Saturday, November 19, 2016

Bedtime Routine

Middle Son's bedtime routine starts at 8:30.  I give him his night time medicine.  We brush his teeth and shave his face.  Then it's time for his shower.  I scrub him with a loofa, then I give it to him and let him scrub and enjoy the warm water for a while. After a little time, I rinse him off and he gets out.  I dry his back for him.

Middle has always been prompt dependent.  He has to be told to close the shower curtain.  He has to be told to hang up his towel.  He has to be told to pick up his dirty clothes and put them in his laundry basket.

A month or so ago, I started fading out of the room after drying his back.  I wanted to see if he what he would do if I didn't give him any instructions.  I would walk out and partially close the door.  Every few minutes I'd peak in to see what he was doing.  I discovered that if I waited long enough, 10-12 minutes, he finish drying himself.  He would close the shower curtain.  He would pick up his dirty clothes and put them in his laundry basket.

Now most nights he will do everything without prompting.  Sometimes he will forget one of his tasks.  Most commonly, he doesn't get all of his dirty clothes out of the bathroom and I have to tell him to go back in and get a dirty sock.

It feels very slow.  I have to remind myself to give him time.  As he does so often, Middle reminds me that patience is a great virtue.

Friday, November 18, 2016


Middle Son has never liked having his fingernails clipped.  As he has gotten bigger and stronger (he's now 5'8", 175 lbs, and very strong) its gotten harder and harder.  About a year ago, I gave up on using a nail clipper on his thumbs and pointer fingers.  He struggled to much.  I was worried that I would end up getting a finger broken.  I switched to using file.  I continued to use clippers on the other fingers.  For some reason Middle doesn't object as strongly to that.

Also about a year ago, we started doing ABA therapy again with him.  Unlike virtually every other employer, Microsoft's benefits package includes specific coverage for ABA.  On of the things that I told them I wanted to work on was using fingernail clippers.

Wednesday night, Middle allowed me to use the clippers on his thumbnails and one pointer finger.  I was very excited to see the progress.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


Yesterday, just as I was arriving at work, I got a call from the Mother of my Children.

Oldest Son is living at her house full time since he graduated from high school.  MomC is now working as a substitute teacher, so she has to be out of the house early in the morning.  We're paying Oldest to get Youngest Son to school in the morning.

She told me that Oldest had called.  Youngest had said he was sick and didn't want to go to school and they were arguing.  She said that Oldest was yelling and Youngest was crying and saying Oldest had hurt him, and she wasn't sure everyone was safe.  She wanted me to go see what was happening.  I a said I

When I got there I asked them what was going on.  They both started talking.  I stopped them and told Youngest to tell me first.  He said he was sick and couldn't go to school.  He said Oldest had picked him up out of bed.  He said Oldest had grabbed him by the arms.  His arms and back hurt.

I had him show me his arms.  There were no bruises.  There were no red marks.  I told him he was ok.  He said it really hurt.  I said it was like getting hit by a soccer ball, or falling off his skateboard.  It hurt now, but it would be fine.

I had Oldest tell me his side of the story.  He said Youngest wouldn't do what he was told, and he got made at him.

I turned back to Youngest.  I told him that he was not going to be the one to decide if he was too sick to go to school.  Neither was Oldest.  If he was sick he need to call me or MomC and talk to us.  We would decide if he could stay home or go to school.  And if we told him to go to school, he would go to school without arguing.  If we told he to go to school and he didn't, I'd come over again, and that wouldn't be good.  I asked him to tell me what the rule was, and he repeated it back to me--if he felt sick he had to call me or his mom.  We would decide.  I asked if he would follow this rule, and he said yes.

Then I turned to Oldest and went through the same thing.  I also told him that he would not pick up Youngest or grab him.  I said I knew he wouldn't intentionally hurt he brother, but that he is big and strong, and when he is irritated or angry he forgets how strong he is and could accidentally hurt someone.  I asked him if he would follow this rule, and he said yes.

It was now 5 minutes after school starts, so I sent Youngest off.

I stayed a few minutes and talked to Oldest.  He said the problem is that Youngest won't do what Oldest tells him to do.  I asked him if he does what MomC tells him.  He said yes, eventually, but MomC isn't really in charge of him, she's only in charge of the house.  I said he lives in her house, and she pays all his bills (except the ones I pay), so she is in charge.  Then I said that she's told me she asked him to help around the house and he doesn't.

I asked if him if, when he was in Boy Scouts, there had been older Scouts who he wanted to be right.  He said there were.  I told him that little brothers are like that--they want to be like their big brothers.  If his brother sees that Oldest doesn't do what he's told by his mom, then he will think he doesn't need to do what he's told by Oldest.  He said he'd never thought of that.

Then it got really interesting.  He asked me if I thought MomC was easier on Youngest than she'd been on the other two.  I started to say yes, then thought better of it.  I said it could be that she is.  But I don't see MomC and Youngest together very often, so I'm not the right person to answer that question.  His aunt or his cousin would be better.  He said that she (his aunt) agrees with him on that.

We talked about the fact that Middle Son usually does what I tell him to do.  He often ignores what MomC tells him.  I've always been careful about what I tell Middle to do.  If he doesn't do something I tell him to do, I will take him by the hand and lead him through doing it.  Over the years, he's realized that when I tell him to do something, we are going to do it whether he likes it or not.  MomC never established that with him, so Middle feels free to ignore her.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Welcome to Dad's House

A few weeks ago, I was driving home with Youngest Son and Middle son.  We were listening to the radio and the song Welcome to My House came on the phone.  Youngest got excited and asked me to turn it up.

We were almost home.  I suggested that we drive around a little longer and listen to the whole song.  Youngest agreed.  We were singing and waving our arms around.  Middle was swaying back and forth to the music. 

I suggested that we buy the song and play it on the way to my house every time.  Youngest thought that was a great idea.

I remembered something I did when MomC and I first divorced.  When I parked in my garage with Youngest (who was about 2 at the time), I would say "what do we say when we get to Daddy's house?"

Then I'd throw my hands up in the air and say "Yeah, Daddy's house!"  And Youngest would do it along with me.  It was adorable.  I remember MomC telling me one day that Youngest was doing it when she brought him to my house as well.

Having a special ritual when the boys got to my house made me happy then.  And it makes me happy now.

Friday, January 29, 2016


One of the great things for our family about my job at Microsoft is the benefits package.  The health insurance is a high deductible plan, but once you meet the deductible everything is covered.  This year we met the deductible by the end of the 2nd week of January.  And of special importance for Middle Son, there is a benefit for ABA therapy (although unlike the health plan, it does have a 10% copay).

It took a while to get the written referrals, sort through various service providers, etc.  We selected an agency that does lots of work with older kids and works on the entire family system rather than simply doing discrete trial work with the child.  

We have a program manager who we are meeting with, and in a few weeks Middle's behavior tech (the term they use for the person who actually works with the child) will start one on one work with him.

Middle hasn't had this kind of therapy since before the Mother of my Children and I got divorced almost 7 years ago.  It wasn't particularly effective for him at the time.  In some ways at that time he was almost a feral child.  When I look back at some of my oldest posts it's amazing how far he has come.  Living with me, in a household that is much more structured and orderly made a big difference for him.  The first nanny I hired did a tremendous job--she's the one who got him toilet training.  My Beloved Wife is fantastic with him, she's gotten him to do things I couldn't get him to do.

I hope and think that the ABA therapy will be much more effective now than it was in the past.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

School Bathrooms

Yesterday was Youngest Son's parent teacher conference.

After the conference I stopped to use the bathroom.  While I was in the bathroom, I remembered something about hat bathroom and Oldest Son when he was in elementary school.

In kindergarten and first grade, Oldest never used the school bathroom.  He finally started using it in second grade.


One of the things that drives My Beloved Wife crazy is lights being left on.

For a very long time, Middle Son wanted all lights on all the time.  I can remember when we would go over to his grandparent's house (my ex's parents).  Middle would immediately walk through the house and flip on every light switch.  Grandpa would follow around behind him turning lights back off.  Sometimes they would do several laps around the house.

MBW has been working with Middle on the concept of turning lights off.  A couple of nights ago Middle was getting a snack after dinner.  We had left some of his dinner on the table as we often do.  The lights were off.  Middle walked into the dining room and turned on the lights.  He sat down and ate.  Then he got up, turned the lights back off, and went back upstairs.

MBW was very excited.  It is nice to see it when Middle makes progress.