Posted by: Hannah | 11/08/2018

I hardly know where to start. I mean I could stretch out all the stuff that has happened since September into a whole series of posts, but that seems a bit silly. I don’t have the time, energy or inclination to write anymore. From the time my alarm goes off at 6AM until I tumble into bed at 10:30PM I’m busy, my hands and mind and heart full of challenges and stressors and triumphs. Sharing them here feels like whistling into the void.

But I need to offload somewhere, so here goes.

1 – For his birthday in May, Michael wanted to sign up for one of those online DNA testing sites. It sounded weird and unsettling to me – you could find out anything! anything at all! – but as an adoptee in Nova Scotia where we still have closed records he was desperate for information about his birth. I freely admit it was with a lot of trepidation that I signed him up and watched him send a test tube of his saliva to Dublin. As of yesterday he’s now met his birth father – a genial man who had no idea he’d fathered a child with that “pretty girl who liked to bop” he dated in teacher’s college – and one of his half-brothers, and plans are in the works for all five siblings to meet up soon. Of all the possible outcomes I was expecting, a whole large extended family willing and happy to accept Michael without question was not even on my list. I’m so happy for him while also feeling a little bit like Mickey Mouse with the bewitched brooms; it’s all happened really fast, and the more information we have the more connections we’re finding.

2 – Harry (he’s 13 and in 8th grade for those keeping track) had a really tough re-entry into school this year, after an incredibly bad 7th grade experience; he was outed at school by his erstwhile best friend, ostracized, teased, and bullied. Add in that with a multiplicity of teachers, learning a new language, and the usual stress of puberty and he became an unhappy, angry, depressed kid who withdrew from social interaction, missed a ton of school, and couldn’t regulate his emotional responses to even minor upsets. Summer was a bit better – no deadlines – but baseball went from being a fun activity to a delicate balancing act where I was constantly running interference between him and his teammates, him and the umpires, him and his own too-high expectations for himself… it was awful. Three weeks into this school year he had two meltdowns in two days, and we ended up at the children’s hospital mental health crisis clinic. From all of this came something we’ve been trying to get for him since the 2nd grade – support at school. After intensive lobbying the school planning team agreed to refer him for a full psych ed evaluation – that starts Tuesday. The school psychologist feels he is gifted (duh), probably ADHD (not surprising; related to the first point on my list it would appear that ADHD doesn’t run through Michael’s paternal line, it gallops), and suffering from the effects of trauma surrounding his outing last year. We’ve been reading up on ways to help kids with ADHD cope and he’s fully embraced everything we’ve suggested; as a result his homework is getting done, he’s not flipping out over small things like lost paperwork or missed assignments anymore, and he’s generally a pretty happy smiley guy again. I could probably write a blog (or a book) just on our experiences from the past year… but suffice to say advocating for him and supporting him has been and continues to be the biggest test of my life, one that for his sake I cannot afford to fail.

3 – I think I may have mentioned Ron’s Halloween phobia before (he’s now 10 and in grade 5). From the age of 3 he has been completely terrified of all things to do with October 31st. Masks in particular would bring on shaking, tears and panicked gasping, but really the whole thing just upset him far more than it was worth to him. Last year he wouldn’t even go trick or treating. This year his close friends begged him to go trick or treating with them, assuring him that there was safety in numbers and that he would be OK. He put together his own costume and said George (6, grade 1) could come too so I could accompany them just in case. On the big night we had six boys and two adults in a herd… and by house # 3 he’d conquered his fear. By the time I and his brothers were ready to pack it in he was begging to carry on, so I watched him run off down the street with his friends, feeling entirely too many feels for a Halloween night. It felt like one of those life-changing moments, one that he will always look back on, and then I had to discretely dry my tears as we walked home.

4 – George doesn’t believe in Santa Claus anymore, he informed us all calmly at dinner the other night. “I sort of think he exists, like as an idea. But I don’t really think he has a flying sleigh.” Fair enough. I had thought for a while that he was skeptical, given that he asks for the Lego Death Star every year and never gets it. There are simply not enough creative fictions in the world to account for socioeconomics. I am both relieved that I can keep doing all the fun Santa things (stockings! parades! baking cookies to leave for him!) and feeling quite guilty that I couldn’t keep it going longer. I myself believed in Santa until I was ten, and just shy of seven feels young to me… but he isn’t upset or heartbroken, he thanked me for being Santa all these years, and cheerfully announced he would revise his letter to account for “the family budget instead of magic elves” so really it went as well as anyone could want.

I haven’t even touched on a bunch of other stuff… about the salsa lessons I’ve been taking and the entirely inappropriate crush I’ve developed on fellow student Hot Jamie, or the baby I’ve been transitioning into the dayhome for the past week, or that we’re getting heat pumps for the house and I’ll finally have air conditioning during those humid weeks in the summer when everyone just wants to peel off their own skin, or how I am so in demand professionally that I have already signed a contract for my next scheduled vacancy which doesn’t happen until September. About how I’m generally in a better place mentally than I’ve been in my entire adult life, or maybe ever, but how sometimes I’m worried that it is more because I don’t ever stop for breath rather than that I’m actually healed. About how we finally have money, and how I’ve never *had* money, and how it keeps surprising me all over again that I can buy things I need or want, and how I feel guilt about spending anything on myself, even now.

Man, I miss the golden age of blogging. Anyone else? I loved those little snippets of people’s lives. What’s new with all of you?

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Responses

  1. I miss the blogging heyday, too…a lot. I always enjoy reading about people’s lives.

    In any case, it sounds like there’s a lot of positive stuff happening for you. YAY! And what a relief, because it sounds like you needed a break.

    I have no practical advice to offer on having a kid with ADHD, but I have plenty of experience having a spouse with it…so if you ever want to chat about it, I’m around. 🙂

    • I may take you up on that. One thing that has come out of all this research and reading is that we are pretty sure Michael also has ADD (not the hyperactivity so much but everything else, my stars)… oh, to have figured that out sooner! Our marriage is solid now and we have a good understanding of each other’s styles and needs but man, in the early days a lot of what I resented as gaslighting was almost certainly just him having ADD, reacting completely normally for that situation and not realizing how it appeared to me.

      • We could talk for days about spouses with ADD (hyperactivity is less common in adults, my research has told me. My husband doesn’t have that trait, either). He only got a diagnosis 3 or 4 years ago, but my goodness it explains a lot.

        If you’re interested, there’s a really good book that I recommend to anyone who has a spouse with ADD. I read it in the early days of his diagnosis and it really helped me.

        I borrowed it from the library and blew through it in a few days. It was fascinating for me to be able to connect the dots when it came to some of our issues

  2. Wonderful to hear from you, and to see so many positives in the post! I’m really sorry to hear that Harry is having/has had a rough time in school and beyond, but glad it’s finally led to help being provided. I’m intrigued by the learning a new language thing – is this a Canadian French/English thing or something else?

    • French immersion is offered in public schools right across the country, sometimes starting at age 5, sometimes at age 12 depending on the district and available resources. In our area the late immersion option is the only one, so he started that last year. And yes, they plunge immediately into being schooled almost entirely in French (exceptions are English Language Arts and the electives, so his music and cooking classes are in English).

      After barely a year he can communicate more easily in French than I can after 12 years of regular English streamed public school – it’s amazing! The additional academic rigour is tiring though, and navigating those young teen social relationships in a second language is very challenging.

  3. So what I’m getting is that I need to fly to Halifax and camp out with your scary-smart kids for a week-end so you and Michael can have a break – maybe together, maybe separately, because I know sometimes a woman just wants to be ALONE (with her thoughts of Jamie the salsa teacher). So happy for Michael. And Harry. And Ron. And George, the wise old seven-year-old. A list more in line with the family’s budget. Jesus. Hysterical.

    • YES PLEASE TO BE TAKING MY CHILDREN.

      They love you! It would be fun!!


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