Friday, October 22, 2010

Blissful Day!

Meditating on a sunny summer morning, 2010

What a wonderful day it was (yesterday)!

We started out with Wilderness Awareness School, where Joran gets to romp through the woods with 13 other children and 5 instructors. He played memory games with native plants, created a medicine pouch, collected lichen, steeped lemon balm tea over the outdoor fire and found the flavor delicious, and came home with a small chunk of beeswax, which I can't get enough of -- delicious smell.

While Joran was in class for 4 hours, I was connecting with my new Wilderness Awareness community and walking slowly through the woods with Jasmijn. The smells of moss, woodland soil, and even centipedes were delightful. We marveled over the many different types of dirt under the trees and meditated on seats of log, root and stone.

After class, I was going to drop off one of Joran's classmates with her mama, but then her mama called and offered to meet us at a local park with food, so we settled in at the playground and enjoyed the entire warm afternoon until dusk!

We all came home so relaxed and John built a fire in our stove. Joran and Jasmijn each took bubble baths and our neighbor, Liam, came by for a little more playtime, but Joran was so relaxed that I hardly heard a peep from them as they focused on new Lego creations. Ahh, the sweet life!

To finish off my day, I found an e-mail from Joran's OT, who was expressing her understanding for my concerns and willingness to revamp our sessions. The better it gets, the better it gets!


Jolene =)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mommy Never Gets Frustrated

It sure is fun playing with you, Joran!

Joran and I have our fair share of head-butting, but the other day, I got notice that I'm doing better than I thought.

We were in session with Joran's occupational therapist, who often tries to get him to do things he doesn't want to do. In an effort to get him to bend to her will, she said something along the lines of, "It would make your mommy and I so happy if you did this. You don't want me or your mommy to be frustrated, do you?" Joran's quick response was, "My mommy never gets frustrated!" (Jolly laughter bursts forth from my belly!)

Thanks Joran!

And just for the record, we also think it's kind of "weird" (Joran's description) that the OT is trying to get Joran to follow her directions because "it will make us happy" (emotional manipulation?). I really try to respect my children's freedom, which I consider to be their birthright. I feel that by going to this clinic, I have gained a better understanding of Joran's behaviors and needs so that I can support him to a more joyful life, fully allowing who he is to shine. So, I'm frustrated with this new development of pressuring Joran to work on certain tasks that he is very resistant to. To me, the resistance is a sign that he's just not ready. I'm concerned that pushing him to do things he's not ready for will ultimately errode his self-confidence. So, we're in the process of reevaluating the need to continue this therapy.

Overall, we're chugging along at a nice clip over here. And wishing you all much happiness!

Jolene =)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Fungus Among Us

Polypore, shelf-like mushroom growing on fallen tree

I will never forget this mushroom! We were out with Nature Explorers, a class provided through our local homeschool support center, focusing on mushrooms that day. Joran was having a tough time navigating his emotions, social anxieties, etc.... This included lots of screaming, shouting and general grumpiness for a period of time. It was an interesting practice for me in staying centered while he worked it out. Sometimes Joran takes his energy out on me, pushing, pulling, shoving, angry words, etc..., but I was not willing to do that with him this day. He started taking his frustrations out on the forest instead. Much appreciation to the forest from Mommy for that!

After a bit, the group stopped and circled up to listen to the instructor's story of the day. We sat apart while Joran continued processing. It was pretty easy for me to just hang out on a fallen log while Joran did what he needed to do. Jasmijn wanted to explore, too. As I was just chilling and glancing around, Joran found the Polypore mushroom in the picture above, attached to the log I was sitting on.

My astounding discovery about this mushroom was that it can bear the impact of a raging 5-year-old boy! Joran was jumping on the mushroom like it was a springboard, with as much force as he could muster, certain that he would break it off. It never happened! Pretty soon, he realized that this was a pretty cool tough mushroom and started studying it. The energy exerted and then the focus the mushroom attracted from him was just enough to shift his attitude back to positive curiosity, and we got back to following the group, finishing up the 2-mile hike, and even enjoying another relaxed hour with a classmate and his mom, picking blackberries, hunting bugs, hiding under trees.... Thanks Polypore!

Parenting is a practice. We'll never get it done, it's constantly unfolding. We're constantly growing, understanding ourselves and our children in new ways.

In our culture, worrying about our children is part of being a "good parent." I'm learning that this is a flawed premise. We try so hard to help them that it just leads to overprotective, paranoid parenting. When we can't figure out how to help them, we feel powerless or angry that they are not cooperating or behaving the way we want them to behave. It's actually better for me, and therefore, better for my children when I remain centered, stable, happy, even when they are way off balance.

The day with Nature Explorers provided a perfect example. So many factors collided for Joran during those two hours. Joran wanted to play with a couple of the boys, but did not know how to join in or feel confident in following my suggestions. Once we started on the trail, Joran seemed aloof, wanting to do his own thing, not gather near the instructor with the other children. We found a cool bug, and while Joran was looking at it, another child grabbed it to show the instructor. Joran felt so angry about this and started talking about revenge. He doesn't normally take this out on other child, but instead turns to me with complaints and acting on his frustrations.

So, one thing piled up on him after another. Another student got a lot of attention for finding a frog. Everyone gathered around to hold the frog, but Joran tends to back off when there's a crowd. He wanted to see and hold the frog but didn't feel comfortable squeezing in or waiting until the commotion died down. He liked the idea of looking for another frog, but wasn't willing to initiate a search. He became obsessed with the idea of finding a frog, but more focused on the fact that he didn't have one, he was not willing to search on his own or stick close to me to catch one if I saw one. As the group continued through the forest, Joran escalated to screaming, shouting, starting to push and pull me, but I would not participate with this. He redirected to stomping, kicking and pulling on rocks, dirt, decaying wood and plants.

Through all of this, I focused on staying connected to well-being. I know Joran is also fun, curious, highly intelligent, loving and powerful. I held these beliefs in my mind as we kept moving along. I also reminded myself that I could choose happiness no matter what he was doing. Having fun in nature comes naturally, so I kept looking for frogs, enjoying the beautiful trees, feeling good about my own strength and agility, laughing about the adventure in it all. There I was, 7 months pregnant, toddler riding on my back, slipping in the muddy pools populated by frogs, and perfectly happy!

It feels good when I don't make my son responsible for my feeling of well-being. I'm also glad that my belief in myself as a good parent doesn't depend on his happiness. Most of the time, I have no idea what we look like to other people. So, another big part of my practice includes letting go of attachment to other people's opinions. In any case, I find that many times, what they think of us is yet another figment of my imagination.


Jolene =)