How I Was Disciplined As a Child

Hi everyone. Today’s topic for Throwback Thursday is “rules and discipline”. I am going to try to keep this post as non-triggering as possible, but if you endured childhood abuse, you might want to skip this post. Then again, maybe what I endured wasn’t abuse at all? Well, in that case actual survivors might want to skip it because it might come across as invalidating.

My parents rarely set clear rules when I was a child or teen. I can’t remember having curfews and, even at ten-years-old, I was allowed to stay awake in my room for as long as I wanted provided I didn’t wake anybody else.

In this sense, none of the provided questions in Maggie’s original post made much sense. I mean, I was often sent to my room as punishment, but I cannot remember what for. I also was never told how long to stay in my room, so I usually stayed for about an hour then slowly re-emerged.

My parents, both of them, also used corporal punishment. However, I get a feeling that they hit me more out of a sense of powerlessness than out of a righteous wish to set me straight. Unfortunately, corporal punishment didn’t stop when I got older. In fact, the last time I was hit, was when my parents more or less kicked me out of the house when I was nineteen. And then I don’t include the time my mother tried to slap away my hand from my hair to prevent me twirling it when I was 23 but I slapped her hand away.

My parents, like I said, didn’t have clear-cut rules, but they did have expectations about socially appropriate behavior. They had their own words for ridiculing me when I “misbehaved”.

The positive side of there not being many clear rules, was that my parents encouraged me to do things most other teens, and certainly disabled teens, would not have been allowed to. I was allowed on a four-week-long summer camp to Russia at age fourteen, being the youngest of the Dutch participants and the only one with a disability (the program officially catered towards the visually impaired). Then again, when I struggled socially in Russia and for this reason wasn’t allowed back the next year, my parents, especially my father, completely guilt-tripped me rather than showing me support.

I was mostly a rule-follower, insofar as there were rules at all. However, as a teen, I became secretive. I actually had my father drive me to a meeting of people with mental illness when I was seventeen, while I’d led him to believe it was a disability meeting (because one of the people there was in a wheelchair). I’m pretty sure he knew, but he never confronted me.

I don’t have children of my own, so I cannot say whether my upbringing influenced the way I discipline them. However, I did find I got easily triggered when I got the impression my sister and brother-in-law used corporal punishment on my older niece (this was before the younger one was born). Thankfully, they were able to reassure me that they didn’t.

The Wednesday HodgePodge (August 3, 2022)

Hello all! It’s Wednesday again and I thought I’d join in with the Wednesday HodgePodge. Here goes.

1. Do you have a sister? Tell us something about her. If you don’t have a sister, tell us about a friend who has been like a sister. Or tell us about a sister-in-law if you have one who is extra special.
I have one sister. She is two years younger than me, although when we were kids, people always thought we were either twins or she was the older one. She always envied me because I got more attention from our parents than she got (though it was mostly negative attention). In terms of the roles often described in dysfunctional families, she was the lost child, while I was a strange mix of scapegoat and golden child.

Currently, she lives in the far northwest of the country, close by the sea, with her husband and two girls. She will be starting training to become a childcare worker soon.

2. Resister, assister, insister, persister…choose one and explain how it relates to you and your life lately.
All of them relate to me in some way. Well, maybe except for “assister”, in that I don’t really assist anyone myself, but rather am on the receiving end of assistance. As for “resister” and “persister”, they usually go hand in hand, in a kind of paradoxical way.

3. Share a favorite song, book, movie, or television program that features sisters.
A book that’s been turned into a movie comes to mind: My Sister’s Keeper by jodi Picoult. It was the first Picoult novel I read, before I knew killing off her characters was her way of writing (oh, sorry if that’s a spoiler, but the book and movie have both been out forever). In this book though, it made sense. In others, not so much.

4. August 3rd is national watermelon day…are you a fan? Do you like watermelon flavored candy? Besides eating the melon as is, do you have a good recipe made with watermelon?
I do like watermelon, but it’s not like I’m a huge fan. I’ve never had watermelon-flavored candy, so no opinions on that. I don’t really know a recipe with watermelon, but I still need to try it in my fruit infusion bottle. I did try a few pieces of a galia melon in it, but that didn’t taste good.

5. ‘Tis August…what are three things you’re looking forward to this month?
Crafting quite a bit. Several fellow clients at the care facility I know well have their birthdays this month and I want to create them a present. Seeing my husband’s new-to-him car, that he will be getting on Saturday. Maybe driving to some nearby town or city we haven’t been to yet with my husband.

6. Insert your own random thought here.
I am so glad that my crafty mojo seems to be returning in time for these fellow residents’ birthdays. Also, if you all have any idea what I could create for my husband’s and my wedding anniversary on September 19, I’d love to know. I bought a heart-shaped canvas that I can decorate with paint, polymer clay and/or other media, but I am truly out of ideas as to what exactly to do.

Gratitude List (July 31, 2022) #TToT

Hi all on this last day of July! Today I’m joining Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT) for a gratitude list. I’m rather late to the party, but better late than never, huh? Here goes.

1. I am grateful for some good phone talks with the care facility’s behavior specialist this week. She gave me some useful advice on how to handle my frustration with respect to my recent care review with her and my nurse practitioner from mental health.

2. I am grateful my nurse practitioner gave the get-go for me to lower my antipsychotic again. Next week, I’ll be starting with the slightly decreased dose.

3. I am grateful for a nice visit from my sister and her family. I am so grateful Janneke, my oldest niece, was really friendly with me. I tried to show her how to make a play-doh unicorn, but she may still be a bit young for that and/or I wasn’t engaging enough.

4. I am grateful I got to hold Wolke, my youngest niece, who is just two-months-old.

5. I am grateful for the belated birthday gifts my sister and her family brought me. I got four sets of cutters and a set of texture sheets to use with my polymer clay.

6. I am grateful for a delicious salami pizza with added olives and red peppers. Yum! We ordered pizza (and fries for Janneke) last Monday when my sister and her family were here.

7. I am grateful for a good visit from my mother-in-law on Friday too. We went out to have lunch, which was delicious.

8. I am grateful for no mosquitoes last night or the night before. This hopefully means my anti-mosquito device, that I’d bought last Friday when in town with my mother-in-law, is working. Either that or none had been in my room at all. I don’t really care which, as long as the critters aren’t bothering me.

9. I am grateful my pasta machine isn’t broken after all. I had experienced it’d crumble several colors of polymer clay. Even after a deep clean session, it still did this, so I thought it must be broken. Thankfully, one of the most knowledgeable people in the Dutch polymer clay Facebook group took a look at a picture I’d taken and said it wasn’t broken. Apparently it’s the clay.

10. I am grateful the new pasta machine I impulsively ordered online when thinking the current one was broken, can be returned. I will probably ask my staff to drive me to the PostNL pick-up point tomorrow. When I have my refund, I’m going to order supplies I really do need from that same store I now ordered the pasta machine from.

What are you grateful for?

Joy in July

Hi everyone. It’s nearly the end of the month and this means it’s time for me to update you all on my word of the year. As usual, I’m joining the #WOTY linky, as well as Lisa’s One Word linky. My word of the year, as I’ve said before, is “JOY”.

Early in the month, I had a horrible setback, as I got the news that my now former assigned staff would be quitting her job at my care facility. This caused some major sadness and emotional turmoil in me, but after a while, I was able to channel it into something good by creating something for her – a polymer clay hedgehog. I enjoyed the creative process and the smile I brought to her face when I gave her the gift.

Overall, I did find that my joy or lack thereof was more than in the previous months tied to my material success, in the sense that, if I felt I was failing at a crafty endeavor, I didn’t enjoy it either. The same goes for my blog: I was ecstatic when reading all the positive comments to the poem I wrote last week, but didn’t enjoy writing when I had the idea that I wasn’t “successful” in my blogging.

Similarly, my joy is also more tied to material possessions than it used to be. For example, the day my former assigned staff left, I ordered a stuffed dolphin for comfort. While this did help me, maybe at other times I would’ve been able to seek joy without having to spend money. I am not saying spending money on comfort items is necessarily bad, but ultimately, they aren’t material things that will bring me joy.

Joyful experiences included a visit to the trampoline on the last day my now former assigned staff worked my one-on-one shift, eating out with my husband and a visit from my sister and her family. While they involved material things too, in the sense that we spent money on the dinner and my sister gave me some beautiful belated birthday gifts, the experiences themselves were truly great.

In some good news, I did do some Bible reading everyday again this week, while I’d hardly done any over the rest of the month. It is causing me a lot of emotions.

Overall, the month of July was filled with some high peaks but a lot of deep lows too. I must say though that, considering the impact of my staff leaving, I was expecting much worse. I really hope the month of August will be better.

A Courageous Choice

I was a shy, withdrawn teen who was loyal to my parents even though they didn’t have my best interest in mind. I mean, if they’d had their way, I’d have gone to university and lived on my own straight out of high school in 2005, even though I could barely take care of myself. That had been their attitude towards raising “responsible” children ever since I was a little girl: if I couldn’t – or in their opinion was too strong-willed to – learn a skill as a child, I’d learn it as an adult by myself. Or not. In any case, there was no safety net.

Though I do indeed feel that children benefit from learning by doing themselves, this was not how it worked in my family. I don’t blame my parents for not having the patience to teach me self-care skills, given that I got frustrated very easily, but I do hold them responsible for not having accepted the help they could have gotten. Though it might not have led to me becoming as independent as they’d want me to be, my current situation is about as far from that goal as can be. Then again, my parents hold me responsible for that. And I, in a sense, do too.

I was reminded of this situation when I read a journaling prompt that asked me to reflect on a courageous choice I made as a teen that’s still helping me today. I immediately thought of the choice to go into blindness training rather than straight to university once I’d graduated high school. Though this decision itself did not by far lead to the self-awareness I needed to try to get into long-term care, it was my first step into the care system. And, of course, as my parents predicted, I never fully got out.

Back in June of 2005, when I accepted the blindness training center psychologist’s offer to put me on the waiting list for the basic training program, I still had my head deep in the sand about my lack of independence skills. The psychologist did not. He suggested I go to a training home after finishing the program. He probably knew that, like many young people blind from birth, and especially those from families like mine who value academics over life skills, I wouldn’t be ready to move into independent living after a four-month, basic program. I wasn’t. I never would be. Till this day, I’m not sure whether this is my blindness or my autism or my mild cerebral palsy or what. I believe strongly that, with multiple disabilities, the whole is more than the sum of its parts. Thankfully, the authorities approving my long-term care funding, eventually agreed.

My 2022 Birthday Celebrations

In one of her Writer’s Workshop writing prompts for this week, Mama Kat asks us to share about something we celebrated recently. Of course, it was my birthday last Monday and I haven’t yet told you all everything about it, so here goes.

The celebrations started on Saturday with me arriving in Lobith by taxi at around noon. My husband gave me my first present after we’d had lunch. According to him, I’d been nagging him about the Cernit matt polymer clay varnish being sold out everywhere. Indeed, I had mentioned this to him (not exactly nagging, in my opinion), to which he’d replied with a challenge for me to find where it’d been allegedly sold out. I found out that a Bol.com (a Dutch site much like Amazon but more expensive) partner still had some in stock. He then asked me whether I wanted it for my birthday. I said yes. So that’s what I got. I got two 30ml pots of it, because according to my husband a Danish vendor had it in stock at half the Bol.com price including shipping.

At around 2:30PM, my parents arrived. They gave me strawberries that they’d bought from a street vendor across the German border. They also gave me German tea, which I ended up giving to my husband, since it was black tea and I only drink green tea and the occasional herbal tea. My main birthday gift was a huge box full of plastic cookie cutters to use with my polymer clay. There are 75 cutters in the box, ranging from animals to vehicles and from a few Christmas-themed and sports-themed ones to dinosaurs. The box also included cutters for all letters and numbers except for I (the box recommended cutting off a piece of the L for that). I also got a huge jar filled with beads that my parents bought at a thrift store. Lastly, I got a kit for making magnetic bracelets.

After we’d had coffee and apple pie, we chatted some. Then, it was time to leave for the restaurant my husband and I had picked out. The restaurant was called “De Revolutie” (“The Revolution”) and we’d somehow gotten the impression it was a Cuban-style restaurant. That had appealed to my husband and me, because my parents are leftists.

When we arrived, we soon figured out it was indeed hard to comprehend which revolution the restaurant was referring to. We’d hoped for pictures of Che Guevara, but there were none. I had already discovered that, what the restaurant had on the menu, definitely wasn’t Cuban cuisine, as most of its meals include beef and that’s hardly consumed in Cuba (or so Google tells me). I didn’t care though.

I chose shrimp in garlic oil as my appetizer, which was really good. My husband chose nachos and was given a huge bowl of them. I ate some of his. Then I went for a burger for my main course, while my husband chose a stew. His was a relatively small serving, while mine was quite large. I liked my burger, but had hoped for a spicier version.

After we’d finished our meal, my parents left and my husband and I drove back to our house in Lobith. The next day, we drove to my in-laws’ house, where only my mother-in-law was at the time. My mother-in-law gave me a clay extruder as a present, which I love but only figured out how to work today.

On Monday, my actual birthday, I didn’t do much out of the ordinary. I treated myself to a sausage roll for lunch, but that was it. I also tried to find ready-made cookie dough to make cookies from to give as a treat to my fellow residents. It turned out the supermarket was no longer selling this, so I went back on Tuesday to get ice cream after all.

I had decided this year that I don’t want a present from my staff, since technically you (or your family) pay for it yourself anyway. However, yesterday the new student staff brought me some plunger fondant cutters to use with my polymer clay. They weren’t even really intended as presents, but I appreciate them very much.

Mama’s Losin’ It

The Wednesday HodgePodge (June 8, 2022)

Hi all! Today I’m once again joining the Wednesday HodgePodge. Here goes.

1. “A daughter’s a daughter all her life, but a son’s a son til he takes a wife.” What say you? Elaborate.
In my personal life, the exact opposite is true, in that my parents were very clear that, once I was an adult (ie. once I’d turned eighteen), I had to fend for myself. My contact with them lessened even more once I got married. My husband, on the other hand, sees his parents almost on a weekly basis. I am honestly much closer with my in-laws now than with my own parents, to the point where I’ve appointed my mother-in-law as my informal representative should I become incapacitated.

2. Something you’ve seen recently that was “cuter than a June bug”?
Hmmm, I’m obviously supposed to say little Wolke, my baby niece, but to be honest I don’t really care for babies all that much. I don’t really like children in general, but I’m going with her older sister anyway. She will be three in September and talks up a storm already.

3. “You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy ice cream and that’s pretty much the same thing.” Agree or disagree? Last time you had a serving of happiness ice cream? Dish-cone-milkshake-sundae…which one do you choose?
Disagree with the saying. Though I do like ice cream on occasion, it’s not at all my favorite treat. I don’t actually really have a sweet tooth since recovering from my overeating. Give me chips instead.

As for my favorite ice cream, it’s probably a cone, although I like sundaes and milkshakes too. I can’t remember when I last had ice cream. A milkshake though, yes, I do remember, but it was far from good. We got it with a paper straw, as plastic straws are banned in the EU, and it was too thick to drink with that but too thin to eat with a spoon.

4. What is one way/area in which you’re currently “swimming against the tide”?
I don’t do social media much at all. I mean, I do still have a Facebook, Twitter and Instagram account, but I hardly ever use them.

5. Three things you’re looking forward to this summer?
My birthday at the end of this month. Other than that, I don’t really know. My husband and I originally thought of taking a few days out by train, since Lobith is close by the German border and Germany’s public transportation is nearly free during the summer months. However, he found out that trains are already so packed that the police had to come out to remove some of the people. Not my idea of a holiday.

6. Insert your own random thought here.
I have been obsessing over crafty stuff again. I am really looking forward to doing some polymer clay work again, but can’t decide what to make, honestly. Yesterday, I tried my hand at another pair of earrings, but the slab was a true lint magnet and I was too lazy to get alcohol to remove it. I wasn’t too inspired as to what to make out of the slab anyway. Any ideas?

A Few Pretty Intense Days

Hi everyone. It’s been a few days since I wrote on my blog and I didn’t even check my feed reader yesterday at all. The last few days have been rather intense emotionally.

First, on Sunday, my husband picked me up at 8:30AM to drive to my sister and her family, who live across the country. Little Wolke, my baby niece, was, well, a baby. She didn’t really interact at all. Neither at first did Janneke, my older niece, who will be three in September. My sister did explain that “auntie Astrid’s eyes don’t work” so that’s why I can’t look at her, but she was still shy. Once my sister had taken the polymer clay bear I’d created for Janneke and let her undo the wrapping, she was a little more engaging. I did feel bad that, when she said the bear wanted a kiss, I told her not to (since I keep hearing mixed things about the safety of polymer clay in this respect). I did worry for a while that maybe Janneke was a bit too young for the bear, but my sister said she doesn’t put things in her mouth anymore and my husband said she has to learn.

My brother-in-law kept my husband occupied with the same old stories and jokes he tells each time we see each other. Meanwhile, Janneke warmed up to me and started inviting me in to her play. Janneke had hip dysplasia, for which she needed surgery last September. She still remembers in a way or so I think, as all her dolls needed to go to the doctor and get fitted with a cast (or have the cast sawn off).

At one point, my sister did start talking about needing to get rid of her pregnancy pounds. I felt a little uncomfortable about that, as she’s quite thin and I am still overweight. Then she started telling me about her career plans.

Overall, I did notice that my sister only talked about herself (and her kids). This is okay with me, but it does remind me of my parents often telling professionals that I am only able to talk about myself. It makes me feel as though the reason I’m not allowed to talk about myself is not that it’s about myself, but the fact that I don’t live a “normal” life. In other words, the contents of what I tell my parents makes them uncomfortable more so than the fact that it’s about me. Either that or my sister is somehow a lot more reciprocal with my parents than with me.

I do think I like Janneke after all though. Last time I saw her was at my birthday almost a year ago. My sister prompted her to give me her present, but she said: “No auntie Astrid not nice.” I felt that was both cute and a tiny bit upsetting.

Thankfully, my husband was able to drop me off in Raalte again in the afternoon. I arrived here with half an hour to spare before we’d eat dinner, which was Chinese takeout.

Then yesterday, which was a bank holiday, I spent most of the morning in bed, because a temp worker was assigned my one-on-one shift and the two most recently employed staff, neither of whom I know well, were working the regular shift. The temp worker tried to get me to go out of bed at first, but she had no idea about the activities I normally do during the day and I didn’t have the energy to explain them to her. Overall, I felt really powerless and like I’d rather not have someone there at all. Thankfully, today we’re more or less back to normal.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (June 4, 2022)

Hi everyone on this warm but windy Saturday afternoon. It’s been a while since I joined #WeekendCoffeeShare, so I thought I’d participate once again. I’ve just had my afternoon coffee, but the other clients are still having theirs, so grab a cuppa if you want. I also have a delicious loose-leaf herbal tea that I swapped with my assigned staff for the lemon and mint flavored green tea that came in a box I’d acquired back in February when I had COVID. After all, back then the staff had taken the entire box to my room and only then realized that because of the risk of contamination, she couldn’t take it back to the kitchen. It contained four varieties of green tea: plain, lemon, orange and mint. I like plain and sometimes orange only, so now that I trust the box isn’t laden with viruses anymore, I gave the other two varieties to my staff. Anyway, the herbal tea contains cinnamon, lavender and I don’t know what else, but it’s truly lovely. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that this week was rather intense emotionally. On Monday, we welcomed a new resident to my care home. She’s quiet and doesn’t seem to need a lot of care, but the fact that she can walk independently and yet does have a profound intellectual disability, does create some of its own risks.

The door to the home now needs to be locked for her safety. She can’t work keys, so the key remains in the lock during the day for me to open it. (At night, it’s been out for years already for my safety.) This does create some inner turmoil in me, both because of the lack of clarity (either the door is locked or it is not, in my mind) and because of my feelings about the presumption of competence for me. I mean, I am an elopement risk too and some recent events in which I’ve been quite a possible danger to myself while running away, do make me feel weird. On the other hand, I really don’t want to go back to my time on the locked psych unit.

If we were having coffee, I would also share that, on Wednesday, my assigned home staff captured one of my child alters on video while playing with one of the new resident’s sensory toys. She later asked my permission to forward the video to the other staff and the behavior specialist. I at first said yes, then felt a little anxious but eventually decided to give my permission after all.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I did finish all the presents for my sister and nieces on time for my visit to the family tomorrow. Besides the earrings I created for my sister and the mobile for little Wolke (that’s the baby’s name), I created a polymer clay bear for Janneke, my older niece.

Deciding when exactly we wanted to visit, was a bit of a hassle, since I’d forgotten my sister and her children of course need to sleep during the afternoon and I had more or less filled in for my husband that a morning visit wouldn’t be possible because of the long drive. Finally though, we agreed that we’d be at my sister’s by 11AM tomorrow and have lunch there. My husband insisted on picking me up here in Raalte tomorrow. Now that I think of it, I realize that it makes perfect sense, since he, unlike me, is a morning person. Oh well.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I went clothes shopping this morning with my staff. I bought three pants and two shirts and immediately wanted to put most of my old pants in a bag for the charity shop, because they’re way too wide. I didn’t in the end though, because I want to give it some more thought.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d report that I’m now under 69kg, yay! I have now lost exactly 3kg since starting my healthier living journey back in January. Of course, that’s not much, but it’s better to go slow and keep losing than to go fast and then gain all the weight back because you’re tired of the healthy lifestyle after a while.

How have you been?

The Wednesday HodgePodge (May 25, 2022)

Hi everyone. How is it the last Wednesday of May already? I seriously can’t believe it. Anyway, I’m joining in with the Wednesday HoddgePodge again. Here goes.

1. It’s National Wine Day (May 25)…do you like wine? Red or white? Dry or sweet? Do you have a favorite? Have you ever been to California wine country? Or any other wine region? What’s a dish you make that calls for wine?
I can’t stand wine! One day, when one of our staff was retiring and had a little leaving party at my care home, somehow we had white and red wine (don’t ask me how we got it, as normally we aren’t allowed alcohol in the care home). Some staff convinced me to try a little of the white wine. I took a sip and blurted out: “Ew, this is gross.” Then they gave me the red wine. When I took another sip, I yelled: “Yuck, this is even worse!”

I don’t think I’ve ever been to any wine region. Not consciously at least and I don’t care to go there either.

2. What’s something you’ve whined about lately?
The staffing shortage in health care and particularly my care home. Literally half the team left within the past year or so and, this past Monday, the manager informed me that they may need to get temp workers to do my one-on-one shifts too rather than just the general shifts. I know rationally that the manager can’t help the staffing shortage, but emotionally, well, I feel rather overloaded.

3. Last time you were “wined and dined”? Tell us about it.
I honestly can’t remember. My husband and I haven’t been eating out since before COVID, I guess.

4. Three cheers for_____________________.
Care workers, of course. I know the workload is crazy. I can be a pain in the butt at times, but I do appreciate their work.

5. This will be the last Hodgepodge in the month of May. Somehow next Wednesday the calendar rolls into June. Before we go though, sum up your May in twelve words or less.
Eventful, an emotional rollercoaster ride.

6. Insert your own random thought here.
I have been busy with preparations for visiting my sister and her family so I can see my new niece. She was born last Thursday. As regular readers of this blog know, I created a sort of mobile for my baby niece. Here is the picture (I’m holding it in my hand because I had nothing to hang it onto).

I wanted to gift my sister something for her birthday (which was on May 13) too and saw she wanted a membership to a positive parenting website. I am positively surprised (no pun intended) that she’s interested in that approach, as it’s vastly different from our parents’. I didn’t end up buying the membership for her, but hope she does keep this mindset.

I also am happy to share that the handheld drill and drill bits I wanted for drilling holes in my polymer clay pieces for jumprings finally arrived. I had ordered them last Wednesday and the website said handling and shipping would take up to three business days. Apparently they took three business days before they started collecting my order. I need to drill the holes so that I can attach jumprings to pieces in order to make earrings. Since the gift I did buy for my sister, is a pair of earrings, I intend on making her another pair out of polymer clay just for fun.

I also intend on making one more unicorn, because my older niece also deserves a little present when her baby sister and mother both get something.