Making parenting mistakes since 2008

Category — Calvin

I spoke too soon

Clearly I spoke to soon. It’s been seven days since Calvin had a tantrum, he didn’t make it to eight.
Frustrated barely begins to cover it.

November 15, 2012   1 Comment

Really, is he 12

Can it really be that this boy, out little Calvin, who is as tall as I am now,  is 12 today…

This is him at 8, the day we met in fact which was just a week after his birthday. He was outgoing and bold, underneath he was terrified. He has come so far in the last 4 years. He has moments of being a total jerk, an annoying oldest kid, a sensitive young man, a generous soul and a child with an insecure attachment who has an intense fear of abandonment by the people he now loves, us.

This is him tonight opening gifts and a party he did not know about because if you do not know that your family is going to celebrate how awesome you are you can not ruin it. If your siblings do not know they can not ruin it either. We celebrated his awesomeness tonight and he held it together, he was polite and handled both excitement, surprise and disappointment well. This is one of my favourite pictures from today because the look on his face is one of pure joy ( getting money tends to do that to for him) but I love how very happy he is.

It has been an insane week ( end of school, grade 6 grad, his birthday, about to go to camp alone for the 1st time ) for him and I expected disaster but instead I have been met with maturity and grace. He is growing and turning into a wonderful kid, he has his moments, he is still healing and needs things other kids his age wouldn’t but that’s okay, he will keep growing and as long as he is all that he can be than I will be happy both with him and for him.

June 27, 2012   6 Comments

love grows

Last night we were sitting at the table talking and I said love grows brains. Calvin was listening and piped up,  yep so does attachment. After I picked my jaw up off the floor because oh my goodness he was listening and assimilating information and participating in a conversation about something that might be triggering for him. I started to include him in the conversation about what I meant and about some of the things he and I learned about in therapy when he was younger. Then today I also remembered that he did Roots of Empathy in grade 4 and learned more aobut all those things there – yeah for good education and good programing.

Love grows brains, if my kid can remember that you can too.

November 4, 2011   1 Comment

reason 746

Yesterday after a particularly long day Calvin came to me while I was folding laundry and said ” Mom I am feeling crappy, can I have a hug”.

I gave him a hug and we talked a bit. I knew that he had a difficult day at school I also knew that he was overwhelmed by the amount of homework he because he has not been bringing it home and now was doing it all at once. After our quick chat he moved on, did his extra chore (which was a consequence) with a smile on his face and went off to play with his brother.

Pretty typical little boy dramas for a little boy who is finally at the stage where he is just a pretty typical little boy you know aside from the lying first, trying to get away with everything and threatening to kill people if they look at him the wrong way because he perceives them as a threat to his surivial. But you know other than that he is becoming a pretty regular kid.

Do we still need to parent him differently than the average kid?


Is worth it?

Absolutely it is and every time I see him make a big step like he did yesterday my heart swells with pride because this little boy (who so many people had given up on) is going to make a difference in the world.


October 21, 2011   3 Comments

and again

So after a good stretch of stellar behaviour (read no major tantrums or issues)  from both of the boys the stellar behaviour train was derailed on Friday.

It was a spectacular crash and we are still cleaning up the mess. Train derailments are messy things and long after all the people have been accounted for and the debris cleaned up the tracks still need to be repaired. We are reapiring tracks this week. Much of the track repairing is work that I need to do because I was less than helpful in dealing with my kids.

We celebrated Fudge’s birthday on Saturday he had huge meltdowns on both Friday and Sunday. While Fudge was having his meltdown on Friday I asked Calvin to take out the compost. There was a large bin of crab apples that never got made into anything and the regular compost bucket as well. He took them out without complaint and I thought nothing else of it until yesterday when I was mowing the lawn and discovered the compost in various places in the yard rather than on the compost pile.

I was pissed.

I went inside and got him, told him to clean it up, NOW! He knew he was in trouble but he also knew that if he did just did that would be it the end of it. There was a part of him that wanted to just get it done but there was a bigger part of him that wanted some negative attention because it had been all Fudge all the time for the last 3 days and he was tired of it. So he refused to pick up the apples and move them to the place they needed to be. I was tired, I reacted poorly, luckily for both of us P heard me turning into a raving lunatic and came out to see what was going on and then took over. P also got frustrated with Calvin’s refusal but  finally with the aid of a shovel and a calm Dad the clean up was accomplished.

Calvin was told he had to help in the yard to make up for the time of ours that he used up with his antics. He was mad but worked and was helpful,  then I found more compost. If he thought I was mad before I was really mad now. It did not go well. He was told to clean it up, again he refused and there seem to be no amount of threatening consequences, cajoling or talking at him that was going to move him out of that place of refusal.

He yelled and screamed and cried, then he ran away and came back and ran again. Finally after threatening to take away an upcoming camping trip he stopped running and came over to work with us in the yard. But he still would not clean up the compost. I refused to discuss anything with him till he had done it. We were at standstill – he would do other jobs but not that one and I would not let him stop working till that job had been done.

This went on for 3 hours, I kept trying to get him to do and he kept refusing. He would walk over to the compost and stare at it, I would yell, he would cry and then he would go back to a different chore.

Finally I paused and asked him what the problem was because he knew that once he cleaned it up we could move on and he said “my brain knows that and wants to do the work but my body will not listen.” My interpretation of that was that he just could not physically get past the grossness of the task because compost sitting in the hot sun for 3 days is really disgusting. I needed to make this into managable task for him. I sent him back to the compost and said he had 5 minutes to work at it and then I would send him to a different chore. For the first 5 minutes he just stood there and looked at it, I let him and after 5 minutes I sent back to other things. About ten minutes later I sent him back to the compost and he picked up one or two pieces and then just stood there, after 5 minutes I sent him away again. This going back and forth went on for about an hour and then finally he looked at me and said I’m done.

He had finally done it. It was cleaned up. Four hours later a 2 minute job was done.

I learned that even though Calvin is attaching, even though he has come so far, he can still get really stuck inside his head and when that happens he still needs me to help him regulate and manage things for him. He is still not capable of doing that on his own. He could not actually figure out a way to pick up that compost until I broke the task down and removed the pressure to get it done on my terms.

I often saying parenting is a lesson is repetition, todays repitition is that this Mama needs to be reminded that trying to win a battle with him on his brothers birthday weekend, when he just had a visit with his sister and has a trauma anniversary coming up, is impossible. I mean really, there is no way that he is going to manage all of that effectively, what 11 year old would.

Remind me of that next October will ya, sometimes I am a slow learner.

October 11, 2011   2 Comments


I have mentioned recently how well Calvin has been doing, how hard he has been working and just how very far he has come. Yesterday I saw a glimmer of the child I once knew and I was totally not expecting it.

Anne’s foster family dropped her off at 1pm, we timed things very carefully so that we would be able to supervise her with the boys at at all times. We got it the car to head to the city and chatter started. Calvin chattered all the way to the city making up all sorts of tall tales about things he is doing and has done some of which I called him on and others I ignored. He kept chatting and making a point of saying Dad as often as he possibly could. He was clearly stressed and triggered by having his sister present and although I thought he would be I was surprised by the chatter.

While Calvin chattered no stop Fudge withdrew into a book for the 40 minutes we were in the car. It was an interesting ride.

I was surprised at just how much being with Anne triggered Calvin. He has not been like this in the past but then again he has grown so much in the last 6 months and he knows just how much she is struggling to stay out of trouble. He loves her and he misses her but he understands how hard it is to make good choices and on deeply personal level that what she is missing is a family who will always love her. He can articulate that to me and he has begun to say that, it warms my heart to hear him talk about being happy to be adopted.

Once we got int o the coty things go better. We met Michael and his Mom and played a few games of laser tag with some friends to celebrate Fudge and Anne’s birthdays. The visit went well, Anne acted like a 14 year old girl with significant attachment issues and the boys all had a blast playing laser tag.

Calvin had managed to regulate himself by the time we were home and we enjoyed our shared meal with Michael’s family. Anne did not stay for supper because we do not feel that we can provide the level of supervision required so that she is not constantly saying inappropriate things to the boys.

Bedtime was easy – gasp I know – and no one had a melt down.

Today was a different story but I will take one tantrum free day and run with it because it this is a new phenomenon around here and I kinda like it.


October 9, 2011   2 Comments

Good, great in fact

That’s how school is going.

I am knocking on wood as I type this, with both hands, my feet and my head…

But I am optimistically going to say that Calvin has turned a huge corner and we might just make it through the first month of school unscathed.

Calvin who used to rage, hit, run away, deny any responsibility about anything that could of potentially been his fault and do everything he could to get the other kid in trouble has twice this week handled conflicts at school in a developmentally appropriate manner for an 11 year old. He has accepted consequences and followed through with apologies without being told to.

I am amazed and hopeful but don’t worry I am not naive, thus all the wood knocking.

And on that brilliant note I am going to leave you for today but before I do let me remind you that the boys and I are walking 5k this weekend to raise money for adoption and I am having a RAFFLE, just in case you missed it, tickets are 5 bucks, that’s all, 5 little dollars and there are some good prizes. Many of you have checked it out but not nearly as many of you have bought tickets, now’s your chance, only 3 days left!

September 22, 2011   3 Comments

High Tops

I cried buying shoes for my son the other day. I was standing there in the department store looking at the display of sandals and spring shoes and the tears welled up and rolled down my face. There was nothing I could do but let it happen, I needed to have that cry as I bought shoes for my boy.

Let me explain.

In September I bought new shoes for my boys. Calvin wanted high top basketball shoes with laces. I agreed, he loved those shoes. He wore them constantly even on the hottest days of fall, he took the time to tie and untie them and gave up wearing his sandals all together. Then winter came and the runners went away and the snow boots came out. They made an occasional appearance for cub meetings and such but really, in much of Canada in the winter it is all boots all the time. We pulled the much coveted high tops back out last week and he was excited to see them again. He talked about his love for his shoes and how they made run faster and jump higher. He wore them one day and then commented the next day that they he needed new shoes. I said don’t be silly and had him put them on again. He and I had a few arguments back and forth about them and he kept saying they were old and dumb and he needed new shoes. He would not wear them and went to school in his rubber boots for a few days.

I was at a bit of a loss as to why the coveted shoes sucked so badly all of a sudden and then the penny dropped…
The rest is at Hopeful Parents, head on over to read it there.

April 8, 2011   4 Comments

I hate you and other things that are hard to hear from my kid.

I hate you.
You’re mean.
You don’t care.
Leave me alone.
I don’t want you to love me.
Go away.
You should send me back.
You can’t love me.
I don’t want to live here.
You will never understand.

I have been hearing these words a lot from Calvin lately, he is usually shouting them at me. Both last week and this week Thursdays have been really hard days. That being said though, how I deal with the words can either make or break our day.

Last Thursday he decided he was mad a the world and after a fight with Fudge put himself to bed at 5 pm. I gave him some space and then went to his room to see if I could help him through the HUGE feelings he was clearly having that were a whole lot more complicated than the fight with Fudge.

He did not want to talk to me at all. In fact he did everything in his power to make me go away so that he would not have to talk to me. He yelled, he kicked, he insulted, I did not go away. I stayed and kept calm. He hid under his bed wrapped in a blanket refusing to engage in any of the conversations I was trying to have.

It would of been easy to walk away when he screamed that he hated me. It would of been easy to yell and give him a consequence when he kicked me. It would of been easy but it would not of been healing. Instead I stayed, I talked to him about all the big feelings he was having and about how very hard that must be for him. I talked about how if he was feeling scared and upset about his body hurting that would be a normal feeling for a kid to have. I talked and talked and I ignored the shouting. After about 20 minutes he came out from under his bed and lay down with me. I talked some more, he nodded or shook his head in response. We cuddled and tickled and got silly and after another 10 minutes he was ready to join us for supper.

His words do hurt me, his actions hurt me as well but he is 10 and the first years of his life were really tough for him. I can not expect him to be all better because I am taking care of his needs and I tell him that I love him everyday. I can not expect that he is going to regular kid overnight because I am not beating him or leaving him to fend for himself. It took a long time to do the damage that has been done to his brain and it will take a long time to heal that damage.

I see progress, each and every time he chooses to talk rather than rage I see progress and he is taking huge steps toward healing everyday.

February 18, 2011   7 Comments

More on Pain.

So Calvin home from school about an hour ago but he did not walk up the driveway and asked Fudge to tell me to come and get him because his leg was hurting to much. I asked Fudge before I went down how Calvin was moving and how he seemed after school, Fudge said he was running around at last recess and seemed fine but now he was saying that his leg hurt.

My first reaction was, he is so just faking all the pain this for me, little brat, running around at school, he is so fine.

I got in the car and drove down, he was standing to the side of the driveway. He got in and I asked him how he was.

He said ” My leg hurts cause I made I bad choice. I was running around after school before we got on the bus and now it really hurts”.

Opps, good thing I did not say anything. He is learning that being honest with me gets him a lot farther!

We did talk as I got him some Advil about his day and he said that he took an Advil at lunch time ( has to go ask at the office) and that it helped. He also said that he did not do gym because as soon as he started to stretch with the kids it hurt so he had to sit out. He seemed disappointed by that. He is willing to sit quietly now and play with his lego while he waits for the 4:30 Advil to kick in.

This does confirm my suspicion that as long as he is taking the meds he feels like he can move around with little pain provided that he is not doing anything other than just moving from place to place. Without the meds even walking is painful, poor kid. I did not hear from rheumatology today. I will be calling them in the morning to see when they can get us in.

February 16, 2011   5 Comments