3.10.2017

Sollytude

It's that time of year....Lent. If you would have asked me in the fall about the next Lenten season, I would have given you all sorts of wonderful challenges I wanted my family to accept. I started writing about conquering fear. I had epiphany moments where I ran straight into the face of some of my own fears and knocked them out of the park. At least temporarily. I focused on supporting kids through their fears: Lily, afraid to "try out" for a solo at school. Madeline, afraid to keep pushing through her anxiety with a new soccer team. Aidan, well, he's another story, one wrought with apathy more than worry (maybe a topic for next year).

Then LIFE happened. Fat Tuesday arrived and quite honestly, I did not even realize it was upon us until it was almost too late. Maybe we would just take a pass. Let the challenges and the sacrifices move around us, through us, by us, into the Easter season. God is good after all. And that goodness is with us regardless of our deeds.

But the girls insisted: they wanted to give up something. Sugar? Desserts? For Madeline it became obsessive and I started coaching her on the notion that maybe giving something up was not a good idea for her mental health right now: try adding something like "Being nice to your sister" or "Making your bed."

"What are you going to do, Mom?" the girls wanted to know.

"I am not focusing on that which I take into my body. I am going to work on giving up the frivolous spending. There are too many odds and ends we do not need. I need to put a stop to the buying of those things. And that it mostly on me."

"What are Solly and Liam going to do for Lent?"

"They need to cut back on screens: You know, read more, watch/play less."

And then Solly proved that maybe there were other things he needed to give up.

You see, over the last year he has really begun to take his camouflage seriously. He hides in bushes. He squats down, quietly waiting, barely breathing, until he thinks you can't find him and then he ambushes you. It's cute.....it's hilarious really.....unless you are the neighbor who is supposed to be watching him and all of a sudden he is gone. MIA.

I was sitting in the dentist chair, my mouth full of who knows what, the hygienist asking questions I could not physically answer even if I wanted to, when the phone rang. Madeline was sitting there and I had her call the mom back. She quickly handed me the phone and I listened as this neighbor frantically explained that she could not find Solly anywhere. She had gone upstairs briefly to get her stuff and when she came back down, the door was ajar, he and all of his belongings gone. She searched her yard, yelling. She drove up the street, checked all my doors, which were locked. And by the way, "I really have to leave like right now!" (to get her son to an appointment.)

"It's ok, just go. He is in the neighborhood somewhere, I am positive. I will just call the other neighbor and see if she can find him."

"I can't leave your kid!" she exclaimed.

"It's fine, really. I will come home if I need to." (Obviously he is the fifth child, not the first!)

At that point, I call my bestie neighbor and ask if she is home.

"Why yes! I was just getting ready to drive your son up to your house 'to get something'; I found him sneaking through my yard," she said.

"Of course you did. He was hiding from his friend's mom," I explained.

"Well, he is fully decked out in his camouflage today," she laughed.

Yes, yes he is. As with every other day.

I am fortunate to have good friends. Solly is fortunate he is so darn cute.

"By the way," she said, "I asked Solly why he wanted to be at home when there was no one there. He said he likes it when everyone else is gone, because it is nice and quiet."

I guess the kid has to get his Sollytude somehow.....

The next day, after apologizing profusely to the other mom (this is the SECOND time he has wandered off on her watch....I might have to reexamine his going over there come to think of it), I picked up her son and drove the boys to school.

On the way there, his friend dramatically exclaims: "You were REALLY BAD yesterday! You should not have left! My mom looked everywhere for you! She was yelling for you and even went all the way to your house looking for you!"

Solomon snickered.

"I did NOT leave!" he insisted. "I was hiding in your bushes the WHOLE time and she couldn't see me because of my cammo! I saw her leave and kept hiding until after she got back! My camouflage kept me hidden! BUT I WAS RIGHT THERE THE WHOLE TIME!"

And not to compare my kid to God or anything, (but, you know, if the Fatigues fit.....), well, sometimes in our chaos and the frantic mess of life, we think we have been abandoned. We might even search wildly, thinking that our yelling and shouting out and worrying will bring Him closer......but like my little Camouflaged angel, He is there, hushed: watching, waiting, maybe even ready to ambush us when we least expect it.

Sometimes we just aren't looking in the right places.

Sometimes we just aren't really looking at all.

Sometimes we just require a little Sollytude....and the picture clears and we see what has been right in front of us all along.

Maybe Lent is not really about sacrifice at all. Maybe it isn't about that outward showing of "giving up" or "taking on"....maybe it is actually about simple openness: slowing down just enough to see that which is already there. Listen closely my friends. He comes in a gentle whisper. And maybe wearing cammo.....

Happy Lent Ya'll.




He was told to get ready for bed.....this was his answer.

I'm not kidding about the hiding in the bushes....
They don't call it "amBUSH" for nothing!

Solly takes on Colonial Williamsburg


Even Soldiers have off days.....(He thought he was getting a shot.....he wasn't.....I just let him think as much!)








1.12.2017

On Prayers with Children

"Jesus, tender Shepard, hear me,
bless this little child tonight.
Through the darkness be down near me
Keep me safe 'til morning's light...."

Dear Younger (read: inexperienced) Self:

When you start to tack on blessings at the end of your children's night time prayers, keep it simple. Please just trust me here. Your time becomes far more valuable (and your patience quite a bit shorter) and well, you see, if you start adding pet names it might go something like this:

God bless Daddy, Mommy, Aidan, Madeline, Lily, Liam, Solomon, Leroy, Stripsies, Storm, Oreo, Sparkles, insert the names of 6, nope 12, chickens, wait, make that 24......no wait.....

And then, oops, Sparkles, the fighting fish, went all kamikaze and jumped ship.....out of the tank (we are guessing) and well, I'm pretty sure the cat ate him....because there were no remains.....not anywhere. And then Oreo, well, that abscess was no joke and while his jaw got bigger and bigger, to the point of caricature, his body withered away until your kid found him stiff as a board (and the only thing you could think to say, but fortunately knew not to, was "Well, I guess the vet was right after all!" but then there was that constant reminder every single night that his name was missing). And then, a chicken will die, and then another, and you will subtract their names and with those down, you pick up a couple more rabbits and Messi and Morgan quickly become a family of six, but instead of keeping them all you only keep two, so while you added Messi and Morgan and Ham and Baggio and Ranger and whatever the heck the orange one was named, you will have to cut a few from the roster when they get sold off. And then Leroy will break the Dish and run away with the Spoon and while we are going to pretend he did not get eaten by some bigger animal and is now just shacked up at a better home, after months go by, we scratch him off the list as well, and then those 6 cute peeps are now 58! And who names ALL 58 CHICKENS?! I know you think you will but I assure you, you get over that when you realize you can't tell those six white silkies apart at all! NOT EVEN A GUESS! And get this, you hatched them! All. By. Yourself! (Well, you know, with the help of those hens.) But you can't even tell which is which! Oh, and while we are at it.....you know those three black roos you thought you couldn't live without? Larry, Moe and Curly? Well, don't add them to the prayer either because they do MUCH better at someone else's farm! I know, I know, so hard to imagine now. But one day you will speedily gather up six thoroughly unnamed chickens, throw them in some make-shift cage and just haul them away to someone else's house, without a second thought at all......BECAUSE YOU HAVE WAY TOO MANY GOSH DARN ANIMALS!

So please, when you start tacking on all those names, just stop. Ask yourself: is this REALLY the road you want to travel?

(No! The answer is NO! Put away that quizzical look and shake your head back and forth because it is unequivocally, without a shadow of a doubt, N-O!)

"God bless Daddy, Mommy, Aidan, Madeline, Lily, Liam, Solomon, all of our Pets and all of our friends and loved ones (See? It even works with people!)......help me be a good child, praise in Jesus's name. A-frickin-MEN!"

12.10.2016

Solomafia Strikes Again

Guess I wasn't thinking straight
Couldn't tell wrong from right
Went ahead and called you up
I got a little drunk last night
-Eli Young Band

You might wonder how the above lyrics relate to my five year old child (unless you know him, then you are nodding your head: Yup, sounds about right.)

To be totally truthful, Solly has been having a tough time "adjusting" to Kindergarten. It's not like we didn't see this coming, I mean, after all, I warned the new, incoming principal over the summer about this kid. I even called out, "Good luck with that!" as I dropped him off on day one......and every day since. (And then hopped the curb as I rush out of that parking lot with a crazed look on my face!)

And it doesn't help that they gave him the novice teacher; the one they brought in from the middle school who has had ZERO experience working with 5 year olds. Her initial emails were full of frilly hope and excitement; about how she was so fond of sitting on the floor with her grandchildren, quietly reading books, doing puzzles, creating cherished memories. (GAAAAAAG me now before I shoot myself!!)

We knew from the start that she was in trouble. The rose colored glasses were blinding her to the stark reality that this was a room full of boorish monsters! And this one Solomonster in particular, whose main goal in life outside of completely ignoring anything she might have to say, is to cause her daily heartache and sorrow. 

Before I paint a horribly negative picture of our little beast, please know, he is a super sweet child. He loves warm hugs, kissing (bordering on creepy), being held tight while sitting crawling around in laps and being read to.....and adventures.....and excitement......and super heroes......and total and utter destruction.....

So, the first "Yellow Card" came home (on week one) kindly informing us that Solomon was talking too much. We all laughed because "Oh my Gosh! It could be SOOOO much worse!" We patted him on the back and told him to be quieter and listen more. But really, we were secretly relieved. Oh, talking. No real harm in talking......

And the Yellow Cards rolled in every week or so: too much talking. And we smiled, feeling like our little card carrying NRA murderous devil, the kid who recently asked what body parts we didn't need, which ones we could "just get rid of", was at least under control in the classroom. 

But as the Mafia might have it, put one monster with another and all of a sudden, there's a pair of them......and then an entire clan......and Solomafia Boss hooked up with "another kid who is a bad influence" according to his teacher at his conference (Really? Are you SURE it isn't the other way around???.... This was the same conference she compared him to her son.......who was expelled in ninth grade......and is now in jail.) First impressions are a B!%$H. 

One thing led to another and this week we received his first red card (and subsequently our first trip to the principal's office.)


The principal, who is apparently trying to qualify for an early Sainthood later this year, spoke softly and kindly to Solomon, explaining that he was not mad but that it was not okay to rip down the classroom decor and tear it up with his buddy. Solomon sat, almost abashedly, in my lap, arms around my neck, unable to even look at the principal. We told him we knew he could do better and we don't want him to make a habit of seeing the principal in his office. I hugged him, told him to be on his best behavior and sent him on his way.

That afternoon, Solly came home with this:

Sigh. So, he went from destroying to creating. Perhaps the pendulum swung a little too far.....but really, "placing paint on another student?" As in, art class? At least he wasn't flinging it right? And holy smokes, HE WAS PARTICIPATING! This time last year, he wouldn't even sit through an art class at school, let alone, "place paint" on anything!

The next day, he came home with yet another one:

I'll admit I am running out of excuses here but, hey, at least he bothered going into the bathroom right? I mean, my biggest worry before he started school was whether he would bother using the restroom at all and opt instead to just go outside at recess! I even warned the principal. But look! He made it to the bathroom! Bonus points! 

OK, ok, I am not trying to make light of this. As I dropped him off on Friday, before meeting with the principal for the second time of the week, (which means he has been to the principal's office more in one week than any of our kids COMBINED in all the years they have been in school!), I reminded Solly of his behavior, of listening and following directions. Short of pleading, I just hugged him and then noticed the police officer standing by. 

"Solly, I know! Why don't you tell the Police Officer that you will try harder to behave in your classroom?! Go ahead! Tell him!"

Solly looked at me as if I had lost it, a big grin spread across his face as he replied: "Nah, I'm not gonna do that!"

The amused Police Officer chimed in: "Well now, maybe I should walk you to your class." 

And THAT is how he got his first police escort. 

"Get used to it, Kid!" I called out. The Officer at least has a good sense of humor. 

After meeting with Solomon's Principal (God Bless Him) I immediately drove to the girls' school where Lily was to read her D.A.R.E. essay in front of the entire 5th grade, the Sheriff, the Chief of Police, the School Superintendent, State Reps, the District Attorney and other such important people.  
As she got up to read, I noticed Solomon's principal sitting behind us. He has a daughter in 5th grade as well. 

"My uncle went to prison and my cousin died because of drugs," she began. Attention granted by all. 

I shook my head. At the very least, it encourages some perspective from Solly's principal, after all, it's all relative.

****

That evening, Kurt asked Solly what color he ended up on today, expecting him to finally have a green day, for which we could go overboard congratulating him. 

"Um.....Yellow," he said plainly. 

"Really?" I asked, slightly sinking. "Yellow? Again?"

He looked at me, head cocked in contemplation. "Yup!" he finally exclaimed. 

"For what?" I wanted to know. 

"I don't actually remember," he said, which was probably the honest-to-God truth.


****

Later, Kurt and I were discussing what to do with this situation when Solomon came up singing from the basement.

"I got a little drunk last night," he sang. "Somethin' bout a midnight rain...."

"Um, Karen?" Kurt asked.

Sigh. 

I simply poured another glass of wine. (So sue me!) I'd ask what's next but something tells me it won't be long before we find out. At the very least, he is a creative little bugger.....I mean, rarely does she get to mark an ACTUAL box on those cards.....

Way to keep her on her toes, Solomontosaurus! 

(#NotWinningMotheroftheYearOverHere)


 


 

9.30.2016

PHEW! That was a close one!

For those of you who are not on my email list and sometimes check in to the blog to see if anything new has come out, you may have been faced with the horribly traumatic experience of finding that the blog was gone recently. Or at least, you couldn't find it at gracefulchicken.com!

You see, apparently when you set up a domain for auto-renewal and then cancel the credit card it renews on and then don't read your emails in order to get the final notices that the domain has not been paid for and therefore will not renew, the registrar takes it away! I know, crazy, right?

So after a week of hair pulling stress, too much reading and rereading (in a failed attempt to understand how it all works and what I need to do to reacquire my domain name), several conversations with different people at the registrar who told me the best they could do was have me transfer the name so that they could charge me for it so that I would have access again, (which still doesn't make sense since I had no access to the domain anymore in order to transfer it) and then a little stroke of luck as the light went on (briefly) in my brain and I put two and two together and figured out a way to get around it......www.gracefulchicken.com is back up and running.

Phew!

That was on top of a ridiculous week that included (but was not limited to): missing an IEP meeting for Liam, as well as five kids' dentist appointments, sending Solly to school with an ear infection (and apparently "because he wasn't running a fever and needs to suck it up" wasn't a good reason when I spoke to the nurse who calmly replied, "Yes, but he hurts."), missing the bus every. single. day., and then losing a rabbit (seriously, who loses a rabbit?.... Fortunately, it missed us and came back....sucker!), and finally, showing up at the Vet's office to get meds for the dog but forgetting my wallet. (As it turns out, you can run a tab at the Vet's office....they are good like that!) And then, because I forgot my wallet, I couldn't go get the medication at the pharmacy that I needed to pick up for Aidan who also had an ear infection (which he had been complaining about for weeks but I had just finally gotten him to the doctor that week, because SOMETIMES I SUCK AT MOTHERING!)

Apparently, this is what I get for vowing, after the death of another friend the week before, to appreciate each and every day, regardless of what it brings. Serves me right!

But all faith in the world was restored when my bestie showed up at the Pharmacy to bail me out, pay for the meds and even had a Starbucks drink for me to brighten my day. Never a day goes by that I am not thankful for my friends!

Have a great weekend, friends!


9.23.2016

More OCD Tales

People ask how Madeline is doing all the time. She is doing fairly well. She is still in school and only begs me maybe once a week to homeschool. This is great progress.

Her intrusive thoughts currently all revolve around cheating, which is not surprising with school in session. (Did you write the answers on my pencils? Are the answers on the tags to my shirt? Am I cheating? Oh no, I need to change into a different outfit because there are answers on this one!)

It is sad and scary and sometimes a bit ridiculous bordering on comical all at the same time. She suffers. She is tormented. But she also recognizes the illogic of it all. She knows her brain is tricking her, that her mechanism for turning off irrational ideas is simply not working, but it is so real to her that she suffers all the same. There are set backs, and there is progress. And she is pushing through.

She was getting out of the car the other day, wearing a tank top and heading in to take a quiz when she stopped and looked at me, that wide-eyed horror stricken look I have come to know so well.

"Did you write the answers on my arms?" she asked.

"What?" I asked, exasperated. "That's silly. Just the OCD talking, Madeline. Move forward."

"You did! You wrote all the answers on my arms!" she exclaimed, emphatically.

"Madeline, do you see answers on your arms?" I calmly asked.

"No."

"Do you have a potion to reveal the invisible ink that I must have used to write the answers on your arms?"

"No."

"Then I would suggest you just wipe the invisible answers off your arms and get into school," I said, half amused with myself.

"You are so mean," she said as she rolled her eyes and exited the car.

Yes, yes I am.

What's worse is I wrote the WRONG invisible answers, kid!

(I swear, I am the worse mom for this job......or maybe, just maybe exactly what she needs....)

9.02.2016

First Day of School

If you know me well, you probably know I have "Time-Management Issues" (which I like to think of as a symptom of being an optimist.....I am just so sure I can get those dozen things done before I have to be wherever it is I am going next.)

Well, believe it or not, summer went by in a blink of an eye. And as we were nearing the first day of school, trying to keep Madeline's anxiety at bay while the other kids excitedly prepared, I didn't really manage the time like I might have had I really believed school was actually going to start on the 31st.

As it turns out, the school district was not kidding about the start date and so the night before, I scrambled to figure out what the kids would need, and if we even had those things since my one futile attempt at back-to-school shopping was met with a Target that was mostly out of stock on all the essentials. (And then I forgot to get to Staples to finish collecting supplies......because in my mind, there was still plenty of time left, Summer! Way to ruin a perfectly good dream! Sheesh.)

Aidan was the last to go to bed since, like his mom, he struggles with time management issues as well and was trying to finish up his summer reading project. At 10:00 p.m. I told him he needed to pack up his backpack and go to bed. He emptied his backpack (from last year, still full of cookie crumbs and other assorted gross stuff) and asked which folders and binders he needed. I went through the list. I had only managed to find 2 of the right colored folders (for PE and Computers); not exactly a gold-star moment. I did get excited when I saw I had gotten the black binder needed for math but then quickly remembered that, oh yeah, his math class is at the high school so this middle school list does not apply for that class.....(I made him take it anyway because it's better to have something than nothing.....assuming we are not talking about diseases.....then nothing is pretty darn great!)

Anyway, Aidan was up by 5 a.m. working on his assignment and was out the door early to catch the bus. (One down, four to go.)

Madeline was up by 6:15, almost an hour early but was too excited to go back to sleep. (Given her nerves over the past couple of weeks, we were just happy to see her smiling and ready to go.)

Lily awoke, already in her school clothes (that she wore to bed, as is her norm) and quickly got to work making her lunch.

Liam kept an ongoing count down to let us know how much time we had before the bus arrived.....his nerves getting more and more edgy as the clock ticked away. (Think: FOUR ALARM FIRE when there was only 20 minutes left!)

Needless-to-say, with all we have going on, I felt a huge sense of relief when I sent these three off:



And with smiles no less! We were so grateful (even if it was a short lived happiness.....)


Then there was one.....one kid to get to school.

Solly started Kindergarten this year. Our district only offers half day (because they hate us) and so I signed him up for afternoon as it is one less kid to get ready in the wee small hours of morning.

Solly was excited about starting Kindergarten but he definitely had some reservations as the morning went on. (I also had some reservations because they put him in a class with a teacher who used to teach middle school reading lab and has ZERO experience with Kindergartners. She is a grandma and "loves children, loves reading to them, doing puzzles with them, playing games" but when I met her, I got the feeling that, in her rosy colored world, she had no idea what it would be like to have a classroom full of Solomons.....and I put my money on Solomon breaking her.....give it a month.)

After reading a random email from his teacher the night before, I realized she had given out a supply list at the orientation night (that I happened to miss since almost everything that happens in the district is Tuesday or Thursday evenings when I coach.) At any rate, I wrote the teacher, requesting the list and she wrote me this lovely email, apologizing for the unnecessary stress this must have caused me. I chuckled. There are many things that cause me stress but whether or not Solomon has a pencil box on the first day of school is certainly not one of them. (Whether he chooses to keep his clothes on at recess or pee in the bushes instead of using the bathroom, well, those may be on my list.....)

As we were driving home from Staples with his supplies (and his Starbucks lunch of champions: chips, chocolate chip cookie and chocolate milk......because I am mother-of-the century here.....) I got a call from our neighbor whose 5th child (of 7) is also starting Kindergarten. She wanted to know if I knew what time school started for the boys.

"Oh, thank God I am not the only one!" I told her.

I drove Solly to school at what seemed like a reasonable drop off time (12:30) and pulled up in front where there was an enormously LONG LINE of parents and kids waiting to go inside. There was ONE CAR in the actual car line and I hesitated. I must have missed the memo saying we were supposed to walk our kids in and seriously, why are all these parents doing that? I called my neighbor. Is this normal? While I had no intention of parking and walking in, wasting 20 precious minutes of this three hour block of FREEDOM, I felt this slight pang of guilt......She assured me Solly was independent enough to go it alone.

I watched as the little girl in the car in front of me got out and stood in the back of the line all by herself. I felt another wave of guilt.

"Solly," I said, turning around to look at him square in the eyes. "You are going to go into the school like a big boy, all by yourself, show all those other kids how it is supposed to be done, ok?"

"Got it!" he exclaimed.

"Great. You go on out there then and have a fantastic first day."

He gave me a kiss and got out of the car, heading toward the wrong door. I rolled down my window:
"Solly! You have to get in the line and go through THAT door," I hollered, pointing at the line and then the door.

He took one look at the ridiculous line, looked back at me with a daring glance and then ran through the grass, behind the trees, avoiding the line completely and stealthily snuck in the door behind the teacher who DIDN'T EVEN NOTICE HIM.

I guess he was dressed appropriately:

The little girl on the left is the end of the line.....Solly looked like an old pro cutting through that grass in his camouflage.....

I will admit, I said a little prayer.....for the teacher and the entire school for that matter. They will need it.

(Day two he tried to climb out the truck window at drop off.....I had to explain to him that he really should use the doors at school.....so he pulled his backpack back in the car, opened the door and literally fell out in a heap on the ground....he got up grinning: "I'm ok!" and rushed away. Oh lord help them.....)




What Doesn't Work With OCD

Having a child with a mental health disorder makes life far more challenging. What's worse is that it is really not something I can completely explain to people unless they have seen the symptoms and meltdowns for themselves, which of course, they haven't because children with OCD are very good at hiding their symptoms from people until they burst. From the outside, someone who knows Madeline might just sense a little anxiety or discomfort when really, a war is raging inside her.

This has certainly brought out some of my less than perfect parenting as I try to navigate what sometimes seems like an enormous abyss.

My parents have been privy to some of our more difficult moments; those marked by some of my greatest parental fails (and some successes that were total shots in the dark). And believe me, so much of this walk has felt like darkness......we go along, trying to understand, trying to figure it out, to research, to learn but time and again we stumble, fall flat on our face, shake our fists to the heavens because what the heck is this? AND WHY? There are just so many unknowns.

Nonetheless, here are some of my greatest fails to date, (I do not recommend trying these at home).

1. The therapist told me to have Madeline hold an ice cube to distract her from the intrusive thoughts causing the meltdowns. At one point, when forcing her to hold the ice in her hand was simply not working, I just poured the entire cup of ice on her. (For the record, while it did stop the screaming momentarily, the screeching that followed was probably not worth it.)

2. Madeline had been fighting the need to repeatedly wash her hands for several days. One night, towards the end of our FL trip (she had unfortunately had a relapse and was really struggling again), she went into hysterics and she spent ten full minutes washing with the bar of soap, lathering her hands over and over while in the shower. When I came to see what was going on and stupidly asked why she was doing it, she said her hands were dirty and wouldn't get clean so she had to wash them again and again. I took the bar of soap away (insert hysterical screaming) and she rinsed the soap off, (still screaming) and demanded I give her the soap back because her hands were still dirty and needed to be washed again (screaming, screaming, screaming).

Impatiently I exclaimed, "Madeline, this is your OCD! Your hands are NOT dirty," and then I impulsively grabbed her hands AND STUCK THEM IN MY MOUTH to prove how clean they were. She got quiet, wide eyed yet somehow still glaring.

"Ok, um, well, they might be dirty now," I said, handing the soap back.

3. At one point, we were walking inside and Madeline started walking to and from the door repetitively. Without even thinking, I slapped her on the back, as if that would snap her out of it. Ever try slapping someone out of a diabetes episode or an asthma attack? Yeah, it works about that well! (For the record, pinching does not work either, unless you are just trying to make the kids really mad, then I highly recommend it.)

I am sure there will be more where this came from because if there is one thing this experience has taught me it's that I am far from a perfect parent, maybe not even close to a good parent when you throw in big obstacles......but onward we press because at the end of the day, that's what loving parents do....just keep swimming, just keep swimming, whatcha gonna do you're gonna swim, swim, swim....

(It just might not be a very straight path.....)