Eating Seagulls

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I have started taking parenting classes. I know what you are thinking… “After 5 kids it’s about time, woman!” These classes were not my idea. These classes are a part of Ozzie’s trauma therapy appointments. At each weekly appointment we are called into the doctor’s office together where I am given a parenting lesson, assigned homework for the week, and then sent back to the waiting room to wait while Ozzie has his therapy session. Each lesson is intended to teach me new parenting skills that I perhaps lack and then apply them to my parenting the following week. I have tried to be the cheerful, receptive, open-minded student I should be but have done my share of internal eye rolling. Last week we had a lesson on the proper way to give a command. “You should never beg your child to obey you,” he counseled, “because then you have given them the authority in the relationship.” I sat sweetly, nodding my head as though this was all very insightful when I really wanted to say, “No kidding!”

This past week’s lesson was on how to calm your child down when he is having a tantrum. Our assignment was to work for 30 minutes every day on relaxation techniques…deep breathing, muscle relaxation and visualization. We have been doing this every evening after family scripture study. The results haven’t been what the doctor was hoping for. My 3 teenagers are on the verge of sleep when we are done but the two little boys spend the majority of the time wiggling and giggling. You’ll be happy to know that I didn’t beg them once to obey. The doctor will be so proud. The second part of my parenting homework was to then use these relaxation techniques every time Ozzie started to tantrum. This went about as well as expected:

The other day a tantrum began as a result of Ozzie not wanting to take a bath. I picked him up, carried him to the room and began to apply the techniques we have been working on. He laid on his bed kicking and crying while I sat with my back against the door and my eyes closed. In my best new age, yoga instructor voice I told him to take slow, deep breaths. His response was a fast paced pant. I then began our visualization….

“Imagine you are at the beach. In front of you stretches the ocean. The waves are calm and there are dolphins jumping in the distance.”

From the bed I hear Ozzie mutter, “I hate dolphins.”

I continued… “You are sitting on a beach chair with your toes in the sand.”

“I’ll break that beach chair!” Ozzie responded.

“There are children playing in the sand near your chair,” I continued.

“I’ll kick sand in their eyes!” he growled back at me.

“All you can hear,” I continued, determined to give this exercise a valiant effort, “are the seagulls overhead.”

“I’m gonna eat those seagulls!!” he yells from across the room.

“Wow,” I thought to myself, “These parenting classes are amazing. I don’t know how I’ve parented the last 15 years without these tools.” When Ozzie was finally calm and the tantrum had passed I then had to sit down and fill out paperwork for the doctor on what happened during the tantrum, what tools I used, how Ozzie responded, and what I could do better next time. I then get to share our results with the doctor at the next appointment before I receive my next parenting lesson…Yea!! 🙂

Other happenings this week include:

1. A visit with Mimi Joy. On Monday we met at Eat n’ Park for dinner so that she could meet her new grandson. Ozzie was thrilled that she knew it was his birthday and bought him a gift. He was happy to receive a new Lego set. We had a wonderful time!

Dinner with Mimi Joy

Dinner with Mimi Joy

2. We had a furry visitor come and stay with us. Jemima, a pup we babysit every now and then, came for a two-week visit. The kids love when Jemima visits, especially Tyler.

Jemimah and Tyler

Jemima and Tyler

3. On Wednesday we had our Valentine party at co-op. We were late getting there due to an IEP meeting I had in the morning for Ozzie at his school but luckily we made it to co-op before any of the Valentine fun began. There were two parties, one for the older kids and one for the younger kids. The older kids had lunch together and played games together like the candy ball game while the little kids decorated cookies and exchanged valentines. Tyler had Rusty’s help in creating his Lego box. Tyler was thrilled when his box won the prize for the “reddest” box.

Tyler and his Lego Valentine box.

Tyler and his Lego Valentine box.

The big kid party.

The big kid party.

4.  On Thursday I drove Molly to our local hospital so that she could donate the baby hats she has been crocheting for the maternity ward. Ozzie and Rusty tagged along. When we arrived at the maternity floor we were buzzed in through the locked doors and we found our way to the nurses’ desk. They were generous with their praise and gratitude as Molly showed them the hats she had made. She was also tickled to find out that they were both named Molly. We rarely meet other “Mollys” so to meet two at once was a surprise. While we were standing there Ozzie asked if he could see a newborn baby. He told the nurse he had never seen one before. She explained that they didn’t have any right now but there were a few women in labor. Just then another nurse called out that one of the patients was about to deliver. As one of the nurse Mollys jumped up to assist Ozzie called after her, “Can we come and watch?” Needless to say we didn’t stick around, much to Ozzie’s disappointment.

Molly and her bag of baby hats to donate.

Molly and her bag of baby hats to donate.

5. On Saturday we were able to get Ozzie together with his sister, Zoey. We met at Burger King and I left the rest of the kids at home so that Ozzie and Zoey could have some one on one time together without the other kids. Zoey brought Ozzie a gift for his birthday. It was a bag filled with some homemade gifts she had made for him. Ozzie was so excited by the gifts but also by the fact that Zoey had made them. The kids then had a chance to play while I got to know Zoey’s new foster mom. She was wonderful and I can see that Zoey is exactly where she needs to be. When we left it was with mixed feelings. I felt such peace knowing that Zoey was thriving where she was at but there was also a sadness watching Ozzie and Zoey say good-bye. We will be getting them together regularly but that doesn’t lessen the heartbreak that comes from a sibling separation.

Zoey and Ozzie

Zoey and Ozzie

6. This week we received a special package in the mail that contained some special handmade gifts…a beautiful table doily from my Aunt Jane as well as a wall hanging for Tyler from my grandma, G.G. G.G. has made a wall quilt for each of the kids for their rooms. Molly’s is an ice cream quilt, Gracie’s is a butterfly quilt, Rusty’s is a car quilt and Tyler’s is a fireman quilt. On the back of Tyler’s quilt was a tag that had the date and “Welcome to the family.” He loves it and it now hangs next to his bed.

Tyler's quilt from G.G.

Tyler’s quilt from G.G.

7. This past week we did our annual wall marking. Every year on Valentine’s day we measure the kids on the wall of our hallway to see how much they have grown from the previous year. This year was Ozzie’s first mark on the wall. Last year was Tyler’s first mark so it was fun to see how much he has grown in the past year. Everyone had grown a few inches…everyone that is but poor Grace who is 5’2″ and holding. 🙂

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8. And finally the last big event of the week was Miss Molly receiving her young women medallion. She has been working very hard this past year with the goal of accomplishing all the requirements before she turned 14. She did it with 6 weeks to spare. We are very proud of the young woman she has become. We love you, Miss Molly!!

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So there you go. The past seven days at Patchwork farm. Things have been busy but good busy. It is easy to get overwhelmed with the endless list of chores, appointments, lessons, and therapy sessions so we tackle our days in the same manner you would face the task of eating an elephant…one bite at a time.

Or in our family…

Eating the seagulls one tantrum at a time. 🙂

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