gave it to her.  Just like that.

I didn't even think of what I was doing.  What had frustrated me about other moms so many times. I just fed someone else's kid and, aside from making sure she could eat finger food, I didn't even think twice about whether or not I should.

I ran to apologize to Malia and make sure it was ok.  She was in the middle of a game (sorry Malia!) but was fine with it. But I wasn't.  I felt awful.  It wasn't the strawberry, since she didn't mind.  It was my own attitude.  How dare I?  I didn't want to admit the truth, even to myself, but it was undeniable.  I am a hypocrite.  I expect other people to check with me before they feed my kids, but I didn't hold myself to the same standard.  And the worst is the reason why.  Because I "knew" the strawberries were fine. I didn't really think it through in that moment, but subconsciously, I believe that anything I would feed a kid would be fine, (read: unlike all those lowlifes who feed kids crap and need to check with me first.)  Ugggg.  Feel horrible.  I'm still imaging- what if she was allergic to strawberries? What if Malia hadn't said anything because she figured I knew better than to feed other people's kids?

So, though I still prefer people check with me before they feed my kids, I understand now when they don't.  People trust themselves and their judgement.  It feels normal.  I can only expect people to respect our diet if I explain it myself.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Least favorite thing

Least favorite thing in my life right now = L having seizures on stairs.

You would think that people are on stairs only a few times a day and it wouldn't happen very often, but his happen when he cries and kids actually do kind of cry a lot on stairs.

A week or so ago, after plenty of fair warnings about not dawdling over his dinner, L was left to finish at the table alone, much to his distress.  I went upstairs and he started to cry, and I guess he felt himself starting to go into that mode.  Instead of lying down in the recovery position, he tried to get upstairs for help.  And then he had the seizure on the stairs, thankfully at the bottom.

A few weeks before that we were all sort of doing our own thing around the house, I don't remember what exactly, when L suddenly realized he was alone downstairs and it scared him.  It's one of those things where it could happen a hundred times without triggering one, but this time it did.  Again, he tried to race to find someone and ended up having one on the stairs.

The answer here, of course, it to teach him to put himself into the recovery position, no matter what, but how?  The only thing he wants to do is get to me.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Book Week

It's fall break, and M has an assignment from his Thai teacher: prepare an oral report on where you went for your vacation, and bring something back to show the class.  

18th Annual International Book Expo
We're not taking a trip, so M is going to have to spin our staycation. We went to the International Book Expo. Actually, it was perfect timing since M learned to read Thai this week and L is eager to sound out, too. We busted a piggybank and the boys walked away with arms full of books.

Proud mom moment

At one point, I looked over and both the boys were sitting on the floor reading.  For the most part, they were really lovely.  But this moment was particularly awesome.  I almost chased down a passing woman who dejectedly asked her husband why their kids wouldn't sit nicely  like that?  But I didn't.  I was too busy reveling in the moment.  And good thing, since less than an hour later M was tearfully confessing that he whispered "Pow in the patootie!" to a woman who tried to touch his hair.

Baby steps...

Monday, October 14, 2013

My favorite wedding picture

I never used to like this picture.

Our wedding was lovely, but this quick photo someone snapped in the back room just before Dad walked me down the aisle didn't show that.  Sure, we look happy- and we were- but the clutter in the background was all I could ever see.   If I'd had facebook in those days, this picture definitely wouldn't have made it to the wedding day album.

Today is Dad's birthday.  I miss him everyday, but especially today.  I was looking through some old pictures and found this one.  Long forgotten, and certainly never appreciated.  Today I realized what this picture really is.

Look at him looking at me.  That is so him.  It has always been that way.  Not just with me, though he always made it clear how much he loved me.  He had a way of making whoever he was talking to feel like we were the most important person in the world.  But it wasn't just some listening technique he'd picked up somewhere - some way to win friends or influence people.  He really cared about people and what they had to say.

Every year on Dad's birthday, I'd give myself a pep talk before I called.  "Don't let him turn the conversation around to me.  It's his birthday.  Talk about him!"  And I always meant to.  But before I knew it, we'd be hanging up after a long conversation.... about me.

I wonder what we would have talked about today?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

M's fifth birthday

When I woke M up for school Tuesday morning, the morning of his fifth birthday, the first words out of his mouth were, "I'm going to be six soon!"

I have a five-year-old.

Lucky I got such a good one.

Happy birthday, M!  You make a great five year old.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Three special steps to awesomeness

The long awaited day has come.

It took 9 whole weeks, but he did it.  M earned 9 stickers from his teacher.  Nine days without a time out at kindergarten. Not in a row, though I'm sure some of the sweet kids in his class have done that. Just 9 times. 

It's wonderful to see him learning how to get along with kids his age.  It's good to know he's learning that he can't always be the one talking, that it can't always be his turn, and that everyone has to wait sometimes.

Probably, for most kids, just a few days of adjustment is all it would take for them to pick up on the kindergarten culture.  Maybe a week or two.  (Especially since most of the class comes from all day preschool.) For M it has been hard, but at the end of the first quarter, he's getting there.  It's not back-talking or rudeness that gets him in trouble, thank goodness. It's impulsive stuff- calling out answers, running indoors, making noises, annoying people.  

For the last 2 days, M has carried a note in his pocket that says:

Step 1: Look at their face.  Is it grouchy or happy?
Step 2: Listen to their voice.  Is it annoyed or friendly?
Step 3:  If you're bothering someone, walk away.

I'm realizing that, at least for M, a lot of things I assumed kids pick up on naturally need to be taught explicitly. 

What is the procedure when you raise your hand but your teacher doesn't call on you?
What kind of face should you make to show you are waiting patiently?
What should you do if you get a warning from your teacher about making noise?

It's not that he's not smart.  He is.  But not good with reading people.   I wouldn't shrug and say, "Oh he just doesn't get letters" or "Oh, he just doesn't have a head for numbers."  So I can't just chalk this up as a weakness and leave it at that, either .   He's working on it, and every success makes me so proud.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Bangkok Farmers' Market

Last Sunday we finally visited the Bangkok Farmers' Market.

Bangkok isn't exactly a farm community.  So the farmers' market is kind of a fluid term.

There was produce -lovely organic vegetables- but people also brought in things they'd made: artesian breads, homemade pickles, yogurt, fancy chocolate.  Even things like handmade jewelry and soaps. 

It didn't take M long to find the chocolate.

Most everybody involved was conscious of natural food choices, so it was easy for us to find things to eat for the boys.

They even had a kids' activity corner where the boys made pirate hats while we found some lunch.

I had high hopes of turning a corner and finding a table of gluten-free baked good.  If there was ever going to be a place to find gluten free bread in Bangkok, this would be it.  I didn't find any this time, but we'll be back.