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Friday, January 27, 2006

Law and Lack of Order

A few stolen moments…Dear Daughter is chatting happily in her bed (naptime is a misnomer these days) and Dear Son is pleased for the present and snoozing peacefully in his bouncer chair. The demands for my attention are many, but today, I decided, I need to treat myself to the release this blog writing often affords me. All my life I’ve aspired to be a professional writer and even obtained a bachelor’s degree in creative writing. However, I never wanted to engage in journalism or stoop to the levels that writing for the media often require one to stoop. I wasn’t well prepared during my undergraduate studies for how to get work as a “creative writer.” And…upon completing my degree I entered the world of the “starving new college graduate” facing the realities of real bills and paying student loans. Sure, I had a brief stint as an editor for a timber trade publication while living in Idaho. It was a bit lacking in the creative side I longed for, and tended to bend a little too much toward the journalism side for my taste, but I figured it was a start. When the project to which I was assigned lost its funding, I went the route of a stable job with good benefits. This was far from the route of a “starving artist” of the aspiring writer type. I couldn’t support myself with a freelance article here and there, and quite honestly, I’ve never wanted to write a novel. So I settled to write for fun, passion, and release. People throughout my life have asked my why I don’t “do more” with my writing. Two reasons at this stage of my life…no, actually three reasons: 1) I don’t know how to get started and 2) don’t presently have the time to figure it out. 3) I’ve gone a different route in my career in order to bring in some more reliable bacon and fulfill another passion I have: to help others achieve optimal mental health (ha!). Currently, I settle for the creative release this blog affords me. Granted, it’s just rough ramblings of the current state of things in my life as a mother, but I once had a much admired high school English teacher who encouraged me to “Write, and write often” simply to keep the creative juices flowing. She also told me that if I don’t “do something with my writing, she will haunt me.” Indeed, the fact that I remember her and her comment so well tells me that she is haunting me. Maybe someday I will have the time and energy to figure out how to “do more” with my writing or maybe someone will stumble across my path and be able to guide me in just what to do to get started. For now, I have to settle for stolen moments for some rough ramblings.

I’ve taken a reprieve for several days as I’ve been a bit distracted. I hadn’t intended on returning to work quite so quickly, but I’ve been shaken out of my “post-partum slumber” (what a terribly inaccurate reference to the realities of my present state of sleep deprivation) by the issuance of a subpoena. Six weeks post-partum, hormones raging, severely sleep deprived, and exhausted by the demands of being a Mommy to a toddler and a newborn…and sadly, completely ignorant to the legal system. I hate law, politics, and trying to comprehend things like the ins and outs of insurance policies and tax rules. That’s why I studied creative writing and classical piano the first time around in college, and then, when I realized I couldn’t pay any bills with those particular talents, re-trained in graduate school to be a professional counselor. None of these things involved having to understand or deal very much with all that dry, yucky stuff I mentioned above.

Now, the best news of all is that while I’ve been subpoenaed for an issue related to my work as a professional counselor, I am not named as a party in the litigation, but I am simply being dragged in as a witness. Did I say simply? HIPAA, and the laws therein, fall too closely under the umbrella of “dry, yucky stuff” that I despise trying to comprehend. Nonetheless, I have studied the laws of HIPAA, knowing I couldn’t afford not to in my profession. I even completed some continuing education credits for my studies in the area. Nevertheless, I feel woefully unprepared. While confident I conducted myself appropriately throughout the time I was involved as the plaintiff’s therapist, it did involve my having to legally break confidentiality as a mandated reporter and it was a “sticky” situation. And…I despise lawyers in general about as much as I despise the “school” of law. I’ve seen colleagues go through legal proceedings and be completely raked over the coals and thoroughly rattled by lawyers regardless of how competent they are as LPCs and Psychologists. My hormones can’t deal with being attacked like that at this present time. I will either end up a bawling mess, or become even more bold and brazen than I already am in a natural, non-raging-hormonal state as I defend myself. Why, indeed, should I have to be prepared to “defend myself” when I am not the one on trial? I just know this is how lawyers work, and I’ve seen it happen to others. I have too much else going on in my life right now to deal with getting dragged into depositions and court proceedings and having to research and consult, consult, consult, about how to CYA on issues such as when I can be forced to give testimony, how much to say, and when my treatment notes can be pulled into the mix.

Thank you to my Dear Mother-in-Law, from whom I just received a card in the mail today. She sent me a couple scriptures that are encouraging, even though she does not know (until now) that I am facing this.

“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me. The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy and loving-kindness, Oh Lord, endure forever-forsake not the work of Your own hands.” Psalm 138:7-8

“And will not [our just] God defend and protect and avenge His elect (His chosen ones), who cry to Him day and night? Will He defer them and delay help on their behalf?” Luke 18:7

On the “Mommy front,” handling two “babies” is apparently becoming second nature. It doesn’t seem nearly so hard as it did a few weeks ago, though not easy, mind you. Dear Daughter no longer bats an eye at her Dear Brother’s crying. Dear Daughter also seems to become much more patient and less demanding. We’ve dealt with a few fits and meltdowns along the way, but she’s learning. A couple time outs in her bedroom with the door shut and an egg timer set to make her wait when she whines and demands and carries on have been helpful in that realm. Currently, I am trying to put a positive spin on “time outs,” encouraging Dear Daughter that it can be a good thing to take a break before losing her temper, and suggesting she go to her room to sing a song or read a book and then come back out when she feels better. I told her that Mommy was going to “take a break” too when I need one. While we discussed this, lying in her bed one night with the lights out, she sweetly reminded me that Daddy might also need to do this sometimes. She is a good little “policer.” Another example of her “policing” is when she has wanted to go play with toys in the neighbor’s yards and I’ve told her “that’s not yours” and told her she needs to ask someone before playing with their things. Later, at the grocery store, I put something in the cart and Dear Daughter serenely stated, “Mommy, that’s not yours.”

Dear Daughter has kind of befriended a slightly older little girl across the street who is about 4 years old. This neighbor girl sometimes likes to play with Zoe and sometimes looks at her like she’s an alien. This neighbor girl’s name is Autumn, but that is a new word for Zoe, so she calls Autumn “Ottoman,” which is not a new word for Zoe. We happen to have an ottoman in front of our couch. Those are the times that Autumn looks at Dear Daughter like she’s an alien. Poor Zoe hasn’t had a lot of opportunities to learn social skills yet, and I’m working on that. She hasn’t had siblings, and has no cousins or other young family peers close by to interact with, she’s not in daycare. The only peer social interaction she gets is in the church nursery. When she meets another child, she doesn’t know how to conduct herself. The other day Dear Husband was outside playing with her and a different little neighbor girl about 3 ½ years old came running to meet Zoe, and Zoe ran the opposite direction towards her daddy shrieking in fear, “Hold me! Hold me!” Dear Husband was embarrassed as he tried to reassure Dear Daughter that this was just a little girl, and she didn’t have to be afraid.

I’ve tried to teach Dear Daughter that when another little girl approaches her, she could say hi and tell her her name. The second time that “Ottoman” visited us in our driveway, Dear Daughter waited until “Ottoman” had talked with me a few minutes and was walking away before she peeked out from behind my legs and leaned toward her and shouted, “My name is Zoe Grace!” Ah well, she’s beginning to get it…sorta.

We’re also working on putting boundaries around the newfound skill of nose picking. Dear Daughter used to simply announce loudly, “I’ve got dried goobers!” I taught her the word “goober” instead of “booger” because I thought it sounded a bit better. Now she has learned how to stick her finger up there and twirl it around. She practiced this new skill the entire time we shopped at the stuff mart the other day. I kept trying to get her to take her finger out of her nostril, telling her it wasn’t polite to do that in public, but she continued to twirl away. Later, we talked about this lying in her bed at night. This seems to be where and when we have our deepest and most serious conversations. She reminded me to discuss it with her because she had that finger rammed up her nosed again. I told her that it’s okay to pick her nose at home or in her bedroom but it’s not okay to do it around other people or when we are at the store, like the stuff mart. She pondered this while her little finger twirled away. Then she sat up as if a light bulb went on inside her head. The little finger never stopped twirling as she announced, “But I can pick my nose in my room!”

Great. I’m going to have a daughter that is a chronic nose-picker, and a son that can’t stop farting, loudly—I might add. So much for being parents of “popular” kids at school someday. I just hope they can go on in life to have a friend or two and eventually maybe a date with the opposite sex.

As long as I’m rambling on a variety of topics, I will also share that Dear Son began smiling and cooing a couple weeks ago. It’s a relief when the little personality begins to emerge from a newborn. Sometimes those grins and coos are just enough to take the edge off of a rough night or a fussy day…or the fear that he’ll never outgrow the compulsive farting stage.

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