Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Cancer Compromises...

Greetings All,

Let’s knock out the medical/update stuff before I get all philosophical: 

  • ·      Amie is doing really well this week, and is right now at her 23rd radiation appointment.
  • ·      As they said would happen, she’s starting to get these slight radiation burns on the back of her head.  I haven’t had a chance to take pictures of them yet, but they look like a bad rash.  They haven’t bothered her one bit yet, so I’m hesitant to bring any attention to them at all.
  • ·      She started her next round of chemotherapy yesterday, and will get that every day this week, through Saturday.  We’re hoping the medicines they gave her prior to her start this round will help ameliorate (see what I did there….) some of the more negative side effects of Irinotecan….without a doubt the worst of the chemo meds we’ve encountered this far.
  • ·      We are waiting on the travel agent’s call to get the final details on the trip to Hawaii.  We’ve asked to go the week of July 13th, just after the Teen Mom/Teen Mom 2 fundraiser on July 13th at Mt. Brighton.

Without a doubt, this was the best year of teaching that I have ever had.  I’ve had better relationships with students, felt more on the ball with certain things other years…but this was the best year overall for everything coming together in my classroom.  However…

I am so glad this school year is over.  By the end, I was barely holding things together… my filter was terrible.  I can’t remember if I said this to a parent, or in the blog…but the kids who need the most patience in my classroom are often the ones that inspire the least patience in teachers.  It was so, so hard to summon that patience for kids who were not being the best versions of themselves.  Those students are often the ones that lack the guidance, discipline, mentorship…whatever you want to call it, outside the classroom.  They need patience, and boy oh boy did I run out of it after I got back from Washington DC.  I’m very lucky I didn’t say something too snarky to someone.  Looking forward to having a few months to recharge my well of patience.  J

I’ve been thinking recently about parenting, and more specifically about parenting during a struggle such as we’re going through right now.  I know we don’t have a monopoly on struggles…and there’s tons of other parents going through really hard situations too. 

In my mind, I was thinking of many of the situations we’re going through as “Cancer Compromises”.  For instance:  Anya has developed a serious habit of denying any responsibility for mistakes with the words, “I didn’t mean to…” or “I wasn’t trying to...”  For example, Shelley asks Anya to put away her art supplies at the table, and she gets sidetracked playing with Amie.  Shelley will then ask again 10-15 minutes later.  She’ll get sidetracked again, and Shelley will repeat again.  By the 3rd time reminding Anya, Shelley’s voice will get much sharper (and this could easily be me too…but mine would sharpen on the 1st reminder) and Anya will immediately launch into a conversation about how she didn’t intend to forget, and why her forgetting was justified.  She often ends this whole episode in a ball of tears when we explain ourselves.

To me, all she has to say is “Ok, Dad.” …and then do it.  That’s all.

So.  Cancer Compromise: 
  • ·      Is Anya acting like this because this is a natural developmental milestone where she’s asserting her independence, and she needs our firmness to fall into line with our family’s expectations?
  • Is Anya acting like this because she’s having a hard time dealing with the stress of knowing that her best friend/little sister is massively struggling with cancer and could die, and has so many emotions bubbling around in her mind that she has an extremely hard time processing them, and gets overly flustered?

Just so you don’t think this is just Anya, let’s do one on Amie.  Shelley asks Amie to put her Princess nightgown back in her PJ drawer so she could wear it to bed tonight.  Amie looks right at Shelley and says, “No.”  Shelley asks Amie what she just said, and Amie says “I said No, Mommy.  I not going to do it.”

Cancer Compromise:
  • Is Amie acting this way because she’s 3.5 years old, and its natural to assert one’s independence, and needs to understand that our family does not talk like that, and her sass is rude?
  •  Is Amie acting this way because she’s undergoing an inhumane torture of radiation and chemotherapy that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy, thus making her grumpy, tired, irritable?

In both situations <and I could type out 20 more if I felt like taking the time>, we feel totally justified in talking to our daughters about the way our family acts, the expectations we have for communication, and how we expect them to behave. 

In both situations, we struggle….knowing what both kids are going through.  We know that as adults we are constantly wrestling with the emotions that are going through our minds, and what that does to our behaviors and reactions towards others.

Shouldn’t we be far more lax in how we react towards the kids?  But can’t that same argument be used for why I have students in class who are constantly focused on themselves, rude as hell to others in 8th grade, trying the patience of teachers on a daily basis?

I do not have the answer to this question…  and not sure there even is one other than for us/me to  our hearts and guts and live with the results. 

Anyway… just thought like riffing on this idea for a while as I wait for Shelley’s car repairs to be done (recall work).

One last thing…  it’s our 10th anniversary tomorrow.  We’re spending it together at radiation and chemotherapy, and then home.  We had grand plans this time last year, but those are on hold.  I think we’ll have a ceremonial dinner in Hawaii in a few weeks, and make that our “official” 10th anniversary.

I did buy Shelley an awesome present though.  I can’t wait to give it to her.  I have a problem with things like that.  It actually hurts me to be patient.  So I will now shut up…

Finally, pictures!

I've long showcased Anya's drawings here, but not sure I've shown you any of Amie's "Persons".  
I love them, but they can be profoundly creepy in an awesome way.
Put a knife in any of their hands, and they can easily jump into a horror movie.  MUAHAH!
But I possibly love them even more because of that.

Not sure if any of you have as many apps as I do going on your phone, but I've recently become a big fan of the Google app that hooks your pictures up with Google+.  If you take a bunch of pictures in succession, the app recognizes that...and then automatically makes pictures like this for you.  In some of them, they make an animated .gif, in others they arrange them in cool ways.  Anyway, I thought this one was cool, and immediately made me think of The Brady Bunch....with cloned Amies.

This picture got a ton of love on FB yesterday, but I wanted to highlight it for another reason.  I know a LOT of you are passionate Detroit Tigers fans.  If you look at the door behind Amie, that's the Child Life playroom in the cancer infusion clinic, where she and others get chemotherapy delivered.  This room was sponsored by Brandon Inge and his wife.  
I know nothing about this guy, but love that the room is a place that she gets lots of enjoyment out of when she has the energy, and his donation made that possible.  :)

We went to Book Buddies last night at the Howell Carnegie Library.  This was in their Build It room, while we were waiting for it to start.  
I love love love how Anya is always willing to take a silly picture with me, no matter what it is.  

Amie hasn't done a scrunchy face for me in a long, long time.  He's an update with her sheepdog hair.

Have a great day everyone!