Play Mobility

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Emily has had a long standing and intimate relationship with Playmobil. It was the first toy that "clicked" with her. I tried Brio trains, I tried Lego, I tried Fisher Price, I tried Polly Pockets,  I tried Groovy Girls....and she only had eyes for Disney Princesses.  My feminist cred was deeply damaged. How did I end up with a girl who ONLY liked a bunch of princesses. 

It wasn't until she encountered Playmobil in Ms Deb's Kindergarten that she found her love. 

At first I wasn't sure what to make of it. Ms Deb's classroom had a Playmobil police station, which Emily and Sarah promptly dis-assembled to make into a house.  For the girls, I think it was the ability to recreate the desired play space that was most attractive. They were imaginative enough to be able to fully discount what they Saw, and recreate it into what they wanted. 

For that first Christmas, I presented the Modern House, with attachments and furniture. I vaguely expected her to discard it the same way she did the 1200 dollars worth of Brio Trains ( which later got gifted to Ms Deb's classroom) to have it sit in buckets in the basement for eternity. 

To my shock and delight, the House was consumed with such relish and delight that Terrance and I were more than stunned. This child who was to be diagnosed with ADHD later that year rarely, if ever, spent more than 5 minutes with ANY toy.  Now, she was sitting with and actually Playing. As in Making Up dialog and arranging and rearranging scenarios.

Since that first gift of the Modern House in 2002, Emily's Playmobil collection has grown and grown. Arctic Explorer, Shopping Mall, Grocery Store, Hospital, Fairy Set, A good portion of Pirates, Wedding Sets, Farms, The Rabbit Easter Sets, Egyptian Sets, and every year a new advent calender, which is later lovingly repackaged and stored with the others.

One of the things I loved about the playmobil figures IS the non-specificity of Gender. In many cases, a simple change of hair styles can adjust a male character to a female. I didn't have to contend with the overt gender messages that Barbie and her cohorts were promoting.

I did notice, and was concerned with, the lack of diversity in the figures. She had LOTS of white people, which in New Hampshire was the norm. It was then that I sought out and bought the African- American and Hispanic American family sets - 2 of each - to blend into her ever growing milleau of people. 

That action met my need for Em to have dolls that represented her family and she mixed and matched to her hearts content.  One of the many things I have loved about my daughter is her ability to simply accept - she is a kind and generous soul. She has never questioned why women might marry women, or men might marry men, or people of different ethnic backgrounds might marry. In her world view, it is just how it IS.

This has been reflected in her imaginative play as well. It is not uncommon to see a variety of figures standing in a variety of roles in her play scenes. Pirates may be paired with the Rabbits, and The Doctor might be riding the Red Dragon on any given day,

A recent post at another blog sent to be by Mayumi set me to thinking. Had I noticed this issue of African representation? Why hadn't I noticed this? What did I think about this, given Emily's long standing relationship ( and my many thousand of dollars investment) in/with Playmobil? 

I think the overall criticism is valid - Particularly given the Western world's relationship with Africa as a paternalistic colonizing force. 

However, in some ways I wonder about any toys ability to authentically depict ANY culture. The culture represented by Emily's basic Modern House is certainly that of a Western upper middle class family. However, the House wouldn't even neccessarily reflect a family in Japan of similar economic status.

The stores (butcher, bakery, ice cream shop) are staples in Our current neighborhood in Montreal- but are certainly not something one would see in every neighborhood.  

My next question  then becomes more paramount: "Is there an acceptable level of political incorrectness we are willing to tolerate in order to allow our children to fantasize/engage in imaginative play?"

This is a tricky one. And I admit I don't have an answer with which I am entirely comfortable.

In the world in which we currently live ( Montreal), Emily knows people from all around the world, including Africa.  She is cognizant that representation does not equal reality - particularly as an American living outside of her own country. 

(In writing this, it occurred to me that she has been formally educated in Quebec for longer than she had been in the US at a ration of 2:1. Wow. )

She has now experienced kids telling her that she is "not black" as she is not African. Emily and I had a discussion last week at our local grocery in which the man who helps put the produce in our green bucket told us that the young girl at the cashier told him he was "too black". They are both of Indian descent and he is much darker skinned.  I replied that it all depended on where you were - that in the States I would not define him as "black" and that also in the States, my daughter is defined (legally) as "Black". The cashier and older man were shocked - She wasn't Black! Emily laughed and said "Oh! I am definitely Black!"

So I return to my question - 

"Is there an acceptable level of political incorrectness we are willing to tolerate in order to allow our children to fantasize/engage in imaginative play?"

And I guess I am. 

Em knows that all Scandinavian peoples aren't vikings, just as she knows all Africans aren't in animal skins with a spear. She knows not all Moms cook and not all Dads coach soccer. She knows that First Nations peoples and Native Americans are not represented fairly in many venues, film, books, legends, and that one persons "discovery" was another persons theft.

However, this is because Terrance and I have made a point to Talk about these issues, constantly, with her.  Rather than boycott Playmobil, I prefer to talk with her about what images may be trying to say and if it is an accurate or fair representation - and Why or why not.

For our family, finding a toy with which Emily could unleash her imagination and focus her attention was paramount. I am willing to do the other work around the bits and pieces we may find troubling or disquieting to preserve that refuge and imaginative space for her.

No Magic Bullet

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

So how do children move from being unable to control their body movements and functions to reading and writing in five to seven years?

If you look at it purely like that, it is a spectacular feat that we witness within every child - the development that occurs within the brain, and acquisition of enough knowledge and cultural information to begin to join a larger society as a functioning Literate Member.

One of the first things babies notice - and react to - is patterns. We are wired, as a species, to notice patterns. From the mobile above the crib, to the repetition of words in Good Night Moon, we instinctively seek out patterns. They please us. They make sense. They are also laying the foundation for literacy and numeracy (thats math in fancy educator speak).

Honestly, all curriculum areas,  reading, writing, math, science, music, art - they all come down to patterns. Patterns recognized, Patterns decoded, Patterns reversed and solved.

Some of these are things we seem to do intuitively with children. We describe the rhythms of their day, which we try to keep as routine and predictable as possible. We read the same books over and over ( and over and over until you are compelled to hide the damn book because you simply can not take it ANYMORE), and listen to the same music tapes. We do finger games with rhymes like "5 Little Monkeys".

We recoil in horror when our child begins to shout out things like "McDonald's" or "Ben and Jerry's" - but really they are just expressing what is called "Pre-Literacy" skills. In other words, they are decoding the common everyday things they witness. They can look at a Cheerios Box and tell you it has Cheerios in it. It is indeed a type of reading.

Between ages 3 and 7, children start to become aware of - and then decode the symbols we have designated as "Letters" and "Numbers".

Now here is where I want to point out that while this system may seem perfectly logical to You - literate adult - it is , in fact, really Random. Someone, thousands of years ago, decided that certain scribbles equated to specific sounds or specific amounts.  That these scribbles, when lined up with other scribbles make a specific word - which is meant to project a specific image in the contents of your mind.

So Cat becomes not merely the word Cat, but the specific sounds "C", "A", and "T" - and that "C" and "A" can have different sounds depending on what other scribble next to which  they are lined up. Furthermore, Cat becomes both a genre of animal of the feline family, but also individual types of Cats - pets, family friends pets, pictures seen in books, animals seen at zoos etc. One word is allowed to stand it for a vast amount of information.

Pause. Extrapolate this out into every word and concept we expose our child to on a daily basis. Think about how much they are storing and retrieving and testing out and discarding in any given day. This is one of the reasons we must protect their sleep so zealously. We are finding, through research, that it is during a child ( and later, teenagers) sleeping cycles that this information is "cemented" into place. One of the reasons teens start to require so much sleep is because they are experiencing the second and final massive brain development phase before adulthood.

Here I will admit that I am a biased teacher. I was trained in both Phonics based and Whole Language based language arts teaching. I prefer Whole Language. For about 75% of children, it is what I saw as working best for their development as readers and writers. A Whole Language Classroom, rich in words, writing, reading and language surrounded the child in a environment where language WAS everywhere. This being said, I do recognize that for some children a phonics based system works better. They need to learn the structure and rules of grammar in a different way - a way which a Whole Language classroom does not always address specifically.

So, you have a child heading into a Kindergarten Classroom. They may know their letters (alphabetic principle), but they may not. They may be able to tell you what sound each letter makes (phonemic awareness), but they may not. And it's OK.

A child's experience in Kindergarten should be one of playing with these concepts with Peers and Trained Adults.  They should be read aloud to frequently, and have their attention drawn to "sight" words - small words they can pick out on "sight" in any given text. Teachers should be exposing the children to concepts about print, as in, some books give us information ( non-fiction) and others tell us stories. Books open a specific way and we read the pages from left to right. They should be exposed to the Sounds of language (linguistic awareness) through songs and fingerplays.  Sensory input should be used. Drawing letters and numbers in sand, for example, provides a different feedback to the brain.

{An aside - I used, and later her teacher adopted the Handwriting without Tears curriculum for help with the sensory processing end of how to write. It was developed by an Occupational Therapist for children with fine motor issues and is a tremendous way to help ALL children learn to write letters. Emily still uses it for cursive!)

Teachers should be introducing unfamiliar words to encourage vocabulary development. For instance, I had a group of K's who loved talking about each "Hypothesis" they were making.  I had another group who could map the Protagonist, Antagonist, Setting, Problem and Resolution  for each book we read.  I knew when one Mom came to me and told me how her daughter had overheard the television news the night before about a war and asked who was the antagonist and who was the protagonist that they had the concepts down pretty well.

What shouldn't you be seeing? Worksheets. Drills on letter sounds/letter naming. I am particularly disdainful of the "Letter of the Week" approach. In my experience, it really doesn't help a child understand the concept of a letter, but provides the teacher with an easy out for his/her curriculum planning.

A more thorough read is the National Association for the Education of Young Children Position on Learning to Read and Write. On pages 15 and 16 of the document, it lays out specific goals, determined by age, as to what teachers and parents can do to assist their child

It lays out all the things I have talked about here ( and more) with the research references to back it up. NAEYC also points out that learning to read and write go on well into Grades 2 and 3.  In fact, in some educational systems, children are not asked to academically begin reading/writing until Age 7. Of course they are exposed to language and literacy well before then, but they are free from the pressure to perform that Americans often place upon their children.

And Guess What? Those places have literacy rates Americans could only currently dream about.

On pages 15 and 16 of the document, it lays out specific goals, determined by age, as to what teachers and parents can do to assist their child. I only copied the K portion, but the recommendations go on into Second Grade:

Phase 2: Experimental reading and writing (goals for kindergarten)
Children develop basic concepts of print and begin to engage in and experiment with reading and writing.

Kindergartners can
• enjoy being read to and themselves retell simple narrative stories or informational texts
• use descriptive language to explain and explore
• recognize letters and letter-sound matches
• show familiarity with rhyming and beginning sounds
• understand left-to-right and top-to-bottom orientation and familiar concepts of print
• match spoken words with written ones
• begin to write letters of the alphabet and some high-frequency words

What teachers do:
• encourage children to talk about reading and writing experiences
• provide many opportunities for children to explore and identify sound-symbol relationships in meaningful contexts
• help children to segment spoken words into individual sounds and blend the sounds into whole words (for example, by slowly writing a word and saying its sound)
• f requently read interesting and conceptually rich stories to children
• provide daily opportunities for children to write
• help children build a sight vocabulary
• create a literacy-rich environment for children to engage independently
in reading and writing

What parents and family members can do:

• daily read and reread narrative and informational stories to children
• encourage children’s attempts at reading and writing
• allow children to participate in activities that involve writing and reading (for example, cooking, making grocery lists)
• play games that involve specific directions (such as “Simon Says”)
• have conversations with children during mealtimes and throughout the day

Everything's Lello

Tell me if you have had this thought:


Yeah, I thought so. Now it will surprise none of you that Emily has been learning avoidant for the entirety of her life. I like to think it is her special way of sticking it to her parents, the over achieving and overly educated. I truly think she gets a kick out of answering "I don't know" in a plaintive voice when asked simple everyday questions.

When she was 2, I asked her teachers to assess her for color blindness. Yes, it is rare in girls, but this child answered "Lello" (Yellow) to every color question I asked for a solid year. I became convinced she couldn't see color.

"No," her teachers told me, "She pointed to the correct color blocks when we asked her to help us get them. She knows her colors."

Later, it was days of the week. Emily refused to tell you the days of the week.  Now, I do know that when she feels pressured she does experience a strange type of aphasia - her brain shuts down and she blanks out. During these times, information retrieval is a moot question. But this was simple refusal to play our little game. Nope. She wasn't interested.

Letters and Letter sounds have proved challenging - even to this day. If she is rushing - and her brain is constantly rushing - she doesn't slow down enough to hear the sounds in words. If you try to get her to slow down, she just starts throwing out random guesses as to what letters are in words.  This means her spelling is atrocious. Even words we know she KNOWS are habitually misspelled.  Part of her early issue, of course, were the chronic ear infections. During the first 18 months of her life, she heard everything as if she were underwater. Knowing what I do about brain development NOW, I would have pushed for the tubes to be placed Much earlier than 18 months.  That was 18 months of experience and synapse development she will never get back and once the window on some of these fundamental senses (hearing/sight) close, there is no recovery.

However, she is a great reader and her comprehension is through the roof. Her issues have remained in the "mechanics" of writing.

So, why I have provided a synopsis of Emily's development as a reader/writer? Partially to show you that development will not be rushed, regardless of what a parent or preschool or kindergarten teacher can do. There is no magic bullet to reading and writing except that of Time.  There is no magic curriculum that will teach your child to learn to read before they are ready (and I am going to address this issue too - Readiness).

Getting your child into the right program, or the best program or the most exclusive program means very little in the larger scheme of things.  Sure, they may have a bigger variety of experiences to draw from (which is ow we increase knowledge) but there will be no acceleration in ability - just like baby walkers don't teach a baby to walk.

(I am halting this post here, and will post the second part tomorrow)


Monday, October 25, 2010

Dear Twitter,

I wish I could feel more - well, warm and fuzzy-like about you. I tried, I honestly did. I tried to make it a habit to go on once a day and "tweet" something. I know all the "big" bloggers also have crazy twitter followings and we should all be "tweeting" everything, all the time.

I also saw too many bloggers with Blackberry devices in hand at Blogher, staring glassy eyed into the screen as they made half assed conversation and scrolled frantically down screens to keep up with god knows what in the "Twitter-verse".

Of course, my long standing dislike of the Phone means that I don't like my phone, much less want to stare at it to get information.  Terrance and I fight about my habitual inability to Charge my phone, much less turn it on.
Give me an Aldus Lamp - Now THAT takes some skill.

My room in hell will require me to talk to people all day on the phone and use a tiny phone keyboard to send messages about my activities, every 10 minutes.

I thought "Maybe I just need to DO it, and then I will like it".

You aren't the first thing in my life with which I have used this approach.

Some examples:

Step Aerobics: I tried, really I did. I bought a step, and fancy step Reebok shoes and some exercise tights - but for the life of me, I never enjoyed this. My normal state of coordination is that of a drunken toddler, so the addition of complicated moves was a nightmare.  I had a similar experience when I tried running. Let's just say that there isn't a sports bra strong enough to eliminate the horrific bounce-back. I am not kidding when I have said that if you see me running, you'd better haul ass since something real bad is right behind me.

Nirvana: Although I graduated from College in 1992, I never understood any of this. Not Pearl Jam. Not Nirvana, None of it. I later tried to listen to some Nirvana and "appreciate" it.  Um, Nope.

Lima Beans: After a serious childhood adversarial relationship with the bean, I tried again in adulthood. An Adult gagging on a lima bean is just not cool.

Scrapbooking: Again, I think I thought that if I produced works of art dedicated to my child that my mothering sins would be forgiven. Or at least I could fool a majority of people by seeming to be uber dedicated to Child. In hindsight, I think my friends should have taken this little "hobby" as a serious cry for help.

Jelly Shoes: Hard Plastic on my feet? Yes, Please! Only to be followed by Granny boots.

So, Twitter - I've tried you.  I felt like I was standing in a party where everyone was talking - too loudly - but not listening to anyone else in a manic attempt to be the center of attention. I don't need to be ignored - I have two rabbits, one cat, a daughter and a husband who do that just fine, right here live and in person.

So, I've made room for you on my shelf, in the basement - next to the Step, the nirvana mp3's, a can of Lima Beans, and all the scrapbooking shit. But hands off the Granny boots. They just might make a come back.

What should you look for in a Kindergarten?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

This week, two different people asked Me for opinions about Kindergarten. And by Me, I mean Actual Living Me, the person they know in real life.  Because Real Life Me is occasionally distracted or at a loss for words, I sometimes don't answer a question as fully as I would like. Given a few hours, my brain starts to overheat and think of all the things I wanted to Say, but forgot, or got sidetracked or overheated in my opinions about something else. If you are my best friend, I start to get upset FOR you and the words "Bullshit", "That's a bunch of bull shit" and "Do you want me to drive down and go to this conference with you? Because this is BULLSHIT"  starts to overwhelm the conversation.

I am, if nothing else, a passionate person.

So, I thought I would write this down for posterity.

Now, mind you, I have a very specific philosophy about education and children. It is Child Centered. By this I mean, I consider the needs of the child as primary to any decision about their education.

"Sure", you may be thinking, "We all think about the needs of the child"...But do we? Do we really? Because I would hazard that No - a good 90% of educational decisions have nothing to do with the needs of the child.

The needs of the teacher? The needs of the parent? The needs of the school district? The needs of the tax payers? The needs of  companies that develop textbooks and "curriculum's"?

I would hazard that this is what drives a majority of decisions about a child's education. Ergo, this combination tends to leave out the most important person in the mix - the child. I guess it is because they are small and can't vote and don't have disposable incomes or the adults around them believe they can't be trusted to have an opinion which should be honored that they get the shortest end of the stick.

In my time as Validator for the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the question that I repeatedly came back to was this: "Would I want to be a child in this program?"

That question broke down further to several other questions:

"Would I feel Known as a Person in this program?"

"Would I feel Known as a Learner in this program?"

"Would I feel safe with the adults in this program? If I was crying or hurt, would they know how to comfort me?"

"Is there time for me to play and talk - fully play and talk - with my peers? Is my play valued AS education and not slotted between other activities as filler?"

"Is my body respected - as in, can I use the bathroom and get a drink when my body tells me I need to?"

"Is the art that I see produced by Children, or is it a bunch of photocopies that everyone is told HOW to do the same thing?"

"Are children being asked to sit and do worksheets which have no intrinsic value other than something that fills time?"

"Are portfolios of children's work being collected which represents authentic learning?"

"Are adults in the program doing  ongoing and meaningful observation of children? This does not mean sitting down to assess with a worksheet - but sitting and doing anecdotal observation of the child at play?"

"Are child getting outside - EVERY DAY - except in severe weather ( as in below zero or heavy rain)? "

" How do the adults in the program communicate with family? Is there frequent personal communication?" How? Can parents easily reach the adult/teacher if they need to discuss something - or is there a ton of obstacles between the parent and the school?"

"Are there enough materials in this classroom so that children can explore and use them without worrying they won't have enough?"

"Does the adult in charge of my education understand and honor Developmentally Appropriate Curriculum as well as fully understand the developmental stages in which children learn subjects like math, science, and acquire literacy skills? Can the teacher tell you where your child is in those stages and how he/she is planning their curriculum to meet those specific needs?"

These are the questions I would arm parents to walk into any Kindergarten and keep in mind when assessing if the program will be a good fit for your child. These are the questions I would tell parents to walk into a conference with a teacher and ask.  Parents are always the best advocates for their child and just because a teacher has been "doing it this way" for xx years doesn't mean he/she should not be challenged or questioned about teaching practices. Tradition can easily be a code word for laziness.

There is no mystery in curriculum, and a parent should never feel bullied by the word, or by a teacher wielding the word. Parents must be fully prepared to be active and questioning partners in the education of their child. No one gets to sit on the sidelines, or rest on their laurels.

Education is constant motion.

My "I don't have pneumonia just a terrible chest cold" television review

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I had nothing to write about over the last few days. I have been recovering from that hellish chest cold...

{Terrance: Please go to the doctor. You sound like you have pneumonia
Dawn: I don't have pneumonia, because I have had pneumonia and while I am coughing, I can still breathe. It just sounds like hell as I cough all this shit UP, so stop telling me to go to the doctor. Because I am not going}

So I have been sitting in bed, catching up on all my shows - Season 8 into Season 9 of Spooks, a BBC spy  show I just adore.

Dawns Thoughts:
Excellent choice of adorable British Men that I have fan-girl crushes on. Lots of fun Geo-political information.  Made me remember that Russia is a "threat" - as well as laugh at my own American-centric view of the terrorist threats of the world that go far above and beyond what has captured USA Today's attention. But stop killing the Awesome Female leads.

(P.S. Spooks producers? That person playing the American Spy? She has an accent out of 1930's New York.  I mean, seriously. It bugs me)

First 4 episodes of Supernatural...

Dawns Thoughts:

Well Played writers of Supernatural. I was really uncertain how you were going to dig yourself out of that Season Closer. I mean, it did seem pretty final and all. And thanks for bringing  back Castiel. His smolder is distinctly different from My beloved Dean. Also, Sam has clearly been hitting the gym. I am curious as to how you explore the new family dynamic there.

First episode of Sanctuary:

Ok....Not so impressed. You are going to have to step up your game here - cause that Kali story was just too, well, ridiculous. And that is coming from a show which has at its premise that there are special places for the "ab Normals" run by a couple hundred year old Doctor who had a (test tube) baby with Jack the Ripper and made some kind of cabal with Nikola Tesla and the other guy I can't remember right now. So pick it up.

And for the piece de resistance today I watched the 1 hour and 7 minute glory that was the premiere episode of AMC's The Walking Dead

Now, given my serious, serious love of the comic, I had very high expectations. However, I also understand that a comic can never be fully realized as a television show. The mediums can reference one another, but you can never achieve the detail and nuance conveyed in a graphic form when making a television show.

There are so many reasons I love this comic - the stark writing, the black and white format. The unapologetic killing of characters. Its just so unsentimental.  Of course, in the comics - now well into 70 plus issues, Kirkman develops characters in a way which is both spare and full. The comic emphasizes that it doesn't have time to fully vet every member you meet. You don't get rich back stories to understand how people ended up making every decision  you witness.  Kirkman also never makes the story morally easy - and it gets more and more difficult as the comic progresses. No character is allowed to remain wholly likeable - NO ONE.

So what did I think of the premiere episode?

Brilliant.  They could have made the beginning scenes too rushed - or somehow cut out the way Rick wakes up after being shot in a police operation (He's a deputy sheriff) - after the zombie apocalypse has occurred only to wander out to a world in which the dead are walking and there is no explanation. They could have rushed him starting the search for his family, or cut out the meeting of the first survivors that he encounters who teach him what they know about what has happened.

They could have cut out the small nuances, like Rick walking up to the farmhouse to find the corpses of the farmer and wife, victims of murder suicide rather than face the word changes ( although the comic scene had children lined up on the couch, but I will forgive that)

And while the initial approach into Atlanta was a little too "I am Legend"ish, I forgive it for the scene when he corners the street and into the horde of dead. That was brilliant. Hold back until the end. Give him the full scope of the hell that has been opened.

And kudos for making the zombies both terrible and gruesome, but not silly. These zombies are as serious as a heart attack.

So Kudos, AMC. I can't wait to see the next episode.

And You?

Friday, October 15, 2010

My Morning so far:

12 half assed attacks on the rabbits launched by psychotic cat stuck inside because of rain

1 attempt made to clean up the rabbit piss all over the floor, most likely associate with the above "attacks"

2 arguments between Terrance "Birthday Boy" and Emily "Faking Sick" about brushing her teeth and combing her hair

1 attempt by husband to be funny as I was bending over to sweep up rabbit poo and clean piss. This attempt involved grinding in simulated sex motion on my bent over ass while I attempted to corral the stray poos.  Attempt was greeted with these words "This has got to be the least erotic thing you could do at this moment".

4 mentions of how sick each other member of the family felt, while holding a body part to emphasize said "illness"

1 realization that husband had thrown away all extra newspaper used for attempting to deter rabbits from random pissing on sides of litter box since the cat - so recently saved from the icy clutches of Stray Cat Doom at shelter - has decided to terrorize the rabbits by leaping into the room to watch them flee.

0 - awareness of how much food there is to eat in house, not counting the sad apple left in the fruit bowl which everyone has avoided for some unspoken reason.

0 cups of coffee

5 ibuprofen

Artful Dodger

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Terrance just called me Typhoid Mary - which  might be accurate, except that I believe Her Royal Majesty TM was healthier than I am, currently.

This is before he gleefully forced me to drink a medicine cup full of Buckley's cough syrup. For those of you not familiar with this brand of Canadian cough syrup, I can only describe the taste as mentholated sperm.

Yep. Spunk with camphor.

The taste is so bad that as you are swallowing it, you reflect on the foulest blow job you have ever given and think "Well, at least it wasn't menthol tasting too." 

In a show of confidence, Terrance also lay a bucket next to my throne of disease.  This is not, for the record, my throne of lies - which smells like beef and cheese.

I've been sick for a couple of days. It wasn't until my coughing reached violent gagging that Terrance was prompted to look up and say "Wow. You are sick." 

And of course, I am on the third week of the new depression medication.

After deciding it made me fall back to sleep within 2 hours of my taking it, we swapped it to night time.  This has helped with the passing back out at 10:30 a.m.  - or the "Hi, my name is Dawn and I am not a narcoleptic, but I play one in real life" syndrome.

The shingles broke out too. A little added "HA-HA" from my body's immune system to me. 

So I have acquiesced and decided to go back to therapy. Real Therapy. The therapy I have been avoiding for nigh unto two years.

Physician, Heal Thyself! you may all be shouting at me. I know. You can play hella phone tag for two years, if you work hard enough at it -and I am, for the record, an expert Dodger. Artful, if you will.

The last time I had this kind of collapse of physical health? The end of the manic episode of 2006-2007. Before that? My first diagnosis of the clinical depression with panic attacks.

My body, in a last show of desperation, has broken.  It think it figures if this doesn't at least flag me off to the side of the road, nothing will.

So Ok. There are lots of monsters that have been pushed into my closet for the past two years that are howling to get out. Rather than to pretend to not hear them anymore, it is time that I invite them out to smite them, one by one. 

It's not going to be pretty.

Blissdom Canada

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Did I mention that I signed up for this, oh ages ago?

And Yep, I am completely dragging my utterly sorry ass out of my house and going.
I even just booked the train tickets,so there is no turning back.

I may be depressed, but I HATE wasting money.

And I hear there is going to be free wine at the first party, so we all know that I am all about the free wine.

I may even be forced to come up with some kind of costume for the final party, although I am not sure the Blog World is ready for me as "Naughty Nurse" or "Beer Garden Girl"....


Tuesday, October 05, 2010

This medication change is rather kicking my ass.

The prozac is most likely fully out of my system now - a month of no Prozac means that half life has worn off and that I am only on this new med - Pristiq.

I felt good for a couple of days. A little more energy, and I slept almost through out the night like most normal human beings. I felt hopeful. Didn't feel too bad, and no obvious crying or other lethargy.

Then my period arrived late last week and my whole bio-chemistry collapsed.

When Terrance arrived home last night at midnight, there I was - weeping in my bed. At first I think he just thought I was being moody and temperamental and tried to cajole me out of a "mood" - until I snapped.

I suspect there is a tone in my voice. I can't verify that because I don't exactly hear it, but I think he must. His instinct is to comfort me, which I want, but I don't. Isn't that a bitch? I want to be held and comforted, but I can't stand to be touched. The very thing that is soothing me makes me want to wrestle myself away from you and lock myself in a dark place. The more I am touched, the more I want to rage against you.

The poor man came home bearing gifts, for today is our 14th wedding anniversary. I was curled into a sobbing ball,  daring him to touch me. The glory of marriage, folks.

A couple of weeks ago I asked him why. I asked how. How can you love me? Why have you not left my crazy ass? I can not see the benefit to him at these times. I do not cook. I rarely clean. I am frequently completely self absorbed in the cavern of my own mind. I can be miserable and sexually withholding.

"I just do", he said.

And so I cry and cry and cry. I feel worthless and unworthy of love. I sleep but am exhausted and fall back to sleep after waking up. I can pull myself together for long enough to emerge from the house every few days, before I sink back into my refuge.  While I don't want to kill myself - my survival instinct is far greater than nearly every other impulse in my brain, some kind of safety valve placed in me at birth that dictates that I MUST KEEP GOING - I do want to disappear.  While I feel desperately lonely, I can not bear to be in anyone's company. Both of the edges of the sword are cutting me while I watch dispassionately at my bleeding.

The small, logical Dawn remaining pipes up to say the medication needs more time to work. That switching over can take a couple of weeks to truly filter through the brain and see if this will all be set to rights.

Self critical Dawn? She steps in during this time too. This is her heyday, her shining moment. She tells me how self indulgent and lazy I am. That I am choosing to be upset. That if I put my mind to it and got busy than I would be fine, but no. You are too lazy and selfish and self absorbed to even try. That when Terrance does leave - as everyone always eventually does leave me - it is because I deserve it. I further deserve it for stopping a medication which wasn't entirely working, but was working better than this. See? Change is Wrong. Change is Bad.

And so I wait. Small. Exhausted. Lonely. Angry.

I wait for medication to stop this coup in my brain.

I might actually sleep well tonight

Monday, October 04, 2010

Emily was moved into a brand new classroom today, with a new teacher.

Can you feel my relief?
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