Thursday, January 30, 2014

Today I am grateful...

that Oldest Son is happy with his new school.  Last night he said that he thinks it is going to be much better for him.  Since that was a major motivation for us moving to the particular (very expensive) neighborhood that we are in, I am very happy to hear that from him.

Tuesday I was grateful...

to have a strong, capable partner who is able and willing to take on tasks with the boys so that I can travel for work.

Tuesday morning I took an early flight to San Jose for a day of meetings in our office there.  I had to leave before Middle Son's bus came to the houses.  In fact, I had to leave before Middle gets up.  My Beloved Wife got Middle up and ready for the bus.  Then when the bus drove off without him (apparently they won't honk if we don't come out--Tuesday was his 4th day riding the bus and we haven't figured out all the rules yet) so took him to school.

More on Arguing

I told Mother-of-my-Children what Youngest Son said about arguing all the time with Oldest Son when they are at her house.  She confirmed that they argue a great deal.  She said that Oldest frequently answers "no" when Youngest asks her if he can do something.  She thinks he is trying to be the man of the house.

That seems plausible to me.  My Beloved Wife and I were talking about this the other night.  Oldest would not try to take a pseudo-parental role in our house because A) we have clear structure and rules at our house, B) I am there to be the man of the house, and C) he knows that I would smack him down hard if he tried act like one of the parents instead of one of the kids.

Based on what happened when we were married and my observations now, MomC does not maintain clear structure and rules.  So there is a vacuum that Oldest is trying to fill.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


According to our Parenting Plan, all three boys are supposed to go back to MomC's on Sunday evening.  The past Sunday Oldest Son stayed at our house so that he could work on homework.  The semester ends this week and he is perilously close to failing biology and geometry.

Youngest Son asked me after dinner who was going back to mom's.  I told him that he and Middle Son were going, and Oldest was not.  He said he was glad that Oldest was staying because at mom's house "we argue all the time."

Which is very interesting to me.  They rarely argue at my house.

Today I am grateful...

that last night My Beloved Wife and I were able to have a productive conversation about an issue we have been struggling with.

Monday, January 20, 2014


Last night I was giving Middle Son a shower.  He loves to play in the water, and loves to rub shampoo on his head.  He does not love being scrubbed, and he especially does not love having the shampoo rinsed off his head.

I typically have to reach into the shower and scrub his head, and then we have a struggle to rinse him off.  I also have to point to arms, legs, stomach, etc. and tell him to scrub himself with a loofah.

In the last two weeks he has started reaching out of the shower and rubbing my head the way I rub his.  He seems to be playing.  He smiles and giggles.

Last night after he rubbed my head I laughed and then made a rubbing motion on my own head.  To my surprise Middle did the same.  Then I rubbed my neck and he scrubbed his neck with the loofah.  He imitated me through several gestures, scrubbing at his arms, chest, and neck.  It was almost like we were playing Simon Says.

I've never seem him imitate like that.  It was exciting.

Today I am grateful...

that we have the financial resources to deal with the fact that two of the three cars in the family broke down last week.  Older Step-Daughter's 97 Ford Escort died in an intersection on her way to work, and My Beloved Wife's car wouldn't start that same morning (after having had electrical work done on it a few days earlier).  Beloved's car turned out to be a simple fix, but Older's car is going to have to be replaced.

If we did not have the financial depth to repair and replace vehicles, this could have been a catastrophic problem.  Because we do, it is just an annoyance.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Who Speaks for Whom?

Last night, at the request of Younger Step-Daughter, we had dinner with her dad and his wife.  Younger has been living with them for the last 6 months, and she wants to move back in with us.  Dad and step-mom were not happy about this and had been raising concerns, dragging their feet, and generally making Younger uncomfortable.

My Beloved Wife asked me to come along because I'm more adept at managing these sorts of high-emotion conversations.  There were some tense moments.  I used all the tools in my bag.  We reached agreement on the logistics of Younger moving in with us and discussed some things that may happen over the next year.  All in all, I thought it went reasonably well.  As we left the restaurant Younger said "that went WAY better than I expected."

One of the stranger things that I noticed was that step-mom tended to speak for dad.  She said "your dad thinks...your dad feels."  At one point she said that dad felt like Younger had betrayed him.  I asked him if that was how he felt.  He said yes, he felt like he had been stabbed in the back.  That was a tough moment.  Younger just about broke down and started sobbing.  And then once that was said out loud and we got past the moment, things got a lot easier.  Dad engaged more directly in the conversation and we were able to work through his concerns.

When we got home, I told Younger (and Older Daughter, who was home from work and sitting at the table with us) that I had a piece of advice for them when dealing with their dad and step-mom.  Make sure you are having the conversation with your dad, not your step-mom.  Step-mom wants to speak for dad, and for whatever reason dad lets her do it.  You need to engage with him.  If she says he wants this or feels that, turn to your dad and ask him if that is how he feels.  If you do that you will get a better outcome than if you let her speak for him.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Today I am grateful...

I got to see Middle Son make an emotional connection with people he hadn't seen for almost 2 years.

We were taking Youngest Son to school.  We were late enough that I had to go inside with him.  He led my towards where his classroom was when he attended this school.

We went into the room.  He saw the teacher and classroom aides he had for three years.  He smiled.  He giggled.  He jumped and waved his hands.  They were equally pleased to see him again.

This was the first time that Middle had seen them since he left elementary school for middle school.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Today I am grateful...

that I arrived at work safely.  When I got to my office there had been a major accidental at the intersection right in front of the building.  A minivan was lying on its side.  There was a hole in the roof where the fire department had cut it open to get the driver out.


I am also pleased to report that Oldest Son sent me something he is grateful for yesterday.


Middle Son turned 13 a few weeks ago.  It was the day before we moved, so MomC agreed to host a small birthday celebration at her house.  It was us, her and her local relatives, and Middle's two paid caregivers.

One of the caregivers, Angie, was Middle's aide at school years ago.  We got to talking about how things have changed.  When she first started working with Middle he was aggressive.  He was self-injurious and would sometimes try to hit the other kids in his class.

I remembered a conversation we had with his private ABA therapist around that time.  She said that on his current path (IIRC he was 6 at the time) he would need two on one supervision to keep him safe as an adolescent.  If that happened we wouldn't be able to keep him in our home.  We would have to put him in state care to keep him (and us) safe.

And that didn't happen.  We hit the right combination of therapy and medication, and now Middle is a good-tempered, easy going kid.

Until that conversation I had lost sight of just how far we have come in the last 7 years.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Today I am grateful...

That I have a job where I can largely control my own hours.  I drove Middle Son to school today and stopped to chat with his teacher and the assistant principal about his upcoming school change.  Wednesday morning I will be going to meet with his new teachers and view his new classroom.  Tuesday afternoon I will be working from home because we have people coming in to install new blinds in the house.

I can do this without any issues.  I'm a salaried employee in a high-trust workplace.  My manager trusts that I will get my work done even when he can't observe me.  I trust that my team will do their jobs well without me watching over them.

This would not be true in many jobs.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Time Out

A couple of weeks ago Youngest Son and I were standing in the hallway.  Youngest turned and started pushing the buttons on Oldest Son's door lock (we have keypad locks on the doors to keep Middle Son out).  I asked him what he was doing and he said "practicing the door locks."

I was highly skeptical.  I said I didn't believe him.  I said I thought he was trying to get into Oldest's room.  I thought he didn't want to say that because he was afraid he'd get in trouble for it.  He stuck to his story.  I repeated that I didn't believe him.  I said it was ok for him to want to go into Oldest's room.  If he'd told me he wanted to go into the room, he wouldn't get in trouble for that.  Actually going in the room would get him in trouble, but not wanting to go in.  Lying to me about what he was doing was a much larger problem.

He talked in circles a little, trying to stay out of trouble.  Finally, I said one last time that I did not believe he was practicing, and asked him what we should do.

He looked down at the floor and said quietly "a time out."


Oldest Son had a D&D game this afternoon.  As I was driving him over, he thanked me for driving him.  He said that he thinks he should say thank you more often than he does, and is working on that.  I told him that is a great idea.  It's really hard to be too thankful.

I told him that I've been reading about gratitude practices--make a habit of writing down every day something in your life that you are grateful for.  I said it might be helpful for us to be gratitude partners, and email each other every day with something that we are grateful for.  I asked if he wanted to try it, and he said yes.

I just emailed him my first one.  Tonight we cut Middle Son's hair.  He HATES having his hair cut.  Even with multiple sedatives it still takes 4 people.  Three to hold him still and one to run the clippers.  I was grateful that Oldest, as well as Older and Younger Daughters, were able and will to help.