Friday, April 30, 2010
I went to Samuel's school today and observed him in his small group kindergarten class as well as in the regular ed class. His teacher has had him going in to the regular class a few times this week for writing time to see how he would do.
So. It is always just so hard.
I was proud of him for participating in his own classroom. He raised his hand and volunteered some answers, which was great. His teacher said he is definitely talking more. Voluntarily and not just in answer to direct questions and that's good. He is on "grade level" for math and reading. I put that in quotes because I feel like meeting the benchmark doesn't necessarily mean he is where "most" kindergartners actually are. But that is definitely good. He is behind in his writing. And markedly behind in his speech and social skills.
In the reg ed class, as I sat there and watched him, I had to fight back tears the longer I sat there. I hate how that still does it to me. Seeing him so uncomfortable in a group. Seeing him so anxious. Seeing how much he doesn't really act like his peers. He looked small and out of place. And I know he might have just been feeling shy about being in a class and routine that he is not as familiar with. Any child would, I know. But he sat at the table and just looked around, and fiddled with his tongue, and didn't even do any work at all without repeated prompting from the teacher. He looked so lost.
Anyway - ugggggghhhhhh. For the record, though, I found it very very helpful to go and observe him in the classrooms and then ask his teacher if that is typical behavior for him. I can compare that to what I see at home and have a much broader understanding of how he is doing. So I am glad I put up the fight!! So there!!
Next week I will go observe a kindergarten class at the charter school. Just as another comparison, should we decide to put him in first grade over there. He got a spot for next year. We just have to let them know if we want to keep the spot. ASAP. haha.
And then next Thurs will be the official placement meeting. Hopefully I will come out of the meeting feeling good about whatever decision we come to, confident that I am doing what's best for my little boy. We can hope, right?
Prayers, thoughts, wishes, good vibes, or whatever else you can do on our behalf as we go into this meeting, are certainly welcome and appreciated.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
I've talked about the ordeal of figuring out placement for Samuel in school next year and how difficult of a decision that will be. I have already been in turmoil about it for months now. He doesn't really seem to "fit" anywhere - there is no "ideal" placement. But next week I will meet with his IEP team (normally his teacher, speech therapist, principal, a representative general education teacher, and me) to discuss and make a decision. So, to be able to have my own opinion to contribute, I have felt (and also been advised by others) to go in and observe Samuel in his class and also observe a general ed kindergarten to get an idea of how he is doing, behaving, participating, interacting, and be able to compare that with how a typical "mainstream" kindergartner is behaving, participating and interacting. This seems reasonable, right?? I thought so.
Franky, I dreaded doing it. First because it is always uncomfortable to arrange for these things and go do it. And I have to find babysitters for Elisabeth - which is stressful for me. But I geared myself up for it and asked his teacher if I could do this.
She wrote back and said the principal wasn't comfortable with me observing another class, because of confidentiality and ethical reasons. So. I called the principal to see what the school policy on observing classrooms is. I then called the Special Ed Dept of the school district - who referred me to the Student Services dept - who referred me to somebody else - who referred me to someone else. I don't even remember everyone I talked to. But between secretaries, and voice mails, and phone tags, and transferring my call to someone else, and waiting for return calls etc etc., it had taken me an entire morning and I had talked to at least 6 separate people. And have I mentioned how much I really really hate making phone calls?!? I really. truly. hate. making phone calls. So all this stuff just isn't easy for me.
Anyway - I was finally told that there is nothing that would prevent me from going in to observe a regular ed class. I was also told, as I asked in passing, that I should be able to observe my own child in his sp ed class, even though there are confidentiality requirements. So then. More phone calls to the principal to finally arrange a time for me to go into a mainstream class.
This morning I wrote a note asking Samuel's teacher when I could come observe him in his own class. She wrote back saying the principal said I can't do that - and that the special ed district people supported that decision. HUH!?! I can't go observe my own child in his class?!? What the heck?!?
So, I called the principal again, practically in tears because I am so shocked that they are telling me I can't do this. She said because it's special ed and these kids have IEP's, I can't go in and just watch. I can go in and help with a party, for instance, but not just watch. Ummmmmm . . .
But she said she'd call the district again.
And I called my neighbor who is highly involved in state special ed stuff and she told me that's ridiculous.
And the principal called me back and said that they would like to "recommend" that I go in and help as a teacher's helper and not just sit and watch which "might make the kids uncomfortable." I mentioned that it would be really difficult for me to watch my child and take notes on what he's doing if I'm "helping." But, she didn't really comment on that. And then she said they would also like to have someone else (such as herself) come in with me and explain things to me as we observe. My thought was "wouldn't it be more distracting to have someone talking to me during their class time rather than just have me watch silently by myself?" But I felt like I had made enough objections already and I was feeling like I was putting up a big stink already, so I let that point slide. Bottom line is, I can do it after all.
And I just sort of wondered, wouldn't it have avoided a lot of confrontation if she had checked with the district when I asked, before telling me no, if she wasn't completely sure, instead of telling me flat out "that can't be done" when that clearly wasn't the case?? It makes me angry that I had to put up such a fight to be able to do something that really shouldn't have been an issue in the first place.
She also gave me a long lecture on confidentiality and that if she lets me do this, it also means the other parents would have the same right and I need to know that other parents might be seeing my child, too. Well, duh! I just told her that I would assume that's a given that any parent would be allowed in the classroom at any time. I understand there is confidentiality, esp with IEP's. I guess some parents wouldn't want anyone else to know their child is receiving special education services or something. I really don't know. But, seriously? As a parent, I just cannot even fathom being told I can't come in and watch what is happening in the class. I know it's a little awkward and might be distracting. But it just needs to be an option. Always.
And then she said she needed to remind me that placement is a team decision anyway and not just mine, which I felt to be a little offensive. It is my understanding that it is still my prerogative at any point to refuse services, or to disagree, or that my opinion really matters in these decision meetings. And if I am to have anything to contribute to the discussion then I need to know what's happening in the class. I need to be able to see for myself and form my own opinion. Doesn't that seem reasonable??
Anyway - that's it. I guess I'm done now. I'll write more after I actually go in and observe, of course while maintaining the confidentiality of any other students (don't attack me on that point, please). I just really don't do well with this kind of thing. Confrontation makes me shake and cry, actually. So it's been a difficult ordeal.
Thanks for listening. I feel better now.
Monday, April 26, 2010
It's been on my mind for awhile now.
And as much as it pertains to raising a little boy with some "special needs" of various kinds, it also pertains to myself and my own limitations and challenges, which I sometimes allude to. So this might be a little confusing as I jump back and forth and talk about a lot of different things without actually telling you much of anything in the way of details. Sorry. I just wish I could figure it out.
Have you ever dealt with a situation like that? What do you do?
I can certainly see and agree that we want ourselves and our kids to reach their full potential - we want to improve and learn in all areas of life - and we want to know that we are capable of doing "hard things." If a person has a disability, we want them to learn how to do everything everyone else does. We want them to be seen as "normal" as much as possible.
Just as an example: let's say you have a child born blind. 100% blind. Of course you do all you can to help them learn to get around without being able to see. You want them to know that this doesn't have to be a limitation in terms of what they can do in life. There are accomodations. There are modifications to activities. There is help.
But the fact remains, doesn't it? That your child cannot see. Nothing changes that. At some point you have to accept this. You mourn all that this child will never see, never really appreciate, will never really do, will never be like everyone else.
So then. When I look at my own challenges and those of my kids - I always have to wonder. Am I asking them - am I asking myself - to just stretch and grow? Or am I asking them to do something they simply cannot do? Which parts am I using as a crutch, to keep on going as I'm used to doing and not have to change what could be changed? And which parts are the reality of what is? That sometimes it's just the best we can do.
Because try as we might to insist otherwise, asking a blind child to look and see is just setting everyone up for frustration and failure. Isn't it?
What do you think?!?
Saturday, April 24, 2010
ohhhh - a Percy Jackson and the Olympians Guide!
And speaking of which, I'm not sure what to think of not getting any comments whatsoever on that last poem I posted. haha - Speechless, eh?
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Monday, April 19, 2010
She wanted a blueberry cake - so those are frozen blueberries stuck on top. It was pretty tasty.
And she is just too cute, isn't she??
Here's a little video ad for Gretchen Rubin's book, The Happiness Project, which I read and enjoyed. Just to give you a little taste of it. :)
This is one of her "key principles to remember" in her personal quest for happiness:
The days are long, but the years are short
Sometimes it just feels to impossible to remember - in these difficult days of parenting. And sometimes I panic at the thought of how quickly my children are growing. For me, I try to remind myself that I am just doing the best I can, with these long days and short years. And I hope I don't look back someday and chide myself for not doing more, being more, being better. I want to remember that I did the best I could with the challenges I was given. Even though it never seems like enough. This is all I can do.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Here's a list of things I found in Samuel's "play" backpack the other day (along with some actual toys and game pieces):
- a bar of soap
- one D battery
- 10 dry erase markers
- a lint brush
- a Christmas ball ornament
- 2 tennis balls
- a reusable ice pack
- an old blank cassette tape
Is it any wonder I can't keep things under control around here??
And here's my random 10 ipod shuffle for today's random thoughts (just for fun):
Thursday, April 15, 2010
And I have been working this post for an entire week. It's labor intensive!
Anyway, here's the list of books I read in Feb and March with some commentary and/or quotes added in when I feel like it:
I heard of this book on NPR, I believe, and knew I had to read it. It was a great read and made me appreciate the letters I've saved even more. I love letters. I think that some of the most important people in my life are bonded to me through letters, most notably the 3 yrs of weekly letters that Zac and I wrote each other. And there are other people, too.
It is funny to me how much I cherish people's handwriting. I am as much attached to it as I am to their face. It is part of who they are. Part of what I associate with them. Part of what I love. I still ask Zac to hand write me notes now and then because it is an important part of our relationship, to me. And if you want to be my friend forever, just write me letters and I am yours. Especially nowadays when we are slaves to the convenience of electronic correspondence, I would treasure a handwritten letter over just about anything you could ever give me. So now you know. :)
4. The Happiness Project - Gretchen Rubin
If you read my Goodreads reviews, you already know that initially this book put me in a bad mood. All this pressure to be happy was just too much for me. hahaha. As I continued to read though, I was able to view it more in the light it was intended. That is, do whatever you want with it and make yourself happy. I actually have a lot of thoughts on some of the ideas she presented and I have toyed with the idea of posting some more along these lines.
One of the great quotes I wrote down was this:
"Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that, but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing." - Yeats
I think that explains why some things that are really hard nevertheless bring us happiness. And why our relationships make us happy. So many things fall under that, actually. It's pretty all-encompassing. And it has helped me to reconsider the things I think bring me happiness by asking if it is helping me grow in some way. If I can say that it is, then I consider it a keeper.
So, perhaps I'll bring you more "happy thoughts" in the future. Perhaps (I have learned not to make promises when it comes to my blog content). :)
6. The Battle of the Labyrinth - Rick Riordan
7. The Sea of Monsters - Rick Riordan
8. The Titan's Curse - Rick Riordan
9. Out Stealing Horses - Per Petterson
10. Evidence: Poems - Mary Oliver
11. The Tale of Beatrix Potter - Margaret Lane
A lovely biography of one of my favorite authors.
12. Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
13. The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
14. For One More Day - Mitch Albom
A quick good read.
15. My Life in France - Julia Child
16. Julie and Julia - Julie Powell
17. Aspects of Love - David Garnett
18. The Small Rain - Madeleine L'Engle
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Monday, April 12, 2010
So, yes, Samuel has lost his 2 front teeth earlier than his older siblings did and as of tonight, he's got that adorable big gap and cute little lisp. I love it! :)
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Friday, April 9, 2010
It was pretty cool. So much fun stuff to do. The only disadvantage was that it was very popular and was also very crowded and sort of nuts. It took a couple deep breaths to remind myself it would be ok . . . but then I let them run off.
I just tried really hard not to think about the fact that this would be the perfect place for a child predator to snatch up a small child, or 2 or 3, without anyone noticing because it was pretty much swarming with crazy kids and parents going crazy trying to keep track of them all. I had Abigail stick with Elisabeth, and Isaac with Samuel, and then I tried to follow them around as much as I could and make sure I could count them all at reasonable intervals. But it was pretty much impossible.
And at one point there was this little blond hair girl I found in tears that I tried to help find her mother. After walking her from one side to the other, I decided it would be best to just sit with her on a bench and hope her mother would come looking for her eventually. And she did - eventually. Crazy place.
But all my kids had fun, with no tears or injuries, no one was misplaced or left behind, and I got some cute pictures of them to boot. It was a fun time. :)