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“Kevin threw up in his lunch,” or the First Day of Kindergarten!

My heart pounded furiously as I edged the Town & Country up to the curb in front of the award-winning Computer Magnet Academy.  Hastily I searched the sea of kindergartners, stopping quickly at a mass of curly hair popping up and down, bookbag flopping, clutching a Blowpop—my 5-year-old!

I jumped out of the van, tears in my eyes, ready to hear the verdict.

Edward ran toward me, smiling gleefully, and cried, “Mom, it was great!  I found a baby frog on the playground and Kevin threw up in his lunch!  And he was sitting across from me!”

What could be better?

Posted on 12 August '07 by , under Humor/Disconnected Miscellany. No Comments.

WTH Wednesday: Giant Millipede

Yes, this would be “Moo,” our giant millipede, frolicking in the Little People zoo.  His nickname is “Mills,” after a friend Joseph met at space camp.  (Such an honor for that child.)

Moo/Mills dwells in Kim, the velvet ant’s old abode in Joseph’s room.  A few of you might recall that Kim occupied the former home of the the “last living kindergarten fish” who met his great reward during the summer of 2008.

As I look back through the old comments, I see that many of you are still around.

You are a brave, brave lot, and I salute you!

For more WTH Wednesday, go see these girls.  They are terribly funny!

Posted on 31 March '10 by , under Humor/Disconnected Miscellany. 11 Comments.

An Easy Decision

After a host of trying decisions involving homeschooling/public school, old house/new house, to pen a diagnosis on a child/to leave things vague, to try medication/to stick with homeopathy, one decision we had to make lately has been delightfully easy!

This is Sue.

snowsue

She is four.

She goes to preschool now two days a week and loves it.

She colors inside the lines, writes her name neatly and packs her own backpack.

snowangel

Every day as I greet her teacher, I hear the same words: “Great day!  Perfect behavior as always.”  And I smile to myself every day and say a prayer of thanksgiving because I know what it feels like to be the mother who is motioned to the side almost every day for a one-on-one conference about the days’ infractions and trials.

snowsue2

Sue is a “young four” which means she would be one of the youngest in her class if she attended kindergarten next year.

As I said, it was an easy decision.  She’ll go to Pre-K again next year.  That give me one more year of jammie days, Barbie jamborees, teddy bear tea parties and playdates.

snowsue3

An easy decision…

Posted on 19 February '10 by , under Faith is the Evidence, Humor/Disconnected Miscellany. 7 Comments.

Hot Cross Recorder

“Thought I should let you know, I’m failing Recorder…the only one who can’t do ‘Hot Cross Buns.'”

My mind raced.  Recorder–some sort of online speed spelling bee? Yet another homework checklist organizer?

(I haven’t begun to discuss the adjustments we’ve made during our transformation from homeschooling to public school, but this is a grand example.)

Joseph continued, patiently, “When you achieve your goal, they tie a tiny white string to the end of it and then everyone knows you are a White Belt.”

I reel.  What are we tying a string to, and what’s this about a white belt because the last time I checked, nobody has done Karate since kindergarten.

“Mom,” he drones in that just-turned-ten kind of voice, “That blue plastic thing Grandad bought me from Target when he was trying to find all the school supplies because you hadn’t moved here yet.  That’s the recorder and we play it for music class.”

He continued to regale on the “fancy” Japanese recorders brandished by all classmates other than a suffering fellow called “Henry” who was left to languish with an older brother’s cast-off gray recorder which was, in Joseph’s astute estimation, “more cheap” than his own blue Target option and smelled of  apple sauce.

“Do you think it’s bad that I’m the only one in the Fourth Grade who can’t play ‘Hot Cross Buns?'” he asked, semi-concerned, “Because Mr. A told me today after I tried to play it that I needed a lot more practice.  I mean he said a lot more practice, Mom.”

“I didn’t even know you were playing any musical instruments at all.  How long have you been working on this recorder anyway?” I ask, the panic settling in.

“Eight weeks or so I guess.  Most people are on, like, song number 10, somethin’  ’bout some saints marching.”

This doesn’t sounds good.  This sounds like an “N” in music.

So cut to Friday afternoon.  See what I found in his backpack?

recorder

Yep.

I am so proud of my white belt.

Now we are off to master “Merrily We Roll Along.”

Posted on 7 February '10 by , under Humor/Disconnected Miscellany. 10 Comments.

Diving Forward

Isn’t it fascinating when you see your child leaping forward developmentally with apparent abandon?  That is when I know God is working mightily.

The past two weeks have been such for Edward.

Last week we went swimming with two slightly older friends–one who is a fairly skilled diver and swimmer.  Edward watched this friend absentmindedly, attempted dives halfheartedly, and later annoyed the friends by splashing them and simultaneously blathering “blah blah blah” in an cloying voice.

I was so thrilled when this most patient child finally told Edward that what he was doing was “dumb” and held up a kick board to shield himself.  Edward actually garnered enough self control to stop his mind-numbing action immediately.  This is big for him.

A few days later, Edward shocked me beyond belief by laying out a decent dive into the deep end of our neighborhood pool.  Apparently, when I thought he was in “La La Land,” he had been watching his friend.  His swim coach was equally surprised when he claimed he knew how to dive and then dove off the diving board to prove it.

dive-three

At swimming lessons the next day we saw a dear friend from kindergarten days.  He was with another boy and the two were lounging by the pool watching the lessons, dangling their legs into the cool water.

Edward sauntered up to the pool, took keen aim, and laid out a perfect dive in front of the two boys.

diving-one

The new boy turned to Edward’s friend and admired, “Wow, that dude’s good!  Who is he?”

The friend replied, “That’s Edward.  He’s my friend!”

I blinked back tears behind my sunglasses.

diving-two

Edward is a dude who’s been “good” at multiplication, reading and memorizing.  He’s a dude who I’ll wager knows more about the Tudors than most adults.  Yet I think this was the first time Edward had ever been genuinely admired by a peer for something athletic.

Then the child who has been terrified to stand on his head and flip over at gymnastics, a child fearful of somersaults and a child who would never consider a backward handspring, began doing back flips under the water in rapid succession.

The next day at gymnastics he garnered more shock and awe by doing an assisted back handspring.

Something is going on in that brain of his, and I am beyond awe.

Still, isn’t that the way God works?  He wants to bless us so much more abundantly than we can ever imagine, and so often He comes through so mightily just when life has begun to look rather bleak.

“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:11.

I have more stories of Edward’s progress that I will share next week.  In the meantime, I am going out of town for the long weekend and will be back Tuesday!

Peace!

Posted on 26 June '09 by , under Autism Spectrum/Sensory Processing, Faith is the Evidence. 15 Comments.

Thrift Store Profiles

I don’t blog about it too much because it’s a tad odd and I’m trying not to scare off readers, but I have been selling rare books online for 10 years.  It is a bit like a treasure hunt and allows me to run into the most bizarre people–some of them rather frightening–others surprisingly engaging.

I hunt a great deal at a variety of thrift stores in my town, and, in doing so, have become a tangential part of the “thrift store underground.”  I’m known as “that book girl” or “that book lady” depending on the age of the commenter.

I’ve gotten quite tight with a heavy-lidded weight-lifting woman whose eye makeup rivals Ann Coulter’s, and who used to own her own carpet cleaning business that was “stolen” by an ex-husband who set her up to be busted on a coke charge.  Tanya won’t let me walk to my car alone if “Crazy Elise,” who is 65 at least but dresses like she’s still following Jerry with purple hair streaks and exaggeratingly stenciled eyebrows (Joan Crawford), is milling about the parking lot, hitting up people for rides or handouts.

I’ve prayed with John, a 60-something quadriplegic whose world is relegated to the sidewalks that border his section 8 housing.  His story involves incredible faith, a failed business and an attempt at finding some way to make ends meet on his meager disability check.

Collins is a 50-something thrift store worker–a funny, leprechaunesque Irish fellow who can barely read but will save books back for me with childlike enthusiasm in the hopes that they are great treasures.

Larry is a rangy ex-Vietnam vet who rarely finishes a sentence without mentioning faith or the Holy Spirit; he manages one of the thrift stores and sells old war memorabilia at local flea markets.

Barbara is 45 but looks 55; her fiance was killed by a tractor trailer that crushed him while he was fixing his delivery truck.  She had become a mother to his son, aged 8, who was thrown out of the house by his own mother, an admitted meth addict.  The dear mother went back to court recently to fight Barbara for custody but, in an unprecedented move,  the judge gave the child to Barbara permanently.  She has made sure he attended school and completed his homework, and for the first time ever, he is on the honor role.  Barbara’s faith is contagious and she has brought her new son to know Christ as well.  She is a “tee-totaler” but will partake of a “hot toddy” when she feels a cold coming on.

Debbie’s daughter has five children and a bad meth habit.  I met the daughter briefly once when she came to hit up Debbie for money–four children crammed into the back seat of an old Buick with no car seats.  Debbie wanted to retire but needs to work in an attempt to clothe and feed her grandchildren; she recently gained custody of one boy who is seven and failing kindergarten for the second time.  She and I discuss ADHD, homeschooling, reading intervention ideas and speech therapy.  Debbie drinks gallons of Mountain Dew to get through the day, always looks tired and is developing acute osteoporosis.

These people talk to me, share their stories, pour out their woes.  They have allowed me a glimpse into a part of society I would probably never have known much about.  Yet what is more fascinating is how they have accepted me into their culture.  Me with my minivan, my now-bobbed hair, my unfake purse

Now, lest you think it’s all inspiring stories and insight, last week a creepified 60-year-old man with a handlebar moustache began following me around the thrift store I’ve named “Crazy Cecil’s.”  His penetratingly evil eyes with no discernible pupils told me to beware.  He fixed on me and began a deluge of questions on faith and Christianity.  He berated Christians, asserting that his own mother loved him to no end and thought Christianity was “bunk” and if she had thought there was something to it, she would have told him.  I suggested he read the Bible and see for himself, at which point he began regaling on UFOs, his own abduction escapades, and the extraterrestrials’ plans to abduct people like me.

I headed out of that place.  My life is complicated enough at the moment.

Posted on 6 March '09 by , under Faith is the Evidence, Humor/Disconnected Miscellany. 11 Comments.

Gender Role Insight Via The Fruit Loop Necklace

Boys and girls are vastly different as evidenced through disparate reactions toward a preschool rite of passage: the Fruit Loop necklace.

Sue brought hers home yesterday:

fruit-loop-necklace

She was so proud to wear it, name all the colors, remark on how it matched her shoes.  Every once in a while she would delicately take one bite of a sugary Loop.  Yet she kept at least 12 circles intact for several hours, gingerly enjoying a loop here and there at a leisurely pace.

I couldn’t help but be reminded of Joseph’s similar necklace during Pre-K.  He graced the pick-up line with a single blue Fruit Loop strung on a bit of yarn, his lips bearing a purply-green tint.  “How come we never get really sweet cereal like this with all these colors?”

As for Edward?  He appeared ready for after-school pick-up during Kindergarten with a wet piece of yarn stuck to his backpack.

“Is that yarn something important?”  I queried.  “Is it some sort of craft?”

“Nahh,” he replied, looking back at the limp yarn now littering the sidewalk,  “I think it was supposed to be a necklace or somethin.'”

Posted on 21 January '09 by , under Humor/Disconnected Miscellany. 14 Comments.

Spinning, Spinning: The Diagnosis Roulette

“He’s definitely got his own channel!”  Has he always been like this?

Over the years, this has been an all-too-familiar question for our family regarding our now 6-year-old, Edward.  Sometimes we hear this question for exceptionally wonderful or riotously funny reasons, and sometimes for confusing and somewhat concerning reasons.

If you are the parent of a child who hovers a few inches (or feet) away from the “box of neurotypicality,” or for whom there is no box in the visible horizon, you might know how I feel.

The first time I heard this question, my Edward was 15 months old.  He talked up a storm, knew all his numbers and letters, as well as the names of all typical and obscure musical instruments, and was an incredibly social child, too.  He never experienced any regression.

Still, he could not stand unassisted and certainly was nowhere close to walking.  He had macrocephaly, chronic ear infections, wretched allergies, sleep apnea, was underweight and fell so much his forehead was constantly peppered with bruises.

I won’t bore you by chronicling his development year by year, but I will share that academically he has always rushed ahead at a break-neck, almost frightening speed, while executive functioning, fine-motor and gross-motor skills have lagged.

I had such high hopes for Kindergarten.  After all, my child read on a 4th grade level the first day of kindergarten!  Certainly he would sail through this childhood milestone even if he couldn’t unpack his backpack, stand in a line or button his shirt.  I daydreamed of reading proudly in the Kindergarten class while my darling sat at my feet, looking up in adoration at his mommy in her neatly pressed cropped pants.

Instead, my sweetheart spent reading period either correcting the pronunciation of the teacher’s (or my) reading or busily prying up carpet glue.

I will never forget the day a well-meaning substitute teacher looked me in the eyes and delivered the blow: “You realize he’s twice-exceptional…and probably falls somewhere on the Spectrum.”

Boy, that hurt.

I always knew he was gifted.  I had just hoped the giftedness was the reason other behaviors and abilities weren’t falling into place.  I clung to that hope for a long, long time and while I believe that is still true to a certain extent, I have also come to terms with the truth that he needs quite a bit of intervention in several areas.

I am well aware that considerable controversy surrounds the concept of the Spectrum, and I do not pretend to be educated enough to even comment regarding which diagnoses should or should not be placed on that spectrum.

Intuitively, I feel he flits somewhere around the Spectrum.  I’m just not sure where, and from where I sit tonight, I’m not sure it truly matters.  And while one day it seems he is at one end, the next day he’s in a different spot.  I guess that is why they call it a “Spectrum.”

At this point, I’ve got about six different terms that have been written down on several different evaluations completed by everyone from neuro, clinical and developmental psychologists and occupational therapists to babysitters, grandparents, neighbors, speech therapists and well-meaning school principals.

And they are all quite, quite different.

Some of them include the word “possible.”

I just love that.

Yet what I am trying to do at this point is choose the interventions that best address his immediate needs, and not become paralyzed by this possible label or that potential definition.  God is helping me to see beyond the confines of this vast array of terms that have been used to describe my child.  Because they certainly don’t define him, or any other child.

So now when I hear the age-old question, “Has he always been this way?”  I have to smile slightly and wonder inwardly:  “So clever, so dramatic, so hypoglycemic, so hyperactive, so funny, so curly-headed, so inquisitive, so chicken finger-loving, so outspoken about foodborne illness, so…wonderful?”

And then I smile and answer, “Yes, he has.”  Because whatever he or she means, it’s probably true.

We fashioned “the box” into a pirate ship and are sailing, sailing, sailing.

They’ve each got their own channel, too.

Don’t we all?

Posted on 5 September '08 by , under Autism Spectrum/Sensory Processing, Faith is the Evidence. 15 Comments.

Free At Last, Kim the Velvet Ant Runs Free Again!

All is right with the world tonight.

Yes, after overwhelming concern regarding Kim’s well-being, we decided as a family that Kim should be set free!

As so many readers have pointed out, the velvet ant is nomadic.  And it’s tough to be nomadic in a 6 by 11 plastic Kindergarten Graduation Fish aquarium.  She did suckle at the sugar-water nectar H made last night, but we sensed it was not sufficient.

So, we all congregated this evening to allow Kim to taste, yet once again, that sweet smell of freedom.

She scampered.  She burrowed playfully under leaves.  She was utterly filled with joy!

And so were we.

Posted on 9 August '08 by , under Humor/Disconnected Miscellany. 7 Comments.

Meet Kim, Our Velvet Ant

This morning, I was hastily loading the dishwasher, drinking tepid coffee, washing a sticky grits pan (’cause I live in the South), and twittering madly when I heard, “Hey Mom, you gotta get out here and see what we fouunnd!”

(I had forced them my children into the back yard before it reached 100.)

“This is the greatest one we have ever found because it’s so BIG and RED,” Joseph beckons.

I mentally breezed through the possibilities:  bloody mole, toxic mushroom, poison-arrow-dart-tree-frog-that-has-somehow-migrated-from-Nicaragua.

(Granted, we had a 3-year-old neighbor boy over.  Otherwise I probably would have ignored him.)

What does he hold in his calloused 8-year-old hand?

A Cow-Killer!  Yes, a velvet ant!  A creature with a sting slightly more painful than a wasp’s, but with an incredibly deadly appearance that in no way deters my son’s desire to allow it free reign about his hand.

I gave him a serious look–not enough to alarm–but enough to know I was not joking, and said, “You know they do sting.”

All the other children recoiled in horror.  But Joseph gingerly dropped the creature into a plastic Shoney’s cup, because he’s cool like that, and generally not one to panic.

(I mean this is a child who suffered a spider bite to the “private area” at the age of two that caused his “private part” to swell up within his Blue’s Clues pullup like a large kiwi, spent two nights in the hospital for “observation” and intravenous antibiotics, and never ever once whined or cried.  Not to mention playing an entire youth football game with an arm unknowingly broken in two places.)

So instantly the velvet ant is dubbed “Kim,” proclaimed a pet, and given the recently-vacated home of the Last Living Kindergarten Fish who departed this transient existence about two weeks ago.

The boys did a little research to determine Kim’s needs and found she delights in nectar.  Here you see the “Miss Huff” lantana they carefully chose for her:

So H walks in the door, glances at the aquarium on the kitchen counter, and rolls his eyes.

I counter, “Obviously, you were not following me on Twitter today.  You know nothing about “‘our Kim.”‘

Posted on 7 August '08 by , under Humor/Disconnected Miscellany. 14 Comments.