Thursday, July 30, 2009

My Punkin'

Where were we? Oh yeah, D-Day.

To be honest, I can't remember now if we'd already had one therapy session with the child psychologist on the day that Punkin was removed from the class -- I think we had, but honestly, the whole experience is kind of a nightmarish blur.

It's funny, because when we made the appointment, I was just absolutely sure that a child psychologist was exactly what we needed. But at every appointment we went to, I started to feel kind of silly. Talking over everything that happened iwth the therapist made me and Mr. Daddy realize that Punkin's problem really wasn't all that severe after all. In reality, she is just a high spirited child who is still maturing. Sure, she's prone to tantrums, but I soon realized that it wasn't anything we couldn't handle.

I also wanted to put the school's new plan into place, which was to transfer her participation prize into a behavior prize. The same rules apply -- she picks out a prize upon arrival in the classroom and if she meets the goals set by the teachers for the day, then she gets to keep her prize. If she melts down and has a tantrum (and she was known to melt down over things as simple as being asked to wash her hands), she'd be sent to her time out spot. If she calmed down and came back and used her words, they would consider that a success. There are basically 15 opportunities during the day -- the times they change activities -- where she can earn a success sticker and her initial goal was to be successful in only 7, which the teachers felt was a reasonable goal. The first week she earned her prize every single day but had meltdowns twice on two different days. Still, that's only two meltdowns out of fifteen opportunities!

And I am absolutely thrilled to say that this week, she hasn't melted down at all!! When I did the drop off for Mr. Daddy the other morning, Punkin's teacher raved about how good she's been, how much she's participating and said that Punkin has even volunteered to do things in class, something that was absolutely unheard of before.

Did y'all hear that rushing sound? That was the sound of a gigantic weight being lifted from my shoulders. No longer do I dread the afternoon report -- well, that's not entirely true. I think we need to get a few weeks under my belt before I rest completely easy -- but boy have things improved.

Don't get me wrong, we still have some issues at home. I have a theory that she uses up all her "good" at school and once she gets home she just can't be that good anymore, but that's okay. We're working on it. And not only is she being better behaved, but she's opening up more about her day, sharing things with us that she wouldn't share before.

And it's like I've been given the gift of my Punkin all over again. She was lost for a little while, but now she's back. And I couldn't be happier.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

There Was a Little Girl, Part II

So, we changed schools and everything got better. Or so we thought. Oh sure, the afternoon teacher would occasionally report about some misbehavior, but we thought it was more about the type of teacher that she was than it was about Punkin. She seemed to relish telling us all the sordid details of Punkin's misbehavior. One day, she launched into her litany without even saying hello to Mr. Daddy (who now does the pickups and the drop offs! Woot!). Mr. Daddy fired back "Well, what did she do that was good today?" I was so proud of him.

And then that Friday, our house of cards came crashing down. I went to the class luau where I found out that Punkin's behavior had not improved at all. In fact, it sounded as though it had gotten worse! Not only was she still having tantrums on a regular basis, but she rarely participated in group activities. One day she got so upset at being asked to join in that she actually crawled under a table and cried until she almost threw up (she does that, if you remember.)

This behavior coupled with the fact that Punkin often came home and said that nobody would play with her broke my heart. Mr. Daddy and I talked it over until we were blue in the face, going round and round in circles about what we should do. I began to wonder if she suffered from some sort of social anxiety. Or maybe some kind of sensory disorder and the noise of group activities was too overwhelming for her. Or maybe it was low blood sugar? Or maybe she's just a bad kid? The last one was the one I couldn't really let myself think. It had to be one of the other ones, right? Something fixable? Or diagnosable? Maybe she just needed a good snack?

In my mind, this problem became gigantic. It took over everything else in my mind. See, the problem is that even though I like to think of myself as an optimistic person, when something goes wrong I tend to imagine the worst possible outcomes. I kept imagining her getting kicked out of her preschool, or ending up hating school because her days were so miserable. And I worried about the lack of participation. When she gets to pre-k she won't have the option to not participate. And if she doesn't participate in kindergarten she'll be labeled a problem child. If she's labeled a problem child she'll end up a juvenile delinquent. If she's a juvenile delinquent she'll be pregnant at sixteen with a drug addicted boyfriend. You see how my mind works. And no, it's not easy being me.

Eventually Mr. Daddy and I decided that we needed to see a child psychologist because I just felt like there was something wrong. It just seemed like a huge problem and I didn't know what to do anymore. Bubba was SO not this way. He is an easy child. She is not. So we made an appointment, but you know how those things go -- or maybe you don't. First you have to have an intake appointment where you tell them why you're seeking help and they ask lots of questions and you fill out some forms. It just so happened that my intake appointment was the week before July 4th, so a good bit of time passed before we heard from our psychologist.

In the meantime, Punkin's teacher made a suggestion. Although she gave out weekly rewards from the prize box, she suggested that Punkin get her very own prize box to pick from if she participated in group activities. What the heck, it was worth a shot, right? So, Punkin and I went to Party City and loaded up on all kinds of trinkets, girly and otherwise. Then we went to Michael's and picked out a hot pink and zebra striped box (seriously, y'all, she a girl after my own heart -- the wilder the better!). And on the following Monday we implemented The Plan. Upon entering the classroom she gets to pick her prize, and if she meets her participation goal then she gets to keep the prize.

Y'all. You wouldn't believe the turnaround. She immediately started participating. She even played Drop It, a game where they play music and everybody has to drop to the floor when the music stops(aka Drop It Like It's Hot, a name that amuses me more than it probably should). It was like a freakin' miracle. Who knew a bunch of plastic crap could make such a difference?

However, it began to seem that her participation was inversely proportional to her behavior. Her tantrums and her acting out actually got worse as her participation improved. And then one morning at work, my phone rang. It was the Assistant Director of the School calling to tell me that they had had to remove Punkin from the classroom because she was getting physical with her friends. If she wasn't getting her way, she was pushing and hitting.

The AD and I talked for a while about what our plan of action was going to be and then she made me talk to Punkin on the phone. When I heard her little voice on the other end, my heart just cracked right in two. I held it together until we hung up but then I just cried. I wanted nothing more than to run over there and pick her up and hold her. I wanted to take her home and hide away with her, just the two of us. I knew she was sad and confused. But I also knew that that wouldn't solve the problem.

I hate to cut this into another part, but this is seeming really long to me, so I'll finish up tomorrow. I promise there's a happy ending!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

There Was a Little Girl Who Had a Little Curl....

...right in the middle of her forehead. When she was good she was very, very good. But when she was bad she was horrid.

I don't know who wrote that poem, but he must have been writing about his three year old daughter. Perhaps even my three year old daughter, though that seems unlikely since I think that poem is pretty old. Still, the similarities are striking.

Back in February, I wrote this post about Punkin's tantrums at school and her lack of interest in playing with other children. At the time, I took a very laissez-faire attitude about the whole thing. She's self sufficient. She's spirited. But as the days and weeks wore on, I began to be a little more concerned. Mostly that was because every day when I would pick up Punkin from school, I would get a report, a bad report. A report detailing every transgression.

It seemed that Punkin was still not participating in group activities, and when pressed or asked to do something she didn't want to do, she'd melt down. One day another teacher even had to be called in to help calm her down. I was mortified, to be honest. And confused. She still had tantrums at home occasionally, but overall her behavior had improved. Her teacher asked me what we should do and I told her what I was doing at home: saying no only when I meant it, trying to let her do as much for herself as possible, letting her make some choices, putting her in time out for her transgressions. But apparently time-out wasn't working at school and they kept asking me what they should do.

And every day the report would come in. And every day I felt like I had an ax hanging over my head, waiting to find out what she'd done wrong that day. In the school's defense, I think they were giving me these reports because I'd asked for feedback and we were supposedly acting in concert to help solve this problem, but frankly, it was wearing. Heck, wearing? It was freakin' exhausting. And demoralizing. A lovely combo.

At the same time, I also found out that there was a little girl who was leading a "Let's hate Punkin'" gang on the playground. Yes, she actually used the word "hate." A three year old! They started out with "Let's not play with Punkin" but it somehow progressed to hate. I discussed it with the teachers and they were horrified, but because it always happened on the playground they were never able to hear her say it. I debated saying something to the little girl's parents because I knew them and I knew they would be mortified if they knew their daughter was saying such things. But I didn't. I couldn't bring myself to do it in part because there was a tiny part of me that wondered if she really had said it. I couldn't wrap my brain around the pure meanness of such behavior and I sometimes wondered if Punkin was making it up. But why would she? And where would she have heard such a thing unless it was said to her?
I've never actively disliked a child (okay, rarely have I actively disliked a child), but I have to be honest that whenever I saw this little girl on the playground I actually felt angry.

But the real reason that I didn't say anything to her parents was because I had already decided that we needed to change schools. And so we did.

And miraculously Punkin was healed and all our problems were solved! Riiiight. Not so much. But the rest of the story, my friends, will have to wait until tomorrow.

Monday, July 27, 2009

What I Did on My Blogging Vacation

So, what have I been up to in my absence. A lot, actually.

To summarize (not necessarily in chronological order).

1. Went to the beach, twice. Once to Myrtle Beach, SC and once to St. Augustine, FL.
2. Finally met my goal weight at WW (I think y'all knew that already) and maintained for 6 weeks to attain lifetime status. I have gained a teensy bit back -- it doesn't help that yesterday I ate everything that wasn't nailed down as well as a few things that were -- but I know what I need to do to lose and so tomorrow I'll get back on the wagon. After all, tomorrow is another day, right Katie?
3. We bought a new car.
4. Bubba finished kindergarten and went to the YMCA all summer. He was elected Camper of the Week during Week 4 for his outstanding attitude.
5. We changed schools for Punkin
6. Punkin aged me by about 10 years.
7. We ended up seeing a child psychologist
8. Got together with my best friend from fourth-sixth grade (also thanks to Facebook!)
9. Bubba lost his first tooth eating a s'more while we were on vacation. And he unknowingly swallowed it. The toothfairy brought him $5(!!) for his first tooth. Mostly because that's all she had. We joked that she used her TPS (tooth positioning system) to locate the tooth way down in his belly. Bubba is convinced she went down there to get it and I didn't try to persuade him otherwise.
10. I cut off all my hair. It's shorter than I've had it in a while.
11. I finally read the Harry Potter books. Actually, to be completely accurate, you would have to say that I devoured them. I read the first two in three days and although the others did go a bit slower I read them all pretty quickly.
12. Joined a book club, though I have yet to be able to attend a meeting. I hope to rectify that tomorrow.
13. Had almost weekly lunch dates with the Banshees.
14. Tried to grow a garden -- failed miserably. Worse even than last year's carrot floss. Our ground is blighted. You try growing something in what amounts to terra cotta. While our grass did take hold somewhat, in part thanks to the VERY wet spring we had, we still have a long way to go. I figure we'll get our grass just the way we want it just in time to tear it all up while we build our house.
15. We got a new fish. That actually lived. Now we have two: Senor Pescado and Baz.

And....that's about it. I think. I've got more stories to tell when it comes to Punkin. God, I missed you guys during what I've come to call Punkin-gate 2009. Retroactive advice will, of course, be accepted.

So what have you guys been up to? And don't try to make anything up because I HAVE been checking your blogs from time to time.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


So. The Banshees. Who are we and how did we get such a title?

Well, in full disclosure, the full title of our group is TLBC, aka the Twilight Lovers Banshee Club. When I reconnected with my college friend, Tara, I found a woman who loves Twilight (and New Moon and Eclipse and Breaking Dawn) as much as I did. And so did her friends, Heather and Wendi. I actually got to know Heather and Wendi first by trading Twilight-related internet links on FB. And I liked what I saw of these ladies. They had the same sense of humor that I do.

For instance, we all died laughing over the snark in Cleolinda's Twilight wiki entry and her Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn recaps (which I've linked for you there. You MUST read them if you've read the books -- they're hilarious). I mean, we all love the books, but we can appreciate the ridiculousness of the storyline to outsiders (this is called "horrifying the Twilight noob").

So anyway, we are interested in other things besides Twilight, and for Tara, one of those things happens to be the band, Kings of Leon. She found out they were going to be relatively close to us and she suggested an overnight road trip to the concert, with a day of shopping at outlets on the way home.

I somehow convinced Mr. Daddy to let me go, and we were off! This was the first real girl's trip I'd ever been on and it was so much fun. Tara's GPS found a nice little local Italian restaurant for dinner before the concert and as it happened, one of Tara's friends (I'm going to call her Susan) happened to be in the area for work and she joined us there.

Now Susan works for a fairly well known restaurant chain handling sexual harassment claims. She regaled us with some outrageous stories including one story about a manager who received, um...let's call it "special treatment" from one of his employees on his birthday. We all died laughing and Tara and Heather, in particular, have really great laughs. Not obnoxious, but exuberant. These stories, combined with the general air of gaiety brought on by our "freedom" made us a somewhat boisterous crew. For the record, we were not drinking at all and I really don't think we were being obnoxious. This wasn't a fancy pants restaurant and it wasn't particularly crowded. If I had been watching us from another table I probably would have thought "Those girls sure are having fun. I wish I had girlfriends like that."

But there was something about us that bugged a man sitting near us. Every time one of us would laugh he would give us the stink eye. Then he progressed to making very passive aggressive comments loud enough so that we could hear him. And that's when it happened. "Good grief," he sniped. "They sound like a bunch a banshees!"

And unfortunately for him, that set us off again. A couple of us (I'm not naming names but you can't bet your bippie that it wasn't nonconfrontational me!) wanted to say something to him, but he had his small daughter with him and ultimately nothing was said. I don't know what his deal was, but I'm guessing this man has some kind of issues that was so bothered by a group of women having a good time. I bet he drives some kind of flashy sports car, if you get what I'm sayin' (wink wink, nudge nudge).

Anyhoo, we didn't let it bother us and we went on to have a great time at the concert, but we have since dubbed ourselves The Banshees. I wanted to get a TLBC ring made up, kind of like Elvis' TCB lightning bolt ring but so far we haven't gotten past the design phase (which I thought I had a copy of but can now find nowhere. Oh well, it's pretty easy to recreate.)

I'll leave you with a couple of photos from the trip -- and I literally mean a couple. I took my camera and I think I took maybe one picture. Which wasn't even any good.

Here's me and Heather, rockin' out.

and here's me, Heather, and Tara before the concert (Wendi didn't actually go to the concert, she just went along with us for the good time).

And it was. A good time, I mean.

Friday, July 24, 2009

I'm SOOOO Grounded

Hello? (Hellllohelllohelllo)

Anybody there? (therrretherretherre)

ECHO! (echoechoechoecho)

I just checked my sitemeter for the first time in ages --- which was weird because I used to check that thing HOURLY -- and saw that there are a few of you who still check in here every now and again. And for that I am profoundly grateful.

You might ask just what the heck's been going on around here. Where have I been? Who have I been with? Just what time did I think it was anyway and couldn't I have called? Didn't they have phone where I was?

The truth is...well, the truth is that there' s not one simple answer. At first it was burnout, plain and simple. Blogging is hard work, y'all. When I first started, topics came me to daily -- nay, HOURLY! -- but as time wore on they just...didn't. Having to sit at the computer every night started to feel like work. And then everything that was going on at my actual job was burning me out even more. I had to put together my spring newsletter at the same time as the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame Ceremony where we inducted 4 authors and hosted 80 people for two days. Those things combined just short circuited my brain.

And then there was Facebook. Ah, Facebook, you naughty little minx. How you seduce me with your word games, your photos of long lost classmates, your memes even! Blogging began to seem like so much work when I could say so much and get so many quick responses from my status updates.

But there was also a very unexpected result of finally sucumbing to Facebook's wiles. I found a friend. Or to be more precise, I reconnected with my one of my best friends from college. And it's been wonderful. And because of her, I now have two new friends (and she told two friends, and she told two friends). And y'all, I have been BUSY.

Blogging connected me to women at a time in my life when I didn't have any real female friends. When I started hanging out with some real live women (can't wait to see how many Google hits I get from those three words!), it fulfilled some kind of need that I had and I didn't feel the need to blog. I shared my stories with them. I went to them for advice. We've gone places! We've done stuff! And I neglected my poor little blog.

But lately I've had the itch again. To blog. There has been a LOT going on around here and we've got a lot of catching up to do -- including the telling of the story about how my three friends and I came to call ourselves The Banshees.

So, I hope you'll stick around...some more. Or come back. Or if you're new here, Welcome!