Archive for the ‘J-Man’ Category

Happy Birthday J-man!

Img_2724 My little man is is growing up!  Today was his fifth birthday and I just can’t get over how time flies.  It was nearly four years ago that he came into our lives.  I had no idea what an amazing difference he would make in our lives when we received that phone call four years ago.  Today I cannot possibly imagine my life without this bundle of energy, this joy of mine.

Four years ago, Seth and I received a phone call with an unlikely suggestion:  were we interested in hearing about a one year old who needed a home for a year, maybe more?  Maybe less?  Maybe forever?  Well, we didn’t know what we were getting into, but we definitely said we were interested in hearing more.  Just weeks later, the J-man was a fully integrated member of our family.  We’ve never looked back since, and we can’t imagine life without him.

Four years ago, J was walking and running and jumping.  He was pointing and babbling, but not talking.  He walked into our living room and found the few toys that had wheels – he was all boy, even then.  He ate cheerios, drank milk, and played with his food.  He giggled at the slightest attention, and loved to be read to.

Today, the J-man is still all boy, but even more so.  He still loves his cars and trucks, but is also obsessed with dinosaurs.   Lately, he’s also been all about the big-boy Legos and, most importantly, Bionicles.  He still likes Cheerios, but now he also loves Pizza, hot dogs, and chicken nuggets.  One of his favorite treats is Twizzlers, and he’s recently discovered that he likes plain Hershey’s chocolate.  He still loves to run and run and run and run and run.  And run.  And run some more.  He loves soccer and craves time for sports.   He is full of life and full of love for everyone around him.

I have never seen a better big brother in this world – he loves his three little siblings more than anything in the whole wide world.  He entertains them and plays with them and snuggles with them.  He used to ask when they would be big enough for him to hold and pick up and play with, and he’s so excited now that they are more interactive with him.  He makes them giggle at him endlessly and when they giggle, he runs to tell us – "Hey Eema and Abba, watch this! The babies are laughing at me!100_0253"  It is the most beautiful sound and sight in the world.

My beautiful baby boy is growing up.  He’s not the teeney little boy that came into our lives four years ago.  He’s a big kindergartner with opinions and thoughts and passions. 

My little boy is really a big boy now.  He’s becoming more independent with each day that passes.  He is a little person now and I’m having to learn to let him be his own person – easier said than done.

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Birthday Party Take 1

Today was J’s birthday party – his birthday is Tuesday – and he had a blast. He had a racecar-shaped cake and a bunch of his friends at a local gymnastics place. They had a moonbounce and all sorts of fun things for the kids to bounce all over. They had a real blast. The best part for J, of course, was collecting his loot. He was just beside himself with the anticipation of getting to open his presents. When he finally did get to, he was absolutely giddy:

Next Sunday is the triplets’ 1st birthday party, but we’re doing something much more low-key. Just some quiet fun in the park with friends and some cake. We let the triplets have some of the birthday cake this week, and they definitely approved of the concept, so it was a good dry-run. 🙂 Next week I might even let them have icing. Depending on how brave I’m feeling.
Still not migraine-free, but I think the nortryptiline is helping a little as my pain level was down a little yesterday and I had a few hours here or there today where I didn’t have a migraine.  That’s definitely progress, even if it’s not perfect.

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I’ve spent a lot of time lately talking about the J-man’s medication and his therapy and all of the things that are going on AROUND the J-man, but I don’t want you to think that’s all there is to the little critter, because boy is he AWESOME.

He is so unbelievably fun, especially now that we’ve been able to get some of his energy and impulsivity under control.  On Shabbos (Saturday) he got to play with his friend, M, who has a bunch of Legos Bionicles and hasn’t stopped talking about them since.  Even his beloved dinosaurs have fallen by the wayside in favor of Bionicles.  Oh please, can’t he please have one, or two, or ten trillion of them, please, please, please?  He wants every single one of them, just like the ones that M has.  RIGHT NOW.  His poor grandmothers both spent the day with him yesterday and heard about  nothing but Bionicles all day long.  In an act of desperation last night when I couldn’t even get him to take his medication in ice cream (the poor kid is sick of ice cream – can you imagine a kid sick of ice cream?), I promised him that if he took his medicine last night and this morning that we would get him his first Bionicle.  And if he continues to take it for the rest of the week, when he’ll be finished with his antibiotic, by golly he can have another one.  I am not above bribery.  (In my defense, most of the books on ADHD and our developmental pediatrician agree that kids with ADHD require more tangible/material bribery than typical kids – so I have SOME justification… and hey, it WORKED)  So this morning, after taking his morning medicine, J and Seth went and bought a new Bionicle and J hasn’t let it out of his sight since.  I think he might even sleep with it. I hope not, since that might mean little lego pieces in his bed for me to find tomorrow when he comes down in tears that his Bionicle needs to be fixed, but I’m not sure I can get him to part with it! 

Tonight for dinner he ate a dinosaur-shaped chicken patty.  It was shaped like a T-Rex (always a hit).  J came to the table, started to bite into it, let out a long, loud yelp with a look of utter horror on his face and exclaimed, "I need ketchup!!!"  There I had been, terrified that it was too hot and he’d burnt his little mouth, but no – he just was having a ketchup emergency! 

He adores the babies and plays with them whenever they’ll let him. Yesterday morning he spent almost 20 minutes pretending to be a snake and making them giggle wildly at his antics.  He had so much fun entertaining them and has such a good time when they give him such positive feedback.  But if they start to fuss, he quickly comes and gets me:  "Eema, I think Sam needs to nurse or maybe he needs a nap, or maybe he needs a diaper or maybe he just needs you, but he’s CRANKY, come quickly!"

He loves to be a helper, and especially loves the positive feedback that comes with it:  "Was I a good helper, Eema?"    He always wants to know how he can help and what he can do next.  He’s a giving, loving soul who loves to have something to do.

I don’t think I’ve ever met a child more excited to have his birthday approaching.  He knows he is turning five and has spent the entire summer saying that he will meet certain milestones (e.g. not using a sippy cup, which actually he’s given up anyway)  "when I turn five."  If there’s something he doesn’t want to do, but knows he should be doing, he’ll say, "How about after I turn five, Eema?"  He’s been telling me for a couple weeks now that we need to clean out his room and throw out all the old toys that he’s outgrown to "make room for all the new toys" he’ll be getting for his birthday (wishful thinking much?).  He gives me a running list of things he wants for his birthday (a batman costume, the batmobile, the bat motorcycle, pokemon cards, now new bionicles, new dinosaurs, dinosaur books, etc.).  He gets frustrated when he can’t remember his list of things he wants for his birthday (most of the time) and the list changes often (though Bionicles now appear to be on the list to stay… sigh).

We have a very carefully laid out morning and evening routine for him and he’s very good at following both.  He’s consistent and does remind me when we’ve accidentally fallen off schedule.  "No, Eema, playtime comes BEFORE putting on shoes!"

I can’t get over what a big boy he is now.  I look back on pictures of him from back when he first came into our lives nearly four years ago and I’m absolutely astounded at the difference.  He is so independent, full of life, and ready to give himself to the world around him.    I don’t know that we ever imagined that life would be quite THIS adventurous with this little boy.  So although we definitely have our challenges with the J-man, we also know that every child comes with their own unique challenges.  We learn from J every day and he has truly taught us so much about how we can deal with every day challenges in unique ways.  He is awesome, and everyone who meets him seems to think so, too.

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New School

We’re changing the J-man’s school this fall, did I tell you that?  I lose track, you know.  It’s a weird situation, because in our county (and even the private schools follow the county rules), to start kindergarten, you must turn 5 by September 1st.  J turns 5 September 16th; therefore, he does not qualify for kindergarten this year.  This is probably for the best, considering that he is behind in pre-reading skills, has the AD/HD thing going for him, and frankly, he’s a boy.  He could use the extra year before being pushed ahead.  So we expected he would spend an extra year in four-year-old preschool this year and that was great. That’s what most kids in his predicament do.  We love his current school and we love the teacher he would have next year, and it was all good things. 

And then we started seeing this developmental pediatrician.  He’s been a miracle worker so far, you know, and hasn’t led us astray yet, so we certainly can’t complain.  And one of the things that he recommended was that we consider moving the J-man this coming fall into a "transitional kindergarten" program nearby.  The particular program that he was recommending is very good with working with children with special needs and especially children with J’s profile.  They are actually better in terms of my commute (slightly).  They have an amazing facility, a fantastic teacher, and have been working with our developmental pediatrician for ten years, so they already have a system established to handle the J-man’s special needs.  It’s perfect, right?

It’s still not easy, you know?  It was a very difficult decision to make.  Just as we’d decided to make the change, we found out who J’s teacher would be at his old school next year and that made it a heart-wrenching choice to make, because she would be AMAZING with J – and a known commodity.  Changing schools also means it will be the fourth school in four years.  On the other hand, changing schools has never bothered J before, so why should it now?  Change really bothers ME, but it’s never seemed to bother HIM. 

After weeks of deliberation, we finally decided that we have this developmental pediatrician on our team for a reason:  he is an expert.  He is here to guide us, to inform us, to teach us, and to help us.  He has not led us astray yet.  He has given us incredible referrals so far.  He is accessible.  He is sensitive to our needs.  He has never marginalized our emotions or our experiences.  But he has also been there himself, as a parent and as a professional.  So the best thing we can do is trust in him.  Not blindly, of course, but trust is important.

And so, we are changing schools.  And when I told his old school we weren’t coming back – well, they didn’t take the news well, let’s just put it that way.    I know we’re making the right decision, at least I hope we are, but I’m still broken up about it.  But J?  The J-man is NOT.  "When am I starting at my new school?  Do I get to go there today?" he asks me every morning.  He is so excited, he can hardly wait.   

My little tiny boy?  That baby boy that came to us at just 13 months old?  Golly – he’s starting KINDERGARTEN next week.   *sniff*  Can you believe it?

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Not five minutes after Seth called to say his plane had arrived safely in Baltimore, the J-man came down looking pretty miserable.  So miserable, in fact, it was hard to be annoyed with him for being out of bed after bed time. 

"Eema, I barfed."

Of course he did.  All over his pillow and sheets.  Because, you know, it would have killed him to wait an hour so that it would have been Seth’s problem, right?  That’s three vomits for me during Seth’s two and a half days away. 

That man seriously OWES me, right?

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Are They ALL Yours?

So at my appointment with ye ol' Developmental Pediatrician this morning, I forgot to bring my checkbook.  I *hate* being "that" woman.  That disorganized woman who can't get herself together and have all her ducks in a row when she leaves the house in the morning.  HATE IT.  So I told Dr. S. I would drop a check off in the afternoon and he said, "Or just drop in the mail, whatever."

I'm short a nanny today; she called in sick because she fell down a flight of stairs yesterday, poor thing.  I'm not feeling well myself, so I wasn't planning to go in to work (I didn't go in yesterday either), so it's not the end of the world, though I feel terribly for her.  Seth had stayed with the babies while I was at the pediatrician's office and was home through lunchtime.  After he left, I got the babies down for their afternoon nap and went to get some work done and spoke (AGAIN) with Dr. S. about J's school placement for next year because we haven't settled that yet. 

I felt like a terrible mother while on the phone because Abby, who hadn't settled down for her nap yet, was screaming her head off.  I told Dr. S. that I was feeling like the world's worst mother (AGAIN) and he said, "Let's make something very clear:  You are a very good mother.  You have a very challenging four and a half year old and triplets on top of that.  That's a lot to handle and I'm not sure I'd handle things any better than you are!  You're doing a phenomenal job."  I think Dr. S. is going to get real tired of us REAL SOON NOW.  (Abby, by the way, did not settle down on her own, as Dr. S. promised she would.  After I got off the phone with him, I went down held her for a minute, put her back in her crib and she went right to sleep)

The babies took the longest nap in the universe.  Sam woke up at 3 and the girls didn't wake up until 3:30.  By 4, everyone was fed and packed up into the car and I was realizing how stupid it was to drive out into rush hour traffic to deliver a check, but I though it would be a fine opportunity to go buy some baby gates and we'd have PLENTY of time to get home for dinner and bed.  Hah, I say, Hah!  So I drove off to deliver the check to ye ol' Developmental Pediatrician's office and from there went to Buy Buy Baby where I met my mother and J, so that she could push a cart while I pushed a stroller so that I could buy some baby gates. 

This was a huge, HUGE, HUGE mistake. As soon as J was in the store, he started begging for a toy and I said no (not in a mean way, but I was firm that he wasn't getting a toy – I did buy him a pair of goggles and two lightning mcqueen booboo cold pack thingies, but he just got two new toys yesterday and I do NOT need more stuff in my house).  I was not there to buy toys, I was there to buy baby gates, so it's not like I was flaunting baby toys in front of him either.  I was just buying baby gates.  And J threw a fit of epic proportions.

And my mother.  My mother. Did. Not. Help. 

She stood there telling him that he could pick out something that he wanted for his birthday (meaning, we wouldn't be buying it today – his birthday is in September).  Hello?  The kid has ADHD.  Kids with ADHD have no sense of time.  They have no ability to work with delayed gratification.  Even if you don't know this about ADHD because you haven't read the manual yet, you've known THIS kid for nearly four years and you know that THIS kid does not function well with delayed gratification!  He's been nicknamed "Instant Gratification Lad" since we got him!  So this proposal only infuriated him more. 

I'm talking throwing himself on the floor, kicking, screaming, crying, threatening, begging, pleading. People staring, store employees offering candy.  It was not pretty.  So I gave up on finding all the gates I needed, settled for three that I knew would work for the immediate needs I had and we made our way to the front, which is how I get to the title of this post.

There I am with three babies, a screaming J-man, and a mother pushing a cart full of baby gates.  And a store employee sees the three babies and says, "Oh my gosh, are they ALL yours!" (completely ignoring J, and pointing specifically to the three babies)

And I actually said it. 

"No, really, I just enjoy going out with three random infants.  It's fun for me."

She was flustered for a second, but quickly recovered and was fawning all over the babies, all the while J was screaming his head off.  Literally, I think.

As it turned out, we got lots of attention, and lots of help, and the store employees helped me check out, followed me out to the car with my cart, loaded everything into the van, and took the cart back for me, which was fabulous, considering the screaming J-man.  Actually, it was fabulous even NOT considering the screaming J-man.  But leaving the store only infuriated J even more (if that's possible?) and we could not safely get J across the parking lot to the cars.  I swear, I almost called Dr. S. to find out what the hell to do, but seriously?  That man has GOT to be sick of me by now.  And really?  I had to have done SOMETHING without him before, right?  I survived without him before June, so I need to be able to stand on my own to legs now. 

Meanwhile, it's now 5:30.  J's fit has gone on for 45 minutes.  Ellie's had a critical diaper failure and I'm changing her poopy diaper in my car.  My mom finally got J to my car sort-of-safely, but he's fighting her every inch of the way.  He's still screaming bloody murder.  NOTHING will calm him down.  We can't let go of him, for fear that he will dash back across the parking lot to get back into the store (he is still harboring hopes that if he gets back into the store, he can have a toy).  It's past 5:30 at this point.  5:30 is the triplets' dinnertime.  They are starving and starting to scream, but J won't get into a carseat. Given a choice between my car and Grammy's car, he won't make a decision.  I make the decision for him and try to get him into my car, but he is stronger than me, literally, and there is NO getting him into a car seat against his will.  He's almost four feet tall (I'm only five feet tall) and almost 50 pounds, and VERY strong.  I have no way of controlling him when he's like this.  I tell him he has no choice, and my mother chimes in, "It's okay, do you want to go to Grammy's car?"  Thanks a lot, mom.  Thanks for not contradicting me. 

My mother took J to her car (just two cars down) and looked like she was doing okay, so I started to leave with the screaming trio, but as I was leaving, I realized that she still didn't have J in the car, so I pulled behind her put the hazards on and got out of the car.  J took one look at me and settled down into his car seat.  I was really deadly calm, so I don't know what he was scared of, but he must have known I was very serious by that point.  By then a car had pulled up behind my van and the woman inside was glaring at me, in lieu of pulling around my van (plenty of room to do so).

We did, of course, get home.  The babies did, of course, get fed.  They were very difficult to get down to sleep because they were over tired.  J was extremely emotionally labile until HIS bedtime and very hard to get down, but all is well.  They are all sleeping peacefully now, at last.

Are they ALL mine, indeed?  Yep.  All four of 'em.  Glare all you want.  I work hard for these kids.  See if YOU can do any better. 

P.S.  When I got home, there was a message from Dr. S. on the voicemail:
"Hi this is Dr. S.  I just wanted to say Thank You for dropping off the check today, but that was completely uneccessary.  Next time if that happens [Note: I hope there won't be a next time] you can just drop it in the mail.  You've got more than enough on your plate.  I hope you didn't make a special trip out. Gosh.  You're, well, you're good people.  Just, you know, don't do it again.  Thank You." 

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Even the Best Parents…

When we were first given the ADHD diagnosis for the J-man, Dr. S. told us "A child with J’s profile will make even the best parents in the universe feel completely incompetent."


We’re into week two of our medication trial and on our second medication.  The first medication MIGHT have been having some side effects.  We THINK.  But we’re not really sure.  I would have liked to have seen a few more days of the medication to be sure that it wasn’t just all a big coincidence.  But J refused to take it 3 days out of 6.  So no dice.  To get him to take it, we bribed him heavily, and on the days he didn’t take it… Oh the fits that ensued when the bribe was not forthcoming!  Absolutely indescribable! 

And so… we moved to a patch. And he’s VERY proud of his "sticker" which he knows he’s not allowed to take off and he knows he’s not allowed to show to anyone (it’s on his posterior, so showing it off would be quite rude). 

Day one of the patch we used 1/2 a patch and got limited feedback from school, so Saturday we moved to a full patch.  Well, we did NOT see our son that day at ALL.  We saw a withdrawn little boy who was listless and sad, tired and lonely.  Not at all our happy, bouncy little monster.  I did not like this little boy much at all.  I mean, I loved him, of course, but I missed my J-man.  Where had he gone?  Is this what I was doing to him?  I saw little glimmers of my beautiful boy whenever he got to do something physically active, but so long as he was sedentary, he was listless, withdrawn, quiet, introspective, sniffly, and sad.

Sunday we tried again with a whole patch, knowing he would have a very active day as we went out to visit Jess and her five little monkeys.  And he was totally fine.  He was calm, but happy.  He was a good listener.  He was active at appropriate times, but not out of control.  He played nicely.  He was animated.  He was a little bored when the other kids were asleep, but he generally had a GOOD time and was my J-man again.  It was awesome. 

Today?  We gave him a full patch again.  I called the school just now to see how he’s doing and he’s BOUNCING OFF WALLS.  Can’t sit still, can’t listen, can’t behave himself, can’t control his behavior, totally impulsive. 

I just. don’t.  know.  what.  to.  think.

His fits before and after the medicine take effect and wear off are completely out of control, but we’ll approach this with behavior management therapy.  This will take time.  But the medication?  I’m just… I’m at a total loss.  TOTAL LOSS.  I feel unbelievably incompetent.


Meanwhile, we’ve joined CHADD. I’ve got to-do lists. I’ve got a notebook started.  We’ve got reading lists.  What more can we do?

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