I’ve been doing the Calgary city census for a number of years now. And every year it is a bit different and also a bit the same.
I think I could safely say that I am a sociable person. I don’t mind chatting. I don’t mind making small talk. I ask questions. And I try to help where I can.
What I’ve found again and again as a census taker is that people are lonely. Each night I am out it seems like at least one home ends up monopolizing my time and I spend a good half hour chatting with someone.
People are lonely. People are isolated in their busy lives. And people just want someone to take a few minutes to listen to them and care about what is important to them.
I can do that. I don’t mind. I’m not really on the clock. I get paid by the house, but this job is just extra money…usually for a summer vacation.
This year every night without fail I have had at least one person chat for a good while with me.
I’ve learned about a lady whose husband died of cancer 2 years ago and whose 5 year old is struggling with it now and how her 8 year just endures it all.
Tonight I heard the story of a English gentleman whose wife is in the hospital with alzheimer’s and who is waiting to get into long term care. Tomorrow they meet with a lawyer and do trustee paperwork. He showed me pictures of him young and told me about his life in London.
Another lady told me about her 3 dogs and her 2 puppies and her old dog with hip problems and that’s dying.
A lady told me about her dog running away from the dog walker and the fines the city gave her.
And there was the new Spanish family to Canada that has been here only a month.
People want desperately to be known and connect to another person. And with all of our digital social connections I think the problem is amplified. Virtual connections cannot completely replace physical connections. Don’t get me wrong, they are great things. But Facebook can’t replace a one on one face to face conversation. Something deep inside us all desires human connection.
So, my census collecting takes way too long and doesn’t pay too great. But I have some pretty interesting stories and I think I’ve left a number of people happier and in better spirits than when I first rang their doorbell.
It is interesting because I’ve now had quite a number of people who have remembered me from past years and who have said that they were glad to see me again.
So, if I can brighten one persons day then doing the census was well worth it!
Tonight I was out, yet again, doing the census. The Never ending census. For 2 weeks it’s census every weekend and evening. 50 to 60 hours of census collecting squeezed into 2 weeks.
I decided I needed a bit of a boost, so I intentionally chose to start my evening with some more high density homes. Meaning I could hopefully collect a few more a little bit faster and make me feel better about how much I’d done…or not done….
When I was out, I met a lady and heard her story. Super nice lady. Super hard times. Currently she is dealing with her young son’s cancer treatments. Her husband passed away from cancer a couple years ago. And she is struggling. I listened. And I felt like I really should DO something. But our finances are super tight. Rent is coming soon and Jason is still behind on his pay. I can’t give away the rent.
I said goodbye and went on collecting census. After all I had spent a half hour at her door…
A little while later it hit me.
I have a few gift cards I’ve been saving for specific things. In fact I have a $100 gift card for fuel. I had been saving it for summer vacation.
However, I immediately knew that this was a way I could really help her. Obviously driving to and from all her son’s treatments would use a significant amount of fuel.
So, I stopped doing the census. I drove home and found the gift card. And I drove back and gave it this lovely lady.
She cried and hugged me. And I was just grateful that my 5 kids are healthy and my husband is healthy and I can help her in this small way.
If we all look a little harder there are people needing our help and ways we can help, even when we don’t think we can.
I am the mother of a child that is not liked by most people. He has very few friends. OK. He has no friends. No real friends.
He doesn’t get play dates. At best he is tolerated. He can be the best behaved kid ever. But he also can just as quickly and unexpectedly be the worst behaved kid you have ever seen. Honest. No exaggeration.
My life is shaped by his. His behaviour and unpredictability shapes my daily life. He is not a kid that is welcome to go places. And frankly I hesitate to take him anywhere I know people.
With my older 4 kids I would sometimes call in a favour with a friend and get one to babysit my kid(s) for awhile so I could attend a meeting or field trip or whatever. With him, I don’t have enough currency with anyone for favours. No one will watch him when I’m in a bind.
He is the child no one likes and no one wants to be around. He is the child parents won’t invite over. He is the child who never gets a play date. He never gets invited to a birthday party. I honestly can’t remember the last birthday party he was invited to as a guest and not just a little sibling. Maybe never.
Some days are just so hard. When you have to apologize yet again for behaviour that is beyond comprehension as to why it even happened. For behaviour that none of your other kids would have even considered doing.
When you have to just remove your child from another activity because you just don’t want to face that person ever again after your child’s latest behaviour.
When you want to move far away and just be a Hermit. Where you can just be nobody and nobody knows you and nobody knows your child that no one likes and wants to be around. Where you never have to go in public and never have to be embarrassed by the actions your child does, that he knows better than to do…or he at least should but somehow doesn’t.
And so I am the parent of a child I am with 24 hours a day. A child who sometimes I desperately need a break from and there is just no break to be had. The things I need a break from no one else wants either. And I don’t blame them. I actually don’t want my child to go anywhere because I just don’t want to deal with any more incidents. I don’t want to apologize any more for behaviour that makes me cringe. And I don’t want anyone else to have to deal with what I deal with everyday.
So, here I am the honest mother of a child no one likes or wants to be around. And it sucks. It just sucks. It’s not what I asked for. It’s not what I wanted.
But it is. And tomorrow I’m sure I will go back to making lemonade from these lemons. But today they are just sour lemons that aren’t good for much.
I haven’t blogged in quite some time. I started to on Monday, but didn’t actually have enough to say honestly.
Last night I wanted to, oh I wanted to. I wanted to let the tap run and let out my frustrations and horror! But I knew I shouldn’t. So I didn’t.
So here I am wanting desperately to write something other than about my 7 year old son. And yet he’s the only thing to write about. And I’m tired of those struggles and worries and heartaches. And I just don’t want to put them on paper right now.
I’d rather just lie down and go back to bed and pretend I didn’t have a child who couldn’t go to school or Kung fu. And that I didn’t have a child who could behave so badly that you would just sit and listen in disbelief….only not true disbelief, because the stranger the incident the more you know he truly did it.
I just want it to all go away. I’m tired of being the one parent who has to take care of all the needs and issues. And I know that isn’t fair to say but it sure feels it.
So here I am wanting to blog and saying more than I should and really saying nothing at all.
But writing anything at all sometimes is the simple outlet I need to be able to breathe and get through another day.
At least my best guess is that today should be a decent day, since last night was so horrible. That’s how it works around here. The worse the incident, the better the behavior the following day. Unfortunately it only lasts one day…
Never mind…just found out what all the yelling upstairs was about. No easy good day today…
The journey to understanding and helping our son continues.
I continue to read all the time and seek to find new ways to help our son; and to seek to understand him better.
Our son is complicated. Every person is. But our son, it seems, is even more so.
One minute he is the absolute model child. The next he is the absolute model child, of what every parent doesn’t want in their child’s behaviour.
The longer I work closely with him and the more I read, the more I learn about him.
For a very long time I think I’ve treated his meltdowns like temper tantrums. What I’ve discovered is that the 2 are not the same. Temper tantrums the child can stop, usually when they get what they want. Melt downs, the child just can’t stop the emotional outburst once it’s in full swing.
Keilan needs me to be more sensitive to his sensory overloads. But this is so hard to do! I don’t want to raise an entitled child or a spoiled child or a child who uses temper tantrums to get his way. But, what I’m learning is that Keilan needs me to help him with the sensory overload and to help him learn tools to recognize and manage his own sensory overloads.
I think in some areas Jason and I have been pretty good at helping Keilan to succeed. For example, he will often now just say to us something like, “My body needs to move so I have to run right now.” I think that we have helped him learn to recognize when his body just needs to move.
I think we haven’t done a very good job of teaching him to reconcile when he’s hurt how to best express that. I think we’ve hammered in to not throw a temper tantrum. But, it causes him to instead just cry and not talk and communicate with others what’s wrong.
What I’m learning is that, I think he is in sensory overload and his only way of coping is silence. The problem is – we can’t help him if we don’t know what’s wrong; And he is only holding himself together by not talking. When I push him to talk, I think I actually push him into a sensory overload. So my attempt to help him actually is doing the exact opposite.
Problem is – he needs to learn to communicate so we can help him. How that will happen I suspect will continue to be a challenge. But, now that I am aware that this is one of the issues, I will try to have more patience next time it happens….I did say try…
I am learning that our son has sensory sensitivities that I think we have really just not even recognized. I believe he has sound sensitivities and definately certain touch sensitivities. I think that I never really considered these things before because he really doesn’t present as a child that I typically think of with sensitivities.
But, the more I read, the more I realize that no children are the same and sensitivities can run on both ends, hypo and hyper. I believe our son’s are fairly mild in the big picture. But I do believe they are a contributing factor to his ADHD combo and ODD.
There are just so so many puzzle pieces we are slowly identifying that work together to make our son the person he is. But the more I pay attention and the more I learn, the better I can help him to manage and deal positively on a ongoing basis with his emotions and reactions.
Ultimately we just want our son to be successful in life. And it’s my job to help him walk the path and find the way to his success…
So, although the path is long and littered with obstacles I will stay by his side and we will get to our destination together one day.
What I miss most – time alone, dropping my child off for a play date alone, going pretty much anywhere without the constant anxiety of when and how his melt down will happen, the ability to plan a few days away from the kids – all the kids but our son I can easily find care for. Not him. So we don’t go away. I love my family. I love my son. No, my life right now doesn’t look at all like I planned it to. I didn’t plan to home school. I didn’t plan to hide from people I know to save the embarrassment of my child’s melt downs. I didn’t plan to set my hopes aside for even awhile longer yet…because my child just needs me. I am doing what is best for my son right now. Nope, it isn’t easy. Every single day is a different challenge. But I am here, and I do it. I do it because it needs to be done and it’s mine to do. I do it because I love my son and this is what he needs.
I continue to hope Jason and I can one day get away. And I know that one day we will. But right now, unless it’s a 3 some with a little 7 year old tagging along, it just isn’t going to happen.
But… I count my blessings! Jason and I went to Rosebud this weekend with close friends and had a wonderful time! It may not be a night or weekend or week away, but it was an evening. And everyone was good when we got home.
All this week I worked while my kids were off for Easter break and no one killed anyone. That is a blessing too!
And we have a house guest for the next few months and he is a good influence on my kids, so that too is a blessing!
I have a husband who loves me and for that I too am blessed!
So, when I get overwhelmed by the journey I’m on with my youngest child, I have but to think on the blessings I have in my life to help bring perspective and peace.
I know that the work I put in now with our son will one day pay off in spades. I just have to keep that in perspective!
So everyday is a new day and it brings new and also the same old challenges. But every so often the new day brings a new success or opportunity or enlightenment or understanding. So even in this way every new day is also a blessing…