miracles

30 09 2010

This is just a small update after dealing with all the frustrations.

The oldest child had his meds upped and we met his new CSI last night.  It’s been going really well for him.  There’s still a lot of taking a step forward then falling right back down, but when he met the new guy last night he was shy at first but by the end of the visit was giddy and playful.

It helped that Abbie fell completely and totally in love with him.  A man that is good with dogs – especially serious, jumpy dogs – is a man I’d trust to advise my kid.  I trust Abbie’s judgement and she never barked or growled at him.  She went right up to him and put her nose under his hand.  Abbie just does not do things like that.  After she responded so well, LJ started responding well.

Anyways, a CSI is like a mentor with a degree and experience in therapy.  Chickpea has one and the results have been mixed, but she likes having the extra support during the school day.  I also get more reliable information ABOUT the school day from her CSI.

I like this program quite a bit.  Mentors are a great thing but with special needs kids you need trained professionals with experience in the hard things.  You couldn’t take a normal person and ask them to deal with the things my kids go through.  Gentle support and unwavering availability won’t work.  They need advice and coping skills that WORK.  They need more than an older friend.

LJ has needed a male mentor for a while.  Shaun and I are great geek parents but as far as making friends or building social skills, we suck pretty damn bad.  We grew up wanting the same things LJ wants – friends, to be a part of something, someone to talk to who really knew us and had our backs.  We never really figured that out.

We also needed someone for LJ who could show him that he could be a sensitive male and still have male friends.  Boys at this age are assholes.  My response to boys (as a very small girl and later, small woman) was to “man up.”  I took my respect and kicked ass along the way.  I made sure that I could do anything they could do, and then I did it better.

In school, Shaun made sure he was the biggest threat around and then those who could stand up to him and WITH him got to see the real him.  The part that is smart and funny and kind.

LJ just doesn’t have that sort of camouflage.  I don’t know if I want him to get hurt badly enough to build it either – to learn to separate who he is from who he seems to be.  It’s a hard lesson and I’m not sure it’s necessary.

However it turns out, it will be fine.  He’s got a good brain and learns incredibly fast.  He’ll figure it out but now he’ll have a new tool.

Chickpea had her meds changed and she’s doing better.  She’s not as belligerent and restless, which is very nice.

I went to her parent/teacher conference a couple weeks ago and saw her work.  Now I know why her teachers aren’t that concerned with her.  Her work is head and shoulders above other kids her age.  Her handwriting is perfect.  Her Spanish is PERFECT.  Her writing skills are amazing.  Her comprehension skills are spot on.

It looks like she’s sloppy about things at home but I guess that’s just because she’s already bored with it.

She’s in a special school BECAUSE of her intellect and her knack for causing trouble if she’s not challenged.  (Sounds a lot like me, doesn’t it?)  She’s gone and blown it all away and now her challenge is in social skills.  I don’t think she cares, though.

When she got home from school that day I told her “if you keep doing work like I saw today, I don’t really care how you act.”  I’ve always believed that if you’re good at it, you don’t necessarily have to be good.  If you’re not that good at it, then yeah – your behavior is what your survival depends on.

Oddly, since that conversation her behavior at school has dramatically improved.  It may be the medicine or it may just be that she knows it won’t get a rise out of me any longer.  Oh, the joys of attachment disorders…  now she’ll have to come up with a new plan to piss me off.

The boys spent the night with my dad and we took her to get her hair cut and nails done as a reward for the good work.  She ended up having enough hair to donate to Locks of Love and she LOVES her new haircut – a chin length bob.  We went to dinner and had an actual conversation with her.  It was amazing.

This morning as we waited in line to drop her off at school, I was showing her my new purse.  Shaun was totally unimpressed with it, so I needed some girly reassurance. 😉  She saw my little rollerball perfume – Fracas – and wanted to smell it.  I dabbed some on her and now she’ll smell like Mommy all day.  She giggled and blushed.  I dabbed some on me too and I’ll smell like Chickpea all day!

The youngest had his intake to the therapy group last week and will meet with the therapists and psychiatrists in the coming weeks.  Hopefully it makes a change for him.  He’s having a lot of trouble at school in just about everything.

Last night I caught a glimpse of the little guy I held when he was 2 and first came to us.  He fell asleep in the floor before bath time and when I woke him up he was so cuddly.  His little angel face was just precious.  I got him bathed and then got his lotion on him and he kept falling asleep in my arms.  He’s so big and I can tell he wants to be small again and curl up in my lap.  It’s moments like that – moments where he’s completely trusting and relaxed – that I savor.

This morning he was snuggly.  He loved on everyone and gave big hugs and just wasn’t as mad as he’s been lately.  It seems like falling asleep in Mommy’s arms is what a lot of us need.

It’s definitely what Mommy needs!

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going to Kindergarten

21 01 2010

So, remember the whole purple handprint on Chickpea’s face thing I talked about last week?

Well, all week we’ve been “following up” on that. It turns out it was the kid who sits across from her in class (who all sit right next to alleged broken computer) was the one that slapped her.  Now, did she start the fight or get in her own hits?  Probably.  I know my child and she’s a ninja.

I’ve talked to the vice principal, emailed back and forth with the teacher, cc’d the entire crew (teachers, vp, principal, Shaun) and finally the teacher said that maybe I should come visit the classroom.  The time she picked was the EXACT time that the bell rings at LJ’s school to let out and wouldn’t I like to help with the pinata party?

Let’s take a time out right here.

1.  Ms. Teacher Lady knows I have 3 kids in 2 different schools because the school A goes to can’t support LJ’s special needs.

2.  Even though A does not need the same therapeutic needs as LJ, she’s still classified as handicapped and we have a dietary order in place as well as a safety plan just in case she has a flashback.

3.  Dietary needs = very low sugar because something in the sugar seems to trigger the part of her brain that thinks she’s starving.  Seriously, 1 bite of cake triggers hoarding and stealing so we have to be sure that if she gets sweets, she’s supervised and monitored very, very closely.  Since snack time is literally 10 minutes before they get out of school, I asked that I just be allowed to feed her at home and that they give her computer time or library time.

4.  The teacher and I do respect each other but we have a few problems with communication.  I don’t speak a lot of Spanish and she doesn’t speak a lot of English.  Secondary to that, we have cultural and generational… challenges.

5.  I’m special needs myself.  I pretty much can’t plan when I’m either going to have a bad pain day or a bad OCD day.

OK, time back in.

I have QUESTIONS.

1.  What’s in that pinata?  I know how this works – kids smack something with a stick and candy rains down on them.

2.  How does this sound like a good idea?  Let’s put 30 kindergartners in a small room with a paper mache animal, a stick, and tons of candy.  Then, let’s put my daughter in the middle of it.  I know how this story ends – the pinata breaks, kids rush in, my daughter grabs the stick and starts smacking kids to stuff the pockets of her uniform full of candy.

3.  How are we going to talk while all this is going on?

It turned out not to matter because I ended up hitting a 10 on the pain scale that day and I laid in the bed and tried to breathe very slowly.  So, Shaun went.

He said it went well – that the teacher had apple slices for Chickpea laid out next to the snacks and that the pinata had toys in it as well so he was able to confiscate the sugar.  Afterwards, they talked and when I was finally able to understand what they had talked about, I decided I probably did need to go in and talk to her myself because I had questions and apparently she doesn’t like email.  (That’s fine, I don’t like people so we’re even.)

The first thing I caught upon was that I wonder if they really think parents LOOK at their children’s report cards.  I know that when I sat behind a desk for a living that we pretty much assumed no one read their email, so I’m guessing they were really surprised that Chickpea HAD gotten in trouble over her report card.

The main point I wanted to address was not so much that she had gotten into a fight but that her response was to automatically accuse me of it.  We’ve been thinking for a while that there’s some sort of attachment disorder going on and she has been bringing up lately that I’m her 8th Mommy.  So, while I understand kids scuffle at school and really don’t care – I do need to know if she’s saying stuff like this so we can address it with her psychiatrist and therapist.

I still haven’t recovered from sitting in the lobby of a “mental health hospital” with a suicidal 4 year old after a very under-trained caseworker set off a series of flashbacks which ended up in her being sedated (because the hospital was full) and an investigation into our home.  It finally ended when I broke the chain of command within the system and wrote to the Governor himself.

You want to talk about the worst few weeks of my life?  I’d rather have an epic migraine.  So when I talk to the school about needing to report stuff like this, I’m not over-reacting.  I’m taking preventative measures. Besides, they say they’re very well versed in how to deal with children from foster care (such as incident reports, etc…) so not reporting this kind of bruise to me or Shaun is startling.  We’re finalized, so while we don’t need the form filled out, a phone call would be nice.  Ya know?

Anyways, back on track – yesterday was a fairly good day as far as my pain level goes so I figure I’ll drop in and help out with snack time and talk to the teacher.  I take time to look semi-grown up – I have on jeans and a t-shirt that has a cute cartoon on it.  I’m wearing make-up and jewelry and my hair is up in barrettes.  I give the boys both a sucker so their hands and mouths will be occupied.

The teacher is out sick, lo and behold, gone for her pre-op appt and the class have a very young substitute and a male volunteer, also very young.  Chickpea has a bag of animal crackers and is stuffing them in her face so fast the first glimpse I see of her she looks like a chipmunk.

I force the smiles even though the back of my head is going WTFWTFWTFWTF like a choo choo train and we sat in the back of the classroom while they wrapped up their day.

I sat in the back of the classroom and had an epiphany.

My child is not the problem child in her classroom.  There are about 8 other kids in there who were actively being bad as fuck while the rest of the kids were somewhere between doing what they were supposed to do and wandering aimlessly.

One of the kids is at the whiteboard pounding on it yelling “I want to watch the pirate video!”  One says to another “holy shit, that lady has tattoos and that means she’s dangerous.”  The other says “nuh uh, stupid.”  Three are spazzing out like crackheads in the middle of the room.

Then the bell rang and everyone started lining up in the hallways to go to the buses, after school, or car rider lanes and the scene is exactly like the fire drill scene in Kindergarten Cop.

Actually, it was a lot like Kindergarten Cop.

This may explain our communication differences quite well.  I tend to not like movies where kids act like little shits (Parenthood, Home Alone, That Rotten Little Fuck that Vomitted on the Carnival Ride) so I’m totally expecting too much from my personal little shits.

In comparison, mine are qualifying for sainthood.





Caution: busy day ahead

21 07 2009

I can’t believe we’re less than 3 weeks away from school starting.  May and June were crazy months and thank goodness we’ve been able to have a quiet July.  My goal in July was to bore the crap out of the kids so that they’d be excited to go back to school.  I don’t think it’s worked yet… they seem happy to sleep in until 9 am, hang out in pj’s, and watch PBS.

I found out yesterday that the charter school Alyssa will be going to did get their pre-K charter.  I called up and they had lost Ethan’s paperwork (not surprising since his name dramatically changed with the adoption) but they did go ahead and put him on the waiting list.  It would be the best possible thing for him to be able to go to pre-K there.  Otherwise, I’m going to homeschool him during pre-K.  He’s one of those kids that does not do well in a normal school environment.  He’s not quite ADHD like LJ is but if there are other kids around who are not focused, then he won’t settle.  His brain works a lot like mine – he absorbs info, files it away as irrelevant at the moment, gets bored, then creates trouble.  So, I’ll file his paperwork with them today so that hopefully he’ll get in soon.

For Alyssa to get admission, I had to register her under her old name during the last school year.  There are only a certain number of spots available and it’s further broken down by the child’s primary language.  It’s a dual-immersion English/Spanish school and they also teach Mandarin Chinese.  Hopefully it will challenge her enough to keep her out of trouble.  Pre-K for her was like a lesson in futility.  She already knew EVERYTHING they were teaching the other kids (she’s on a 1st grade level) and decided that meant everyone else was stupid and she was therefore in charge.  With some kids, they do that and get this air of bravado and adults think “he’s going through that arrogant stage.”  With her, she really does believe that we’re all here to serve her and suggesting otherwise  does not compute.  Of course, she is smart and beautiful which means people DO line up to give her things.  She had talked her teachers into giving her 3 lunches a day, THREE!, letting her roll around in the dirt during recess, taunting other children, and basically acting like we will not let her act at home.  It’s all ok with them because she’s cute and smart and gives you those big green puppy dog eyes.  All this does is reinforce the thought that she’s a superior being stuck in a smaller body.  Or something.

There’s a reason my kids act like civilized human beings.  I don’t fall for the BS and I have no fear of saying no.  I don’t use fear or intimidation to keep them in line, they just know the expectations and they know I’m not going to back off of them.  This does mean we talk a lot about the meaning of words like upset, disappointed, unhappy, discussion, responsibility, and who is in charge.  We can actually eat a meal in a sit-down restaurant with the kids.

LJ will be going to the school across the street from us.  He didn’t get accepted into the charter school, and that’s probably for the best.  He didn’t walk or talk until he was 5 and he’s still behind in language and social skills.  Because he was non-verbal, his test scores showed that he was mentally retarded and he was held back a grade and stuck in special ed.  There’s nothing wrong with that because he did need to learn the basics but he has made so many strides since then that you’d never guess he wasn’t always “normal.”  He was in a regular class last year and recieved speech therapy and social skills therapy several times a week.  This year, he’ll still receive services, but they’ll be integrated into the class so he doesn’t get singled out or pulled away from class.

I really hope he gets a young, active teacher this year.  Last year we had all sorts of trouble with his teacher.  He needs someone interactive – not someone who hovers and scowls.  Doing that puts him on defense and he retreats into his fantasy world.  Then everyone who wants to play ball during recess is stealing his stuff and every time someone bumps into him in line means they’re deliberately trying to knock him down and get him into trouble.  This causes meltdowns and tantrums.  Then he’s scared to go back to class because he knows that’s not a “good reaction” so he does stuff to get sent out of class.  Things like picking his nose until it bled so he could go to the nurse’s.  Making himself throw up.  Stomping on another kid’s foot.

When we figured out what was happening, we started playing games at home during homework.  When learning was a happy thing and he felt safe doing it he immediately started getting better.  He was making 30’s and 40’s before we started and after he was getting 90’s and 100’s.  Still, we couldn’t convince the teacher that he’s not a bad kid – he’s a scared kid.  She didn’t see anything wrong with her methods and would tell me “I have 20 kids in that classroom!”  20?  Really?  That’s all… huh.  That’s a TINY class.

Anyways, I have to register all three for school today since their names, birth certificates, and social security numbers have all changed. So I need to get them all ready to go while I fill out the paperwork here.  Thank God that it’s all online and all I have to do is print it out.

I also need to run to the post office.  We made a sale on Etsy!  Yay!  I also had a book mooched on BookMooch, so I need to send it out.  After all that, we’ll be back home and do lunch, then they get naptime and I get to list some more lace on Etsy.  If I get a chance, I need to go out in the garage and get a coat of primer on the keys.  Shaun’s going to do the metallic paint for me since he’s got a steadier hand and has more experience with oil-based enamels than I do. I also need to clean the bird cage, our bathroom, and my workstation.

The kids are up and the boys are already in trouble, so it sounds like time for breakfast!  Have a happy Tuesday, everyone!