Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Homeschooling, ODD and cutting people some slack

Sometimes, it's very hard in the "trenches". Due to my son's divorce from a woman who willingly gave up custody of a beautiful 4.5 yr old and 13 mo old, I'm in the situation where I have my grandkids from Sun night until either Fri or Sat afternoon. My son works 4-5 days a week from 2pm until 2am and I live two counties away, so for right now, this is the best solution we have. I now find MYSELF back in the trenches. Both children have developmental delays due to neglect and inconsistent access to food. Needless to say, the almost 5 yr old will not be ready for kindergarten and will have to be homeschooled. I'm on disability and at 62 never thought I'd be doing this again. lol But...we do what needs to be done and don't give up on the kids.

Perhaps I should now change the blog name to Nana's Nut House! lol

I'm glad you  have seen and responded to your children's issues. I've known some very good teachers in the local school, but with what is thrown at them, they just can't do all that everyone wants them to do. There just isn't time in the day to do it.

Ultimately, our kids are our responsibility. Sometimes, being our children's advocate means removing them from harmful situations - even if it is the "traditional school" that is the situation. It is a rough road to travel and the older they are, the more effort it takes on everyone's part - parent(s) and child(ren) to recover from the toxicity that has occurred. But "better late than  never" seems to apply here. They can have their self-esteem rebuilt and as the mature, they will appreciate your efforts.

Each child/family is different and what works for one child/family may not work for others. There are kids that will sit down and flourish on doing workbooks and others that it kills them, academically speaking. That's just not the way they learn. As we learn what works for each of our kids, we can better serve their needs. And yes, teaching responsibility to our kids is a VERY important part of our schooling. Again, different methods work for different kids.

We all have to hang in there. Look for the positive and comment on that. The more "atta-boy/girl" they get, the better it is. Accentuate the positive, ignore the negative as much as is humanly possible. (yeah, the constant sound-making of some kids can drive us up the wall and we tell them, repeatedly, to be QUIET! lol)

Personally, I still find it overwhelming as I work with the grands. Speech is not clear, baby-talking needs to be stopped, attention-getting activities in public needs to be stopped, developmental delays need to be addressed. Baby needs PT (at least the therapist comes to the house each week). etc And then there's the constant need to feed and clean up 6 times a day (kids were not feed regularly - to keep them small and infantized. People paid attention to her because the kids were so small and cute.) After 5 months with me, they are finally on the bottom 10% of the WIC chart on height/weight but it's been an uphill work to satiate their hunger with nourishing foods. Thankfully, they are now on a proper growth curve and seem to be catching up, however, the concern is that the 5 year old may have had his growth permanently stunted to a degree.

So...chins up, Faith on, and off we go as the saga continues.

I guess the best thing for all of us to to do what our kids need done. All kids learn differently and the key to successful teaching is to teach to the way that that child learns. Homeschooling allows us to run the gamete from textbooks and workbooks, to unit studies to unschooling. As we use the method that is best for each child, we find the child will flourish. And when we are trying to homeschool multiple kids, it can get tricky, especially when we're trying to use different textbooks for different ages/levels kids. Some kids need strict schedules, others need flexibility, still others it's catch as catch can to prevent meltdowns.

I found that for my kids, 2 of the 3 learned better by hands on. The 3rd LOVED workbooks - something that I missed - probably because there was no money to BUY workbooks. I had a 4 year rotating curriculum that I used as a basis for what we did. I learned to "sneak" school in as that way, the ODD child had less to rebel against. One of the things they still talk about loving was that I'd read to them for hours on end. We read everything from the Scriptures to the Narnia series to Harry Potter. We'd read and watch movies based on the book(s) we'd read and talk about the differences and what we liked and didn't. To this day, my kids LOVE to read.

In the end, we need to learn to let go ourselves and quit comparing OURSELVES and our homeschooling against others. It's not a competition. Some kids are homeschooled because their parents don't want them exposed to the ultra-liberal ideas of socialist teachers that infest some schools. Others have kids in crisis that have been in school, but are failing to thrive because of issues either at school or in their own brains or bodies. Still others feel that the Lord would have them do this for reasons unknown to them. There are many reasons, all of which are valid for parents that have the best interests of their child(ren) in mind (we'll leave out the small number of abusive parents that use it to hide abuse from being caught) All are valid reasons to homeschool. Most all parents have the goal of seeing that their kids are educated to the best of their child's capabilities. For many, that means public/private school. For some it's total homeschool. For others, it's a combination, homeschooled for some years, public schooled for other years.

I once read a blog post from a lady that had a lot of children, some of whom were old enough to be homeschooled. She also had an infant and toddlers that needed tending and would sometimes interrupt "school time". The name of her post was "Sometimes, the baby IS the lesson" and went on to comment that her kids will grow-up to be parents and that as she showed patience and love to the little "disturbers", she was teaching her children how to parent. Our treatment of each other in our family and outside it, IS always the lesson. 

I have heard people comment that there is no such thing as O.D.D. What it is is BRAT and the parents just "need to control" their child. OBVIOUSLY, they've NEVER had to deal with a child that IS trying to behave and wants to be good, but has control issues. And we as their parents DO discipline them. A lot of times these people don't have kids of their own or they have such mild-mannered, laid-back kids that a simple word to them gets results. Or they just beat the crap out of their kids until the kid minds.

Laid-back? WELL...not in MY family we don't have laid-back personalities! 12 hrs after my 9 week-premature daughter was born, she kept trying to turn her head and couldn't because of her CPAP tubing. A nurse kept turning her head back to the side it was on. The 4th time, the nurse held her head down for a few seconds. Her response? She grabbed that tube and with a white fist, tried to pull it out and screamed so loudly she was heard outside the NICU. 3.87 lbs of pure fury. This was the results of "bad parenting"? NOT! lol And yeah, this was the child that got the most attention as keeping her stable (well, as much as possible) kept the household quieter.

We all make mistakes. I used to be a paramedic making life and death decisions everyday. I never second-guessed myself. I know what had to be done and did it. Then I got married and had child #1, the preemie above. And about 3 months into the "project" I told a friend that I had NEVER second-guessed myself like I have as a parent. This mother of 4 said; "Welcome to the club!".

One of the most powerful things we can teach our children is that we all make mistakes. We do the best we can and sometimes, we make mistakes and fail or feel we've failed. How we handle our failures shows our children what to do when they fail. Do we lay there and cry what losers we are? Do we blame others? Or do we pick our selves up, acknowledge our mistakes, ask forgiveness from those we've hurt and then move on, trying to learn from the mistakes we've made?

ADD/ODD pt 2, Financial Struggles, Gratitude and Kid Attitudes

Dear Linda and others that are struggling with finances (or rather lack thereof) and attitudes from kids.

I know you have a lot on your plate, for a while before and just after I got married and had kids, I lived off grid. There's a WHOLE lot of extra work that comes with the self-sufficient lifestyle. Toss in ADD/ADHD/ODD, learning differences, kids and illnesses and life gets really, really crazy; really, really quickly.

I know it's especially hard when there aren't a lot of resources to get the things that "everybody else has". It's hard when you don't have money to buy the curriculum that would help you help your child as it's more geared to their problems. But we learn to shop used book & curriculum places both off and on line. We learn to talk to others. We learn to ask about scholarships for things. We learn to make do with what we have. And for those of us that are religious, we petition our Heavenly Father for help and direction. Hey, they were his kids first and he didn't put them (or US!) here to fail. 

Something may not "magically" appear. It may be a prompting here and word there, a website searched. But answers, over time and as we ACT upon prior promptings, things just seem to work out. Not just like we wanted or prayed for, but in our best interest. Even the "dirtbag" experiences, if we keep a good attitude ourselves.  

Then we get to deal with the kids and the attitude about why "they're SO poor!". Toss in ODD that sometimes has them thinking that life "owes" them and there can be meltdowns and attitudes galore to deal with. Sometimes yours as well as theirs. 

Here are some thoughts on that issue and what I did to help mine along. 

One of the things that my kids had to deal with is that I served a mission for my church in the Colombia Bogota region. When my kids started to complain about not having abcxyz, I would acknowledge their feelings, but then I would also talk about some of the people I saw, some of the KIDS I saw. I talked about how literally blessed we truly ARE, even when we're "poor" as compared to others around us. I was inspired to use the phrase that "we weren't really "poor", we just had a bad cash flow". Because we truly ARE blessed, we truly are rich compared to a LOT of other people in this world. So we mostly have the necessities of life, it's the "wants" that are tripping us and our kids up. 

Years later, my oldest said; "you know mom, when we were younger, we hated that you had served a mission. We would be upset about not having money and used to try and have a pity party you always made us feel badly for complaining." "You'd tell us stories about people, even KIDS that had nothing. Kids as young as 5 that had to go to work and work 12 hrs a day in the hot sun and then go to school until 11 PM if they were lucky enough to have parents that would pay for them to do it. And then remind us that we weren't poor, we just had a bad cash flow." "We HATED it then, because it always made us stop and think about all we did have, even if we couldn't afford to go do all the cool things some of the other kids were able to do.

Kids sometimes need to be reminded that w
e have clean water to drink, multiple outfits to wear. We don't have to go walk for miles to get dirty water - or have no water at all. We have indoor plumbing and/or the ability to create sanitary conditions even if "all" we have is an outhouse. We have electricity. We have free schools, if we choose to attend them and even in some "developed" countries, we have a freedom they do not have. We are free to homeschool/be homeschooled. We have knowledge. We can read, write do math, understand science. Yes, for AMERICANS we are poor. But compared to so much of the rest of the world, we are truly RICH. It's all in how we choose to look at it.

Perhaps it's time for a virtual field trip to a poor country or two. Even better, if you can afford a trip to Mexico or another "poor" country. Have someone local show you around. Show you what passes for schools in the poorer areas. Show you how "normal" people live, without going into dangerous areas. I promise you it will make a difference in what your family sees as "poor". 

I've lived in 3 different countries in 3 continents. I can tell you from actually LIVING there, not visiting, but living there - Japan, where I was stationed for 18 months in the mid '70's. Where people got up in the morning, went outside and used the "benjo" ditches to relieve themselves. Colombia for 9 months in 1980/81. I have more "stuff" than the middle class people and even some of the people they consider wealthy.  I grew up poor(ish) in the Southern US (where some of my peers growing up in the 1960(!) STILL didn't have indoor plumbing nor electricity. I've lived off grid - without electricity, sewage nor water on the property. I grew my food. I had 2 preemie babies with no well on my property. What water there was, was hauled in a 500 gal "water buffalo" for cleaning and laundry, or in gallon milk jugs for drinking and cooking EACH WEEK. To get the water from the buffalo into the house, a sump pump was dropped into the tank and the other end was screwed into the water line into the house. To use it, we had to turn off the a/c and plug in the pump - otherwise, it tripped the switch and we had no electricity. And we lived in nice, hot, humid FLORIDA! In a trailer! With a steel roof. But at the time, I owned it - only to lose it in the divorce, along with my good credit rating and being left with all the bills and expenses. Yeah, dad's aren't the only ones that can be taken to the cleaners by a dishonorable ex-spouse. But even in those VERY humble circumstances, I had more than about 2/3 of the people of Colombia in general and almost 100% of those living outside of major cities. 

There are plenty of videos out there that show third world countries. Have them watch some of those videos and get a new perspective on their OWN lives and how blessed they truly are.

Perhaps they need to observe and even interact with some of the homeless in our own areas. People
who, for whatever reason, are without a roof over their heads. And surprisingly, many times, it's not their fault. (And I strongly believe in personal choice and accountability).

But get sick, incur medical bills, lose your home trying to pay them and you're homeless. (NOT) your fault.

Let family move into your home, have them (behind your back) do illegal things and then get busted. Your house is seized and you're homeless. (Not your fault).

Be older and trying to help younger family members. Have them steal and forge your name, or trust them when they say they'll take care of you - only to have them literally put you on the street as they now have control of your assets. (Not your fault).

Be mentally ill or a vet suffering PTSD. (not their fault)

Lots of things can make someone homeless besides generally being "unworthy because they won't work". 

And once homeless, then it is so very, very hard to climb back into having a job and a place to live. See, no proper clothing, no job. Dirty because of no access to water, no job. No job, no place to live because you have no money. "So, they should just go get a job!". Please, note. I'm very conservative. I know there are people who play the system - I even casually know some of them. And they do need a swift kick in the pants. But many more are not deserving of being told it's their fault, it's not. And some of them are on the streets with their kids. 

I've been homeless several times in my life. And even though I was trying to make what to me were positive life changes, it WAS my fault I was homeless - I was chasing dreams and sometimes promised jobs weren't delivered. But I had some resources to fall back on. Church family, friends and having been in the military and then in a couple of Air National Guard units. Once, because I left an abusive marriage with my 3 kids 5 down to 5 months and nursing. SCARY.   But sometimes, you have to give up something to achieve something else. In that case, it was a very, very humble home to get out of an abusive marriage by going into a shelter for battered women.

Turn off tv and stay OUT Of the malls. 

Once, when I took my daughter and her boyfriend to Atlanta to go to the mall, I went inside with them. Now I had been happy with my life. I didn't have everything I wanted, but I did have what I needed. Let me tell you something. 10 minutes in that mall and I had the BIGGEST pity party in all the world going on inside of my head. I became SO discontented. Why here was ALL of these NICE things. Things that I will NEVER in this WORLD EVER have. (and it's true, I won't - I can't afford them and won't go into debt to get them). I worked SO hard, why wasn't I one of the blessed ones to have at least a FEW of theses NICE things???? And on it went for a few minutes. Until I caught myself in the envy and covetousness that I was feeling and said WHOA!! And I immediately left the mall and went and sat in the car. And rehearsed to myself all of the sad situations of people I knew in Columbia, knew in the states. And started counting my blessings! And then an amazing thing. I was at peace and contented once again. 

Malls and TV are there for one reason and one reason only - to make us WANT and to be envious of, the items they are selling. To make us feel DEPRIVED if we don't have these things. Which is the opposite of what we need to be feeling. Again, reference those in the rest of the world that aren't blessed with even a change of clothing, water to drink - much less clean water, a roof over their head - no matter how humble nor even food to eat - or worse, to feed to their children. People who get to watch their children DIE because THEY can't provide for them.

It's all in perspective and I tried to instill in my kids a proper perspective. Having said that, people, including kids have their agency. We may teach a truth, skill or attitude that is so necessary to being a good, competent adult, but they get to choose whether or not to assimilate the teaching and live by it. 

It's a very harsh truth for parents, especially we mammas whom like to load ourselves with guilt, to have to deal with. You keep pondering, what more could I have done - SURELY I missed SOMETHING or they would have done/not done abcxyz. Surely, if I had only done this instead of that, then things would have been different. Surely, if (name a person of influence in their life) had been a better person and better influence things would have been different. Why, yes, it would have been different. But they DIDN'T and you're going to have to forgive the person (for YOUR sake and move on).

And you just have to come to the point where you realize that you tried to do the best you could with what you had. At the end of the day, they have made their choice(s) and YOU, they, (and their children) have to live with the consequences. More on THAT in a later post. Nothing will change in the life of the now adult until THEY chose to change, choose to quit blaming everybody else, accept personal responsibility for what's happened and do what they know to be the good and right thing to do. And until THEY choose to change, there's nothing you can do about it. NOTHING you can do about it! I repeat, NOTHING you can do about it.
And please learn the difference between "helping" someone and "enabling them", then make sure you're not enabling their continued poor choices. Sometimes, we need to simultaneously keep the porch light on and the front door locked. We need to let them know we still love them, still want them, but that certain behaviors are NOT acceptable. Our ODD kids need this tough love most of all. Because just like ADD/ADHD doesn't just 'go away' at 18 or 20, neither does the ODD. They still need to work on it. However, they may choose to not do so. Then we allow them the right to choose and simply accept their choice - and allow them to deal with the consequences. Even when it directly and negatively affects us.

How do I know all of this. Well...walking that path now. Even though the young adult is an Eagle Scout, attitudes about money, and/or "I deserve it" (and it's more than financial things that people think they "deserve") and the inability to put off what is want this minute for a better tomorrow or next month/year has not kicked in. And kids are involved. Which takes me to part 3 tomorrow.