Dear kids of bipolar parents,

If you would have told me 10 years ago that at some point I would be writing about bipolar on the internet, I would have not believed you. I know that having lived my childhood and coming out the other side as delightfully suburban average, is nothing short of amazing.

So I opened the door to the topic.

And then again.

Then I get a comment from a 15 year old and it’s like I’m back there. I feel compelled to say something to those kids who want direction. Who feel lost, unloved, and uncared for. This is for them.

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Dear kids of bipolar parents,

Dear Kids of Bipolar Parents (1)

If you’re googling this topic at all, I’m going to assume that you’re old enough to start realizing that things aren’t adding up.  Maybe you’re around 10 like I was.  Maybe you’re older.  Either way, you’re questioning what the hell is going on with your parent.

Maybe one day they’re nice as pumpkin pie only to turn on a dime into something that scares you.

You just don’t understand.

I came up with this saying that I say to myself to this day:

“If I understood it, then I would be it.”

Say it. Say it out loud.  Repeat it.

Mental illness like bipolar is barely understood by professionals.  You may never understand why your parent is the way they are.

Why are they irrational.

Why are they so uncaring.

Why are they so unattached.

Listen to me, it’s not about you. Their brain does not and will not work the way that yours does. And it’s sad. I know.

So what can you do to survive?

Decide to survive.

Decide that you are worth saving. You are worth living a life filled with whatever you want.

When you are young, you may feel like you are caring for yourself.  And you may be. Make the best choices you can. Feel your decisions with every cell of your being. If you feel like you’re making a wrong turn in life, immediately turn back. You have to have your own back.

Stay in school. Do well in school.

I took a job in high school just so I was out of the house more. Do what you have to do to survive.

Look for good role models. Maybe you have a friend who has a stable family. What makes that family work, look for those examples.

Learn to love. Growing up without love makes one very hard and cold.

Open up to people who will listen without judgment. Even though you have your own back, look for those in your life that can offer even a little emotional support.

Learn to trust. Growing up with parents that you can’t trust becomes ingrained in who you are. I personally had a hard time with this one.  Trust those who have your best interests in mind. This might take a while, even years to do.

Don’t stop believing that you can do it. Because you can.

If you understood it, then you would be it.

But you’re not. You’re you.

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Note: Please seek out professional help if you can.

We Don’t Do Reading Programs

My older son was born a reader. He gravitated to words before he could even read them. I let his natural curiosity control the pace of his learning and by 3; he was reading books by himself. At home we always had books around; we visited the library, and let him get books whenever he wanted. He could read books or not read books. He could read for 10 min, 1 min, or 30 minutes, whatever he wanted. He set his own pace and we supported that.

Then reading programs started in school. At the younger grades it started with 5 minutes a day of “required” reading. Maybe he/we would have to write down the book title and how many pages or minutes he read.

From day one, I knew it wasn’t going to be a good fit for us. Braden was sort of black and white at that time and the teacher had authority. If I had told him that he needed to read 5 minutes, he would have read 5 minutes. The downside is that he would have naturally read for 15 minutes but now this new “law” reigned.

So we stopped. Sure, for a while I would just fill in fake information but then I just stopped. I figured if the teachers really had an issue with his reading, they would reach out to me. They never have.

My younger was a born player. He loves sports, riding his bike and scooter around the street. He loves to move, and run, and be active. Unlike his older brother, books were not his go to even though we have piles and piles of books in his room. He learned to read on pace for his age and we supported him along the way. We continue to read to him and have him read but, again, it is not a pressure issue in our home.

He has also expressed his dislike of reading to which I respond, “Well, I guess we just haven’t found something that you really love yet, and that’s ok. We’ll keep trying different books.”

School is starting and he’s at the point where these “reading logs” will become part of his homework. He already does not gravitate towards reading so I don’t feel making him read for X amount of time is a positive approach. If 10 min is “required” of him and he stops after 5 minutes? I’ll take it. He’s at a point where if I push it, he’s going to dislike it more. Clock watching does not make something relaxing and enjoyable. It adds a layer of anxiety and clouds the mind with number keeping.

The love to read needs to grow naturally and at his chosen pace, no matter the minutes.

So we don’t do reading programs but I’m still hoping to end up with 2 children who love to read.

Locker Decorating is a Thing.

Going to Jr high is a big transition for a kid. There’s the fear of forgetting your locker combination.  Fear of being late to class since you switch every period.  The fear of changing in front of others for gym class.  Or the fear of your locker not being blinged out enough to fit in.

Wait. What?

We went to pick up our supplies at the school (#TeamSupplyKitForLife) and got our first glimpse of the little space that would hold his academic life for the next 3 years.

It was pretty standard.

Empty

I had heard about locker shelves and had contacted the person who made them as a side job, but I never heard back.  “Meh, we’ll live without them” I thought.

The next day when we went to “walk the schedule” I noticed people setting up their lockers. There were kids walking in with locker shelves that were painted and personalized.  Looking at the space, I realized that the shelves were probably a really good idea, otherwise it’s all going to pile to the bottom, and in my sons case, that would take about 4 days.

Other people went in a more elaborate direction to decorate their lockers and used wrapping paper to line the walls, lights, carpets, and chandeliers.

Yes, I said chandeliers.

I decided to get my rear in gear, make some shelves, and personalize his space.

Locker decorating for Boys

I made the shelves out of MDF board, used spray paint, skull cutout stickers, added a few things from the office store and then finished it off with # magnets of sayings that my son came up with.

The magnets were made with printable magnet paper that I happened to have.

I know “happened to have” annoys me to.

As I was putting it together I realize this is a transition for both of us. He’s growing up, becoming more independent, and learning to walk on his own.

Walking

For now, I’m still close behind.

Avoiding the Big GS.

Every year around this time the garage becomes my Halloween workshop.  To make this happen, I have a yearly ritual in which I clean out the garage.   It tends to also be the gardening workshop, the wood workshop, the painting workshop, and doll storage. This year after getting it in pretty good shape, I ended up having some stuff that seemed too good to be thrown to the curb.

I decided to sell it online because I’d do anything to avoid doing the Big GS.

Garage Sale

::shudder::

I listed them on our local “online yard sale.”  It’s a lot like craigslist but more specific to the city I live in.

And then I’ll use the money to buy Halloween stuff!

See how that works?

On the selling list:

An air conditioner- $70

A tricycle- $10

A scooter- $20

Wicker furniture (4 pieces) – $45

6 metal patio chairs with cushions- $50

Within minutes of me listing the items I had messages.

I immediately thought that this was the best thing ever invented!

Sell-Stuff-Online-Make-Money!!!!

I start the correspondence and that’s when I started dropping exclamation points from my feelings.

Someone responds about the 6 chairs with the subject line that says

“GREAT Deals!!”

And when I open the message it says- will you take $20 for the chairs?”

tweet

I have multiple people interested in the air conditioner. It’s only a few years old and the only reason we’re getting rid of it is because our windows don’t support a window unit that well.  We have central air and this was a unit just for our one son’s room that really heats up in the summer.  It worked and new cost $179.

“Hi, I’m interested in the air conditioner, will you take $60 for it?”

“No. I’ll take $70 because I have 3 others interested” And I did.

“Ok then, when can I come by to get it?”

He shows up and then after plugging it in and it works says “Will you take $65”

::blank stare::

Listen asshole. The price was pre agreed upon. This isn’t make a deal day.

“No, we agreed on $70 and if you don’t want it that’s fine”

He takes it, pays the $70 and I put my torch down.

My stuff is getting some decent looking traffic and I get another message later.

“Hi, I’m interested in the wicker couch, are there any holes?”

Now, I did give the option of buying the pieces separately so that didn’t annoy me.

“No, there are no holes or obvious flaws, if you would like I can email you a few pictures of it closer up.”

I send the pictures and then she replies:

“Can I come by and look at it?”

And this is where I get annoyed.

A)    The loveseat is $15.

B)    I sent you pictures

You want to come here to INSPECT it?

I don’t think so lady but you know what IS worth $15?

You coming here to inspect it and when you get here it’s on fire on my front lawn.

wicker on fire

And then there are the people who say they’re coming to buy something….and then don’t.

What. Is. That.

At least I’m not having a garage sale. Pretty sure I’d have to have a fire truck on standby to put out the stuffed animal roman candle I’d be blowing off into the neighborhood.

I don’t deal well with negotiating down nickels either.