Category Archives: kids

Beeee yourself

Eldest Child wanted to sleep with my nipple in her mouth at all times. Middle Child wanted to nurse enough to not be starving and then get that dang boob out of their face. Youngest Child wants to nurse probably slightly past satiation so that she has a good vomit towards the end but then she wants to sleep with the nipple against her lips in case she wants it later. If the nipple moves away she is terribly upset.

EC could not be put down. MC liked being left alone to look around a room a little. YC mostly wants to be held but if you put her down for a few minutes she’s ok with it and she doesn’t start indicating that she’s lonely until I’ve been gone 5-10 minutes.

EC and MC both screamed in the car as if we were lying them on a bed of nails. YC… is mostly chill unless she got into the car hungry.

EC was the most violently anti-diaper changes; she screamed hysterically through every diaper change for months. MC didn’t like them but didn’t cry 100% of the time. YC sometimes gets annoyed with being cold and complains about that but mostly she’s thrilled to get poop taken off her and she is quiet and cooperative.

Noah points out that this baby is the least… fussed post birth and she’s the only birth where I didn’t feel traumatized.

It is wonderful to me that I can’t see my family or Noah’s family in YC’s face the way I can in EC or MC. She is so completely and totally her own person. YC has a few facial expressions in common with EC (oh they have a mighty pirate YARRRRRRR face) and her face shape is suggestive of EC’s face… but very different. My Youngest Child looks like herself and that’s it.

This child seems so relaxed and mellow. She seems happy and like she’s getting exactly what she needs. I don’t feel as anxious and on the verge of ruining her life/killing her as I did with the older kids. She feels so fragile, but she also seems happy and sturdy. I think she feels fragile because I have acclimated to big kids and the difference is striking.

My milk is fully in. I’m at my pre-pregnancy weight (I’M EATING EVERYTHING THAT ISN’T NAILED DOWN). My house is shockingly tidy. My kids have not fallen behind on school work. I’m doing 1-3ish hours of chores a day and mostly resting.

I’m doing “the right things”. I’m a little bored because sitting this still is not my favorite. I think that today I will be up for trying another walk. I tried making breakfast on day three and squatting to get stuff out of the bottom of the fridge fucking hurt so bad I wanted to scream so I didn’t try a walk yesterday or day three. I’m on day five now.

It’s amazing that she’s only been here five days. I like her so much.

I think YC will be fully out of newborn size by the time she is ten days old. I can barely sorta get it on her now.

I am back to the point where I’m looking at all of my clothes and thinking, “How much boob access does this have?” I have multiple years in front of me where all of my clothes need to be picked based on access to my nipples. This is kind of hilarious to me. Given our plans in this time period I’m a little confused as to how much of this I should box up for “some day” and how much I should just pass along.

I already took all of my maternity stuff out and put it in bags to donate. I could barely wear it pregnant because I never got that big and I’m already shrunk down to about the middle of my size range. I’m mushy and I have extra skin, but my girth is not anywhere near as big as I am sometimes without being pregnant so my clothes are fitting fairly normally already.

My boobs are ridiculous. Rock hard and almost the size of EC’s skull. Which is disturbing because she’s almost 10 and has an adult sized head. YC’s skull looks tiny and insignificant next to my mighty tits. This makes me giggle so much. Bodies are weird. I miss tandem nursing right now. Having a big kid to relieve all the pain of engorgement was a gift.

Yesterday I hit the wall of “Oh my god every single piece of me is in pain. Ow Ow Fucking Ow.”

Blacksheep followed up on me asking her how she psyches herself up to be bad ass. She said that part of it is she never says to herself that she can’t do something.

I really do aspire to be as bad ass as this woman someday.

But the thing is… I have limits. I have physical, emotional, and mental limits. There are things I can’t do.

That’s hard. I think that my limits are often pretty extreme… there are many ways in which my limits greatly exceed “average” so folks are confused by the vehemence of my expression of limits. Mostly… I am not what people think of when they think “disabled” which is completely legit.

My limits move around based on a lot of factors. When I did the elimination diet from hell my body was so sick. I could not do a fraction of what I normally can. It was rough. I go through periods where I have no energy or ability to think and I essentially shut down. I plan around these things and try to avoid hitting the wall so that I fail people.

I think that I am so certain and defensive of my limits because I’m well aware of how often I could fail people if I were more casual about how I observe my boundaries. If I didn’t watch my limits like a hawk I would let people down and I really don’t want to. I have so much to give and then I’m done and I don’t want someone standing around needing me to continue or they will fail too. That’s not fair.

So I am adamant and fierce about my boundaries because if I don’t then I will hurt people. I know where I will fail and I identify that point and I do my best to avoid it. I know how to work me until I am absolutely spent… but I got through the necessary bits.

So when it comes to talking myself into doing something hard… I have to look at the whole picture before I decide if I can or can’t do something. There are millions of things I could do if I was supported properly and they were all I was doing. Can I do those things within the structure and framework of my life given my other obligations? That’s a harder question. The calculus is intense.

So as much as I admire and look up to the idea of seeing yourself as just so fucking competent it isn’t in question… I’m pretty sure that will always be aspirational for me. There are too many ways I fail for me to have such hubris. (I’m not saying it is hubris for someone else… I’m talking about my failings here.)

I am really enjoying how much mothering feels like something I can do even though it is hard and draining and demanding. Mothering really kind of sucks as a job. It’s painful and often not that rewarding moment by moment.

But I get to look at my glorious children and know that I did that. I made them from scratch and then I fed their bodies and nurtured their minds and their spirits. I don’t think that mothering is the best task for everyone. I don’t think it should be a mandatory part of anyone’s life. But I want it to be part of my life and I want to be good at it.

And I am.

Normal

On one hand, I worry about how much sleep I’m getting. On the other hand… I’m actually getting a fairly normal amount of sleep for me when I am unmedicated at night. This is what my body… does.

There is this belief that you must get a “reasonable” amount of sleep or you can’t be healthy. I believe it is true… to a point. Do you know how grateful I have been to have doctors start telling me that my sleep stuff is probably related to a combination of ADHD (I burn more energy with less need for rest than average) and PTSD hypervigilance. I probably don’t NEED as much sleep as other people. Seven hours is pretty average for me with heavy sleep meds.

So getting 3-5 hours is low but… not scary low for me?

One of my favorite parts of giving birth is my horrifying anxiety just… lifts. I have a little anxiety about my babies but not a lot. Mostly I feel competent in a way I rarely feel in life. I can’t sit around like a queen giving orders when I’m pregnant but I don’t hesitate postpartum. Bring me that. Fetch the other thing. Go do this chore. No problem!

I will sit here and hold my baby and somehow manage to still be wildly productive because my mind feels so thrilled to be doing what it is doing.

I love my baby. She is perfect. If she weren’t canonically perfect she would be perfect to me. I’m not scared of my children having problems. I have problems. We cope.

Like, we get to take her to Stanford for an ultrasound for her kidney because stuff wasn’t perfect at birth. I don’t care. Whatever I have to do for her will get done. She is my baby.

If I have to blow things up to take care of her I will. If I have to mow someone down because they are blocking something I need for her… I won’t flinch.

My children motivate me in a way nothing else on this earth ever has or ever will. I will find a way to change for my children. I will become whatever they need from me. It doesn’t matter if it is hard or if it hurts. I brought you into this world. I owe you. I owe you everything.

I don’t mean “everything” like every class or toy or treat you want. Boundaries make healthy people. But I owe you my life. I owe you my sanity. I owe you my need to get up in the morning and try again.

Apparently in our house we now have a Sissy and a Sibby. (Sister/Sibling) This is… making me cry in a nice way. My big kids are so happy about the baby they are about to burst.

After the next diaper change I’m starting a load of diaper laundry. This makes me weirdly very happy. Let the next cycle begin. I am so ready. I am ready to take care of you and do what you need. You are worth all the work I could possibly put into you and more. I will give you what I have. It will fall short of your needs because life is like that. Luckily you have a daddy who loves you to distraction. And you have a Sissy and a Sibby who want to take care of you when I can’t do everything.

You, my lovely daughter, are going to be ok. We will make sure of it.

My milk hasn’t fully come in yet, but my boobs are sweeeeeelling. It’s hilarious and painful because my boobs are already getting to that point where my nipples are hard for a newborn to manage. Overwhelmed by boob is a hilarious facial expression. By later today my boobs will dwarf her head. Ha.

Last night I swaddled the baby super well and gave her to Noah. I went to bed a few minutes before 8. I got up for the day at 2:30 for the second feeding (the first feeding was around 11, I think?). Amusingly… that’s barely short of sleep for me. I hope Noah will sleep in. If I get up and get breakfast for the kids, this may be a fairly good pattern for a couple of weeks. I get a solid chunk of sleep for the first shift then Noah gets to sleep.

We’ll see what normal we find.

Third time’s the charm.

I have said for ten years that any amount of labor time under 24 hours would be easy. I was right! 21 hours were fine.

First: this could not possibly have gone so well without our wonderfully kind friend who moved in for a week so that when I had a full day of contractions and they petered out I had no extra stress about feeling guilty about prodromal labor. I got to ride the waves and take whatever experience. It was a gift. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

My official labor got going around 8:30am on Monday. My contractions built in intensity and regularity all day. I went in around 7pm because my contractions were about 5 minutes apart and a minute long and consistently more than 10/hour. Mostly I was fretful because she had slowed her moving down and I was worried. It’s so hard not being able to see if the baby inside of you is ok.

I got to the hospital 3cm dilated (which isn’t that much and they could have sent me home) and 90% effaced with a bulging water sack. They wanted me to stay. Around 10:30ish they started Pitocin. The epidural was started around 11. Then I went to sleep. I was checked at some point. I was woken up/checked again around 4. During the 4am check the doctor accidentally broke my water bag because whoops it was in the way. At first she said 8cm. Then a minute later she declared me complete and instantly there were six extra people, lots of lights, and a whole bunch of beeping machines.

When my water was broken my blood pressure and her heart rate dropped dramatically. I was put on oxygen instantly. They started IV meds to support the baby.

Between 4:30ish and 5 I was in position and they started encouraging me towards pushing. Another moment of intense gratitude: my friend’s mom came to the hospital with us around 10pm. She was there talking and being supportive whenever I needed her. Her voice did sound above the crowd to give encouragement and feedback.

I might actually send out thank you cards. I’m really in awe of how people showed up for me.

The nurses also did a good job of giving feedback and support. But Ma’s voice was louder and more insistent.

Noah did a wonderful job of supporting me this time. He kept his face soft and loving the whole time. No grimacing at my pain. Well done, fantastic husband.

Ze baby emerged at 5:28am. I didn’t tear or get a skid mark or nothing. I am shocked by how relatively comfortable my external genitalia feel. I’m sore but it’s not bad. Internally the continued contractions to get my uterus back to size suuuuuuuuuuck. And why don’t I take 400mg of Ibuprofen three times a day and I wont have pain, right?! Oh man.

Several folks, including the lactation consultant, asked me about my THC usage. We clarified that I don’t smoke it basically at all (inhaling it is one of the most dangerous steps–we know there are problems from breathing smoke) and I went into details about why I use it and what I have replaced with it and why my medical team thinks this is the best choice for me. I was rather stunned by the extent of support I received. Most folks were like, “You are clearly very educated on this topic and you are making the best choice for your body. Alright. Excellent.” My pain management doctor telling me that my next line is Oxycontin and Ativan really helps. No one wants me on those meds. Definitely not when I’m breeding/feeding a kid.

I didn’t find out till we got home that one pediatrician had a judgy conversation with Noah about my THC when I was out of the room. I’m tempted to follow up on that because it might be a HIPAA violation for her to discuss my medication without me present and that kind of bugs me. What if I had been using birth control behind my husband’s back and she just wanted to mention that it might impact my baby and I am going to go home and get in trouble? You don’t report on other peoples medical care when they are not present. That shit’s not cool.

What if my husband didn’t approve but it was still the best mediation option and now he is going to make my life a living hell? That’s very realistic.

Anyway.

The baby feels slightly more fragile to me than my previous kids. Specifically: she’s having trouble with reflux. Her first whole night of life I barely slept because she would spit up, fill her mouth with fluid, and be unable to do anything about it. She couldn’t move her head to let it fall out and she couldn’t swallow it. So I spent a lot of time flipping her over and clearing her mouth. The lactation consultant agreed that putting her in the bassinet would be stupid. She needed to be up against my body with me paranoid and watching her. It was a festive/non-restful/wonderful night. Oh, I sent Noah home so he could sleep because otherwise we would both be exhausted and useless.

8:30am-5:30am. 21 hours. It was great. The first day of hospital recovery was lovely.

She was 20.5″ long (so .5″ shorter than the two older kids) and 8lbs 9oz. So heavier than both siblings, who were 8lbs and 8lbs 4 oz. I am steadily gaining 4ish oz per kid and that’s a great time to stop. Ha.

It took us till 1pm to secure check out because the hospital kind of wanted me to stay an extra night. But I got shifted from the maternity section to the pediatrics section and I kind of fell out of the “we will pay a lot of attention to you” rotation and that was difficult for me. I didn’t feel good about calling my nurse all the time to get the same care I had previously gotten for existing. So I didn’t drink or eat almost at all the second day in the hospital because she wasn’t offering anymore.

That was suboptimal. I came home and scarfed a big bag of salami because I needed protein before I killed someone.

Our friend went home last night. Her dog was experiencing a lot of stress from the new rules with a baby. My house had already been hard because there were more rules than usual and it was just not fair to keep cracking down on her. I am so so so so so so grateful my friend stayed as long as she did. The dog’s behavior was great. She never did anything inappropriate. She was just done with the restrictions. I would have flipped out long before she did. Such a good girl.

I tried to tell Noah to watch the baby and let me sleep in between nursing last night. Ha. That uhhh… didn’t work very well. He did a 7.5 hour shift and I probably got 1.5-2 hours of sleep. Sigh. It’ll be ok. I will sleep today.

It is fascinating to me how excited and complete I feel. I am so happy I get to learn about this wonderful daughter. She gets cold! Like me! She shivers a lot. She needs a fair bit of bundling in our frigid California weather. Ha. I really can’t tell who she looks like yet. She looks like a whole new person and it is so neato. She’s beautiful and I feel completely overwhelmed with gratitude that I get to keep her and take care of her. She is my responsibility. I am allowed to love her with my whole heart.

I can’t express what that means to me.

I don’t feel sad about wanting more children. I feel like I am at my limit emotionally and physically. This is my family. This is what I want/wanted. In the future I will have the spoons to foster, but I don’t think I will ever take on a baby again. This is my journey.

I feel so lucky.

Big kids are ecstatic. They are snuggling her and talking to her and trying to learn how to be helpful. It will be a process and I’m glad to be on it with them.

I get to have two daughters and a non-binary kid. I get to have a husband who thinks I am the best thing since sliced bread. I get to have friends who show up to help me and support me through complications and challenges. I get to have a home I am allowed to alter and be safe in however I want. I get to have healthy meat and vegetables every day so that my body achieves a level of functioning I didn’t believe possible for me.

I can’t believe this is my life. I am one of the luckiest people ever born. I have so much. I am so grateful.

I am glad I am still alive for this feeling.

Ze baby has already had 8, maybe 9 poopy diapers and 2 or 3 wet diapers. I’m getting confused already. This is a great sign though. Her digestion is working. Her kidneys are starting to function as we hoped. We have a pediatrician check up in about 6 hours.

This is going as well as something can go. I am eternally grateful.

Random note: to the best of my knowledge my child is the only person in the entire world with her legal first/last name combo. I will do my best to never put it on the internet for her. That will happen when she chooses.

I want to remember this.

Before I get into the kid situation, I want to mention how much I appreciate computer problems that can be fixed with rebooting. Thanks, Noah.

I want to record that my children have been fantastically disobedient for the past few weeks. They told me they were doing academics and instead they have been watching stupid videos on youtube.

This is worthy of recording for a few reasons. 1) They liiiiiiiiiiiiiied more than they have ever lied to me before. This is a pretty epic trust violation between us. 2) They have been lying about the work they are doing and asking for points for doing work they aren’t doing. While also spending lots of time on the screen they aren’t paying for. Double whammy of theft of points. 3) I feel like this is an important milestone in them testing the boundaries between their autonomy and me. 4) I didn’t completely flip out. The kids said I didn’t even scream and I’m hella proud of myself. EC said I yelled but in a way she felt was completely fair and appropriate.

Because I am not going to try and equalize the point issue I told them that this will be handled on a couple of levels. First: they lost a lot of trust on the screen front. They now have to take turns being on the computer so that one kid at a time can sit at the kitchen table with no headphones so that I can verify that they are doing what they say. I am not sure how long this will go on. Noah proposes that we install blocking/tracking software and gosh that sounds like work to me right now.

MC did not do this as flagrantly nor for as many weeks/months (I can tell this issue goes back as far as the browser history goes… I don’t know for sure how much longer EC has been pulling this). MC has participated for at least the last week or two watching over ECs shoulder… but I don’t think they pushed their luck as far as EC pushed hers.

So EC is going to be weeding my garden for me. I told her that because she effectively “stole” bonus screen time (many many many hours of it) AND she has been claiming to do academics while not actually doing it… she gets to do work for me. It just seems fair. She is so freaking happy that I’m not freaking out at her or screaming or flying off the handle that she is excited and eager to take on this task. She didn’t argue for .1 second. That will be an hour a day of work until she finishes the yard. Based on previous years of effort I think that means she’s going to be weeding the garden for an hour a day for almost a month. I don’t feel bad at all. When she complains (which will come at some point) I will cheerfully say, “So how good does lying to me feel?”

She also has to do extra academic time every day to make up for the lost time. Because seriously dude… you do need to spend time learning. Not cool.

I told her that in a twisted, awful way I’m sorta glad she did this. She has always been such a dedicated little rule follower that I worry that she is never able to over ride people bossing her. I told her that at some point in the future… she is going to literally need to over rule me and lie to me. I am going to be wrong about something and she is going to need to suck up her courage and defy me. I’m glad to see she can even though I think this was not a worthwhile time to engage in this action.

She agreed that this probably wasn’t worth it because her stomach has been hurting. But in the future… yeah she agrees that it is good that she knows she can do what she wants to do even when I don’t like it.

So another fucking opportunity for growth. For both of us.

I feel really amused by the fact that I am really glad she finally found the strength to stand up to me. That’s awesome. But I’m not going to harp on that part very long in front of her…

Classes (scripts & routines)

At this point we have a fairly full class schedule for the kids. Some of the information for this post will be in a hard copy in the house and I will not be sharing that data with the internet. (Like the addresses of where we go for classes and such.)

All of the classes that the kids are currently in are within 4 miles of our house and you can drive there on city streets. No freeway driving is required.

Mondays both children have Tae Kwon Do at 3:45. It’s a 45 minute class. I often drop the kids off and go home for half an hour of quiet but it will probably be easier for you to just hang out in the van with B while the kids are doing their thing.

Tuesdays both children have Tae Kwon Do at 5:15. It’s another 45 minute class. Same location as Mondays.

Wednesdays both children have a swimming class at 1pm. It’s only a 30 minute class so I usually hang out in the van or in the waiting room watching the class. EC has been getting herself out of the pool and coming out to greet parents for a while. MC is just restarting swimming so they have less of a routine but we will talk about this over the next few weeks and EC is there to help. Right now the kids might have a cooking class at a separate location at 4:30 but as of last week there was no one but my kids signed up for the class and it is probably going to be cancelled. Bummer.

Thursdays only MC has a gymnastics class at 4pm. It’s an hour long class. I drop them off and go home because I don’t like waiting there. But you are free to do whatever works for you.

Fridays the kids have chess club! It’s at 4:30 and it runs for an hour. This one is right next to a nice park and B might enjoy hanging out for the time. This might be the class that is physically furthest from the house but still not so far it is a big deal in my mind.

Saturdays there is another Tae Kwon Do class at 11:15. This one is an hour long instead of 45 minutes.

The kids have other appointments but they are medical/therapy and all of their service providers are well prepped on the pregnancy situation and they understand that the kids will be missing appointments. So I don’t think any of those will be dropped in your lap.

think this is all the driving that might be asked of you. We fully understand that if you don’t feel good or if you are dizzy or if you just don’t feel like it… the kids can go ahead and miss any of these classes and there isn’t really a penalty. I’m just letting you know what the kids are used to doing so that if you are feeling up for it, this is their routine. Do your best and it will all be fine. If the kids are still alive and well at the end of my labor we’ll figure everything else out.

Realistically if the kids did no school work and ditched all of their classes for a week… it wouldn’t matter in the long run. Make ups are easy to do. I fucking love home schooling.

Foooooood (scripts and routines)

Breakfast:

  • eggs (we usually scramble–EC is definitely competent to cook these)
  • yogurt/granola/fruit
  • oatmeal (usually with frozen fruit from the freezer, the kids don’t really cook this because it takes sustained attention to stir it and that part gets hard. It’s 1/4 of oats to 1 cup of water and we add in the frozen fruit when the water is nearly all absorbed)
  • pancakes (EC can fully prepare these)
  • dry cereal and milk

Lunch:

  • cut up raw veg with lunch meat and cheese
  • cold sandwiches (both children are fully capable of making a wide variety of kinds)
  • leftovers from the fridge
  • grilled cheese sandwich with red pepper/tomato soup (have tetrapacks in the house)

Dinner:

  • If you feel like cooking ethnic foods my kids will eat just about anything. They don’t prefer onions or mushrooms and they are a little picky about greens but the variety they eat blows my mind.
  • pasta and sauce
  • leftovers (of course, because Noah always cooks LOTS)
  • various freezer meals like pot pies or frozen dinners (I don’t have EC run the oven… Still a wee bit high and hot for her to reach in)
  • caesar salad (for MC, EC will bitch about this up one side and down the other)

EC says that is what she can come up with off the top of her head. All of these food options are things that we keep around as staples. We will have these foods on hand. The kids are physically capable of doing almost all of this alone but usually we make stuff together for the social/interaction part of the experience. If you aren’t feeling like you can stand… the kids would be cheerful and lovely about bringing you food.

Drinks: we will probably have juice in the house. I don’t encourage the kids to drink it. I drink it because I’m struggling to gain calories. Milk and water are totally unregulated. Whatever they want is fine.

Dessert: our family typically has dessert Monday/Wednesday/Friday/Saturday and we have a sweet breakfast on Tuesdays and Sundays.

The kids are allowed to get a candy item out of the stash spot on Sundays. They know where this is and how to help themselves. We do not otherwise regulate when/how during the week they eat this candy item.

Fruit/nuts/some jerky are on the snack cart and the kids are free to eat as much of this as they want without checking in at all.

If the kids are on the screen a lot you have to interrupt them to force/encourage meals. This is not my favorite dynamic. I tend to just limit screen time around meals because otherwise the kids would far prefer to not eat and get a 10 minute bonus of youtube time. Sigh. Then their behavior goes to shit because they are hungry and cranky. Very predictable.

Our meal times: these are flexible and variable. We have patterns but we don’t stick to them religiously. We usually eat breakfast between 6 & 8 depending on how hungry we are and when we wake up. Mostly we eat within 30-60 minutes of waking up and our wake up time varies.

Sometimes we do two lunches, one at 11 and one at 2. Otherwise if we aren’t that hungry we just wait and eat somewhere 12 & 1 and call one lunch good enough.

Dinner varies anywhere from 5-7. It depends on what we are doing in terms of classes and house guests. Dessert waits until everyone is done eating and then it is help yourself. I tend to remind my children what a serving size of ice cream looks like (the small metal bowls!!! NOT the giant bowls that can hold 1/2 a gallon of ice cream in one go!) but I don’t actually argue with them over this. So it’s a situation where they know I don’t like it and that I have medical/biological reasons for bitching… but I try so hard not to micromanage every part of their lives. I have way too much control over them in general. Most of the time they select a reasonable amount of ice cream. Sometimes they go nuts. I try to see this as a normal variation in terms of people just varying. But it’s hard to not carp at them.

I’ll be honest with you and say there are days when I’m not the best at offering food because I feel like crap. But my kids are freakin good at saying, “Hey! It’s time to eat! So, let’s go see what’s around…” They have not absorbed much weirdness about food from me. (Thank goodness.) They both like to eat.

Be aware that EC will eat a lot more vegetables and fruit than MC. (I’m dropping the future part. I’m a day away from full term. The kid is now my middle child and I need to just go with that.) I encourage/pressure gently MC to eat more fruit and vegetables but I don’t sit on them and force it. If MC is really turning their nose up at what I have cooked, they are allowed to go eat raw veg from the fridge. They are completely competent at making their own salads.

I… think that’s food stuff? If you have any other questions I will cheerfully answer them.

Noah cooks fairly differently from this list but I thought it would be wise to just make this post about stuff that is easy/low effort/the kids can do it for themselves.

Boundaries. Confidentiality. Fail.

Goodness gracious my life has a theme lately. What is privacy? Who deserves it? Under what circumstances? When are you allowed to keep secrets from people?

I fucked up. Or more appropriately, EC’s therapist fucked up and I was the recipient of the fuck up. We (me, Noah, and FMC’s therapist) have done a great job of teaching FMC that they don’t need to share a single word that is told in therapy if they don’t want to. Apparently we have not delivered that message with sufficient force to EC. I feel super bad. EC’s therapist asked me to check in at the end of the last appointment so we could discuss appointment regularity over the next few months.

She turned to EC a few times and said, “Is it ok for me to share with your mom what you said today?” barely paused for EC to say “Uhhhh I guess” then told me stuff EC had said. EC told me she felt like she had no choice but to say yes.

Fuck. That’s not ok. We fucked up. That’s a really big fail. Oh no.

I clarified on the way home, “So when you got silly and distracting… was that your way of trying to say no?” She said, “I do that when I’m trying to block out the conversation because I don’t like it and I don’t want to hear it.”

I said, “Baby… it would work better if you said “I’m very uncomfortable with this topic and don’t want you to talk about it. We would both stop.”

“You would?”

“Yes. We are there to support you and if what we are doing is a problem instead of support then we need to change what we are doing. You are allowed to say no or stop at any point and we have to respect it.”

“But she asked in a way that didn’t feel like I could say no.”

Oh we screwed up. The whole conversation home was about how EC is not my doll she’s my child. I don’t get to know all of her thoughts or feelings or experiences. I get to know what she chooses to share with me. I am not entitled to know more than she wants to share.

I immediately wrote her shrink an email when we got home and explained that we screwed up and we need to never do that to EC again. Next time when there is a check in about appointment regularity the conversation should go a lot more like, “EC is getting a lot out of therapy. She feels it is important to continue every two weeks.”

I don’t need to know the words she is sharing. That’s not my business.

I hope we haven’t damaged EC’s trust in her therapist with this fuck up.

I reminded both of my kids that therapists are legally obligated to break confidentiality for three reasons: sexual abuse, self harm, or harming others. Outside of that… it’s not my business if you want to spend all of your therapy talking about pickles or friends or me or books. You use your time to get support how you need support. I don’t need to know about it. It’s not my business.

I feel really bad. That’s such a big fail.

To be fair, the stuff the therapist repeated was softball stuff explaining problems I already knew existed but that doesn’t make it ok.

Then as we were coming home yesterday EC was reflecting on how some people like her more than others. She’s getting old enough that being in the same room as other kids doesn’t mean it will work out for play or feel like friendship. Sometimes she clicks with people and sometimes she doesn’t. She didn’t click yesterday and she was feeling bad about it. So on the ride home she was thinking about the people she has clicked with. Her face was crumbling in the back seat.

Me being me, I was all, “Hey wait. You are having feelings. You are thinking about something. I think you are thinking about a person… maybe more than one… and you are sad…. do you want to talk about it?”

She proceeded to tell me that I wouldn’t understand because I’ve never had to deal with losing someone who was important to me.

PEOPLE. I HAVE SUCCEEDED AT KEEPING MY WHINING OFF STAGE. THIS IS A FUCKING MIRACLE. I ALMOST FELL OUT OF MY SEAT LAUGHING.

I told her that in fact I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words about how much it hurts to lose people who are important to you so maybe I might understand a bit better than she thinks.

We talked for a while. When we got home she asked if we could cuddle on the couch and she could cry about the kids she won’t see again who liked her so much.

When she was feeling a bit better I said, “Hey. You know how you are scared that I’m going to have Lightning and never pay attention to you again? Did you notice how you can’t even have a sad facial expression for a few minutes without me pouncing on it to ask what is wrong? Do you really think I’m going to stop paying attention to you?”

She smiled in this blissed out way. She said, “I love how you love me” and she melted into me with perfect trust.

I may not own you. But I care about you. That isn’t going to stop.

I tell her that my goal is to earn a friendship with her when she’s a grown up. I don’t deserve it just by existing. She will get to decide if she enjoys my company and she wants to be my friend. She doesn’t have to take care of me, ever. She doesn’t owe me information she doesn’t want to share. She doesn’t have to tell me about herself.

It’s only if she wants to.

And I fail to earn it… that’s my problem.

Doing work is haaaaaaaard.

I asked the kids to make sure they had all the stuff they have to turn in for this grading period done before they went to Texas. I was assured that they had it all. FMC was lying through their teeth. They had half of it.

So we’ve had a stressful week. They spent about 10 hours not really making progress on an assignment yesterday as they cried and told me how unfair and mean I am. They can do one of these assignments in 1-2 hours if they choose. They kept restarting the first two sentences and crying. Why? I don’t know.

So when we were getting close to dinner and they still weren’t halfway through the penultimate assignment and they were still derailing to tell me how awful I am… I snapped. I started screaming.

It is not my fault you are in this position. You are in this position because you chose to lie about being done a week ago. So since you lied to me and are proceeding to make my life miserable because of your lie… you are grounded for a week. No screen and no sugar.

And tomorrow morning you get to wake up and finish your work. If you don’t finish by the time your ES shows up… you are grounded for two weeks and that includes Christmas.

I’m not fucking around.

Do. Not. Lie. To. Me. And if you do, at least have the courtesy to not turn around and yell at me that it is unfair that you have consequences for lying. That’s not ok.

I’m not going to play this bullshit game.

So I feel meeeeeeeeeeeeeeean and like I need to be this mean. It would have been better if I could have just enforced this without screaming. But holy shit the whining and yelling at me yesterday was more than I could handle.

So in the past hour kiddo has finished the first assignment and is almost done with the second assignment. Apparently they woke up with a fire under their butt. They are no longer whining and stalling they are just concentrating and writing.

They don’t want to be grounded for Christmas. Oh good. They are still not eating cookies at the cookie exchange party. I’m a hard ass.

I tell my kids frequently that home schooling is a privilege. If you want to home school you have to be responsible for your education. I am not going to breathe down your neck and force you to comply with doing work. Do it or you can go to school and be micromanaged by a professional teacher who is BEING PAID to boss you around like that. I’m not being paid to micromanage you. I’m here to help you if you want to do the work. I’m not ok with dragging and forcing you through an education. I will not do it. Work or go to school.

Every so often we need a reminder that I’m serious. I’m not going to do this harsh babysitting/punishment thing constantly. I’ve only had to yell at my kids on two or three days this year about school and I’m unhappy about it being that much?

If I were better I wouldn’t have yelled those days. But I hit my limit sometimes.

Sigh.

EC had her shit together this time. I was impressed. She didn’t even need reminders. FMC is only seven and this is their very first time in their life being held to school standards like this on a regular basis. The fact that I’ve had three days of fuss in their first academic school year…

I need to be a little more patient. They have mostly done pretty well. And I didn’t ask EC to do this shit at this age. It actually makes sense that FMC is testing the boundaries to see what happens. What they are discovering is that I’m kind of a nasty bitch if you lie to me. I can tolerate all kinds of failures and mistakes without raising an eyebrow. I don’t expect perfection. But don’t lie to me.

And now kiddo is done. Sigh.

We’ve talked about how next time they won’t lie and say they are done because it didn’t make the work easier it made it a lot harder. And they are really sad about being grounded. So next time… they will be honest about not being done yet. I asked them if this work would have been hard if they had started a week ago with many days before the ES came. They shook their head and said it would have been really easy. They even spontaneously added, “I wouldn’t have cried at all.”

Yup.

That’s what we are shooting for. The not crying. The not stressing. The not feeling terrible about deadlines. We had time.

Lying makes everything worse. Don’t lie.

And now they are doing their 15 minutes of online reading program and they are done with academics for the day by 7am. That’s going to be a better day for them….

What does that mean?

Tonight FMC asked me why I call them “angel”. I asked them if they know what an angel is and they said not really.

I told them that angels are spirits. Mostly they are basically good but some of them are dark. Angels bring gifts like joy and love.

I said that they brought joy and love and happiness into my life. So it’s like they are an angel sent to me.

They asked me, “Am I like a dark angel? Like a demon?”

I asked them what they think. Like I do.

They said, “I don’t know. I do the wrong thing a lot.”

I said, “That’s because there are a whole bunch of things you want to learn and you can’t learn without making mistakes. Wanting to learn doesn’t make you a demon. Trying something that turns out to be the wrong thing doesn’t make you a demon. Setting out to be cruel is different. Setting out to hurt and damage people is different. Purposefully trying to destroy people…. that’s evil.”

“I don’t do that!”

“No. You don’t. You are a kid who is trying to learn who you want to grow up to be and sometimes in that process you make choices that are not like the choices you hope you will make as a grown up… because you have to learn. The fact that you keep trying to be better… sweetheart that is about you reaching for the light. Dark angels don’t do that.”

Their face relaxed and they smiled at me. They told me that they love me.

I love you my baby.

My kids amuse me.

My kids are approaching puberty. They are both SO EXCITED. Last night at bed time my daughter (9 years old) was really sad and she couldn’t figure out why. We spent a while talking and snuggling and being close because it’s ok to have any feeling you have.

This morning she woke up to brag to their sibling that she is so excited that mood swings are happening and now they are randomly sad sometimes… and it’s great because mom was there. Mom hugged her and helped her feel better and that was so nice.

I love you so much. I really want to help you learn that your feelings are ok. They are just waves that come and if you are patient with yourself… they won’t overwhelm you. Your feelings are ok. Even if you don’t know what they are and even if you don’t know why you are having them. That’s ok too.

Mood swings are part of life. I love you.

Oh what tangled webs we weave…

Something occurred to me recently, as Noah and I are in round 45,203 of our Epic Conversation. This has been going on since we met. We… we like to talk. A lot. We are cutting into our sleep patterns in ways that might prove to be a problem because we censor ourselves in front of the kids and they WANT US ALL THE TIME.

Side note: I am feeling surprised by my interactions with the kids’ therapists. I keep expecting them to think I’m doing something horribly wrong and I keep thinking they will give me feedback that indicates I’m totally fucking up. Instead they say things like, “Things seem pretty developmentally appropriate but gosh your kid wants to spend more time with you.” We then had a civilized adult conversation about how there are not more hours in a day and I’m with my kids all the fucking time. So I guess that means it is time to talk about how feelings and wants are valid and real even if they can’t be acted upon. I can’t spend more time with you. That time doesn’t exist. But I get that you want more from me. That makes sense. I’m really glad that the big feedback from your therapist is, “Gosh your kid likes you and wants to be with you all the time.” I love you too.

Back to main topic for this babble. My marriage.

I realized something when we were talking. Noah was emphatically talking about a current set of priorities and I realized… I don’t have a good map in my head of who Noah really is at this point. That’s complicated. I still think about conversations from 13 and 11 and 8 and 3 years ago when Noah expressed different preferences and needs and… I get it all mixed up. That’s really not a great thing for facilitating good communication.

Noah was asking me how many times he had said a particular thing and I had to admit that I don’t know for sure. It may be once. It may have been an almost flippant thing one time 11 years ago but for some reason the phrasing stuck in my head like glue.

It’s making me feel really shitty and awful. I don’t know what set of “requests” and priorities I’m supposed to follow at this point. That’s… overwhelming and kind of scary.

When we first got married I felt very much like what I had to offer was constant sex. We did… a pretty terrifying amount of it in the first year. We went to work and we fucked. We didn’t see our friends much. I felt like it was very clear that I was expected to maintain that pace. I… can’t. It’s not physically possible.

Later in marriage I was told that at least 10 times a month would be… acceptable. So I hurt myself keeping to that schedule for many years through times when my body literally was not god damn interested in sex because I believed that I had to.

Then I kind of collapsed under the weight of that and Noah tried to pull back from his demands. But I could still see the tally system and that was enough for me to pressure myself and it just kept going badly.

So I decided that since what Noah cared about most was me being constantly up for sex I should find a way to make that happen. Sex with lots of people will make that work for me pretty much regardless of other stressors. I’m still getting hurt by the sex, but I go into this hypomanic state where I’m highly dissociated from my cunt and it isn’t the same problem in terms of my daily life. I’m hurting myself, but I’m numb to the damage.

That blew all the way up. Ok, that’s not the solution.

But now what. What is the most important thing? I don’t know.

This is complicated by the fact that Noah has spent a lot of time telling me that sex is how he motivates himself. He rattles off the stuff he does for me (much of it without me directly asking for him to do) and explains that doing ALL THAT makes him tired and he needs something to make up for it. So I respond by taking over as many of the chores as physically possible until I overstrain myself and collapse because I am just not great with the dynamic that I owe sex in exchange for him doing the dishes. I’ll do the fucking dishes.

Man those Cosmo articles that tell men to do housework to earn sex are complicated.

Because the thing is, if I’m falling down on my share of housework because I don’t feel good, the housework being done isn’t going to make me feel good and make me feel sexy and make me feel like I want sex. But if I have to feel up for sex in trade for housework then I’ll do the god damn housework if I have to drag my nearly corpse-like body around to do that shit.

But the thing is… me doing more and more and more of the housework so that he’s not worn out so that I don’t owe him more motivation… yeah that fails completely and totally. There is never a reflection (that I see) that I am taking strain off of him. Nothing I do removes strain. The only thing I can to do to make his life better is add sex. Everything else seems to be basically worthless.

This is hard because when we got married I was touch averse in a big way. I would have freaked out and physically attacked someone for trying to get me to snuggle as much as I do in an average day now. I could handle sexualized touch or a bdsm scene, sure. But I didn’t do casual just sit around and touch each other shit. It was a big concession for me to sit on the far side of the couch and let Noah touch my feet all the time because that was something I had to work through. That was overwhelming.

But I’ve worked on that. At this point I snuggle my kids and Noah so much that I feel like I spend almost 1/4 of my waking time with one or the other of them touching me. Some days it’s a much larger block of time.

And that doesn’t count as being something I’ve done to increase connection and that’s really god damn hard for me. Noah was touch starved and that wasn’t ok… I had to figure out how to touch him. But I don’t get credit for that being part of what I have done for him. That doesn’t count as connection when he wants sex.

(Disclaimer: We’ve had good sex this month. Lots of masturbation near one another without it having to escalate. We are trying.)

And when I say “It doesn’t count” I don’t necessarily mean that Noah has never acknowledged it or has never commented on it. I mean that in aggregate I feel like conversations about his needs always come down to one kind of need and all that I do to meet his other needs is kind of hand waved away. I *feel* like this happens. I’m not sure it is the only thing that happens but my emotions camp right there and throw a mean as fuck party.

I’ve worked on being kinder to Noah. For all that I worry that I am still abusing him terribly… I know I am better than I was early on. I’m not as negative. I don’t bitterly complain about him as much. I don’t swear at him as much. I don’t call him names like I did. I’m still not where either of us want me to be in terms of my treatment of him… but it’s come a long way and I still don’t think that is good enough.

I feel like no matter how hard I try to change it will never ever ever ever be enough. No matter what.

But a lot of the current problem is I’m still tied up in my head in trying to meet demands that were made a decade ago and he doesn’t really still feel like I should be doing that. But I don’t know what I should be doing.

I don’t know how I could be good.

Don’t stop

EC and I were talking about the way I stare at her. I notice everything. I told her that I know it is annoying sometimes and she nodded emphatically. “YES.”

I asked her if she wanted me to stop.

She melted and said, “no. It makes me feel so awesome.”

I love you. I’m glad it feels awesome to you.

We have to reframe this.

We are having a problem because EC is pushing for more individual space and boundaries. It isn’t a problem because she wants it. It’s a problem because FMC is uhhhh not interested in allowing their sister any space at all.

We have been talking about this in the house for a while. We keep coming back to “We are not willing to escalate punishments to the point that they are more effective and the ways we have tried to punish for this interruption are failing entirely.”

We need to find a way to incentivize instead of punishing away this behavior. I believe in behavior extinguishment… but it’s complicated. Punishing often makes a behavior more entrenched and resistant. (For one thing our “punishments” are pansy ass and we know it. We are not here to hurt or shame our kids.) We need to find a way to make giving someone else space something that gives FMC more of what they want in life. We have to find a way to frame this/phrase this as “Here let us show you how you will get what you want if you go along with this boundary.”

I know that some people don’t like how manipulative I train my children to be. I respect that opinion. But I think my behavior as a human being improved when I learned how to think about my behavior in terms of “Will this help me meet my goals or will this create problems for me?”

I don’t believe in training children to follow rules because they are rules and you must follow rules. That’s bullshit. Some rules need to be broken. Some rules need to change. Some rules just don’t fucking apply to the situation we are in.

Why does this rule exist?

I’m not saying I have to fully agree with every rule in order to follow them… but I am more likely to follow a rule if I understand why the rule exists and I am at least in agreement that following it is in line with who I want to be in the world.

How do we teach FMC that giving their sister space is going to create the relationship they want in the future?

Punishing is not going to teach this.

Heh. Punishing me is a great way to ensure that I’m going to do what you don’t like….. where you can’t see me.

Enlightened self interest babe, how can we teach this to you.

For EC I have been chanting since they were 2 years old, “If you want to have a good relationship with your sibling when you are an adult you need to think about whether or not this action is likely to make your sibling want to know you.” The same chant really hasn’t worked with FMC. When they look up at their sister they see an unfailing flow of love and support and I think they genuinely don’t believe that their sister would stop providing it. They identify less with the fact that I walked away from my family and rejected everyone. EC knows that I refuse to know my big sister and that haunts her. FMC… doesn’t care?

FMC doesn’t believe they have to earn love in the same way. Uhm… I guess that’s good? It’s mixed. Noah and EC and I all act like we have to do a shit ton of work to earn being loved in the long term. It’s questionably healthy. Near as I can tell FMC is the only person in this house who believes in unconditional love. They think we will love them and take care of them and be with them no matter how big of an asshole they are.

I mean… that’s… good…

I’M SO CONFUSED.

I feel this terrible existential keening because I think I’m too demanding and boring to deserve friends and I feel like I should stop bothering people because I don’t have enough to offer…

And I live with this fucking kid who believes that them existing is their fucking gift to this world and now what does the world have to offer them.

It’s… weird.

Really weird.

Like… WHO THE FUCK MADE YOU weird.

It’s funny how they feel like me and not like me and like my chance to rewrite my history and like an alien and…

I love them so much. I feel bad when I target a specific behavior and assert my will as if I actually know things and I’m right about my judgments. What fucking hubris. Who in the fuck am I to decide that they are not good enough?

I’m their fucking mother and if I say they need to god damn learn how to let their sister have boundaries I’m fucking right and you will motherfucking do as I say.

Only I say it to them with less swearing.

One of the few things my mama said right to me was, “It’s not what you say it’s how you say it.” My mama, for all the bad things I can and do say about her… she only kind of sort of wanted to silence me. She was afraid of me speaking truths that would make her already shitty life harder… but otherwise she encouraged me to speak up. When teachers would complain I was too mouthy my mama would say that they must not be a very good teacher then because I do just fine in a classroom with a good teacher.

My sweet little baby. I don’t want to punish you for crossing boundaries. That makes me feel like shit. It makes you feel like shit. You then proceed to cross the next boundary like clockwork and we start the whole shitty cycle over again.

What can I do to help you believe that following these boundaries is the thing that you want to do?

Because I want to manipulate the shit out of you. I have no pride. I will not dissemble. My sweet love I want to manipulate you until you believe that it is just absolutely the right thing to give people space when they ask.

How can I do this?

This is my next hobby horse to ride. Because if we don’t figure this shit out… I’m afraid you and your sister are going to get into a big bloody fist fight. And frankly… y’all don’t need that.

Even if you might kinda deserve having someone punch you for being so disrespectful of their boundaries. I won’t do it or condone it… but I’m capable of seeing why someone else might think it was the best reaction to your behavior.

God you are so much like me.

I’m sorry kid.

I wish I could have given you easier genetics. Sigh.

How can we teach you without you having to get as many black eyes as I did? Or maybe you just need to get them and I can’t protect you from that. I’ve always needed to learn from experience too.

I hope this hubris I have in believing I know best for you doesn’t fuck up our relationship forever. I try hard to limit my control areas… I know I don’t know best in all areas… just a few.

I love you. I’m trying. I know I’m failing to meet your needs in that way that all mothers fail their children. I hope you can forgive me.

Appropriate exposure?

Last night I kind of exploded at EC. By exploded I mean that she was taunting me in a way the kids have been enjoying irritating me for a few weeks now and I asked why they are doing it. She giggled and said “To irritate you”.  I said, “Go somewhere else. Go sleep in the backyard, on the couch, in the garage, in my bed… I don’t care. Go somewhere else.”

That was the explosion. I didn’t even yell. FMC was asleep.

After 15 or so minutes of crying I felt really bad so I went and found her. She was in the garage bed. (We have beds all over our house.) She was defensive and kind of pissy at first, which was appropriate and fair.

I told her, “There’s something I need to talk to you about. You know how I tell you that sometimes my brain is an asshole to me? (Assume she interrupts with a lot of “yeahs” and “uh huhs” and “oh that’s what that means” but doing the actual dialogue is a pain in the ass.) First of all: do you know what a cycle is? Like a butterfly’s life cycle. (Oh yeah!) Well, my mental health stuff comes in cycles. I have long periods where I do ok and then for a while I do poorly. For a few weeks now I’ve been having a problem with my brain being an asshole to me. Part of my mental health stuff is called depression. It’s kind of like being sad but sad turned up to the max plus not liking myself very much and feeling REALLY irritable because my brain is being such an asshole all the time. Imagine walking through your day with your brain constantly screaming that you are bad and worthless and you deserve to be in a lot of pain. (At this point she interrupted to exclaim that she hasn’t known!) Of course you haven’t known. It isn’t real appropriate for me to tell you this stuff most of the time. It’s not your business. You can’t change it. You can’t make it better. It doesn’t happen because of you. Why should I act like you should walk on egg shells because it is happening? That would be wrong. So I do my best to be cheerful and loving even when my brain is telling me really vicious things. But sometimes when this happens… I’m going to be over sensitive and I’m going to over react to you trying to irritate me because… I’m already dealing with the maximum load of irritation I can bear. Just because my brain is being an asshole.”

She was really sweet about it. She said that she’s sorry my brain is doing that to me and she’ll try to not be extra irritating for a bit.

I reminded her that it is in fact her job to irritate me… she’s a kid. I am not telling her this so that she will change her behavior a lot. She’s doing what she is supposed to do. I’m telling her so that she understands that I’m not blowing up because she deserves it. I’m blowing up because my brain is being such a raging asshole that I wish I could blow up almost every minute of every day and I’m fighting that urge and sometimes I lose. I don’t want her to feel like my loss of control is her fault. It’s something that *I* have to get a hold of. It’s not a problem she can “not irritate” me out of. I’m going to struggle forever and there’s not much she can do about that. My problems aren’t about her.

She said it made sense. She asked if it was ok for her to come back in the bedroom. I said of course. We went to bed.

I hope I handled that right.

it fades…

I told the kids that their dad was careful to make a bunch of food and leave it in the fridge for us. And we have to eat it because it was made with love.

Kid says: “But sometimes love fades….”

Testing documentation

I got an email from our educational specialist (ES) today. She tested both kids last time she was here. The results both surprise me and don’t and I feel like a huge asshole.

I expected Future Middle Child to not do well because they aren’t reading yet. If we had tested Eldest Child before we left on the road trip… she would have been at a similar level for grade. My kids are late readers and that impacts their ability to take tests. FMC did so poorly on the reading test that I wasn’t given a result and instead I was told that kiddo needs to start remediation… which I’m unhappy about. Kiddo is where I expect them to be. I don’t think forcing them through not-very-effective “support” is going to help. I think it is going to make the process of learning to read shittier. They tested at the 65% for math and that shocks me because they stand behind their sister giving her answers to her math problems that are two grades ahead of them. I think it is because they don’t read and that messes up their ability to test in anything.

I feel like a huge asshole because I’m shocked by EC’s results. Uhm. She is higher than I expected by a lot. She is at the 98% for math and the 97% for reading. I……. honestly expected her to be at closer to the 60% for math. She complains all the fucking time about doing math of any sort for any reason. She tells me all the time how bad she is at math.

Uhhh… guess not.

She started out 3rd grade significantly behind. The Stanford evaluation proved that. She was way below grade level in every area. That was one fucking year of trying to do academic work.

I expect a similar dynamic from FMC and I’m seriously bummed that I put them in a charter school this year to fuck with my system. IT WAS WORKING.

Ok, I thought I wouldn’t tell EC her actual test scores. (I took a break right there to go talk to her while FMC is asleep.) I asked her how she thought she did. She’s all “Meh. Probably around 60%.” Ok, if you are going to underestimate yourself by that much… I need to tell you the score.

I feel bad that I have communicated my low expectations so accurately. I’m a shitty mother.

She is ebullient. We talked about how this is not about her being “smart”. One year ago she was tested as below grade level in every area. Stanford wanted me to get her into tutoring because she was so below grade level and I saw, “Naw I just haven’t started teaching that yet.”

EC attaining this is about the hard work she has put in. It’s not about smarts. It’s work. She has worked very hard for the past year and it shows. It has tangible results. FMC has not yet begun that work and it shows.

And that’s how it should be.

Before you are taught something of course you do poorly when tested on it.

But when EC is struggling with a math problem FMC stands behind her and rattles off the answer to the problem.

I think this is going to get interesting.

I told EC that I am very proud of her. She attained this on her own because she was willing to work so hard. Her face lit up like the fourth of July.

Err, if it isn’t clear from elsewhere in the post the scores aren’t 98% out of 100% of points earned. That’s the percentile for how the kids did compared to the expectations for their grade.

I wanted to get my kids caught up by 4th grade so that if they had to transfer to a school they wouldn’t be ashamed of being “stupid”.

Achievement partially unlocked. My 2nd grader is on track where I expect them to be. And my 4th grader god damn did it.

I didn’t do it. She did.

I mean… there’s this niggling part of me that says “I’m fucking brilliant and so is Noah so of fucking course our daughter is this fucking good at this shit.” And then there’s the bigger part of me that says, “You know how you’ve been underestimating her and acting like she isn’t that smart? You fucking suck rocks.”

More than one thing can be true.

I need to write Noah’s grandmother a letter. She will appreciate hearing this more than basically anyone else.

That’s a lovely milestone.

Today my daughter was talking about something… I can’t quite remember how we got to this, but I handed her a textbook I read in my junior year of college so she could find out how different the original stories of Beauty and the Beast are from the Disney version. She said there were a couple of words she didn’t know, but that was fun to read.

Two years ago she couldn’t read a Dr. Seuss book independently. Now she’s reading from my college textbooks and understanding almost all of it.

I’m glad I trusted her to learn at her own pace. I’m really glad I didn’t push her beyond what she felt she could do.

I don’t fail at everything.