It’s been almost a year since I posted an update, as I’ve been writing about other stuff in between. This sort of brings everything together better I think. Our life at present:
Obviously the biggest change is Joshua moving out into the BIG wide world. To the tiny corner of Sun Valley, oxymoronically (yes! T’is a word. Call me Sherlock. Of course Sherlock would use a word which has ‘moron’ in its midst! Joshua, aren’t you proud?) I began to deal with this in the blog post about stopping the world. He began living in his little apartment an hour’s drive away in Fish Hoek in the southern peninsula on Sunday 8th January. He has a stove, a microwave, a fridge, a frying pan, a nutri-bullet shake maker, a kitchen cupboard full of groceries, and his very own sibling-pee-free bathroom. What more could a boy want? Well, besides someone to do the cooking and dish washing, obviously. So we left him there on a Sunday, very surreal I must say. The first two years were awful, and then Wednesday was a bit better. I purposely kept myself very busy, but I haven’t had two days drag by like that ever. I don’t know how to describe it. It’s such a necessary thing, and there is no real reason for the mother to be miserable, but there is a weird “missing something” vibe that goes on, and it leaves the mother feeling a little empty. I am still taking out 6 plates every dinner time instead of 5, and I had to pull myself together when my “Activities” calendar only had 3 children on it. It was so… so simple and… lacking. And it doesn’t look as pretty with only 3 colours on it.
He comes home every Friday evening (when he consumes ALL the leftovers from the week), and then drives back after dinner on Monday night (with his own new stock of leftovers), but as winter approaches he’ll leave earlier to avoid driving in the dark. It’s wonderful having him home. It’s tricky, though, to strike the balance between him still performing chores as part of the family when you know he’s run his own ‘household’ for a whole week, poor thing. But then I find hoards of dirty cups and plates left in his bedroom and I default to the same freak out reaction as before, and everything’s normal again. He has also been banned from my vacuum cleaner since he thought it was capable of sucking everything up off his car floor that required him to bend down (I think his hamstrings were stiff from gym.) A couple of days later when I was preparing to use the vacuum, I found tissues wedged in the dust collector thingy, and then had to swing the pipe around in the kitchen to dislodge an almost-unidentifiable apple core. Seriously? I messaged him and fired him.
Our conversations have changed radically. Now we talk about recipes, budgets, grocery shopping (he hates it), and how he’s discovered it’s always better to wash the dishes sooner rather than later. There’s no manual for this stuff, you know, so it’s a wondrous thing when it all unfolds. He’s even had his first kitchen disaster, involving exploding green liquid. He’d left a green smoothie in the nutri-bullet for a few hours, and when he opened it, well, let’s just say it was a comic-strip, ceiling-coating explosion. He said he was still finding smoothie in his ear later that day. Charming. Laundry that weekend was not fun- thankfully boys think “clothed” means they have their underwear on, so not much was affected, but the explosion did reach a beloved (beige) leather jacket hanging nearby. Any home cleaning tips on removing poo-green food stains from leather welcome here. Even dummies.com doesn’t say why a smoothie would explode. Maybe chia seeds just need to breathe, man.
On the dating front, he is a Single Pringle once again; no longer Taken Bacon (assonance courtesy of one his favourite students!) It was a four month season of dating; and the heartbreak affected every member of this family. But he has dealt with it really well, it has brought a few more court sessions regarding why dating is so stupid (yes, I was the advocate there) but to see him grow and mature in every facet of real life is a joy.
The school’s feedback about Joshua is that he’s ‘really active.’ Don’t know where they get that from??
Aiden is doing well, very well. He is “made” for mainstream school. He picks his friends wisely, they keep to themselves, and he works hard. Well, when he’s not being lazy. Last year, teachers were freaking out when he chose Core Maths as a subject, as his grades were not at the required (sacred) level. Then after a maths test one day, he says casually, Oh, the maths test went well today. I was driving; we’re lucky to still be alive. I made him say it again at home so that the walls could soak up the never-heard-around-here-before statement, and a moment of reverent silence could be held by all. I got all excited and said that if the result was 80%+ (pffftt…this is CORE Maths people, as in HARDCORE…my bet was safe) that I would buy him one of those awful milkshakes he adores. He got 80%. Marks taken off for not writing down a PLUS sign in the workings out; and one he copied a ³ instead of a ², so the result was wrong. And of course, a dreaded “last sum,” which is designed by someone from Mars and is not actually humanly possible- is always thrown into these tests. That way if by some fluke you get the sum right, you get beamed straight into scholarship status at Yale or something- those sums will find those geeks out. So a coffee BarOne milkshake from Wimpy was the order of the day. Clever boy!
Aside from that, Aiden is going through an I-don’t-have-any-interests stage of life. He works at school, chills out all day at home. Yes, he feigns death from boredom sometimes, but he is happiest PS-ing/gaming/watching every movie trailer ever made. Lordy, I hope he outgrows this stage soon. Sometimes he’ll shock us all and work out or jump on his bike and go for a ride. Overall, though, he is still the most compliant, wickedly-quick witted and humorous child, who often makes me laugh through my tears on a low day.
Luke. Friends of ours who have a family member ‘wired’ the same as Luke told us that the options for people like them were president or prisoner. Yes, that extreme. And we’re beginning to see it. To try and update all we have been through recently with preserving the preciousness of his spirit against the Attack of the Adolescent Hormones, The Curriculum-Pressured Shortsightedness of Teachers, and the Indiscreet Behaviour of the Girls of Durbanville is more horror stories than I care to share. He is not like #1 or #2 and to be honest, Heath and I were at such a loss as to how to work through grumpiness, temper outbursts, inability to listen to verbal instruction…..and that’s just us- throw Luke in and it’s a tornado in here. No, seriously, we did seek counsel through Gavin and Heather Keller; the principals of Sun Valley where Joshua is. They have 2 adult sons, one of whom was a “Luke;” and they have extensive insight into the psychology of a child with ADHD-C (which is a combination of ADHD-Hi (Hyperactive and Impulsive) and ADHD-i (Inattentive) Yeah, you thought you had issues.) Whilst I won’t share everything in this post, I will be writing more about what we have learned, as it is truly life changing, and in Luke’s case, life saving. We are considering our options for what will help Luke to be the best Luke that he can be, and I don’t believe that mainstream schooling is the answer for this one. Next update for more on this.
Ethan. The child wants to bleach his hair blonde and grow a man-bun. So no, he hasn’t changed much. And he asks about the bleaching thrice daily. So when we happened upon a salon in the mall one day, complete with a young man with sample bleached hair, I sent him in to get a quotation. R620 per session, 5 sessions needed, over a period of 3 months. Yep, nope. His initial reaction was, hmm, that’s not too bad, then he did the maths for the 5 sessions, related it to his monthly pocket money, and realised he’d need to save for nearly 3 years. Dreams crushed, poor thing. I haven’t bothered to get other quotes, of course. He doesn’t particularly enjoy Grade 6, although he has a super teacher. He just seems to love the sport and the break times with his friends. Duh. He is still going to hip-hop lessons, and enjoying it.
I don’t know. He hijacks my phone and takes these. Props used: skateboard pads.
We had a bit of a health scare with him in January- it was a Sunday evening, the third day of Ethan’s stomach cramping. He hadn’t eaten much, but was still drinking water and peeing, and I’m a notorious let-things-run-their-course type of mother, so I was happy that there was no risk of dehydration. But the cramps weren’t letting up, and he was very dizzy and pale, so we went to the clinic. It was busy for a Sunday, and the wait for an x-ray took over an hour. Glad we waited though- there was a… okay, for the sake of putting this in words, let’s keep it real. I’m a mother of four boys, and I speak poo lingo daily. So there was a mass of poop that had accumulated, he hadn’t pooed it out (distracted, lazy, who knows why someone WOULDN’T POO??) and so it had gotten harder, and bigger, and there was no way it was gonna be comfortable to pass it, and nothing we put in the top end would sort it out- there’s no drain cleaner for humans, you know…so… enema. Yep. Explain that to an eleven year old boy. We explained gently and clearly, pipe in poophole, soften all the gunk, uncomfortable…yes; sore…no; hallelujah, you’ll poo again. All good there. Then they asked me if I wanted to do it. Who, me? Err, let me think about that. I’m not from Little House on the Prairie (no, I don’t know if they ever needed enemas, but I’m sure that mama would know what to do) and I would like my son to talk to me after this procedure, so call the sister! The sister was very thorough, and after emptying 98.3% of the liquid whilst we kept Ethan distracted, she then decided that the last drop was needed to make all the difference, and with ONE WORD told us she was going in again. Most unexpected. That was not pleasant, Ethan was not happy, and neither was I, but at least we got full value, right? So within a couple of minutes, we were discharged, the doctor assured us that within half an hour, there would be ‘some movement.’ Yeah, well 3 days of no poop meant that it would be of tectonic-plate proportions. We had just put Ethan in the car to go home, and his words were, “errr, mom, no, this is not right. I need to go…NOW.” We made it back into the hospital to the tiny cubicle of a toilet, where Ethan’s sounds of a herd of territorial African elephant echoed through the corridors. What a relief.
Enough poo. Heath is applying himself to study Project Management, to focus more on that side of things, rather than the pure construction, working with labour side of things, which can be very frustrating at times. He has already done an intensive weekend workshop to get his training started, and is doing a 10 week course online. It kills evening relaxation a bit, as he has to be online and concentrating again, which is quite demanding after a long day in the trenches. Well, not trenches exactly, but the beautiful housing estates of Paarl wherein dwell the upper class, consisting of Jo-burgers making investments, airplane pilots and retiring foreigners.
As for me, I continue to do a little bit of online marketing for a friend, which I love to do as it lets my creative juices flow a bit. I started studying coding and website design, but it’s slow going. Other things in the pipeline for me right now- next blog!
We are overwhelmed with gratefulness on a daily basis when we consider all that God has done for us and blessed us with. We have seen great opportunities open for our kids here, which is why we moved to South Africa in the first place, but moving countries doesn’t minimise the challenges and difficulties that we face, it only changes them. Peace and contentment still require a pressing in, a prioritisation, a consistent assessment of values and beliefs, and trust in what His promises are to us.
May the lessons learned in the quiet or the chaos lead you closer to Him.
Lots of love,