Have You Found Your Best Shade?

My husband and I have had a lot of hard conversations lately.  We have a son getting ready to go into 4th grade next year.  It seems like that is a big step for him so we are working to get him prepared.  Our son, Mr. L, has also had some rough conversations with us lately.  The one that stands out to me the most is that he feels different from everyone else in his world.

These days different is praised especially when it comes to being the real you.  However, in a school setting different = defective.  I HATE THAT!  I hate that in his precious mind that he feels defective.

Let me remind you of some ways he is different.  He is smart, yet creative.  He’s a leader who is determined.  He is a sensitive feeler.  He is a gifted planner.  He is an extrovert who loves to engage other people.

He is a mix of traits and characteristics so wonderful I can’t imagine how they are all contained in one body.

With all these strengths, we know there are also weaknesses in ourselves as well.  These weaknesses are effecting his school work and learning.  So we must stand beside him and work to find the proper solution so that he can be the best he can be.

To a boy who already feels different we have to very carefully explain WHY we are going to be actively working to help him in areas that are taking over his learning at school and interaction with his teacher.  We thought through the words ever so carefully.

Here’s what we finally came up with:

We are looking to find just the right shade of each color that makes up the masterpiece that is Mr. L.  Each time we need to find a newer, better shade it is because it will only enhance the picture being created.

We want him to know that he is loved and who he is may be different, but it’s not defective.  If you could just see the picture I see being painted by his life you would know how amazing he truly is.

So paint your picture.  Take a moment to sit back and evaluate your color choice.  Is that the best shade?  Could it us a little more of one color or the next?

Boy+Sensory+Dentist=Tired Mom

I’m sure the dental hygienist wondered why I was neglecting to bring my son in for his yearly visits to the dentist.  She may think me lazy, overworked, underinsured, or whatever…and though each of those may have played a part in my decision it really all comes down to something much greater.

My oldest FEELS everything.  This isn’t just an oral thing as he is energized by sound, hindered by bright lights, and will not put new things in his mouth.  But yesterday at the dentist he got to experience all those things…together.  Really, let’s think about this.  The loud noise of the “water cleaner” aka the drill.  The bright light for the dentist to see in your mouth.  And then let’s concentrate all that in your mouth!

It started with the hygienist putting the rough bib shirt protector tucked in his shirt.  His response, “that FEELS rough.”  Then she put red dye on his teeth.  He kinda freaked out cause he’s not supposed to have red dye.  So I explained to her why he was trying to hold his lips away from the dye and almost trying to crawl out of his skin to get away from the dye.  Of course as soon as I tell her we don’t do reds, we don’t do high fructose corn syrup, and we limit sugar then she wants to know if he’s been diagnosed.  Perhaps the most frustrating moment in this 30 second discussion is when she pressed the diagnosis or need for one and then wanted to mark “behavior issues” on his sheet.

You may have guessed that I hate labels.  There is no box to contain the things we encounter each day.  My son is not worse than others.  He is not defective or deficient.  He is an unique individual.

Have you experience his laugh?  Have you seen his artwork?  Have you heard one of his great stories?  Have you attended one of his parties?  People…this kid is amazing.

By the time the entire appointment was done, I was exhausted and a bit defeated.  I’m a bit overwhelmed with the thought of bringing him back for the dental work he needs done.  But I know he is my child for a reason.  I firmly believe God had this child for me because no other mommy could raise him the way I can.

I am his advocate.  I am his biggest cheerleader.  I believe he is a great kid with so many talents I can hardly stand it.  I believe he will be a wonderful man, a loving husband, and an excellent dad someday.

See the beauty in your child.

Strength: Ideation (Creative)

At our house, we concentrate on and talk about our strengths.  One of Mr. L’s strengths is his creative mind.  While at the dentist office today (the visit deserves it’s own post!) the dentist commented on Mr. L’s creative imagination.  I mean…that’s saying a lot since the boy is sitting in a sterile room with very little to work with!

He never ceases to amaze me.  Truly.  We don’t tend to have any “I’m bored!” time at our house.  We have far too much to discover and create.  Here’s a picture Mr. L created at school a month ago.

Bird on Birch

Now this may seems ok to some, but you need to know where he started!  He had white paper, cardboard, and paint.  Yeah…that birch looks like they peeled it off a tree and stuck it on paper.   Maybe I think it’s more awesome than others.  Maybe I feel the need to lift him up after revealing some of his dirt in my last post.  All I know is that I am proud of him and excited to see the man he is going to be.

Each day is an adventure.

To Dye For

Who knew food dye could be so bad for us?  Well, 2 years ago I had no idea.  My oldest was just done with Kindergarten and about to enter 1st grade.  Near the end of Kindergarten, his teacher (who I very much trust) told me that if he continued down the same path of interrupting and impulsive behavior that he was going to be tested for ADHD.  I don’t believe any young child with mild symptoms should be stamped with a label so I decided it was time to do some research.

I had read through Jenny McCarthy’s book on Autism when my son was 3 years old.  So I was aware of the different diets.  In fact, we had done a Gluten Free Casein Free diet when my son was 3 years old.  Sadly, we didn’t see any changes in his behavior.  But this time was different.

Can you guess how long it takes to shop when you are constantly reading nutrition labels?  It would take me over an hour to shop for just one week.  I read each and every label.  We had to cut out most cereals, certain juice boxes, some mac and cheese box mixes, and cheap syrup just due to the red and yellow dyes.  At the same time as the dyes, we cut most white sugar and high fructose corn syrup.  My son’s diet selection quickly diminished and had to be replaced.

The results were amazing.  We found that red dyes make him really hyper.  Like bounce off the walls uncontrollable can’t listen hyper.  Once we eliminated them, he was able to focus and listen a lot better.  Although he still interrupts in class and has a hard time listening, it is easier to work with.  The high fructose corn syrup makes him spacey.  It’s actually kinda scary how disconnected he becomes.  And the sugar…well, it’s sugar.  Each of these takes 3 days to work out of his system.  If there ever is a slip up, we can peg it pretty quickly.

His new diet consists of his favorite cereals, my homemade mac and cheese, homemade pizza, peanut butter, chicken, tortellini, a few select veggies and fruits, milk, and water.  It’s not much, but he’s healthy.