After a weird few days, today, Wednesday, I’m feeling good. Unlike yesterday, I didn’t spill my coffee and only take 2 instead of 3 St. John’s Wort capsules (the things you find when you sweep up the floor!), so I’m feeling good. I’d like to talk a little about my middle child.
I have been doing the Frugal Girl’s 14 Days of Love Valentines Day tradition for my kids. For the days in February leading up to the 14th, I leave a surprise for them to find at their breakfast table. Today, instead of candy, I gave an activity book for my youngest, a set of markers for my oldest, and a Highlights Hidden Pictures Poster for my middle child Or as he calls it, “Some fucking poster.” Oh yes. Oh yes he did drop the F bomb this morning. In reference to a gift I gave him. To express my love and admiration for him. And yes, I acknowledge where he learned that word. This is not a pertinent component to the discussion.
I know it’s my job as his mother give him opportunities to, well, fail. And to love him anyway, and to give him more chances. Unfortunately for my husband he usually gets the rants I (hopefully) avoid unleashing on my son. But it sure does sting when his inflexibility gets the best of us all.
Today, I could have given him a piece of candy — which would have gone against the advice of the psychologist who most recently evaluated him, who emphasized how important it is not to have a little tyrant. I could have, as I threatened to my husband I would, declared an End to the Fourteen Days of Love. But that wouldn’t be fair to the other kids if I ended it entirely, and it wouldn’t be kind to exclude him. And I think, more than depriving him of a special token of love, it would deprive him of the chance to NOT screw up. To learn from his mistakes and learn to apologize and maybe next time something deviates from the expectation, he can turn it around and find something good.
This is a lesson I also need to learn, and he’s teaching me this lesson as I’m trying to teach him the same.
Daniel Tiger sings a song that I try to sing to ALL my kids, and myself, a LOT.
“When something seems bad, turn it around and find something good.”
At my son’s IEP meeting this past December, I felt like I was punched in the gut when they suggested a change of placement to a school that has an autism support center. It felt worse than when we got his diagnosis. It didn’t feel as bad as when we learned that his personal care assistant at school had hit him (at LEAST once….). But I felt betrayed and angry that they were giving up on my son. I mean — he has MILD autism. But we were dealing with teachers who literally did not know what autism was. Period. Exclamation point! Question mark?
After a lot of advice seeking and soul searching and visiting the school, someone said, “Why would you want to put your amazing child in a school where they don’t want him, when there is a place that really wants him?”
Because it’s HIS SCHOOL.
Because he’s been there for two years and the teacher who absolutely believed in him is there.
Because he doesn’t do well with change. To say the least.
Because his sister is there.
Because the school is legally, morally, ethically, and all other -ly required to accommodate him. And if they would actually do that, things would be FINE.
In the meantime, while we were fighting tooth and nail to get him what he needs, he was abused. He was neglected. He was deteriorating in both academics and behavior. He was so overwhelmed by the playground one day that he built a fort around himself with lunchboxes and hid. He was getting a bad reputation and making it difficult for his sister, who was called from her classes to coax him out from under a table. He was showing signs of depression and anxiety.
How much worse would they make things by the time appropriate interventions were in place?
So after the Winter Break, we started him in the new school. He was anxious. He was afraid. I had to bring him crying and screaming into the classroom. And within 5 minutes his new teacher had him smiling and laughing and waving goodbye to me.
From his old school, I would receive communication in the form of stars on worksheets in his folder, until I got phone calls from the social worker that things had reached crisis point.
From his new school, I receive several emails a week from his teacher about the hilarious thing he said, or the really good choice he made when he was upset, and how much she enjoys having him in class.
From his old school, I would get called down to the school several times a month so that I could collect my son when they could not control him.
From his new school, I received my first call to come down to school today, just over a month after he started there. Only this time, it wasn’t to come take him home. It was to sign a permission slip so he could go on a VIP field trip today, which is awarded monthly to kids who comply with school rules, have perfect attendance, are in uniform every day, and have fully completed homework.
Yes. My son. My son — the one the old teacher thought was an absolute menace. The one who, oh yeah, dropped the f-bomb about a token of affection I gave him, 4 hours ago.
So, no, he’s not perfect.
But you know what he’s doing? What we’re doing? When something seemed bad, we’re turning it around, and finding something good.
In other Project Karen 2.0 news, my hamstrings are still SCREAMING at me from Monday. I’m getting a little frustrated about this! I did yoga that was gentle yesterday and wanted to do some cardio today. I thought this cardio workout would be good but it was DEFINITELY not something I’ll EVER do again. It was kickboxing but with cutesy aerobic class moves. Sorry, I am not that coordinated. I ended up making up my own moves and it was frankly unsatisfying. But I finished it and that’s something.
Here’s a sign my Project Karen 2.0 is going well… I’m looking for more ways I can fit in working out and writing. Imagine!
- Cardio: 20+ minutes with extra swearing!
- Words written: 1000+
- Weight: 146 (STILL)
- Job I Don’t Want: My son’s initial kindergarten teacher.
- Deck Check: Mother, Natalie Maines (West of Memphis: Voices for Justice soundtrack. it’s on the radio… wyep… it’s a tribute to Natalie Maines that I’m listening to a Pink Floyd song. DJ tells me it’s produced by Ben Harper so that definitely is a bonus)