A Letter to My Blog

Dear Days, Life, Dreams,

I’ve ignored you for some time now. There has been a battle in my head over which direction to take with you, and that has led to my not giving you any attention at all. I’m sorry.

I love writing, I really do. You know that from the nearly 500 posts you contain, dating back to February 2008 when I wrote my very first post. At first, I wrote about my family, my kids, and our life in India. I enjoyed writing all that, even though I know it was only read by a select few, mainly family.

And that is what I’ve forgotten over the past 6 years – why I started this blog in the first place. My only goal was to let my family (and anyone else who was interested) know what was happening in our lives. It was a few years before I discovered other mommy blogs, memes, blogging groups, etc. At first I got sucked into thinking I had to do what everyone else was doing to get a large following, blah, blah, blah. It drove me crazy trying to keep up, especially before you had this one place to call home and your contents were spread over 3 different blogs.

I’ve come to realize that I miss the relationship we had in the beginning. I miss posting short things about my kids and the rascals they were, or just putting up a picture or two and not worrying if I didn’t have a topic to write about.  So, my dear Blog, I am coming  back to you as me, not as anyone else. I will again write like I used to, just enjoying the time we have together. I will visit you when I feel like it, not according to some timetable. I don’t ever want to get so overwhelmed with “blogging” that I forget you are also my friend.

You listen to what ever I have to say. You don’t complain. You don’t judge. You are just there for me.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart,

Me

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No More T.V. – For a While

Today I did something my kids still can’t believe – I took away their daily t.v. time for an undetermined amount of time. Let me explain why.

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Logan and Lila have been getting more and more familiar with me. Anytime I ask either of them to do anything, they have a reason why they can’t obey, or an excuse, or an outright “no”. I find I’m repeating myself too many times a day, trying to get them to obey.

What’s worse, they will obey daddy wonderfully, will clean up their toys when he asks, come when he calls, etc., well, most of the time. They even told me that they would only obey daddy. That got me mad and on more than one occasion, I had to get Glad to talk to them about needing to obey me too.

We’ve tried many different discipline methods, but the only thing they seem to respond to is loss of privileges, mainly t.v. and movies. We’ve used this many times in the past, mostly to get a lesson to sink in, and it seems to work, at least for a while. During the time when they know they are missing their favorite shows, Logan will ask me why he’s missing it and we talk about what he needs to change to get to see them again.

But after today, I think it will be awhile before they get their shows back.

See, I asked them to do something they have to do every day: tidy up their bedroom. I got the dinner done early, since it is better to go out a little later when it is cooler, and they spent that time playing.  Once I was done, I asked them to pick up the mess so we could go out. No response. I asked again. Told them we needed to go outside. Nothing.

Then it started raining. Not too much, we still could have gone with raincoats, but by now they were both saying they didn’t want to clean up. No, they wouldn’t do it. Logan went as far as to tell me to never ask him to clean up again!! This stinker is not even 6 yet. That is something I expect from a teen, not him.

I’d had it at that point. Not just because they wouldn’t clean up this time, but because of all the times lately that they have not listened to me at all. I just said there would be no more daily t.v. time until they learn to obey me. That did it! The tears! No, we want to obey. Oh, really? I’ve heard that one before.

I held my ground and left the room to wash dishes so as to not yell at them any more. We didn’t go out, they played around a bit, and cried more when they realized I was serious. Then daddy came home. Of course he had to hear the tale and of course he agreed with my decision. I actually heard them talking before he came, hoping he would say something different and change the punishment or drop it. Such stinkers!

In the end, Scarlett cleaned most of the mess, while Logan and Lila did a little. Then they sat for dinner with daddy and he talked to them about obeying me. Before bed, I again had to make it clear that it was up to them how long this t.v. ban would last. I know I’ll have to discuss it again tomorrow. And probably all of next week.

I’m actually curious to see how long it will take for them to get that I mean business. I know there won’t be an overnight change, since they are in the habit of not obeying the first time, ignoring me, arguing about having to obey, etc. It’s going to take me reminding them every time I ask them to do something and they don’t do it right away. I know this is going to be rough for me as well as them, but the hope is that in the end, they will be more obedient.

How do you handle disobedience with your children? Any tips or suggestions are welcome.

 

Update: November 2, 2013 – after one week I tried letting them have t.v. time back. Logan lost it again on the first day when he freaked out over Lila doing some small thing he didn’t like and biting her so hard he almost cut her skin. The girls aren’t into the t.v. as much as he is, so on those days when Logan wasn’t allowed it, I only put it on if they asked. Mostly they would just play and be happy on their own.

After 2 weeks, Logan is doing much better. He is listening to me more, obeying more, and he has yet to bite again. I consider this a success. So yes, they are again allowed to watch their shows. Hopefully they will remember this one for a while.

Rethinking My Writing Commitment – Doing it Right

I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since my last post. So much for my commitment to write regularly. I’ve just not been in the mood, nor did I have any ideas about what to write.

I read a lot of other blogs, mostly mommy blogs. Each one is kept up in a way that is particular to the person writing it. And that’s a good thing. What’s bad is that I’ve felt the need to be like those who post several times a week, who never miss a post, who can keep up with all the various memes and link up’s that are out there.

I tried doing that back some time ago when I had 3 separate blogs, before they all got mixed together here on this one.  My childcare/parenting one was a source of continual stress for me, which is why I eventually discontinued it. (You can find the posts from that blog on my page Mommy to Mommy and on the tabs under that page.)

But why do I feel this need to follow the crowd? My blog is my own and should be kept up for my own reasons, not anyone else’s. I think I just need to get back to the original reason why I began this blog: keeping my family up-to-date on the kids and our lives. If I write anything, it should be what I want to write, not what I think the mommy blogger community as a whole would like.

Life has kept me busy lately and that is, I think, more important than trying to come up with the perfect blog post. I’m doing better in some of my other commitments. I got more exercise this month. We are trying out new meal ideas. The house is cleaner because we finally hired a maid. The kids are learning. They love school time so much that they want it every day.

By the time I have time to sit and blog, I’m tired. I’ve tried writing tired before. It doesn’t come out that great. So this reminder is more for myself – just write what you want and leave the rest unwritten. Don’t try to keep up with anyone. Stay true to your own commitments.

Why Our Move is Still Pending

Last year we announced that we are moving to Canada. Our hope was to be there before this year is out, but it looks like that won’t be happening. Here’s what’s going on.

We spent a lot of time last year and early this year working with our attorney in Canada to get everything in order so that Glad and the kids could get their visas. We figured we’d have them within about 3 – 6 months of applying and that possibly by now (August), we be ready to make the actual move.

Well, we finished everything we had to do and sent their passports and other documents up to the Canadian Embassy in Delhi and prepared to wait. Glad was checking the processing progress on their website almost daily. He was sure it wouldn’t take too long.

Then the embassy staff went on strike.

And not just here. It is a worldwide strike. That of course means that nothing is getting done. No paperwork is being processed, and the passports are stuck in the embassy. Here are links to a few recent articles on the topic, and you can Google many more.

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/319775/pinoyabroad/news/strike-of-diplomats-in-canadian-embassies-consulates-worldwide-disrupts-visa-operations

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2013/07/30/no_end_in_sight_to_strike_by_canadas_foreign_service_officers.html

So with that stopping us from forward progress in the move, we have decided to end the holding pattern we were in and get some stuff done. For example, we are going to paint the house. Yes, I’ve said it before, but this time it will happen. Glad is advancing in his job. He’s making a real difference in the company and helping them grow, and I know they will miss him when we finally do leave.

Another thing we didn’t do was enroll the kids for the new school year, which began in June. Schools here require a full year’s advance payment and we were sure it wouldn’t be used, thus wasting a huge amount of money. Instead, we decided to do a little work at home just to keep them busy.

But now with this delay, I am picking up the slack. Instead of finding schools for them, I am buying books for the basics – writing, reading, math, and English. They do phonics practice from this great website, which is so easy to use, they can do it themselves. But I still help them so I can keep tabs on their progress.

Logan reads at what I’m guessing is a 1st or 2nd grade level. He can read most anything now and is in the advanced section of that website. We are still working through the Ladybird reader series. He is on level 5. Most of it is too easy for him but he wants to keep going with it so it’s okay by me.

Lila picked up on reading so fast it amazed me. When we started over a year ago, she really wasn’t interested so I left it. Now, after about 2 months of work, she is at level 2 of the Ladybird readers and the second level of the phonics site.

For math and English we are using some books from the Gold Stars series.

When it came to writing, Lila was at the beginning,  and Logan needed to go back to the beginning. He had learned some things wrong in kindergarten, or rather they never corrected his mistakes. So I’ve got them both doing a book of basic strokes and from there they will go to the alphabet. Lila is very good at it; she follows the dots and rarely messes up.

But Logan had difficulty with writing before, and even now, just tracing the basic strokes is hard for him. He is working through the book slower as I want him to get the strokes right. It is hard for him to control his pencil and keep it where it should be. If it is too messy, I make him erase it and do it again. He only does a few rows of writing a day, but even that is a challenge for him as opposed to Lila, who will often do a whole page if she feels like it, and it will be neat.

We’ve also enrolled the kids in art class 3 times a week as an extra curricular. So that covers their schooling for now. I don’t plan on homeschooling permanently. This is just until we settle in Canada.

To those of you who were expecting us this year – sorry. We have no idea when we will get the visas and make the move. If you want us there sooner, pray for things to clear up with the embassies.

Life Lessons Can Be Found Anywhere

Last Sunday, Glad took the kids to a sports park that is not far from home. It has tennis courts, basketball courts, a roller rink, a path circling the entire park for walking, and lots of grass to run in. We have been there many times before but this time, Logan had a request.

Ever since he saw Twice Upon A Christmas and watched Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck skate with ease, Logan has wanted to skate. In his mind it was effortless fun, and after watching the more experienced children zip around the rink, Logan asked to learn to skate. Of course, Lila asked to learn too. She loves skating and was happy to get skates for her last birthday, but has not learned to use them properly. After some thought, Glad decided we should go for it.

The next day, we met at the park and signed the kids up for the class. They provided a basic kit for each of them – skates that attach to your shoes, elbow and knee pads, hand guards, and a soft helmet. Once dressed, they both got in line for their first class.

Logan immediately realized that skating wasn’t as easy as he had imagined. He wanted to go fast like the other kids and was upset to find he couldn’t. Logan has balance issues and trips easily, so our hope is that learning to skate will help improve his balance. But more than that, Logan needs to learn perseverance.

After the first lesson, he didn’t want to go back. The next day when I took them for their second class, Logan cried to whole time. He refused to join his group or even try to walk on the skates, which is what the other beginners were doing. It was one of those embarrassing moments in a parents’ life – your child is throwing a fit and you are just praying to keep your composure and at the same time not give in to the tantrum. Since they were just starting out, I had promised them a small treat for doing a good job, but since Logan made such a fuss, he missed his treat and his video time. He didn’t even seem to care that Lila got a treat.

The next day (day 3 of classes) we discussed why he wasn’t yet able to skate fast or backwards like he wanted to. I told him it would take time and effort on his part and that he couldn’t just quit. This isn’t the first time we’ve had this kind of discussion. I also told him that if he threw another fit at class, he would miss our special outing to the mall. I needed to do something to get him to stop saying he couldn’t do it and agree to at least try.

Just before the class started, I asked him what would happen if he threw a fit again. He said he’d miss his treat, video, and mall outing. 🙂  Kids can be so much harder on themselves than we are. Anyway, he did great. Not only did he make good effort, he was happy and smiling the whole time, and he did get a treat this time, plus of course the promised mall outing. We used the outing to take a break from skating class, since classes are on daily but they only need to come as often as we want them to.

Getting Logan to persevere at something has never been easy. It takes loads of persuasion, encouragement, discussion, and simply saying “You can do it.” Once he learns how to do whatever it is, then he’s fine, but until he learns it, he wears me out with how hard he has convinced himself that he can’t do it.

It isn’t a new lesson, but perseverance is an important one. Sometimes I don’t have the patience to teach him something, like buttoning his shirt. I did it for him forever until daddy asked why. With some effort on daddy’s part, Logan learned to do buttons himself. I’d probably still be doing them for him if daddy hadn’t pushed him. I pushed him with learning to write,  among other things, but I foresee this will be a lifelong lesson for Logan. He wants to quit kindergarten now, so I encourage him by telling him the school year is almost over and that he will get a long break. (School lets out in April here.)

I guess the title of this post is its point – life lessons can be found anywhere – even on the roller rink.

My little skaters.

My little skaters.

 

You can see more pics from the skating here on Facebook.

"He’s a Bad Boy!"

That’s what my son told me when picked him up from school today. One of his classmates had pinched him and he was very upset. Logan is by no means innocent of pinching. No, he pinches just as hard and often as the next kid, but hates being on the receiving end. Of course!

What got me was how quckly he labled his classmate as a bad person. Remember we are talking about kindergardeners here. I asked Logan why he was saying that, and apparently he had heard his teacher call the other boy bad when he did stuff like hit and pinch.

So I took some time to explain to Logan the difference between doing something that is bad and actually being a bad person, and I began to recall something I had read years ago in regards to discipline – never lable your child or they will end up living up to it. Since it is such a habit for me, I wrongly assumed other adults were aware of it too, which is why Logan’s statement about his teacher surprised me so much.

We often forget that children, especially between the ages of 2 and 5, are just learning which actions are acceptable and which are not. Children lash out and hurt each other because they don’t know how else to react when a friend or classmate does something they don’t like. Hurting each other is like a built-in self-defense mechanisim.

Children will only learn other methods of working out problems from us, their parents and teachers, and it is imperative that we explain and demonstrate the behavior we want them to learn in a calm manner. Yelling at them to stop hitting is usually counterproductive. I know because I’ve tried it. Like any mother, I will get frustrated with their meanness to each other and I will yell and threaten, but I shouldn’t because I know better. When I do stop to talk to them and I handle it calmly, they are more likely to sort out their differences and get along better.

Here are some tips to remember when you are faced with hurtful behavior from your child.

– Never call your child bad. Do that often enough and your child will see themselves as bad and they will wonder why they should even try to be good.

– When your child does something that hurts someone else, first let them know that it is the action that is bad. Say, “Pinching the baby was a bad thing to do.” Never say, “You are a bad boy for pinching the baby.”

– Next, explain why what they are doing is bad, and why they shouldn’t do it. Ie. “Pinching is bad because it hurts and we shouldn’t hurt people.”

– A further step would be to show them how they should act instead. You could say, “We touch people gently” while taking their hand and showing them what a gentle touch is. Show your child how to gently pat or stroke the child they hurt on the arm or hand.

– After that, it is good to teach them to apologise. For a toddler who isn’t verbal yet, you can teach them an action that they can do when they hurt someone. Maybe they could pat the person or give a kiss. At first you will have to walk them through the action while saying “I’m sorry.” That way they connect the action with the words. A child who can talk can learn to say “I’m sorry” and maybe they could do something nice for the person they hurt.

This kind of training doesn’t belittle the child; instead it helps them see that they are capable of acting in a good way, plus it gives them a life skill that they will be able to use in the future. We all want our children to be good, but it is the way we say it that will encourage or discourage them.

Do you have a story or tips you would like to share along these lines? Please do so in the comments.

Backlog and Updates #3: Logan,Lila, School and More

Continuing with the updates from last month, here are yet more photos.
Logan and Lila are both doing so well in school. Logan is happy and often says, “Kindergarden is actually fun!” The place we found for him is just what he needed. While they do have bookwork, in order to prepare the children for what they are required to know before they enter 1st grade here, they also have a lot of fun. The school combines American early learning techniques with Montessori, which gives them a lot more freedom to explore and enjoy themselves. 
Ready to go.

 While Lila’s school requires a uniform, Logan’s doesn’t. They believe the children should come to school wearing what they are most comfortable in. They do have some special occassions that the children dress up for, like certain Indian holidays. Here is Logan in his traditional outfit. He has already worn it 3 times this month. Ha. I only got him one since he won’t wear it anywhere but school,  but I bet they are getting bored of seeing the same one all the time.

Ready for special holiday activities.

 Of course the big holiday this month was Independence Day. Here is Logan in class the day before.

 And here is Lila ready for her Independence Day activities. This is her first time wearing a traditional top.

And I did her hair in the colors of the flag.

On the actual Independence Day, we rested at home and then went for a family outing to the park in the afternoon.

September 5th was Teacher’s Day, so I helped the kids make cards for their teachers. My mom sent them this teddy bear activity and it was perfect to use for cards. While I had to do most of the work (of course), they did the coloring and drew designs on the cards, plus signed their names on them, with a little help.

Logan’s cards made it to the school bulletin board.

Logan has only been in this school for 7 weeks, but already we see him making so much progress. I had my first PTV with his teacher last week and he is ahead in everything, except writing. Well, that doesn’t bother us. We don’t mind if he goes slower with writing and learns to do it right. See, here in India, children are required to be reading and able to write two sentences on their own when they enter 1st grade, so they begin learning to write in preschool. LKG reinforces it and by UKG, where Logan is, they are introduced to cursive. Wow!

His difficulties lie in a) desire to learn to write, and b) a lack in fine motor skills. Homework was tough for him at first, but he is getting used to it. I don’t always make him do everything that is sent home. They were giving him a lot because he had two months worth of work to make up in order to be up with his classmates. Now the amount has been reduced. Even the teacher said she doesn’t like to give them so much but she is requred to in order for them to be ready for 1st grade.

Last week she gave them all a break from writing and planned a fun day of cooking. Logan was so happy, as you can see from the pics. He was especially delighted to not have any homework last weekend.

Taking a turn with the mixing.

And enjoying the sandwiches afterwards.

One funny thing: Here children address their teachers by their name first and then they say Miss afterwards. In Logan’s school, the children say aunty instead of miss. Well, Logan calls his teacher Sherly Aunty Miss. Ha. He was used to calling his teacher Miss so he just tacked it on. He also used to call the nanny in his class last year Aunty Miss and everyone thought it was so funny. I guess he thought aunty was her name.

As you can see, he has a lot of books. From the top they are an English workbook, Math workbook, cursive and print writing workbooks, an art book, general knowledge, writing numbers, a blank drawing book, Hindi alphabet book, English reader and workbook, plus 4 blank notebooks. The school also provided a backpack. Most of this work is done at school. So far his homework has been the writing and numbers workbooks, reading, drawing, and Hindi, though with the last one I sent a note saying I wasn’t able to teach him the Hindi alphabet and Glad could only help with it on weekends. He was supposed to practice the letters at home but I think they decided to not send it any more. He also often gets extra letter practice in the blank notebooks.

As for the reading I was doing with him, we have slowed down with it in order to make his homework a priority, but he is reading so well that even though we don’t get to do it daily any more, he is still progressing. Today he surprised me by spelling all the numbers from one to ten! I had no idea he was learning spelling already.

Today I met with Lila’s teacher for the first term PTV. Lila has made excellent progress in every area, except talking in school. While she is a great (and loud) talker at home, at school she is very quiet and never speaks above a whisper. Only recently did her teachers discover that she has a loud voice. Glad had been out on business and picked Logan up and brought him back to Lila’s school, instead of the other way around. Logan took off to explore his old school and raced up the stairs. Lila knows that she isn’t supposed to go up as her classroom is downstairs (the same one Logan had, with the same main teacher), so she stayed at the bottom of the stairs and politely shouted for Logan to come down. Apparently all the teachers came running because it was the first time they had ever heard her normal voice. Ha.

They are preparing for their annual day event at the end of this month, so the kids will be having dance practice all next week and Lila is excited about it. She is doing well with the dancing and enjoys it above all the rest of the activities at school.

And I will leave you with photos of them leaving for school, taken just this morning. We live in a large house that is divided into apartments and ours is on the first floor. Here they are heading out.

Down the stairs…

… onto the scooter …

… and away they go.

I’m nervous about bikes. I’ve never been on one myself because of this, but the kids are used to it. And Glad goes slow with them. Their schools are super close to home, too, so it is not like they have to spend a long time on it. And it is cheaper than taking them by auto every day. Don’t get me started on the exhorbant fees auto drivers charge here in Chennai. Thankfully the city is waking up to the need to change it and hopefully they will get the local government to reinstitute the use of the meter. I hate haggling prices with auto drivers, especially because they expect me to pay more since I am white. (This sounds like a new post. I just might write it.)

Teaching Children "I Can Do It"

This week Logan has learned something important: I can do it!

Ever since he was small, Logan has always wanted me to do everything for him. Unlike most children who are desperate to do everything for themselves, proclaiming “me do it!”, Logan has always said “Mommy do it” for those things that he didn’t want to do himself. He would try once and fail, but instead of trying again, he would just cry and beg me to do it.

This has come out in his play, putting toys together, learning new games, dressing himself, pretty much with any new skill. He gets frustrated easily if he isn’t able to do something right the first time, and then gets mad if I try to convince him he can do it.

Logan was recently diagnosed with ADHD, shortly after we had to take him out of his new kindergarten because they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) handle his behavior. (You can get more details here, here and here.) Until things are straightened out and his diagnoses is complete, therapy is started, and we can find him a new, better school, I am teaching him at home. (Update: school has been found. He starts Monday.)

First alphabet work without my help.

Last year at preschool he began writing the alphabet and numbers. At first I helped him by holding his hand for homework, the same as his teacher did at school. But there never came a moment when he decided to try on his own. He wanted all the help he could get and he made sure I knew there was no way he could do it alone. Ha. Since it was only a few lines of work each day, I let it pass.

After his kindergarten flop, we decided to get him checked to see what the problem might be, as there has always been trouble with his behavior. In the mean time, I went ahead and got him workbooks for pre-writing, alphabet and numbers, so that even though things were up in the air, he was still getting some input. I had already begun teaching him to read.

For about two weeks I helped him; I held his hand as he wrote each new thing, unsure of how to get him to work alone. What pushed me to do it? Seeing Lila show so much ability and interest in her own writing; she has only just begun but already wants and tries to trace the letters on her own. I knew he had the skill but lacked the desire. I also noticed that when I held his hand, he would hold his pencil wrong and pretty much just let me do it.

Copy-work from his readers.

So over last weekend I talked to him about it. I told him it was time to write on his own and that I wasn’t going to hold his hand any more. I told him that I knew he could do it alone since he was older than Lila, and that if she could do it so could he. I reminded him of other things he found out he could do, like go on this certain slide at the park. He never wanted to, but I convinced him that if Scarlett could go on it, he could too. And he does every time we go now. He just needed that little push. As expected, he lost it. He cried and begged me to not make him do it alone. Poor guy. But I had to stay firm in order to get him to make any progress.

Monday morning came with more tears, but with reassurance that he only had to do one line in each book and that with practice it would get easier, plus a sheet of smiley face stickers to reward his efforts, he began. I sat next to him and we took it slow, erasing messy mistakes, and cheering for work well done. I made sure he knew how to hold his pencil properly, how to slant and hold the book, and most importantly, that it was okay to go slow. Neat work is more important than speed right now.

He only did maybe a quarter of what we had been doing, but he did it on his own, and more importantly, he learned that he can do it. It’s now been 10 days and he has gained confidence. He doesn’t fuss when I don’t hold his hand, though he still asks me to, and his work is getting neater.

I write the words in red pen and he traces them – for now.

I think I’ve learned something too: don’t allow my children to give up easily when they find something hard. I thought I was making it easier for Logan by helping him for so long, but in reality, I was holding him back. He just needed that little push to get him going.

So if your child is going through something similar and there is something they need to do but refuse to do alone, even after you know they have the ability and coordination for it, don’t let them give up.

– First, offer lots of encouragement. Tell them that you know they can do it.

– Use positive comparisons. I used the examples of what the girls could do to convince Logan that, since he was older than them and therefore bigger, stronger and smarter, it would be easy for him to do those things too. I made it seem easy, and it helped him get into a more positive frame of mind.

– Avoid negative comparisons. Comparing your children negatively can have the opposite effect of helping them progress. Had I told Logan “Lila can do it, why can’t you?”, I know that he would have put himself down and refused to try at all.

– Use rewards. Rewards work so well, yet for many parents it is an untapped resource. Rewards don’t have to be big either. I just pulled out a sheet of small stickers I had lying around and I put one next to each line he does.

You could use a chart for anything you want them to learn. If the skill is getting dressed or eating neatly, then they would get a sticker on the chart each time they did so. Most children love to see stickers going up as it is something tangible. Each time they see it they are reminded that they succeeded before and can do so again.

If you don’t have stickers, you could draw stars on the chart, or better yet, take your child shopping and pick out the stickers together. Shiny stars or happy smiley faces can transform a plain chart into something exciting.

– Don’t give up on them. At first, you may have to reward for a small part of the skill they are learning. Maybe they can’t yet put a shirt on alone but they can put on their own underwear, so reward them for that.

Mommies, have you gone through this? How did you handle it?

Some News About Logan

Today’s post is not easy for me to write, but I have to do it, even if it is just to get my own thoughts and feelings on the matter sorted out. We had to take Logan out of his new school after 7 days due to his behavior and them not being able (or willing) to handle him. There is a lot for me to explain so this will be long. Bare with me.

To start at the beginning, I’ve always known there was something different about Logan. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but having cared for many children over the years, I could tell he was not average for his age in many ways. He had gross motor skill delays as a baby and toddler, then delayed speech and more than normal difficulty with emotional self-control. For example, he rolled over at 8 months (average is 3 months), crawled at 11 months (av. 7 mo.), walked at 15 months (av. 12 mo.), and had a hard time running well even at 3 years. When he did learn to walk, he fell more than average and hit his head in doing so more times than I can count. It wasn’t unusual for him to have a big bump on his head within seconds of falling.

Around the time he turned 2, he was sick for a while and threw up. It had never affected him before, but the way he cried at that time worried me. He was so scared of it that it took a long time to calm him down. That was the first time I saw that cry, the one that says something is freaking him out and nothing will calm him down. He also began flapping his hands and tensing his body so hard that he is stronger than me when in that mode.

What made things harder for him was not being able to talk. Until he was 2 1/2, he could only say 5 words and would not try to say anything else. Where most children will make attempts at copying words, he would just stare at me if I tried to get him to say something. He could make most animal sound but words were mama, dada, na-na (food), baba (baby), and deow (there). After 2 1/2 though, it was like a dam burst and the words just poured out of him.

I got most concerned after he turned 3 and saw that he still lacked basic skills that any child his age would have mastered at that point. At first I chalked it up to his difficult birth, and going over it, I was sure he had experienced trauma at some point. His delivery was by emergency C-section at 33 weeks, because my water broke and was completely drained by the time he was delivered. The doctors also discovered that he had the cord around his neck so tight that they couldn’t lift it off and they had to cut it before he was taken out. I can see that there would be a short delay in getting enough oxygen between the time the cord was cut and when he was pulled out and started breathing. Even a small lack of oxygen can affect the brain and cause delays or permanently affect a child. (Go here for his full birth story.) Birth trauma can be the cause for many delays in children, but as he got older, I wasn’t entirely convinced that that was the root cause of the problems.

There are a lot of things Logan does that are odd. He loves playing with doors- opening, closing, slamming – over and over, all day long. He will be sitting and playing quietly, then will suddenly become intensely wild and will dump or throw all the toys over the entire room. He will go from gently reading a book to treating it roughly and often crushing or tearing the pages. I never knew cardboard books could be torn until Logan ruined every single one we had. He likes to push buttons and play with switches to the point of breaking them. He pulls pictures off the walls and tears any paper he finds.

He will sit and say the same thing over and over, changing only one word to suit his play. For example, he will make up a sentence ie.”This is the animal one,” referring to a book or video, and then repeat the sentence over and over, but each time will substitute the word animal for a specific animal name. At the same time, he has his hands in his lap and his fingers will be furiously wiggling and intertwining. He often does this hand thing when talking to us as well.

I’ve never known any child to throw tantrums like he does. The strength he has is insane. The solution for me has been to put him in his room until he calmed down, since he would not only scream, but would pinch and bite me. Thankfully these are becoming less frequent; plus, now he will let me hold him and talk to him at times when before he would have been unable to accept any sort of reasoning.

He has a lot of fears that I find unusual. Not only is he scared of vomiting, but if he hears anyone talk about it, or mention that they have a sick tummy, or that they could get one, he freaks out. Sometimes I tell Lila eating or drinking a certain thing (she will still put sticks and stuff from the ground in her mouth and likes to drink the tap water) will give her a sick tummy. Being a stubborn, independent 3 year old, she will go ahead and do it anyway and Logan will cry and freak out, thinking she will get sick right there. She will often do it on purpose just to upset Logan since she knows it scares him, and he will come running and burst into tears saying, “Lila will get sick.” She just smiles and continues defiantly. Arrg.

He also hates any sort of bowel pain and will freak out almost daily just before he has to go doo-doo. This started about a year ago and has taken some time for me to figure out. He doesn’t like pain of any kind, and fears having to visit the doctor, so he will say something else hurts instead of what really hurts, and sometimes he will cry for a long time, claiming his chin or toes or some tiny cut is hurting instead of telling me what really hurts. He is slowly getting over it, but still has a hard time understanding that it is important to talk about pain instead of hiding it. I’ve talked with him about how it’s ok to sit on the toilet a while and that he doesn’t have to wait until the last second to go, nor does he have to cry about it. If it happens at mealtime, he won’t finish his meal, even though we talk about how it is ok to come back and finish eating. He often just wants to lie down instead. Lately I’ve tried telling him “If your leg (or whatever) hurts so much, we will have to take you to the doctor so he can make sure you are ok.” This is often enough to make him stop and soon he will tell me it doesn’t hurt any more and he will be off playing.

Loud noises used to scare him a lot but now the main noise he hates is someone crying or tantrums from other children. (His own don’t affect him, ha.) Especially when he is tired, if one of the girls, or a child in a public place, starts crying, he will cry too and say he is scared of the noise. He used to be scared of the washer, mini 3-wheel trucks, fireworks (Indian holidays were a nightmare), the pressure cooker, balloons and more. Most of these he has overcome now, and he actually loves the washer. When it spins he wants to touch it, saying the vibrations feel lovely. And he is constantly putting stuff on top of it – toys, books, the potty, anything that makes noise when vibrated – “to wash” he says.

His current big fear is elevators. I mentioned in this post the incident at the mall where he freaked out when I tried to get him on an elevator. I don’t think I described how strong he was when screaming. It took all my strength to hold him on the floor, and to calm him down I had to talk with my mouth right up to his ear as he was screaming so loud he would not have heard me any other way. It took a good 5 minutes before he was calm enough to tell me that he was scared of the elevator and the man inside (the guy who sits and pushes the buttons). Then, I had to carry him past the elevators, kicking and screaming, to get to the stairs. It wasn’t until he saw the stairs that he was convinced I wasn’t going to force him onto the elevator. (Did I mention the girls were there too and that Lila had to hold Scarlett to keep her from running off and I had to make her walk instead of carry her?)

He does not do well in group play, meaning Lila and Scarlett put up with a lot of meanness from him. Sometimes he will play nicely (he is slowly learning) but then suddenly he will freak out and start hitting whoever is close to him or whoever he thinks is bothering him, whether they are or not. He has gone through phases of hitting, pinching, and biting. While this is normal for preschoolers to some extent, usually they will stop it after a few reprimands or punishments. But he just doesn’t seem to be able to control himself no matter how many times I have talked about it or punished for it.

As he has gotten bigger and stronger, when he gets upset at the girls, I have to step in right away for their own safety, though both have learned to retaliate and can get him back good. I have to pull Logan out of the group and hold him firmly seated next to me while we try to work out the problem. Sometimes it works, but sometimes he is just too wound up and tiredness makes it worse.

Now on to school. He did well during his preschool year, though there were difficulties. He never would sit in class when needed. He would often run out of the classroom and climb the stairs, or he would not want to join the group activity, preferring to play on his own. Whenever he was really acting up and not listening to his teacher, she would call Glad to deal with him. Now that I think about it, he made it through preschool because daddy was right there to call when he was too much to handle. He did come to love his teacher, though, and went through a time when he would cry and ask for her when it wasn’t a school day.

Then came kindergarden. Since the school he was in didn’t have a kindergarden program, we enrolled him in another one that was just a few streets away from the previous one. It wasn’t just close but was also one of the largest and most popular (and supposedly best) preschool chains in all of Asia so we didn’t think there would be any problems. There he exhibited all the same behavior as at home and at his previous school, but they didn’t know how to handle it. After the first week, they wanted to talk to us about how to handle him. They suggested we either hire a nanny to be with him full time while at school, or else withdraw him. I understand that the teacher had 10 other kids to work with, but I feel they didn’t want to have to discipline him and make him sit when needed (which he will do), nor did they want the challenge of a “hyperactive child” as they described him. So we decided to withdraw him and find another place.

Now I have to insert the important part: We feel Logan may have autism. Now, this is not yet proven; we still have to get him tested and see if 1. he has autism or not, and 2. if so, how serious it is. This possibility came to light back when Glad was just teaching at the school in their after-school programs and was not yet the manager of the place. They had a seminar for the teachers about working with autistic children and he told me later that many of the points made him think “That sounds like Logan.”

In doing research, I have found more and more points to confirm the possibility. Things like saying the same thing 50 times in a row (literally, it can drive me crazy), wanting to always watch the same video, attachment to certain toys, and being sensitive to noise, not to mention all the things I listed above, all point towards the possibility of autism. I want to reiterate that this is not yet confirmed. We have to have him evaluated by a professional first. From there we will see if there is a special school where he will be able to get the focused attention he needs, or perhaps just one where he will be able to learn in his own way.

When it comes to learning, he is good at it. He’s smart and retains information better than I do. Just look at how fast he learned to read when he was finally interested in it. For now, I am working with him at home, but I don’t plan on homeschooling forever. This is just until we find the right place for him. In the mean time, I am continuing with reading, plus writing the alphabet and numbers, and some phonics. I could do a whole curriculum for him if I really wanted to get into full time homeschooling, but I still have Scarlett at home and she demands attention too, plus the home care and cooking and everything else, and truthfully, I don’t want to do it. It is a huge commitment of time and energy that I don’t have. The time when they are gone in the morning is like a mental break for me and I feel refreshed by the time they get home.

So this is how things stand now. Once the evaluation is done, I will be able to tell you more. Glad says he almost doesn’t want to know, and while I understand the feeling, I feel we would be doing Logan a disservice by ignoring it. I want him to be able to progress, to learn and grow in an environment that is just right for him.

This coming Wednesday Logan has an appointment with a specialist. I’m both nervous about what the outcome will be and happy that we will finally have an answer and possible solutions for helping him progress. I promise I’ll update you as we learn more.

Special Update – Scarlett at 10 months

My littlest rascal is growing up so fast. She loves to eat and won’t hesitate to try anything. If she sees you eating, she will scream until you give her some. She joins us for meals now and eats most of what we do. She loves to feed herself and is good at finger foods.

 She has just this week switched from two naps to only one nap a day. I’m happy for that as it gives me a block of time when all three of them are sleeping and I can relax, nap, or get stuff done. I’m trying to get back into exercise and will use that time for it.

She loves to play in Logan and Lila’s room and is very happy to be around them, so long as she doesn’t need to eat or sleep. When she needs something, she will come and follow me around fussing and saying “mama” until I get to her. She hates a dirty diaper and isn’t happy until it is changed.
She also loves daddy and is such a daddy’s girl. As soon as he gets home, she charges from where ever she is, calling, “dada, dada”, and makes sure he gives her some attention.

The newest thing she has learned is how to point. She will point out things, often animals but also anything that catches her eye, then say “dat”. She must have learned this from Lila as I never taught it to her.
She loves to dance, to any music. And if she can’t dance, like when in the stroller or highchair, she will swing or kick her legs and laugh.


Only two more months till her birthday. Where did all that time go?
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