The Author

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I am a high school English teacher, and mother of two charming little ones of my own. I teach in a high poverty urban charter school, while I live in a typical American suburb that has frequently been rated one of the safest cities in the country. It is a paradox I struggle with constantly, but it is my life.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Fall Break

So, it is fall break for me (we get a week off from school half way through the semester), which is a beautiful thing.  We didn't have the money to do anything big (no Hawaii this year, lol), but we splurged on tickets to take our little Peter Pan and Tinkerbell to  "Mickey's Halloween Party" at Disneyland.  They were so adorable. Tiana's favorite party was trick or treating throughout the park. Vinny of course loves the rides.

Marc and I took off the next day for a little trip to celebrate our anniversary.  (It isn't until November 1st, but it worked best to go now). We got a beautiful hotel on the beach in Pismo, which was quaint and adorable. The room was tiny, but it had a fireplace and a balcony overlooking the ocean, and a hot tub on the balcony, which was pretty amazing.

     Twelve years ago, Marc and I drove up to San Luis Obispo together when his sister lived up there and he and I were just friends.  We hiked (and accidentally ended up on a cliff overlooking a nude beach, haha), climbed all over rocks near Morro Boy, drew pictures in the sand on Shell Beach, hit the farmer's market downtown... and that was just a day trip.

Guess what we did this time?  We slept. We ate. That's pretty much it.

     Okay, yeah... we ate. The weather was crappy, which was part of it, but frankly... our lives are too busy. We stopped at a great little cafe in Ventura on the way up with a ton of vegetarian options.  We both really enjoyed just relaxing, and we both had a lot of work to do. We slept in really late (seriously, almost until lunch), enjoyed coffee on the beach (found the "Milky Way" place -- thanks Barb, it was awesome), drove around a little, then came back to relax.  Marc did homework and went for a bike ride. I watched hours of Dance Moms and graded papers. Then we did a little wine tasting and hung out at a sports bar so Marc could get his fill of ball games on big screens, since we don't have cable at home (Or so I thought... he is at a friend's house watching as the Dodger game continues on into a 12th inning... sigh).

     Then we came home and I finally got to tackling Vinny's room.  Ah, life with an OCD child.

      When you tell people your child has "OCD" they think it means that your child is "particular" or "picky" or overly "neat and tidy."  Sometimes people even laugh and make little comments like, "Must be nice." Let me tell you something... OCD kids are not neat and tidy and its no cake walk parenting him.  OCD is actually closely related to hoarding. In order to gain control over his space (and thus, his emotions and anxiety), Vinny longs to keep the vast majority of the space in his room clear of all objects. The few objects he keeps out are bunched into tiny corners and shoved onto shelves. He wants his dresser and desk CLEAR. This is of great importance to him, so when he has "stuff" that he doesn't know what to do with, he piles it in corners or shoves it in drawers or in his closet.

     I am trying to tackle it one area at a time. Last week, we dealt with his birthday presents. Yes... birthday presents. TWO MONTHS LATER.  I politely requested that people not get Vinny birthday presents (at least not toys), not because I think he is spoiled or anything like that, but just because I know what anxiety toys cause him, especially ones with lots of little pieces. People like to buy little boys toys with lots of little pieces.  I get that they are trying to be nice and that most boys Vinny's age love to build kits with little pieces. These just cause Vinny anxiety, so he left most of it in the corner of his room until I insisted we figure out to do with all of it. To be fair, many people "get" Vinny and bought him books and gift cards (which he thoroughly enjoyed -- he bought about 15 soundtracks, lol), but a lot of school friends I guess just didn't understand my plea for a presentless birthday.  Some of them, he and I finally returned today. He replaced his karaoke microphone and bought and second one (for duets!) and also bought a shirt. He loves clothes.

     So, today, we cleaned out his closet and I found... wow. Valentine's trinkets and candy from preschool (not even kidding) and Christmas trinkets from last year (bells, snowman straws, ornaments, etc.), as well as pieces of various costumes (we put them all back together -- Batman's belt and Superman's cape are all now in their rightful places).  We got rid of a TON of things -- card games, toys, his tball bat from when he was 3 (yes, 3). We found his dance shoes from a year ago, which are so small that they practically fit Tiana (he went through a growth spurt this past year). She is delighted to have tap shoes and jazz shoes waiting in her closet.

     Vinny has a hard time with the mess involved in cleaning spaces like closets, but he was a champ today. He made a bunch of trips to the trash and even helped fold and pack hand me down clothes to give away. I rewarded him with a trip to ice cream tonight.

     The discussion of Christmas has come up.  He is quite adamant that he does not want toys. He wants tickets to see Peter and the Starcatcher.  And a Macbook, but well... he's a bit young for that.

    It took about 3 hours today to get through his closet.  I want to think that was the worst of it, but I we have about 9 drawers left to go.

      Vinny's desire for less possessions is a good thing -- a healthy thing even. The things that mean the most to him in life are his experiences. His aunt bought him piano lessons for his birthday. He LOVES playing the piano and is so excited to learn more.  What better gift is there than the gift of learning?

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