Friday, July 31, 2009
Where is that illusive line between “parent as guardian” and “parent as guidance”? Where is the line between honoring them as the perfect human beings that they are, and compelling them to do as you insist “for their own good”? When does that moment come when I can let down my guard and say “I just can’t do it right now”, in acknowledgement of my own humanity and weakness?
It’s not really as bad as all that. The DE and ped endo are not judging me nearly as harshly as I judge myself. But, isn’t that how it is for every perfectionist? The “voice of judgment” comes from within our own minds, no matter how fervently we try to banish it. T-Bear doesn’t care what his numbers are, only that I love him and care for him. So, for today, I choose to treat him like a kid, and not treat him like a T1 patient. As one of my young friends at Juveniation said recently, “How ‘bout letting them just be kids once in a while?” No matter if “once in a while” lasts a day or a few days or even a week. A week or so of rebellion will not cause any irreparable damage. T-Bear is a kid first. ALWAYS a kid first. Period.
The Defiant Mom
Thursday, July 30, 2009
I’m not a big fan of standardized tests for a couple of reasons, but we “do the test” anyway. The test designers insist that the CAT5 is a way of determining which area a child is doing well in compared to their peers and the “experts” expectations of them, and which areas the child could use more work in. We don’t bother too much with trying to keep the kids “at grade level”; we just let them learn what they’re interested in, when they want to learn it. After all, they’ve got a couple of decades to learn everything they’ll need to know to be functional and successful human beings. So, what’s the rush in the early years? And, the way we do the test here at home, it is a pretty good indication of “where” the child is compared to the expert’s expectations, because we don’t spend weeks frantically “teaching to the test” before test day arrives. The test shows up in the mail, we sit down and do it over a couple of days, and we send it back. A few weeks later, the results arrive in the mail, we look them over (maybe), and file them away. No stress. No “high stakes” testing, because nothing is “at stake”. Brother Bear’s not going to be flunked out of homeschool, or humiliated in front of his brothers or friends because he did not do well. I’m not going to be fired for failure to perform, and our homeschool is not going to have its funding cut because of low test scores. (Oh yeah, we don’t have any funding).
Probably because I happen to be reading John Holt right now, I’m very aware of how much stress is built into these standardized tests, even if they weren’t used in such a high stakes way. I remember as a child taking these much-dreaded tests, even before our teachers and school were subjected to penalties if we, the students, did not perform as required. We were all herded off to “the room” instead of staying in our usual classroom. There were numerous adults we didn’t know walking up and down the perfectly aligned rows of desks to be sure we were doing everything correctly. We were given explicit instructions on exactly how we must use our #2 pencil to fill in the little bubble. Don’t write on the test booklet, fill in the bubble entirely keeping your mark entirely inside the bubble, do not make any marks on the test card other than inside the chosen bubble. And, everything was timed to add more pressure. Everything about the testing environment was foreign and stressful. I distinctly remember being so stressed out about filling in the bubble correctly, I could barely focus on the question itself.
Giving Brother Bear his CAT5 test I realized even the way the test is written, by design and regardless of the testing environment, is stress-inducing. I frankly feel like an illiterate moron reading word-for-word exactly the words I am supposed to say to the student. It is almost as though the test designers are assuming the teachers giving these tests are so stupid they have to be held by the hand every moment, lest they do it wrong and ruin the test results. The students aren’t treated much better, being given overly-explicit directions for the simplest procedures. Most of the instructions are given to the students verbally, apparently because the test designers don’t want to trust the students to read and understand the instructions themselves. I remember the tone and tempo of the strange adults testing us in school, speaking very clearly and slowly to be sure we all understood clearly exactly what was expected of us. It was, and still is, unsettling for children to be spoken to as though they are idiots.
I understand that the testing materials and manner of applying the tests all have to be consistent and are designed to minimize the chance of “cheating” or otherwise squewing the results. The test data must be preserved to be accurate. But, this is not a scientific experiment we’re talking about, here. It’s our kids we’re talking about. And, supposedly, they are not just a bunch of guinea pigs in a nation-wide government experiment. Of course, if you ask John Gatto, they are exactly that; test animals in a giant social experiment. Standardized testing seems to be proof of that.
If you want to know what a child knows, giving them a test is as good a way of doing that as any, I suppose. But, if you really want an accurate reflection of what the child knows, you have to keep the testing environment as “normal” and relaxed as possible, not stick them in a completely foreign and stressful environment. As Holt points out, most people, and kids especially, do not perform well under pressure. As soon as you stick a kid in a high-pressure testing environment, you automatically make him or her less intelligent than they really are. You can’t possibly get an accurate measurement of what the child knows under these circumstances. So, if the true purpose of standardized testing is to determine what our nation’s kids actually know, the experiment is doomed to failure from the start, by its own design. Unfortunately, the failure of the experiment is just one more layer of failure in a doomed system.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Sunday, July 26, 2009
“But I want first of all – in fact, as an end to these other desires – to be at peace with myself. I want a singleness of eye, a purity of intention, a central core to my life that will enable me to carry out these obligations and activities as well as I can. I want, in fact – to borrow from the language of the saints – to live “in grace” as much of the time as possible. I am not using this term in a strictly theological sense. By grace I mean an inner harmony, essentially spiritual, which can be translated into outward harmony. I am seeking perhaps what Socrates asked for in the prayer from the Phaedrus when he said, “May the outward and inward man be one.” I would like to achieve a state of inner spiritual grace from which I could function and give as I was meant to in the eye of God.”
Speaking of the need for simplicity in our lives, “Plotinus was preaching the dangers of multiplicity of the world back in the third century. Yet, the problem is particularly and essentially woman’s. Distraction is, always has been, and probably always will be, inherent in woman’s life.
“For to be a woman is to have interests and duties, raying out in all directions from the central mother-core, like spokes from the hub of a wheel. The pattern of our lives is essentially circular. We must be open to all points of the compass; husband, children, friends, home, community; stretched out, exposed, sensitive like a spider’s web to each breeze that blows, to each call that comes. How difficult for us, then, to achieve a balance in the midst of these contradictory tensions, and yet how necessary for the proper functioning of our lives. How much we need, and how arduous of attainment is that steadiness preached in all rules for holy living. How desirable and how distant is the ideal of the contemplative, artist, or saint – in inner inviolable core, the single eye.”
“…how to remain whole in the midst of the distractions of life; how to remain balanced, no matter what centrifugal forces tend to pull one off center; how to remain strong, no matter what shocks come in at the periphery and tend to crack the hub of the wheel.”
I really just don't have anything brilliant to add to that...
Saturday, July 25, 2009
The third, and possibly final, incarnation of the now-infamous Redneck Slip-n-Slide involves two large men pulling on ropes to slingshot a small child down the runway. Believe it or not, the kids liked it as much as the grown guys.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
This morning I finished reading a nice piece on Midlife Metamorphosis from the Awakenings website, a simply written piece which I feel addresses both the physchological and spiritual aspects of this critical transition period. It reminded me of some of the central differences between introverts and extroverts. I am a classic introvert, and I think Ann is, too. We both need significant chunks of solitude to help us clarify and recharge and regenerate, so that we can again move effectively through the world. But, I suspect this is not so for everyone. I suspect extroverts need to get more out into the world during this transition time in order to feel out and redefine themselves through transactions with others. They are mirrored by others, rather than reflected within themselves.
It is easy for me to forget that everyone is not me, that everyone is a different blending of different aspects, and each individual sees the world and responds to the world and relates to the world in a unique way. What's good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander, and vice versa.
Monday, July 20, 2009
One of the first books I picked up was Gift From The Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, originally published in 1955 and presented to me by my lovely Auntie Jazz on the occasion of my 31st birthday, my first birthday as a married woman (it was a while ago). Amazingly, I haven’t read it until now.
I randomly opened the book and started reading a chapter. Here’s what it gleaned.
“I walked far down the beach, soothed by the rhythm of the waves, the sun on my bare back and legs, the wind and mist from the spray on my hair. Into the waves and out like a sandpiper. And then home, drenched, drugged, reeling, full to the brim with my day alone; full like the moon before the night has taken a single nibble of it; full as a cup poured up to the lip. There is a quality to fullness that the Psalmist expressed: “My cup runneth over.” Let no one come – I pray in sudden panic – I might spill myself away!
“Is this then what happens to woman? She wants perpetually to spill herself away. All her instinct as a woman – the eternal nourisher of children, of men, of society – demands that she give. Her time, her energy, her creativeness drain out into these channels if there is any chance, any leak. Traditionally we are taught, and instinctively we long, to give where it is needed – and immediately. Eternally, woman spills herself away in driblets to the thirsty, seldom being allowed the time, the quiet, the peace, to let the pitcher fill up to the brim.”
And, here’s the kicker:
“Here is the strange paradox. Woman instinctively wants to give, yet resents giving herself in small pieces. Basically is this a conflict? Or is it an over-simplification of a many-stranded problem? I believe that what woman resents is not so much giving herself in pieces as giving herself purposelessly. What we fear is not so much that our energy may be leaking away through small outlets as that it may be going “down the drain.” We do not see the results of our giving as concretely as man does in his work. In the job of home-keeping there is no raise from the boss, and seldom praise from others to show us we have hit the mark. Except for the child, woman’s creation is so often invisible, especially today. We are working at an arrangement in form, of the myriad disparate details of house-work, family routine, and social life. It is a kind of intricate game of cat’s-cradle we manipulate on our fingers, with invisible threads. How can one point to this constant tangle of household chores, errands, and fragments of human relationships, as a creation? It is hard even to think of it as purposeful activity, so much of it is automatic. Woman herself begins to feel like a telephone exchange or a laundromat.”
“Every person, especially every woman, should be alone sometime during the year, some part of each week, and each day. How revolutionary that sounds and how impossible of attainment. To many women such a program seems quite out of reach. They have no extra income to spend on a vacation for themselves; no time left over from the weekly drudgery of housework for a day off; no energy after the daily cooking, cleaning and washing for even an hour of creative solitude.
“Is this then only an economic problem? I do not think so. Every paid worker, no matter where in the economic scale, expects a day off a week and a vacation a year. By and large, mothers and housewifes are the only workers who do not have regular time off. They are the great vacationless class. They rarely even complain of their lack, apparently not considering occasional time to themselves as a justifiable need.”
Some things remain constant, even after fifty-four years and the modern women’s movement.
Okay, girls, who’s ready for a road trip?
Sunday, July 19, 2009
"Do you have your medication with you, honey?"
"No, it's at my mom's house." Okey, dokey.
Call dad, 'cause he's only 10 minutes away. No answer.
Call mom, about 1/2 hour away. No answer.
Call grandma, also about 1/2 hour away, just as mom calls me back. "I'm on my way." Okaaay, how long do we let this go on?
Go knock on the door of Nurse Margaret next door. No answer. Call her cell phone. No answer. Call her house and her daughter answers. She's at the OTHER neighbor's house with her husband, chasing down a 3 ft snake in the living room. I run over there and tell Margaret what's going on, she drops the broom she's been weilding and sprints over to our house. After a brief consultation, we jump in the truck and zoom on over to the local ER, where mom meets up with us after a bit.
Niece is fine. Snake has apparently been evicted. We're going to keep Margaret on retainer.
Now, someone who doesn't know me might come to the conclusion that anyone who has taken family members to an emergency room or acute care clinic five times inside of two months might be suspected of being somewhat overwrought. ("I'm not an alarmist; I just play one on the internet.") Those who know me know I'm really a very level-headed kind of person, not easily startled or upturned. They also have probably come to the conclusion that I have been temporarily cursed. I'm sure it will pass. Maybe I just need to bribe the right mojo master.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
The show itself was fabulous. It was a "one man show" put on by Drew Allison from Grey Seal Puppets of Charlotte, NC. Or, it would have been a one man show, except he brought five members of the audience - all kids, of course - up on stage to play characters in the production. To his sheer delight, T-Bear was chosen as one of the five, and played the Elephant Baker. Mr. Allison was wonderful, performing most of the puppetry right out front and acting as the storyteller/narrator, as well as animating the puppets. He is very talented and engaged the kids (and most of the adults, too) from moment one.
We then spent some time viewing the exhibits, the vast majority of which feature Jim Henson's projects and creature creations. What a gift that man was to all of us. Then, of course, we wandered into the gift shop to pick up a few new friends.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Until it starts getting just a little bit uncomfortable in here. A little cramped. Can’t quite stretch out as I’d like to without bumping my head on the lid. Then, maybe I can just peak out the top for a minute or two. Oooo. Looks kind of interesting out there. Light and airy. Sniff…fresh air. Maybe I’ll just pop my head out for a bit. Oh, now I remember being out here once before. It was nice. Relaxing. Freeing. Energizing. Happy. How did I end up back in that box again?
I have always struggled with my “must be seen as” boxes. There are several. All different shapes and sizes. One for all occasions. Some are even multi-functional. Like changing an outfit, I can change my boxes to suit the circumstances. And, it’s all unconscious. And, it becomes exhausting.
I have a new box now. It’s my “good diabetic mom” box. I popped right into this box on May 13th, the moment I heard the words “T-Bear has diabetes”. Snap. I’m in the box, and the lid’s slammed down shut. Just like that. I’m on a mission, to be a great diabetes mom. I’m going to take care of T-Bear. I’m going to be sure he stays healthy. Whether he likes it or not. And, my box is constantly reinforced and padded and fluffed up by writing down those numbers four times a day. Look, his BS is right where it’s supposed to be! I’m a good diabetic mom! And, I even have the added reinforcement of faxing those numbers to the doctor so someone else, someone who knows all about diabetes, can look ‘em over and call me up and tell me how great his numbers look. Pats on my back, and another nail in the lid of that box.
The problem is, from inside my box, T-Bear takes on the distinct appearance of a “project”, rather than a little boy. My little boy. Who needs and wants his mommy to be with him, not just to handle him. My box squeezes the joy out of our relationship, and steals away our time together. Really together. Just him and me, and no project to distract us from one another.
So, how do I get out of this box? This box that helps me keep my son healthy?
Friday, July 10, 2009
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
T-Bear comes in a close second on technique.
Angel Bear doesn't seem to have quite enough momentum and weight.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Diabetes care and management has progressed in leaps and bounds just in the past ten years, and it’s going to continue progressing exponentially, with significant breakthroughs occurring every few years. From insulin pumps, to continuous glucose monitors, to the Artificial Pancreas Project that’s just now going into trials, we’re getting closer and closer to managing blood sugars almost as well as a perfectly functioning pancreas. And, now that stem cell research is no longer the dirty word it used to be, the doors may be thrown wide open for finding treatments to regrow and replace those precious beta cells within the next decade. That, my friends, would constitute a CURE. A real, live, permanent CURE for type 1 diabetes.
All things considered, this is a pretty good time to get type 1 diabetes. As much as it sucks – and believe me, it sucks - there is a big, huge light at the end of the tunnel, and it ain’t a train. All of the daily testing and injections, the counting carbs, the setting a timer to remind me T-Bear has to eat every two hours, the changing insulin/carb ratios, the reporting numbers to the doctor twice a week, the keeping track of supplies (there’s an entire backpack full of ‘em), the extra planning required for a simple outing (that got kind of long, sorry) – all that goes into keeping T-Bear healthy right now, well that’s all going to pay off very soon. It’s only right now, it doesn’t have to get any tougher than it is right now, and it’s not going to be forever. Halleluiah, and a great big, sloppy “THANK YOU” smootch to every individual out there who is intently working toward the cure that will come soon. Thank you, thank you, thank you, and please keep it up. We’re waiting with baited breath.
(Note: If you’re just dying to make a small contribution toward the phenomenal research that is going on RIGHT NOW, please go here. And, while you're there, feel free to browse around and find out more about T1. It's really not what most people think it is.)
Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks and destroys the beta cells of the pancreas. The beta cells of the pancreas are the only cells in the body which are capable of producing insulin. Without functional beta cells, the body produces NO insulin. Insulin is the only hormone which is capable of “opening” all other cells of the body to allow glucose (the “energy source”) to enter those cells. Without free access to glucose, the cells of the body will die, and so will the individual.
Individuals with T1 are “insulin dependent”. That is, their body is incapable of producing insulin, and therefore the individual must inject insulin daily (usually several times per day) to provide the insulin necessary to allow all cells of the body to absorb and utilize their natural energy source…gloucose…for survival. Without these regular injections of insulin, the individual will die.
Type 1 (also called Juvenile Diabetes) generally strikes children and young adults. Although there may be a genetic component to Type 1, genetic predisposition is not an accurate indication of whether or not any individual will develop T1. It is generally agreed that an environmental “trigger” (probably viral or chemical) is necessary to begin the autoimmune process that leads to T1, however it is not known what that trigger is.
There is currently no cure for Type 1 diabetes. Individuals with Type 1 Diabetes must closely monitor their blood sugar and inject insulin several times each day to ensure their survival and continued health. While advances in technology have made management of T1 more accessible and successful, it still requires continuous monitoring and treatment, and incredible diligence, to support the continued health of the individual.
Type 1 Diabetes is NOT caused by lifestyle choices. It is not caused by eating too much sugar or junk food or carbohydrates. It is not caused by obesity or a sedentary lifestyle, and it is irreversible. It cannot be cured by radical diets, exercise, or nutritional concoctions. It cannot be cured through “positive thinking” or prayer, and children with T1 will not "grow out of it". It is an organic, permanent, and very serious disease which affects about 1Million Americans.
Type 1 Diabetes is NOT Type 2, or “adult onset” Diabetes. Type 2 generally affects adults, although with the rise of childhood obesity more children are being diagnosed with Type 2. While it may include a genetic predisposition, when diagnosed early Type 2 can often be controlled through oral medications, diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes. Type 2 often is not “insulin dependent”, because the body may still be producing its own insulin.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Michael Jackson's Long-Lost Brother, Wall-E Jackson