Saturday, July 20, 2013

Game Changer

Definition of GAME CHANGER
: a newly introduced element or factor that changes an existing situation or activity in a significant way.

I have this incredible friend named Christine that taught me about this, in the way she leads her life, problem solves and reaches into the depth of herself so bravely and deeply it too pushes me forward. In many ways, finding her has been my Game Changer. I love her so, trust her deeply and learn everyday more about how the way we react impacts our experience, just by this gift of friendship she offers me.

When I was eight I tried playing UNO with my colorblind cousin.
It was me my brothers and two other cousins.
We were at the family cabin, and our games of war, Indian & cowboys ,bear hunts and trying to make chipmunk traps and become famous chipmunk trainers had been thwarted by the rain.

There we sat, our play options an incomplete Chinese checkers game, Uno, or sit there, watching the rain indefinitely. Uno it was.

Have you ever tried to play a Color matching game with a colorblind person?
Yeah. After 3 rounds of correcting him, and him offering to quit, and us wanting to include him, things were not going well. There were tears and name calling.

I game paused said we were going to do a redo...and grabbed all of the cards.
As the boys all shouted, complained and said “See we should have never let a stupid girl play.”

I snuck into my Grandma's purse and found a black marker in her checkbook,hid in the bathroom and sitting on the floor useing the toilet lid as a desk wrote
on each cards corner, I wrote R for red, G for Green, B for Blue and Y for Yellow.
My brother caught me mid stack, probably coming into pee, and sucked in his breath “ Youuuuu are sooooo not supposed to mark cards...that is AGAINST the rules, I am going to TELLLLLLL!!!”

In all my 8 year old maturity, I think I told him to “Bite me, this way we can all play.”
Pushed him out of the bathroom and finished my stack.

And we play we did, for hours.
Later Sam came to me and told me how much it meant to him that we didn't give up on letting him play, finding a way and changing the rules so he didn't miss out.
His experience of the game was different, because of his handicap, but still he was able to play with our adaptation, and the experience was great for everyone involved.
In truth we totally stole Grandma's entire box of double stuff Oreo's and ate them giggling and playing under the stairs.

Sometimes you have to be a Game Changer.

If something isn't working for you, for your kids, what is the point in the forcing, in the keeping the rules, or the way you do things inside the box if it is not helping and creating growth?

I so often speak to parents STRESSING, WORRIED, in DENIAL or DEPRESSION over what their kids are struggling with.

“We can't do homework, it ends in fights, and tantrums and ruins every night...I HATE This time with my kid.”
~Then DON”T DO HOMEWORK. Write the school, talk to the teacher, find other ways of experiencing knowledge, math by baking cookies, shopping, science by watching a documentary with pop corn. Be near your child and learn with them. That is the goal right education? Do that.

“I have read ALL of the books, been to therapy and conferences, no matter what I try NOTHING is getting through to my kid.”
~ Sounds like tooo many rules and techniques. Pick one thing at a time you think 'might' be effective, try that, and add on...Games with too many rules are not FUN, and STRESS people out. You are already NOT having fun...try adding FUN and that one thing you think might help, or even better taking one thing away, like yelling and adding more Music, and Fun, if not for your kid, for you.

(this one I heard at a conference, and the answer is not mine, but brilliant and helped me re-frame some fears and worries)
“My kid has all of these resources for school an college but anxiety wise and academically they don't do well in a classroom.”
~ Then even though it is free, it is not for them. Opportunities are only opportunities if they can be taken. A blind kid can be given a billion beautiful books, but unless they are written in brail, can he use them for anything but a coaster?
How often in adult like situation, unless we are educators or perpetual students do we live or operate in a classroom setting, this inability will not equal life long failure. Breathe.

“I don't like my life anymore, everything is negative and HARD, and not what I would expect raising a special needs kid, I don't fit in anymore anywhere.”

~ Here's your chance your kid has broken you out of that box, take it as an opportunity to BE WEIRD.
Do and find things that you love that are NOT Mainstream, take a belly dancing class, wear fun colors that make you happy, delve deeper into things that make you happy, because if your kid can't be happy, damn it, take care of yourself and see where that lands both of you. Find your tribe of people that will get you, walk with you and support you, I guarantee you will come out better and stronger and more supported because of it, even though it is hard and SUCKS.~

Rules are there to keep things mainstream, and THAT IS GREAT.

BUT, is it O.K. To Game change a little, deviate from the rule book in order to create a better outcome?

As a former rule follower to the inth degree of the wording, a believer in “You live your life a certain way and life will be easier and good things will happen” I have learned that is not always the case.
I have learned this the HARD, lonely, painful way, and I have changed things up.

In taking the knocks while writing permanent marker on cards, spray painting perfectly good walls with affirmations, dying my hair bright happy red, dancing to music turned WAYYY up in the Walmart parking lot with my kids, vetoing homework, recognizing what is going to work and what isn't and admitting it and changing due course,I have learned life is better,more rich and healthier for me and my family . Life can be hard, it also can be a game, you choose how you keep the rules, how you take care of your pieces and most of all how to enjoy, play and have fun despite the handi-caps.

Be a Game Changer for yourself, your kids, accept, pull another card and move on, it will be so much more fun than being that kid with your nose stuck in the rule book.

To that kid I say:
                                        “Bite me, this way we can all play.”

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Hard isn't BAD, it is just HARD

Since moving; writing, sitting down, finding time, and that time me wanting to flip on the computer and type has been close to impossible.
Oy the pictures I have to download.
New house,unpacking, realizing I didn't downsize enough, getting a garden in late an Orchard, assimilating 8 children into a new home comes with a lot of time spent simply surviving.

We are seeing such a dance of things,healing, hope and new behaviors that freak me the crap out.

Like sand through an hour Glass..... THESE ARE THE DAYS OF OUR LIVES.

Introducing our family with it's wack-a-do dynamics makes it “interesting” while trying to assimilate our kids socially into new neighbors;

~“Ignore the little girl raging and hiding in the ditch, she'll come out soon, oh and here are some new cookies, nice to meet you.”~

We y'am what we y'am.

My husband within his new job( he is a Clinician with a MSWLC) in being referred children and families coping with attachment issues and trauma.
It has been interesting to see once again the lack of resources available to families.
The desperation, depression and helplessness that so many parents walk into his office with.

So many of us are not alone.

There are many many tools we are digging back out of the closet.
“Yay me” is used daily.

“Even though I stole a candy bar, and chose to have my desert early, and am not having ice cream with the family, I still get to stay up and play, “YAY ME.”

We also are working hard outside daily.
My severe ADHD lil guy the other day came in after running around all morning and declared, “Mama there is SOMETHING WRONG with my eyes, the are itchy and won't stay open.”

“Buddy, that is called “being tired”.

I love summer.
I love the excuse to be outside from sun up to sun down.
I love the real laughter I get to hear when my children can check their anxiety and trauma at the door and

There are moments I see this for them.
Moments I close my eyes and listen to them work and play together.

Moments when I see the three years of slow progress and patients for all of us is molding us into a family.

There are still moments of control and fear winning the battle that day, moments where I let my fear of their future over ride the progress we have found.

Truth be told, if in those moments I can embrace that fear, and honestly recognize it is not about making or morphing my children into perfect individuals but helping them find their healthiest way of coping, because we all need a safe way to place our stress on something, I can keep on walking with them, not chasing after them, or wanting to run away, but walking with them.

This whole parenting a combined family is not what I thought it would be.
Even on a good day.

It is way harder. It is way more lonely. It hurts, pushes me to limits I didn't know I had. Makes me fear for the future, and all around wears me out, even on the good days.

What I can promise is the good days get more and more prevalent, but the hard days will always be there, and you have to make friends with both, they both need to be welcome, they both are part of the process.

One of my favorite quotes I think of on particularly HARD days.

Hard isn't BAD, it is just HARD.

And there you have it.