Thursday, August 27, 2009

First Day of Fourth Grade

I just dropped Jason off. He's a fourth grader now. At least that's what they tell me. My special little boy with the book like IEP and more time spent out of the classroom than in is in the fourth grade. I've spent the past week conferencing with teachers, the guidance counselor and his new therapist discussing my son, his struggles and how we will handle this new year. This will be a hard year for him.

We learned last year that despite our best efforts, Jason won't 'catch-up' with his peers. His issues are deeper than more complex than we had thought and the damage much more lasting. As he continues to grow, he will fall further and further behind his peers. We see this more and more everyday. In essence, as I have said so many times this week, Jason is a 6yo trapped in a 10yos body.

Yesterday was "Meet the Teacher" day and Jason walked excitedly through the building telling everyone about his new backpack. Contrary to the thoughts of the kids and parents he talked to, he wasn't bragging. He was excited. Just like he was about his Star Wars backpack in Kindergarten and his Army back pack in 2nd grade. He was simply sharing his joy with others. Much like a kindergartener, he still hugs his teachers, talks to everyone he knows and wants to be friends with everyone.

My view of the day was different. The 2 other boys we had our conference with were polite, but cold. He's known them since Kindergarten. He was blatantly ignored by several students and I was glanced upon with disdain by some of the parents. I overheard one kids tell his mom, "That's Jason. He's a space cadet." Jason didn't hear this, he was too busy talking about the bird he had just seen.

This type of thing isn't reserved for school either. We've seen school mates at the store and such over the summer and Jason is ignored, even while their parents are standing there. Something I would never permit my kids to do, yet it happens to my son all the time. We have 2 neighbors who are in Jason's grade and neither boy can be bothered with Jason. One boy will, on occassion, but only because his parents are friends with us and won't permit it. Yet, every summer, Jason will ring their bells and ask them to play. And every summer he is ignored or bullied or told to simply leave. This year I finally had to forbid him from playing at that end of the street as now their little brothers of these boys are doing this.

So today I woke my son up, prayed with him and sent him to school. A school where I know the staff understands him and will do all they can for him. A school that is championing for him in all the areas they can. But also a school where he has no friends, no one to eat lunch with and will likely be treated on the playground like some sort of social pariah. A school where he will spend the first 7 days lost in class as they set up the schedule for his interventions. A school he hopefully won't come home from in tears.

Andy and I are looking at options and praying about how to move forward with Jason's education. The academic demands of fourth grade are going to be a lot for my little man to handle. Homeschooling is not a good match for him as he is too oppositional. We are praying for his safety, guidance and for a clear path from here. Our options are getting limited unless we get a different diagnosis. Ready or not, he's off to school.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Caught in the Act

I love taking pictures of my kids when they don't know I'm looking. Here's a set from today's trip to the park.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

To be the little brother of a princess means...

...learning to abandon all gender stereotypes and embrace your feminine side.

He'll probably hate me for this when he's older, but how cute is that?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Disney Day 6

Okay, sorry for the delay. We had company and they company fall-out. Now, back to your regularly scheduled Disney Day.


June 18, 2009

After such a long day yesterday, I think we really needed a day off. However, looking at all the Disney planning information I had, I knew that if we didn't get back to Disney Studios this morning, we weren't going to get there. We still had a couple of things to do there that were tops on the kids list. However, it's the closest park to where we stayed, so we didn't have to leave super early. Giving them about 15 minutes before we left, we woke the kids, dressed them, fed them and slathered them with sunscreen. We were ready to go, only Micah was ready too. He came around the corner, dressed for a day in the parks, carrying his Nuk, Bear and Blankie. This was a bad sign. ( And I seriously wish as had taken a picture of this.)

We made it to Studios in time for the rope drop, something we had been advised to do and hurried to the back of the park to get our Fast Pass for Toy Story Mania. Apparently, everyone else in the park got the same advise. So Hannah, Micah and I picked a bench to hang out at and let Daddy and Jason get the pass. Forty minutes later they returned with a pass for 11:50am. Again, another bad sign.

Fast pass secured for later, we headed over to catch the Voyage of the Little Mermaid. It was cute and Hannah LOVED getting to see her favorite mermaid. Across the plaza was Playhouse Disney, but it was so hot, we decided to see the Art of Disney Animation until the next show time. This was cute and I was really encouraged because our "host" was a woman with disabilities. In my previous trips to Disney, most of the cast members were made up of young college students and the like. This trip we saw many senior citizens and now someone with obvious disabilities. Way Cool.

After the "show," we wandered through the animation gallery. The last time I was here, there were animator actively drawing Pocahontas. Seriously cool stuff. Times have changed though and now the rooms are simply displays of animation desks and such, despite my disappoint at seething this, the best was yet to come. Rounding the corner, there stood Sorcerer Mickey!

I think the video pretty much covers the coolness of the moment. Really? Mickey and Micah! Can it get any cuter?

Once done here, we headed out find out we missed Playhouse Disney. No problem. We have cute photos of our kids with the Mouse. We decided to head back towards Toy Story Mania and the wear and tear of the morning was starting to show. Micah was seriously whiny and tired, Hannah started wilting and Jason adopted that preteen attitude we all know and love. A quick stop in Narnia, our Fast Pass time was here.

Okay, let me just say that Toy Story Mania is AWESOME! Once inside, you see that you are now "toy sized." Surrounded by giant crayons, jacks and game pieces, you work your way to the loading area. Here we had a slight mishap and Hannah slipped walking down the stairs. I caught her, but it gave her an awful fright. The cast member let us sit off to the side for a few minutes until she was okay, all while checking on us often. Soon the tears dried and the call of the ride was too strong. We were off.

The ride itself looks at first to be a little lame. You don your 3D glasses, sit in your "bed" and are whisked around the corned to see...a giant TV screen. Huh? Then you realize that "gun" in front of you shoots 3D objects at the screen and you score points based on how many you hit. The console in front of you keeps score and you fly from one screen ot the next. Each with a different theme, each with new challenges. EVERYONE loved this ride. So much so, that gettng off was a major problem.

It was here that we decided they had enough. It was lunch time and we were all hot, tired and sweaty. We headed back home too cool down, get some lunch and nap. Our plan was to come back in the evening if they were up to it or maybe hit the pool. As it turns out, we were saved the rain and took the kids to see a movie instead.

UP was playing and we LOVE Pixar films. This was Micah's first movie at the theaters and as he put it "Daddy. I like this TV."

Monday, August 17, 2009

I spoke (or shall I say blogged) too soon...

Jason is having a really hard time today. Really hard.

A friend predicted he would last night. I should have heeded her wise advice.

Jason's not good with words so he's showing me with his actions how he's feeling.

Sadly, that resulted in a short-lived rage like one we haven't seen in nearly 2 years.

I hate that my guy is hurting and I wish he knew better ways to show me.

In the meantime, we'll work through his anger and hopefully get to the core soon. I sense some serious cuddle time coming.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

They came from Wisconsin...

A few months ago my friend, Kelly, contacted me about crashing here for a few days. She was coming to Columbus to the NACAC conference to represent the Attachment and Trauma Network. regardless of the reason for her visit, I was super thrilled to be seeing one of my on-line buddies again, but NACAC and ATN are both near and dear to my heart as well. So, plans were made and Kelly and her 7 year old daughter, Savannah, arrived in Columbus Wednesday afternoon.

Kelly is super cool. She's been there, done that with all kinds of kid issues so it was really nice to have someone who I could talk to and laugh with about faith, parenting, special needs and adoption. She's survived losing kids she loved, getting gob-smacked by a diagnosis and just about a thousand other things. Needless to say, we stayed up late every night talking up a storm.

Savannah fit in just perfectly with my gang. She didn't notice Jason's differences and is about as girly as Hannah. While Kelly worked the conference during the day, I took the 4 kids and did stuff. We weathered Micah's OT, a Splash Pad playdate with no splashing, the zoo and the general insanity of 4 kids in one small house.

Although we did hit a few bumps in the road, we did manage. Jason handled the changes in our days admirably for a kiddo who hates changes, even temporary change. He even managed to share his stuff and let the kids play in his room. For those who know Jason, this a HUGE. Today we are having a few bounce-back issues as he works through his feelings on missing his friend, but that is way better than the raging we would have had a couple years ago. Progress is a great thing.

In all, it was a great time.

Thanks for coming Kelly and I hope we see you again soon.

Jason, Hannah, Savannah and Micah this morning before they left.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Grocery Madness

Every mom I know has a story about leaving a store early because of a child's behavior. I am no different. I have left for various reasons, leaving half full carts if I have to, all in the name of good parenting. i have left for each child. No one is immune to Mom's desire to shop in peace.

I've never really had a problem it. Once I even dragged a 6 year old Jason out of Lowe's on Saturday because he had started to rage. I was 9mo pregnant at the time. It wasn't pretty.

But for some reason, today it's really, really bothering me.

My friend Kelly is coming to visit with her daughter had I needed to pick up a few items at the grocery store. Before leaving the car, we covered the rules of in-store behavior. My rules aren't bad, Keep your hands to yourself. Stay with me. Walk. Be aware of your surroundings. Not too complicated and with promises of a cookie at the end if everyone behaved, we entered.

We made it 30 feet when I turned around and found Jason with the top half of his shirt stuffed in his mouth with more on it's way. This was a bad sign.

By the time we reached the dairy aisle in the back of the store, his hands had to remain in his pockets.

At the meat counter, I knew it was iffy that's we make it.

By the bread aisle, I should have known it was too late, but really, really wanted to get it done.

By the time we reached the self-checkout, Micah was wailing because he wanted to play with the lobsters and I said no, Jason was still unable to listen and the self-checkout stopped working. Apparently, I needed assistance. I looked over at the TWO people at the kiosk they glanced at me and went back to their conversation. I waited a full minute. All with a 3yo wailing and a 10 glaring at me because I wouldn't let him pretend to be a wild animal in Meijer.

So, I left.

Yep, with ground beef packaged on the conveyor and cheese in the cart, I picked up Thing 3 and walked. Thankfully, Thing 1 and 2 had the presence of mind to follow.

Now, I can sit down and pick apart what went wrong. Jason's amped up because of the pending visit. High anxiety and zero-impulse control are a bad combo at anytime. Add to that the stimulation of Meijer, his coming down after camp last week and a variety of neurological impairments and it's a recipe for disaster. Add another grumpy sensory kiddo and a mom who really, really needs a break, and I'm surpised we didn't create a black-hole.

Still, now I have to go back because the fact remains that we need the groceries. I think I'll wait though and go when Andy gets home.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Olivia's Night Out

We took Olivia the Turtle out for a "walk" tonight in the front yard. She explored all around the yard and was followed closely by a few admirers.

Here's a video of her little stroll. The background conversation is Hannah and her friend Margo discussing the merits of wiggling loose teeth.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Day Camp Dibacle

This summer Jason has spent 3 weeks at YMCA day camp. One week there, the next off and so on. This is both to give him much needed structure and activity and to give me a break. We went in with very high hopes. We are pulling him early tomorrow.

Every week has been met with it's own set of difficulties. We made sure the staff at the camp (just 10 minutes from our house) knew of Jason's special needs and that they could handle then before he went. The staff has mostly been very patient and kind in dealing with him and us.

It's the kids that are the biggest problem.

You see, Jason is a sweet naive little guy. Actually he's not so little at 10 anymore, but in truth he exists much like a 6yo does. His understanding of the world around him is very much like that of a first grader. We still struggle with fantasy and reality and if you tell him something, he will believe you. He also misreads social cues pretty regulary. And he always takes jokes and such too far in his desire to fit it. But at the heart of it all, Jason is a good, sweet, gentle kid, who just wants to be liked and doesn't understand why kids don't like him.

This week a boy had Jason convinced that aliens are real, invisible and coming to get him. This is so scary for Jason as he truly believed it. He hasn't been sleeping and last night had a horrible nightmare. We think it started as a joke, but then the kids figured out that Jason really thought it was true and have been feeding it all week. Telling him that he needed special powers to ward off the aliens and then using Jason's fear of just disappearing to get things from him all week. Add to that boys with a far too advanced knowledge of life and my kiddo was so in over his head.

Only I didn't know any of this until today, when he threw a rock at that boy. Hard. And got himself sent to the office and a note sent home to me. The camp director politely told me we should consider sending Jason to another branch with smaller numbers because he was more than they could handle.

However, during our talks with Jason this evening we found out the rest. About the aliens, the teasing and the vulgar language.

Thankfully, Jason is taking it all in stride. He is happy to know aliens aren't real, he isn't going to disappear and that he won't have to go back. He loved the creeking and the swimming and all the othr activities, but I told him no amount of fun is worth all that. He went off to band rehearsal with Andy tonight, happy as a clam. I'm glad he can let things go so easily.

I'm torn between utter sadness and guilt that I put him in this situation and complete anger that the adults in charge didn't do something and allowed this all to happen. Tomorrow, Andy is going over at lunch to speak with the camp director about everything that had been going on. I would, but it probably wouldn't be a pretty sight.

I think next summer I'll stick to VBS, the pool and play dates.

Snippets from the Backseat

Jason: "Okay, I'm Bobby Flay and I'm gonna challenge you to a throwdown."

Hannah: "No. I wanna be a judge."

Jason: "Then who do I challenge?"

Hannah: "Micah. Okay, I have tried the food and the winner is B! Bobby Flay wins!"

Yep, we've warped them....