THAT <– was then – Over a year ago. Please read it before continuing here.
Jay’s been a middle schooler for about a month now. He was both nervous and excited to begin the new chapter. He was looking forward to taking the bus to and from school with his brother. He was looking forward to having a locker. Thanks to the good job that Ace did of “selling it”, he was also looking forward to meeting his teachers and taking some new types of classes; wood shop and cooking for example.
I was also both nervous and excited. I worked from home on their first day so that in case I received a phone call saying things were going horribly wrong, I could be at the school in 10 minutes.
The phone call never came. The boys came home and both had had a good day.
By the end of the first week, Jay was echoing many of the same things Ace had said after his first week of middle school (2 years earlier). “Middle school is great. I love moving from classroom to classroom for each subject. Middle school is so much better than elementary school.”
I was overjoyed and relieved. At the time, I considered posting on this blog about it because it made me so happy and I wanted to store that feeling somewhere other than in my heart.
I’m glad I waited though because what I write next is what really made me post.
Last week, the boys brought home their interim report cards. Ace, who’s been doing really well over the last couple of years is holding on to his straight A status. Jay, who has been steadily improving, but who doesn’t see himself as academically gifted, had mostly A’s but then also a C and a D.
According to his report, he had missed turning in some assignments and that was the cause of the lower grades. Jay swore to me that he had handed everything in. So, I emailed the 2 teachers in question to ask for more information.
Here are the responses:
I am missing a bell ringer from him. I have looked through all of my graded things and I do not see it. I will talk to him about it today. He mentioned it to me at the beginning of class yesterday, but we ended up running out of time.
Jay* has been very good about talking to me when he needs something so I will talk to him again today! I hope you have a great day! Let me know if you have any other questions.”
And then later in the day …
“We found his old missing assignment and he turned it in. I will try to get it in the computer soon!”
“Hi, thanks so much for sending this. I figured out what it is. He did not do the states crossword puzzle. Missing one assignment makes a big difference. I have five crossword puzzles on my board marked with “no-name”, so if Jay* knows he did it, it’s probably there. If he didn’t do it, he can still hand it in for credit. Once that is taken care of, his interim will reflect the change and be an A.”
Now, the improved grades are amazing and I do think it would do a lot to boost his own confidence if he were to bring home a final report with all A’s, but I was brought to literal tears from the line:
“He mentioned it to me at the beginning of class yesterday, but we ended up running out of time.
Jay* has been very good about talking to me when he needs something …”
THAT is NOT the child who:
I was told by a “licensed doctor”, when he was 2 years, would need to be heavily medicated and possibly institutionalized by the time he became a teenager.
I wondered if he would ever speak, when he was still non-verbal at 5 yrs old.
Began kindergarten as a 6 yr old, in a self-contained “autism class” with 6 students and 3 teachers.
Would SCREAM and meltdown on a DAILY basis.
Got kicked out of speech therapy and summer camp due to his uncontrollable behavior.
Because he wasn’t able to handle it; Got moved around from a large group to a small group to just 2 kids in a social skills group at a therapy center dedicated to helping children on the spectrum.
As recently as April of last year, this is what was said during one of his IEP* meetings:
“He hasn’t cried all year. He whines quite a bit but that’s better than crying.”
This does not mean that all things every day are now perfect. He still has some things to work on – As do we all. But I am just overwhelmed (Is there a stronger word than overwhelmed?) by how far he’s come – And I KNOW I’ve said that before at different stages of his development. But it’s worth repeating. This kid is just amazing and despite his “pop-up” anxieties and his bad attitudes at times and his ability to test ALL our patience, I am blown away by him in positive ways every single day. Ways that he cannot even comprehend. And ways that his current teachers would never be able to appreciate.
I don’t know what made Jay develop and grow the way he has. I get asked that question quite often. There is no 1 magic trick. I do believe in our case, it was a combination of:
His parents realizing early on that he needed help and being willing to seek out that help.
His parents not accepting the dire predictions that we were given and constantly looking for the “right” people to be on his team.
The fact that his teachers have been incredibly supportive, creative, understanding, nurturing and positive from the beginning.
Consistency and love and encouragement from family/friends.
His own determination and drive.
And here is where I tie back to the last post again. We still have challenges. There are still tricky things to navigate. I still get stressed and worried – but things are ok. Good even.
My friendships are strong – and for that I am beyond grateful.
My credit score is the best it’s ever been.
Ace having his own cell phone hasn’t caused any real problems.
I do still need to make myself a dentist appointment. *shrug*
We’ve done quite a lot of good travel. Some as a family (yes, I finally got the kids passports renewed) and some just Shaunie and I as a couple (that’s important too).
The knowing continues.
There will be moments of darkness, but there will also be light. It’s not easy, but this is life. One thing at a time. Do what you need to do to maintain your own mental health. Just hang on through the rough patches and make sure to recognize and enjoy the beautiful moments when they come.
*Jay is the name we use on the blog. His teachers had used his real name.
*An IEP is an Individualized Education Plan which allows students to receive special education services. For more info, please let me know.