November 2, 2021

pucker up for Finn & I JUST WANT MY 30 MINUTES

These posts are all-kinds of out of order and somewhat stream of consciousness, so I thought I'd start this one with a bit of a funny-ha-ha.

A few weeks ago, I was walking from the kitchen to the front hall. Past the basement door. The basement happens to be where Finnegan, Lad's-unwelcome-because-of-my-allergies-but-still-very-well-loved dog, sleeps.

I have no photo of our 'moment' but here is
 Finn trying to kiss my dad. My dad spends
 lots of time in his recliner. Finn cannot
 walk past my folks' house without
demanding a visit. This morning I didn't
 take a picture, but Finnegan jumped
completely up onto my dad's lap. Behavior
school starts this week, so I'm told.

As I walked by, the door opened. Lad was carrying Finn up to go outside after waking up. (Since then Finn has gotten so big that he is rarely carried upstairs anymore, and I JUST HAD MY CARPETS CLEANED, softly sobbing). In the blink of an eye, I turned just-so, to probably let the basement dweller (and yes, that would be Lad who usually sleeps with the dog in the basement) know that I was there, as in DON'T HIT ME IN THE FACE WITH THE DOOR.   

Maybe I thought I could sneak by without getting bopped in the face. Just as I turned, Finn's nose peeked around the door at eye level and he inserted his snout and tongue into my "I'm here"-speaking mouth. 


I don't think we could recreate that if we wanted to. Oh, and to be clear. I don't wanna get French kissed by Finnegan again, so no recreating necessary.

 * ATTENTION, ATTENTION:  Bathroom nonsense aside, Harry is difficult. He's attention seeking. Big time. He probably needs attention because he's been starved of it. Of course he often goes about it all wrong. 

When we went to the beach, he asked to carry the bag full of buckets and shovels to the car. He wanted to rinse his feet in the faucet, but it made no difference. He didn't come to the hotel with pool shoes so we left his high tops in the car. He was going to get sandy all over again even if he rinsed his feet. He still had to walk down the long, sandy path to the car. He climbed a fence that overlooked some marshy area. We were almost to the car. He looked at us repeatedly over his shoulder to try to get us to notice that he was indeed climbing a fence. 

Another beach visit that we did just before
 school started. Curly, her BFF, the boys and
I headed down to the beach in Chicago. A
 fun treat. Curly and BFF had the boys close
 their eyes and then turned them into
 mermaids using the new beach
 tools I'd bought. The boys
 thought it was a hoot. 

I realized that he no longer had the nice mesh bag that held years of accumulated beach toys that he'd insisted on carrying.

Apparently, he put the bag down to mess with the faucet thing even after we told him to keep walking. The entrance to the beach was crowded. At this point we were almost to the car (a long way from the beach). He and I ran back into the building with the foot washing faucet. Someone had made off with our bag. 

He climbs unsafe stuff, touches stuff he isn't sure he should mess with while CONSTANTLY swiveling his head to see who's watching. 

The head swiveling  gives me a 
headache and it isn't my head. 

I noticed after he moved in that his HEY LOOK AT ME, thing gradually died down. The psychiatrist decided his ADHD wasn't being addressed, so she put him on Adderall. The last thing I wanted was to add meds, but this has really helped him. The goal is to get him off the other, useless ADHD med so at least it's more of a switch than an add on.

* Bickering With Each Other:  It's.All.They.Do. No exaggeration. It literally cripples everything we do. They fight about everything. Neither wants to be the first one to take a shower. I've assured Larry that no one takes Harry to Disney World while he is showering. It's 5 minutes. Hop in, hop out. 

When they first arrived, I made their breakfast. Cereal, oatmeal, hard boiled egg, more cereal, bagel. Plus the aforementioned Activia. I eventually bumped the bagel to an after school snack. Spread the love a bit.

Once the school year started and I was babysitting, I wanted to get my 30 minute Buns and Guns workout in before the babies got dropped off. I started letting the boys pour their own cereal. I was in the adjoining family room doing my class. Without fail, they'd explode into a huge argument. Someone chewed too loudly. Someone finished a box of cereal. With 10 more IDENITCAL boxes, what was the issue? Well, now this kid had to open a box. 

9 times out of 10, they get into a screaming match at 6:20 in the morning over nothing, and wake up the entire house of teenagers who prefer to sleep until their alarm wakes them up. I live for the days when Coach is home in the morning- double team. 

I started waking up early to get my workout in. I cannot tell you how desperate I am to have 30 minutes of PEACE to start my day. I decided that I deserved that and it was OK to insist on it. No matter what time I wake up though, Larry appears downstairs moments after me.

At last I instituted a 'quiet place' rule. Breakfast: 7 am. The bus:  7:27. Clothes out the night before. Prepped lunches in advance. I gave each boy a spot to sit in if they woke before 7. Larry - the study. Harry - the living room across from the study. 

The folding table in the living room leftover from Tank's grad party became Harry's homework spot. As with all things, he argued. He wanted to do homework at the kitchen table. After school:  moms pick up their tots, teenagers eat three course meals when not at a sport, and I make dinner, so no. HARD NO. This guy needed a quiet place. 

He still fights about it EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. Coach tried to reposition it in his mind:  you're so lucky to have your own space. Not buying it. 

So, Harry hates being assigned the living room for his quiet spot. If he has homework to finish or spelling words to review, this is where his backpack is stored so it makes sense. There is a couch and a soft chair in there, so if he wants to read or look at a book - go right ahead. 

Larry's spot in the study doesn't have a desk, so Harry threw a fit that Larry got to do his homework on the couch with a lap desk. Also, Larry rarely has homework. I bumped them from the kitchen even for writing thank you notes and journal entries, because I didn't want to workout while listening to the constant complaining from the kitchen:  THIS IS SO DUMB, etc. I finally hauled my old childhood desk from the give away pile into the study to give the spots a more even feel. 

After a few weeks, it hit the fan. They'd find things to argue about ACROSS THE HALL FROM THEIR DESIGNATED QUIET SPOTS. Hello, did you not get the memo? Quiet. Spot. They could sit in there and look at books, color, or do math pages or journal entries that I prepared in advance. Of course, the flip side was YOU DON'T LIKE IT, FEEL FREE TO SLEEP LONGER. 

We went to the library on a Tuesday night before rushing off to soccer practice. That night, I told them to choose books they wanted to keep in their quiet places for the next morning. I was about 10 minutes into my workout when Larry started shouting:  

*that is Larry's favorite thing to do:  tattle. He lives to trip Harry up, even getting overly excited about a meal just because he knows it'll make Harry look bad or get him aggravated. Harry doesn't need any help getting into trouble, but Larry points out Harry's mistakes left and right. He likes to align himself with the adults. I can kind of see how it played out at Debbies:  WELL, LARRY SAYS YOU'RE DOING SUCH AND SUCH (Larry standing next to Debbie with hands on hips, nodding, UH HUH). We've started an award system to get him to move away from tattling.

That morning when Larry started shouting, I paused my workout. Harry was sitting on the couch in the study. 


What? He just wanted to be difficult. I told him to move to the living room. He claimed Larry had more library books than he did. I picked up a huge stack (Coach had even asked if we'd left any books for the other patrons) and brought them into the living room.

I was ticked. 

Just give me my 30 minutes, DAMN IT. I have lists for the morning routine on the fridge. Crazy simple:  eat, unload something from the dishwasher, get dressed, brush teeth, take meds, walk to bus. Remember lunch and water bottle.

At breakfast, Harry complained:  THIS ISN'T WHAT YOU WERE LIKE AT THE LIBRARY. 

I'm not even allowed to be frustrated after he started ANOTHER shouting match at 6:30 am when he deliberately broke the house rules. If he'd thrown all of the books to the floor at the library, he would've seen me upset. 

To me, this was just basic. He refused to recognize his role. Instead, he just wanted to point out that I wasn't as chipper as I'd been at the library. 

Life with the boys:  HARD TO FUNCTION.

Anyone else French kissed by a puppy recently? 


Nicole said...

I think it's really typical for kids with trauma or neglectful backgrounds to have behavioural issues for sure, it sounds like there is a lot of work ahead with the kids.

Kari said...

I French kiss dogs on the regular. But not on purpose. ;)

Jenny in WV said...

I usually kiss the dog on top of his head and fortunately, he rarely kisses back. That may be self preservation tho. The dog I had as a teenager once bit my lip when I rolled over on her. Mom wasn't too happy about the middle of the night ER trip for stitches.

I wonder if the boys didn't get held/hugged/cuddled much in their family of origin. Maybe that contributes to the attention seeking behavior. If only hugs could fix a lot. (This is just the random mussing of a person who has never even taken Psych 101, but does like hugs - from certain, select people only).

Ernie said...

Nicole - Yes, this is very true. Unfortunately, their behavior was leaning towards more than we could handle. It interfered so much with daily life that we were finding everyday things like meals and getting them to the bus for school and homework or play dates incredibly challenging.

Ernie said...

Kari - Ha. I bet you do.

Ernie said...

Jenny - There is a ton of love and affection that they undoubtedly missed out on early on. We were trying to navigate the world in which we were offering those things. I actually gave Harry a little 'real hug' instruction one day and he took to offering hugs with his whole self, not just a lean in.

Kara said...

We got a pandemic puppy, and has no concept of personal space. He gets right up in our faces and always wants to give lots of kisses. He's very handsome and pretty well trained. Just occasionally has separation anxiety and eats our baseboards.

I'm sorry to hear of the troubles with the kids. It sounds so difficult.

Ernie said...

Kara - I've essentially had a headache for a few weeks now, and I'm hoping it isn't because of the puppy. Hmm. I do believe a puppy's job is to NOT respect personal space. Your poor baseboards.

Thank you, it is very difficult.

Beth Cotell said...

Oh, Ernie! It just keeps getting worse and worse! I'm sorry there are so many issues with these two kids. I can only imagine how difficult it is for everyone involved.

Jenny in WV said...

The list of heartbreaking things the boys have been through just keeps growing. It's sad that a kid needed instructions on how to give a hug.

Ernie said...

Beth - Getting ahead of myself, but I called my friend who used the same worker as us, had the same criteria and had NOTHING like even remotely similar to our experience. She has 5 biological kids. She was speechless when I called her and described some of what had gone on.

Ernie said...

Jenny - True, but I've seen kids with a regular background just sort of deliver a half hug. Harry was obsessed with Coach, my guess is he gave Coach a more genuine hug. The therapist told me that my role would be the hardest seeing as I was subbing in for the person who SHOULD'VE been the main nurturer. They sort of resented me. Well, Harry did. Larry was crazy about me from the get-go. Always wanted to know where I was and when I'd be back if I wasn't home.

Busy Bee Suz said...

There is a lot to unpack here, but let's start with this:
At 6:30.
You are my hero.

I french kiss a cute puppy all the time.

His name is Coach.

They are a lot. And if only they realized HOW much they were for you guys, they would take it down a notch, but nope, they're too far gone already to even realize what is correct behavior.
I don't know how you didn't tear out all your hair.

So sorry for all the stressors.

Ernie said...

Suz - You made me LOL with your BUNS AND GUNS praise. Actually a B & G class is a bit like phoning it in. I recently did a class from a bit ago and it was longer and more intense and I was like OH, YEAH- THIS IS WHAT THESE CLASSES WERE LIKE AND WHY I INTIALLY WAS LIKE, OH, GET OUT OF HERE WITH THAT BUN AND GUNS STUFF. But, paired with a run or a walk in the summer, it was just right.

I do wish there were more conversations from 'the team' - hi, how many zoom calls can we have with these two and ask what they're eating and if they feel safe WIHTOUT asking how they are behaving. The trouble, no doubt, is that their behavior is beyond their control. Sadly.

And thanks, the stress level, ugh - would've been nice to have a good way to lower it. Guns and Buns class wasn't really cutting it.