Friday, September 28, 2018

When they scream

I had hoped the drama would be over by now. That with Teddy healing and the reports aligning that the biting child's mother would see the writing on the wall, being willing to sit down and actually find a way to resolve this situation. Instead she went to Teddy's school principal. This mother is claiming I screamed at her child (I didn't). This mother is claiming the aftercare teachers are negligent and incompetent (they are not). She's still demanding that Teddy to be kicked out. And she's demanding that this facility lose their license.

Writing a long email today to the prinicipal, I immediate thought about Brett Kavanaugh's testimony. How he came in screaming and demanding other's believe his innocence, following on the heels of Christine Blasey Ford's testimony. It's hard not to see the similarities of Mr. Kavanaugh's and this mother's approach, using shame and anger to scare others into backing off and giving them what they want.

It's been hard to witness all of this, being on the receiving end of so much focused aggression from someone who clearly is brimming with anger towards the world.  Equally hard is seeing the responses from those who are uncomfortable with all of this, wanting to make that focused aggression disappear, returning to a more peaceful state. The difference with Teddy's situation vs. that being played out on Capitol Hill is that there are rules in place the school has to follow, while our government is driven by leaders who have their own agenda to promote the norm.

Today the aftercare is meeting with this mother, but I've already requested that they open a case with Child Protective Services. In addition, I've also begun looking into having this mother cover Teddy's medical expenses. As mean as that sounds, documentation is needed to build a case for intervention from outside entities as well as to protect my family from someone who has made it clear that they have no issue hurting my family to protect their normal.

Regardless, it's all been hard and I've been experiencing why so many don't share their stories following assaults or other traumas. The judgement inflicted on them is often unfair. Because too often those in the wrong scream the loudest when confronted. And too often, they are rewarded for it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Fear driven

Yesterday morning, following dropping off Teddy and Maddy at school, I drove over to the office for the aftercare center to meet with the director. Greeting all the staff, I found the director immediately ushering me into her office and closing the door so we could speak. Calmly, I restated everything that was in my email, emphasizing how traumatic all of this must be for her and her staff.

In the middle of this conversation, the director's phone rang and on the other line was the mother of the child who bit Teddy. Immediately she began screaming, claiming that Teddy had been harassing her child for weeks, had forced his entire hand inside her child's mouth, that her child was defending himself and that the teachers had completely failed to stop any of this. She claimed that her child never behaved aggressively, screaming that they needed to kick Teddy out of aftercare. Taken aback, the director calmly stated that she would be investigating, but also how out of character this accusation was both for Teddy as well as her staff. She emphasized that biting was never an acceptable form of defense and that the mother would not only be billed for Teddy's medical expenses, but that CPS would likely be involved. As this mother attempted to escalate, the director responded as calmly as she could, promising to investigate and report back to all involved.

By noon, I learned the mother had lied. The teachers told an entirely different story about this child, how he had been picking on Teddy and how quickly he attacked him. How this child was battling with classmates at school, having already been called to the principle's office due to bullying behavior. How the mother had changed her story within 12 hours, initially admitting fault as she had counseled her son to fight back whenever he felt threatened instead of finding a teacher (completely in contrast to school and aftercare policy).

To say the teachers and director are pissed is an understatement. Given that this woman made accusations that called into question their competence, impacting their jobs and center licensing, there's been a lot of stress. To have all of it be untrue has brought an element of urgency for dealing with this family that most ultimately never want to experience.

All of this calls into question why would this woman lie as well as why she is also teaching her child to lie (which is something all involved have been witnessing).

I've been reflecting on this situation as well as generally on why people are less-than honest for a few weeks now. With my current work situation, I'm facing a boss who I don't trust to be truthful with me, meaning I'm documenting all my work as well as hunting for a new job. I'm also remembering an incident I encountered years ago while working at Teddy's and Maddy's first daycare. There was a parent who escalated follow his 5 year old daughter exposing herself to her classmates, resulting in the other children teasing her. What the investigation revealed was that there was abuse happening at home, with the parent escalating further and further until it became clear that the authorities needed to be brought in. What immediately comes to mind is in all cases, there's fear of discovery underlying the behavior. Just like throwing sand in someone's eyes, the goal of escalating or blaming is to distract from what problem is currently being examined.

There's a lot to be said about fear and how it has impacted my own life. It's true that fear can be a good thing, protecting us from dangers that would otherwise be devastating. But fear has also been destructive. Fear of being an outcast has driven me to behave in ways I haven't always been proud of. Fear of failure resulted in my pushing myself past breaking-points, scared of asking for help either because of rejection or told that I needed to stop. Fear has also resulted in my being less than truthful, both with those around me as well as with myself.

The problem with fear-driven behavior is it doesn't solve the problem and often can make a situation a lot worse. Failed experiments repeated time and again out of fear would later reveal that something else was actually happening (that often was far more interesting). Fear of being an outcast kept me in circles with others who didn't really care about me as an individual. And fear of being labeled stifled seeking help, finding resolution through different paths and roads that I couldn't find on my own.

As odd as this sounds, this current situation has left me feeling sad. Speaking with social services and the county public health department yesterday, I learned that there's reason so many are frightened by these agencies given that their investigations are meant to be thorough. Thankfully Grey and I won't be investigated, but we have passed on all the details of this incident to the aftercare program as it's clear they are preparing to file a report against this child and the mother. Involving entities that have removed children from their homes is something most would like to avoid and I can image how scared this mother is now, especially as I now know that a meeting has been scheduled for Friday.

For his part, outside of the initial trauma from being bit, Teddy has been taking all of this in stride, exercising kindness and happily accepting special treatment from his teachers as his thumb heals. For my part I've been working hard to address the residual anger I feel towards this family, focusing on modeling forgiveness and healing and being sure to thank all the teachers for all their hard work.

But I'd also be lying if I didn't confess the fear I've been fighting that about potential retaliation and further harm to both Teddy and Maddy over this. That I'm fighting my gut reaction to pull them from school entirely, allowing the bully to win as I try to protect my kids. And I'd be lying if I didn't confess that I need help countering the negative thoughts in my head. Even though I know it's all based on fear and that ultimately it's not the road to healing and growing.

Monday, September 24, 2018


It was pick-up time when I found Teddy sitting on the bench in tears. Another child close by with a teacher trying to mitigate the conflict. Initially holding back to let them resolve, I was brought into the situation when the word "bite" was brought up. Years of being in a daycare situation had made me numb to biting incidents, but looking at the almost 8 year old child accused on biting in front of me who was actively justifying why the decision to use teeth was okay immediately made my hair stand on end. Somehow I managed to keep my cool, listening for a few moments before telling this child that what happened was far from okay. All the while feeling guilty about having to reprimand them.

A couple of hours later, we would be in the emergency room. Teddy had spiked a fever and upon hearing that he had been bitten the nurse wasted no time on getting us in. Sitting across from the doctor, I watched as her eyes widened in horror as she examined Teddy's wound, looking even more concerned when told what had happened. Following cleaning, bandaging and giving a prescription of antibiotics, we began a discussion about an early discussion I had had with the triage nurse about how this incident would be reported to the county and that it was likely Child Protective Services would be called to investigate. I was upset as calling the police into this matter is something a parent never wants to encounter, especially when the actions are due to someone else. Yet there's nothing I can do other than to let a potential investigation take its course. As we learned, human bites from older children and adults are very seriously and potentially life-threatening.

One unforeseen side effect of infertility and multiple miscarriages is that I still don't consider myself a true parent. I adore my kids and would do anything for them, but it doesn't take much to make me feel like I'm over-reacting or that I don't have as much authority as someone who could conceive without years of treatment. To this end, I tend to hold back, never really bonding with other mothers as they swap parenting advice (seriously, what advice would I dare to give someone?), shared birth stories (the mere mention of a high-risk pregnancy ending with me going into liver failure tends to kill these conversations) or all things "mom" focused. In an odd way, I don't see myself the same way others do in their role of being a parent, making it not only hard to connect but even harder to confront when conflict does arise.

The problem with all of this is I'm often left feeling like a doormat when situations arise where I need to advocate for Maddy and Teddy. I usually end up beating myself up afterwards, even though I'm often in the right, do so respectfully and only do so to protect them. Days will go by where I'm beating myself up.

Tonight's incident takes all of this to a new level. If Child Protective Services is called in, it's very likely the other family will be investigated. With an 8 year old who is biting where many have commented how unusual that is, one can only speculate what will come out of all of that, but what I do know is Grey and I will likely come under the microscope if there is an investigation, with questions being asked about our role in caring for Maddy and Teddy and whether we are protecting them.

After a long discussion tonight, Grey and I decided to act instead of waiting. An email has gone off the to aftercare center director asking for a meeting to discuss this biting incident and how we can work with them to resolve this issue, protecting both our kids. I've also written to Teddy's Kindergarten teacher, informing her of the incident and asking her to contact me if anything is off with him even though he is cleared for school tomorrow. We figure if we're about to be questioned, we'd like enough evidence to show we not only care about our children, but we are taking steps to protect them. All that while monitoring Teddy, making sure he doesn't develop an infection or contracts a disease due to this incident.

Still, there's guilt with sending these emails. That somehow my actions are meant solely for judging another parent(s) who likely may be struggling. I'm working on putting all of that aside, refocusing my attention and quieting the worthiness doubt infertility created long ago. I can't afford not to.

#MicroblogMondays: Meet Norman

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

Knitting has always been a great distraction when life gets too complicated. Prior to Maddy and Teddy, knitting was my refuge following a bad day or when infertility seemed like it was sucking the life out of me. Over the past 5 years, though, its been hard to find time to pick up the needles. 

Thursday evening, though, I hit a wall and knew I would be needing help to get out of my funk.

Meet Norman the Hedgehog

Given that Grey has been working on a project where all things hedgehog have been a running joke and the fact that hedgehogs are not allowed in California, I figured this would be put to good use.

Sadly, only Maddy and Teddy were fans (Grey declared him an armadillo). So I'm off to round 2 of hedgehog knitting and Norman has found a new home with one of the neighbor children. But it feels oddly good to pick up the needles again.

Friday, September 21, 2018

And so we start again...

I'm job hunting again. Following 2 weeks of tension at work, with my boss calling my work sloppy, being excluded from group meetings and me enduring some rather childish remarks, I sat down with another manager where she flat out told me that I shouldn't be enduring any of this and should be looking for greener pastures.

It goes without saying that I'm angry. A month ago I was being praised about my hard work and all that I was helping accomplish. I was also told that moves were being made to keep me on permanently. But the other thing I'm angry about has been the lack of direction and guidance. My boss doesn't believe in task lists, is often vague about what she wants for a final product and often leaves things to the 11th hour, meaning there's a lot of opportunities for mistakes. Which wouldn't be a huge problem if she also wasn't so concerned about final presentation and output, meaning there's not a lot of room for error.

But the final bit that makes me angry is learning that my current treatment is due to her projecting from two previous employees. That instead of being willing to work with me, she's already decided there's no way I can change because the last ones didn't.

Processing all of this last night with Grey, we both reflected on what has happened the last few weeks and how that relates to the past few years. Basically how different things are now then they were even a year ago.

  • Last week, Grey included me in a text message to our complex manager informing her our home was being cased. A young man was witnessed turning to enter our back patio, then tossing a cell phone and coming around to the front door. Following knocking loudly, he was visibly surprised to find Grey answering the door. Mumbling that his brother had thrown his cell phone into our back patio, Grey closed the door and passed the broken cell phone over the fence back to him. Grey responded all of this by installing a security system while I walked over to the neighboring condo association where I believed this person originated and made contact with the HOA president. Between the two of us, we not only secured our home, but made contact with a neighborhood watch group and set into motion plans not only to remedy the casing (it's one family that are facing eviction very soon) but also to move again soon. 
  • In addition to this, Teddy's surgery has been rescheduled because the surgeon made the last minute decision to request a second opinion despite my repeated requests for 2 months. He's now unhappy as I've called him out for unprofessional behavior (and his staff has been dumbfounded), but the result is that now another surgeon is being brought in to address the remaining holes in his ear drums, applying a new type of patch that should resolve the problem and hopefully restore his hearing. 
  • We also had some drama with aftercare given that there was a new teacher that Teddy and Maddy were testing. Working with them, we've come up with a plan to resolve this that appears to be working very well. 
  • All of this is on the heels of both Maddy and Teddy being reassessed by pediatric development medicine. What we learned is that unlike a year ago, Maddy is testing ahead of her peers and they are impressed with her current IEP as they are not only seeing a striking improvement, but they believe it will help her overcome what remains from her speech delay. Teddy also tested ahead, with concerns that he is on the road to an ADHD diagnosis. But when they learned about the sleep apnea, they expressed hope that we may also see a similar change in behavior that we've seen with Maddy following surgery. We have a referral for OT, but the recommendation is to see what happens following surgery.
  • And then there's Grey's job, where after 6 months in his current position, his boss's boss has moved him off his current project (which has been going very well) to a new project that is struggling, promoting him to the role of hiring manager and talking about him building his own team. That and the VP of the company announced last week they are sending him to China for a week. All indicating that not only are they happy with his work, but they are making plans to promote him. All this is contrast to what he was hearing a year ago from one of his former supervisors, who themselves is now facing a potential fallout for poor management, failure to deliver and demonstrating they are completely incompetent. 

Sitting across from me, Grey laid all of this out. And then in an attempt to make me feel better, he told me that though we've been through the wringer before, what we've learned is that sometimes we need things to get so bad that salvaging a situation is no longer an option. That we force ourselves to quit a path that is hurting us, laying the foundation for recognizing paths and opportunities we might have been blind to before.

Despite me knowing this, I'm still struggling. I'm tried of feeling like I'm failing, struggling to dig in for work that I believe is both important and needed. But the truth is, I'm been trying to grow things on infertile ground for a long time now. That though there are those who are doing insanely amazing work, there are also many who don't share my mindset of how to address this need. And there's also demons they are grappling with that can make the work and the environment a poor fit.

So I'm starting again; feeling like I'm traveling done a road I've already been down many times before. The emotions involved haven't been any easier to deal with, but I'm finding that I'm becoming braver about asking for help and absorbing the feedback on what didn't work so I can stop making the same mistakes.

Friday, September 7, 2018

The melting part of a meltdown

This meltdown has been building for awhile. Between stress work, stress from home, stress from Teddy's upcoming surgery and stress in general, I'm been feeling out of sorts for awhile and aware how thread-barred I've been becoming.

So when yesterday I misread an email that landed me in some hot water with my boss, followed by a rough morning with her in general, combined with a follow-up email from Maddy's teacher where she flippantly asked about meeting times and then another email from Teddy's surgeon where he decided Teddy needs to see a hearing specialist prior to surgery next Thursday (he's had 2.5 months to sit on the information I gave him), the meltdown began.

And though my boss apologized later, making it clear she wants me to communicate with her, I didn't feel any better as now I'm convinced my contract isn't going to be extended.

And though Maddy's teacher explained in a follow up email that she just wanted to chat in general, I emailed a request to the principle for a formal sit-down as I already know this type of communication will lead to future conflict and this needs to be rectified now, making me agitated that I have to initiate these boundaries

And though the ENT staff is scrambling to get Teddy in to be seen, the surgeon and I are now angry with one another as I pointed out that this delay really is not acceptable (and he's angry as physicians aren't use to this type of push-back), meaning today is a cooling-off period before an escalation happens that cannot be undone.

Somehow I got through the work day, but last night was spent with me pacing and floating in-and-out of tears, with Grey finding me curled up in the kitchen at one point. I'm consumed with guilt over all the negativity and am gripped by fear that comes with once again having to resume a job hunt. I'm tired of feeling like a failure and less-than based on a career-path I chose.

But above all, I'm angry. And that's not a great place to be.

Despite next to no sleep and a commute that continues to be taxing (~100 miles every day has been wearing), I'm trying to pull myself together today to get final pieces put into place for this event tomorrow. Grey has stepped up and will be the primary parent for the next 48 hours and even Maddy and Teddy have agreed to jump in to help out by showing Grey the ropes to their typical day. Still, I feel like goo, with next to no skeleton for support. And that sucks.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Playing tourist

Sunday, while every local headed out of the Bay Area, Grey and I decided to play tourist and venture into the city explore. My younger self use to turn up my nose at any activity that fell under "tourist attraction," but my opinion has changed as I've aged. After all, even if outwardly cheesy, these activities are often a lot of fun and far too many locals miss out one something that truly can be unique to an area.

After a lot of back-and-forth, we settled on Fisherman's Wharf as our destination. And despite a late start (really don't recommend arriving at any location at 11 am), we ended up having a fun morning/early afternoon exploring the piers and taking in the sights

It was on the walk back to the car that Grey commented about how rare it is for us to spend a day out together. A big part of this has to do with all the chaos over the last 5 years. Between moving, work stress and housing stress, there's not been much room for taking any down time. And as Grey reflected on this, I thought more about how this was a major factor that separated us from a lot of other people in our circle. How others around us have found a way to schedule vacation time while we've had it on the back-burner.

I'm hoping that this day-trip is the beginning of change on that front. Though I have no grand illusions about going somewhere exotic, simple trips like this where we can get away and reset while not having to worry about employment status or where our home will still exist seems like something reasonable to aim for.

In light of that, I'm hoping we'll have another opportunity to play tourist again. Because I hear the cable cars are a worthwhile experience.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018


Its the week of a major event at work. Tensions are high as all of us are preparing for a showcase of updated curriculum and introducing the science education community to new team members. And there's the added fact that my future with this organization rides on Saturday going well. All leading me to second-guess myself and my worth given that I've not been included in meetings about aspects I was previously a part of.

Then there's the email from Maddy's teacher, requesting a meeting as she's been struggling with communicating followed by no response to me asking for when we can meet.

The cherry on top of this that we are looking at moving again in 6 months. Our current apartment complex is transitioning with cooperate management that is clearly interested only in profit. Between the garbage bins being filled to the brim as word has gotten out that this complex is a great place for illegal dumping, a lot of pot smoke, repairs piling up (and threats from management for me not to do them) and dealing with neighborhood kids have been peeking into our windows (parents are no where to be found), we're realizing there isn't a sustainable community here.

It's not often that I find myself wanting to throw in the towel. Usually I can find a reason to power through a day, holding onto promises of progress and movement forward. But today has been a blue day where I feel both like a complete failure and angry about being pushed around as there doesn't seem to be a solution.

Even though I know a letter from a lawyer would make the next 6 months bearable with our living situation. That Maddy's teacher will get back to me and we'll work out a solution for moving forward. And following this Saturday I'll have an answer about my future with this company.

Monday, September 3, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: Opposite of the plan

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

Yesterday, after some bribery and encouragement, I took Maddy and Teddy out to the parking lot for a maiden voyage on their fully reassembled bikes. Holding onto the back of their seats, I did what so many have described before, chanting "pedal!" as they gained speed before letting go. And though there were a couple of stumbles, 20 minutes later they were both biking around the parking lot with am amused looking Grey documenting the whole scene, including a very winded Cristy

As all of this was happening, some of the neighbors came out to watch, commenting on how quickly Maddy and Teddy have learned to ride. I had to laugh as what they were witnessing could easily be misinterpreted for the how the whole experience actually played out, with them missing all the moments over the past 2 months that had all gone completely opposite to plan.

Like the fact that I never intended to use training wheels, yet quickly threw that idea out the window after a week being on modified balance bikes (seats lowered and no pedals) as they were bored from pushing themselves around and didn't know how to get themselves moving. 

Followed by the fact we would go on to spend the rest of July and most of August on training wheels, with both kids picking up speed and Teddy getting off his training wheels for the most part, but both resisting the idea of removing said training wheels as they figured out that was what was keeping them balanced. 

How it took Maddy basically breaking her training wheels from all the leaning, followed by a night of serious argument with Grey after I asked if we could somehow fix the problem (we couldn't and he's still convinced I shouldn't be allowed to make future bike-related purchases), that lead to a fit of anger on my part resulting in removing the training wheels all together as well as pedals and lowering the seats again. 

And how over the next week following that ugly night, where I didn't see a way forward, both Teddy and Maddy would put it all together, mastering balancing on their modified balance bikes and then going on to riding them like it was second nature.

All of this has been a bit heady for me given that I thrive on plans. I like mapping out how to attack situations, making small modifications as needed but generally sticking to the skeleton that was laid out. Despite this, my life so far has gone no where near what was planned and I've often found that when I buck "going with the flow" I tend to lose. The problem is that a lack of structure is stressful for me and it's not where I tend to thrive. But what I'm reminded of is that too much structure and rigidity is also harmful. That we as humans learn best through failed experiments, finding roads and options we rarely would considered unless pushed.

We still have a way to go with biking before I can send Maddy and Teddy off on the trail with Grey (that's my current pipe-dream). Teddy is doing well with getting himself started on the flat, but gravel trails are a bit more difficult. Maddy still is more cautious and needs to gain confidence with speed; hills are going to be hard for her. Yet watching them both today on the school playground blacktop, zipping around the courtyard, I was reminded that oftentimes the best things come in ways that I could never have planned.

Something I need to hold fast to for this coming week.
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