Friday, January 30, 2015

Hearing VS Listening

At Alyssa’s slumber party a few weeks ago, I was in the kitchen making Rice Krispy treats when Alyssa and one of her guests, G came down the stairs.

I don’t remember now what they were saying as they were walking down the stairs but I commented on it at the time.

Alyssa scowled at me and said, “Were you listening to our conversation?”

“No,” I replied, raising an eyebrow at her tone. “I just happened to hear what you were saying as you were walking toward me.”

“What’s the difference?” she asked, still being just a little bit snippy.

I got a little snippy back at her as I explained. “The difference is that if one is listening to what others are saying, they have to be consciously paying attention, trying to discern what’s being said. I just happened to be within hearing distance as you were talking to each other.”

I continued, “If I were listening, I’d have been upstairs with my ear pressed to your bedroom door. Instead, I was standing here, minding my own business, making a snack for you and your friends and just happened to hear what you were saying.”

G listened carefully to my explanation and grinned in understanding.

Alyssa narrowed her eyes, obviously trying to find a hole in my logic. She finally gave up and admitted that my explanation made sense.

Once I had her acceptance, I told her, “You know how sometimes I have to have Olivia repeat something to me? It’s because I might have been hearing the sound of her voice but not listening to her words. Listening is something you have to actively do with your brain. Hearing is just something your ears do even if you’re not paying attention the sounds around you.”

“Huh,” Alyssa said, already bored with the conversation.

She’ll get it someday, even if I have to tie tell her over and over again so that she isn’t just hearing me but also LISTENING to me.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Peculiar Little Morning People

The school called at 5:50 this morning to let us know that there was a two-hour delay due to icy roads.

My girls have the ability to hear my phone ring from the farthest reaches of the house. They can’t hear the alarm clock that goes off next to their heads but if they’re upstairs in their room they could hear my phone ring even if I was in the laundry room in the basement. They’re peculiar.

The minute the phone rang, both girls sat up straight in bed and asked, “Is it closed?”

I told them that there was just a delay and to go back to sleep.

They did not. I snoozed for ten minutes while Olivia played with a bunny nightlight and Alyssa tossed and turned. One minute before the snooze alarm when off Alyssa stage-whispered, “Livie! Do you want to get up? Let’s go find Dad!”

I looked at the clock and informed the oddballs that the alarm was going off in one minute. Ten seconds later, it went off.

I sighed and Alyssa laughed. I told her, “You guys are peculiar.”

She retorted, “You’re peculiluar.”

I replied, “You can’t call me peculiar if you can’t even say the word. And by the way? You’re peculiar.”

She managed to say the word correctly and they both bounded out of bed and were down the stairs before I could even get the covers off my wake-resistant body.

How did these peculiar children come from my body? How did I manage to have the only two children in the world who are morning people? Tom is a morning person, I get that he gave hem half their DNA but it’s just so strange to me that they’d want to get up at 6am if they don’t HAVE to.

And, lucky them, school was closed about ten minutes after I arrived at work this morning.

I really should have been a teacher. Except for that whole not liking other people’s kids, I’d have been an excellent teacher, what with being able to go back to sleep when school is delayed/closed.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Dentist Appointment

Olivia and I drove 45 minutes this morning to an appointment that lasted twenty-two minutes.

It was worth it.

She sees a pediatric dentist for any work she needs done on her teeth. I take her to my regular dentist for cleanings but whenever she needs a filling or anything beyond a cleaning, we trek down to Fort Wayne to see Dr. O.

He’s awesome, his staff is awesome. Olivia has never come out of an appointment in tears.

This time she only needed sealants on her back top teeth. They’re coming in with some grooves, things we can’t fix, things that could catch food particles and lead to cavities. Since we can’t fix the grooves themselves, the dentist seals them over so that cavities are prevented. So much easier than dealing with the cavities after they’ve already formed.

This is the dentist we first saw about three years ago, the one who took the time to research O’s syndrome BEFORE he met with us. He’s one of the first medical professionals to do this…like ever. So yes, I kind of love this guy (from afar, I’m not a stalker or anything.) I recommend him to everyone in the area. He and his entire staff is worth driving forty five minutes for a twenty minute appointment. For reals.

And the best part of the day? I managed to get Olivia to the office at the right time AND…the right day.

I know. Maybe I’m outgrowing some of my flakiness.

Alas, maybe not. While we were paying for O’s procedure today, I got a call from the school.

It was a recording that stated, “This is Your Child’s School. Your child is not in attendance today and no phone call or note was provided concerning this absence.”

In my defense, I emailed Olivia’s teacher yesterday to let her know O would be late to school and see where she should go when I dropped her off.

I mentioned this to the office this morning when I walked Olivia in and Ms. B said that sometimes teachers forget to mention such things to the office. I assured Ms. B that in the future, I’d call the office even if I tell the teacher.

See, it wasn’t all my fault this time. And I’ll find a way to make it not all my fault next time too.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sixth Grade Band Concert

Alyssa had a concert last night. This is her second year playing the flute and she’s already better than I ever was. Seriously. Girlfriend has actual talent whereas I had nothing but the determination to practice in an effort not to embarrass myself in class or at concerts.

I will say, though, that going to a sixth grade band concert is pretty much something only parents enjoy and I use the word ‘enjoy’ in its broadest definition.

I will give the sixth grade band credit. They’re better this year than they were last year. Truly. But then, a year’s worth of maturity and practice would make them better right?

I love that Alyssa is embracing music. I loved band, all that non-talent didn’t stop me from enjoying being part of the group. I love that she’s following that path. There’s something about learning to read music, learning to make music, learning to work together with other people to create something that other people can enjoy.

Again, ‘enjoy’ might be a stretch, but you know what I mean.

She’s so grown up these days, at least physically. When we got home from the concert, she still wanted to sit with me, her head on my shoulder, her hand clasping mine.

How lucky am I?

Monday, January 26, 2015


In sixth grade, Alyssa has homework almost every night. This is to be expected. She’s good about doing it right when she gets home just so it’s done. Some evenings she’ll wait until I get home so I can walk her through any math problems she might have; which I find amusing because math is not my strong suit. But we persevere and it gets done.

Last year in kindergarten, Olivia had homework on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

This year…she has no homework…ever.

Weird, right?

Yes, we read each night and we try to remember to review math facts (“But math is so boooooring,” she whines.) but regular, sit down and do it homework? Not so much.

We got the girls’ grade cards last week. Alyssa is a smart cookie and got all 5s and 4s. Her school doesn’t do the letter grading system. Nope, they give 1 – 5 ratings, with 5 being performing way beyond grade level expectations. 4 is given when the student is above grade level expectations. 3 means they student is performing at grade level expectations and two is below. 1 is way below grade level expectations.

Along with her grade card, Olivia also brought home her IEP report. According to her grade card, Olivia is performing mostly at grade level, with a few above and a few below. We’re pretty happy with that.

Her IEP report was good too, for the most part. She’s doing well with cutting and in reading. We need to work in math (again with the boring, perhaps I need to get over that or hand it over to Tom for practice since I’m obviously not helping my child at all in this area.)

One area that needs work, though? Coloring.

Yes, it was suggested in O’s IEP report that we work on coloring at home. Now that’s my kind of homework.

Yesterday after lunch, I went up and found several coloring books, a tub of crayons and markers and put them on the kitchen table. While I made a raspberry pie, the girls wen to town on a Frozen coloring book.

At one point, Olivia declared, “I’m really bad at this.”

I went over to where she was working. I sat down next to her and look at her work.

Yes, there was a lot of coloring outside the lines, a lot of what seemed like random scribbles on the page.

But as she and I examined her coloring page, I pointed out how well she’d done on Elsa’s lips and Anna’s hair. I told her I really liked the awesome colors she’d chosen for the sisters’ shoes and that the lipstick she'd put on them was beautiful. She beamed. She may not have colored those shoes or those lips inside the lines but she'd tried and she was happy to see that I understood what mattered most to her.

See, Olivia has her priorities. Lips and shoes are kind of it. She doesn’t want to color a chicken or a dog. She doesn’t want to draw a cat or a stupid triangle. But she does want to color a pretty girl’s lips pink or red. She wants to make her shoes colorful and sparkly if possible.

We’re going to continue to work with that. I figure if I give her pages to color that she finds interesting, it will give her the practice she needs to color the ones at school that aren’t that interesting.

It’s all about motivation.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Communicating Differently

Can one over-communicate with one’s twelve year old daughter?

Tom and I each communicate with Alyssa differently. When I need her to do something, I explain what needs done, why it needs to be done and what will happen if it’s not done.

Tom issues orders.

Maybe that’s not fair. He tells her to do something and expects her to do it because he said so. There’s actually nothing really wrong with that in a parent/child interaction. I get that he expects her to do what he asks of her because he’s the parent, she’s the child and he’s made a request of her.

I, on the other hand, feel like explaining why I’m asking/telling her to do something makes her more likely to do it with minimal sighing and eye rolling. I want to respect that she’s a person too. Yes, a child-person who came out of me and so should respect my requests simply because I made them but I also feel like that’s not really fair. I don’t appreciate having orders barked at me with not reasoning behind it.

But when Tom does issue an order, I stand behind him (figuratively) and support his position. I might later talk to him about his technique but I try very hard not to undermine him with the girls.

I don’t think either way is right or wrong, they’re just different. But because they’re different, they get very different results.

Tom’s way gets snippy results from Alyssa.

Just last weekend, he asked her, “Do you snip at your mother the way you to at me?”

She looked from him to me and back again. She then replied, “No, but that’s because I like her more.”

Ouch. And…yikes.

To his credit, he actually didn’t take it personally or get mad at her. When she left the room, I took the opportunity to explain again my method of getting her to do what I want/need her to do with minimal resistance. He did mention that maybe I'm over-communicative with her. That because I explain everything, she thinks she can rationalize and even negotiate with him. I told him she doesn't usually try to negotiate with me, she listens to my reasons for asking her to do something then she does it.

We’ll see if it sinks in.

I also took the opportunity later that day to talk to Alyssa about her response and explain that while her dad didn’t take it personally, it was still a hurtful thin to say to him.

She asked, “But why? It’s the truth.”

Ahh, to see the world in black and white only the way kids do.

I told her that we know she loves me and her dad and that she could show her love for him by being more respectful of his requests (she stopped me there and said, “You mean orders?”)

I let that one go and explained that he and I just have different parenting techniques. Neither is right or wrong (she disagreed there too…sigh) but that she needs to understand that we’re both just trying to teach her, to guide her toward being a responsible adult.

We’ll see if it sinks in.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Five Day Headache

Yeah, as the title suggests, I’m on day five of a headache. It’s not a headache that has left me unable to do work, take care of my family, etc. But it is one that is affecting my sleep, making more than just my head ache (see: achy back, achy hips from lack of sleep, achy knees, stiff neck.)

It hurts to sneeze and cough, feeling as if my brain is slamming against my skull when those things happen.

It’s extremely unpleasant.

Yet, I’m hesitant to call the doctor because, well, it’s a headache. It’s not even really that bad, just really annoying because it’s been going on for so flipping long at this point. I feel sort of silly even considering a trip to the doctor for a headache.

Yet…it hurts. I’m tired and I’m cranky and I want it to stop.

I resorted to caffeine today, something I haven’t had in over two years in hopes of getting rid of the pain.

There’s really no point to this post other than my taking this opportunity to whine. It’s what I do. My poor family has had to hear for days and days and days, so here I am, taking it to the internet.

I’m actually getting kind of tired of hearing myself talk about it. Wah, wah, wah.