Thursday, October 2, 2014

5th grade wonder

As always, so long between posts.  It appears I need adversity to inspire me.  I've had little of that lately.  Nothing but gratitude and love, people!
Rowan is doing great in first grade so far.  He loves his goofy teacher.  He hates homework, but she has been so awesome about recognizing his strengths and allowing us to tailor homework to his needs.  He had a short little hiccup of Awful Behavior at Home for a couple of weeks as he readjusted to being back in school, but that seems to have passed.
What I really want to write about is Aidan.  That kid has always had such a spark.  A spark of curiosity and such a love for learning.  We were disappointed that that spark disappeared last year.  Fourth grade was HARD for him.  We loved his teacher, but I think the challenging kids in her class took a lot out of everyone.
I am so happy to report that his spark is back and then some.  He comes home GUSHING about his day, his teacher, his BAND teacher, his instrument.  I haven't had to ask him to do homework once.  He loves to do it.   Today, as we were leaving school, we saw his classroom teacher in the hall.  He excitedly said hello to her.  She said hi back.  We walked a few more feet, and he looked back at her.  He didn't notice me noticing, and I'm not sure she did either, but the look was love, awe, gratitude and wonder.  Thank you for giving this back to my kid.  I knew it was there all along.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Whatever The Hell I Want (or not)

Well, I did it.  I survived School Year From Hell.  I know I should be thankful that I have a full time job, a great budget and so much stability, but, boy howdy people, this year tested me beyond my limits. I am so blessed that things were so great on the home front: Dan is getting a ton of work so financial stress has lessened, both Aidan and Rowan have had a great year, everyone stayed relatively healthy.  (Spoiler alert: not for long.) I don't want to think what would've happened if I hadn't had the stability at home *shudders* - let's not go there.  I returned to my family so many nights crabby, numb or usually in Zombie Mode.  I am glad they still like me.
So here I am, at the starting line of summer.  I explained to a friend that being a teacher during the first week of summer is like getting reacquainted with an old lover.  It might be awkward, kind of fumbling around, getting to know each other again...not quite knowing how to proceed.  Sleep schedules get messed up and you're not sure how to set them or even if you should.  Lists  and plans are made, disappointment ensues if things don't happen or meet your expectations of summers before.
I usually make a summer bucket list.  I usually am bummed when I go back and look at it at the end of summer.  So this year's summer bucket list includes two things:

1. Do whatever the hell I want.  (Because I've earned that right.)
2. Roll with it.  (Because you never know what it's going to hand you.)

Tuesday afternoon, as I left school for the year, I had a strong Badass Attitude vaguely surrounding the feelings of list option number one.  I was ready to celebrate and party.  We were going to the cabin, where I would SLEEP and having someone take care of me for a few days (which is what I really needed, thanks mommy.) After I brought Rowan to the doctor, of course, since he hadn't been feeling well for a few days.  Diagnosis: strep.  The other two boys in my house soon followed.  Then they all developed a nasty head cold of top of it.  Cabin plans cancelled, and I spent five days, avoiding my family while taking care of them (I mastered doing both at the same time somehow,) begrudgingly staring list option number two in the eye.  (I may have given it an obscene finger gesture a couple of times.)  I know how many days a person can spend taking care of three whiny sick people with wanderlust in her heart before she snaps.  And that many days is five.

Today the sun is shining, and I get a do-over.  I will thank the sunshine that I remained healthy through that stint.  I will plunge my hands into the dirt.  I will pack a picnic.  I will let the breeze tie knots in my hair.  I will toughen up the soles of my feet.  I might put my toes in the sand.

A nod to summer.  To doing whatever the hell I want.  To rolling with it.  To do-overs.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

They Are Watching....

It's been a week, people.  I've tried, I really have, but this positivity thing?  Well, it's HARD.  Stress level is high, insomnia is unrelenting, workload is unmanageable, schedule is full, and this we finally saw the sun for the first time in 435,988 days, I think.  I went into a weird place of survival in my head this week.  Numb, I guess.  I don't remember most of it, and that's with taking a day off in the middle of the week to nurse a nasty eye infection.  I am beyond exhausted and keeping my chin up and my head above water and all those other metaphors are really hard work.

As is my pattern, I take this out on those I love.  Thursday, unfortunately, it was Aidan.  I stayed after school to try to catch up, knowing he had chess club.  What I didn't know was that he had a tournament (read: later than usual.) I had to get Rowan to swimming lessons (read: his last session, where he gets his "report card.")  Somewhere in there I had to get food in them.  I ran around til 5:30 and scratched the surface of my work load.  I finally cut him off at 5:40, and actually he had just lost.  He was crushed.  I tried to be sympathetic, but was secretly relieved to be able to go.  On the way home, I found out that I had switched the kids lunches and neither of them had eaten the "main course" of their lunch: dinner problem solved!  (Another symptom of this week: can't get my shit together.) But when we got home there was the letting out of the dog, and the "I have to poops," and the finding of the swimsuit, and I can't remember what it was, but I snapped at Aidan, "WHY haven't you eaten yet??? We have to GO in 5 minutes!!"  He had some valid excuse, but I watched myself, out of body experience, roll my eyes and give a big hissy fit of a sigh.  As I did it, I thought, "Well there goes my MOTY award." and "No wonder he gives me sass, here comes a dose right now that I FULLY deserve, cause he learned it by watching me."  But he stayed calm, apologized and starting eating.  I got all teary and apologized too.  He said, "It's okay, Mom, I get it.  I've been there.  I can see that you are stressed out."

Geez, I don't deserve these guys sometimes.

We got to swimming on time, by the way.  And Rowan passed his current level.  And I really don't think Aidan is scarred for life.  But I am now counting down the days....

Saturday, April 12, 2014

I Choose....

New Years comes at the wrong time of year for me.  I find it hard to reflect and renew in the middle of winter, even with the proximity of the solstice.  Spring is my time.  I find myself turning both inward and outward at the same time, reflecting on the past year and looking ahead.  This seems to be more intense this year, I think due to the Winter of Our Discontent, as I will respectfully call it.

I write freely about the successes of this past year: Rowan making strides, a family vacation, the funny stuff.  This year has been good to us in so many ways, but definitely had its own challenges.  Most of these came in the form of financial stress and work.  No doubt, my workplace was a "do more with less" kind of environment this year. Many days, I would come home barely able to function on a basic level for my family.  I probably drink more wine than I should.  I tackle insomnia nightly.

Why am I confessing this now?  Seven weeks.  Aidan counted. Seven weeks left in this school year.  It usually is a wild, hang on to your hat time of year, but I sense it is going to be crazier than usual.  I am filled with a mix of emotions - a "double dip" feeling as a friend of mine would say.  It feels EXACTLY like being at the top of a very big hill on a roller coaster: exhilaration, dread, fear, anxiety, excitement.  I realize I am at a point of choosing which of these emotions to embrace. This may not seem as easy as it sounds.  Along with the challenging environment has come a good share of negativity, negativity that I admittedly have gotten sucked in to.

I am nearing the end of our spring break, and two days ago, experienced that sort of stomach-drops-out-of-you dread.  I really forced myself to look at the "why" of the feeling.  I was able to hold my chin up as I talked myself through it for two reasons: I've made it this far, what's seven more weeks? And...some really solid accomplishments, perhaps under appreciated by Those I Wish Would Notice And Care, but I am very proud: new lessons tried and succeeded, presenting at the AEM conference, participants in art shows, winners in art contests, Empty Bowl, leaps and bounds in my use of technology this year.  It seems that somehow in my just barely keeping my head above water, I swam farther than I thought.  So on this eve before the eve before The Return, I am making a choice.  I choose celebration.  I choose fun. I choose positivity.  I know I'll be tested and The Ride might get scary, but in the end, summer will come and before you know it I'll be packing up and letting it go, faster than I can imagine.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Keep On Keepin' On

So, as usual, long time no blog.  That is usually a good thing!  Nothing much to blog about except that our little flower keeps blossoming.  The setbacks and struggles I anticipated for Kindergarten just don't exist.  Here I am staring the end of the school year in the face and I still just need someone to pinch me.

Fall conferences came and went with the news that he was fitting in great, making friends, participating, high level reading group,  blah blah blah...wait, what?  High level reading group?  I knew the kid could read, but only because he's been busted reading words off signs and such, not because he had ever read a word TO me.  I was commended for "working with him" on all the sight words, because he knew them all.  (Yeah, I never worked with him.)  Mister sneaky Pete, doing all that secret downloading without letting me know.   We got a similar report this winter.  Meanwhile our family took our first long vacation via plane with no issues.  We survived Winter from Hell.  I am so proud and relieved.

I still see the quirks, but I doubt many other people do.  He appears "shy" but I know it's sensory.  He gets "stuck" on things, but is more easily "unstuck" than he used to be, and his fixations are more appropriate and allow for flexibility (right now it's Star Wars and space.)  He tolerates sound, but has this amazing sense of smell and pronounces his olfactory observations loudly and specifically: "Mom, it smells like tacos and mud in here!"  The only behavior hiccup we had at school was a couple months ago with the potty talk and him trying to set other kids off.  A consultation with Lynnie and advising his teachers to immediately remove him from the group if he even starts nipped that in the bud.

He's even taken another big step forward in his maturity and being "out there" to others.  Reports from adults at school that he is interacting with them more (smiles, talking, joking around.)  A car trip last weekend, he got hungry and I stupidly forgot to pack snacks, perhaps shutting the years of "hangry" meltdowns out of my head. When I informed him we didn't have any his answer was "okay."  WHAT???  We went to MOA and he ate HOT food with a FORK.  (Both these things are miraculous.  I mean, really miraculous.)  He was talking and laughing with strangers.  We went to the Disney store and went to Mecca...I mean, the Star Wars section, and he never bugged me to buy him anything. Plus the fact that everything that comes out of his mouth is so darn stinkin' cute right now...

Can I push the pause button on him, please?  Though, really, I am starting to worry less and look forward more...

I'm going to change the focus of this blog to being less about raising a child with SPD to just plain old fun Fitzpatrick Adventures.  Aidan and Rowan do continue to inspire and teach me, and will ALWAYS be my greatest teachers in life, through both the good and the bad.  I recently realized if I don't start being more intentionally present with them, *poof* they will be gone before I know it.  They are growing up WAY too fast.  Look forward to more adventures soon!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

You Think You Know a Guy....

This guy.

In addition to owning the kindergarten experience, this guy pulled an entire wagon load of groceries home by himself.

I don't even know what to say.

The stress over kindergarten has been mounting for two+ years.  It would keep me up at night, wondering: will he make friends, will he listen, is he capable of sitting still, will he even TALK to his teachers?

And then the first day of school came, and with it the Scariest Moment Ever (for me): dropping him off in his classroom for the first time.  Another kid was in tears, clinging to his mom.  It didn't bode well.  We found Rowan's spot, put on his name tag and looked at each other.  "Now what do I do?" he asked.  "It looks like you can play with these pattern blocks that are at the table, buddy."  "Okay."  Then a huge realization washed over me:  he is not anxious, sad or scared in any way.  He wasn't even thinking about saying goodbye.  I sat there for a moment, dumbfounded, awkward silence as my kid just turned this Scary Moment into a non-event.  "Um, well, okay then.  I guess I'll go."  "Okay," he replied.  A quick hug and a kiss and he never even watched me leave.

Fast forward to three hours later, and his teacher walks into my classroom. Oh shit, I think, this can't be good.   She beams at me.  "I just want you to know, he does not stand out to me as different from any of the other kids.  He is happy, playing with the others, participating and talking to me."  My knees buckled.  Disbelief, relief, but still a bit of anxiety.  Honeymoon period,  I think,  It won't last.

Rewind to six weeks before school starts.  "Are you excited for kindergarten?" I ask.  "Yes," he says, "But I WON'T sing."

Fast forward to three weeks into school.  Mrs. K, his music teacher, informs me he SANG in music.  He also was spotted dancing.  Later that week, he sings a completely made up song to me.  This is the first time he has sung to me.  EVER.  That same week, reports are the same all around:  following rules, sitting still, listening, participating, making friends.  I still live in a state of disbelief.

Fast forward to four weeks into school.  At lunchtime, in the lounge, I happen to sit with the para who works in his room.  She tells me about an afternoon on the playground, where Rowan has climbed to the top of the fireman pole, a skill he set out to master this summer at Lynnie's.  Apparently, a few kids noticed and made a Big Deal about it.  He did it again, a few minutes later, with ALL the kids watching.  Later that week, I sit with him for 5 minutes at lunch.  The kiddo sitting across from me exclaims, while pointing at my son, "THAT kid is a REALLY good climber!" Rowan beams.

Fast forward to last week.  I am directed to go observe some primary classes to learn some transition techniques, specifically Rowan's teacher.  I go in to watch.  I see it first hand:  my son, who I worried about, cried about, lost sleep over is sitting attentively, raising his hand, participating, following directions, clip at the top of the rainbow chart.  I ask his teacher later, "Is is always sitting that still and attentive?"  She looks right at me, "Always," she says with conviction.

So here we are, close to a quarter of the way into the year, at a place I never imagined we would be.  And if we were in this place, I figured we would have had to work MUCH harder at it than we have.  And I still sit in a state of suspended disbelief. (And the teachers at North Star must think I am a crackpot, for all the warnings I gave them.)  What's bugging me the most is what a hard time I am having of accepting that it all seems like it's going to be okay. I was thinking para, IEP, behavior interventions, 504 plans...and we aren't even close. 

Proud, relieved.  Those words don't even come close to describing how I feel as I accept this Happy Place for my child.  A sense of accomplishment, for all the interventions, strategies and services paid off.  Lynnie, Lynnie, Lynnie....I give you SO much credit, for making my child know how to be a human being, and helping him and me figure out where and how he fits in the world.  I live in the midst of a miracle and am overwhelmed with gratititude.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Ride

So, this is happening.

This kid.  Kindergarten.

I don't even know how to feel about this.  Since I noticed his quirkiness, and got a name for it back when he was two, I feel like I've been on a roller coaster ride that leads up to this point.  I know the ride isn't going to end, of course, but I feel so much weight put on this year ahead.  Like this is what I've been working toward: the Big Test.  I am simultaneously proud, excited, anxious, nervous, sad, weepy, terrified, confused, grateful and sick to my stomach all at the same time.

I'm gonna keep hanging on for the ride.  The progress is always forward, and there is no stopping us now.

But, geez, little guy, could you stop growing up so fast??