Saturday, January 31, 2009

Home Improvement

Children have to be at least a good part of the reason places like Home Depot and Lowe's exist. Almost nine years ago my wife and I bought a nice little three bedroom house knowing that we would some day have a family in it. When we moved in the place was in pretty good shape. Nothing was brand new, the house was built in 1970, but some updates had been done throughout the years to keep the decor fairly current. The carpet was clean, the paint was in good shape and even the slightly dated window treatments were in good working order.

Fast forward eight years, two kids and four cats later. The palace isn't what is used to be. Now, I don't have garbage piling up or anything, but, you can tell this is a home with two little kids in it. The bottom three feet of the walls have hints of crayon and sticky hand prints. There's a heat vent missing behind the table in the dining room. The vertical blinds had a run in with my daughter and a pair of scissors a few years back. The list goes on. Thankfully, we don't have any major problems to worry about, everything is cosmetic. None the less, I need to come up with a plan to address these problems.

I've found that you can be successful in anything you do if you find the tricks to motivate yourself. For me, it's a matter of taking the problem, planning the solution out on paper and going for the easy stuff first. Once I get some momentum going and build up some confidence with easy tasks, I find myself better prepared to tackle the larger, tougher stuff. It's always important to make sure you set reasonable goals. Set reasonable expectations for yourself, then, surpass your own expectations by just a little bit for each goal you set. I like to keep a list on paper of the tasks I need to complete. I make it a point to keep these lists somewhere I can see them. At work, I use a white board. My coworkers will see what I am up to and give me a hard time if I look to be slacking off. If I am only accountable to myself, things won't get done in a timely manner. When I share the list with others, I am motivated to keep on trucking until the work is done.

So, I am off to write up my home improvement and repair list. It will defiantly involve several trips to Home Depot and Lowe's. Hopefully I'll get some good chances to involve the kids in the work. They are getting pretty good at grabbing tools for me. Maybe if they have a hand in the work they will think twice before creating new works of art of the walls or carpet. Yea, right, it will work just like that. All I know is replacing the heat vent by the table is at the top of the list. My daughter is scared I might fall in the hole and die. She's got a red plastic bin covering it now, just in case.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bring me a shrubbery!

Let me start out with a little background about myself. I am the father of two. My daughter is six and my son is three. Both of them are colorful little kids. My daughter is autistic and my son is average. My daughter's condition is the source of much joy and much stress, it all depends on the day.

One of the recent challenges my daughter has thrown at her mother and I comes in the form of hair pulling. She pulls her own hair when she gets upset. She also pulls the hair of other children. When it comes to pulling other children's hair it's more of a compulsive behavior. We are working with our daughter's therapists and teachers on this and are making process.

One day when I was discussing the protocol for proper inter-child social interaction with my daughter I had an epiphany of Monty Python proportions. I simply suggested that any time she sees a little girl with long that she should say "shrubbery" instead of pulling the little girl's hair.

This suggestion was really meant more for the amusement of my wife and myself, but, it stuck with my daughter. It's become a bit of a warning. Kind of like a putting a collar with a bell on a cat. Now when my daughter sees a little girl with long hair she shouts, "Shrubbery!" and Mom and I know to tighten our grip on her hand.

So, I am slowing moving my daughter from being a bully to being and odd kid. As a parent I'll take odd kid over bully any day. On the way into church today she rattled shrubbery off at least three times in a row and had me and her mother laughing.

It's amazing how one word can take a tough parental situation and turn it into something genuinely funny.