Thursday, September 27, 2007

My Little Innie

Oddly enough, I'm not going to talk about my belly button.

Instead, I want to blog about Conor's adjustment to his new room in daycare. It's a much bigger, much more exciting room with lots of toys and lots of noise and kids. It's very stimulating and we think it would fun to hang out there and play for the day. However, Conor has not adjusted to it as well as the teachers would like.

After a few weeks, they told us that he preferred playing by himself or reading a book instead of playing with the other kids. Then they told us that they were concerned about his attention span because he didn't like to spend a lot of time doing the circle activity. I questioned any problems with his attention span (he's always been able to focus and do whatever he wants for a long period of time). I suggested that it may be just a little too stimulating for him. I also was concerned a bit that he wasn't playing with the other kids. (Isn't that every parent's fear?) However, I think I let my concern ramp up their concern.

On Weds, we found out that during the regular teacher/specialist meetings, they alerted the inclusion specialist that they were concerned about Conor's participation in the class. The teacher told me that although Conor is receptive to other children approaching him and wanting to play, he does not initiate interaction with other children. Also, they felt he should be more active in the circle group. He hasn't seen a child that reticent in the 7 years he's been teaching. (That scared me a bit)

Then he pointed out that just that day Conor had taken some toys into circle time and was poking another child with them. They had asked him to sit outside the group for a few minutes until he was able to come back in.

Without missing a beat, I said "It looks like he was initiating interaction right there, wasn't he?"

The teacher looked slyly at me and pointed out the difference between "appropriate and inappropriate initiation."

I'm just saying.

The inclusion specialist wasn't concerned at all and when I asked if we should try to schedule more playdates, she said No. Just keep reading to him, playing with him and loving him. Not too hard. But the teachers seem more concerned.

Here's the pushback part. Conor does not have any of the signs for Asperger's Syndrome. The only thing that is happening is that he appears to be a little slow to warming up to this new classroom.

Since I know his father pretty well, I'm voting that our little guy is a bit more introverted than the average bear. Introversion is not shyness. Shyness involves a social anxiety that Conor does not have. Introversion, on the other hand, has to do with where one gets one's energy.

Here's a question for you: You have a completely free day with no obligations. What would you like to do?

No seriously. Think for a second, what would you do on your free day?


If your fantasy free day involves going out with friends and doing things with others, you are likely to be an extrovert: you get your energy from stimulation outside of yourself. I am an extrovert. People pump me up.

If your fantasy free day involved reading a book at home or doing some other thing alone, then you are likely to be an introvert: You get your energy from inside yourself. You likely have a rich inner life. A lot of external activity and stimulation can be overwhelming and tiring. Introverts often need to be alone to recharge themselves. Dave is an introvert.

Introversion/extroversion has a strong genetic component and does not have much to do with the environment in which one is raised. It is such a fundamental part of people's lives because introverts' and extroverts' brains are wired differently. It's a fundamental part of how people want and need to process the information around them.

So I think Conor is an introvert, or "innie" as they are sometimes called. And introverts function differently in classrooms than extroverts do. (And of course, the bias is for outies and not innies). They don't like group activities as much and they need time away from everyone else to process the information they are learning.

This sounds a lot like the "problems" Conor is having in school. The good news is that innies will eventually start participating like everyone else after a few more weeks/months in the classroom. But it does take them longer than average. And I don't want to walk into the classroom and say "YOU'RE WRONG! HE'S JUST AN INTROVERT!! BACK OFF!" Actually, I DO want to do that, but I'm not going to. I do want for Conor to develop more social skills, like I would want all toddler kids to do so. I just want there to be no pressure on him as he does so. And they just let him warm up at his own pace.

That said, I do have a fantasy of saying to his teachers:

Maybe the circle activity is boring? Huh? Have you thought about that? Picking your favorite colors? Conor's been doing that at least since his ((brilliant, genius, friendly)) cousin Carter* came to visit last Thanksgiving. And you're going to TEACH him that his parent's have their own names and then get him to learn his address? PUH-lease!! He not only knows HIS own address but he knows his friend Ollie's address!! MAYBE he doesn't participate in this group because it's BORING and he doesn't want to do STUPID THINGS that he already knows how to do. And maybe the other kids? Do you think they might be boring too? Huh???? Maybe our son is just TOO SMART to identify colors in a group. What about THAT!

So, ummm, yeah. I won't be saying that. It does come off a wee bit more defensive than I'd like. And I don't think the issue is as much our-son-is-too-smart-and-is-bored as it is our-son-is-overwhelmed-by-all-this-kid-noise-and-craziness. Introversion is not a Bad Thing. But it is likely to present some challenges in some environments. I think we're going to have to educate the teachers about it when they worry that Conor is just following along.

So there. *I'm trying to find Carter's personal web site, and I can't! He's one of the main reasons we are not going to argue Conor is so smart for his age. The second one is Ollie. Conor's not bored in that group. He's overwhelmed. I've seen his father do the same thing.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

World War II

Are you watching the Ken Burns' documentary on WWII?

I like it. Others do, too .

And I'm not as cranky today as I was yesterday.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Run That By Me Again

The colonoscopy went just fine. They of course had problems finding my mini-veins for the IV. And the first shot of narcotic/anaesthesia didn't kick in....until right as they administered the second one. All in all, I don't remember a thing. (And the prep wasn't that bad either. Honestly, it was better than some of those recently bad episodes after a long run--a fact that when relayed to my doctor made his eyes bulge). Anyhoo: no polyps.

But he didn't fix the hemarrhoid, which annoys me to no end. Wouldn't the more prudent approach be to FIX my WELL KNOWN and PROBLEMATIC hemarrhoid while he's in there and I am asleep as opposed to having me come back in to his office and have him probe my booty WHILE I'M AWAKE???? The answer seems obvious to me and annoys me in no small way. If you can clip off a polyp, certainly you can tie off a hemmie. It makes me sigh in irritated frustration. (Is there "unirritated frustration?" I'm not sure, but I'm too bugged to care)

And of course, I bragged last week on running 10 miles for the first time in forever. 10 miles on the weekend was a short run BC. Now, I'm thrilled silly and requiring a nap afterwards if I can get a 10 mile run in. However, I also tweaked my calf during that run and haven't not had a good run since.

When I'm in shape, my calves are enormous; I call them cows. They are not quite to that place and apparently I've hurt them. I took 4 days off running last week and was able to go a full 1/2 mile this morning before the pain started again: it feels like someone is stabbing me in the leg at every step. Perhaps an angry gnome. In any case, I need to ice it and take some ibuprofen and stay off of it. I forgot the meds and the rest annoys me, too.

I'm annoyed today.

So let me continue on an additional running story rant. I was having a conversation with some women colleagues. Let's call them Senior (SR) and Junior (JR). SR has recently lost some weight and so JR and I were complimenting her on that and saying we hoped we looked so good when we reached her age. SR commented that the most shocking thing about getting older is that one cannot eat as much and that exercising is harder. She turned to me and said "Wait until you hit 40. You'll see! You won't have time to exercise at all!" JR and I smugly exchanged glances because not only have I hit 40, I've taken a few steps. "Yes," I told her. "But I am running."

"Ummm hmmmm," she replied.

I then continued that it bugs me that Dave can age and not gain weight at all. He's still skinny and in pretty good shape and he's MUCH (!) older than I am. (He's not, but I like to tell him that. With his prematurely gray hair, few tell him to wait until he hits 40)

"Well," SR says, "he's a runner."

I protest "But I'm a runner, too! I run more than he does!!"

"No, Anita," she says realizing to herself that I have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about. "He's a runner."

Oh, really. And what exactly disallows ME from being a runner? That I run more than HE does? That I engage in other exercise more frequently than he does and therefore I can't be a runner? Or could it be what distinguishes HIM from ME? (I think "HIM" would be the concept here)

Did I mention that I'm generally just annoyed today?

Must get back to work. Bleah.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I Thought It Wasn't Possible to Love Them More

You'd think I would be referring to my husband and son. But then you wouldn't know the true depth of my relationship to Trader Joe's.

Conor and I went to TJ's this morning after his doctor's visit. He has pinkeye and all we need is the medicine. We opted for TJ's because our local pharmacy doesn't open until 10 and TJ's opens at 9.

We weren't 10 feet in the door when a woman approached us asking if we wanted to go on a Safari Hunt. Apparently, TJ's hides 4 stuffed animals around the store and randomly hands out drawings of the animals and a map of the store. One then shops and hunts for the animals and marks them off (although we didn't know that so I just had Conor color them when we found them). Some were really hidden and some were more obvious. It took us a while after we finished shopping to find them!!

However, during the entire process, employees kept coming up to Conor and making a big deal about it and he was getting more and more excited. (And more and more crusties and goop were forming in his eyes. Lovely)

When we finished shopping and found all the animals, we went to the front of the store and handed in our sheet. The manager made a big deal out of it, asked Conor's name, gave Conor a high five and gave him a fruit bar. Pretty cool.

THEN he got on the store loudspeaker, announced the day's first Safari winner CONOR and all the cashiers started ringing their bells, cheering, and clapping. Conor was about to die: face splitting grin and nonstop excited seat squiggles. It was a combination of shyness, pride and excitement that makes my heart about explode just thinking about it.

I fell more in love with this store, a store I've already loved more than any other store in the United States (even more than Murray's Cheese Shop), with a love deeper than I thought possible for something that cannot hug me back and doesn't call me to check in and see how I am doing.


Monday, September 17, 2007

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Just a Few Things Here and There

I suppose this post will be more of "This and That" than the "Mother Thing."

First, we finally went to the new Trader Joe's here in Charlotte. Folks, the most amazing thing about going back to Trader Joe's is that I didn't make it up. In fact, it was better than I remembered. Honestly, I don't know how we can ever shop at HT again now that we have a TJ's in our city. It's so much cheaper than Harris Teeter and the quality is so much higher. (Organic apples $1/lb!) And the memories!! That was the weird part: I was flooded will all these memories of Los Angeles from my 10 years of shopping at TJ's when I was lived in LA. It's very much "Two Worlds Collide!" but I like it.

Second, school is back into full swing and I am again swamped. That is just the status of the fall semester. I really have no idea when fall sucking will ever change. I did have time this weekend to put in a fall garden. We're running about a month late, but hell's bells, it's the best I can do right now.

Third, running has been going very well. It's amazing that I only started seriously running again in June and already, I feel somewhat back to my old self. A few things are different. I did a 10 mile run on Saturday and it about wiped me out. That's my longest run since the two half-marathons I did while pg with Conor. However, my runs during the week are getting easier. When you run 1 1/2 hours on Saturday, that 45 minute run on Monday seems awfully short. And my pace is occassionally back to what I was pre-Conor, which I will interpret is good news considering I am 10 lbs heavier. If I can drop these 10 lbs, I might actually have some speed left in these old hag legs.

The poopy problem that I've had during running took an unexpectedly positive twist. Last month, while taking prednisone, it Went Away. Completely Away. I went on a 9 mile run and had not nary a problem. Of course, it came back after I went off prednisone, but only a little bit. This once again points to hemorrhoids. Nonetheless, just to Make Sure, I'm going in for a colonoscopy on Thursday. (Yippee!!) Hopefully, they'll take care of whaterver that problem is while they are in there checking things out. Better safe than sorry, I agree. It's just not the most pleasant thing I've ever had done. But honestly, after 3 D&E's, I'm not really all that concerned.

And finally, yes, we had another "event" last month. It was faint, but there was a line on the prgenancy test for a couple of days. So even though we were on the new treatment regimen, it didn't solve everything. However, we're going to keep it up, just in case. I actually voting that the folic acid is the key thing here. There's no evidence to support it, but that's what I think and I'm sticking to it. In case you're counting, that's 3 of the last 4 months we've had an "event." I'm hoping it's a good sign that things are trying to work down there and all we need is one good egg to pop out and implant.

OK. I'm pooped and I really need to go review another article. Bleah.

Wait! I forgot: Conor was picked last week to be featured on our daycare's capital campaign. They are putting together some sort of brochure to send out to potential donors and apparently the photographer walked in and saw Conor and said she had to have the child with the curly hair! (The boy is proud of his hair.)

Ok. Now to go read that paper.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Joke! Ha! Ha!!!

People!!! Obviously, I am not nearly as funny a writer as I thought I was.

It was A JOKE!!!! I observe my son reacting to some sort of thing or another just like I do, maybe too quick and overly emotional response and I ask myself: is that because my son is just like me? (awwwww) Or am I just emotionally still a toddler? (ewwwww) It cracks us up around here when Conor does a typical toddler thing and we wonder if it's inherited from us or simply his age and if we totally understand his response (Dave's issue is being cranky without enough food), is it because we are way too immature!!! So there. Joke! Ha! Ha! Ha!

Well, I guess I'm just not as gifted a writer as Dooce and I can't write a 3 sentence blog entry that makes you laugh. Or maybe my blog has been whining too much. Whatever. More wine, less whine is my motto.

Ok, let's try this again........

When we were teaching Conor how to pee standing up, our friends suggested using their trick: having their son pee on a tree. Since we live with lots of old trees and when Conor is playing, it certainly is much more convenient for him to just run over to a tree and pee than go inside.

So last week when I picked Conor up from school, his new teacher said "Conor did something really funny on the playground today."


"Well, I looked over and he going to bathroom on a tree."

I stand there mortified mouth open.

"Well, I knew it wasn't the first time he'd done that because he wasn't acting embarrassed or anything."

"Uhhhhh, yeah....." I say, my face turning a bright shade of magenta.

"I told him that when he needs to go potty outside, he needs to let one of us know."

At this point, honestly, I'm laughing hysterically and the teacher is pretty much laughing, too.

Nonetheless, YIKES! I think we're getting ready to head for those Don't Do This Anywhere But Home lessons.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

A Question

Does Conor take after me emotionally?

Or do I have the emotional capacity of a toddler?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Tying Up Loose Ends

I'm sorry I've been out of touch after what for us was a very scary time.

Conor's fever broke Thursday night. We thought we were in the clear on Thursday morning, but after his nap, he woke up with 101.4F. I know we weren't really close to something being seriously wrong because that would have involved hospital tests, white knuckles, and more tears. However, that was a very scary little illness he had and I am glad to have it behind us.

It was made more tense for me because I turned in my tenure package this week. For the 99.9% of you reading this who are not in academia, tenure is the decision point at which the university decides whether I've done enough work to keep my job basically forever, as long as I don't sleep with a student and I do keep my office hours. (Only a slight exaggeration) And since we've become a research focused university, if one stops doing research, that's grounds for termination, too.

The tenure package involves my vita (or resume as it's called by "real" people), my personal statements on my research and teaching (why it's good, etc), copies of my published papers, anonymous external reviews written by bigwigs in my area from around the country, and reviews by my students/colleagues about me as a teacher. This is a very stressful time, as one can imagine, and faculty do not always get tenure. Since our university is trying to move from a teaching to research university, there are even more expectations that we faculty members can show that can hang with the big boys.

It's an odd experience spending two or three weeks writing about why one is such a stellar researcher and teacher. At one point I felt like with my teaching statement I should just say "I do everything, all the time!" just so I could make sure I covered all the bases about why my teaching is brilliant, yet accessible. Challenging, yet supportive. Cool, yet warm. Red, yet blue.

It all boils down to research though. And at 22 publications, I feel like that should be enough. Yes, 4 of those publications are not peer reviewed, but the remaining 18 are. In addition, 17 have been done since I've been here and I am first or sole author on 16 of those publications. I am more than sure that every single person reading this is going, "Ummmm. Ok? That's good? That's relevant to the main topic of this blog because......?"

Quick answers: I think it is (12 peer reviewed publications would be adequate), and no, this is not even a sub-topic of this blog.

However, it is what I keep repeating to myself about my selfworth as I turn this package in. I know that "22" is not my selfworth. Although, as we all know, 42 is the answer to life, the universe and everything. Nonetheless, I am not more stressed than normal about this process. (All tenure track faculty are stressed at some level about this process) I'm hoping I can share with you good news about the first round of decisions that should be arriving mid-October.

Until then, I really want to catch up on my work and maybe even get ahead.