Sunday, September 19, 2010

Nobody knows the trouble I've seen...

Today was a particularly difficult day with Dan, full of tantrums and defiance and rudeness. And at one point he shouted at me, as he sometimes does when he gets in trouble for this kind of stuff, "I'm stupid! That's why I do this stuff!" No, you're not. "Yes, I am! I'm the stupidest person in the world! I don't know anything!"

Later, when I tried to ask him about the "stupid" business, he insisted that he feels like he really is stupid, and that there's all kinds of stuff ("like, school stuff, like math") he should know and be able to do, and he doesn't or can't. Which is patently untrue, but he wasn't listening. But just the other night, he had a nightmare that left him panicky, speechless and nauseous; the nightmare had been about feeling stupid and like his head was full of wrong answers.

 So I worried my way through the evening about raising an out-of-control child with anxiety and self-esteem issues.

As I tucked him into bed tonight, I whispered, "I know that you're really trying hard to be good. But it's hard sometimes, isn't it?"

He nodded.

"But I know you're trying," I said, adding, "And I'm trying hard to be a good mom. It's hard for me, too."

He nodded again. Then he spoke. "You know the other night, Mom, when I said I was dumb?"

"You mean that nightmare you had?"

"I think it was because people were like, "What's 564 + 655? Give us the answer in five seconds, or else we'll shoot you!"

"You were getting really hard problems, and you couldn't answer them?"


"Maybe you feel like you're being asked to do something that's too hard for you."

A thoughtful nod.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Selling (or buying) out...again.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Captain Rex shoes from Stride Rite.

And the black strap/eyeshields light up blue when you walk. Both boys got a pair today. I was pushing hard for sweatshop running shoes from Nike, but they loved these soooooo much that I just gave in. Dan got a Clone Wars lunchbox for school, too. Sigh.

Johnny knew right away that he wanted the Captain Rex shoes and nothing else. He tried them on, loved them, and gamely followed his brother around the store on his many test runs; Dan tested seven pairs of possible purchases before he, too, finally settled on the Captain Rex shoes.

Those test runs were a joy to watch--though I felt bad making the salesgirl fetch six pairs of shoes that we all knew he would reject in favor of Captain Rex. He would back waaay up and go sprinting earnestly around the shoe section, faking left, then right, and finally charging up and stopping in front of us in a pose like this:
photo courtesy of
...which he would hold for a couple of seconds before rising and giving his verdict. We were the only customers at the time, and the other salesgirl, with apparently nothing else to do, wandered casually over and watched him silently, smiling.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


In the Open Space Preserve near our house, there is a secret place off the beaten path. My friend J and her boys led us to it a little while ago. You veer off the path and follow this ploughed-up mess of dirt down and around a bend until you see this:

And if you're paying attention, you can see a little opening in the brush:

But it's little. You have to make yourself small, like a child, in order to pass through...

...into this magical place: