Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Just Answer Me!

Lately, life has been throwing a million questions at me. Big things and little things. Questions that make my mind spin and my heart ache. Always so many questions!! As this battle is waging in my head, I'm also surrounded by the hundreds of thousands of questions from a four year old.

Hers are not so complicated. Hers are simple. Her answers even easier. This is still an age where I can make something up instead of saying "I don't know." Which is important because "I don't know" is not an acceptable answer for a four year old.

There is always noise. My house is full and happy, which means lots of talking and giggles. Sometimes it overwhelms me and I just wish there would be five small minutes where NO ONE asked me for anything.

But I realize at the same time that I truly don't want that to happen. I know that one day, probably not too far away, I won't get all these questions. One day, these kids will find all their answers on their own. They may ask me occasionally, but it will never compare to where I am right now. Already Macboy has dramatically decreased his number of questions. Some of the remaining are about new video games or cool things he wants to get. "When can we go shopping,Mom?" Others are deep and profound and leave me speechless. Art is nearing the 'pre-teen' status and his questions are easy too. Not always easy to hear, but definitely easy to answer.

As I was reading Angel Baby's bedtime story last night, she stopped me in all the same places to ask all the same questions as we've had every single time we've read that story. Just as I opened my mouth to say "You ask me that every time!" I paused. I want her to ask me questions. I want her to be curious about her whole world and want to learn and explore everything she can. So, I answered the same question with the same answer. Again. And I will probably have to answer the same question again tonight.

I gave myself a knew perspective. She is not asking me because she doesn't know the answer. I'm not always sure WHY she asks. But I give her a consistent answer. I give her faith that I'm not going to change my mind. That thing on that guy's head is ALWAYS going to be a hat. What? A red hat, yes.

When you are four, you are scared of things that change. In two months, I will be preparing her for her first day of school and she will know that the guy in the story is still wearing the same red hat when she comes home. She knows that some things are real and consistent. Even when you have to leave your comforts and go somewhere new.

As she grows she will know, just as my boys do, that there really are NEVER any stupid questions. If you are unsure of something, ask. My boys test my limits often, but they know that even if I am angry, they can ask me their questions. Now that the boys are older, I can honestly tell them when I don't know something. And, I always make a point to find the answers to their questions.

I don't play games, I am honest. I don't hold back information just because they didn't ask a specific enough question. I tell them the truth and trust that they will take in what they are ready to take in.

Angel Baby will learn that it is always okay to ask a question. And she is learning that it's okay to ask more than once if you are unsure. She is learning that I will not judge her or ignore her. She is learning to trust me.

That's something I think we tend to forget as parents. Sure, I am teaching her the names and purposes of things around her. I teach her how to count and what her letters are. I teach her to draw and color. Soon I will be teaching her to read and write and create. But while I am spending my time teaching these everyday things, the value of each lesson goes far beyond what is in front of us.

I give my kids comfort and security. I give them a forever friend and unconditional love. In return, I get so, so much more.

So take a deep breath, my friends. When those questions seem unceasing, and you want to run away screaming, remember that you have an opportunity to teach something so much bigger. You are helping them understand their own universe.

Thank you for stopping by, it's always nice to have visitors.  Please, share with your loved ones if you feel moved to do so. I write for myself, but gain fresh perspective from knowing that I am not alone in this world. I appreciate every single one of you who stops by to say hello. And even those who say nothing. You are here, that's what counts.

Join me on my facebook page or engage with me on twitter. I always enjoy meeting new people.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Study Help For Finals First Timer

I get to learn grade seven social studies all over again! Macboy is ready for finals starting next week. He is a little anxious about social because he struggles with it. So do I, social studies is kinda stupid. At least for those of us who aren't interested in politics or naming the dead presidents of the US. We live in Canada, you know? Wait, I think we are out numbered, or nearly outnumbered, those who were born here. Not that I am complaining, Canada is awesome and everyone should want to live here. But, we can't distort our history to accommodate everyone, can we?

My boy has had test anxiety before and has overcome so very many obstacles on his way to junior high. I am so proud of him! I don't want to see his anxiety grow, so I've committed myself to helping him this week. We will break things down into smaller sections, review and  read, and find a way to make it make sense for him. 

Macboy has no trouble learning anything if he can find some relevance in it. He needs to know WHY he learns something and WHY it applies to his life. When he was in kindergarten and grade one and we were starting reading, he didn't want to do it. He questioned why he needed to learn it. So we took a drive after school one day and I showed him all the signs. Street signs, stop signs, store signs... everywhere. I told him that reading is important because it happens every day. He's not as avid a reader now, but he still does enjoy it.

With math it was easy, you also use math everyday. Science applies to everything that grows around us, plus his technical brain just gobbles up the science of robotics and physics. It makes sense.

Social? Well, social is harder. Current events is one big part of it, but as I make an effort to prevent the news from playing here, I can't really teach that. I don't believe in it, really. I don't want to know all the horrible things that happen in our world. I don't want to listen to political mudslinging campaigns. I don't want to make my children afraid of the world they live in. I have a hard time believing that there is more crime or natural disasters in the world today than ever before. I think we just have to hear about a whole lot more of it.

It's not that I don't feel for those people affected, but I don't want to hear it every single day. I will help my neighbor, I donate items to help where I can. I do my part, right here and now. I also don't expect someone in Japan to come running to my rescue when a tornado blows through our city. Right? And I am beyond sick of hearing the names of murderers and terrorists being repeated until they are lodged in our minds for eternity. Sick, evil people do not deserve fame! Treasure those who survive. Name the family who is grieving! Give them the fame. "Look at how strong and amazing these people are, they had their children taken in a horrible way, but look! They are still standing. They are strong. They have not stopped living!"

History is hard too. I've taught by example that things that are in the past should stay there. Now, I understand there is a big difference between a fight with your brother and a war between the natives and the explorers. But still. Beyond gratitude for the country we live in, as it is today, why do we need to learn about death? War is not now and has never been a good thing. Period. People DIE. For what? A slightly bigger (or smaller) piece of grass? Learn the names of the Generals who led thousands of young men to their death.  The names of the men who stood on the sides and sent teenagers into a minefield. I just can't teach him that this is good.

But, Minecraft to the rescue for us. Building communities, working together, solving problems.... that I can teach. I can teach him that there is more. We can learn from history, even if it means that we strive to never repeat it. I can show him how having his own specific job in a minecraft server is like real life. Each person has a job. Each job is needed to make the server world flourish. I can teach him about trade, this guy has cobble stone you need, and you have wheat he needs. Bam. Social studies. 

And suddenly, social becomes relevant to HIM. I hope to at least relieve the anxiety and boost his confidence going into the final. I'm not gonna cram him full of names and dates he'll forget. But we will cover everything we can. Sometimes, just having read it recently makes a big difference. I will let you know how this goes! Wish us luck!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Battling A Fear Of Bees

Last year on our last camping trip, Art was stung by a wasp. It got him right in the left temple. He had hives within minutes and his face (nose, lips, more) began to swell. It was pure torture. We were half an hour away from the nearest hospital, but the trucker got us there in record time. 

One of the scariest moments of my life. 

Thankfully, it was near the end of bee season. I have never loved winter as much as I do now. He did not go in to full anaphylactic shock. Thank God. Now, we have a lot of debate hanging over our shoulders. Was it more the location of the sting that caused a more severe reaction? A single strain of wasp that he reacts to, or all of them? I wasn't right beside him when it happened, so I don't know exactly WHAT stung him. 

We now carry an Epi-Pen everywhere we go. I'm grateful for it, but I hate the thought of ever having to use it. 

This spring, we caught a wasp starting a nest in our garage. It's been removed and destroyed, but I know that the little sucker probably didn't move too far. 

A few days ago, the boys were doing dishes in the kitchen. I went in to check on them and saw a wasp bumping up against the window. It left me two options, try to get the sucker out of the house or kill it. The sucker whipped past me and down the stairs. I ran to the door, knowing that they will often fly for the light and I hoped he flew out. But I stepped on something sharp when I hit the step and was bent over fixing my foot instead of watching the door.

Paranoia extreme!!

Did it fly out? Is it hiding downstairs?  Ugh. Two nights, I tossed and turned. Full of nightmares of the stupid thing stinging my boy in his sleep. I'd never know until morning! What if... what if... what if.... 

I scoured the basement. We cleaned up, moved everything. I constantly was searching windows and corners every time I went down there, trying to find a wasp that might not even still be in the house.

Last night, I went down to make some Sleepytime tea for us. I brewed two cups in the Keurig. Took the Trucker's cup to the bedroom and went back to get mine to take upstairs. BZZZZZZZZ right past my ear!! I nearly crapped myself. Then the stupid thing was flying at the ceiling light, way out of my reach. When he did land, it was right up at the top of the wall, so I yelled to the Trucker to come SAVE MEEEEEE... haha

Turns out he's just as chicken as I am. 

But, he could reach higher. One good baseball swing stunned the bee and then he headed for a lower place on the wall. Swing two was a direct hit... or was it? We couldn't find a dead wasp on the floor!?!?!?! Furniture was moved, a bag was tossed, then said bag grabbed again and shook like mad to make sure it wasn't hiding inside. It wasn't.

We did finally find the creature. Gave it a couple extra smacks to MAKE SURE it was dead, followed by a ceremonial flush. I celebrated the idea of sleep without dreams!

Then I crawled in bed. And my mind started.... What if it wasn't the same one? What if the nest is in the wall and that's how it's got in? What if I just pissed off a whole colony that is going to come swarming through some invisible hole and KILL US ALL???

Okay, not quite THAT bad, but not far from it.

This is awful. It is physically painful for me. And I am very concerned that my excessively paranoid fear of bees is going to rub off on Art. He's my outdoors kid. He's the 'get down and dirty in the mud' kid. He's the 'go exploring randomly in the bush when camping' kid. Why him? Why my kid? Why THAT kid? He's been stung before, twice. Why didn't he react then? He was even hit by a bee (NOT wasp) a few days ago with no real reaction. 

"These Are The Wrong Kind Of Bees"
I have always been one to run screaming when a bee or wasp was hanging around too close and now I have to be the strong one to get up close and personal and get it away from my kids. I'm the one who stays back at the campsite when the family goes out quadding, because I'm too afraid of riding with them. I'm also the one who will have to use the Epi-Pen if the need ever arises. I have to be the strong one. And I am not very strong these days. And especially if I'm at the campsite, while the family is far away in the bush facing bugs of all kind.

This summer is gonna kill me.

I know I don't need to be so worried. These kids have had 4 stings combined in their lives. BUT all 4 were ART. I know that the location of the sting (distance from the heart) can affect the severity of a reaction, and it was likely more extreme being on his face. I know that certain places have certain pesticides and chemicals around that may make these suckers more aggressive. I know that, for the most part, you leave them alone and they will leave you alone. I know that there are many, many species of bees and wasps and that he is not necessarily allergic to all of them. Not like I'm going to inspect each stupid insect to see if I should worry or not. And at this point, without serious allergy testing, I don't know what type he might be allergic to anyway. Which also means, that if I had allergy testing (which isn't 100% perfectly accurate), I am still going to worry about all of them because I'm certainly not going to start counting stripes or something to decide if I should panic or not.

And sure, lots of people are allergic to lots of things. I often remind myself that it is better to be allergic to bees than peanuts. I can see or hear bees most of the time. Nuts can be completely invisible. But no matter what, I wish we had no allergies at all.

I have read that sometimes people can have one bad reaction and then never have another. I've also read that the likelyhood of a severe reaction increases 60-70 percent in someone who has had a previous severe reaction. I've likely read too much.  

The scary thing is, I haven't been back to that place yet. We are preparing to go at the beginning of summer and I'm a wreck. To stand in the place where I watched my childs face begin to swell? I'm not sure I'm gonna be okay with that. The early summer weekends aren't so bad, there are not nearly as many wasps around and they are mostly busy with bug-work. By the end of the summer, it all changes. They know they are all going to die and get aggressive trying to get sugars to keep themselves in energy. The Trucker has already mentioned his hope for a September trip out there this year. I finally told him yesterday that I don't think I can do it.

The worst part, is not knowing. I don't know if this was a fluke thing. I don't know if the next reaction could be the last. I don't know anything. And I can't protect him. I can't put him in a bubble. I can't be with him 24/7. I can't teach him fear of living. I can't .... I can't control this. There is absolutely no way I can control nature at all. And I HATE that.  How do I convince Art that he is fine to go outside and play after school, when the thought of it picks at my mind the entire time he's out there? I'm certainly not going to force him to stay inside just for my sake. What kind of life would he have?

I am aware that my worry is excessive. It usually works that way for me. I will think it through a thousand different ways and once I've reached the end of all possible outcomes, I will decide the best way to move forward. It is a hard process for me. Truly. But it is MINE. It is the way I find the most peace with anything in this life of mine.

As I said, it's going to be a painfully long summer for me. I will be realistic and get through it one day at a time. That's how we do everything anyway, isn't it?

For now, I'm taking whatever precautions I can to protect our yard from invaders. I'm paying more attention when we all go through the doors. I'm not opening that window that has a huge hole in the screen until I fix the screen. And I'm making sure that we have our Epi-Pen with us at all times.

I hope to have a memorable summer, and I can't wait for winter. How about you?