Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Preparing to Go Private

Hi, all.

I've been testing alternatives. I think the simplest way for us to make sure you'll be able to read this blog is for you to send me your email address via the contact form in the right sidebar. If you do, I will include you in Blogger's list of allowed readers. When I've collected what I think is everybody, I'll switch to "Private"mode, which will allow only the owners of those emails to read the blog. You don't need to send your name or a message; just the email address will do. I promise I won't keep it in my own records or use it for anything other than making sure you can login here.

There will be a few problems with this system, but fewer than with any other system I've tested. I think all the problems will be on my side, not yours.

Thank you for your understanding.

If it makes you feel any better, I'm planning a new public blog on language and communication--and yes, it will include adoption issues and family stories. I'll tell you more once I get it going.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Future of this Blog

Thanks so much for your thoughts about how to manage this blog in the future. Here are my ideas so far.

M and K would like me to continue writing, but they don't want their friends to find them or me. So I'm going to continue writing, but the audience will be limited. My target date is January 1.

First try: Shortly, I'll set up an email address where you'll be able to contact me, if you like, so I can include you among readers allowed to login and read. I'll post that email address prominently and permanently and will do everything I can to make the process as easy as possible.  I'll see whether you'll be able to subscribe so that posts could just be sent to your inbox.

Second try: If that doesn't work well, I'll try to find a more accommodating place to host the blog.

I'm happy to take suggestions for making this transition work.

In Need of Air

I have had a hard autumn.

On October 5th, M developed a fever. We soon discovered that he had strep, an ear infection, and the mysterious multi-day, high-fever virus that's been plaguing our town. He went back to school on the 14th. I had a freelance editing project due on the 20th, which I turned in on time only because I spent the intervening six days glued to the computer, ignoring home and family.

In the middle of the day on the 23rd, the school nurse called to tell me K was feeling sick. I brought her home. By the following day--Friday the 24th-K and I were both running a fever. She recovered enough to return to school on Monday the 27th, but my illness turned to pneumonia. By the time I saw my doctor on the 31st, I had had a fever for a week along with wheezing, stomach pain, and a cough that drove me to my knees several times a day. I could not lie down to sleep. I could not speak. Housework, driving, cooking, reading aloud, overseeing homework, making phone calls, having heart-to-heart talks, playing games, being generally supportive and nosy--all my "Mom" things--were beyond me.

It is now over two weeks since the diagnosis. I recovered rapidly during the course of antibiotics, and by the end of two weeks I was able to stop taking all the medicines that had been helping me breathe. I've got residual fatigue but am otherwise doing well.

Today, I have both kids home sick and another freelance gig coming up. Yes, that's right: I've been more or less shut in since October 5th, and now it's November 18th, and I still can't go out. But I'm glad to be able to take care of my home and family again, at least as much as my low energy allows. I didn't know until I was incapacitated how much I have come to value the role of "Mom," nor how sad it would make me to be forced to relinquish it for so long.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

It's Getting to be That Time...

...when my kids' friends will be able to find this blog. I don't want this to happen. Where we live, most children have more access to the internet than mine do. No longer are my kids' friends too little to use a computer or read words. Seeing as K and M are now at the beginning of the middle school years, I have to think differently about protecting their privacy.

What started me thinking: A few weeks back, K reported that a friend of hers mentioned that her mother had read something this blog. We love this family, and Peter and I have always been open with them, but K felt "weird" about it for the first time. That's not okay with me. In fact I feel that it's not okay for my kids' friends to know anything about them that my kids don't tell them on their own, including that I write about them.

Why am I telling you this? Because I am trying to decide what to do about it. The options I'm considering:

1. Taking down the blog
2. Hiding certain entries
3. Leaving it up but no longer writing it
4. Some combination of #2 and #3
5. Closing it to all but certain readers (with a way for new ones to sign on)

If you think of any others, let me know.

Meanwhile, I'm going back to bed. I have pneumonia right now, so I ought to rest while the house is quiet.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Link to an essay in Brain, Child magazine

The following is a link to an essay of mine that was recently published as a "Web Exclusive" for Brain, Child magazine. The incident I wrote about was M's head injury and the subsequent trip to the Emergency Room. While you're there, please have a look at the rest of the Brain, Child site. And do keep an eye out for the magazine in print.

Link to the essay: http://www.brainchildmag.com/2014/09/rock-rock-boom/
(And don't worry: the photo isn't of M, and the names aren't the kids' real names.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Why The Big Deal? (Re: Sick Boy)

M has finally, finally gone back to school after being sick for almost nine days. The fever would not stay down, and the cough would not leave him alone. Even Peter was concerned, and he tends to be pretty relaxed about health issues, having seen plenty of sick kids as patients.

Some of you might say, "Why the big deal? Your kid, who is basically healthy, is sick for nine days. So?"

My answer: "It had never happened before."

It's true. Remember, we adopted M and K at ages 2 years, 9 months and 3 years, 9 months, respectively. We did not parent them though colic, croup, and all the other health horrors of infancy. When M and K have been sick or had surgery, they've bounced back quickly. This 9-day stretch has been the worst extended health trouble either child has had since we've known them.

As hard as "late age" adoptive parenting can be, I take my hat off to those of you who have parented your children--by adoption or by birth--from infancy.

Friday, October 10, 2014

A Sick Boy

An update; nothing deep today. M has been sick for almost a week with a bouncing fever accompanied by a headache. He has a cough that won't quit. He missed the entire week of school. Our clever pediatrician discovered strep throat and otitis media (middle ear infection); M has been on antibiotics since Wednesday. They have given him stomach pain and diarrhea. The fever of 102.5 F finally came down enough today for him to eat a couple of meals, but after dinner it bounded up even higher. I swear I could fry an egg on his back. Right now he's sleeping, with two kinds of cough medicine in him as well as the antibiotic, a probiotic, and Tylenol. (We usually leave a fever alone, but this one makes his head ache too much for him to sleep.)

We have never needed to call the pediatrician for advice before, but Peter did so yesterday because the fever hadn't come down after 24 hours of antibiotics. She said to ride it out another 48 to 72 hours. Peter suspects M has a wily virus in addition to the two infections; so while the infections may well be responding to the antibiotic, the virus isn't giving a damn.

M is so completely our kid that being touched by either one of us helps him feel better. His favorite thing to do when ill is to sleep with his head on my stomach or in the room in which I'm working. I've been rubbing his neck and shoulders when the headache is bad; he says it helps.

And how am I? Hypervigilant, except when Peter's home or the fever comes down, when I succumb to physical and emotional exhaustion. I have a large freelance editing project due on the 20th, and I've got assignments due for an online writing course, but I am able to get little done because of the interruptions for fluids-medicines-temperature checks-hugs-etc and because of my own worry. The damn cough invades my every thought and makes poor M's throat, head, and stomach ache. (I'm dosing him with wild cherry bark tea and honey in addition to the two cough medicines.) I can leave M alone for short periods, but the last time I did, he called repeatedly about a new stomachache, then left the phone off the hook so I couldn't call him back, and I panicked on the drive home.

Peter is working all weekend, of course. It's a three-day weekend. That's what it's like to be married to a doctor: they leave you to take care of other people. He's great when he's here, but that's not often.

That's it for now. I'm going to bed.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Girl, Confidential

K and I had an astounding conversation the other day. It concerned mean girls and birth control.

Before this conversation, K had been nearly silent about school. Peter and I had been trying nightly to open her up, asking easy questions like, "Who did you have lunch with?" and "What was your favorite part of the day?" She would always answer, but tell us no more than we asked. I wanted to respect her privacy, but I did not want her to feel alone with whatever she might be encountering. Peter and I have always had a general attitude that is best described as, "Observe closely but don't intervene unless necessary." However, we had not yet found a way to observe K's school day. 

So I'd been searching for a way in when I happened to ask K whether she remembered that a specific girl in her homeroom had been a friend in preschool. (The girl's mother and I had been in touch.) K smiled and explained that the other girl had remembered her first, and now the two of them have rekindled their friendship. My adoptive parent's heart filled with happiness at this continuity in K's discontinuous life.

She went on to tell me all about the alliances that have formed since the start of school: who is friends with whom, who is mean to whom. K said that one girl in particular has said cruel things to her preschool friend. "So I'm not friends with that girl. She even invited me to be in her group, but I don't want to be."

I asked, "Because she's mean to your friend?"

She replied, "Yeah. And because she dresses and acts so...weird. She pushes her sweaters off the shoulder, and she wears tight clothes, and she wiggles her butt a lot. So do her friends. But I don't want to."

Trying to sound casual, but secretly thrilled, I reflected back, "You don't want to?"

She said, "No. I think those girls want to do things I don't want to do. Like, go to parties where people are making out and stuff. I am SO not into that. I don't want them to invite me."

My adoptive parent's heart wondered, How is it that this kid, who is supposed to have identity issues, knows exactly who she is and what she wants?  My skeptic's brain also said, Yeah; just wait for the hormones to kick in.

K and I discussed the fact that she has a handful of girl friends moving at about her speed. I'm glad. I didn't have any friends like me when I was her age--rather, I had one, but she went to a different school. And then--I forget how we got there-- she asked me about preventing pregnancy. This didn't surprise me. She plans ahead, and in general she is curious about the human body.

For the record, we have not yet talked as a family about values concerning premarital sex. However, we have always been careful to discuss sex as something that happens between consenting adults in a committed relationship who have known each other a long time. 

I've mentioned before that I used to work for Planned Parenthood. One of my responsibilities was educating clients about reproduction and birth control. I did this so many times that I learned to do it with and without props, in simple and complex language, and so on, but I rarely had to do it with 11-year-old girls who are not even menstruating. But I still had my skills.

If you don't want to know what I told her, please skip the following paragraph.

I explained very simply that what works best is abstinence and what works worst is the calendar method and pulling out. Then I ran down the list of available methods, making sure to emphasize that every one of them is more effective if used with a condom. I mentioned using condoms to prevent STDs. I mentioned that there are other kinds of sex to have besides intercourse. And that was all she wanted to know.

I have deep respect for parents who don't wish to discuss such matters with their kids; if you're one of them, I'm not recommending you change your views. You know what works for your family. What I said to my daughter is simply what works for mine.

For the record, K thanked me, folded up the paper I'd drawn on, kissed me, and went to play with her brother. Since this conversation, she has talked to me every day about the social scene at school (not about birth control).

I am so grateful we found a way to connect. I got a little more connection than I bargained for, but maybe it'll teach her that I'm safe to approach even about sex.