Tag Archives: Memories

Play

And I didn’t continue with the #AtoZChallenge after all. Now I could write my Q post today and just have enough time to get to Z on April 30, but I have no clue what to write about that starts with Q. Besides, I’d just be too behind. I will continue with random reflections whenever I can, but I’m tiref of sticking to the alphabet. At least, the challenge so far taught me that I can, in fact, write a blog post almost everyday.

A few minutes ago, I looked at the friendly fill-in questions for this week. I’m not inclined to join in with the thing in a traditional way. However one of the prompts stuck out to me. It was: “When I was a child, I loved to play ___”. Today, I’m going to write about the joys of playing as a child (and as an adult, too).

As regular readers know, I’m autistic. However, when I was a toddler, I wasn’t the type to line up my toys. In fact, at about age three, I had three PlayMobil figures called Pekel, Foet and Laren. No, these aren’t common Dutch names. The characters would just eat, drink and go to the toilet. Nothing too interesting but nothing too stereotypical either.

I also loved to play outside. I loved the swings in particular. When we were on vacation at the campsite, I’d also climb a tree. I wasn’t as adventurous as my sister, but I nonetheless enjoyed getting outdoors.

One other memory that stands out is my learning to rollerskate at aroudn age eight. My next door neighbor, who was the same age as me, used to teach me and my sister and a bunch of other girls (and a few boys). It was fun until I realized how I, being legally blind, wasn’t able to keep up. Once I was about twelve, I eventually learned to rollerblade too. That too didn’t last long, as my vision became too poor.

My sister and I would play with dolls too. I’d often make up the stories. Like, we were going on vacation to Suriname with the dolls, because, you know, my sister’s doll was brown. Though I showed some level of imagination – more so than my neurotypical sister -, I could be quite controlling. For example, I’d get upset whenever my sister said “said the doll” after a sentence that the doll supposedly said.

I continued to play with dolls and Barbie dolls until I was around fourteen. By the time I was thirteen and about to transfer to mainstream school, I decided I really needed to stop playing. However, I didn’t know what else to do. Once my computer and eventually the Internet took my interest, I hardly ever played anymore.

As an adult, I had a time when my inner child parts were particularly active and I’d even buy Barbie dolls for them. They however usually enjoy stuffed animals. I still sleep wth a bunch of stuffies on my bed.

Memories: Remembering Painful Events #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to my belated day 13 post in the #AtoZChallenge of random reflections. Today, I chose yet another prompt from the 397 journal writing prompts and ideas. It is “Memory” and the prompt is to share your most painful memory. That is really hard, as I have a lot ofpainful memories and also tend to dissociate when remembering painful events. So I’m just going to ramble.

The first memory that came to mind is that of the day I was admitted to the mental hospital. This was November 2, 2007. I’m pretty sure I shared the details of that day already though, but oh well. I had been planning on returning home from my parents’ city that day, but freaked out at the train station. The police were called and removed me. I wandered through the city for a few hours. The police were called several times and instead of speaking to me, they called the training home in that city, in which I’d been a resident before moving to another city. In the evening, I was close to the training home and a fellow client called me into her apartment. She said I could sleep at hers fo the night and we would find a solution the next morning. However, the staff came in and kicked me out. That was when I spiraled into full-blown crisis. I walked to the nearby bus stop. In my memory, the sun was shining brightly, but this isn’t possible, as it was 8PM in November. I phoned my support worker and the training home’s coordinator to let them know I was going to commit suicide. This was what led the bus driver to call the police, who took me to the police station and called the crisis service.

Another memory that came to mind happened 9 1/2 years later. It was the “exit meeting” I had with my psychologist in late April, 2017. I tried desperately to get her to see that I needed support once leaving the hospital after 9 1/2 years. She didn’t see my point. Apparently, it had all been my responsibility to make sure I get after care, as I supposedly didn’t want anything. Because it was thought back then that a simple phone call to the day activiities manager for the center I go to now, would sole everything, I was given a week’s extra time. As it turns out now, the day activities manager interpreted it as me only needing day activities at his center for a short while. This is backfiring now that I’m being kicked out of there.

Both of these are not the most painful memories I have. Those are childhood memories. However, I don’t want to trigger myself by sharing them.

My Autism Diagnosis Story

The fact that I was rediagnosed autistic, still feels unreal. As I read the report this evening, self-doubt kicked in. The psychologist who diagnosed me, didn’t feel a full developmental interview with my parents was needed, as I had had that done already in 2007 and there were enough reasons to diagnose autism based on the questionnaires my parents filled out. The report from the 2007 diagnostic assessment is gone though, which is one of the reasons for my soon-to-be former psychologist to have removed this diagnosis. I wonder whether my psychiatrist at the community treatment team will acknowledge this diagnosis. I hope she will.

I’m also not sure whether or how to break the news to the Dutch autistic community. As I mentioned on Monday, I was kicked off one autism forum for good, but I am still in others where I’m faced with suspicion. The international community is a lot more accepting.

In honor of my rediagnosis, I am starting the 30 days of autism acceptance, which I found out about last month. It’s mostly on Tumblr, but I can barely use that. The first question asks me to introduce myself, so here goes.

Hi, I’m Astrid. I am 30-years-old – the psych report says I look older, argh – and I live in the Netherlands. I was first formally diagnosed with autism in 2007 and last rediagnosed a few days ago.

The first time I became aware of autism, was sometime in 1998, when its genetic origin was discussed in a news program. Something clicked, but I
didn’t immediately think I’m autistic. I was only eleven or twelve-years-old,
after all.

Then, in June of 2002, my father stormed into my room in the middle of the night. “Are you autistic or something?” he yelled over my loud music. In hindsight, this was the weirdest reason to think a teen is autistic that I’ve ever heard of. After all, having loud music on late at night is pretty normal teenage defiance.

Somehow, something clicked again, and this time I had the Internet and could google autism. For the next nearly two years, I was obsessed with the idea that I may have Asperger’s Syndrome. Asperger’s hadn’t been merged with the other autistic spectrum disorders yet, and to be honest I was quite prejudiced against people with “classic” autism.

In April of 2004, it was again a comment by my father that made me stop thinking I’m an Aspie. There was a newspaper article about highly sensitive persons and the controversy around labeling pretty much everyone. My father offhandly commented that I’m an “asparagus addict”. My high school tutor, who knew about my self-diagnosis, had told my parents I was a “hypochondriac” for it and my father agreed. My mother chimed in that she’d googled Asperger’s and was sure I didn’t have it. That was the end of my “asparagus addiction” for over 2 1/2 years.

In late 2006, my support wroker at the training home for the disabled I resided at informed me they were sending me to mental health for an autism assessment. They had already scheduled the first appointment, in fact. I was studying psychology at college at the time and I thought I was doing a good job of it. I couldn’t, in my prejudiced mind, reconcile that with an autism diagnosis. Several months later, once diagnosed, I was happy for it. After all, I’d by this time been quite disappointed on my path in college and my diagnosis helped me get accommodations I wouldn’t otherwise have gotten. It also helped me delay my being kicked out of the training home.

I looked over all my previous diagnoses that were summarized in the report I read this evening. I was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder at least three times and that doesn’t include the early 2007 diagnosis. After all, the report on that one may’ve disappeared too and I forgot that it may be significant, as it was the only time a psychiatrist diagnosed me. Besides, it was the same mental health agency that my psychiatrist in the community treatment team is part of. If she decides not to acknowledge my rediagnosis this year, I may have to get her to retrieve what’s left of those records.

Mummy Times Two

First Appointment for My Second Opinion

Like I said on Tuesday, I had my first appointment for the independent second opinion I requested regarding my diagnosis yesterday. I had chosen to be referred to my province’s university hospital, where the psychiatry department has expertise on autism as well as personality disorders. I after all wanted them not to be too prejudiced for or against an autism diagnosis for me. I mean, I have had autism diagnosed previously and think I have this, but there must be a reason my treating psychologist doesn’t agree. The most important reason for this is her believing that, because I developed hydrocephalus as a baby, my diagnosis should be some form of unspecified brain injury. Since this isn’t in the diagnostic handbooks, I’m now left with “just” a personality disorder, a diagnosis I dispute.

I had a two-hour meeting with a clinical neuropsychologist and a medical psychology intern. Because I had somehow seemed to remember the appointment would take only 30 minutes, this was quite a change of game to me. I however handled it well and was in fact glad that I could explain things. I had thought they’d just rely on the questionnaires I’d filled out last week, which couldn’t possibly give them a complete picture.

First, the neuropsych said I’d come to the right place, as this psychiatry dept know brain injury, autism as well as personality disorders. I said I knew and that I’d requested to be referred here myself. She then asked me to explain my impairments. I focused on sensory and organizational skills difficulties, as my social impairments are not too obvious in my current setting. I mean, I’ve heard nurses say I can’t possibly be autistic because I can hold down a normal-sounding conversation with them. I can, but then again conversations like this aren’t meant to be truly reciprocal. I instead gave examples of sensory difficulties and problems with daily activities.

Then we went over my struggles and strengths throughout life. I started by recounting my elementary school experiences. I realized I remembered social isolation from as early as Kindergarten on. I also mentioned I remembered feeling practically burned out by age five, insofar as a five-year-old can have this experience. I forgot to mention that my parents have always said I was a cheerful preschooler at least and didn’t start having serious trouble until I had to learn Braille by age seven, presumably because I didn’t accept my blindness. I did however explain my difficulties in accepting my blindness. I explained that I temporarily accepted my blindness, or at least pretended I did, when I went to regular school at age thirteen, but never truly accepted it.

I mentioned having some friends in first to third grade, mostly older girls who babied me. I did have one friend in later elementary school too, but did experience more social isolation and trouble navigating the more complex friending process from age nine on. At this point, my behavior problems also became worse. I mentioned screaming, self-harm and physical aggression, though I only know I was physically aggressive because my mother reported it to my diagnostician in 2007. I also mentioned being good at academics. The psychologists asked about my interests. I mentioned drawing maps and calendar calculation. She didn’t ask about play, which was one area in which I was okay if behind. I mean, I still played with dolls by age twelve, but that may be considered a strength in the realm of autism, as it shows imagination.

My parents encouraged me to develop age-appropriate intersts when I was about ten. Looking back, I don’t think they knew what my peers were into either. I told the psychologist about the Backstreet Boys poster on my wall, that I only had for the purpose of fitting in. Another example that I only remember just now is my pretending to be an Ajax fan. Ajax is a major Dutch football club from Amsterdam. I am originally from Rotterdam, which has its own major football club whose fans hate Ajax, but I went to school in another city, so all my peers were Ajax fans.

When I was thirteen, I transitioned from special education to a mainstream secondary school. I mentioned feeling extreme stress then, being bullied and isolated. I did mention the four girls I was “friends” with for a few months in my first year at this school, explaining that I was way too open and clingy to them and pushed them away. I also mentioned clinging to my sister’s friends’ big sisters in later elementary school. I mentioned seeing friends in a more materialistic way than most older children see their friends. I mean, when one girl in late elementary school gave her friends candy, I believed I was her friend when she gave me candy too. I even imitated her friends by asking this girl, in the same tone of voice as they did, “Got something to chew on?”

I didn’t go into that much detail about my secondary school struggles. Honestly, I barely remember this time period, even though I kept a diary throughout secondary school. I did mention feeling like I was out of my own body or living in a movie throughout adolescence. I am surprised as I write about and recall my meeting that I barely used technical terms. I consider this a good thing.

I went on to describe my increasing struggles with self-harm and aggression after high school. I described my crisis of 2007. I didn’t go into that much detail regarding my psychiatric hospital years. I did mention some of my current struggles, like with handling unexpected situations. The psychologist asked about my challenging behavior, such as wandering, self-harm and aggression. I said it’s a lot less frequent now that I’m on medication but still happens. The psychologist wants to speak to my psychologist at the institution regarding psychological treatments for these behaviors. I haven’t had any and have never had the impression that my psychologist feels any would be helpful. This got the neuropsychologist to say she may also write some reccommendations for treatment into her report.

At the end, she concluded she does see signs of autism, but wants my parents (likely my father) and husband to fill out some questionnaires too. I will also get a bunch of questionnaires. Since they are in print only, I said I’d need help filling them out. The psychologist offered to have the intern help me, as I would not feel truly free to be honest to my nursing staff or even my husband. I liked that. She also said she wants me to get some neuropsychological testing done to provide further validation for my strengths and weaknesses. I said my psychologist had not felt this would be possible or even necessary. Some tests may not be possible but others are and this psychologist does feel it’d be helpful.

I also got a bunch of questions regarding depressive symptoms. The psychologist at one point pulled out what sounded like the DSM criteria for major depressive disorder. She didn’t finish questioning me on them, as she drifted off a bit.

I had to have bloodwork done to rule out physical causes of psychiatric symptoms. The intern took me to the waiting room, where my sister-in-law was waiting. She came to me, but I didn’t recognize her and the intern had not seen her before, so she assumed my sister-in-law was the nurse for the blood draw. As she lead me out of the psychiatry department, I remembeed to ask who she was and to say I needed to have bloodwork done. We returned and a real nurse came to do the blood draw. I am extremely hard to draw blood from, so the nurse tried three times, then called a colleague. After he drew blood, he asked whether this had been an intake interview. Since that’s what it’s called, I said “Yes”. This meant I had to have my blood pressure (pretty high), temperature, weight and height (I’m still obese) and waist and hip measurements taken. I forgot to say I’m not going for treatment here, which seemed to be the reason the nurse wanted these numbers. I had not grown in abdominal measurements since they were last taken last year, thank goodness.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with the way this appointment has gone. I will get a letter setting a date for an appointment for the questionnaires and tests.

Spectrum Sunday
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

A Thank You Letter to a Bus Driver

This is getting old, but I have been extremely uninspired lately. It’s like everytime I try to do blogging in Dutch again, I neglect this blog. It wasn’t even so much that I didn’t want to write, but I didn’t kow what to write about. A few days ago, however, I saw a blog post in which a person wrote a thank you letter to their genetic counselor. Other people were invited to write thank you letters to people you wouldn’t expect they’d be thankful for. This got me thinking. At first, I wanted to write a thank you letter to the psychiatrist who admitted me to hospital in 2007. While writing this letter, however, I thought of another person who was important to me that night: the bus driver who overheard me make a suicidal threat and called the police. I am writing a letter to him today.

Dear bus driver,

You may have forgotten about me. At least, I hope you have. Thhat’d mean you didn’t experience too much stress from what I did while on your bus. I haven’t forgotten about you. I don’t know your name, but I want to thank you anyway.

I was the person who threatened to kill herself while sitting on your bus on the evening of November 2, 2007. I told someone’s voicemail the details of my suicide plan. You overheard me, although a fellow passenger said you merely heard me cry. She probably just said that to quiet my mind. I heard you tell the police that you would be at the train station by 8:15 PM. By that, I judged I’d got onto the 8:01 bus at the bus stop near the training home I used to reside in. You dropped me off at the train station and the police took over and took me to the police station, where I was seen by the mental health crisis service.

I want you to know that I’m well now. I’m not fully recovered from my mental illness, but I’m a lot better than I was back then. I remembered you for years, which was causing me to find it hard to travel the bus in your city. I feared I’d run into you. Now, I know that you did your job and you did it well.

I could bore you with a long story of my mental illness and recovery, but that would probably stress you out. In case you’re wondering, however, I want you to be assured that I’m happy that I didn’t kill myself that evening. Now I know that, somewhere between the bus and where I wanted to kill myself, someone probably would’ve stepped in before I would actually be dead. However, you happened to be that person to step in. Thank you for that.

Astrid

A College Memory

Last week or the week before, one of the prompts from Mama’s Losin’ It was to write about a college memory. Since just yesterday I shared on my Dutch website about studying with a mental illness, I thought i’d write about it here too. It’s been 8 1/2 years since I dropped out of university, of course. For this post, I’d like to share about my first day of university.

My first day of university was September 3, 2007. I took a ParaTransit taxi to the building where I’d have my first class. As I approached what turned out to be a large lecture hall, I was immediately overwhelmed by the huge number of students. Until that day, my idea of a large group of students was my psychology class at college, where about 35 students were in the room. I had expected the same number of students in my university classes, because only about fifteen to twenty students enroll in the linguistics program each year. Turned out the class was a combined linguitics, business communications and language and cultural studies class and there were over 200 students in attendance. I had the most spectacular meltdown right there and ran off. I don’t remember much of what happened next. I think I called my home support worker, because the team manager, who also acted as my support worker, came to pick me up. She drove me to the office of the organization I received care from. This was the first time I was in such major crisis that the team manager decided to call mental health services. She later told me I was “not crazy enough” to be admitted.

I must say here that a meltdown whilst in a lecture hall is of course not in itself a reason for a mental admission. In this sense, the mental health agency was right that I was “not crazy enough”. Maybe if they’d knwon that I had meltdown after meltdown almost on a daiy basis, they could’ve offered some help. Now back in the day my only options were an admission or no help. Today, most mental health crisis services offer more varied help.

The professor for my first class – the only class I even attempted to go to that first day – was by the way one of the most supportive people in the university. He offered to have me listen to the lectures in a room attached to the lecture hall that is often used for recording lectures. I was able to attend his classes up to the moment I landed in my final psychiatric crisis in late October. His class was also the only one I took an exam for – three days before my hospitalization. This professor was the first to notice I wasn’t at university anymore and I don’t think it was solely because he was the professor for my Mondaya morning class. The director of studies E-mailed me the Monday after midterm that said professor had been missing me in his class, so had I quit my sutdies? I didn’t read this E-mail till I was home on a visit the next month.

I don’t have the greatest experiences with accommodations for me as a mentally ill, multiply-disabled student at university. I remember being told a number of times that I had a bad attitude and “we’re not a therapy center”. Though this is true, I badly did want to continue my studies for as long as I could. This one professor was, without even talking much to me, one of a few people who kept me going. He instilled a continuing interest in language composition and univesal grammar in me.

Transitions: Moving Out of Student Housing

One of today’s prompts for Friday Reflections is about moving out of your last home. I have not truly lived in a home since being institutionalized nearly eight years ago. Before then, I lived on my own for three months in a student housing apartment. For this post, I am going to write about moving out of that home.

I was admitted to the psychiatric hospital suddenly in the middle of the night on NOvember 3, 2007. I also couldn’t be sure then that I would never return to the student housing apartment, although the psychiatrist admitting me did say so more or less. The apartment, like I said, was from student housing. This meant you needed to be in college in that city to be allowed to live there. I formally quit college three months into my stay at the psychiatric unit, but persuaded the student housing corporation to let me keep the apartment for a while, then was never given an eviction notice. I held on to the apartment until I could no longer afford it, which came when my long-term care copay was increased in May of 2010.

I was by now relatively stable and had moved from the acute unit to the resocialization unit. I was sure however that I’d not return to this home. I formally left the student housing accommodation on May 3, 2010. It wasn’t a coincidence that this was exactly 2 1/2 years after my admission to the hospital, as long-term care copay started at one year in a facility, you pay the low copay for another year and my social worker applied for an extra six months of the low copay for “resocialization into the community”.

Interestingly, I don’t remember much about letting go of my student housing apartment. I remember the packing. Because we packed rather inefficiently, some boxes were over 10kg and others were just five. I sent them to my parents, so this matters, because you pay extra for sending boxes over 10kg. I remember the argument with my parents (and especially my sister) because I wanted to get rid of my old keyboards that I’d gotten from my grandma. I also remember getting a friend of a nurse to take the stuff I no longer wanted to the garbage collection place. (I can’t believe I trusted that man, whom I had never met, in my home even with the nurse accompanying him.) I didn’t want my husband (who was still my boyfriend then) to help me much, so he did some packing and lots of cleaning. We probably left the apartment cleaner than I’d gotten into it.

Moving out was a bit emotional of course, because it meant, or so I thought, letting go of the idea of living independently. Roughly at the same time that I handed in the keys to my student housing apartment, I handed my parents my key to their old home, which they were selling. This signified my letting go of the home in which I’d grown up. It also signified my letting go of the idea that my parents would always be there for me. Not that they were. After all, since I’d moved into the student housing apartment and especially since I’d been institutionalized, they felt I had now grown up and should take care of myself. I almost said it signified that my parents were no longer the most important people in my life. This is true in a way, because a month after this, my boyfriend proposed to me.

In many ways, moving out of student housing was bittersweet. It was freeing, because it helped me let go of the requirement that I be in full-time college. It also in some ways made me sad, having to let go of the hope of being in full-time college again. The same goes, to a lesser degree now, for living independently. Of course, I plan to go live with my husband, but I didn’t know this back then. Moving out helped me let go of the requirement of living independently, but it also sort of crushed the hope of my living independently again, at least until my husband and I got our current apartment.

As you can see, my moving out of student housing was in many ways a transitional point in my life. It helped me make the transition from daughter to girlfriend and eventually wife, but more so it helped me become my own, independent self. This seems a bit paradoxical, but what I mean is, I no longer held my parents respnsible for making my decisions, and I didn’t hold my boyfriend responsible for making my decisions either. At least not yet. Unfortunately, now that I’m married, I have fallen a bit for the habit of holding my husband responsible for my decisions. I don’t believe in the submissive wife type of bullcrap, so I need to let go of this habit.

Reflections From Me
Everyday Gyaan

Back-to-School Memory

One of the prompts over at Mama’s Losin’ It is to describe a back to school memory. Usually, my first days at school were quite eventful, and not usually in a positive way.

I remember the day I started in seventh grade at a new school for the blind in 1998. It was my first time taking my laptop to school on a weird-looking troller, because I couldn’t carry the backpack myself. In elementary school, we’d all used braille typewriters. We started the school day with a talk from the principal, and then everyone went to their classrooms.

For my first class, we had computer education, for which we didn’t use our own laptops, since not everybody had one. In fact, I was the only one who had a laptop not provided by the school.

Our next class was either biology or English. We’ll say it was biology, and there, I had to use my computer. And it wouldn’t start up. I had my teacher take a look, but she couldn’t figure out the problem either. Neither could my English teacher for the next hour. I had an utter meltdown, fearing i’d ruined my entire school experience because I couldn’t even figure out my own computer. As I usually do, I refused every opportunity at finding a solution, such as my taking my schoolwork home to do it once my parents had figured out the problem. I was in total panic.

As it turned out when I got home, my parents had set a password on my computer which they hadn’t told me, and had forgotten to have my computer bypass the password upon startup. They’d set the password to prevent teachers from doing stuff with my computer they weren’t supposed to, and they hadn’t told me for fear I’d let it slip off my tongue.

Recently, I related this story to my husband, who is quite computer savvy. He got a post-secondary certificate in computing at age twelve, so he knew a bit about the computers of the late 1990s. He told me that the way my parents had set up the password was not a safeguard anyway.

I have had countless more back to school experieneces ever since and many more bad experiences with computers at school. Once I went to a mainstream secondary school in 1999, I was lucky to have my father work in computers there. At least, I was lucky when my computer acted up. I wasn’t so lucky when I acted up, because inevitably my father would find out.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Parent Appreciation: Realistic Limits

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother – which is the first commandment with a promise – so that
it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:1-3 NIV)

It’s Mother’s Day today. I am a bit late to post for it, as I couldn’t think of a theme to write on. Then I read Nicole’s post over at One Picky Chick, in which she lists ten reasons why she’s the meanest Mom (and wouldn’t change it) and I thought of the ways in which my parents set rules. The above Bible quote only popped up when I chose a memory verse for a Christian women’s group I’m a co-admin for. My parents are atheists, so they’ll probably not like it that I start a post honoring them with a Bible quote, but it’s fitting. This post isn’t focused specifically on my Mom, as my father was my primary caregiver, but I still want to say I definitely appreciate my Mom.

My parents weren’t perfect, of course. When I was in schema-focused psychotherapy and reading up on the things children need from their parents in their upbringing, I had negative comments on about everything mentioned. However, the last one was “realistic limits”. Though I had some negative experiences with those, most times my parents in fact provided me with good enough realistic limits.

My parents had some non-negotiable rules. School was pretty much the most important thing in life and always came first. We didn’t get to stay home from school unless we ran a fever, because, if we didn’t run a fever, we weren’t sick. Of course, there likely would’ve been exceptions to this rule, but at least it was clear that seeking an excuse to stay home in a slight tummy ache was not acceptable.

What rules like this taught me, is to be quite a rule-abiding person. I only learned in my teens to early twenties that you could actually get away with not doing your chores, but even now, I don’t like to break rules like this one. When I don’t do chores, it’s usually because I flat out forget.

On other rules, my parents were more flexible. When I was young, bedtime was bedtime. However, as I had trouble sleeping, my parents eventually relaxed this rule. I still had to go to bed at a certain time, but I didn’t have to go to sleep right away. Particularly once my sister had moved to a room of her own, this meant a lot less stress and less bothering of my sister and parents (at least at night).

I was an irritable child, but, thanks to my parents’ realistic limits, I didn’t become a defiant child. It also caused me to gradually learn self-determination. For example, the above example about bedtime taught me to regulate myself re sleep. I had my own rules about how much sleep I needed so when I needed to go to bed. I never slept in on school days.

When I think of what I’d do if I were a parent, I think of setting rules in a similar way that my parents did. Some things are non-negotiable and a child will just have to obey. When things are not that important and particularly the child isn’t a threat to themself or others (physically or psychologically), I’d be more flexible. My parents had a hard time with me sometimes, because, though I wasn’t openly defiant that much, I did have quite severe behavior problems. It must’ve been a tough balancing act between giving me too much room for self-determination and not allowing me to develop that sense of self-determination. I thank my parents for setting realistic limits.

Equipping Godly Women
Found Love. Now What?

A Favorite Childhood Memory: Sleepovers at My Grandma’s

Today, I decided to check the Blog Everyday in May announcement and saw that it isn’t a requirement to post everyday. You are free to participate whenever you like. Not only did I decide to add the badge into yesterday’s post after all, but I think I’m going to try to join in with more prompts.

Today’s prompt is “a favorite childhood memory”. This is a tough one, since I tend to dwell on the negative aspects of many memories. A few days ago, however, I saw my sister had posted a picture of the two of us on a sleepover at our grandma’s. I was immediately tempted to write about that. Not only does it allow me to use a picture in my post for once, but sleepovers at my grandma’s were happy moments in my childhood and, for once, they don’t have a bittersweet connotation to them.

Sleepover at My Grandma's

I wrote about my grandma before. She is one amazing woman and I cherish the days spent with her. Particularly, my sister and I loved going for sleepovers. We went on a sleepover at least once a year until I was around fourteen.

Our grandma had saved many of her children’s toys and also still quilted stuffed animals. In the above picture, you see my sister and I playing dress-up.

At the time this picture was taken in 1994, my grandma lived in a family home in a quiet neighborhood in Zeist. She’d frequently take us on walks. We nicknamed the neighborhood “poo place” because of the proliferation of dog shit on the pavement.

As I said in my earlier post, my grandma would often take us on “expeditions” to explore the town and countryside. There was an “expedition” to the parking lot once she’d moved to a senior citizens’ home down town (to figure out how many stories it consisted of!)) There was also an “expedition” to the wildlife garden and an “expedition” alongside a ditch. The ditch had waterplants growing in it that looked just like grass. We joked that you can’t walk on this type of grass. Now that I look it up, the English Wikipedia has a picture of a ditch in the Netherlands. Wonder whether they don’t exist elsewhere. But I digress.

My grandma, as I said in my other post, volunteered for the local environmental conservation charity. I had lots of fun going to the activity group (the “activigeese” I mentioned), where my grandma would make quilted blankets, animals and such for the charity shop. I didn’t do much while at the activity group, as I’ve never been good at sewing, but I did enjoy chatting to the other ladies going there.

After we stopped going on sleepovers, my grandma did take us on a vacation to Paris in 2001. My sister had just finished her first year of secondary school and I had finished my second, so we both spoke a bit of French. We spent the week at one of my grandma’s French acquaintances’.

Of course, I still had my meltdown moments even when at my grandma’s. She was firm with me but never lost her temper. As I may’ve said in my other post, I just plain admire my grandma’s positive attitude. This is probably one reason that, growing up, I had the best relationship with her of all my grandparents. I undoubtedly drove her crazy sometimes, like I did most people in my life, but she handled it so amazingly. This is one reason why visits to my grandma as a child don’t have a bittersweet meaning to me now.

Found Love. Now What?