Month: August 2013

Best Weight On My Shoulders Ever

The miracle blankie

The miracle blankie

I think by now it’s fairly well-documented that I have a deep disdain for my sons’ bi-yearly dental cleaning visits. While they’re blessed with cavity-free teeth (and thank sweet baby Jesus in a manger for that), they’re horrible dental patients. Joe is a non-stop fidgeter, and Luke is a serial puker. They must put the hygienists at Southwest Pediatric Dentistry through some sort of post traumatic stress disorder therapy because I’ve not seen even one duck and cover when my boys roll into the office. And these are women who’ve had their eye glasses knocked off their faces by Joe’s flapping hands just before getting to wear Luke’s revisited lunch for the rest of the afternoon. If they didn’t require me to be present for the visit before beginning work, I would drop Joe and Luke at the door and skulk in my car until they at last emerged with their pity-earned treats from the prize box for “good” patients.

The past two dental visits, Dr. Scott (best pediatric dentist on earth) suggested that we use nitrous oxide to sedate Luke so that Luke could finally, at long last, have a puke-free dental cleaning. It worked! It was a thing of beauty. Luke had his teeth cleaned, and I didn’t have to catch any vomit in my hands. So yesterday when we walked into the office I was sure we’d be back in the corner space with the laughing gas machine. But when the hygienist walked us down the hall to a regular room, I began to stress. I scanned that room for any sign of a nitrous machine. Sadly, there was none. I was heavily debating whether asking her to drug my son would raise red flags about my parenting skills while she made small talk with Luke. She had him pick his toothbrush, got some cool rainbow shades on his eyes, and asked him to pop up onto the table. Then she did something new. She told him that because it was cold in the office she was going to cover him with a blanket.

This brought me out of my nitrous dilemma, and I walked over to check out what was going on. It was weighted like one of those vests they put on neurotic dogs that freak out about thunderstorms. I quashed an eye roll. Seriously? They thought a blankie was going to stop the kid who once puked while viewing a preview for How To Eat Fried Worms? Ha. Good luck, lady. I went to check on Joe while the getting was good.

When I returned, though, there was no sign of distress from either hygienist or patient. Luke’s legs were relaxed, his feet drooped to the side. Then I realized the hygienist was actually running the power brush…in his mouth. I was shocked. I wanted to comment but was afraid to ruin the moment. So instead I sat with my mouth agape, shaking my head with disbelief. When hubby arrived to serve as backup troop, I couldn’t even speak. I just pointed to Luke in the chair. He nodded as if he understood, but I knew he did not.

“No nitrous,” I whispered.

“What?” he responded as if he didn’t believe me.

“NO nitrous,” I repeated. Then I clarified. “Weighted blanket.”

Hubby inched forward to check it out.

“Wow!” he mouthed.

“I know,” I mouthed back.

And sure enough, with nothing but a blanket Luke survived not only a cleaning but a flossing and a fluoride application without puking on anyone. Was this the end of our little Luke-a-Puke? I felt like I’d won the Mommy Lottery. All because of a blanket. Dr. Scott explained that the blanket calms the nervous system and eliminates the need for sedation. It sure seemed to work that way for Luke. He also mentioned that his three sons sleep with them every night, and they have worked wonders to improve the quality of their sleep. I told him that Joe has never slept well, presumably due to his ADHD, and he gave me the business card for the sweet woman who makes the blankets for the dental practice. Needless to say, when we got home I immediately ordered one for Joe. I’m counting the minutes until its arrival. I might yet get one uninterrupted night’s sleep before they go to college.

Truthfully, I have a feeling that I will probably end up ordering a blanket for each one of us because heaven knows we could all benefit from some non-prescription sedation. The more I think about it, the more I’m thinking that what the world needs now is weighted blankets all around. Put down the chemical weapons and pull on a blanket. Okay. Maybe they’re not quite that powerful. But, I’m still thinking that with a blanket, some noise cancelling headphones, and some wine I might just survive the boys’ teenage years without winding up in a monogrammed straightjacket.






The Forest For The Trees

The beginning of a grand new chapter...

The beginning of a grand new chapter…

Back to school time in our house, like many other homes, is marked by stress, uncertainty, and readjustment. Aside from the usual tension surrounding school re-entry, I have had the burden of wondering how our children would fare during another traditional school year and how their new teachers would adapt to their different learning needs and my requests for special accommodations for them. Honestly, I never know what to expect, and traditionally it has taken me some seriously positive self-talk to get through the first two weeks of school. (Well, self-talk and wine. Who are we kidding?)

My heightened level of personal anxiety surrounding the advent of the school year began the day Joe started Junior Kindergarten. That day, I walked him into his classroom as I had done in previous years to ease the apprehension of my nervous boy. I’d enrolled him in as many years of preschool as possible because I knew he would benefit from extra adjustment time. He was five then and beginning his third classroom experience. I was cautiously optimistic that upon meeting his teacher he would smile his shy little smile but remain quiet and be the sweet, deep-thinking little fellow he was at home. Instead, when his teacher Mrs. Smith approached him to introduce herself, Joe dropped to all fours and began to bark. I am not kidding. He was on all fours. Barking. To compound an already embarrassing situation, Joe had speech issues and his “woofs” were not woofs at all but were actually “wooks.” There he was, crawling around the floor in front of the other kids, wooking. It was awkward at best. The other parents looked at me sideways with bemused pity. The teacher, smiling politely, asked me what he was doing. I had to tell her that apparently he was pretending to be a dog and barking his own introduction, something he had never done before. At that point, I turned 50 shades of red, kissed my puppy on the head, wished Mrs. Smith well, and walked out. I cried most of the way home. And thus began my less than stellar experience with back to school. Sigh.

This year my back to school stress was compounded by the fact that they were starting at a new school. There was a whole new list of variables for me. New teachers and school staff I had not yet met. New classrooms. New pick-up and drop-off routines. New parents to meet. New procedures to learn. It was all way too much newness for introverted me. I went bravely forward with it, though, because Havern is a school for children with learning disabilities. For nearly a half a century they have been offering hope to parents like me with kids like Joe and Luke. If any school could offer the breakthrough chance our dyslexic sons need to get on track with learning, to achieve the way in which they are capable, and to at last feel smart despite their differences, Havern was it.

On the first day of school, both boys seemed surprisingly calm. I walked them to their classrooms and introduced them to their teachers. There were no barking dog incidents, so I left feeling fairly optimistic. When pick up time arrived, I stood on the lawn waiting for them to be dismissed to my care, praying that the day had gone well for them and that they were indeed committed to this change in their education. Joe ran out first and confidently announced that he had the “best school day ever.” Luke quickly followed and told me that his new school was “epic.” (I have no doubt this pronouncement was impacted by the knowledge that the school has a Lego Club.) I almost asked the principal to verify that my boys had truly been in school all day. Perhaps she could pinch me because this could not possibly be my reality. It was surreal.

I have spent most of the past six years running the gamut of emotions, vacillating between denial, anger, depression, anxiety, disappointment, frustration, and even bitterness about our sons’ developmental and learning issues. I’ve wondered why them and why me? I’ve felt lost, just as they have. Tonight, though, after attending Back to School night and talking with other parents and the boys’ teachers, after sitting in their classrooms and looking at their class schedules, I finally see the forest for the trees. Our boys are not broken, and they never have been. They just hadn’t found their place yet. Tonight my dreams for them came true. They’ve finally found a home.