Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Indoor Winter

I've tried to start this blog several times and then wasn't sure where I was going with it.
On one hand I just want to complain.
On another hand I want to try to find a way to be positive about things.
On another hand maybe I'm just trying to find people in the same situation as me.

Toby is....opinionated.
To put it gently.

But more than opinionated, he's sensitive.
When people say that someone is sensitive, the idea that first comes to mind is that of someone who is babyish and touchy. But its much more than that.

He's sensitive in that he's hyper-aware of things that other kids may breeze through.
He can't watch movies with bad-guys because he gets really really concerned about why they're acting that way. It startles him, and then he asks why they did *thing*, and then I say that it's because that character thought it was the right thing to do for them, but we know that it's maybe not the best or nicest solution. And instead of accepting that he goes… but… WHY? And I explain that that's just the way that character was written, some stories have characters like that.
But…. WHY??
And then he looses the plot line and asks to turn it off.
And it's not like we're trying to watch Avengers or anything… this is like…Finding Nemo. Or Rio.

Other things like getting dressed are a huge chore for him. Clothes have to fit right and feel right and not have tags and his socks have to be pulled up just enough, but not too much that he can feel them snug on his toes, but not too lose that they feel like they're slipping (there's about 2mm difference between these two).
Since last year was the first full year that I have not physically dressed him, he's become very independent and opinionated about what he wears.
For instance, he has been wearing shorts since last April.
He'll wear 'work pants', but he wants nothing to do with his winter pyjamas in our freezing cold house.
I guess he has a very high core-furnace, because he seems to be functioning.
He just keeps telling me that he likes the feel of his bed sheets on his legs and gets too hot at night with other pyjamas on. Which is fine… but then he doesn't want to change in the morning.
This has spilled over to outdoor clothing.
Last year's snow pants were 3 inches too short, as was his coat. And boots (ok maybe not 3 inches). So we bought new ones.
This was fine for a while, but then his mitts started slipping out of his sleeves. Last winter he left them permanently like this, risking frostbite on his wrists, but this year it was the end of the world, since we hadn't gotten used to the snow yet.
So new mitts were bought.
This fixed things for two plays outside, though the play usually still ended in tears even when I tried to cut off the games before that happened.

Then it got warm again. We had a freaky warm spell in December where he asked if he could wear shoes to town instead of boots and I said yes, cause there was no snow. Anywhere.

After that everything fell apart. The next time it snowed we tried to go outside and I couldn't get his pants folded right to fit in his boots. I did it 5 times, convinced him that it would get better once he started moving, finished dressing him, turned around to get my coat, and turned back to find him in tears and undressing himself.
The next week he wanted to go sledding, so we tried again. I told him that last year he wore his pajama pants with socks over the cuff so it didn't feel weird in his boots. He didn't believe me and didn't want to try.
This happened about 4 times before he convinced himself that his boots didn't fit, and no other pairs of boots would ever fit. And all of his socks were terrible. And he was never changing out of pyjamas ever again.

We are now down to one pair of socks that he will wear, a new pair of shoes that he barely tolerates, a jacket (with t-shirt underneath, no long-sleeved shirts allowed), and a cap.
No mitts.
No winter coat.
No toque.
No boots.


I was really really frustrated and angry at first. Just when I think I have him figured out, he comes up with some other unmanageable trait.
But eventually I had to admit… he's fine.
If he's cold in the house (which is rare) he will put on a sweater, or slippers, but rarely both at the same time. Sometimes he even wears his toque cause his head is 'so cold'…  but he can't wear it outside...
We're only outside long enough to walk from the car to whatever building we're going to, so if he chooses not to wear a proper hat he will be cold but he won't die.
I tell him frequently that if he doesn't like it, I brought his toque. He doesn't complain after that.
I worried about exercise because he's a very active kid who is now spending most of his time sitting and playing with Lego. But we go to the store several days a week where he does nothing but run laps around the store. Literally.
I finally relaxed a little more when I came across this article about kids with Sensory Processing Disorder. I don't want to jump on the 'he has a disorder' wagon, but it's nice to know there are other people struggling with similarly exasperating issues. Please do read the article, because I want to just quote the heck out of it… but it's better to read.

I will quote this though: "For parents, avoiding certain situations can seem like an easier prospect than dealing with the potential fallout, not to mention the waiting judgment of a bystander"

We avoid large group play dates where I know he will get over-stimulated, even if he appears to be having fun. The fallout at home for the next two days isn't worth it.
We avoid long day-trips/car rides. His comfort level in the car lasts for about an hour, and even if we reach a destination just fine… it's the getting home again...
We avoid situations with loud unpredictable noises like parades, fireworks, or concert performances.
We only engage in play activities where I know he's appropriately dressed, and won't be either left-out, or try to join in and inevitably be miserable (which in his head it still not worth dealing with the clothing).

So, I'm sorry if we cancel play-dates unexpectedly.
I'm sorry if you come to our house and he throws a fit because he wasn't expecting anyone to come at that exact moment.
I'm sorry that we haven't been to any outdoor play activities this winter.
It's nothing personal… it's just how we need to function.

I've made peace with the fact that we will not be going outside this winter. It's not worth stressing over. Next year may be the same or different.
He's going to be one of those people who walk around in shorts and a t-shirt in the winter.
He's going to be one of those people who has a really hard time adjusting to change.

As long as I can realize that now, maybe I can come up with the tools to help him on his way.

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Mess

Our living room is a mess. It's always a mess.

This was last year. Lots of play, but lots of mess.

This is what it looked like last week. Not it's worst, but it was in amongst other cleaning/re-organizing projects that were going on.

After all the Lego was cleaned up and the floor vacuumed , I went to make dinner and came back to this:

All the Playmobil was... everywhere.
(Also note that 90% of the Playmobil is over 15 years old and belonged to Shannon and I)

"What are you doing?!" I asked, trying to keep a good humour.
"Building a farm" said Toby.

And upon closer inspection, amid the apparent chaos was a series of very thought out tableaus.

A very busy pond complete with Mallards, geese, fish, lily pads, frogs.....and lobsters...

 A rabbit hutch enclosure with flowers to munch, water bowls, and a thicket for hiding.

A very busy orchard tree where the squirrels and owls hang out.

A barn yard (originally a circus tent) with cows, pigs, ponies, and goats)

 And a baby calf nursing.

The beginnings of a Home Depot, complete with garden centre.

Guy harvesting all the apples that fell on the ground into crates for the market.

Chainsawing down a tree because it's old and close to the house and they don't want it to get hit by lightning.

 Gas station down to road from the farm.

 Apparently this is me planting things in pots, while Anthony and Toby dig a big hole in the garden.

The house is under renovations, so all the furniture got taken out and drop cloths were put down.

Apparently this is also a farm that people can come stay at and learn about farming.
There was a big introductory ceremony where they all shook hands and the kids ran off to play.

Home Depot now has shelves and product.

And a very precarious sign.

Even though I know he's playing, I still feel like everything is in a constant state of mess.
That's why I documented this, to prove to myself that there is a high level of organized play withing the chaos.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Small Talk

I'm an introvert.

Sort of.

I've recently been introduced to the term 'ambivert', which is kind of a limbo area between introvert and extrovert. You possess all the introverted qualities of needing a personal bubble and quiet time and preferring to be an observer, but you also occasionally REALLY enjoy being at a bar or a concert or having deep multi-hour conversations.

One thing that rang very true for me was that, even though us ambiverts enjoy talking, engaging in small-talk is very hard and tiresome and riddled with anxiety.

I like rambling. Hence why I blog (and why they sometimes get wordy and carried away.. sorry about that). So I find it hard to keep my feelings contained to short answers and not get in to divulging information that other people really don't care about, or that I don't need to share with someone who used to go to college with my grandparents who I haven't seen in like 10 years.
I begin to feel that small-talk is like lying.
And I have a hard time with that.

"Hi! How are you doing?!"
"Just fine, how about you?" Actually I'm not all that fine, I've been pretty sleep deprived lately. Full of anxiety for unknown reasons. My son's been pretty moody lately so it's kind of wearing us all down. And I just asked how you were because it's habit… I'm still not really remembering your name, though I'm sure I should know it.

"Congratulations by the way!"
"Oh thanks!" Wait, why did you say that… are you referring to me having a kid? That was like 6 years ago...Have I talked to you since then? Did I do something I forgot about? Did I get an award? Oh, wait, you must be talking about taking over the toy store… we'll go with that and hope I'm right

"How is all that going?"
"Pretty great, yeah it's been a lot of fun!" I'm really hoping you're referring to the toy store. And it's actually been pretty stressful lately just trying to keep up with everything. Another reason I've probably been not sleeping properly. There's a lot on my mind.

"And how's little Toby doing?"
"Oh he's pretty good. Smart kid. Growing like a weed" He's fine today, but yesterday he was not fine. not fine at all. He harbours a lot of low self esteem and anxiety that turns to aggression. I'm not sure where it comes from. We manage, but it's tiring to stay one step ahead of it all the time.

"He must be in school by now right? How old is he?"
"He's 6, and actually we're homeschooling" *Braces for potential reactions to 'homeschooling'*

"Oh…homeschooling eh?"
"Yeah, it's going pretty well… we're having fun with it so far" I'm only really homeschooling out of survival. He had a really hard time adjusting to getting up everyday and leaving the house. He's been responding better to homeschooling, but I sometimes feel like he's not getting enough stimulation. Other days he seems to find enough to learn about of his own, so I try to cling to those days and remember that he's 'only' 6.

"Well it was good to see you again! Say hi to your Grandma for me."
"Yeah, will do!" Since I don't really remember who you are, I'm not sure which Grandma you're referring to, and I don't call either of them 'Grandma' so that just makes it more confusing. I'm realizing now I didn't ask you a single question for this entire conversation so it probably seemed like I was a lousy conversationalist. Sorry about that. I'm going to go look really interested in this thing over here so nobody else talks to me and asks me all the same questions and I have to repeat all this over and over and over again.