The Dawkter's Wife - It's all champagne and caviar now … dahling

The Loony Bin

July 11, 2014

A new day

     It’s been months since I’ve updated.  To be honest, I’ve just been too busy to get online regularly and post.  The school year here flew by.  Here are some of the highlights:

     Andrew finished his first year of college!  It started out rough and at times I just didn’t know  how we would manage it with him.  He was signed up to live in the student dorms near our house but he found a reason to come home almost every night.  It was my goal that by the end of the school year he would be staying on campus more nights than coming home, but that didn’t seem realistic for awhile.  Sometime in November (I believe) his roomate got kicked out of the dorms for alcohol and drugs.  Once Andrew had the room to himself he seemed more willing to stay in his room.  He went from staying on campus only one or two nights a week to being there 5-7 days a week by the middle of the second semester.  He grew so much in his ability to take care of himself and his own needs.  I have really noticed a big changed in his level of independence.  He did well both semesters academically despite some early struggles at the beginning of each semester.  Before his Spring semester ended, he had also found a job.  He started working right after school let out.  I see so much growth with him and I feel much less worried about the new school year starting soon.

     Amanda graduated from high school.  It’s hard to believe.  She worked harder this year than I’ve ever seen her work.  Her crowning accomplishment was an A in a difficult creative writing class. The teacher told me that she did not take Amanda’s learning disabilities into consideration and treated her like a “regular kid”.  Amanda got the A based on her natural writing ability and hard work.  We were all so proud of her.  At the end of the school year, Amanda broke up with her boyfriend and things seemed to fall apart.  She was hospitalized for her suicidal ideation and has struggled to climb back out of the dark place she found herself.  She has come to the realization that she wants different friends and to build a different life, and that’s been hard for her. She’s on her way to making big changes for herself though.  She got a car for graduation (thanks to my Mom) and is working on getting her driver’s license (finally).  She also applied for a job at McDonalds, interviewed and started working for the first time in her life.  She quickly became a reliable worker who has shown herself to have a strong work ethic.  She’s proud of herself and really … I’m proud of her too.  She is registered for the community college in the Fall and is on her way to creating that new life that she wants so much!

     Alex.  He started high school this year.  True to typical Alex for, he made a lot of friends.  He is extremely gregarious, kind and fun.  His friends are all good kids and I don’t feel like I have to worry about him when they are together.  Alex picked back up where he left off with Kung Fu a couple of years ago and really took off.  He has risen several belts and was asked to become an assistant teacher by the owner of the Kung Fu studio.  He has worked with a mentally handicapped boy and has grown in empathy and pride at his own accomplishments.  Problem?  Alex couldn’t manage to get higher than a C in school this year.  The school handed out laptops for the kids and he was always on his.  We tried turning off our internet, taking his computer … it was just a fiasco.  Nothing bores him more than school.  All of his teachers talked to me about how capable he is and now he is not achieving to his potential.  Every talk I had with him about it fell on deaf ears.  He seems to be listening now though because he wasn’t allowed to take Driver’s Ed.  We had threatened this and he hadn’t believed us.  Now we are working together on plans to overcome his “laziness” (his word). 

     Aidan finished up elementary school this year and is heading on to the middle school for 5th grade.  He had a great year even though he couldn’t really stand his teacher.  School his hard for him because he needs more movement.  He sits still at his desk all day and then comes home and plays his Xbox …. where he puts on a headphone and stands and jumps all around the room while he plays.  He moves and moves and moves until bedtime.  He did well in school, played in two orchestras, and also continued on in Kung Fu.  He is generally mild-mannered and sweet … and we have had no issues or problems with him.  This year was really a joy with Aidan.

     Zoe was in second grade this year.  It was a little harder for her than first grade because she missed her first grade teacher, Elizabeth.  Elizabeth is a family friend that took extra special care of her during that year.  Zoe struggled a lot with anxiety about spelling lists, making friends, and pretty much anything else.  We’ve noticed a real tendency in her to be anxious, which is a real cause for concern.  We signed her up for Big Brothers Big Sisters and had her meet with a “big sister” at school once a week for awhile.  That seemed to help her with her school adjustment.  We’re still working on things at home.  She constantly seeks reassurance and it’s hard to know how to help her.  She says things like “it’s okay, right Mommy”, and “it will be okay, right?” more times each day than I can count.  She is just always so worried.  We’re trying to help her see her strengths and encourage her to take tiny steps towards accomplishing things she is afraid of.

     I …. had a long year.  I was busy with the needs of the kids, which were my main priority … and then there was school.  I dialed it down a notch so that I was only taking 2 classes a semester.  Even that felt overwhelming, to be honest.  I also added a day of volunteer work at the VA.  What I have learned this year is how inexact of a science Psychology is … and that many therapists receive little to no clinical training before having to step out into the practicum experience and then job.  It is a source of endless stress for me.

     I’m close to the end of my program.  I have 5 classes left and will finish that up by next summer.  In 2 years of classes, I have had exactly 1 clinical skills class.  It was a 2 credit hour class that only lasted 2/3 of a full semester.  In this class, you had mock therapy sessions for 10 minutes and practiced very specific skills.  It was nerve-wracking and we were all super anxious about it … but it was at least something.  Beyond that, all we have are theoretical classes that vary in their quality.  For example, I took a compressed version of social psychology this summer (7 weeks) that consisted of the professor sitting in front of the class reading highly disorganized notes for 3 hours once a week.  None of us were able to follow what she was talking about.  It was a complete waste.  I wrote 3 papers and did an oral report for it though and earned an A.  My knowledge about Social Psychology? Zero.  My Child Assessment class that I’m still taking?  Same deal.  I’ve been working on finding resources to teach myself.  My concern about clinical skills has become a huge impediment to me completing the program.  I basically decided to quit last Fall.  Thomas refused to let me.  I talked to my clinical skills professor and he told me not to worry because I’ll “learn during practicum”.  I can’t think of a worse idea than throwing real patients at me who expect and need help when I’m not skilled to help them.  It really bothers me.

     I started volunteer work at the VA was to help my CV and explore research in the social sciences.  I’ve learned that the research just isn’t for me.  The project I’m working on has laughable scientific credibility.  I’m stunned, really.  This will end sometime in the Fall, and then I’ll look for a volunteer project that will expose me to clinical work.  Right now, I’m just staring at a computer screen most of the time.

     On a personal level, I’m doing extremely well.  My moods have been steady and I’ve been pretty happy.  I feel better than I have in my entire adult life.

     We bought a cabin in November for the family too.  We went once a month all winter and have gone a few times this summer, with plans to go a few more times before summer ends!

     So that’s it … the long overdue update.  I’ll try to do better.

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