I Want to Meet David Harewood!!

Now, I lived in Britain for about a year or so but had never heard of this British actor till this year. And he’s been acting for a VERY long time. Granted I had already stopped watching fiction, so we only watched shows with the presenters making small homes (The Uk has many of those!) look fab, or they’d go into people’s attics and find collector’s items that the owners didn’t know were worth a lot! It was cool. It was different! ANYWAY…

I recommended his book in one of my South African adoption groups. There was a time years ago when we were ferocious about educating each other about how Black children being raised by White IGNORANT parents is a recipe for disaster. A White mom regularly posted about micro-aggressions, about how race was inextricably tied with poverty and low status jobs… We were friends for a while because of her blog, in which her little one, while they drove home one day, commented on the fact that when she’d become an adult, she wouldn’t have a car.

Why not?

Because all the people that she saw in their neighborhood who looked like her..all the Black women in the neighborhood were domestic workers aka maids. They were always on foot, off to catch public transport. This White mom had never realized this in this way… And how sad. “I’m Brown. All the Brown adults I see walk. So, when I leave home, I too will walk.”

That drove my friend to actively seek out Black friends of all statuses. She wanted her girl to know that her race did NOT define her future. Or rather, her race did not determine and limit her future (as much as she thought it did.)

She disappeared. She always knew it was the job of White people to educate White so as to limit the way the inevitable pushback and white tears caused by white fragility would further hurt us Blacks. But the pushback was too much. Black adoptees were silenced for spending their lives experiences. It’s uncomfortable for many adoptive parents to ever think that in their “doing good,” they are also ALSO “doing harm” in how they did their good. Ignoring that your child is Black in a world where Black is inferior, lazy, criminal (especially when male) tells your child you don’t see them, you only see your version of the child you’d thought you’d give birth to but couldn’t. The Black adoptee becomes a replacement of the White biological child.

Impossible. And the Black child loses because the world doesn’t see what the parents ‘see.‘

Very uncomfortable truth. So, the anger got rid of the vocal adoptees and it’s now full of happy family photos (Extremely jarring to me especially given my friend who committed suicide so I rarely enter) and full of newbie questions about getting new birth certificates.

That’s not enough. Not for innocent children.

So, after I read Harewood’s book yesterday, I had to post about it. See, I, too was the assimilated little girl. I, too, didn’t realise I actually didn’t ‘belong’ until someone rudely and harshly made it clear me that not only did I not belong, but I was stupid for thinking that the privileges those I was assimilated to, could ever be mine. I was not as good as they were. Not as deserving. And my parents were Black! Imagine how much more jarring it is when you’re even MORE ‘White’ than I thought I was.

It’s horrendous. I can’t describe it as wonderfully as Harewood does, so I won’t.

But I will say that it has not improved, the situation has not changed. Which is why I shared this British man’s experience in our South African frouo. My husband can be jogging with others also jogging. Only HE will be followed and chased by private security vehicles or the police.

I warned those parents that that’s their teen son, their future adult son. They need to find the book and help their child, support before they child falls down the rabbit hole of shock and betrayal, before they too lose their mind and have to regain it like Harewood had to.

He made me cry. Where do you belong when you’re also not Black enough according to some Blacks?

In the same way he carved his own identity, so did I. And of course, I know now. I am Black. (Yes, some teachers did remind me, but it was about my hair. I didn’t realise I was not only cursed with the wrong hair, but with the wrong skin too.)

He met a lot of people on the street after his BBC documentary on his time with psychosis and being institutionalized. People of all races, people who wept with him as they thanked him for sharing his experience.

And that is why I want to meet David Harewood, to thank him for sharing his experience. It took me two weeks to open the book. I didn’t want to know. I’m Black! I already know any book about Blackness will hurt! But it kept calling me and I answered.

I have a friend from church who also was institutionalized after she went through her own psychosis. I remember being terrified that she’d not come back to herself. Harewood mentions his hospital records talking about him being incontinent. She too was. It was scary! For someone so in control of herself to talk nonsense and not even control her bladder with no physiological cause behind it… Would this be this young mother’s life forever? But she came back.

He taught me a lot about psychosis.

But he also strengthened me, and that’s why I want to thank thank him. I’ll never have the wife audience he has and had. I’m thankful that he spoke for me. I’m thankful that he made my voice heard. I’m thankful for the tears I wept, and for the beauty in the book too. Hey, he even came tk act here in our country and was driven around by an Afrikaner.

Read the book if you haven’t. You’ll see me in it. You’ll see your hurting friend in it. Or the friends who helped you up when you were down and you didn’t realise how down they too had gone in their effort to pick YOU up.

Perhaps you’ll see yourself in it.

Whoever you see, I hope you treat them with greater empathy after reading this book.

Thank you, Mr Harewood.

I’m CRAZY!!!! And a servant.❤️

So, we’ve started preparing for official IGCSE exams, right? And I lamented on here that my poor teens are struggling with Maths. Well, I think I did… My meds are making me loopy and dizzy

I started looking for a Maths tutor for them. One said he’s out the country. Now, it then coincided with my going into hospital, so I downloaded a Cambridge past Maths exam (Paper 1 of two) and added it to their work as something to do that won’t require me to teach them. I told them I knew they had not had time to revise, I mean, they aren’t even done with the syllabus yet! But I felt at least they’d have an idea of what an official exam is like and we can get more ideas (besides the chapters I’ve written down) of where their weak points are.

The very day I got home from the clinic, in excruciating pain though the local anesthetic that had been injected directly into my muscles hadn’t worn off yet, I stood bent over as required, and marked their exams. (Told you I was crazy!) I followed the mark scheme perfectly. Giving marks, not giving marks, checking for working out etc. And you know what my children who I’ve been saying will need tutors got?

My girl who DESPISES Maths got 70%. My son, my son got 81%.

Tutor for what!?? Not YET!

I’ve ALWAYS held high standards. We didn’t ‘move onto a new grade’ unless their year end mark was 60% but I still had no clue they weren’t that bad. I will see how Paper 2 goes after they revise, and will do three more official exams of paper one and two, THEN I will see. But wow guys, none of us in this household thought they’d get such high marks! We were all thinking we’d definitely need a tutor. It was just a matter of fitting them into our schedule! I’m quite pleased. Let’s see what happens in the future. I’m released from stressing about a tutor when I can’t drive them to one right now! And my daughter is doing HER Maths exams next year, so maybe I’ll be able to help her if she still struggles. Hmmm!! Again. Tutor for what!? (For now!)

Serving.

I have an old friend who constantly complains that parenting her children is work. It’s not a matter of fact, blasé, “Hey, you know how it is,” type conversation. It’s constant complaints about how tiring it is etc. I think to myself, “Girl, you don’t even have half the number I have! And yours are neurotypical! Be thankful! I hear you, I know it’s hard, but it’s not ALL hard! It’s like her children being her no joy at all!”

When I was thinking of how I’ll be recuperating during this surgery, I thought back to all the months I’ve spent NOT being a mom and that’s when I realised that my complaining spirit has gone. It left when I realised how much of a blessing it is to be able to serve. When I’m laid up in bed and can’t soothe my crying child, I end up needing soothing myself! When I know they need help making supper and I can’t do it, it hurts! I want to serve. It’s a privilege. If I complain, it’s because my body doesn’t let me serve as much as I’d like to. Or it’s because I can’t be mom to every body at exactly the same time. Or a new troubling symptom has come up.

But the act of parenting itself?

I count it joy, as Paul says. I can’t relate to that young mother who can’t handle her life and everything falls apart if she has period pain but is otherwise healthy. I can’t imagine only having one child who has challenges. I just can’t! But it’s ok! Her mountains are high -for her. But my mountains are higher so I can’t relate when she wants to act like the ONLY mountains that exist are HERS. I can’t find it in myself to have that victim mentality that says that the world is against her. I have other friends who suffer worse when it’s that time of the month and you’d barely know it. They are too busy being realistic about their lives-balancing the good and the bad, and caring about the lives of others. Maybe the other friend is depressed. But she doesn’t believe in therapy nor meds so my hands are tied.

I enjoy the chore of parenting. Each crumb I wipe away, each bottle I wipe, I do it out of love. Each wrinkled sheet I straighten, I do it so my babies can sleep comfortably. Each plate I wash, I wash so my teens have more time for school work.

But now I can’t do that. I can’t do our laundry for eight. I can’t sort it, can’t put it in the washer -when we have power! (We’re on stage four power cuts.) I can’t hang it. I can’t wash up. I can’t even put new sheets on my babies’s sheet-less beds. I can’t make their meals. I can’t chop. Blend. Mix.

My twins aren’t sure of me. If you were two years old, would YOU be sure of a bent over, slow walking mom in pyjamas who has a yucky drains with red liquid hanging from her?

I feel useless. Instead, I need to ask them to put my slippers on my feet. I have to ask them to pull my pants up when they slide off as I get onto the recliner. I have to ask them to put pillows under my legs so I’m lying bent over. I ask them for water, for medication… I feel terrible.

Now instead of serving them, I ask them to serve me.

When I slowly, painfully made my way into the scullery and saw how untidy it was, I loudly lamented, “I’m so sorry I can’t serve you guys!”

My dear teenagers quickly responded with, “But you’ve served us all your life!! Don’t WORRY!” They melted my heart.

This is the one thing I’ve been fighting. Being made to feel useless. Or as my mother told someone, being a “waste.” If my children can tell me that my life has been a life of servanthood, then obviously I’m not “lazy” as an in law proclaimed. I work. I serve. I serve out of love.

While in the hospital this time, a nurse who had helped me (after the third surgery for the same problem in February) asked me again why I had six children. Then later told me, after walking me to the bathroom, that the meds would make feel the way I feel after drinking.

Except I’ve never even had a drop of alcohol.

She, who has, stopped. And with shock and awe exclaimed, “Thandi! You are SO good! You don’t drink! You have adopted! You live your own life! Your parents must be so proud of you!”

That’s when I decided I’d never again beg for something I should have had as a child. I was obedient. I didn’t even tell them when I was SICK! I loved church! Instead, I was mocked for reading my Bible!

I’m not the sick one! My mother is!

I’m free!

This hospital stay has freed me. I owe them nothing more than I’m already giving. The surgeon’s assistant told me after surgery that the people in theatre said, “She is so beautiful, and she has such a beautiful spirit.”

That’s all I need in order to be loved! To be me! To have the spirit I have! I don’t need to GIVE. I don’t need a ‘high status job.’ I should be loved and accepted for being me. My family should look at me and say, “Wow, this one has not disappointed us. She has not stolen from us. She has not landed up in jail like others in the family have. She has not forsaken the godly principles we claim to uphold. She is not a moocher, constantly borrowing from us. She is not only loved because she is ours, but we are also proud of her for what she has done.”

I am free.

I’m not the problem. I’ve never been the problem. I need to let go of the guilt of not being good enough and accept the gift of being loved. My friends love me. Strangers think I’m special. I’m not useless and drifting through life. I add something to others’ lives. I add something to my children’s lives!

And that’s enough for me!

God loves me. Loved me as a sinner. Loves me now as a forgiven sinner. My loyalty, my thoughts and my life’s aims are bound with His aims and thoughts for me.

And that’s EVERYTHING to me, for I know the thoughts He has for me. Thoughts to prosper me. ❤️

(Just marked another set of papers without revision. My girl only got a C this time. My boy got another A. Hmmm! He might indeed even be ready for this year. He was originally only going to write Physics and English this year!)

I’m OUT! (Gory Photos)

Oh.my.word!!

I feared mesh but I didn’t know how bad it would be! This things is SO SORE!!

And at the back of my mind is, “Will it be worth it?”

Here, the surgeon first sewed up each side of my muscle to make it narrower. Again. Second time having done that!

Then here I am with the mesh attached. It’s all over that torso. hey!!?

I’m taking their pain meds religiously but just not getting the same kind of relief I got last time.

And being mommy, guess who got home and stood there marking Physics exam papers? But hey, I was killing two birds with one stone. I need to be mobile to prevent blood clots and besides the pressure socks they gave me, that’s all I have to rely on. Last time they’d given me Clexane injections to administer to myself to help prevent clots. So I’m kinda feeling paranoid. One lady in our group got a clot and two years later she’s still trying to treat it. And I know that’s the better one. It can kill too.

I don’t want to bore strangers with the minutiae involved in trying to recover. Suffice to say, recovering alone where your children are absent is better than coming straight home. (One lady said she had considered going to a B n B for a few days first. I told her to do it! I did it the third time and it helped more. There’s an emotional toll involved in not doing what you should be doing. As my husband said on Saturday, “Hmm, there’s no way I’ll remember to do all the things you do.” There’s an emotional price to pay hearing your child cry and you can’t help.

Anyway! Long story short. I’m home. I survived. I’m scared. Please let this work

Where’s the Post Office Guy?

First time getting pre-op results so quickly. Came in 11 hours. TIRED of dem nasal swabs though! Let this be IT!😩

Some years ago, way before the twins were even conceived, we visited the post office to go collect a parcel of clothing. There was a new White worker there, maybe in his late twenties or early thirties. He was extremely HAPPY. He immediately reminded me of my son because of his inability to control his volume while having an interesting way of speaking-his tone was… I assumed he was autistic.

I loved him! I’ve always had a special place in my heart for adults others might not ‘get.’ And get him, you might not! 😅He stated extremely loudly like he’s announcing he winner at an auction, “You must pay two thousand and ninety six rand. That’s two zero nine six!” It was CRAZY! Everybody was looking at us, we were shy because that’s a LARGE amount of money and besides his volume, that amount definitely drew their attention.., But it was FUNNY! Then when he scrawled illegibly on the form, for me it was confirmed that he was definitely special! He was there again another time, then we never saw him again.

That still makes me sad today. Though I know that’s silly. Maybe they DIDN’T fire him like I assume. Maybe he quit. I hope so. And if he was fired, I hope they had done everything they could to help him with whatever his weakness was. Or tried to get around it. I hope they did all they could for him.

This to introduce my sweet son’s progress. I wish I had his past colouring in pages. He would just scribble across everything in one colour. Just scribble fast, filling the entire page with only one colour… Now, considering he didn’t like to color in at all in the beginning, I was talking it slow. “At least he’s doing it! His weak muscles are getting in some much needed work, I’ll wait to teach him about not coloring in the entire page.” Till last week. Last week all his dad had to do was to praise his sister for staying in the lines and being careful, and yesterday..yesterday he used many different colors, stayed in the lines, he did so well that we assumed it was his sister’s work!😂(I print Bible story or nature lesson related pages for them to colour in during nap time so we adults aren’t there.) It’s only when our teen daughter, Eliora came with great glee, to show us that we found out it was his art! We were so impressed with him!

Friday, I’d already been impressed with him. He “can’t” write (yet.) Tried teaching him just to write M for his name Micaiah and he couldn’t. He always gets sad about his inability to writen. It was a combination of knowing how to form letters, and then moving his hand correctly… He knows the letters, but… So I am doing pre-school pre-writing tracing work with him to make him feel accomplished and start building the skills from scratch. (He’s doing well! Staying on the dots.)

So there he was Friday, watching me go through a spelling lesson with his sister. I decided to just test him. Just for ‘fun’ really. But he did it! He may not be able to WRITE it, but he can certainly form the words! He just needed the right tools for his needs!

Even his seven year old sister, Amarissa, was blown away! She had no clue what his little brain was hiding. This is a little boy who tells us, “Before, I’m going outside.” But has no clue why he’s using the word ‘before’ and cannot understand when we try tell him what it means. YOU try define the word to a child with global developmental delay and other issues. So it’s weird or shocking when his brain does work in an unexpected way that makes sense! I’ll definitely be using his typing skills and improving on them!

Then there’s my youngest angel! Firstly, I love being a mother. I love watching little ones develop and grow and learn new skills. Let’s talk about Twin A first, actually. Oreneile. (That’s a name referring to how God ‘gave’ her to us.) She’s sassy and confident and knows what she wants.

And we are apparently her loyal subjects.

She’ll tell us, “Mommy’s going to get me milk.” I am!?? Then when I bring it, she sweetly says thank you, and a very hurried but smiley, “Bye mommy” to chase me out while she chats with her big sister! The rudeness! Or I’ll sit with her on my lap, and read to her and as soon as her big sister enters the room, she suddenly closes the book, “All done! Bye book. Thank you, Mommy’” while jumping off my lap with a quickness! So… There I was, thinking we were bonding while she was just biding her time waiting for her sister! I love it! I need that. It’s important for her to not ‘need’ me given in going to be out of commission yet again post surgery this Tuesday.

Yes, I’m scared! It’s one thing being told by two surgeons , “You have no abdominal muscles. It’s lax, stretched, soft tissue…” and another to actually fix it! I asked the surgeon what he plans to do. “I’m going to fold your muscles in, then sew a large sheet of mesh onto them. You’ll be very uncomfortable…”

She’s playful, polite, gives us new full sentences every day and fills our lives with joy.

Last week, I took the children for a drive.

Twin B, Oreratile, was a hoot. (Oreratile refers to how God had ‘loved us.’) Usually she complains after a while, or sings loudly. But when we drove past Bayside mall and she saw the word Checkers (it’s one of the big supermarket chains in South Africa) she shouted, “a,b, c, d, e, f, g!” It was so sudden! We loved it!

Yesterday was even sweeter! Their dad drove them, and when she saw Checkers, she shouted “C!” (My girl is LOUD! Yes, I know that’s typical of lots of autistic angels!😊) When she Fisherman’s Lane, “F!” When she saw McDonald’s, she yelled, “M!” And not only that, she yelled out numbers she saw on car license plates! I’ve never heard her say numbers out of the blue. She does say the letters on our hoodies.

The children came back (Usually on Saturdays their dad takes them for a drive so I get a ‘break’ from being mommy) extremely excited! And their dad too! Everyone was so impressed with her!

I love these moments. I need these moments of grace. Things are not great. My body is in a war. I even temporarily lost my mind yesterday. Husband came into the room and I’d thrown off all my clothes and was almost crying. I felt wrong in my skin and my clothes felt like they were restricting me. My waistbands really irritate my incision that runs from the side of my torso, round to the front and all the way to the other side. It’s so SENSITIVE, sore as the day goes on, and clothes feel so painfully tight on it. Now when it’s cold and I’m wearing layers… Terrified of how that will feel when it’s been cut open and pulled apart for a FOURTH time! 😭 My jaw is still sore to the touch WEEKS after that first root canal for the third infection.

My teen girl, Eliora, might have juvenile arthritis like I had. (Waiting on blood results.) She’s been dealing with stiffness for a few years now and it’s been getting worse each winter. Last year, I started worrying. This year, she got worried when she couldn’t bend her fingers to hold her pen to do school. She isn’t in bad pain. Only feels it wish she bends her fingers or puts pressure on them like when opening a cupboard door. I seriously hope it’s not arthritis. The pain… The pain is horrendous. Mine stayed around after also getting progressively worse till I could not walk, hobbling in terrible foot and toe pain at school, friends telling me I “walk like a granny.” and it became adult arthritis. I don’t wish that for her. GP didn’t have any other possible diagnosis. Maybe when the tests are negative and we don’t need to see a rheumatologist, she will! (A mom can hope!)

See?

Told you we need all the progress and laughter we can get.

Highs and lows of parenting while sick. I’ll take the highs a bit more cheerfully than the lows.😅

Adoption Tears

I never knew this could ever happen. I truly didn’t. What triggered this post was a (Black) friend who’s adopting as a single mom through foster care. She met a little boy while volunteering at a children’s home and immediately knew that that would be her son. Except nobody knew if he was even adoptable. (They decide based on history. Was the child found abandoned? Or was the child handed to foster care and has family visiting?) We were told that even if it’s some random uncle who only comes once in two years, if he refuses to allow the child to be adopted, then the child languishes in care till age 18. Then they’re out on their own.

She went from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, seeking the social worker who was originally in charge of his case… Nowhere to be found! After months, her telling them she wants the little boy, they eventually assigned a social worker to liaise with the children’s home and the place where he was going. She’s taken him home now that a social worker has been assigned, has sent him to school, but he didn’t even have a birth certificate. So, yesterday she received it. His ‘first’ one. The one BEFORE he’s actually adopted and is known as her son! It was jarring. She’s named him but because it’s his ‘original’ or ‘first’ one next to mother and father, it’s blank. No mother. No father. ‘Ever.’

That broke my heart. And then there was the endorsement at the bottom. It says “informant” and the ID number. When we asked our social worker why our child’s birth certificate had an endorsement, she said it’s because a social worker (typed in as ‘Informant’) is the one who registered the baby and so because it’s not normal, they have an endorsement. It jars.

Our children deserve parents. They don’t deserve some endorsement that shows they weren’t registered by their mothers. So that too, broke my heart. Then I thought of my OTHER child’s endorsement.

OUCH!😭

We’ve kept these old birth certificates. As ugly and sad as they are, they are our children’s history.

And as I wept over this boy who is so loved by my friend that she’d fight this hard and so long only to still be at step one of the process, I thought, “What is so dark and evil in people that they would want innocent children to remain like this? Known as ‘abandoned.’ No parents. Waiting in a children’s home for parents who will never come?

As stated before, I’ve recently become estranged from an aunt because of her and my mother’s stance against adoption. I haven’t visited my mother since my aunt made it clear they were together in this. (Husband has gone once to drip off grocery, bedding and electricity.) Not sure how to handle it. I knew, but I didn’t know how bad and deep and strong the hatred of my children was. I told my mother-in-law two years ago that seeing as she wanted to act like my adoptees were nonexistent, that I too would be. So, I know how to make it clear that my children are my life and to hate them is to hate ME, their mother. But as to how to bring it up…

I asked in adoption group if anyone else had had this kind of experience. One Indian lady responded but didn’t say what excuse was given. A White mom said that for her, it was the fact that it was a Black baby that they were adopting that made her husband’s family anti adoption. It became so bad that her husband who had adopted with her (obviously), then told her either the baby must go, or he would.

She kept the baby, and husband is now an ex. Loser! And well done to her! Sad, though.

But racism…That’s always existed. I have always known we were viewed as inferior. I didn’t know that babies in general were.

A Black mom who also had biological children before adopting also responded. She has no living parents and was very close to her maternal aunt. Extremely close. Until she told her they were going to adopt. The reason the aunt gave was that she was going to bring bad genes (Ie. Bad behavior, potentially criminal) into the family. Umm, what about all the unsavory family members her family (and many I know) have? The blood is tainted anyway! And who is to assume this poor baby would be ‘messed up’ anyway?

Her aunt who claimed to be Christian but refused to see how adoption is God’s heart, eventually also withdrew her love from her. And that’s what hurts. Why is love conditional? And why is it only conditional against those who adopt? Why not against the thieves and alcoholics who are working but don’t contribute a dime while living with their aged parents, stealing their money instead?

Why are we adoptive parents doing what we all know is RIGHT, hated for doing so?

Why do they hate innocent children?

Those children deserve the world. And by hook or by crook, we will give it to them, whether our relatives want us to or not.

For us, love makes family, not shared genes.

Those innocent children come first.

I hope things change one day. I’ve told you that in general, Blacks are anti adoption. Yet the majority of abandoned children are Black.

Doomed by hateful uncultured ‘culture.’

Things have got to change. Here’s to all the women who have bucked the elders and followed their hearts. Here’s to dealing with years of heartache and pain. Here’s to raising children who will become wonderful, loving adults.

Happy Tears

Love how she’s chosen to relax❤️

Our girl never responds when we greet her. Ever. She has never said hello or bye..

Till this morning.

As I came in from taking a walk, she was with her siblings about to leave, standing by at the door. Her unfinished Sabbath treat in her bowl on their table.

She saw me and said, “Hi mommy! Hi mommy!”

I literally couldn’t believe my ears! Now I’m crying even more when I think of the post I wrote recently about her having said, “Hello, mommy,” only to awake and realise with heartache that it was just a dream! I couldn’t believe my ears! As I knelt down to make myself her height, and give her a hug, I asked my other children if I’d heard right. What if I was celebrating and it was all in my head?

She not only said it, she took my hand, led me to her chair and sat down. She babbled something none of us understood while playing with my hands. Just putting her hands over mine, smiling at me, enfolding my hand in hers… It was precious! What a Sabbath blessing!

My two and eight month old greeted me for the first time ever!

My heart is full!

Granted, she doesn’t use words consistently. It’s been months since she said mommy. And she hasn’t said her other random words she uses when NOT watching her baby videos, so I won’t expect it tomorrow, later today or next week. I’ll just keep talking and signing and loving. And will cry happy tears the next time she surprises us😊

The Moth

It’s so easy to be overcome by the sheer loneliness. I don’t have colleagues with whom I can gripe about the insane workload. I don’t have a friend in my shoes. It’s easy to be overcome the daily, hourly struggles, the hard moments.

But it’s also easy to have some good days. Or, to have a day in which you’re not wanting to bury your head under the covers and just cry.

Today was one of those days. Actually, it started yesterday when my Twin B (autistic two year old, Oreratile) saw me. She’d been pulling the blinds with her siblings in the room. (They’re already broken so they weren’t going anywhere.) and caught sight of me headed to the kitchen.

Her eyes opened up wide. She SMILED… And RAN to me and took my hand.

I can’t describe the sheer joy of that moment. So much for the neurologist saying she doesn’t care if we are there or not. She certainly does. She just doesn’t show it. Usually.

The other good thing is that we all have allergies. Except for tonight, it’s meant our girl has slept so much better! Ok, let me explain! Firstly, I have asthma. Always have. But when I went to see a dermatologist for a few things, one of which was my constantly chapped lips that my fellow Blacks like to comment negatively on, she asked, “Do you have asthma, any allergies…” I told her I did. She suggested that I have eczema on my lips.

That never crossed my mind! I didn’t know it could be a thing. So I’ve been treating it with a steroid cream twice a day (when I remember to), baby bum cream at night (when I remember to. I KNOW! I’m bad. My husband always gets on me in general, for caring more about the children than myself. But, there’s only one of me and six of them. And they are in my face all the time! Whereas my face is not! It IS my face! So I forget.) And I think it’s working. Can’t tell. Looks the same but FEELS better. It was prickly. Didn’t bother HIM, but when strangers are commenting… I told the dermatologist that I’ve been grateful for masks because I’m free of that.

But, because of that appointment, I thought of something else. Twin B is allergic to grass. (And some other not usually bad baby creams and hair stuff.) She was given Allercet syrup to take twice a day when she has a flare up. (Plus a mix of a bit of steroid cream and Epimax) But she also has a terribly runny and stuffy nose every single morning. Without fail. And at night when she can’t sleep for four hours or more, we always find her with a stuffy nose. She can’t breathe. I took to putting Karvol drops on her bed every night together with lavender. Till it dawned on me. What if, like her big sister, she has allergic rhinitis? She can’t tell us if she’s got sinus issues or pain.. So, I started giving her Allercet syrup daily. And for the last two weeks, she has NEVER woken up extremely blocked up and runny in the morning. I’d use nasal spray but how many toddlers are fans of salt water being out in their noses? Nor has she stayed up for four hours or more. I’m still keeping the lavender going because she IS still our worse sleeper and it’s not harmful. But, I seriously think I’ve found the magic bullet for her and our sleep trials. Poor baby. Pity we didn’t know sooner.

Now, I keep waking up with a blocked nostril. I’ve always been a sneezer in the morning with a runny nose too. Only after I realised she’s been sleeping well, and the dermatologist told me I probably suffer from allergies, that it dawned on me that this isn’t normal! Nobody else I know spends their morning sniffing and sneezing. My husband sure doesn’t spend time in the night with a light headache and a blocked nose. (Sound familiar!?)

So I started taking Allergex twice a day like my daughter was told to. And a nasal spray (when I remember). And guess what! I too have not woken and been kept up by my nose. Nobody has complained about my incessant sniffing. Hey, when you’re washing dishes in the morning you don’t have time to be blowing your nose! Better sleep! I’m so slow.

And, my eldest girl! She had headaches for months! Also, she’s had skin issues around her eyes and on her eyelids. I suggested she use her brother’s eczema cream (Yes, you do see a pattern!) and it made a difference. Then she stopped, and continued with life as normal. Meanwhile, for the headaches, we watched her water intake, watched her iron tablets, she already sleeps at a decent hour and has no iPads or phones to keep her awake or her head at a bad angle. The headaches wouldn’t go. So off to the doctor we went. As I drove, I told her that my agenda included her skin, which had flared up. Her comment was, “It doesn’t bother me. My problem is only the headaches.” I didn’t want to make her feel ugly or like her looks are and issue so I didn’t tell her that it bothered ME. It’s not normal. Her poor face around her eyes and eyelids were scaly and discoloured. I also didn’t want people to think I’m some neglectful mom. So yeah, I definitely planned on bringing her skin up and asking if she needed steroid treatment or something.

Guess what, as soon as the doctor started examining her for the headaches my girl told her about, she looked at her face and said, “Hang on! What’s this on your face!? You look like you have eczema!” Woohoo! I didn’t even need to bring it up and make her feel self conscious or like I think she’s less than!

Doctor put the two together. Lifestyle was good. No cause for concern there. Eczema plus chronic headaches..? She asked if she has a blocked or stuffy nose. YES! (I didn’t know that. I guess she’s as bad as me at not thinking some things are noteworthy.) Doctor said to try nasal spray, an allergy tablet she’s give her to take twice a day and see what happens after two weeks. If allergic rhinitis was the cause, the headaches would not be cured, but they’d occur less often. If no response to treatment, back for more testing.

No need!

She improved! From daily headaches, to one every two weeks. And this has been her longest bout headache free. Three weeks and counting! Whew! She had really been suffering, every single day! As for the eczema. Only Epimax cream daily after the first steroid push. No more flare ups.

All good things.

Then a girlie fun thing was doing hair. The girls looked at me like I was crazy. Who puts a headband on, with hair out in front!?

I told them they did in the 70’s! My seven year old told me that she’d once put her headband on like that and her big sister told her nope! So I told them both, “It works for me! Leave her! They used to do hair like this in the olden days. It was CUTE!”

I thought it looked cool! Reminded me of those old Jane Fonda aerobics videos I used to use.

Was I wrong? You have seen hairstyles like this before, right?

She looks chuffed with her little Afro going on!

And finally, the last good thing was so silly! I get back from getting more meds for my girl, to a fight.

My six year old tells me, “Mommy, Ella and BK have been mean to me.” Now, according to the neurologist, a feeling of constantly being persecuted and mistreated is common in autism. I thought it was just Micaiah’s thing. Everybody is mean to him. If they tell him to pick up his clothes from the floor, he’s mean. If they tell him to put the clothes he pulled out, back in the wardrobe, he cries and screams as if somebody is pulling out his fingernails. So already, I was not going to believe him till I found out what was up.

As I get out the car, he tells me, “They wouldn’t let us operate on a moth! We wanted to operate! But Ella said we must put it in the sun to dry and let it fly away!”

Sounded fine to me…

So I went back in and sarcastically asked my eldest girl how she could have the nerve to tell them not to operate on the moth. Why she said they should leave it to fly away instead of letting them cut it open. With autistics not always getting tone and irony, this ‘interrogation’ fully appeased my boy, who thought I was reprimanding his big sister.

My seven year old comes in, and without a trace of irony says, “Well done, Mickey! I’m glad you told her! I don’t know why they wouldn’t let us operate on the moth!” I take it she too can’t tell irony.😉

Their sister’s, “But it was still alive” didn’t touch them at all.

And why should it? In all the true rescue or hospital shows I download, when have you ever seen a doctor operate on a DEAD body? Of COURSE they needed to operate on a LIVING moth! Duh!

The moth was saved. They were mollified because they didn’t catch the irony in my voice as I asked their sister, who could certainly tell I wasn’t REALLY interrogating her.

It’s all good.

Help!

Copied from my private Facebook post

Anyone have any ideas?

Anyone have any friends in the LSEN space?

Anyone know any active groups for overwhelmed homeschool mothers of children with special educational needs?

I took my Ammy and Mickey to an educational psychologist last year because of trouble I was having teaching them.

I felt there was MORE to it than pure ADHD, but the psychologist was super sure that (especially for Ammy. We already knew M has global developmental delay) she’d be fine once medicated. “Don’t worry about her! She’s FINE! She’ll be able to have any career she wants.”

She’s NOT fine though. An OT later scoffed at me when I told her I suspected visual processing disorder as we’d had her eyes tested by a developmental optometrist, till she happened to do a test that touched on it and realised I was right, and then assessed it for real (for free) and found..I was right.

That’s just to set background into how HARD it is for professionals to HEAR ME!

What kind of parent wants their child to be diagnosed with a diagnosis they don’t NEED!? I am with them 24/7, I live their struggle… I don’t WANT to.

Anyway, NUMBERS!!

My girl is turning eight in December and we’ve been counting for years.

She jumps from 20 to 99.

Or if I slowly coach her to 29, she jumps to 90.

Numbers are not sticking. And this is verbal. Visually, we are struggling there too, obviously.

Anyone know if there’s a label for this numeracy issue? Should I find a different psychologist to assess her?

Is it brain damage suffered in utero? And there’s no label, just a life of constant struggle? (Thankful to have her prenatal history from her birth mom.)

Reading is hard as she misses out the last part of words with prefixes . Like she’ll say jump instead of jumping. I’ll blame visual processing. But it limits ‘school’ time because I don’t want to reinforce her struggles, I don’t want her to feel like learning is about being corrected all the time.

And she WANTS to “do school.”

I’m going to order short word wholesome books for her to read (We follow Phil 4:8 which limits the kinds of books she can read from) from the States. And continue with downloading and printing visual processing worksheets and following the home programme set up by the OT.

But in the meantime, what is this NUMBERS PROBLEM!?😭 Is it also a MEMORY issue combo? Nobody with pure ADHD talks about it so… I don’t know!!

I need a name so I can find the next step. Just like I know the next step for the visual stuff…

HELP!

I was brave!

Man, those simulations of the autistic sensory experience that adult autistics have created have messed me up! I’m now super sensitive and aware of what’s out there. I always knew he was sensitive to or fearful of sound, touch, new places, but when you immerse yourself in their world and what it FEELS like, it’s different.

It breaks your heart.

Cue my intro into our first foray into the world as mom and son after having watched those videos. Thankfully, it was only to the dentist for a cleaning. But he didn’t want to go because his 7 year old sister told him that the flossing the dentist does is sore.

They didn’t floss him. Whew!

He spoke a LOT. And he made them laugh. Even when he was blatantly lying (they didn’t know it) or forgetful. Like when the dentist was going to take an x-ray and told him he’d see his skeleton. He asked, “Do skeletons come out at night? Are they scary?”

Then he told them, “I know about skeletons. Mom told me about them.”

Which is it? Scary things you’ve never seen which means they come out at night when you’re asleep? Or is it the pictures I’ve shown you of people’s skeletons?

He mentioned to the dentist as soon as he walked in, that he thought he’d be seeing a man. Ahhh, I was half embarrassed! All the dentists his siblings see are female, and so is my endodontist. But hey, he thought he’d be seeing a man. So we all apologised to him.😉 He asked the dentist, then the hygienist how old they are. Ahh, to be a child again!

There was a time when he had to keep the fluoride gel in his mouth for three minutes that cracked me up. About 30 seconds in, he put up one finger to signal that there was only one minute left. After one minute, he put up a zero! Had to break it to him that he still has two whole minutes to go. 😅

Then trucks went by. And his eyes went WIDE and he exclaimed with large eyes as he looked at them. He was trying to say, “Whoa!” It felt like an assault, now that I know a bit more of what sound feels like to someone who’s got auditory sensitivity like he has!

When they asked him if he’d go back every year for a cleaning, his response was. “Ummm…I don’t know… Maybe when I’m 41… Actually, when I’m 66!”

While we all laughed, he brought it down.

He will go back for a cleaning when he’s 11 years old. He’s six now. Though he told them he’s turning seven next year. (No! This year in September!🙂)

And after asking me to hold his hand as we left, he told me, “I’m going to get home and tell them I was brave.”

Yes, he was!

Homeschool Fears

EXAMS!!

My son slowed down in his primary years. Now that I know about his autistic traits, that could be why🤔Here we are, preparing for the first ever official exams and I’m terrified.

I have always had love for the ones who struggle. Even as a nine year old, I purposely befriended the one special needs girl in our class. When I had a piano recital during assembly, I asked her to play what my left hand would play so that she would feel accomplished in some way, ‘celebrated’ for a change. Years later, after befriending a refugee, My mother asked why I picked “the ones with problems” to be my friends.

Because if I don’t, who will? The refugee girl came late in our high school life. The rest of us had been together since what is now known as grade eight. This girl came in grade 11. She didn’t fit in. Her blazer was second hand and CLEARLY so. It even looked handsewn. (The second hand shop charged depending on how bad the item looked. This looked BAD. Was obviously what her breadwinner mother of four could afford.) She had bad body odour from walking long sister access to and from school. Everybody said she and another refugee stank. But by the end of the year, that had been sorted. But I had to drift away from a friend who told me, “It’s the three of us. WE are friends. Why are you inviting HER to sit with us? Why can’t she go sit in the library during break like she always does?”

Anyway, that’s not the point. The point is that I’ve always been drawn to the struggling, the friendless, the ones who need to try harder. Be it to get through school, or to get through life. And note it’s my turn. My children’s turn. And I’m scared!

They are the first I’ve ever educated. I mark their school work and except for Maths, they’re generally doing well. But will doing well translate into good exam results? I’m not sure for my son. Economics isn’t only about learning the jargon, it’s about applying the knowledge . And that’s where the struggle is. When he ‘applies,’ all the jargon, all the economic terms disappear from his mind. He answers like he’s answering an English paper. Instead of using phrases like supply and demand, he’ll say, “More people will want more of the items.” Things like that. Same problem with Business Studies and Geography. He also doesn’t answer Case Stidies well either.

Maths? No good. I’m getting both teens tutors for that once we’re done and I know all their problem concepts.

English? Oh boy. The neurologist (Who I’ve fired) mentioned an autistic teen who said he didn’t understand how he could “Describe a trip to the ocean” when he’d never been to one. She had to ask him if he’d ever read about the ocean, which he had. He then was told he could use his imagination plus what he’d read about, to describe a trip to one. Which made sense to him. But in an exam, I can’t tell my son to imagine things. To be verbose. His essays are pitifully short and he HATES writing.

I’m honestly scared.

I want them to thrive! But I am not their brain. Physics is going great. I’ll cling to that. He’s able to learn facts easily. It’s interpretation and Maths that are his bug bear. It is what it is. I’ll take it one day at a time. I’m doing MY best as teacher, using extra videos for them to learn through too.

I’m terrified. I hate that we don’t have support in the family, but detractors. We don’t have well wishers, but haters. I can’t go to them with concerns, they’ll blame homeschooling itself, or claim God is cursing us. (Hey, I did say a relative said God cursed us with twins because we adopted, right? So anything goes in their evil world.)

Here’s to exam prep. We’ve begun. Going through past English papers when I’m recovering from my surgery in two weeks’ time. And he has started revising Economics so we can go through past papers there too to see what gaps we have. And physics…He only has one chapter to go, and very few of Business Studies too.

We’re on the home stretch for international exam number one -IGCSE (aka the international O levels). Praying he does super incredibly. Not for only the sake of our detractors, but for both our sakes too. God help us!