At 7am on the rainy Saturday morning just gone, I suddenly felt a rather soft persistent tap on my shoulder, and heard the most beautiful softly spoken little voice whisper into my ear as I lay in bed snuggled up, with absolutely no intentions of getting out of bed just yet. In single mother style, I awoke ever so slightly, to instantly noticed that I could also hear my other two little children whispering quite thoughtfully to one another in what sounded like extremely concerned tones of voice, as my little girl continued to tap on my shoulder and whisper into my ear.
‘Mum, mum, mum,’ she said.
‘Yes,’ I finally whispered back in a voice which sounded more like a dry slow croak. I slowly opened up my eyes to see in front of me a very distressed little person.
‘There’s paint everywhere,’ she announced in a loud voice, as she threw her hands to her head, and looked at me completely exasperated.
‘Whatttttt,’ I nearly choked on my voice as I jumped out of bed and yelled out, ‘Harryyyyy,’ towards my dog who left the room in a hurry.
My eyes hit the floor in an instant, and stared at the carpet which was now covered in the footprints of two different kinds of animal species. I could hear my three little adventurers suddenly divulge the story of the white paint, the window which the dog flew through to steal the cats food, the white footprints all over the laundry and bathroom flooring, the half ripped curtain, which attaches to the window connecting the kitchen and the laundry, and the story of the cat’s tail which was now covered in white paint. This was just another day in my life as the owner of a persistently naughty thirteen year old border collie rescue dog who really just does not, and probably will never stop creating havoc each and every day, somehow and somewhere.
So, what did I do? I called in Peppa Pig, grabbed my son’s ninja turtle doona and collapsed in a heap on the couch with my three little treasures. I gave out very strict instructions on how my children were not to under any circumstances walk through the white paint which still covered the laundry floor. Than I lay my head on the pillow and drifted into a half sleep, until I had the courage to face the calamity in the laundry.
However, that was merely the array of events from Saturday!! As we all returned home on Sunday from a lovely day at Kids Kingdom, the local indoor play centre, we entered our home through the back door as usual, and walked through the exceptionally clean laundry, making our way to the lounge room. My son immediately turned the television on and kicked his bright blue gumboots off. They flew high into the air, and moved ever so slightly to the right, which was when I heard the sound of glass smashing and crashing together, following the sound of a small voice saying, ‘sorry mum’.
My house and windows! Let me tell you. So yes, my son smashed two small 15cm squares of glass out of the led light window which connects to the sunroom. And, to add to our new problem, I had already broken stained glass squares out of the sunroom door, (which is next to the led light window my son smashed) when I had to break into my home last year in April after I waved goodbye to the kids and their father. As I turned around and walked through the sunroom, a massive gust of wind catapulted through the sunroom, and slammed closed the security locked lounge room door, which will in turn take one through to the rest of the house.
Why is there a lock on the door attached to the lounge room entrance? So, due to some more accidental damage to the glass, the quote I received today for 5 small pieces of glass amounted to $377.00. I was completely flabbergasted. Moral of the story? Consider residing in a home without a zillion windows.
Being a single mother is difficult most of the time. Yes, there are many joyous wonderful moments. However, there are also the times when you’re too sick to cook, too sick to move, and even too sick to open your mouth. There are also the times when you just need to sit down and have a good cry. Raising three children on your own is no walk in the park.
The upside though, is that yes, I do get all of the joy, all of the fun, all of the cuddles, and soft sweet phrases of love flowing at me left, right and centre from my three lovely children.
However, there are days like today and yesterday where I would just like a little bit of help. Not much, not hours, not days of help. Just one day of help. However, I must tell you and forewarn you that usually a woman does not choose to become a single mother of three beautiful children. It doesn’t just happen, and it was not a choice that I wanted to make. In the end it became the only choice available. It was a journey I had to take in order to become free.
So, today I’m lying in bed not being able to talk or move due to a blocked nose, sore throat, and an entire aching body. Next to me stands my little 4 year old who continues to tap me on the shoulder with the hope of waking me up. Once she succeeds, she continues to remind me that she has already told me ten times that I was supposed to buy her the ‘banana up and go’ from the shops yesterday, and that I better get them today because I promised.
Unfortunately for and my children and I, I was bedridden yesterday, and could only do the bare minimum. Suddenly, the seven year old throws himself onto the bed and announces that I have to take him to the movies today because I promised. Than the 6 year old runs into the room and jumps on me to give me a gigantic hug. All I can think of is that I can’t think, I can’t speak and I need some help. Yet, there is no help! There is nobody. All but me, and a friend or two who may pop into the shops for me later if they’re around. Where is their father you may ask. At work, too busy, unavailable. Its always the same old story,the usual and the reason why we single mothers choose to do this on our own.
So, I break the news to my son that we won’t be going to the movies. I inform my four year old that I can’t get the banana poppas right now, and I tell my children that I’m too sick to get out of bed and that they’ll have to sit in bed next to me and watch a dvd on the laptop. Now, not only do I feel sick, but I now feel like I have also disappointed them. One of the perils of single motherhood.
Two hours later I stumble out of bed, look into the yard, and discover that the dog has gone again. Broken the fence palings and skipped out. All week long, that naughty dog has been disappearing. Well, actually the last thirteen years with her have been a dysfunctional nightmare. So I chase her down the road, the cold wind on my face, breathless and panting into the neighbours back yard. Than I watch her weave her way between my legs and into my front yard, as I try to grab her before she escapes me and runs under the house. So, yes, thats right, there I stood outside, coughing uncontrollably in the cold, standing in the leftover snow from yesterday, hammer and nails in hand getting ready to fix the fence, wondering what that dog will get upto tomorrow.
My son’s brain is complex. My son is hilariously funny, in a quirky kind of way. He almost always jumps out of bed and begins his morning with an over the top dance, and a song with non-existent words, words he apparently made up.
Sometimes he is so hyperactive that he just can’t stop. Without medication, he cannot concentrate, sit still, and will exhibit difficult behaviours.
My son exists in a different space from other children. This space is an isolated space. His hyperactivity deems him immature, his concentration span keeps him from learning, and his low dopamine levels make him continually seek out high risk situations.
Just as we think he has enough to handle, we are given another diagnosis. My son has ADHD, and dyslexia.
It can take my son’s brain months to process a particular academic concept.
It took ten weeks of intensive teaching on my part to get my son to understand how exactly one goes about sounding out a simple word. For this to happen, my son needed complete silence as I sat with him everyday for twenty minutes repeating simple words, and emphasising the five vowel sounds.
His fine motor skills are poor. His hands hurt when he is asked to write. His writing is all over the page, and his fingers ache when he does up the buttons on his school shirt.
My son’s brain has always performed differently. At eighteen months old he could scoot on a two wheeler scooter. At age of four, he could do a pretty good sized jump on his scooter.
However, oddly enough, by the age of two years old, my son could not say one single word!
I quickly adopted a well know speech pathology technique and taught my son how to speak.
For the next six months, for one hour every single day, I tirelessly commented on his every action whilst he played. I talked, and talked, and talked, each and everyday, until my son could make full sentences.
My initial thought was that my son was simply a slow talker. However, I was very wrong. His speech difficulty was ultimately a sign of something much deeper.
At the beginning of kindergarten I was told by my son’s teacher that he may have ADHD.
He was throwing gigantic tantrums in class, he couldn’t sit still, and his impulse control was non-existent. By the end of the year, most of his friends realised that going near my little boy meant they may get a wack.
Towards the end of kindy my son was diagnosed with ADHD by a paediatrician, and medicated.
Once upon a time I questioned the realness of ADHD. Now, I see ADHD exactly for what it is; a complex disorder where impulse control, hyperactivity, and a lack of concentration are at the fore front of the problem.
I have watched my son lose control of his inhibitions. I have watched his behaviour climax to out of control degrees. I have watched him dance while trying to read a book, cry because he doesn’t understand his own brain, and sit in a deep sense of shame because he doesn’t want to behave badly, or to be an underachiever.
At the age of seven my son is finally beginning to achieve academically, and in his social life. However, his conditions do mean that he is now a continual work in progress.
My son walked into the kitchen this morning while I was reading his report card. He asked me if he had done well, and I told him he had. He looked over my shoulder and stared at his grades. His happy face immediately turned pale, and resinated disappointment.
He wanted to know if he had only received low grades? So, I told him that are many good things about his report, and that I am really proud of him.
He was happy with my answer, and his face immediately lit up again.
I don’t understand how the department of education, and a society can allow children to receive D’s. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I always thought keeping our children’s self-esteem high at all times was one of the most important things we as a society can do. Children only want A’S and B’s. No-one wants a C or a D. These grades make children feel stupid.
My life is about keeping my son’s wings flying high in the sky. Nobody wins if children think they are silly. These children turn into adults with limited confidence. Both their past successes, and the times they were least successful mould them into the adults they become.
The teachers tell me not to show my son his report card. My son knows that twice a year he brings home his report card in a yellow envelope.
There are so many great things about my son besides his grades. My son is very switched on, highly intuitive, is a great soccer player, a sound cricket player, and a lovely brother.
He would give you his last lolly if you really wanted it, and he is the first person to help if help is what you need. My son’s brain is different from other children’s. He is in a category of his own.