Following Bunny Trails

“I don’t have ADD, it’s just that…OhLookAKitty!”


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Psychoanalyzing Life’s Crappy Parenting Moments

Hello readers!  It’s been a long time since the last post in Following Bunny Trails.  As I wrote in a few previous posts, I have decided to go back to college.  And as I’ve been barreling full speed ahead, I often think of my Bunny Trails and its readers.  But going to school full time, year-around, has left me little free time.  So I would like to offer up a bit of my writing from my Intro to Psychology class.  This piece was asked for us to analyze a situation that was stressful and to write about what you might have changed, and what you would not have changed.  With citations and sources, of course.  This was written over a year ago, and I just found it today.  It is perfect for Following Bunny Trails.

Observing Emotional Behavior

Summary

I knew it was a bad idea from the beginning.  I had a lunch date with my friend, they were becoming few and far between.  She and I had first met when our sons were 2-years-old and attending a local education center for therapy.  Her son was ahead of schedule with his speech, but was there to refine his motor skills, and while my son had all the motor skills of a gymnast, he could hardly say a word.  We were fast friends.  She has a degree in early childhood education, so I glean as much advice as I can from her.  She is familiar with children with ADHD, and is patient and loving with my son.  When the opportunity for a lunch date arose, I leapt at the chance.  Her son had school, but since the boys attended in different schools, mine had a teacher in-service.  I had to bring my children along on our lunch date.  Lunch went as well as it could, with my daughter in her high chair, and my son blocked on the inside of our booth.  He only crawled under the table a dozen times, his best restaurant behavior yet.  When Josie suggested going to Kohl’s afterward, I immediately stiffened up.  My son hasn’t had a successful shopping trip in a long time.  He was behaving relatively well at the restaurant, and I did have a 30% discount coupon burning a hole in my pocket, so we gathered my children and headed to the store.

 

I gave my son the usual, “please behave in this store, use your inside voice, no running or you’ll have to ride in the cart,” pre-shopping lecture.  He either misunderstood or was tired, and he immediately climbed into a cart with two seats.  I didn’t argue, and I pushed both kids through the store.  I picked out some Marvel Super Hero underwear that he desperately needed, and he begged for a shirt with a trophy on it, so he could be a “winner.”  About 15 minutes into the shopping, he began to start squirming in his seat.  He climbed out to get a better look at a shirt, and I cajoled him back into the cart; we were coming to the end of his ability to be in the store.  There’s something about the lights, the sounds, all the merchandise with the colors and stimulus, it just sets him off every time.  I headed to the checkout because I knew my time was up.  My son started grabbing merchandise as we strolled by it, once causing us to nearly collide with a very unappreciative lady and her well behaved daughter.  I started warning my son of the impending removal of privileges, starting with the activities I dislike the most, his video games.  It was pointless, he was gone:  my son had left the proverbial building, and the only thing left was impulses gone awry.  Threats weren’t working, his behavior was deteriorating by the moment.  I decided, out loud, that I could and would not reward this type of behavior by purchasing nice new super hero undies or a new shirt.  He did not heed my warnings, and I ditched the underwear on a shelf.  He saw me bailing out his precious items from our cart, and went ballistic.  By the time we reached the checkout lane, he was screaming, crying, and then he leapt from the cart and ran out of the store and into the mall.  I was completely humiliated, angry, sweaty and red faced, as I ditched the few remaining purchases and handed my daughter to Josie so I could, pursue my son, who had disappeared around the corner.  I had to carry the screaming, thrashing 6-year-old, who made a scene all the way out the doors.

Interpretation

I have never been very good at disguising my emotions, as suggested by Thomas Phelan, author of 1-2-3 Magic:  Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 (Phelan, 2010).  He states that “The two biggest mistakes that parents and teachers make in dealing with children are: Too Much Talking and Too Much Emotion.” According to Phelan, discipline should be a “matter of fact” process, the child is suffering a consequence because they made the wrong choice, not because you are angry at them.  He also repeatedly mentions that children feed off our emotions, and if they can figure out how to “get your goat” they will (Phelan, 2010).  By the time Josie met me outside the building, I was nearly in tears, with a howling wreck of a child on my lap.  She calmly took my son, and handed my daughter to me.  She put him on her lap and hugged him tight until he calmed enough to hear her speak.  She spoke softly and reminded him how much his mommy loved him, and then she somehow managed to change the subject and got him to talk to her about stickers.  She promised him a sticker, they were in the trunk of her car, which was parked right next to mine.  I buckled him up, without a word, and turned around in my seat and sat clutching the steering wheel until my knuckles turned white.  I counted to ten, then to twenty, while she gave my son a sticker, which I had to fight the impulse to wrench it out of his hands and tear the sticker into bits.  He didn’t deserve that sticker after his behavior, ie. what he had just put me through.  My daughter must have been stunned by the whole incident, but she finally “came to” as I pulled out of the parking lot.  She started crying, and no offer of her sippie cup, stuffed animal, or snack would calm her.  I turned the radio on and drove home with a wailing daughter, and pouting son.

Discussion

Now that the incident is past, and I am no longer flooded with emotion, I can look back and identify some mistakes that I had made while under duress.  First of all, children’s tantrums are generally short lived, they go on with their lives and resume play, while the parents’ are left to stew about it.  I regret that I allowed my frustration to show and for my anger to last after the conflict was over.  Our textbook, Psychology, an Exploration by Saundra K. Ciccarelli and J. Noland White, explains that a human’s autonomic nervous system involuntarily reacts physiologically to stress.  The sympathetic nervous system (which is responsible for the fight or flight response) reacts by secreting the hormone cortisol, which in turn raises heart rate, stimulates the sweat glands, slows down digestion, and sends energy to muscles to deal with the situation (Ciccarelli & White, 2010).   This is why I was sweaty and red-faced, even though I remained relatively composed during the episode in the store, the cortisol may have also been a contributing factor as to why it took a while for me to “get over” the incident.  My second regret was that I had thought that threatening to lose his precious purchases would motivate him into good behavior, and once it didn’t work, I felt it necessary to follow through with my “threat.”  My emotional state in the store clouded my judgment, and I now realize that by using the loss of his purchases as punishment, I was only adding to his frustration, and making a child who is already feeling out of control, feel even more so.  When under pressure, it is easy to forget what we know, that children this age are not able to think logically, and revert to our emotional response of, “why isn’t his reward enough motivation to make him behave?”   I later apologized to Josie for inadvertently making the situation worse.  She explained that a young child has an underdeveloped prefrontal cortex, which regulates emotion and social behavior, and when they are having a temper tantrum, the thought process is moved from this “rational” region of the brain, to the more “primal” part of the limbic system, the amygdala.  I found an article on Parenting.com that supports Josie’s explanation of my son’s thought process during a tantrum.  The author of the e-article, P. Onderko, states that the prefrontal cortex is just beginning to mature at age 4.  She further explains that children think “magically, not logically,” and that events that are ordinary for us, may be confusing or scary for a child.  Water draining from a bathtub, for example, may trigger a fear that they could be sucked into the drain along with the water.

In conclusion, though I readily admit that I made mistakes in this situation, there were a few things that I would probably not have changed, given a chance to do it all over again.  Though my body became sweaty and red-faced, I did not scream or physically threaten my son.  I remained as calm as possible, even though it was obvious that I was emotionally distressed.  I knew that I did not have time to stop and use “counting” as a stress coping mechanism.  All of my previous experiences with my son told me that I needed to remove him from the store as soon as possible.  I learned from previous failures not to attempt to take him into the bathroom and calm him, because the echo of the bathroom stimulates him even more.  I did use counting and music to calm myself, and the music eventually soothed my daughter on the ride home from the store.  I have sought out ways to improve our next shopping trip, and I am considering trying the suggestion by T. Phelan.  He states you can enforce a good behavior by giving a child a set amount of money to spend at the store, make sure to give it to them in dollars and quarters, and then tell them that they will lose $.25 or $.50 for each outburst, or undesirable behavior (Phelan, 2010).  He recommends this for an age where money actually has a value; my son is getting there, he knows that money buys toys and treats.  This might work better for a long car ride to a vacation destination, but I am unsure if this will work on a shopping trip.  ADHD complicates our specific situation because once he becomes stimulated, any rational thought processes that a 6-year-old has, is completely drowned out by his state of restlessness and anxiety from the stimulation, so for now, we are only chancing very brief trips to the local market.

 

Works Cited

 

Ciccarelli, S. K., & White, J. N. (2010). Psychology: An exploration. (2nd ed., p. 319). Pearson Education Inc.

Onderko, P. (2011, November). Why toddlers throw temper tantrums. Retrieved from                       http://www.parenting.com/article/toddler-temper-tantrums

 

Phelan, T. W. (2010). 1-2-3 magic: effective discipline for children 2-12. (4th ed.). Parentmagic, Inc.        Retrieved from http://www.123magic.com/Newsletter/Newsletter-April-2013

 

 

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Unless You’re a Hilton…


Unless you’re a Hilton, heredity can sometimes be a b*@#ch!  DNA-double-helix-image-1Yes son, along with the propensity toward diabetes, heart disease, and addictions if you don’t chose a healthy lifestyle, I also passed on to you ADD.  Except you, being a young boy and all, have the “hyper” on top of the “extremely distractable” that comes with ADD.   I was hoping your dad’s laid-back, calm demeanor would overcome my wild, untamed gene-pool.

I remember the first meeting with your daddy’s family so long ago.  We ate supper at a diner, and his quiet family completely overwhelmed me!  The silence, which was comfortable for them, deafened me!  I felt the need to blurt on several different topics to fill in the spaces.  The sound of silverware clunking and salad munching was too much for a girl from my upbringing.  I was used to vying for “air-time” against my mother and her family.  Everybody had something to say, had an opinion, conversation flowed, we interrupted each other and no one took offense.  When my mother and her cousin got together it was like watching the most amusing tennis match ever!   Your head volleyed from mom to cousin “Boney” to mom to Boney.  You didn’t even try to interject, you’d be spoken over, completely unheard.  Those were some of the most entertaining times, watching my mom and her cousin.  They’d feed off each other, get each other going.  Each story from childhood got funnier and funnier, those two, when together, were incorrigible!  This is the ilk I come from.

I have assimilated into my husband’s family nicely in the 19 years that we’ve been married.  I no longer need to make idle chat or fill in spaces.  There’s plenty to talk about, and if not, the silence is comfortable.  We can just gaze contentedly at my in-laws’ lake.  I prayed while both my children were in utero, that they would have the calm nature that comes from their father’s bloodline.  Baby girl seems to be quite laid back, but she is becoming more comical and excitable as she absorbs her loud and often chaotic environment.  I don’t worry about her having ADHD though, we already knew the boy had it by 18 months.  It’s true what they say, that The Lord doesn’t give you more than you can handle!  And I don’t think He would entrust me with two loin-cloth wearing, chandelier swinging, little monkeys!


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It Must be Working

I still chuckle to myself when I remember a humorous incident during a vacation to my girlfriend’s hometown.   We were walking to the park that sits at the beginning of downtown Douglas, Michigan’s quaint artisan district.  There was a group of friends enjoying some cocktails on the bistro’s patio in the beautiful spring evening.  They were good naturedly poking fun at the parents they hear at the park, degrading themselves as they yell to little Johnny, “One!  Two!…”   The ironic thing about this, is that when the guy loudly said, “One!”  My 4-year-old came to a complete halt!  He stopped dead in his tracks!  Well, I guess that’s proof that our 1,2,3 system is working.


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It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…

It’s a bird…It’s a plane…No, It’s my son after eating Superman ice cream!

We attended a kiddie birthday party this weekend, which is challenging to keep up with the no-dye-in-the-boy’s-food rule.  I think he ate 2 m&m’s before I whisked the bowl away from him.  He drank some green punch too, but he was no more a maniac then any of the other children at the party.   Sunday, however, was a different story!   After a round of father and son disc golf, daddy bought the boy a superman ice cream cone.  Yikes!   It took us over 2 hours to put the boy to bed!  He was calling himself “stupid” and saying things like “stupid boys don’t sleep.”   I asked him, “what did you eat tonight?”  He listed off everything but the ice cream, of course.  I asked, “did you have ice cream?”  “Oh yeah, I forgot,” he says.  “What kind of ice cream did you have?”  He surprised me by responding:  “the kind with all the food coloring in it.”  I ventured another question, “do you think maybe you’re feeling bad and

Superman ice cream

Superman ice cream (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

having trouble sleeping tonight because of the dye in the ice cream?”  He states defiantly, “No, it was good…and so was the kit kat!”     Oh geez!  (*rests forehead in palm of  hands, in defeat)

Excelling at Mediocrity

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hibiscusSo let me introduce myself.  My name is Kendra, my job is wife, mommy (and everything that goes with the first two,) I am an independent distributor of a jewelry business, and now a blogger.  In other words, a stay-at-home-mom who’s trying to help daddy make ends meet.

As far as mediocrity goes, I was a straight C student in school.  Not that I was lacking the intelligence, more that I just had better stuff to do than homework.  I much preferred daydreaming or reading Stephen King novels and stashing them under my bed as I heard my mom’s footsteps approaching.   Hubby and I have managed to repair our post-college, newlywed-dashed credit and claw our way up to a solid middle class.  We met and married while attending college,  but I never managed to finish a degree.  I was envious of  hubby because he knew what profession he wanted to be in since freshman year of high school, lucky bum.   I thought about cytology but found that those jobs are disappearing at a jackrabbit’s pace, plus my aunt is losing her eyesight from looking into a microscope for 37 years.  Then I tried my hand at nursing, but I couldn’t get through the chemistry requirements.  Well, maybe I could have if I hadn’t treated college as the most awesome (and expensive) party EVER!   After recovering from the disaster I made of NMU and maturing a little, I attempted an associates degree.  But, here again, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.  All I knew was that after being a home health aid for 6 years, (about as low on the totem pole as you can get in the health care occupation,) I wanted to do something where I didn’t have a large amount of direct physical contact with people.  I may have been possibly experiencing some burn out at the time.   I attempted the coursework for becoming a CPA, *snore* not for me.  Then I switched over to computer information systems but couldn’t get through the programming courses.  I have decided that if I found something I was truly passionate about, I’d go for the degree and have the drive to stick with it.   Still looking-haha!

I’ve been called a “supermom” once or twice because of my cute homemade preschool snacks, but NO, mediocre mom at best.  I spent 5 hours on the hibiscus cookies that were decorated with colorful royal frosting because I enjoy the artwork, it’s zen-time for me.  And before you get this picture of a 5-year-old in one of his daddy’s old t-shirts helping stir the batter, I’ll admit that I baked them while he was sleeping and decorated them during his school day.  The 17-month-old just wandered around keeping herself busy, occasionally stopping and looking at the PBS cartoons that are perpetually on at our house.  In my defense, I was supposed to have a sitter to help out while I embarked on my project, but she had to cancel.  Yeah, Not a supermom!

You’ve heard the expression “Jack of all trades” [master of none]… well that’s me.  My cakes and cookies are cute, I get an” A” for effort anyways.  My artwork’s so-so.  My cooking is pretty good, but I’ve had some doozy’s go on the “never attempt again” list.  (Who knew that okra could turn a pot of gumbo into aloe consistency slime?) I do not keep a filthy house, nor am I able to keep a clean house.  My garden is organic, but weedy.  I honestly am not berating myself, nor am I attempting to garner compliments or accolades, I’m just letting you know who’s writing.  I’ve always been the type to wear my emotions on my sleeve, and I’m an unabashed tell-all type of gal.  I find humor in my failings and have the ability to laugh at myself, and I invite you to laugh with me too.


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In Honor of Mother’s Day

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Thank you mom for teaching me that it just isn’t dish water unless it’s too hot to stick your hand all the way to the bottom of the sink.

T.Y.M. for discovering that a combination of Lestoil & fels naptha can get out just about every stain, but that if you scrub at anything with a hello kitty nail brush from the 80’s for too long, you will remove the color from the fabric.

T.Y.M. for letting me know that it’s ok to laugh at someone when they hurt themselves in an interesting way, but that it’s just good etiquette to ask them if they’re ok first.

T.Y.M. for reminding me to “walk in someone else’s moccasins” before hating them for their actions.

T.Y.M. for not allowing me to hate people who have wronged me.

T.Y.M. for taking me stomping through the woods to hunt for mushrooms & blueberries.  That semester you took Botany 101 was maybe one of my favorite seasons ever.

T.Y.M. for not being grossed out when I brought home frogs, toads, salamanders,  monarch caterpillars, & crayfish in cool whip containers.  And for not instilling in me the [entire] family’s repulsion of snakes.

Thank you mom for being you and for making me who I am today!


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Goals of “Following Bunny Trails”

It seems that most parents I am acquainted with now-a-days has at least one child who is “differently abled.”   The other day I ran into an acquaintance I hadn’t seen in a while, and she asked how school was going for my son.  It was just her bad luck that I had happened to have come from a meeting with the school staff earlier that day.  She told me that she understood what I was going through because her son had his own eccentricities that had gone undiagnosed for years.  During this time she said that she felt so alone, and that her son was oftentimes thought of as a “bad kid” by the school and even some friends.   But it was this morning’s conversation with a girlfriend that really turned the light on for me.  She mentioned that she wished there was a support group for what she’s going through with her daughter.  I responded that I too had asked a pediatrician, psychologist, and a social worker (sounds like the beginning of a joke… “all walked into a bar together…”) if there was a support group for parents of children with ADHD.  That’s when it hit me…  I would love to do a blog about how we got our diagnosis, treatment options, and life [in general] with my beloved child that has ADHD.   I want to make it very clear that this blog is not meant to diagnose, or change the course of any current treatment of the reader’s children, I am not going to EVER review a medical drug or encourage anyone with an excessively hyper or unruly child that they may want to investigate ADHD as a cause.  This blog is simply to commiserate and celebrate the individuality of my child.  And if a reader laughs, wonderful!  Gains a different perspective, awesome!  Realizes that she’s/he’s not alone with this whole “parenting isn’t as easy as it looks” thing… that’s even better!

Writing has always been a passion of mine.  Several years ago I found a book at a garage sale that was written by one of my favorite authors.  It was a book that was all about writing, much outside his usual subject matter.  The first or second page said that if you don’t have time to write, you’ll never be a writer.  I put the book down and to this day, it sits unread on my shelf.  I do not have a degree in writing, I have taken some college courses that are required for graduation, so I know a little, but not enough to avoid the inevitable mistakes of the many rules of the English language.  Here are some faults of mine…  I enjoy run-on sentences, and over,use,comas:  I often forget the rules for using colons and semicolons…oh, and whatever these three dots are for… I love them!  And a college prof once told me that I tend to overuse “I” when I’m writing about myself.   (What?)  Last but not least, I have been known to insert a “LOL” here and there, but mostly after saying something mildly sarcastic that may possibly offend someone if the exact context of my comment wasn’t understood.  Now that I’ve apologized in advance for my writing style… (If you’re anything like me, noted misspellings, misuse of punctuation and, god forbid, the misunderstanding of when to use words such as “their, they’re, and there,” are like fingers on a chalk board!)  <- [bunny trail]        (P.S. In my opinion, parenthesis are the perfect punctuational excuse to digress…I tend to digress A LOT.)