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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

America the Beautiful as sung by TJ

     In some inexplicable way, TJ manages to be front and center in every school program, as she was, again, at her kindergarten graduation: picking her nose, turning around, bending over, climbing on the risers, waving at me, and picking her nose.
     It was a wonderful little program with a USA theme and each of the 80 children had small parts to speak. TJ practiced her part diligently. When her time came to deliver her line, it was done with fervor and force. There remained no questions in anyone's mind that "The capital of the United States of America is George Washington, DC."
     With her delivery done, it was time for the group to stand and sing "America the Beautiful." This is TJ's version of that emotional and beautiful anthem:
               O beautiful for spaceship house, for angry gates of grapes,
               For purple mountains, majesty, above the fruit and rain.
               America, America God's spaceship is on me
               And idle blue with something new
               From sea to shining sea.

That's my girl!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Not Fair to TJ

     Anna leans her head against the backseat window, eyes closed, feigning sleep. TJ, restricted in her carseat, sings unmelodic songs of trees and bugs, Jesus and love, and frogs and friends. "Do you want to hear me sing that one again?" No one answers. "Does anyone want to hear me sing my song again?"
     "Sure TJ," I say,"That was a lovely song."
     Anna, moving only her lips, quietly responds, "No. You have been singing for the past 20 minutes. Just sit there and be quiet for a while." Now TJ is inspired to sing louder and longer and begins a new rambling song about how much she loves her family, all the pets, and animals, and the thousands of tadpoles in our fountain, and her favorite toys. Then it is quiet. She has become bored with her own singing . . . finally!
      . . . that is until Anna speaks and is clearly losing patience with her little sister. "TJ. Stop." Pause. "I told you to stop!" Pause. "CUT IT OUT!"
     "I did not! She wouldn't stop hitting me so I pushed her arm away."
     "She hurt my feelings," TJ sobs.
     I'd rather the girls work things out without my help, but if I don't intervene, Anna will knock her sister to the floor and duct tape her hands, feet, and mouth! Truthfully, her incessant singing is wearing on my patience and I would appreciate a little quiet, too. "TJ, keep your hands and feet to yourself. Your sister is trying to rest and you need to be thoughtful." Once again, there is quiet . . .
     Suddenly an unidentified mass whirls past my head, bounces off the passenger side seat, and rolls onto the floor mat. Some things I think, are best ignored. TJ begins using the front seat as a basketball hoop. Flying wads of crumpled math papers, gooey sucker sticks, peices of crayons and parts of Happy Meal toys fly past making bumpy landings in the seat next to me.
     I know TJ is ADHD so I try, with great difficulty, not to sound as irritated as I truly am. "Please stop, TJ. I am trying to drive and your throwing things is very distracting. It could cause me to have an accident." "OK, Momma."
     WHACK! An old Happy Meal box clunks me on the head. "TJ! STOP THROWING THINGS!"
     "I'm sorry Momma! It just slipped out of my hand! I didn't mean too." I am too upset to respond to that ridiculous statement.
     Finally we arrive at Kroger, the three of us pile out of the car and the lists of 'I want' and 'can I get' begin. "No. No. No. No to everything. I have a short list and we are sticking to it."
     TJ sprints ahead of Anna and me, ignores my command to look both ways, rushes the sliding doors to pick out the best cart for me to use. As she is attempting to climb into the cart, I remind her of what happened last time she came grocery shopping with me. . . she wanted in, wanted out, got stuck, I became angry, she cried, wanted back in, back out, cried because I wouldn't let her back out, etc. "Oh yea. I guess I will ride under the cart this time."
     She squeezes herself under the cart, contorting her lithe little body into a very uncomfortable position. All too soon, her cramped style is getting to her and there in aisle 2, pickles on one side and ketchup on the other, she rolls off the cart on the left, sending the cart careening to the right, into jars of relish. Very sternly I glare at TJ rolling on the tile floor and say between gritted teeth,"Walk along side of me. Do not go anywhere. Do not ask for anything. I am almost finished."
    Her walking shortly turns to skipping and soon she is running up and down the dairy aisle . . . in front of me, then behind me, then disappearing into bags of Doritos. "TJ! GET BACK HERE!"  A mother of three getting two gallons of milk, gives me a sympathetic smile. "It must be hard being her grandmother." "I don't know," I snip back, "I"m her mother." "Oh. I'm sorry." and mom of three disappears down the diaper aisle.
   TJ runs back to me, jumps onto the side of my moving cart, tipping the cart. I scream. TJ screams. Apples roll out of their bag and onto the floor. "CHRISTINA! SETTLE DOWN!" What am I thinking? Telling TJ to settle down is like telling a frog not to croak.
     Obediently, she walks next to me as we head for checkout. Together the three of us move toward the car. "Momma.I would really like to open the car." I hand her the keys. She pushes the button to unlock the car. She pushes the button to raise the trunk. Then the horn starts honking . . . and honking . . .  and honking. I take back the keys, quiet the horn, and begin loading groceries into the car. "Momma, I would really like to help you with the groceries." TJ hands me the bread and bananas and then buckles herself into her car seat.
     Finally we are on our way back home. Fortunately it will be bedtime when we get there and I can hide myself under the covers and not be found until tomorrow morning.
     The 30 minute ride home is fairly uneventful, but far from peaceful. TJ chatters the entire way home and is happy with my tired responses of  'u-huh' and 'that's nice.' At home, I pop the trunk, grab all my things out of the front seat, and make a bee line for the door. I breeze past Bob in the garage with a short remark. "It's your turn." Anna goes directly to her room and closes her door hoping for a little quiet and I sequester myself in my bedroom, pull the covers over my head, and breathe.
     Knock, knock, knock. I muffle a 'come in' but it doesn't matter because TJ comes bounding into my bed before I finish the invitation. She puts both arms around my neck, tells me how much she loves me, kisses my forehead, and bounds back out the door.
     I love TJ and I realize how often all of us seek shelter from her activity and incessant talking and singing. It is not fair to her that her ADHD interferes with her relationships with her family, friends and teachers. As with most ADHD children, she finds herself entertaining, but no one else does. She is boundlessly happy, probably from all those endorphins being released from her constant motion. She is eager to please so much so that she is underfoot all the time. I am left pondering: Why do I give her medicine for school but not at home? It is not fair to TJ that people and family want to run in the other direction when they see her coming.
What is fair and what is right? To medicate or not to medicate; that is the question.