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All posts for the month October, 2016

Squeaky Wheels

Published October 26, 2016 by sarcasmica

Today I get to brag a little. Today I got an awesome email from one of my son’s teachers saying he is now working at grade level math.

Grade level.

For anyone new to my drama asylum  blog, my son has never been at grade level. He has challenges associated with Dyspraxia including ADD and sensory issues. Last year we were shocked to find out he is above grade level at reading, but everything else – writing, comprehension, math – was below. At least one grade level. He has had an IEP (individual education plan) team since first grade and we’ve been at this school since 3rd grade. 3rd grade was not a good year. It was a crappy teacher, it was a new campus, new principal on campus, it was a hard transition. The team confronted me with testing results similar to a kid with ADHD before we had gone down the road of diagnosis. The teacher was pushing for outside homework help, and the principal flat out asked in front of the entire team after revealing the similarities between my kid and an ADHD kid if I was going to medicate him. Not a good start with me.

Fourth grade had a great teacher who was very encouraging, if overworked, slightly uninspired, but very compassionate and supportive.  My husband and I decided to tiptoe down the terrifying road of medication. After a year of one-on-one assistance for our son, he was still unable to focus and follow through. Since school help gets no better than one-on-one attention, we had to do something for him.

The medication road is a very bumpy, dark, judgy road riddled with potholes and caution signs. It became overwhelming and we felt defeated more than once. I found people who understood the path and asked questions, confided, and shared stories. It made it easier. It made it so that I could continue until we found the right formula. No one really explains how difficult it is to come to the decision only to find more road blocks and let downs with failed prescriptions and wrong dosage and suspicious side effects. You work so hard to be okay with allowing your child to become dependent on a synthetic drug that you can’t help but have immediate assumptions. When the first doesn’t work, you doubt. When the second doesn’t work, you worry and doubt.

We lucked out and did the work and stuck with the program until we found the right combination. Today was the payoff. Last week I asked the new teacher for an idea of how the year was going. Did he still need the aid in the morning to help him stay on track for the classroom routine? Was he still relying solely on the teacher to reinforce the task schedule? Was he still sitting idle if not directly prodded into doing something?

No. I was told he was a pleasure to have in class, he works alongside his peers, he was an independent fifth grader who was giving no indication of drowning.

This took a minute to sink in.

Today another teacher wrote a followup regarding his math work and how he now just works on the assignments the rest of the class gets at the same time. Along with writing tasks, what he rarely does not complete in class, he will take down to the support center but all classwork is at grade level.

This could not have come together at a more perfect time. He transitions to middle school next year and the thought of my kid keeping track of six different classrooms, six different subjects and work and teachers was/is terrifying. It’s less so now.

On the way out of school today we ran into his fourth grade teacher. I stopped and with my son beside me we told her, “He’s at grade level math now!” She appropriately praised him for his work but then turned to me after thanking her for her help last year and said, “You know who really helped him, right?” I responded, “Well, he’s done all the hard work.”  she smiled and just looked at me and said, “True. But you know who really made it happen for him? You did. The squeaky wheel gets the job done. You did a great job for him.”

I held back my initial answer of “medication” but that isn’t true either. She’s right. If you can get over the resentment and anger and frustration of having to fight for your kid in an arena where you really shouldn’t have to, good things can happen. If you can get through the humiliating, frustrating, heart-breaking meetings where all you are told is deficits and fight for everyone to see the positive and ability, you just might get through and effect change for your kid.

This is not to say he will never again struggle. He surely will. That’s what growing is all about. Now I have faith we can overcome the next struggle because he is a whole, confident, capable boy who has a team of people who have no choice but to believe in him.

 

 

Strength

Published October 17, 2016 by sarcasmica

I have always thought of myself as a pretty strong person. Maybe this is an inflated ego or a shallow self-important view, but it’s the truth. I’ve been through some shit and seen some things others might consider anti normal or even crazy. This weekend has brought me to a strange place.

 My father’s birthday rolls around once a year as birthdays often do. The unfortunate part is that he’s not around to blow out the candles. He died 15 years ago. For fifteen years I feel his loss more than other days a guaranteed twice a year. The date he died and the date he lived. October 15, 1946 was his birthday. He could never in my whole life remember the day I was born, but here I am still mentally ticking it off in my head year after year. (The day he died was December 9, 2001)

This post is not about that. Just one event of many this weekend. Our state has been bracing for an epic twice-in-a-lifetime storm. Generators sold out, batteries sold out, gas lines a block long. My husband was out of town for this, so it was ultimately my responsibility to prepare everything. Flashlights, water, bread, lemon bars, cookies, you know, basic needs. I did it. I prepared the shit out of this house! I pulled in patio furniture, I disassembled patio umbrellas, I asked the neighbor to hook up the RV battery. We were READY. 

We got rain, we got a wind gust, the power flickered off……. 10 seconds later it was back on and the storm was over. My kids were crying -disappointment the power didn’t go out! I was happy trees didn’t have to be removed from windows or cars or bodies, but my kids were mad the flashlights were once again a novelty and not a necessity. I offered to cut the power all day Sunday but they protested, “That would be booooooriiiiing!”

Sunday morning my cat decides around 4:30am things needed to be shaken up. She began relentlessly pawing at my bedroom door. It was a battle of wills. Hers was to get me up and incite my fury, mine was to squeeze the pillow as tight over my head as possible to not hear it. 

She won. I got up and hissed at her. She intelligently ran. An hour later it started again, but this time she ran into my room and under the bed. Something she never ever does. I fell back asleep with images of bears and/or coyotes and/or clowns prowling around downstairs and mentally put together escape plans for each scenario….so that I didn’t have to actually get up and check downstairs. That never ends well in the movies. I still have no idea why she behaved so strangely but it made the morning events that much more numb from sleep deprivation. 

After crawling downstairs once the kids were up, I check the bathroom mirror to assess the situation with my newly infected bottom TADs. (The 4 screws that were put in my upper & lower jaws four weeks ago) 

WARNING: this is where the gross begins. Proceed with caution

Right… mirror, gums: Still squishy. Still puss. Still big blisters gaining momentum towards surrounding teeth. Oddly no real pain, though, just a serious Nasty Factor. I rinse with warm salt water, spit, notice one inflammation has maxed out and now burst. 

Fucking gross. Why me? Why now? Why at all?! 

I like to think most people would react the same way, but I tested the tissue out after rinsing away the gore. I gently touch my finger tip to the swollen tissue, it remains intact. I gently touch the screw head and hear, “CRACK!”. I gasp. My kids shout from the other room, “What happened mom?!” I see the entire screw shift inside my jaw, below my teeth and it becomes clear what must happen next. 

I have to shut the kids up.

“What mom?! What happened?! I heard you gasp!”

They didn’t actually come to see. No one decided the sound warranted an expedition all the way to the next room. No. Mom reacts so much better to a situation when she has to field answers to two separate children in two different rooms all while speaking with what obviously sounds like a hand is in her mouth. 

“My screw just came loose!”

They react. I’m still staring in horror as my soul leaves my body so I can handle this. I watch myself grab the head of the screw and pull the entire thing straight out of my jaw bone. 

This was the pinnacle of my strength. 

What the fuck just happened?! This 3/4 inch skinny screw that still had tissue and matter attached is now in my hand as my kids are “Ewe”ing and “Blech!”ing from elsewhere. 

Talk about a nervous breakdown. 

I rinsed, I pulled it together. My daughter immediately asked to see it, my son did not. I managed, after much pacing and frantic calls to dental parties, to move right along. 

I tell you what, I thought I was strong. I thought I could handle some shit. After today’s little ordeal I am more impressed with myself than ever!! 

Until I have to go see the oral surgeon tomorrow who will need to remove the other TAD that is even more angry and infected than the ejected one. 

I know people are going through horrible awful events in this world like floods and disease and death and starvation. That makes me feel humbled and very small. But y’all, I just pulled a surgically placed piece of metal that was screwed into my face out of my jaw with my bare hands!! Tell me that is not cape-worthy and horrific all at the same time! 

(Now 2 of the 4 are out, and yes that is bone attached to the TAD! 😖😱 (temporary anchoring device)

The New (School) Year

Published October 13, 2016 by sarcasmica

My kid is going to be in middle school next year. When he was born, getting through the colic and the shaping helmet and physical therapy were all-consuming. I never thought we’d make it to 1 without a healthy dose of green skin and a penchant for brains.

But we did it.

When he was 2 and getting in trouble at daycare for biting, and the daily scene of trying to drop him off and experiencing the screaming abandonment horrifying sobs and screams I never thought we’d make it to preschool.

But we did

And in preschool when the teachers began the long road of meetings and conferences and concerned behavior charts and feedback, I thought I would never get him to kindergarten – against the preschool’s recommendation

But we did

And in Kindergarten, when the teacher had to break down his days to five and ten minute increments to find the positive reinforcement opportunities, I just began to think it was always going to be a struggle. We continued on through specialists – Speech, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy – learning centers, IEP teams, doctors, prescriptions, diagnosis, guilt, worry, anxiety.

School is one more road navigated by squeaky wheels and parent advocates when it comes to kids outside the box. Every year we start over. Every year the cheerleading begins again and all you want is for each teacher to see that yes, this kid means extra work. Yes, you are already overworked, yes you are not paid anywhere near your actual value. Every parent in that school believes that. But my kid will require you to work more. Work differently. Work outside the very narrow box the school board and district allow you, but as hard as it is for you, the parents have to do it year in and year out. You have my kid for one year. Take him, teach him, appreciate the way he learns because he will not be the only kid who will benefit. Whatever strategy you use – and there will be more than one – understand that you are responsible for the foundation of the rest of his educational life. Just waiting out the year with him in your class is a disservice to yourself, his friends, his family, and most of all him.

Every year we get to look at each other around a table and reassess the needs of my kid. I will push. I will question. I will even tear up and maybe cry a bit. I am tough for him, but I am not tough when it comes to him. I’m a marshmallow of a mom who just wants her kid to have a shot at being average. That’s right! I’m pushing for grade level, regular old average learning. I know how hard he has to work to attain that and I’m ok with that. He knows the value of taking care of his friends. He understands how to respect his teachers. He is a bright, original, eager science lover. He has an ear for music. He thoroughly enjoys P.E. (if you don’t expect him to run) He treasures recess with his best friend. He’s more than the multiple choice answer required by the state on tests he vaguely understands every single year.

But he’ll work for you if you give him the chance to. And here we go again fighting for the chance to let my kid just be a regular 5th grade boy who already has crushes, is a fantastic reader, and is discovering a love for writing.

Sponsored by: IBUPROFEN  🙂

Fallen

Published October 5, 2016 by sarcasmica

Fall has begun here in the Pacific Northwest. This is my favorite time of year. Crisp air, long lost rain, Halloween, and the best ever: the color changes. As if this place couldn’t get much more colorful, fall starts the decent of leaves from branch down to the ground.

Growing up in California fall simply meant boots….at night… that one time it rained. Texas doesn’t have fall. It’s just slightly less time you have your a/c on and Arizona was no different than Texas.

Here in Washington, everything explodes for about three weeks, then it all drops. It’s nothing you can really plan, either. It’s not like you could pinpoint an exact perfect week to visit and be guaranteed the colors will be maxed out before it all hits the ground. This year it seems to be the consensus that the leaves began changing early. Before fall had really even begun.

Given my new hobby of photography this was a perfect opportunity to practice some pics. Hope you enjoy them 🙂

 

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