Monsters in his Head

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I’m watching Martin’s weekly private swimming lesson from the viewing area of the local pool. A girl of about the same age as him is swimming widths nearby, accompanied by her teacher. There is nothing unusual about the girl, but her presence suddenly disrupts the sense of normal that I’ve gotten used to. Every time she answers her teacher out loud, her voice rings like a bell standing out from the background noises of the pool, and I stare at the source of the sound in sheer amazement. I’m so used to Martin’s silent ways that I forgot what is “normal,” and this girl seems to me nothing short of a miracle. Will I ever hear Martin’s voice like this too?

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My child is a perfectionist. Here’s how we find balance.

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“Please — draw me a Spinosaurus!”

I turn away from the kitchen counter and see a little person, my son, handing me a piece of paper and a pencil. I quickly wipe my hands off on my apron and take the paper and pencil. But then I remember what happened the last time, after a similar request, and try to cop out by telling the little guy that I don’t know how to draw dinosaurs.

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On the Edge of the Void

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Martin stands at the edge of a swimming pool, nervously shifting from one foot to the other, his whimpering becoming full blown crying the longer he stands there. I am waiting for him in the water, my arms invitingly outstretched, ready to help him in whenever he’s ready. I’m not pressuring him to go in, but the whole situation is: most of the other 4 year olds at this birthday party have been splashing happily in the water for a quite a while now, their happy babbling at stark contrast with his nervous wails. Some are already out of the water, getting ready to go upstairs to the birthday boy’s apartment for birthday cake and more fun. Continue reading

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The Physical vs. Cognitive Stage of Motherhood

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“Mom! You’re not listening!!!” My six-year-old pulls at my sleeve in frustration. He is right. I tuned out mid sentence, when he was telling me something about his new favourite dinosaur. It’s not that I’m not interested, I really am, but we’ve spent the last several hours together, and I just need some personal space. Some personal space to think. Now that he is bigger, I require more frequent breaks from him than I did when he was a baby (or than I do from his baby sister now). Not only that, but the typical challenges of parenting a six year old—setting boundaries, discipline, and so on—are much more of a struggle for me than any of the physical responsibilities tied to parenting an infant.

Read the rest of this piece at Brain, Child

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Life with a 2.5 month old: Baby Grins

You know that magical moment when your baby suddenly lets go of the boob to which she has been almost permanently attached since the moment of her birth, looks at you for a second and suddenly breaks into her first toothless baby grin? You jump up with excitement, elated that the baby has finally recognised your existence. But then, the said baby emits a series of distinctive pooping sounds, which crudely bring you back to reality, making you realise that her smile probably wasn’t directed at you but at her pooping efforts, and actually wasn’t a smile at all but a random pooping grimace. The same scenario plays out day after day, taking its toll on your confidence, and making you question more and more your importance in this little pooping person’s life.

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Koopa’s words disappeared

Here is a book I’d recommend wholeheartedly to any parent of a child with Selective Mutism, or any other kind of anxiety-related disorder. The book, written an illustrated by Elaneh Bos, is called “Leo’s Words Disappeared”, and is about a little boy who starts school and discovers that he can’t say a single word there.

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7 Habits of Highly Perfectionist Children

1. Always make sure your bingo cards are perfectly aligned with each other AND with the hardwood pattern on the floor, or whatever surface they are lying on.

2. Every time upon leaving the house, inquire how much time you have left to be outside before you get a sun stroke. Repeat the same question at approximately 2.5 minute intervals. Keep asking until you realize that your mother’s anger is a more imminent danger than any possible damage from the sun.

3. Demand bottled water when brushing your teeth.

4. At a breakfast buffet, don’t forget to inquire which dish has the largest protein content (in strict adherence with your plan to grow 5 cm in two months so you can easily stand on your feet at the shallow end of a grown up pool.)

5. Arrange the toiletries in the bathroom by colour, size, and designated user. Patiently rearrange it every time any of the irresponsible designated users dares to disrupt the established pattern.

6. When signing your name, make sure that all the letters are the same height, width and angle (but don’t worry about the direction they are written in). Scratch and start all over again, as many times as needed, ignoring comments by puzzled non-perfectionists whose untrained eye cannot discern the crucial difference in size between 6 and 6.1 millimetres.

7. When going to a zoo, take with you a carefully prepared and pre-approved plan of the trip, listing the animals in the order they have to be seen. Refuse to deviate from this plan under any circumstances, even if that means that the viewing of a lion at one end of the zoo must be followed by visiting the bear in the other end, skipping tens of of unplanned animals on the way. “Mama, DON’T LOOK AT THAT CHIMPANZEE! We have a bear next on the list!”

P.S. Sadly, it is not always as amusing as it sounds. But that’s what we’ve got. Koopa 🙂

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