hiddenblessing

Finding one small blessing each day.

This Way to ADHD August 30, 2012

Filed under: Parenting — hiddenblessing @ 12:47 pm
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Child Putting on Shoes“>

Photo credit to Poppy Thomas-Hill, http://www.flickr.com/photos/pinkpoppyimages/

I was at a party the other night, with a roomful of people I didn’t know. I was listening to a woman talk about her new husband’s children and somehow the topic of ADHD came up.  She immediately began to very loudly express her views on ADHD, which were something like this:

“There is no such thing as ADHD or ADD. There’s not! It’s totally made up. It’s a concept made up by teachers who just don’t want to deal with kids. It’s just an easy way out for parents and teachers who just don’t want to deal! What they really need to do is just DO THEIR JOB and parent their kids and DEAL with these kids’ behaviors.”

I nearly choked on my drink as I turned to her, just waiting to hear what more insight this woman had to share.  My best friend and I made eye contact over the people in our small circle, and I just sadly shook my head.

One of my children has ADHD.  It is not, and I repeat this in the biggest possible letters ever, NOT from a lack of parenting, discipline or teaching.  My husband and I have “parented” him relentlessly.  My boy has been in time-out so many times in his short life that I’m surprised the carpet isn’t worn out on the stairs where we send him to sit.  We have tried charts and redirection and rewards and, yes, turning the other cheek.  We’ve counseled, talked, taken things away, grounded him… you name it, we’ve tried it.

ADHD is an ugly, snarling beast.  I wish it was something made up, because if it were, I promise you I would have found a way around it.  What nerve this woman had, to tell a roomful of people she didn’t know (or not very well, obviously) about how it was due to a lack of parenting.  She has no idea.

I promise you, she has never wiped tears away from her child’s face as he cries to her that he “just must be bad.”  She has never sat in a roomful of people  and watched as a teacher shook her child’s homework at her and spat his name out with frustration and intolerance.  She has never tried to explain to her child why it is that he has to take pills every morning, when no one else has to. She has never sat up late at night, worried about how to help her child be successful when he struggles to get through five minutes of homework, let alone eight hours at school.  Or interrupted a birthday party sleepover to bring meds, because she is afraid he will never get invited back again if he wakes up and doesn’t have his pills right away.

Or the worst – which is, totally lost her cool and yelled at her child for his inability to brush his teeth, put on his shoes and get his backpack on in the last fifteen minutes before they walk out the door for the day.  This is the one that happens the most frequently… and the one we struggle the very most with.

Just put your shoes on. Please!  No – don’t look at the TV.  Why is the TV even on?  I turned it off twice already!  I don’t care if the Annoying Orange is almost over.  It’s time to go.  Shoes. SHOES! … What are you doing NOW?  Put down the cat.  SHOES.  Just shoes!

This is the one that haunts me through my whole day.  Because he’s at school and I can’t pull him into my arms and apologize for yelling at him.  I can’t try to explain how mama just needs him to please remember to get his shoes on and his teeth brushed because it would make our mornings so much easier.  I can’t be sure that he’s not hurting and sad, because the last thing he remembers of his mom that morning was how angry she was. Again.

But here is what I know to be true. This beautiful child, this marvelous boy… this is my son.  He was given to ME for a reason.  There is a life lesson, something he and I are supposed to learn together, and this is why he is mine.  ADHD is a monster, for sure.  I hate the fears, tears and pain it has brought into my sweet child’s life.  But it’s a monster that for whatever reason, God chose to place in our path.  And slay it, we will.  One way or another.

For his sake, if I could choose to make it go away, I would.  Of course.  What mother wouldn’t?  I want what all mothers want for their children – for them to be happy, to love and be loved, to choose paths that honor the bright light that is them, and nothing else.  ADHD doesn’t change any of that, it just makes the road a bit more thorny than others.  There are a few more dips in the road.  But dips in the road only make your legs stronger, in the end.

But for me – for me alone, I wouldn’t choose any differently. I have learned so much on this journey.  For starters, it put me in my place.  It slapped me across the face and showed me that I’m not half the mom I thought I was.  And then it yanked me back onto my feet and told me to get working.  In the end, who knows?  Perhaps I will actually be a better mom for having trudged through this particular forest.  It taught me patience, and how to pick my battles.  It brought me friends – other moms who have the same fears and frustrations and breaking points.

It also is my real-life story of not judging until you’ve walked a mile in her shoes.  Miss Lady At The Party, I really do wish that what you said was true.  I wish it were true for every child who truly struggles with ADHD and other learning disabilities, because it would make it so much easier to fix.  And you know what?  I don’t know what your story is, and maybe you have a personal experience with a teacher that led you to form the belief you did.  But for me, and the other mamas out there who fight this with their sons and daughters, please don’t tell us it’s because of a lack of parenting or a lack of discipline.

My sweet child and I are walking through this snarly, bramble-filled path together.  And it is exactly because of parenting, that we will be just fine in the end.

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A letter to my middle schooler August 21, 2012

Filed under: Parenting,Teenager — hiddenblessing @ 9:53 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

My sweet boy,

This letter has been keeping me up at night, begging me to write to you.  I wake up in the dark of the night, and all I can think about are all of the things I want to say to you as I watch you grow into the wonderful, strong young man that you are.  I am so proud of you.  I have always been insanely proud of you – you are so good inside.  You are filled with so many wonderful traits that sometimes all I can do is fall to my knees and thank God for giving me such an exquisite gift as he did, the day he gave me you.

Middle school is a weird time for kids.  You want so much to be cool and accepted, and fit in with the right kids.  To look right, act right, and not do anything embarrassing.  But inside, all of these things are coming up; exciting, nerve-wracking, drama-filled things.  Stressful things.  It’s exciting and fun and scary and depressing and quite honestly, a giant muddle of mixed-up craziness.  You are half child and half adult, and sometimes that makes you feel one way and sometimes it makes you feel another.  Sometimes, it’s both.  That’s ok.  Pick what feels right for that situation.  Soon enough, it will become easier and you will leave the little stuff behind.  But don’t let worrying about it weigh you down.  Sometimes you won’t know what to do.  Sometimes, you’ll just feel silly.  Other times, sad.  Sometimes you will feel giddy and emotional and sometimes, you will just feel stressed.

I want you to know, that 100%, forever and ever and ever, my darling boy, your stress is my stress.  I have your back.  Always.  I might freak out and lecture you (I’m working on getting better at this) but at the end of the day, no matter what, I am on your team.  The things that hurt you, hurt me.  The things that worry you, worry me.  You can come to me, day or night, and know that I am always willing to listen.  Tell me that it’s important, and I will put down the computer, or send home my friends, or cancel my date night with dad, or whatever I need to do  and we will sort through it.  Your problems are my problems, and together, sweetheart, we will work out anything.

As a little boy, my darling, you were always the sweetest child.  I have never met a child who had so much compassion and understanding of other human beings as you did.  You were polite, you were kind, you were loving, you were gentle, and you always, always, put other people ahead of yourself.

That is a beautiful trait.  One you should be proud of.  But don’t let it allow people to walk all over you either.  Save the people that you choose to give that kindness to, to be ones who are worth it.  You are going to meet a lot of people on your journeys to manhood.  A lot of them will not be worth your energy.  So if someone hurts you or belittles you, or doesn’t want to hang out with you, that’s ok.  They aren’t for you. You will find friends and people that are worth your love and your energy.  Go ahead and enjoy those that are fun to be around, when you are around them, and let them go when they go.

There is a poem out there about friends being there for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.  I don’t think there is necessarily a way to know exactly which way they are there for you, except to say that when you look back, it will be obvious.  I’ve had four friends, so far, that are there for a lifetime: your dad, Aunt W, Super Nikki, and my friend, L, who you haven’t met.  I have had a lot that were there for a season… I had a best friend in grades 4 and 5, another for grades 6-10 and one in between, in grades 7 and 8.  Those short friendships were my “seasons”.  My “lifetimes” are easy: L was there my whole life, Aunt W from senior year on, and Darling Nikki since we moved here.  I am blessed, sweet boy.  But think of the hundreds of people I have known, who have come and gone, in all of those years.  I’ve had a LOT of friends who just happened to be exactly what I needed at that time in my life, but when that situation was done, we all moved on.  These are the “reasons” friendships. You are going to find this to be true as well.  So if you find someone that you feel deep inside is worthy of your friendship, offer it to them wholeheartedly.  But if, for whatever reason, they don’t return that friendship in kind, don’t worry… just move on.  Remember, a reason, a season, or a lifetime.

Girls.  Oh, how I love and hate this topic.  As your mama, here’s what I want for you.  I want you to find a girl that thinks you are the handsomest, funniest, strongest, best guy that there ever was.  You will find her, someday.  But not in middle school.  And likely, not in high school.  Your dad and I were an extreme exception to the rule, believe me.  But until that day comes along, you are going to meet a ton of girls that you will fall for, and no matter how sweet, beautiful, kind, funny or loyal they are, will someday break your heart.  I am dreading that day, but it will happen.  You will break a few hearts, too.  You will leave some poor, sweet girl sobbing because she felt that she loved you, and knowing you like I do, sweetheart, this will be very hard on you.  But it’s just part of growing up.

Know this; these relationships are real.  That pounding in your heart, those sweaty hands and nervousness when you talk to her, that is all real.  And that crushing, blinding, heartbreak you will feel when those relationships end is real.  But as painful as it is, it will be over just as quickly and you will meet someone new.  You won’t believe me when you’re going through it, but it is true.  That will be true for the girls whose hearts you break too.  And even more importantly, all of those feelings you had for that girl who broke your heart will be nothing compared to when you grow up and find the one you are really meant to be with.  But… that is a topic for another letter when you are older.

My last topic that I really want to talk with you about… you are going to find yourself in situations where there are drugs and beer.  I am not even going to try to pretend that this isn’t true.  Please, please, please believe me when I say that you should not ever use drugs.  I can’t tell you how many people I have known – wonderful, kind, handsome, funny people who came from good families – who used drugs and completely destroyed their lives.  Drugs mess people up.  What starts as a fun party thing quickly turns into something that is out of their hands… the risks are just enormous, baby doll.  Young bodies, for starters, are not equipped to handle the poison that is going into their bodies.  I knew a kid who was huffing paint fumes, and died.  He was a nice kid.  His name was Adam.  I’ve known kids who smoked pot and drove, and killed a friend.  I’ve known countless kids who wound up in hospitals and I’ve known kids who’ve killed themselves because they got so depressed following drug use.  But mostly what I’ve seen, is people who just plain ruined their lives.  They never ended up going to college, they didn’t get good jobs, they had babies way too young that they couldn’t parent or afford, their skin and their teeth are ruined, and they feel hopeless… because they can’t get away from the drugs.  Think really, really hard about the choice you make if someone ever offers you drugs.  Even the “light” ones.  At the end of the day, you know what’s right and what’s wrong.

Alcohol… I know that there will be parties.  They had better be a damn long time from now!  But let’s get this out in the open now.  If you ever have a situation where you or a friend needs a ride because someone did have a beer, please call me.  We will come up with some sort of agreement, you and I, where if you trust me enough to call me and let me pick you guys up, you won’t be in trouble.  I would so much rather have you safe and have had a beer and me be a little disappointed in your choice to drink, than have you hurt or dead because you didn’t trust me.  But that’s all it would be – a little disappointed, because I was a teenager once, too, sweetheart.    

And here’s the biggest thing, my sweet baby boy, I trust you.  I trust that you have a good head on your shoulders, and at the end of the day that you will make the right decisions.  And if you don’t, if you mess up, that’s ok, too.  That’s how you learn.  And it’s my job to help you pick up those pieces that are the fallout of the wrong choice and maybe turn them another way to help you see how to fix it.  Mistakes are a part of life.  I still make mistakes, and I’m still trying to learn how to do it all right, the first time.

These years are going to be so much fun for you.  Live and love every single second of them.  Laugh when you want to, cry when things hurt but above all, enjoy RIGHT NOW.  Don’t worry about next year, or five years from now, or when you are an adult.  (Well, except for good grades.  Do that.  Swim hard.  Get a scholarship. 🙂 ) You will be grown up before you know it.  Before I know it!  And I want you to remember every single second of these years.  They are so much fun.

I love you, my boy.  There is nothing that you could ever, ever, ever do that would ever change that.  My love for you isn’t something that you will ever have to work for, earn, or deserve.   It just is.  Always has been.  And always, always will be.

 

Amazing August 8, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — hiddenblessing @ 6:44 pm
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My little blessing today is brief, but still something I want to remember.

I ran into a young mom in the restroom at work.  She was getting a paper towel as I went to wash my hands.  I remembered that she had had a baby about a year ago, and after greeting her, I said “So how is your little one?”.  I couldn’t quite remember if it was a girl or a boy, and definitely couldn’t remember the baby’s name.

She smiled beautifully at me and said, “She is amazing.”

Amazing.  That was the word she chose.

Most of us say, “Oh, good…” or “Getting big” or some other generic, nondescript way to answer to a semi-stranger.  But this mommy?  No.  She said her baby was amazing.  

I usually answer with something like, “Oh, they’re doing good.” Followed by this frantic thought process where I try to think of something interesting or unusual they have done recently that I can tell the listener about.  It’s never occurred to me to just say what they really are, which is, amazing.

She then went on to tell me how her little girl was very short, and was trying to learn to walk, which was so funny to her mommy and daddy because she was just so darn tiny.  And I smiled as I listened to her, not because of what she was saying, but because of the pure happiness and pride and love I could hear in this young woman’s voice.

We never really think about that, when we ask that simple question, “how are the kids? The family?  The husband.”  My darling friend, Wendy, says that we don’t actually want an answer to the question, we just ask it because it’s something to say.

I disagree.  I really want to know.  I want to see your face light up as you tell me about your little girl.  I want to hear how much you love your husband when you tell me how things are going.  I want to truly listen to you.  I want you to know I genuinely care.

Because I do.  I always have room for another friend, another hand to hold on this walk through life.  You can’t ever have too many friends.  When you want to talk about your family, or about how you feel, I hope that I listen, and I listen well.

Life is too colorful, too precious, and too fleeting to be generic and nondescript.

 

Out of the mouths of babes August 1, 2012

Filed under: Family,Parenting,Teenager,Uncategorized — hiddenblessing @ 2:13 pm
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Last night, B slept with me.  I love that little boy something fierce, and it’s especially fun to cuddle and chat before he goes to sleep.  He likes to talk about all sorts of deep things when it’s bedtime.  Like bullies, or angels, or arguing with friends.  Last night, though, he was super tired and he fell asleep almost immediately.  But true to form, he kicked and tossed and TALKED, loudly, all night long.  He was clearly playing Minecraft, one of the boys’ current Xbox favorites.  At one point, he shouts “HEY!  Who’s THAT?!”  To which, I of course sit up immediately to figure out what he’s yelling about.

“In the watchtower!”  Oh, the watchtower.  I guess since there are no watchtowers in my home, it’s safe to assume he’s dreaming.

He continues on.

“Oh….  Ok….  Did you get them?”  If I didn’t know better, I would have thought he had his headset on and was actually playing online with someone.  But no, he was just dreaming.  He “talked” to his friend Tyler, he mumbled incoherently, he played a little more Xbox… it woke me up continuously, but it was still cute to hear him.

When I woke him up this morning, he said “Mom, I had the best dream!”

Me:  “Did you? Tell me all about it.”

B:  “Well, first I was playing Xbox with Hannah.  And then I got to have a sleepover with Adam.  And then we went to the store and got to buy a (insert something here).”

Me:  “That’s awesome!  I love when I have great dreams like that.  I knew you were playing Xbox, because you talked all night long in your sleep.”

B:  “I did?!”

Me:  “Yes!  You were talking about Tyler, and Minecraft and all kinds of other stuff I couldn’t understand.”

B:  “Did it make you mad?”

Me:  “No, not at all!  I love hearing you talk.”

B:  “Well, that will sure be embarrassing when I’m a teenager.”

Me:  “Talking in your sleep?  Why?”

B:  “You know, like when I have a girlfriend, and I am sleeping with her.”

Um… say what?!

 

Excuse me, said the stranger July 29, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — hiddenblessing @ 9:03 am
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<a href=”Flatbread Company, Somerville, MA, USA

Photo by Sierra Tierra (http://www.flickr.com/photos/sierratierra/)

Yesterday, I took the boys back-to-school shopping.  Really, I was just trying to get jeans for E, because (deep sigh inserted here) he is now an almost-teenager and he really wants me to buy him more expensive jeans.  I get it, I do.  I was a teenager once too, and what I wanted more than anything, fashion-wise, were some Guess jeans.  Or Guess anything.  I had this marvelous great-aunt who I could always count on to buy me the cool stuff.  But back to E, I do understand.  This does not mean that my budget does, but I figure perhaps if I space out the shopping a little bit I can at least attempt to get him some of what he’s asking for.

So we arrived at the mall.  I got Baby L loaded in his stroller and the four of us made our way into the first store.  We headed over to the young men’s department and picked up an assortment of jeans for E to try on.  At the dressing rooms, E went back to go try them on and I parked L in front of the three-way mirror.  It was priceless watching him charm and flirt with the multitude of blonde, toothy babies smiling back at him in the mirror.   I kept trying to get a picture of it but B kept jumping in and waving his arms around so the shot never came out quite like I wanted it to.  After we were done getting E his jeans, we headed on through the mall.  We visited a few other stores and finally everyone was happy.  Mission accomplished.

To get back to our vehicle, we had to go back through the first store.  We made our way through towards the doors and when we were almost there a woman called out.

“Excuse me?  Excuse me, ma’am!”

We stopped and turned and she stepped up to me.

“I’m sorry,” she said “But I just had to tell you.  I was watching your family earlier-”

Uh-oh, I thought.  PLEASE say that no one did something awful.  E had bought some candy and then decided to throw the bag away and put the candy in his pocket.  Really, child?!  Or please don’t let this be the day that my children decide that shoplifting might be a fun thing to try.  I do not have the energy for that, please.   Or maybe someone broke something.  I didn’t hear anything shatter, but you never know what my boys might do when my back is turned.

The woman continued. “I was watching your family earlier, and I raised three boys.  By myself.  And I now have four grandchildren. I want to tell you that your children are just so well behaved.”

I looked at her in surprise and turned to the boys.  All three were staring at us.

Us?  My boys?  Was she talking to the right family??  Clearly she had missed me bribing baby L with Dum-Dum suckers to keep him quiet.  Or the moment when the older two found the foam Batman baseball bats by the registers and proceeded to sword fight with them.  Or when baby L was yelling his brother’s name at the top of his lungs, repeatedly, because E wasn’t answering him.  Surely she didn’t really mean us.

I looked back to her and she nodded her head.

“They are.  They are polite and kind and just so well-mannered.”

“Well, thank you,!” I stammered.  I leaned over and gave her a quick hug.  “That is very kind of you.”

She smiled at me.

“I just really wanted to tell you that.  You should be proud of your beautiful family.  You are doing a wonderful job.”  With that, she turned and walked away.

What a kind, wonderful thing to do to someone.  To just randomly tell them how wonderful their children are.  Or that they are doing a great job.  I have those moments sometimes … had one on Friday, actually… where I am at the checkout at the grocery store or wherever and my kids are making me bonkers and B has begged me yet again to buy just this one thing and baby L is reaching for every Us and People magazine within reach and I just want to abandon my cart and walk away RIGHT NOW. 

Then you go and meet someone like this sweet lady, who went out of her way to stop me and tell me this. I told the boys, as we walked to the car, “This… this you should remember.  Every once in a while, you should be that stranger who just says something completely kind and wonderful to someone.”

My mission this week is to pay it forward to someone.  Maybe that’s not quite right…maybe I’m paying it back… but regardless, I want to do that for  someone this week.   And to that woman, whoever you are, thank you.  You made my boys (and I) very proud.

Have a beautiful Sunday, my friends.

 

Going to miss this July 26, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — hiddenblessing @ 6:33 pm
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At this very moment, L is wearing a superhero cape and licking his arm.  Barney is singing in the background (I didn’t know Barney was still around), E is getting set up the scrabble board for us to play a game, and B has rode his bike to a friend’s house to play.

Life is good.

Very good.

I sat on the deck with my sweet hubby the other night, and we had a rare night of lots of conversation, talk about dreams, our home, our kids, our jobs.  He had gone inside for a moment and I sat, looking out into the yard, reflecting.  It was just one of those beautiful moments that you are completely present and totally aware of just how amazing this life is.  I looked at my wrought iron table, our empty glasses resting on it, the solar globes softly lit in the corner of the deck, the moon and stars shining down upon the hush of the yard in the night.   No texting, no Facebook, no glow of electronic applications interrupting us.  It was just us and the sky and the yard and our dreams… our beautiful boys all snug and safe in their cozy beds inside and absolutely nothing more pressing upon us than whether or not we should really head to bed.

That song, “You’re Going To Miss This” came into my head.  The one by Trace Atkins where he talks about just how fast it flies by.  I spent so long being so excited to grow up, have babies, be a mommy… and then I did, and when E and B were babies, life was a straight whirlwind of insanity.  We were poor, we were young, we had no idea what we wanted to be when we grew up…but we made it work.  We loved our boys, juggled our jobs, and argued our way through the first few years until we finally figured out how to communicate, and even more importantly, figured out how to let things go.  To pick what really mattered and drop the rest.  The drop-the-rest part was the most important thing, I think.  Focus on what matters… your spouse, your kids, your health, your family… the rest is disposable.  There will always be another bill to pay, the air conditioner will always break, your kids will always need haircuts.  But that man that you love?  Those kids that make your insides burst with the sweet goodness of them?  Those are the things that deserve your attention.

I am going to miss this.  I already do.  I already miss my E’s sweet little boy voice, my B’s desire to let me read to him.  I miss SO MUCH already.  But I also know how very good I have it, too.  I am so glad that I can view this picture from outside the frame sometimes, even if it’s  just for a moment.

Goodnight, my friends.  My boy and his Scrabble board are waiting for me.  And that is a moment this mama can’t miss.

 

A polyphasic sleeper July 22, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — hiddenblessing @ 2:47 pm
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Sleeping Beauty

Photo above: Sleeping Beauty by Jennie Faber on Flickr.com

Have you ever read The Napping House by Audrey Wood?  I loved that book as a kid.  I loved the story well enough, but what I really loved was the pictures.  The big, silly grandma, the splayed feet, the dog… all of these things reminded me a little bit of my grandma, except I was pretty sure she didn’t sleep at all except quite possibly very late at night and very early in the morning.

I am a napper.  I am more than a little ashamed to admit this.  I suppose there could be worse things to admit, but there is some sort of shame associated with my napping that makes me want to hide my head and run for cover.  Possibly run for another nap, preferably someplace cool, with a big pillow and a long enough blanket to cover both my ears and my toes at the same time.

I remember when E was getting old enough to not really need a nap anymore, and I would sort of fight this.   Then I finally just gave up and let him stay up with his daddy, as long as I still got a nap.  Then B came along, and phew!  Now I’m safe again; another baby that needs a nap!

There were times along the way that this very real fear would strike me and I would think about all of the time I am wasting taking a nap.  I could be at the pool with the boys, I could be coloring with baby L, baking a cake with B.  But instead, here I am sleeping.  I also went through a phase where I didn’t take a nap, because after all, I work and don’t sleep at work… so obviously I am capable of making it through the day without a nap.  Inevitably, however, I came back to it.

I think I have finally just accepted this about myself.  That I am A NAPPER.  I am not proud of it.  I don’t think taking a nap for an hour or two every day is a qualifier I would list in the standards of A Good Mommy.  But it’s me, and it’s who I am.  It makes me really, really happy, and makes me a little more sane.  I also wake up from my nap feeling like it’s Day Two – a new start to my day.  Maybe when I grow old, I’ll feel like I got to live twice as long as everyone else because I got so many “extra” days in there.

Doubtful.  I sincerely hope I don’t cry because all of those hours could have added up to a few more DAYS with my little ones.  I hope I can just accept, and be, and my children will forgive me for my naps.  I hope they come visit me and we can chat over Moon Pie and lemonade and they will tell me all the naughty things that they did when I was sleeping.

After I wake up from my nap, that is.