Random thoughts from an animal-loving French prof / mom of three on things she finds beautiful, funny, sad, or strange.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Things I'm pondering...

A quote I heard in relation to parenting kids with ADHD and other challenges : "The opposite of love is not conflict; the opposite of love is indifference."  A related thought heard on a promo for NPR's "This I believe" goes along the lines of saying that the big decisions are not between doing the right thing and the wrong thing, but between the right thing and doing nothing. When do people cross that line into indifference?  When do they decide to do nothing? And why?  I honestly don't know.  If anyone does, please let me know.

One other, unrelated observation, then I'll stop for the night.  Blogs are a strange thing.  I'm not sure what I think about them, which is ironic given that I'm writing one at this very minute. Anyway, what do I think is so strange?  Well, blogs seem so personal, and yet they're not. People can craft with words, invent a self entirely distinct from who they are off-screen.  So are blogs just fictions?  Constructions that let us play at being someone we're not?  Ways of convincing ourselves or someone else that we're a certain incarnation of ourselves, even if it's not the one the "real" world sees?  Or is the "virtual" version actually truer to the "real" self? Spooky things, these virtual worlds.   

Then again, perhaps I'm over-thinking all of this.  It's been a long, cold day and it's late at night, when my thoughts tend to go to the strangest places...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

reset buttons

When my son is starting to lose it, he gets "stuck."  His speech actually sounds impaired, and I believe that his brain goes to a primal place where it is, in fact, stuck.  So, his therapist gave us a reset button:  he jumps on a mini-trampoline.   I am no neurologist and no psychologist, but there is something to this.  It actually does seem to reset his brain, just like that "magic" button or key sequence on electronic devices.  His facial expression changes- you can see it from across the room- and sometimes he even starts to shout with joy.  He shouts an awful lot, usually NOT with joy, so this is amazing to see.  Once that happens, we can ask him to do whatever it was that was making him melt down, and voilà, he's there with us, able to do anything.

The thing is, we all need reset buttons.  Sadly, though, many of us don't know what ours are, or we look for them in all the wrong places.  The United States is in one of its biggest crises ever because we were told we could cure what ails us by just buying more.  So we bought and bought but we never stopped to consider whether it was actually helping us to re-center, to reset.  We now know it wasn't.  I don't know that I got so much into the buying- college professors don't exactly roll in cash or qualify for tons of credit, though I have more of both than I need or deserve.  Even so, I managed to lose touch with myself.  Now, I can say that I have found my reset buttons.  Sometimes it's a cup of coffee on the porch soaking in the beauty of my back yard.  Sometimes it's a brisk walk with my dog.  Sometimes it's talking with a friend and not worrying about the time or what work awaits me next.  These things sound simple;  they are. And they have the added advantage of alleviating anger and frustration, unlike hitting ctrl-alt-del on the computer...

Friday, February 6, 2009

think about what you did well

I have a child who is ill.  He has RAD, Reactive Attachment Disorder, as well as some sensory processing issues.  For these kids, such issues do not have to be the end of the road, as long as the child gets the right kinds of help, including therapeutic parenting provided by loving parents. Indeed, learning to parent him has been one of the most thrilling, but also challenging and exhausting roads that I have ever traveled.  It is in part thanks to my life with him that I have learned that the hardest roads can sometimes lead to the most unexpected treasures.

Today I was teaching at the University.  I handed back two assignments in one class.  As one might expect, some students did well on both, while others did well only on one (nobody struggled with both).  Those in the second group started to get down on themselves for their lower grades.  I told them not to worry about that, since we could work on it, but instead to focus on what they did well and enjoy it.  Their response startled me : most of them could not remember a teacher telling them that before, and they liked it.  

So how do these two things fit together?  Well, parenting a child with challenges has taught me that if I dwell on the negative, we will both drown.  It's just too overwhelming.  If I focus on the positive, however, then we can both grow.  Without my son, who knows when I would have learned this lesson?  I'm just grateful that I did, and that I had the chance to pass it on.