Thursday, November 8, 2012

Learned That Lesson

One thing I learned from our prior daycare debacle was when something isn't working for CJ, to move on. Not everyone can deal with him and the behaviors that SPD can bring on top of a highly spirited personality. We moved him from a situation that wasn't right and ended up very happy. He loved his preschool teacher.

In August, CJ started Kindergarten despite my reservations. For his after school care I enrolled him in a program at the school, he'd just go to the school gym at the end of school. His preschool also offered an after school program and picked up using a bus. I thought staying at school was the best choice,

Things went wrong the very first day of school. The director, Ms. M called me at 3:45 and said the Kindergarteners weren't supposed to start til a few days later and he was running wild and wouldn't listen and she didn't have enough staff. One, no one told me otherwise. Two, why wait for an hour and fifteen to call me? I was driving WC to his 4pm appointment. If I'd been contacted earlier, he would have been picked up.
From day one, they got off wrong. Ms. M would comment that CJ was nothing like WC. He made progress when he was under care of Ms. R. But she wasn't always there.
Then Ms. M began to tell me that "something had to be done with CJ." Translates to: You need to be a better mother." She would stare at me as if she couldn't grasp that I was also the mom to WC, a well-behaved, demure , quiet child that was in the program when he was 5.
One day CJ was playing with modeling clay, the one thing that would keep him busy. He told her he was making a "shittake mushroom." She looked at me like I was raising an alien.
The afternoon she said to me, "I'm glad he's your kid, not mine." I looked her right in the eye and told her that I was very glad he was mine.
How on earth would anyone think that's remotely okay to say to a parent about their kid? She really believes she wouldn't love her own child if the kid didn't behave perfectly? However she had no idea that I know how to handle him.

The next day I called his preschool and asked if they had room in the after care program and was told they'd love to have him back. All I had to do was let them know when to start picking him up. I needed to fill out the school age enrollment forms but I could turn them in and pay them when I picked him up!
I went in on Wed and told Ms. M that his last day would be Friday. I explained that I knew there was a 2 week notice and all but I didn't think I'd be a problem.
She had the nerve to tell me she was sorry to see him go. Yeah right.

In the car, I told WC that CJ was changing programs. He asked why and I explained that it wasn't working. That Ms. M didn't like CJ. Then I told him to not tell CJ I said that. He inquired why and when I told him that CJ didn't need to know. WC informed me that CJ said Ms. M didn't like him and he didn't like her.
Silly me for thinking CJ hadn't sensed it. Shame on her for letting a 5 yo child see her feelings. She works with kids!
Since moving to the new (old) place he's much happier. So am I.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

See The Good

In our school district at the end of the school year the children are subjected to standardized testing. These standardized tests are used to evaluate the teachers- they gain or lose money & reputation based on how their pupils perform. As you might guess this leads to teaching to the test. If it isn't on the test, they don't teach it. I'm not a fan of this situation. Some cases the teachers put enormous pressure on youngsters to make them look good.
In May I received a phone call at work around midday, WC had a breakdown during said achievement test. According to the school guidance counsellor, it was reported he began panicking, scratching his arms & in a move that would get him sent to the guidance counsellor he told his teacher we'd all be better off without him. The law stated she had to call mobile crisis.
I went to the ladies room and sobbed. I'd known for a while how unhappy with school he was but his grades were excellent. So I was blind to how badly he was hurting. And blind to what his teacher was doing. But that's a different post.
I'm not one to be proud. This was beyond my abilities. We needed help.
The previous year I'd contacted an LCSW when CJ first began to have issues. I'd spoken to her but decided to only see the OT. But I'd liked her. She was honest with me the year before & that stuck with me. I called her that very day.
The mobile crisis guy called me. After a discussion he concluded it wasn't necessary for them to respond that I was capable of handling it.
A few weeks later school was over. And we began seeing the therapist weekly throughout the summer and up to the present. Ms E is wonderful she connected with him & he trusts her. I'm grateful for the changes we've seen. It's a process and not going to be magically better instantly.
The first thing she had me do was every night at bedtime he has to name a good thing about the day or a good thing about himself. If he can't or won't then I tell him. I think it's a great thing to do with both kids. We're all so busy we forget to celebrate the good things about our kids.
I challenge you to start telling your kids when they are doing things RIGHT. Tell them that you see the good things they do!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Thumbs Up

For the longest time we’ve struggled with finding an effective method to discipline CJ. In the few months leading up to the discovery of his developmental delay and sensory issues, it became apparent that absolutely nothing was working.

Discipline seems to be hotly debated topic. In my opinion, the point of discipline is to train the child in the appropriate way to behave in any given situation. This, I’ve come to understand isn’t a simple one-size fits all task.

We’ve tried all sorts of things with CJ- time-outs, rewards, removing a toy, and in desperation even spanking. I was spanked as a child. I didn’t like it and it deterred me from doing the thing that resulted in being smacked on the butt. It did not faze CJ and did not serve as a deterrent against the behavior being repeated. Bottom line, it didn’t work- so what’s the point of doing it? It didn’t feel right to me and for a reason.

And CJ began to lash out at others- he hit, bit and kicked and screamed. At first we were befuddled at what the heck was going on with this kid. He’s been strong willed from birth and obviously bright, but a different creature had taken over. I’ve written prior about the horrible experience we had at the preschool he was attending at the time; I won’t go into it again.

Long story short, we discovered after an evaluation with an OT- setup through our Pediatrician- that he was delayed in grasp and visual motor. Also SPD- see my sidebar with links for more information. What he was doing was exhibiting frustrated behavior at his inability to hold crayons/pencils and draw/write. And he had a big traffic jam in his brain with sensory overload. He didn’t have the verbal ability or maturity to put into words what was happening to him. And he was labeled a behavioral problem by the former preschool.

You simply cannot spank a neurological disorder out. You can’t change the behavior exhibited by a neurology disorder by spanking. And since I wasn’t sure what behavior was resulting from the SPD and what was him being stubborn. I decided that it was simply not for us. The understanding of the developmental delays shed light on the frustrated behavior. And helping that simply involves therapy to increase the skills. As the skills have increased, the frustrated behaviors subside.

At our new care facility, his teacher has been wonderful. I was honest with her from the get-go at what we were dealing with. She didn’t bat an eyelash. He’s put her through her paces and she has never held any of his behavior against him. She doesn’t let him slide, by any means. But she was a huge blessing in our lives at the perfect time.

A couple months ago I was at the school, picking him up from the day. He looked at Ms. C and said, “Did I have a this day (holds his little thumb up) or a this day (little thumb down). She smiled and held her thumb up and he smiles and jumps up and down. I must have looked puzzled because she then explained that when he’s behaving well, she gives him a thumbs up and if he begins to slide into inappropriate behavior she gets his attention and holds her thumb out sideways and tells him he’s getting there and let’s bring it back up. We don’t want to get to here (holds her thumb out down) and CJ responds by shaking his head no.

Are you kidding me? That’s about as simple as it can get. And it works on him?

I decided then, that I would bring that tool back home with me. I’d see how it works for us at home or out in public. I’ve discovered it’s a nice thing to have in public. It can cut back on verbal scolding. As long as I can get his attention, it can be used from across a room. He doesn’t like getting a sideways thumb and will usually correct himself in order to get a thumbs up.

I don’t know why it works. Why does this speak to him when other things don’t?

I like that it’s immediate. I see him sliding and usually can catch him before it escalates.

Like everything it isn’t perfect and doesn’t always work. But we have had better results from a simple thumb than anything else.

*Please note that I am not making any commentary about the way anyone disciplines their child. I am simply writing about my personal experience with one of my children. I make no judgement of anyone. You discipline your child as you see fit and do what works for your family as long as it is legal. I am not debating disciplinary styles. If you would like to comment on what works for you or your experience without criticizing others then that is welcome. Openly critical, mean comments will not be posted.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Prayer and the Eight Year Old

Late Saturday evening WC burst through the backdoor into the kitchen screaming, “The Bible’s real, the Bible’s real.”

I turn from my dinner preparation and find him panting. When he catches his breath he continues. “I was outside with my car (holds up a green matchbook style automobile) and I dropped in the grass; couldn’t find it anywhere. So I prayed as hard as I could; asked God to let me find my car. And when I opened my eyes- there is was!” Then he begins another frantic run in a circle screaming. “God’s real.” Then heads back across the kitchen and out the backdoor screaming. “God’s real. Praying is fun.” The door slams behind him. From what I could gather from the sounds of the yelling, he and his little brother were running across the back yard screaming/chanting- “God’s real. Praying is fun.”

I find my husband on the couch, laughing hysterically. He finally says, “Do you think they know you blog about them?”

“They do appear to just hand me things me write about.”

At some point, probably soon, we will have to have the discussion with him that just because you pray, God doesn’t always just drop your request at your feet.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

It's 7:30 am; Do You Know Where Your Boobs Are?

Sometimes a young child’s take on the world and the things around them can be imaginative and inventive. Anything can happen. Elves can spend 364 days making toys for a fat guy to fly around the world and deliver in one night every child on the earth.

Reality is not concrete and the line with make believe can blur.

The confusion can sometimes be amusing for us adults.

One Saturday, I’d been doing laundry and wishing that a laundry fairy would appear and take care of this tedious, boring task. Later when I noticed that a bra had fallen into the kitchen floor, I quickly stuck it on a kitchen chair where it could hide under the table until I put it away later.

Having the memory of gnat, I forgot about the bra in the chair.

Sunday morning I was enjoying my cup of coffee curled up on the couch, while CJ ate his breakfast.

“Mommy?” CJ entered from the kitchen, his little forehead scrunched up in concern.

“Yes, baby.” I motioned him to come closer.

He hurried over and stood in front of me; leaned in close. His voice dropped to a whisper. “Your boobs are in the kitchen chair.”

Monday, April 2, 2012

Grandchildren- A Parents Revenge

“These people are not the same people I grew up with.” –Bill Cosby.

The other night on the way home, my kids were in the backseat of the car. They’d spent that day with my mom and were happily raiding the plastic bag of goodies between them in the seat. They retrieved a plastic object in the shape of a duck bill- they each had one. And they proceeded to repeatedly blow into it and a noise that was supposed to resemble a duck’s quack filled the car.

CJ had blown his spit into the noise maker and it sounded like a duck that needed to hock a loogie back there.

Why does my mother hate me?

I thought we’d put to rest the issues between us when I was in my early twenties. Then I had a child. The gleam in her eye and the maniacal laugh when I announced my pregnancy should have been a clue. She’d figured out that sweet revenge would finally be hers.

What could I have possibly done as a child to this woman? None of the stories I’ve been told seem that I was that bad. I was far better than my sister (tooting my own horn here). I’m the good one. Just because she doesn’t have kids, why do I have to pay the price for both of us?

After each visit they arrive home with bags of stuff (i.e. crap I’d never buy them). Usually the stuff is of a noisy nature- duck bill whistles (hello, they are boys...they come with their own built in noise makers), or millions of Legos that are scattered to the ends of the house and hurt like hell on the bottom of a bare foot. Or messy- the color bubble incident is by far the worse. I could stock a daycare with the amount of modeling dough that’s been sent home.

I’ve been told that I colored on her walls as a small child. I don’t remember it but will be paying for it until my kids destroy my house.

Then there’s the food- she once sent home a box of chocolate covered honey buns. I read the nutritional information (more calories and sugar than an adult should consume in a day). She introduced them to children’s chocolate breakfast cereal, chocolate pop tarts and pre-packaged snack cakes.

She wonders why they don’t sleep well when they spend the night.

Usually she loads them up and sends them home to me. And they crash and sleep like they’ve been on a three day bender.

I’ve learned that it doesn’t do any good to talk to her. She will nod along and then go and do whatever she wants anyway. Probably similar to me as a teenager.

My motto for the kids is “Whatever happens at Nana’s, stays at Nana’s.”

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Grant Me the Serenity to Not Destroy These Children

My sister moved out the other day. She’s lived with us on and off for years. But she’d been living with us now for about two years- her longest stretch. It wasn’t a surprise when she announced that she was leaving. I was expecting it.

For the past couple of years the kids have been used to her room in our house being off limits. I admonished them numerous times to stay out of her belongings.

She has a collection of gothic dolls. One in particular I consider creepy- A small fabric doll wearing a little black dress and a face with one solid black eye and one solid white eye. I’d noticed it while on the treadmill that also occupied her room. I kept glancing at it just to make sure it wasn’t getting any closer to me.

One evening WC had started up a video in their bedroom and when I reminded him that they didn’t have time to watch any before bed- he told me that they were trying to get their mind off of Aunt’s creepy little doll.

My sister stated that if they stayed out of her room then they wouldn’t have to worry about her creepy doll. I theorized that going into her room is the equivalent to a dare to stay in a haunted house. I bet you can’t stay in for three minutes. She wasn’t amused.

The boys were all a flutter while she boxed her things and packed her car. As her room emptied they continually checked the progress.

On Saturday morning I woke to discover the formerly emptied room had been filled with my things that were previously stored neatly in the closet- yoga mat, exercise ball, hand weights, the linoleum sample from our flooring, etc. They also had their small indoor play tent setup. They’d pulled the fan from their room. And to top it off, the little buggers had managed to unhook their tv and dvd player and move them into this room. Now this is a 12 inch tv but it’s an old school, foot and a half thick television, not a small flat screen.

Small bottles of paint that I’d kept on the bookshelf were scattered on end table left in the room. There was the cup CJ uses to rinse his mouth when he brushes his teeth, filled with paint infused water and soggy paint brush. Water puddles scattered the table top and seeped into the graph paper they’d found. Then top it off neither of them actually painted a picture.

I’m standing at the threshold to hell. The only room in the house that had not been cluttered is jammed full. Anything they could have pulled out is in the middle of room. In the middle of it all stand two slack jawed little boys who are wearing facial expressions similar to one I would have in a class on theoretical physics.

Meditation breathing comes in handy at moments like these. As well as a short prayer to ask that I have the restraint to not destroy these children.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Trouble With Being the Younger One

He merrily stomped his way down the muddy path. The rest of us were in a group, taking a tour, but CJ was yards head of the group. Not a clue where he was or where he should go, still not content to follow.

My concern grew that he’d barrel off the path into the trees and he did. The brush, up to nearly his knees did not deter him. But the thought he’d disturb a snake or a spider or pick up a tick led me to leave the group to retrieve my concrete headed four year old who can’t see the possibility something might go wrong. No knowledge that the early warm temperatures might bring these woodland critters out. All he knew was it felt good- he loved the wind and freedom.

Until Mom grabbed him by the arm and issued a warning of having him go back and wait inside the building and brought his freedom to a halt.

Even then, he ended up playing with the tour guide and racing her. His constant need to be in the lead is still a mystery- is it rooted in his SPD or his stubborn nature? Maybe a bit of both.

We toured the prospective camp where WC will possibly spend the first week or two of summer vacation. But you’d think this was something for CJ. While CJ is at the first in line our more reserved WC is bringing up the rear.

The boys went to the car while I had a conversation with the camps director.

Back in the car I discovered a very unhappy CJ and inquired what was going on.

Seems he was unhappy because he discovered it was not him who would be attending camp.

I attempted to explain that he was still too young.

He folded his arms across his chest and huffed. “You’re fired.” He angrily exclaimed.

“Who is,” I asked in amusement.

“Both of you,” he shot back.

I shrugged. “It doesn’t matter who your parents are. You’re still going to be too young right now.”

He huffed and grumbled until the sights of a horse standing on the side of road urinating made him forget his troubles.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Joy in Chaos

I sat slumped on the couch, the day mostly done. Up before the sun, a morning routine flown through- the rush to get everyone where they spend their day. Then the full day at my desk and the rush to retrieve everyone and get back home only to pack in the afternoon requirements- homework, dinner and bedtime routine. They need to get in bed, so they can get enough rest to start the whole thing all over again before the sun comes up.

On this particular afternoon, I had a sinus headache. Thank you Spring for arriving in February. The boys were covered in nectarine juice and running laps around the table. Their hysterical giggles let me know this was some sort of game that I wasn’t privy to the object of. CJ had asked me if he could try a nectarine, so I’d bought one per kid. They’d enjoyed them for their after dinner snack. He’d rubbed it in his hair, even though he hates having it washed.

While they wore an indention in my kitchen floor in the shape of their race track around the table, I wondered what people who didn’t have kids did after work. There are people who could lay down with their sinus headache and not have to worry about nectarine in a kid’s hair.

I began to wonder, if I would ever have a quiet house again.

Then I thought back to the weeks after we first brought WC home from the hospital. I didn’t have a clue. This child ate every two hours on the dot. It could take an hour just to feed him, change him and get him back to sleep. Then I’d have an hour before we had to do it again. 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And that meant I’d only get to sleep in 1 hour increments, even at night. And that included the time it took to fall asleep. Now both Jay and my mom would help, but the sleep deprivation hit.

At one point in time, I believed that I’d never sleep again. This would be my life and questioned why I signed up for such misery.

Some of the misery, I brought on myself. We’d known people who had a child that wouldn’t sleep in their own bed. The child was at that time, 4 years old, and it was causing problems. The child had been allowed to sleep with the parents from birth. I naively believed we’d nip that in the bud by never allowing it to happen in the first place. I’ve since altered my view on it slightly- namely the birth of CJ while having a 3 yr old WC who still needed tending regardless of how much sleep I’d had.

Six weeks into the life of WC, I was severely sleep-deprived and miserable. My mom offered to watch him overnight. She told me to pack his stuff and let him sleep over there. She had a crib- because she would be watching him when I returned to work. She didn’t have to work too hard at convincing me.

I dropped him off and went straight back home, showered and went to bed. It was the best 12 twelve hours of solid sleep I’d ever had up to that point in life. When I woke up, I immediately wanted to go get him. I even refused to wait on Jay to get ready to go with me.

Over the next few weeks, WC slowly added length of time between feedings. And the sleep deprivation faded into a distant memory.

In hindsight, it was only a few weeks. At the time it was happening, I couldn’t imagine that it would ever get better. It wasn’t forever, just a small blip on the radar of my life.

I watched my kids running circles around the table and screaming with laughter. And this too is just a small blip on the radar. One that’s going to fade too quickly. I watch them for a while and treasure the moment. Soon it will be time to stop them and go run a tub of water.

This is my joy in the midst of the chaos.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Why Did God Make Spiders?

It is said that the average 4 year old asks 437 questions in a day. I’d venture a guess that the majority of those questions are the result of the answer to given to their prior question. Let’s just say, I’m glad to not be stuck in a room full of 4 year olds all day, every day.

The one that I have is more than enough.

Sometimes what the 4 year olds asks is not the question the adult brain registers.

The other morning on the way to daycare CJ asks, “Mommy?”

“Yes.” Because I have to respond or he will repeat ‘Mommy’ until I speak, even if we are the only two people and there isn’t anyone else.

“Where do spiders sleep?”

“In their web.” Seemed like a good answer.

“How do they not slide out?”

“Well, its how God made them. He made them with special things on their legs and feet that keep them on the web. And they don’t get stuck, either.”

“Why did God make spiders?”

I think for a minute and then formulate my answer that I thought would be simple enough. I explained basic ecology and how everything on the earth is in balance and everything depends on something else. And I finish my explanation and I’m very pleased with myself. Bravo mom. I knocked this one out of the park.

It’s all quiet in the backseat for a minute. Then his little voice comes back. “No. Why doesn’t He just go to the store and buy one.”

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Life Lessons from the Dojo

The other day, my eight year old, WC came home and asked if he could quit karate. Since he’s been completely obsessed with advancing to the next belt level and never uttered the slightest hint over the past year that he was unhappy (and I just signed a contract for another year). I said no. Then sat down next to him and asked what was up.

During the progression through his blue belt, he’s had to lead a class of lower belt levels. He has a more reserved nature and usually doesn’t like to draw attention to himself outside of the house (yes, this is the same child who ran butt naked across the front yard). The first time he had to lead class, his instructor warned me when I walked in. He hurried over to me and said just to let me know he had WC lead class today because he knew WC would be complaining about it. Leading and speaking up do not come naturally to WC (or me). This is good practice for him and gives him an opportunity to become comfortable.

Sure enough it was the first thing out of WC’s mouth. He complained the whole way home. I advised him that it was good for him. He didn’t buy it.

Then the second time he was tasked with leading class, he told me. “Sensei said to lead class and then he just stood there!” But he appeared to make it through without too much trauma.

The day he asked if he could quit was his third time to lead. He’d taken my advice and thought about how sensei leads the class and go from there. He’d taken the instruction to lead class seriously. He was truly upset with “his students.” He’d told one kid (a friend) that he needed to work on his kata and the kid was angered by the suggestion.

I explained to WC, that sometimes, people have a hard time taking constructive criticism from someone their own age or younger. “But, it was true,” he countered. “I wasn’t mean about it.”

“It’s a whole different thing to teach people, isn’t it?”

“Why do they have to be so dumb,” WC asked in exasperation.

“Whoa, hold the phone there…you don’t call people dumb.”

“Well, if I hold my arm like this (he gets up and demonstrates) then hold your arm like I am. Not back like this (pulls his arm back). How hard is it?”

I gently remind him to remember what it is like learning new things and not everyone learns quickly or even the same way. If they hold an arm wrong, then calmly point out the arm placement needs to be corrected. I don’t even go into it that they might be slacking because he’s their peer.

I explain to him that it takes patience to teach people. And this opportunity gives him a different perspective; he can now understand what it’s like for his school teachers. And while he is leading a class, he can also understand what it’s like to learn. It should give him an appreciation for both student and teacher.

I always knew he expected a lot from himself. This gives me insight that he also expects the best from the people around him. He’s already begun to learn that they always don’t give it.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Dragging out the Soap Box

It’s a big world out there. It’s a beautiful thing with lots of different people and just as many differing opinions. People are free to express their thoughts and beliefs in a variety of ways. And as long as a person isn’t causing harm in the way they express themselves- I’m generally okay with it.

Even if I don’t agree with what they say, the world is big enough. I don’t have to read, listen, watch or pay attention to them. I’m free to change the channel, un-friend, un-follow or take my business elsewhere if I don’t like it. I’ve never had to resort to any of those solutions.

I’m generally not easily offended and have an irreverent sort of sense of humor, myself.

So the other day I was taken off guard by my gut reaction to a posted comment on a social site. In short the comment stated that people need to teach their kids how to sit down in public.

I didn’t respond to the comment- it wasn’t directed at me and the person who wrote it doesn’t know me from Eve. Throughout my evening, I kept thinking about the comment. It had hit a nerve.

It hit a nerve because it goes back to blaming the parent (ahem…mother) for a child’s misbehavior. Why is still assumed that any kid not acting perfect in public has a permissive parent who doesn’t do jack to train up their kid?

While there might be some parents out there who don’t give a flip about how their children act, I can guarantee you that there are more who care and are doing their best.

And don’t assume that just because a kid does not “look like a special needs kid” that there isn’t an underlying condition.

An outsider who is watching a child have a massive come apart in public doesn’t need to be concerned that the mother isn’t doing her job. You don’t know. You have no idea what is going on with that child.

Compassion not criticism is what is needed.

And back to the teaching the kid to sit down in public: I’ve been guilty of allowing CJ to stand up in a booth in a restaurant. He gets to do it when there isn’t anyone in the booth behind us or one side of the booth is up against a wall. I understand his limitations. A stranger looking across the room at us doesn’t have a clue. Would you rather have him standing quietly or sitting down and screaming?

The commenter most likely does not have children. Anyone who has children and has attempted to correct them numerous times knows the frustration behind watching a kid do something for the millionth time that you’ve specifically told them not to do. And that includes all children, not just ones with special needs. A parent can do their very best and a child still go off and do their own thing. It’s what they do. They’re kids. It’s what we did as kids, right. Anyone out there always act exactly the way your parents wanted you to? It’s easy to forget.

I thought for a while then I took to twitter and wrote: Do not judge the behavior of other people’s kids. You don’t know the whole story.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Options Are...

While the possibility of CJ attending kindergarten in the fall is slim, we still have more options than I knew.

After his daycare teacher brought up the idea of Kindergarten Readiness, I looked into it. The focus on social and fine motor skills appealed to me since these are the areas where he most lags. On the school website, I pull up the list of requirements. There my heart sank at the sight of: Student must be 5 by September, 30, 2012. And have a birth month of June, July, August or September.

CJ is a May baby. Crap-o-la. 15 days…really?

So I retired the thought for a few days in defeat. Then it hit me. Every week I take my oldest, WC, to open library night at school. Once a week they open the library after school so students can read and take computerized tests on the books- called AR. This is a requirement for every kid in the school to read and test on books. WC and I have been going since he was in kindergarten-so three years now. My point is that the assistant principal runs open library. So we’ve gotten to know her over the course of going in. It occurred to me to talk to the assistant principal- ask her about the program and how strict they hold to that whole birth month requirement and if they could make exception for a child who really needs it.

Well my conversation with the assistant principal went great. Over the course of the conversation, I let her in on CJ’s delays and sensory issues. She was wonderful. She suggested that I contact the teacher in charge of the Kindergarten Readiness program to discuss CJ with her. Then she told me something else. On Saturday the 10th they are having free screenings for children aged 3-5. If I bring him in and let them run him through a series of tests, then he might qualify for his OT through the school and possibly qualify him for other services and possibly qualify him to start kindergarten with special ed assistance or their pre-k program also admits special ed as 2nd tier admittance. The first ones admitted to pre-k are people who qualify for free/reduced lunch. We do not.

With all the above in mind, I contacted the Kindergarten Readiness teacher- via email. Explained who I was, I already have a child in the school, and I’d spoken to the assistant principal who suggested I contact her. And I explained why I wanted CJ in KR and what his challenges are. To my surprise the replied fairly quickly and we corresponded back and forth several times over the day.

Basically, if CJ qualifies for an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) then he is not eligible for KR program. But if he isn’t, she will be glad to test him at pre-registration. She has to fill her slots with June-Sep birthday’s first, if anything is left then she can admit him. And bringing him to the screening on Saturday should help with finding the appropriate placement for him.

If he doesn’t qualify for any of it, then we will stay where we are. I’ll hold him out a year.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Glow on the Horizon

Last year when life began unraveling around the then 3 year old CJ- his behavior played hopscotch from baffling to infuriating and then heartbreaking and back again. It became apparent at that point even though he would be chronologically ready for kindergarten this year, that emotionally, socially and behaviorally he wouldn’t be able to. At that point, his developmental delay in grasp and visual motor were not yet known and threw another wrench into the mix last August.

At that point, I’d made up my mind that we were just holding him out a year. This is where he is at. I will hold him out and make sure he gets what he needs to be successful when he does start school.

I made my peace with it, in theory, very quickly. The day-to-day reality can prove challenging. Especially during the “rough times.” During the good times, I can pat myself on the back at the great job I’m doing. Then he melts down at the daycare and I almost feel like we’re back at step one. Almost. If I let myself get carried away in my own little pity party, it can last a day or two. Then I remember one very important thing. I’ve done this before- he’s done this before. He will pull through it and calm down. It may take a few days- usually does. Then we’re back to good-times again.

We are never back at step one. Even if it feels like it is, for a minute. Step one was darker and scary. There is a light- it is education, compassion, love and empathy.

I can’t say understanding. Because I don’t completely understand what the world is like for him. I’ve never lived in his shoes. I don’t get why he acts the way he does sometimes. Life would be so much easier if he just fell in line. He’s not going to do that. No point in harping on it.

The other day I was discussing CJ with his daycare teacher. I’ve had an open dialogue with her from the get-go about CJ’s challenges. We were talking about his age and chronologically being old enough for kindergarten in the fall. I was saying that with his lack of writing ability and social/emotional skills I didn’t think he was ready for kindergarten and it wouldn’t be fair to him to him to enroll him. She told me to check out a program called Kindergarten Readiness. A program for young 5 year olds; it focuses on social skills and fine motor.

While this may/ may not be right for him. There is still possibility of school in CJ’s future sooner than I ever anticipated…

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

They Call him the Streak...

On Saturday the kids went out in the backyard to play. While I run around the house folding and putting away laundry, I look out the window every now and again to assure that they are still in the fence and aren’t beating each other and they’ve been known to get into mischief. Like the time they took all the 2x4’s out of my neighbors driveway and brought them one at a time over to our yard in order to build themselves a house. What they thought they were going to fasten the lumber together with, I don’t know.

Of course you know that since I’m telling this story that mischief was afoot.

At some point between my glances out the window they managed to get into the garage, commandeer a shovel and return to the back yard. I’d swear it had only been a few minutes since the last time I looked out on them. But there they were- it took both of them to maneuver the big shovel- a hole in the middle of the backyard and two muddy little boys.

“What are you two doing,” I yell.

“Digging” replied the little one.

Thanks for the update, kid. “WC, put the shovel back into the garage and put your jacket back on.” It was cold and there he stood in a t-shirt. At this point, I don’t care why. Just stop.

I go back inside. A few minutes later, I check on them. And guess what? Oh my two, darling little angels were in the backyard- still digging. I take several deep breaths before opening the back door.

“Put the shovel up and get in this house, right now,” I yell. (sorry neighbors). “And you still don’t have on that jacket.” (Why did I bother to bring that up? Oh, yeah, I was mad that’s why.)

A few minutes later, two mad, muddy little boys were stripping in the kitchen. I ran them a bubble bath. “But it’s not bath time,” they protest. I gave them the ‘look.’ It only works on WC. CJ is almost oblivious to non verbal communication. So I tell him to get in.

They bathe and then use the time afterwards to run through the house stark naked. Then they each round the same corner going in opposite directions and collide- fall to the floor and CJ hits the wall.

He’s crying and WC is upset about hurting his little brother.

CJ recovers from most things extremely quickly. He barely cries when he’s hurt. He bounces off most things and shrugs it off. So it only took a minute for him to calm down. But WC runs to the laundry room to hide. I keep telling him to come back. But he announces he’s running away (still naked by the way). And this upsets CJ even more. He yells for his brother not to leave; he’s okay.

But I hear the door that connects to the garage open. No. He wouldn’t. He’s naked. Surely not. The door closed. I thought for a second he was still inside.

Then I heard him screaming. And see the flash of skin colored blur across the front window. My 8 year old is running bare ass naked across the front yard.

He runs up the front steps and starts ringing the doorbell and knocking at the same time.

I pull the front door open and he runs inside laughing.

“What in the hell are you doing,” I ask. I don’t usually use that word with the kids, but I think I get a pass on that.

He didn’t know.

Later he wrote about it in his journal. He showed me the picture he drew of what the neighbors saw. It was a stick figure with little round butt cheeks ringing the doorbell.

Monday, February 27, 2012

But You Said...

The day before Jay’s birthday, the boys and I made him a pan of his favorite chocolate brownies. He’s not a big cake person, but prefers brownies. This year it was a full team effort. WC measured all the ingredients (great for a math lesson that doesn’t feel like a math). CJ poured the measured ingredients into a bowl and they both took turns stirring.

We made dinner of some of Jay’s favorites- hamburger sliders and tater tots. His birthday this year coincided with the super bowl, so birthday dinner was appropriately matched to “game food.”

After dinner we sat around stuffed when the boys began to ask about the brownies. At that point the very thought of food made me nauseous. But my bottomless pit little guys have no problems being too full for dessert.

WC is nagging the daylights out of me. “When can we cut the brownies?”

I don’t know why I replied the way I did, but I heard myself say. “When someone cuts the cheese, that’s when.”

As if on cue, WC lets a long, loud, window rattling, earth shattering kaboom from his derriere.

It was one of those moments in which, as a parent, you don’t wanna laugh…but you have no choice.

WC happily jumps up from the table and heads across the room toward the pan of brownies.

“Boy, the cheese sure does stink when you cut it.” WC says as serious as can be.

This is what you do to paralyze your parents into being unable to stop you from getting into the dessert. We’re crying laughing, gasping for air trying to stop him and his little lackey from getting the knife out of the drawer and helping themselves. “No.” I manage to squeak out.

“What,” WC asks. “You said we could have the brownies when someone cut the cheese.”

You got me there, kid. You got me there.