Life On The B Side

Taking all that life throws at us one moment at a time

Now That That’s Cleared Up November 13, 2017

One day last week I noticed a ZERO written at the top of Jays final history test for the marking period.  It might as well have had flashing neon lights around it.   I was horrified and shocked and kinda sad too.

So … I emailed his teacher.

I told her how surprised I was by the grade and that I was concerned about it.  I told her that I had helped him study and that he had done well on the small quizzes leading up to the test so I just didn’t understand what went wrong.  I reminded her that we had a meeting already scheduled so it would be nice if we came to the table already armed with ideas.

 

And … She wrote me back.

She said that she was confused by my email but offered suggestions for what she can do if I think he needs testing modifications.

 

I was less than thrilled with her reply.  Why was she not as concerned as I was?  A ZERO should set off alarm bells.

 

Also … I spoke to Jay.

I asked him what went wrong.  I made sure to tell him that he wasn’t in trouble.  I just wanted to help him.  He offered no useful insight.  He said “I just forgot everything I guess.”

 

This morning we had the meeting and after hearing about how happy he is in school and how much he participates and how well he follows the class schedule and how funny he is and how much they enjoy having him in class and after being told that he had been featured in the school announcements for being the artist of the week, I brought it up … What about his academics?  I wanted to know what they or we could and should be doing to help him to get better scores on tests.

 

After a little back and forth and trying to figure out where each other was coming from it turns out that my boy did not get a zero on his test afterall.  He had in fact gotten 100%.

The zero I saw was the teacher marking the test to show that zero points had been taken away!!!

 

We all laughed at this mis-understanding and I felt a huge relief and then I felt really badly that Jay thought he had gotten a zero when in fact he had gotten all correct.

 

I can’t wait to see him later so I can let him know that it was my mistake and to let him know how proud I am of his hard work and the glowing reports from his teachers.

 

As I said in the meeting, I wish I could take his current report card and show it to his 1st and 2nd grade teachers.  I want to take his report, full of mostly 3’s (B’s) and just a couple 2’s (C’s) and show it to everyone who knew him back when he was crying and screaming all day long.  Everyone who knew him when he was 6 years old and couldn’t write his name or count or sit through one class period.   Everyone who knew him when he had IEP’s full of therapy and accommodations and behavior goals.  All that’s been taken away.  He now has no behaviour goals because there are no behavioral concerns.  No pull outs, no therapy, not even extra time for tests.  His current IEP basically is a one liner that says the special ed teacher will be available as a consultant to the general ed teacher if necessary.  Academically he has the same goals as any typical 4th grader.

 

He still has some things to work on.  Mostly word problems in math and he needs to start reading some higher level books but overall, I’m so happy with all that came out of our meeting.

 

Rock on little homie.

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Halloween Recap November 9, 2017

It’s been a while.  What to say?  What to say?

 

Things have been.

That wasn’t a mistake of a sentence.  That’s what I meant to write.  Things have just BEEN.

 

I’ve been trying to get through each day with as much cheer as possible.  Some days it’s easier than others.

 

Let’s talk about Halloween though.  That was good.  It lasted for 5 days.  As a matter of fact, I could probably count up to last night because Jay was still wearing and playing in his costume.

The Friday before Halloween we went to a Trunk or Treat at Ace’s old school.  I’m not sure if we were technically supposed to go or if it’s only open to current students but we did go and the kids had a good time.  Ace said hello to a few of his past teachers but forgot that they couldn’t tell who was under the mask.  Jay got lots of compliments on his costume.  He was in compliment heaven.  It happened every time he went out in it.

Speaking of Jays costume.  He decided months ago that he wanted to be a character from his favourite video game.  A costume for said character is not available in stores so it had to be made.  Here is a side by side of Ace & Jay in costume and Jays costume inspiration.  I think we nailed it.  And by we, I mean Shaunie.

You can’t see the flames on his head very well, but Ace is Ghost Rider.

 

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After the Trunk or Treat we went to a festival at the local YMCA.  There were games and bouncy things and a haunted house and a hay ride.  The plan was to leave at 7:30.  Pushing the kids past their bed time is not usually a good idea but everyone was having a good time and behaving well, so we stayed until nearly 9pm.

Saturday found us at a Celtic festival.  I don’t know how or why.  It just happened.  Kilts and iron workers and giant turkey legs and bagpipes and Highland Games.  It was cool.  Then we went to a cute little shopping district in Richmond that was hosting a Halloween thing and a zombie walk.  THEN we went to a mall that was hosting yet another Halloween thing.  We skipped out before the movie started.  (Hotel Transylvania).  We just couldn’t take anymore.  We, being the adults.

 

Then on Tuesday we did the traditional trick or treating around the neighbourhood.  It was nice.  The kids got way too much candy but that’s kind of the point I guess.

 

On November first, Jay announced that this Halloween had been the best ever and was already musing about what he’d dress up as next year.  When I told him he should give it some time before making a decision he said:  OK, I’ll decide in January.

 

Before Report Cards Come Out October 30, 2017

I was so nervous about Ace going to middle school y’all.  About the social aspect of things because 11 to 14 is a weird age group – but also, about the school work and all the class juggling involved and time management necessary.

Last weekend, I was sorting through some papers and came across his school picture from 2nd grade.  He was a CUTIE.  Oh my gosh.  He really was a beautiful baby and a gorgeous toddler and just a handsome kid.

I also came across one of his report cards from kindergarten.  Not so cute.

Please schedule a time to come in.  We would like to discuss our concerns about his classroom behavior.  He struggles with sitting still and focusing.”

Back then I read those words and my heart hurt.  As hard as it was to read, I knew they were being as polite and gentle in their delivery as possible.  I knew him.  I lived with him.

 

I am not taking anything away from his elementary school teachers.  They were great and really did try everything they could to make school a happy and productive place for him.

 

But here’s the thing …  At the risk of jinxing anything, I really think that the middle school format suits him better.

More physical movement and more mental/visual stimulation.  Different teachers in different classrooms with different teaching styles for each subject and even different kids and a different seating arrangement in each class.

It just seems to work better with his brain.  Sitting in the same room all day listening to the same teacher and looking at the same faces all day was hard for him.

 

Ace has exams this week as the marking period comes to an end.  We checked his grades portal last week and he’s heading into the exams with straight A’s.  I don’t know if he will end up with straight A’s once the exams are done.  I don’t even care.  I mean obviously it would be awesome but I’m purposely making sure to post this before we get those grades because I want it known that I’m really proud of him either way.  School has been a struggle for us for a long time and has never come easy to him.  We’ve never looked at a report (progress or final) or a grading portal at any point in the term and seen straight A’s.

 

I guess what I’m getting at is that in this moment, today, I’m just a Mom, sitting in front of a computer, hoping that my boy knows that no matter what happens the week after next when the final grades for term 1 of his 6th grade year are posted, I will be incredibly proud of how well he’s transitioned into this phase of his school life and hoping that he continues to believe in himself and to work hard and to live up to this full potential.

 

 

 

*Happy Halloween tomorrow to everyone.  I hope all your kids have a great time and get to enjoy it in whatever manner means the most to them.*

 

A Catching Up Of Sorts October 24, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — The B Side @ 12:45 pm

I’ve tried to write this post a few times – It never felt quite right so I backspaced through all the letters that made up all the words.

 

What I’ve been trying to say is that I’ve been enjoying being the parent of an almost teenager.

I don’t know how long this feeling will last.  Maybe once he’s an actual teenager he will become insufferable.  But, now, at 11, I’m loving all things Ace.  He’s really just such a good kid.  And we can have more grown up conversations.  And he is pretty independent.  But he still loves reading to me.  And we can laugh at inappropriate things together.  And he’s getting good grades.  And he avoids “bad company”.  I just think he’s awesome.

 

I also have been wanting to say that Jay has been kinda moody lately.  Lots of whining.  And brooding.  And attitude.  But then lots of laughing.  And wanting to spend time with me.  And being silly.  And then we’re back to grumpy again.  And disagreeable.  And complainy.  He’s pulling decent enough grades but there was a note on his interim report about needing to be more organized and needing to do a better job of listening and following instructions.   I am pretty patient in general.  Shaunie less so.  “What is it?” she asked me recently, after he acted the hell out with the tutor.  “Is it his autism or is he just acting like a {bleep} ?”  I just don’t know.

 

I do know that Ace has become awfully interested in the human body and in how it works and in how things get diagnosed and/or fixed.  He’s now confused about whether he wants to be a NASA scientist/engineer/astronaut or a doctor.  I told him I’d support whatever he chose.  I love that his mind is expanding and exploring.

 

These days Jay is all about the video game Roblox.  And his art.  And Roblox.  And Garfield.  And Roblox.  And making money off his art.  And Roblox.

 

We will have a 4 year old staying with us for a week while his parents take a trip.  It’ll be cool – and fun – I think.  But I was reminded yesterday that he still needs help in the bathroom.  I haven’t missed those days.  lol.

 

This year our Christmas shopping list is pretty short.  8 people; 4 of which are children.  Oh, and yeah, we’re already done with our shopping.  Boom!  Unless – Am I supposed to buy Christmas presents for my ex-husbands children with his current wife?  I mean, they are my sons sisters.   What’s the protocol?  If so, then I guess we’re not quite done.

 

Lastly, lemme just say how grateful I am that we found our tutor/babysitter.  This raising kids thing is not a one person job.  Or even a two person job.  It takes a team.  Friends, family, teachers and BABYSITTERS.  Cause we love the boys but the Moms need some time to do adult things too.  I don’t mean to make anyone jealous or anything but … we got tickets.  To go to a show.  Today.  Yeah, A Tuesday.  Cause we wanted to and we could.  Since we’re adults.  Don’t ask me anything about it till at least Thursday though cause all day tomorrow I’ll be tired – but we ‘re not gonna talk about that.

 

Just like we don’t talk about the new gray hair I found while combing my hair this morning and the fact that I kinda lied to my son about what year I was born in.

It wasn’t my fault.  He was talking to me about Garfield (the cartoon cat) and he said:  “Mom, Garfield is old.  He was first created in 1978.  That’s even older than you!”

Except it’s NOT older than me.   But I didn’t correct the boy.  I just smiled and nodded.  So it wasn’t so much a lie as it was an omission kinda sorta.

Whatever!  I’m going out tonight for a mid-week date.  So there.

 

And I know I said “lastly” like 3 paragraphs ago.  Just go with it.  Ace comes by his constant talking honestly.

 

#MeToo October 16, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — The B Side @ 2:14 pm

This will be a short post.

 

It’s been heart breaking to read all the #MeToo ‘s that are online now.

 

It makes me angry that so many women and girls have been through this and it makes me realize how amazing so many of us are that we are able to hold our heads up and handle our business and do the damn thing where our jobs and education and children and spouses and homes and hobbies and friends are concerned despite all the painful and difficult things we’ve experienced – often silently and alone.

 

#MeToo

 

Many years later, it’s still fresh.  I can still feel the icky’s from the first time.

And I can still feel the hotness in my belly at the more recent.

 

Mine have been mild when compared to others … And if I feel the way I feel, I cannot imagine what others are feeling or have gone through emotionally.

 

My heart is with you all and if anyone ever wants to talk – I’m here.  I’m just an email away.

nadibee@gmail.com

 

That is all.

xo

 

Looking Through The Window October 12, 2017

It’s dark when I leave my home in the morning to go to work.

It’s dark when I get home from work in the evening.

It’s a long, tiring, 12 hour day.

 

When I leave my home for work in the morning, 1 child has already been dropped off at school and 1 child is still asleep in his bed.

I don’t get to spend “start of the day” time with either of them.

This is depressing.

 

When I get home from work in the evening, the children have already showered.

  • And the children have been fed.
  • And the children have finished their homework.

This is wonderful.

It makes my life easier in many ways.

This is sad.

I don’t even get to see the clothes they wear to school each day.

I don’t get to nourish their bodies.

I don’t get to help them exercise their brains.

These things are work – And they are a huge privilege.

 

I eat, I wash all the dishes/pots, I shower, I take out my clothes for the next day.

I ask how everyones day was.

I am home for less than 2 hours before it’s bed time for the children.

 

It feels sometimes like I am watching my children through a window.

There, but not THERE.

 

I like my job – and my coworkers.

This is a blessing.  I am not unaware of this fact.

My job causes me to miss doctors appointments and school functions and I don’t get to stay home with them when they have a day off for Columbus Day or a teacher work day.

My job prevents me from doing after school pick ups.

  • Even if there’s been an after school activity pushing the pick up time back.

This is guilt trip inducing.

Not just guilt trippy though.

It’s not that I feel like I should be there.  I want to be there for everything.

 

For everything I miss – Shaunie is present.

She gets all the days off that the kids get.

Her job allows for drop offs and pick ups and for chaperoning trips and for dinner prep and homework assistance and doctor appointments.

This is a heavy load to bear and it’s sometimes exhausting for her.

She does is all anyway.

My boys know they can depend on her.

That kind of consistency and stability and sense of peace is a gift to them.

The consistency and stability and sense of peace that they have is a gift to me.

For this I am beyond grateful.

 

I try on the weekends to make up for the lost time.

We actively seek out and attend family friendly events.

We play board games and we watch movies and we just hang out talking or doing side by side independent reading.

It never feels like enough.

Never!

Despite the best of efforts, quality family time is not always achieved or achievable – even on weekends.

  • The boys have plans of their own.
  • I am catching up on sleep/rest.
  • I am running necessary errands.
  • I am doing house chores.
  • I have other commitments.

 

Then it’s Monday again.

And I am leaving for work when it’s still dark and with one child already at school and one still sleeping.

 

Issue # 4 October 4, 2017

If you’ve been here for more than 5 minutes you know our story.

As a baby he CRIED ALL THE TIME.

He didn’t sleep well.  Or eat well.  Or show any signs of being friendly.

As a toddler, he appeared uncomfortable ALL THE TIME and he was delayed in most developmental ways.

(Probably) out of frustration, he acted out in all the ways.  I know what it looked like to outsiders.

He was a handful (to put it mildly) and he tested my patience and my sanity on every level and in every way.

At age 5, he was not able to speak, read or write.  Forget writing; he couldn’t even hold a pencil properly.

Due to his Autism, he was unable to communicate in a way that I could understand.

He gave teachers and therapists and doctors and camp councilors and baby sitters a run for their money.  Many were not up to the task and crumbled.  Some stuck around and a small number are still here watching him grow and cheering him on.

We’ve been stared at.  Scowled at.  Laughed at.  Commented on.  Judged.  Teased.  Abandoned.  Given up on.

I read and researched EVERYTHING that was remotely relatable or relevant.

I spent YEARS being permanently tired and stressed and sad and worried and anxiety ridden.

I went to therapy my damn self.

 

At age 9, my boy is sweet and charming and a delight.  He’s considerate and loving and affectionate.  He is funny and helpful and interesting to speak with.  He has friends and is in clubs at school and is mostly responsible about doing what needs to be done.  He is well nourished and well rested – And always well dressed thanks to his superb sense of style.

He is happy.

(Except when he’s hungry.)

He is a joy to parent.

My boy wrote and illustrated a comic story.  In fact, he’s writing a series of comic books and has just completed issue 4.

This is not a small thing.

He worked hard to get to this point.  That cannot ever be overstated.

His teachers and therapists worked hard to get him to this point.  They continue to work hard.  The job is not done.   I will forever be grateful to all the strangers we meet at the start of every school year who go above and beyond to help their students.  Not because they will see any financial or professional gain or even get any recognition – But out of a general goodness of heart.

Family and friends have been unwaveringly accommodating and understanding and kept showing up for us and kept inviting us out and made lots of efforts to provide a happy and welcoming environment for him.  No matter what behaviours were displayed.

 

We never gave up on him or treated him as though he wasn’t smart or couldn’t accomplish things.  One bad day or minute was just that.  One bad day or minute.  We shook it off and started over with fresh optimism the next day.  Or sat on the floor in the bathroom to take a few deep breaths.  Chin up, smile on, back straight – Try again.

We never spoke about him as though he wasn’t there.  We never assumed the worst.  Only the best.

We kept going out and kept signing him up and kept asking for help.  We celebrated every bit of progress in a big way.  The people who love us, celebrated with us.

 

I’m so proud of my Jay Boogie and so very thankful for the support we’ve had throughout the years.  I just need to say that.  That support made all the difference.

 

Lots of kids struggle – Whether it’s due to their environment or their neurology or their physiology – Or any other myriad reasons.

Lots of parents are not coping well or responding appropriately.

Shaming, bullying, ignoring, abandoning, abusing, isolating our children is not the way.

Shaming, passing judgment, laughing at, ignoring parents who are struggling is not the way.

 

I wish every kid (and parent) who needed help, could get it.  No matter their family situation or their zip code.

What are we doing if we are not helping our children to be their absolute best?

 

 

That’s all I’ve got.

Well … that and a couple pictures of Issue # 4.  It’s freaking awesome!!!

 

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