So many kids, I don't know what to do.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

You've Come A Long Way, Baby


Where do I start?  Well I should have known Tanner would be an active child.  I could feel him kicking in there when I was only ten weeks pregnant.  Many people don't believe me, but it is one of the many unbelievable things about Tanner.

Tanner became a challenge about the time he could move his little fat body from point A to point B.  I was totally unprepared for it as I am for most things.  Ty was the most laid back child imaginable and participated in an "average" amount of toddler antics.

Tanner on the other hand was on a mission to kill me.
He was a mess constantly.  He insisted on rubbing food all over his face and hair before eating it.  Even then he refused to eat any noodle, or pasta particle, so those would be immediately spit across the room. 

A normal day in our lives:  I was getting dressed and Tanner was playing quietly in my closet and honestly I was just thankful for the moments of peace.  I then realized he had completely dismantled the video camera.  While I was trying to repair it he climbed onto the sink and filled it - then threw the hair dryer in.  Thank God it was not plugged in.  While I was emptying the sink and throwing away the dryer he unrolled a whole roll of toilet paper into the toilet.
Admitting this makes me seem like a terribly inattentive parent, but I was not.  I knew better than to leave Tanner unattended.  He was a tornado. And more than I feared the destruction of my stuff, I feared he would seriously injure himself before the age of five.

As he got older I became accustomed to most of his behaviors, but others didn't.  I am sure my friends started putting away valuables the instant they heard we were coming over.

On top of all that, discipline was tricky.  I had to learn to chose my battles.  I did tell Tanner "No" and I did discipline him with time outs or spankings.  He didn't care about spankings.  He would get a spanking and just go do whatever had caused it.  When put in time out he would scream like a banshee and then when I released him he would immediately return to the forbidden activity.  Sometimes the timeout took so long that I was amazed he could even remember what caused it, but he ALWAYS did. If a reward was offered and Tanner didn't earn it, it was the END OF THE WORLD!

I don't quite know how to convey the guilt I felt during this time.    I didn't always have as much patience as Tanner required.  This is awful to admit, but there are times if my mom hadn't lived ten minutes away Tanner would have been abused. I called my mom once on the way home from the grocery about a week after giving birth to Saige.  I was at the end of my rope with Tanner.   Mom said, "Go home and lock him in his room.  I will be there in ten minutes."  She knew I was going to hurt him and I would never have forgiven myself.  One more than one occasion I showed up at my mom's bawling while I dropped Tanner off so I could just have a break from him.  My eyes are watering now remembering how that made me feel like a complete failure as a mom.  Or maybe it is that it made me feel so bad for Tanner.

He showed some astounding intelligence during these years. He knew our phone number when he was about eighteen months.  I hadn't taught him either.  He learned by hearing me repeat it in daily interactions.
He potty trained himself before he was two by watching his brother go to the bathroom.   
He was hilarious even at a young age.  I came home one time and found him wiggling around in the front yard.  My friend asked Tanner what he was doing and he replied -all indignant, "I am swimming.  Who put grass in my pool?"
He was extremely affectionate with people and small animals.  (A little too loving to small animals...think Lenny.) In fact many cringed at the thought of his greetings.
All these sweet things made me feel even worse when I was lost in a sea of Tanner.  He was such a cute, loving kid and he wanted to be good.  He used to tell me, "I always follow the rules."   

At this point by comparing him to my other kids I realized Tanner was "different". I began to suspect ADHD, but it is hard to diagnose in a small child.  I certainly didn't want to medicate a pre-schooler.  He was already taking a ton of meds for the allergies he inherited from me.  Besides I had/have a belief that even kids with ADHD have to learn to function in the world.

So I plowed on avoiding meltdowns where I could and trying to cope and some days...just giving up.  The preschool/day care reported that he refused to sit and do any of the writing/drawing activities.  Still later that year I went ahead and put him in kindergarten because I was single and broke and kindergarten unlike pre-school didn't cost my retirement..  (On top of his ADHD problems Tanner has a July birthday, so I am sure looking back this was a huge mistake.) I reasoned that if he did poorly in kindergarten I would have him repeat it.  However I think the teacher was so scared she would get Tanner for a second year she assured me he was ready to move on to the first grade.

He couldn't use scissors.  Really who needs scissors?

In first and second grade I had to show up unannounced in Tanner's class to assure him I was checking on his behavior.  I had to have multiple parent/teacher conferences.  I had to defend my choice not to medicate to my friends.  As well defend considering medications to my family. (Both friends and family were concerned and supportive, not mean and judgemental.)

By the third grade Tanner still couldn't zip his pants, tie his shoes, write legibly, or bother to wear underwear.  He started attending fine motor skill therapy because the school he attended couldn't (wouldn't) help him.  (His first grade teacher was an angel and she spent a considerable amount of her own time trying to help Tanner learn to write.  I tried as well, but between trying to get him to stop sticking knives in the electrical outlets and lassoing the cat after school I was pretty well spent.)

At fine motor skill therapy they asked me many odd questions.
How does Tanner like to play?  He spins in circles and then runs into things.
Is he overly sensitive to his clothing and such on his body?  No.  He doesn't seem to notice if clothes are on backwards or if he has peanut butter and snot smeared all over his face and hands. (By the way.  I thought this answer was a, at least he doesn't do THAT!)

They diagnosed Tanner according to the answers to those questions.  He has ___________ (I never remember the name of the possibly made up disorder.)
They claim Tanner does not respond to the same amount of stimulation "normal" people respond to.  He doesn't hear when his name is called.  He doesn't notice when things are touching him.   The reason they said he spun and crashed was to give himself some stimulus. So it explained why he was doing things, but it didn't help me figure out how to stop him.
He continued in therapy until he could dress himself, but no progress was made on the writing front and his grades were suffering because of it.  Also it took him forever to do any school work.  Not a good combination for a kid with a two second attention span.  And so a battle began with the school.  I asked them over and over why all Tanner's grades only reflected the hand writing and not the CONTENT of his learning.  I knew he was learning I could tell from talking to him.  But the teacher's couldn't read what he produced and that was hurting him. 

(The teachers would suggest activities for him to do at home, like sewing cards.  Hello?  He didn't want to sit and do sewing cards.  He wanted to bounce a basketball and careen his bike into a tree and he had already been at school for eight hours of pure torture.)
This is a picture of Tanner at his end of year party for the second grade.  The other kids had lovely artwork adorning the walls, not Tanner.   What he had managed to finish was never neat or decorated. And it was never displayed.  My heart broke for him.  Yes.  He noticed his work was not there. 
The year end assignment was over the color red.  The other kids wrote cute stuff , "Red is the color of an apple."  Tanner wrote, "Red of the color of a fat lady's screams." I thought it was.... well....brilliant, but the sentence wasn't legible.  I only knew what it said because they were asked to present their work to the class.  His dad and I bragged on him, but I remember feeling very depressed and hopeless about Tanner's education at that point.

**This post got extremely long so I  cut it in half. 
Unfortunately this is not the hopeful part.  That part is next.  Stay tuned.  Especially if you have ever considered selling your own kid to the gypsies.  I promise it gets better .

 I linked up.  You can too.
Things I Can't Say


  1. I feel as though I'm reading about one of my kids! I can't wait for the hopeful point. :o)

  2. It is so frustrating when we go through things like this with our kids. I want to hear the hopeful part...b/c I need it!

  3. You are an incredible mom!!... I cant wait for the next part....!!! HUGS!!!

  4. Looking forward to the hopeful part and go you for sticking to your guns!

  5. Our youngest had huge speech issues and I was on a mission to get him help. At 18 months he was not talking. No mom, dad, nothing. I had him tested for speech and then I decided to be his advocate. We met with the leading doctor on Apraxia in the nation. He was diagnosed. They got his speech pathologists doing the right therapy and I'm thrilled to tell you I have an 8 year old little boy that you could never tell had a bit of speech troubles. But it was years of tears and fighting to get him in to see he right people.

  6. Oh Wow! This makes me well up with tears. I have had issues with my son but it is because of a different situation (he was abused by his birth mom). He has lived with us for 5 years as of today. We have gone through outrageous tantrums in public and him abusing me and it does get better. He has always been an extremely intelligent child too! It really is amazing. I can't wait to read more about this.

  7. Goodness, I have goosebumps.

    I think it takes a really great mom to put all of that out there. You are amazing. Tanner is amazing. And I cannot wait to read the rest of this story...

  8. Oh my goodness, I can't imagine. I am so sorry but I think you are doing wonderfully! I can't wait to read more next week.

    p.s. I'm a new follower :)

  9. I can't imagine how I would have handled it. Thank goodness you had a mother who was close and could help. And thank goodness you never lost faith in him.

  10. Continue to pray and God will see you through.
    This is such a nice blog. I'm a new follower, following from a blog hop.

  11. You might have a highly gifted kid on your hands. I am not kidding. Many things you describe happen to kids with amazingly high IQ's. Have you checked some of the gifted kids support forums?
    Very few teachers are prepared to challenge and educate kids like that.
    I can't wait to read more about him.

  12. That sounds just like my 2 year old. She's going to be 3. She is very destructive. She has broken my digital camera, hair straightener, computer and so many other things. She doesn't know what "no" means and even though she is the sweetest little girl in the world, she can really hurt her big sister sometimes. There are times that I want to just cry because she is so overwhelming, but then I realize that I have to try to help her calm down and get along with other kids... I hope she will.

    Following you from FMBT! I love style of your blog & can't wait to read more!! :) I hope you can follow us back! We have some great giveaways going on and will have even more giveaways every week until Christmas! Hope you can visit us!

    Mommy Miscellaneous

  13. Wow, is all I can say. I can so relate to so much of what you've said, it's almost scary. My three year old is a tornado too, and spends most of his time yelling back at us, usually with the word "NO!" He's getting to the point of out of control, and I'm at a loss of what to do.

    I just happened upon your blog, and I'm so incredibly glad that I did! I can't wait to hear the rest of this story...give me hope...please! :)


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