Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Death Trap Water Park

As mentioned in the previous blog, me and Mr Snuggles spent the day at a local water park.  I shall henceforth refer to this water park as "Death Trap Water Park*!"

Entering the Death Trap Water Park
Oh sure, it looks nice and inviting...

Little do people know the dangers lurking!

Not because of the construction quality.  Despite the fact that every time I climbed the stairs to the water slides, there was at least one section I could feel bending and strainging under my girthly North American frame... this is not what earned it the label of Death Trap Water Park.

Huuuuuge wave pool!
It was not because of the entropy which had taken place over the years of operation.  True that at any given ride, only about 3 or 4 out of the 5 features would be working.  They ever so cleverly painted the whole structure in rust camoflague - so it was hard to tell where the painting ended, and the rust began.  But alas, this is not what earned it the label of Death Trap Water Park.

It was not the food from the "Rainforrest Restaurant", (althought probably should have earned it the title of Death Trap Water Park) which earned it the title...

The Rainforrest Restaurant in the background

Eating at the RainforrestRestaurant

It was the bottom of the water slides themselves.  The water slides did not empty with a drop into a 2 or 3 foot deep pool of water.  No no, these water slides simply ended in a trough... with oh, I donno, maybe 18 inches of water in it?  Maybe.  Probably more like 12 inches of water... about 1/2 my chin height.  My son could easily stand up and walk around in there while he climbed out.

You can see a run off trough in this photo - see how the water doesnt even reach the knees of the woman walking?
But I don't know how many fully grown 40 year old men I saw almost DIE in there!

Adult male after adult male came barrelling down the water slide, only to hit this trough of water at the bottom... and start to drown.

Legs would go flying straight up in the air.

The arms would be flailing around frantically.

The poor disinterested life gruards would have to jump down from their high liftguarding seats while someone in the back ground started the Baywatch theme song on the loud speakers!  The life guard would sprint in slow motion to save the struggling swimmer from the mighty undertowes of the water slide...

The life guards would have to reach down into the 12 inches of water and somehow manage to pry these flailing men out of the water.

I'm not kidding, it was *really* shallow...

In one case, the guy was thrashing around so hard that he kept knocking the life guard off, and it took him 2 or 3 tries to succesfully get this guy out of the water.   When the father came out of the water, he was coughing up water and staggering around, rather dissorientated.  I am pretty convinced had the life guard not interviened, that that man would have actually drowned...

... in 12 inches of water...

... on a kiddie slide.

The kiddie zone where the adults were almost drowning

These were not even the big adult slides!  Those were safely tucked away at the far side of the park, where most people could not find them.

Had these kiddie slides actually dropped these poor men into 2 or 3 feet of water, the mortality rate would have been through the roof!

I know it's not funny... but I could not help but laugh as I watch these horrifically out of shape 40 year olds struggle life and death to make it out of 12 inches of water... thier feet sticking straight up in the air... and never one did it occur to them, "maybe if I lower my legs, I could just sit up?".  Just calm down... lower the legs a little... sit up, and take a breath.

Instead, they were trying to contourt themselves into some masochistic V shape as they try in vein to raise thier upper torse straight out of the water, while mainting thier impressive leg extenstions straight upwards as well.

It should be a simple manouver... I mean, most kids could make it out unscathed...  any child who has played a little rough and tumbly would understand this.  I guess maybe these adults have never played before.

But, before I laugh too hard at these men who looked death in the eyes and narrowly survived... I should take a look at my own life, and make sure I'm not stuck in 12 inches of water somewhere with my legs straigth up in the air drowning.  Cuz, that would suck... and be so embarrasing.

In my previous blog, someone left a comment with some good advice, who went by the alias "D".  So I'm guessing it is either my "D"ad, or my old Wrapped In Baccon Bear Wrestling Coach, Danger Dan.  But he probably would have used DD as an alias, but the only good advice DD ever gave me was "don't let the bear eat you".  Which is sage advice.  Don't get me wrong.  That advice had saved my life on more than 1 occasion.

But something about the comment reminded me of what my father would say...

"I see him [Mr Snuggles] as a little sprout, pushing through 3 inch of blacktop above him. What ever you do, don't make that top thicker."

It's really that simple.  My job, as always is not to heal my child... I can't.
I can not fix my child.
I can not heal my child.
I can only love my child, and give him the grace and love he needs to grow and break through all that blacktop above him.
And if there is anyone who has the intensity to break through that much blacktop... it would be my Mr. Snuggles.

Mr. Snuggles really doesn't need me to add blacktop to the road... all I need to do, it not add more.  Maybe it is that simple.

So maybe I should just calm down... lower my legs a little... sit up, and take a breath.  Give him the time, love and grace that he needs to grow.

Thanks Dad.

* It really IS a lovely park!  Although I'm making fun of it in places, it is really really nice!  Can not wait to go back!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Managing my Child

So far, this summer with Mr Snuggles, he has:

  • bitten a kid in school
  • gotten into a fist fight in Sunday School
  • hit me
  • punched me
  • kicked me
  • said he doesn't want me
  • ... and that was just in 1 week
Some days are good, some days... well... you know, some days are good.

Today was a good day.  We headed out early in the morning and spent the day at a local water park.  A much better outting than the boring museum, or sewer boxes... Mr Snuggles could run and play and dragged me all over the park.  We had a great time.

But by 2pm, his mood started to change... he started to get tired... a little less 'compliant', maybe even a little naughty.

There were a few more glares and "NO!s".

He started saying "I don't want to listen to you!  I never want to listen to you!"

Precursors to a meltdown.

It's remember that whole piranah tank reference?  Yea, well, I was being lowered into one slowly.

But after spending the whole summer with him, I was able to manage his behaviour and calm him down.  We had a good afternoon and made it home by about 4pm.  Reflecting on the day, that is when the phrase "managing my child" enter my vocabulary.

See, when we had issues our daughter in school, we were able to pull her out and home school her.  The time spent with Mom had an immediate and beneficial impact on her and her behaviour.  We could see her coping methods, and replace them with healthy behaviours.  This, has recently been discussed with Mr Snuggles since his behaviour is not so great at times.

Re-wind a bit... see, when school ended for the summer, Lukai spent more time at home with me.  And I was able to see a week by week improvment in his behaviour.  He was getting into A LOT of trouble in school.  But when school ended, well, we would go whole MINUTES without him screaming at me!  I mean, we almost went a whole day without him making me bleed!  This was good stuff!  The tantrums became more manageable, and then, we would go 1 day, 2 days, maybe 3 days without one.  Things seemed to be improving!

I got excited thinking, this is good!  We can take him out of school like we did Ping and things will improve!  But my day at the water park highlighted something to me...

See, Ping was ANGRY.  She was... oh, so ANGRY.  Mr. Snuggles is angry too, don't get me wrong.  But it seems to come from a different place.  See, Mr. Snuggles would be angry because:

  • I would not cook him an egg
  • he had to sit down while eating
  • he had to wash his hands
  • he had to stop hitting me
  • he had to stop trying to take over Russia with my computer
  • he had to wear socks
  • because he wanted X and I gave him X
  • because he did NOT want X and I did NOT give him X

See, with Mr. Snuggles, everything was based out of this self-centered narcististic (I need to learn to spell) attitude.  So he REALLY felt he was wronged when he had to wear socks... so he didn't see, "Oh, I'm angry, and maybe I'm over reacting to having to wear socks." ... he honestly believed that I was some cruel evil overlord who was punishing him by making him wear socks.  Point it, it is hard to try to convince someone that they are NOT a victum, when they so clearly believe they are.

If someone is just angry and mean, you can point that out to them... but how do you teach someone empathy, selflessness, patience?  By eating McDonalds in front of them!  Oh wait, that's a different post... someone remind me to tell you about the McDonalds object lesson later.

What I was seeing in Mr Snuggles, was not an improvment in attitude or behaviour because of a heart change.  All that happened, was that I was a smarter parent more able to control his moods and surroundings to ensure he didn't HAVE a melt down.  But we could have the most funnest day ever, and when we get home, if I ask him to wash his hands... then all bets were off.  Tantrum city.  No "thank you" for the awesome day, just "I don't want to wash my hands!  I don't want to listen to you!  I will never listen to you!"  And cue the tantrum...

I will ask him, "Did you listen to Daddy?", and he will tell me "No, because I don't want to!"

So, no heart change... all I've done in the last 2 or 3 months, is learn how to:

  • phrase questions so he thinks he has a choice (and no, a simple "OR" questions won't work - he will say "I don't like those options!" and scream away)
  • watch for warning signs when he starts to get angry
  • avoid high stress enviroments for him
  • avoid high stress environemnt for me
  • how to open a Bacardi Breezer using a butter knife
  • that I can drink approximately 5 Bacardi Breezers in the amount of time it takes for him to stop crying

Number 1 down... 4 more to go.

I've not blogged much lately... because, well, this is hard.  Adoption can be hard.  Biological children can be hard.  Life can be hard.  It's hard to blog when everything I write just sounds like I'm complaining.  :-)

If I've ever made life look easy... trust me, its (OH JUST GET BACK TO BED BEFORE I GIVE YOU SOMETHING TO CRY ABOUT) not.  I don't think life has been easy for about... oooooh, 37 years now.

These past 2 years with Mr Snuggles has really been a wonderful opportunity for me to grow as a parent.  :-)

I love my Mr Snuggles.  He is our joy, he is a little ball of wild energy and makes everything fun and exciting.  But he is still hurting.  And although he can be so well behaved for 23.5 hours a day... it's the 0.5 hours which exhaust me.  

Monday, August 18, 2014

Said VS Heard

Why, when I say something like "Go change your shirt", does me child hear "Hey, maybe, if you want to, can you please change your shirt? But no biggie, I mean you don't have to. You are the boss. If you don't want to change it, just feel free to yell at me instead. In fact, why don't you just keep that shirt on and yell at me... that would be way funner!" *sigh*

This summer, while Lady B and the Littles were off in Canada, I got to spend the whole summer... the whole summer... alone... the whole summer... alone... with Mr. Snuggles... alone.  The whole summer.  Alone.  Mr. Snuggles.  It's kinda like being traped in a small aquarium with a pack of terribly cute wild paranahs... alone... all summer.

This was a very unique time, as I doubt I will ever be able to spend like 3 months with *just* one of my 27 children, alone... all summer... alone.  It has been both the greatest summer, and the "absolutely horriblest, I'm not kidding, this is crazy hard and I never want to do this again!" ever... summer... alone.

16+ years of parenting, 3 biological children, 2 adoptions ... and yet most days I felt like I didn't know what was actually going on.  The smallest things could cause Mr. Snuggles to errupt into a tanturm without warning.

But we also had great moments, and truly wonderful times...

I guess what I had to learn, and keep learning, is that my Mr. Snuggles, is still struggling...

... a lot.  And I had to learn to hear what he was really saying... not what was actually said.

Like when he would scream and yell and kick and hit... what he was saying was "I don't want you!  I don't like you!" ... but what I needed to hear was...

... I'm still a little broken Dad.  Will you still love me?  Even if I kick, hit, scream and tell you I don't want you?  Because I'm still afraid that you may not really want me...

And YES Mr. Snuggles... I will always love you. 

But you could have just asked... you know, instead of hitting, kicking and screaming.  I'm just saying... you could'av just asked... "Hey, Dad... do you love me?"  That would have been a little easier.

... I'm just saying.

... you know.

... little less 'making Daddy bleed' would have been nice.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Homeward Bound ~ New Day South

I LOVE how engage folks have been 
while I've been back here on this side of the Pond these past 2 months ~

But its that time! 
We're packing and readying ourselves to head back home to Zhongshan!

And we've been so blessed to find out that with our Airline Carrier 
this time around I can take more baggage.....like WAY more!

Like 140lbs More....

So that was my super subtle way of asking.....
"Would you like to help the children at NewDaySouth?"

If so, then GREAT!  Below is our current needs!

If you can get them to me,
I will get them to them ~