She Checks, Mate.

PHOTO PROMPT © Jeff Arnold

 

Matt tapped his lip and danced his foot but I knew it had nothing to do with planning his next move.

“Is your mom home?” he grumbled.

“Yep.”

“So?”

“She’s not going anyplace,” I answered.

“Not like she understands any of this.” Matt was too proud to admit that her presence affected his concentration.

“Tammy’s staying.”

He scowled but must’ve heard the edge in my voice, and dropped it.

No one messed with my little sister. Nonverbal doesn’t mean stupid. Also, Tammy was memorizing all his moves. She’d show me, and next time Matt and I play, I’d win.

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

Micro Giant

comic-bubble-2750887_1920

Earlier today, as I was attempting to video a particularly adorable little one, my phone froze. It would not budge. It refused even to turn off. Total strike. When it finally relented, responded, and restarted, it claimed that the MicroSD card that had lain securely in its innards, accumulating goodies, was “blank or has unsupported files.” Gulp!

Removing and remounting the tiny tech did nada. Restarting again? Zilch. Thousands of photos, videos, music and docs – more than 27 Gigabytes’ worth – gone! Some are backed up, perhaps, someplace. Many? Who knows.

I breathed. I zoomed through the phases of grief. I put the phone away. I fed the toddler some fruit. We both had a sip (and spill) of water. We chased dogs, a little boy with a ball, an ant, and three pigeons.

Back home, I tried to view Micro (it felt right to name it, after it turned my day on its head) on the computer. No luck. Not only did my laptop refuse to load the card’s info, it would not even acknowledge that Micro existed. To add insult to injury, Micro’s ordeal somehow managed to keep it invisible even as it shut down the whole card-reader drive so it would not read any other memory cards, either. Micro had suffered Total Amnesia With Driver-Scrambling Influences.

Even according to the normally super helpful remote-‘hijackers’ of computers, the poor data that had lived on Micro, is to be presumed evaporated. Oh, my phone returned to work deceptively fine. The contacts are intact. So are any WhatsApp images (normally so infuriatingly immune to living anyplace but the prime real-estate of internal storage, and now more snobbish than ever, being the only ones to have survived). It is the photos I’d taken myself, the videos I’d shot, the files I’d stored, the music I’d downloaded, that have disappeared into the abyss. Whatever caused this massive ‘phone syncope,’ it damaged only the deceptively giant brain of my little Micro, but by all accounts it did so spectacularly!

So here I am, a bit disoriented and feeling a touch of loss and more than a bit bewildered. I can’t help but worry that whatever had caused the irreversible amnesia might pay a return visit, especially as the culprit remains unexplained (and unrecoverable). It doesn’t help that certified geeks spent hours trying to figure out how one scrambled Micro-SD managed to make other cards not be readable just by association, and continued to do so even after repairs, rebuilds, refresh, and the odd time-travel of restore.

Being prone to seeing synchronicity as messaging, I’m wondering if today’s drama is a metaphor for the contagion of energy and chaos. So timely with the current snags and ripples in the fabric of memory and history.

Adieu, photos. Adieu, videos. Adieu, all manner of notes. I remember some of you very fondly. I admit to not quite knowing what many of you were. I will miss you all, anyway.

One day (soon, if Murphy has a say in it, which he tends to in such cases), I might find myself looking for an image or a file that I just know I had ‘someplace’, only to realize that it was probably part of today’s giant exodus.

In the meanwhile, I hope this data-crater becomes an opening to new energies and an invitation for new memories on Micro-The-Second. I choose to view this as (yet another) lesson into the temporary yet indelible existence of every moment, be it captured into tangible memory or not.

For the One Word Sunday Challenge: Giant

Notorious

 

Hard times OsnatHalperinBarlev

Photo: Osnat Halperin-Barlev

 

When you know how stress

Rewires

Little ones’ brains

To lifelong pain,

You mark yourself ever

Notorious

When you cruelly

Add

To their wounding

Day and again.

 

 

Merriam-Webster’s word for June 22, 2018:

Notorious

This post continues the blogging challenge in which Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day, serves as inspiration a-la the “Daily Prompt.”

Want to join me? Feel free to link to this post on your blog, and/or post a link to your blogpost in the comment section below so others can enjoy it, too. Poetry, photography, short stories, anecdotes: Go for it!

For more visibility, tag your post with #WordOfDayNY, so your post can be searchable.

“Follow” me if you want to receive future prompts, or just pop in when you’re looking for inspiration. Here’s to the fun of writing and our ever-evolving blogging community!

 

Break The Ice

 

break the ice1 AmitaiAsif

Photo: Amitai Asif

 

Reach out to those frozen

In the ill at ease place

Of unfamiliar

Meeting known.

Note the edge of green

On those still a tad tender

Around the social gills.

A kind word can steady

Many an awkward gait

Upon fiddly ice

Still awaiting to break.

 

 

 

For The Daily Post

Trademarked Children

kids on dock OsnatHalperinBarlev

Photo: Osnat Halperin Barlev

 

“She is a stubborn one,” her mother claims. “Screams bloody murder when she doesn’t get her way.”

“He is our difficult child,” the father sighs. “I guess every family has one.”

“This one is the lovey-dovey twin,” the grandma declares. “Her sister? She’s the total opposite. Wriggly worm, that one.”

“He’s Mister Independent,” the foster mother says, “Won’t let anyone help him with anything.”

“He’s the lazy one,” the teacher complains. “If he can get away with not doing something, I bet you he won’t do it.”

“She’s the fighter,” the nanny imparts, “bossy as they come.”

Surely she is more than stubborn. Surely he’s not always difficult. Surely there are times she does not want to cuddle and when her twin sister relaxes into hugs. Surely sometimes he wishes to be helped. Surely he is not just lazy. Surely there are situations where she does not want to fight.

Children listen to our words, and the tone we say them. They internalize our attitudes of them and all too often identify with the boxes we sort them into. Let us take heed, for what we stamp children as, they might live up to without knowing there are many more hues in the palette of what they are and can become.

 

 

For The Daily Post

You Better!

rainy day

 

He came up the stairs, looking like a cross between a drowned kitten and a frog: wet hair, clinging shirt, useless green umbrella and matching boots (with sloshy feet inside).

I smiled at him. He sighed.

“Yeah, I know,” he said, “I better …”

His father nodded.

Coded language.

I’ve heard it before.

“You better come right now!” “You better sit down quietly!” “You better not hit your brother!” “You better listen to the babysitter!” “You better not forget your homework again!” “You better not get this floor wet …”

You better? Better how?

More like “your life will be much worse, unless …”

I swallowed my own sigh. I don’t abide much by the “you better” style of communication. The dad was probably parroting the coded-directions of his own upbringing, spurred by habit, rigid expectation, his own fatigue.

“Looks like you two got caught in the downpour,” I smiled, took their umbrellas, and offered towels, a mat to put their footwear on, a plastic bag for wet things, a pair of dry socks for the boy. The minutia of a rainy day.

“He kept goofing around,” the dad grumbled. He pointed at the drenched boy in accusation, though he was only marginally less wet than his son (and had a bigger umbrella!). The father patted his arms dry, patted his son’s hair. He seemed embarrassed and glared at the errant rain drops on the floor as if they were proof of his son’s weathery misdemeanor.

“I ran because I didn’t want to get wet!” the boy retorted, eyes glistening.

“Sometimes there’s not much one can do to stay dry,” I soothed, and lifted the bag of extra child-size socks to emphasize my point. “It is raining hard and it is windy, too, so the umbrella probably can’t do much. I’d gotten soaked. Had to change.” I pointed at my clothing. “Not what I had on earlier.”

The boy threw a vindicated glance toward his dad.

“You better not give me any sass,” the parent reflexed.

The boy’s face darkened.

“You know what I think is better?” I interjected. “For all of us to come sit down and get dry and comfy …” I gestured toward the couch for the father to sit on, for the boy to take his seat by the table.

I wondered if the father was aware of just how alike his own expression was to the boy’s: a mix of combative, deferential, dejected and relieved.

The rest of the session went smoothly. By the end of it, the boy’s curls bounced back right along with his spirits. His dad’s mood improved, too, nourished in equal parts by the rain easing and the nap he’d managed to sneak in while his son and I worked.

They left calmly enough, but I’ll have to make time to speak with the parent. We spoke before on things that need discussing not in the child’s presence. I know the father means well. He’d told me he hadn’t had a close relationship with his parents. He had grown up with the threat (and frequent bite) of a switch, and he’d vowed to not repeat it. He does not raise a hand to the boy. This father wants better – the real better, not the threatened one – for his son. He’d told me he wishes for his son to be able to come to him with anything, interests or worries. Yet for now this parent’s very way of communicating stifles the possibility. He gets tripped by his own memories of what parental language ‘should be’ like. Maybe he knows no other way to exert control over a growing and often opinionated boy.

We’ll have a talk. The dad and I.

I know he wants better for the both of them.

“You better” is hardly is the better way.

 

 

 

For The Daily Post

Stuck on

He won’t let her have a quiet cup of coffee.

He won’t let her sleep.

He needs her when she bathes

Or pees.

He whines during any of her conversations

Cares little for her schedule

Her meetings

Her needs.

He requires constant attention

Won’t be left alone

Must come along.

That phone.

 

phone-getty-images

 

 

For The Daily Post

 

 

Stressful Situations Simulation: A resource

Below is a good resource and simulation of stressful situations that can be immensely helpful to parents and caregivers. I especially recommend the ones involving “Family Support”: “Calm Parents, Healthy Kids” and “Building Family Bonds.” These scenario simulations inform, teach, and actively guide parents and caregivers through various scenarios of interactions with toddlers in commonly challenging situations.

The resource can be invaluable information for parents and caregivers who are inexperienced and/or may have had less than good enough parenting themselves, and who may not know how to facilitate clear, supportive interaction with their own children, especially under stress. The simulation is presented in a non-shaming, educational way, and provides the participant with an active role in choosing different ways of responding … and being able to see the possible reactions to them … It also allows the participant to ‘re-do’ situations so they can experience how better choices can bring better results …

Practicing is important for any skill, let alone for skills one needs to apply in stressful situations. The very way our brain processes information is affected when we’re stressed, so it helps to already know what to do beforehand. Also, our own stress and how we manage it gets communicated and passed onto children in our care. This makes it doubly important to learn and practice (and then be able to model) new skills when one is calm and in neutral situations–as this simulation allows one to do.

Calm, informed caregivers help raise calm, healthy, competent kids. This can help!

I highly recommend you take a look and see:

https://conversationsforhealth.org/#conversations

bubble happy

 

Communication and Collaboration

Upcoming Webinar!

Communication and Collaboration: Multidisciplinary treatment of traumatized/dissociative children

Friday, May 20, 2016
2:00 PM – 3:30 PM Eastern Time

Registration now open! (please see disclaimer in bottom of post)

spacornerJuly12no5

Photo Credit: A.A.

Abstract
Treatment of traumatized and dissociative children is most often discussed in the context of psychotherapy. However, traumatized and/or dissociated children often come into contact with additional professionals. Like all youngsters, traumatized children need to manage everyday interactions with caregivers, educators, and routine childhood medical and dental care. Yet many also face clinical interactions with speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, medical professionals, and more. This is because trauma places children at a high risk for developmental issues, and because children who already have developmental and/or health issues are highly vulnerable to trauma. In addition to clinical care, many traumatized children encounter legal personnel, forensic evaluators, child protective services, foster care staff, etc.

Posttraumatic and dissociative reactions are not limited to the therapist’s office. Just as communication issues aren’t segregated to speech-language pathologist’s office, asthma to the doctor’s, or sensory integration issues to occupational therapy. Various issues can complicate children’s presentation and behavior, and traumatized youngsters are often judged as difficult, aggressive, manipulative, immature, unpredictable, and inattentive. This can result in painful consequences (e.g. loss of placement, shaming, treatment failure), which further increase stress and reinforce the need for dissociative coping. In addition, caregivers routinely face challenges that can affect course of treatment, and professionals do not always ‘speak the same language’ when it comes to describing, assessing, and treating the child (and/or family). Even when professionals are trauma-aware, coordinated care is not always easy to achieve … and yet is essential for effective stabilization, minimizing compartmentalization, and carryover.

This webinar will look into the often complex realities of caring for traumatized/dissociative children and adolescents, the tapestries of clinical encounters many face, and how these may shift throughout infancy, childhood, and teen years. The challenges (and potential) of coordinated care and communication will be discussed, as would logistical and ethical limitations and suggestions for managing them. Clinical vignettes will serve as a window into ways for improving communication among child/family professionals, and will provide examples for practical solutions for increasing regulation and decreasing posttraumatic activation in all involved. The role of caregivers and the child as part of the team will also be examined.

Objectives
Upon completion of this webinar, participants will be able to:

  • Identify the connection between trauma and care utilization in children and adolescents.
  • Describe three challenges to coordinated care
  • List five strategies therapists can apply to improve communication and coordination in the multi-disciplinary treatment of traumatized/dissociative children

For more information and to register

Disclaimer: I volunteer my time and expertise for this webinar, and do not receive any financial gain from it. Registration fees are collected by ISSTD, which hosts the webinar, is responsible for all fees and/or refunds, and provides an option for CEs for attendance.

Kids and Screen Time: Data, Reality, and Possibility

ScreenTime

When I grew up, television was a very small part of daily life, and was the only screen in the house. Telephone conversations were usually brief (and attached to the wall through the cord in the main room of the house, they only allowed limited privacy). Most daily interactions were face-to-face. Social interaction with peers and siblings certainly were face to face.

Now most homes in developed countries have several screens in different configurations: TVs, laptops, computers, tablets, phones, game consoles, DVD players, other interactive toys that come with a screen.

Children spend a lot more time facing a screen than they ever did. What is the impact of that?

Like every tool, screen media is neither good nor bad–it is HOW you used it and HOW MUCH you used it and what it DISPLACES that matters.

In this electronic age, children have more access to more education materials in quicker and more convenient ways than ever before. Media and information are powerful, but not neutral: If not taught how to discern information on the web, children do not learn how to conduct research or pick out primary source or secondary source, how to identify fact from biased blog or a complete fallacy. They may believe everything they read online–both truth and blatant misrepresentations. They need to be taught how to use information, how to cross-check, how to learn.

Education with the use of screens has replaced some of the methods of learning that were used in not-too-long-ago times. They have benefits and limitations. They can replace some older methods of research and increase efficiency and effectiveness of learning. They can connect people from far places to work together. They can bridge over differences and stigmas. However, they can also displace the interactive collaboration of listening, analyzing other people’s opinions and views, and working together interactively in real space (rather than over the internet in shared documents or through ‘attachments’ or searching to copy other people’s reports through google …).

Outside of educational screen time (i.e. the time children spend watching screens for learning, whether formal or informal), there are also the many hours a week that children spend playing or gazing at movies or music videos, or in texting incomplete sentences in stunted spelling to their friends on social media or phones. These hours often displace actual face-to-face interactions and all that comes with them: reading social cues, body language, emotions, tone of voice. Electronic communication is a poor substitute to actual interaction. Emoticons are a very crude representation of people’s facial expressions, and while they can lend ‘color’ to a message, they are not the real deal.

Children who spend too many hours staring at screens spend too few hours interacting with others and learning skills for interpersonal communication, for reading other people’s emotions and body language, for taking turns and listening.

In an article on NPR, about “Kids and Screen time–what does the research say”, researchers found that removing screen time (and effectively, the replacing of that back with social interaction and TALKING TO EACH OTHER and engaging with others), helped children be more able to recognize facial expressions. The benefits were significant even after five days of no screen time.

While some people advocate total electronics removal … I am not an advocate of removing all electronics: we live in a time where media and internet, email and web searches are enormous tools. It would be a form of social isolation to cut children off from the ability to interact with the world. However, it can be unhelpful to have too much screen time, as it displaces other kinds of social engagement that are just as important. Children do not know what they are missing when they stare at screens instead of interact with people–it is our job and responsibility as adults to help them learn to communicate and socialize.

Infants learn how to interact, how to engage, how to interpret communication and intent–through facial expression and through immediate dyadic interaction in many different settings over many interactions. It is a learning that continues throughout childhood and into young adulthood (and some may say, throughout the lifespan). We need to be mindful of not displacing personal interaction with screen time.

It is possible to do both–though that calls for moderation and boundaries (things that children need to learn, anyway). Additionally, it needs to be not only the children … adults who spend all their times staring at a little screen are displacing time of interaction WITH their children and are becoming models for what we do not want to reinforce.

There is no one recipe that would work for everyone–the right balance is different for different people at different times. What does make sense to me, is to be mindful and be honest:

  • Do not demand of your children something you do not follow yourself …

* Create windows of time when screens are not used in your home: a ‘curfew’ time for phones, or an evening a week without any electronics, a ‘no virtual communication’ weekend day, maybe decide on no electronics in mealtimes (basic politeness, that …), or on other ways to limit screen time. For everyone.

  • Make sure that you are a good model for turning off electronics and doing more than just lifting your eyes momentarily from one …

Young children, especially, are vulnerable to not developing what they SHOULD be developing. If their little faces are stuck to a screen rather than interested in another person, and if their interactions are the brief raising of eyes (or the parent’s brief raising of eyes) from a screen to nod or follow a direction; they would not learn how to engage well, they would not know to be good communicators, or listeners, or readers of social gestures, facial expressions, body-language, and signs.

This is not an either/or. Electronics and screen time, interpersonal social time: It can be an and/and, but it needs to be mindful, lest we raise a generation of children who do not how to interact … and fail them by not providing them the opportunities they needed to learn.

To read the article: “Kids and Screen Time–what does the research say” on NPR, click on the title, or click below:

http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2014/08/28/343735856/kids-and-screen-time-what-does-the-research-say