Life On The B Side

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

Exactly the Labor Day, Birthday day that I needed September 4, 2018

The last couple of weeks have been good in some ways but trying in others.  Even though I share a lot, there are some things that are way too sensitive for public consumption so my blog has been quiet.  Ya know; while I stewed and processed and deep breathed and soaked in the fabulousness that was getting to spend time with my best friends from near and far.  That part (the time spent with best friends) was truly awesome.

 

Yesterday Ace turned 12 years old (Yay!) and it was exactly the Birthday, Labor Day, Unofficial End of Summer day that I needed.

Shaunie had left out 2 new boxes of Legos and a new book for them the night before so they’d have something to occupy them until we woke up.  At 7:45 on the morning of the birthday, I walked into Ace’s room, to find him and Jay in his bed, reading the new Dog Man book and laughing together.  Swoon.  I wished my boy a happy birthday and then Jay told me that he had offered Ace his new Lego as a gift.  Seriously … How sweet!

Next, we revealed Ace’s real gift – A PS4 gaming system.  To say he was happy is putting it mildly.  He then opened a birthday card containing a Game Stop gift card so yeah, later in the morning, after he came back from getting a fresh to death haircut, we went to Game Stop and then to Target where Jay spent his own pocket money buying Robux (video game currency) and Ace splurged on the biggest Nerf gun they had.

Back at home, everyone just kinda hung out.  The boys were happy to play with their new toys, I was happy to have them home and know that they were happy.

In the afternoon, we hit the pool for a bit, made a cake, had a Nerf war, played a board game and chit chatted as we all got ready for the next day.  Jay wants to be something scary this year for Halloween.  Possibly that guy from Scream.  Ace initially thought he wanted to be a paper boy, but has now switched to Dead Pool.  Quite the pivot.  Jays really big news is that he has expanded his food repertoire and now eats rice, chicken, sausages, scrambled eggs and corn.  What in all the hell???  For the first time EVER, we all sat at the table and ate the same meal for dinner.  This is great but I’m still kind of stunned.  Ace will need to change clothes for gym class this year and he’s not excited about that but he IS looking forward to all the other things that 7th grade has to offer.  School did not used to be a place he felt comfortable.  How far the boys have come.  I love it.

 

I spent a little one on one time with each boy before they went to sleep and everyone was out like a light by 9pm.

It was a simply delightful way to spend a day.

 

This morning, Ace was up and ready.  Jay let me know that he would not be posing for any pictures because he was not happy about going back to school and this was not a day to celebrate.  *spoiler alert*  He posed for pictures because this mama is not above bribery.

In the end, he was glad to see his old friends and the day started just fine.  I got my first pumpkin item (a muffin) of the season and there are no work events on my calendar for this week so it shouldn’t be too bad in the office.

I’m looking forward to seeing the boys later and hearing about their first day.  Oh, and also, eating more of that birthday cake.  🙂

 

One Week In – The Middle School Version September 12, 2017

He was the same person on September 5th (the first day of school) that he was one day earlier on September 4th which will henceforth be known as BMS (Before Middle School), yet things were totally different.

Yes, he is the same person but parenting him is different.

On day 1, I made a plan to go to work late so I could walk him to the bus stop.  It was his first time taking the bus after all.  As we turned the corner we saw the other children at the end of the block already waiting – with nary a parent in sight.    I had to stop walking and bid my boy goodbye before the other children noticed us.  As I watched him walk away, he got smaller and smaller.   He made his way to the curb where he would wait and I saw that it wasn’t all in my head.  He was at least a whole head shorter than all the other students.  It was hard turning my back and walking in the opposite direction.  I never had to do that BMS.

On day 2 the students were assigned their lockers and Ace was given a top locker but he’s not from a family loaded with tall genes so he couldn’t reach it and they had to swap him with another, taller, student.  He’s still not quite grown.  Yet, he was so excited about the freedom he now has to roam the hallways in between each class.  We talked about how it’s now his responsibility to get to all his classes on time and to collect, from his locker, whatever books he will need to bring home in order to complete homework.  None of this was an issue BMS.

3 days in, I was getting questioned on whether or not he can take a cell phone to school because he is apparently the ONLY one who does not have a phone.  He was asking if friends could come home on the bus with him after school.  (Ahm, no. Friends can’t come over when no adult is home and we need to get their parents contact info – Same as BMS.)  After just 3 days, he was asking that we not wake him up so early in the morning and he’s taking it upon himself to make his own dinner.  Mind you, it’s microwave mac and cheese but still.

 

I believe there’s an upcoming school dance, which I’m sure parents are not invited to.  I know they will have teacher chaperones but I don’t remember going to a “no parents allowed” school dance until I was in (the equivalent of) 9th grade.  He’s getting jokes now that he didn’t used to get and he’s more concerned with how his outfits look and his little brother is no longer allowed into the bathroom with him at any time.

 

All these developments make my brain go a little haywire.  I think about the time I went to a school dance and had promised to meet my Grandma in front of the school by 11pm but I was too busy on the dance floor to notice the time and the next thing I knew, my Grandma was there, in our auditorium, looking for me.  How embarrassing!!!

It’s a good memory (now), and I love getting those triggers, but it makes it very real to me that this time with my Ace is going to go by very quickly.  Looking back at it now, my teenage years FELT like the longest ever at the time, but they were over in a flash.

I think about the lyrics to a song from the Dear Evan Hansen soundtrack where his mom sings to him:

 

And I knew there would be moments that I’d miss
And I knew there would be space I couldn’t fill
And I knew I’d come up short a billion different ways
And I did
And I do
And I will

 

He’s growing up and the truth is, even though it’s scary at times, I do love to watch it happen.    He’s the same person, but now that he’s in middle school, it’s calling for a different kind of parenting.  I will try to do it all right.  But I haven’t.  And I don’t.  And I won’t.  All I can do is my best and hopefully he will look back and say his memories are good ones.

 

*Note*  He’s one week in and he says it’s been great.  He swears that Middle School is better than Elementary School and much to his own amazement, he thinks he will enjoy History class.

 

They’re Back September 8, 2016

 

They’re back home – And this mama is happy.   We are back to making grilled cheese sandwiches and to giving good night kisses.  We are back to chore lists and finding fallen ice on the floor in front of the fridge.  We are back to laughing in the evening as Shaunee drags both boys, at the same time, across the carpet as they lay on their tummies, much to their delight.  We are back to hanging out and talking about moles and birthmarks, the krill that blue whales eat or how much it would hurt to get stitches.  The boys are back to demonstrating their karate moves (neither one takes karate) and back to Jay complaining about the amount of toothpaste Ace uses.

Jay, I think, is happy to be back in his own bed.  Every night so far, he’s fallen asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.

Ace, is up to his usual antics of getting out of bed for more hugs and kisses, or to get water or to show us his dance moves.

 

Some things never change.

 

It’s amazing how much can change in a month.  Jay is now interested in having a healthier diet.  I have witnessed him eating carrots, a banana and watermelon.  He asked for an apple to go in his lunch box.  I hear he also eats oranges, peanut butter sandwiches and yogurt.  He drinks regular white milk now (in addition to what he used to drink; strawberry milk).  He tasted a pretzel and declared at dinner, “The next protein I am going to try is fish.”

When I spoke to CC and tried to give him credit for this change, he said it was all thanks to his wife Emma.  I do appreciate her ability to get Jay to turn this page.

 

Ace is 10 now.  He got Legos and more Legos and more Legos.  He’s in Lego heaven.   We got him an ice-cream cake because he used to like it but apparently no longer does.  His size 10 pants are short and his size 3 shoes are tight.

 

~*~

 

They’re back at school – And one kid wanted summer vacation to drag on forever while the other couldn’t get out the door and to his classroom fast enough.   We are back to filling out tons of paperwork and sending in money for trips and *gasp* graduation gowns.

Jay came home after his first day saying it was good and telling us about the new fish tank in the resource room.  Ace left his homework at school.

 

Some things never change.

 

It’s amazing how much can change from one school year to the next.

Jay is now in a general education class all day.  He has 2 teachers and goes back and forth between 2 classrooms.  One teacher does math and the sciences while the other does language and social studies and the like.  It’s a totally new set up for him.

Ace is still kind of the new kid in school but he’s not the newest kid in school.  There was 1 new boy in his class this year and they have apparently been leaning on each other and have formed a quick friendship.  I am happy about that.

We are looking into clubs and activities for both.  Possibly 4H and the gardening club for Jay and Navy Cadets and track or swimming for Ace.  We will see.

 

Stay tuned to see how this new school year plays out and what else will change; Inasmuch as many things will stay the same.

 

 

 

Uncharacteristically Calm August 23, 2016

The boys go back to school in exactly 2 weeks.  I should be freaking out.  They have special needs.  ADHD and Autism to be specific.  They need 504’s and IEP’s which means I will have to fill out lots of paperwork and attend many meetings.  We will fight over homework and I’ll get annoyed when I’m tired but still need to pack school lunches.  We will all need to wake up earlier.

We had to spend money on too many school supplies and school clothes and shoes.  Back in New Jersey they wore uniforms.  Not so in Virginia.  I love school uniforms.

 

In years past, I’d be writing lenghty letters to each of their teachers detailing do’s and don’ts and fyi’s and just in cases.  I shared things that worked in the past and things we had been trying over the summer and things to expect.  I begged them to please just have some patience with my boys.  Work WITH them.  Work WITH me.  I’d give them all my contact info – even though the school (and presumably they) already had it.  I needed them to understand down to their core that they could get in touch with me at any time for any reason.  I needed us to be on the same page … The page that said there was no such things as over-communicating.  I hoped to relay that I was there to help them.  I was on their side so we could all be on my sons sides.

 

Normally I’d be scared to send them back to school.  Heart pounding.  Not sleeping.  Not eating.  Nail biting.  Scared.

New teacher.  New expectations.  It all worried me.  Would they be alright?  Would the school work be manageable?  Would Jay tantrum and make his teachers day miserable?  Would Ace talk his teachers ear off or be seen as weird by the other kids?

 

The boys go back to school in exactly 2 weeks.  The supplies have been purchased.  The new clothes are folded and hung.  The book bags and lunch boxes are sitting in the corner – waiting.

The IEP and 504 meeting notices will come when they come.  No big deal.  For the most part things are already in place.

 

I do not have any draft letters in my documents folder.  I am not freaking out.  I am calm.

The boys have really gotten into the swing of things where school is concerned.  They understand themselves pretty well and can communicate pretty effectively on their own behalfs.  I have found that teachers generally do want the best for all their students and will do what they can (and/or need to) do for each of their students – without me asking them to.

 

I feel confident that I can send my loves off to school and they will be fine.  Will issues pop up?  No doubt.  Will we all handle them on a case by case basis in the appropriate way?  I do believe so.

I feel supported.  At home and at the schools.

 

3rd grade and 5th grade will bring unpredictable challenges.  This school year will be interesting and bumpy and we will stress out at times – But it’ll be OK.  I’m ready.  Excited even.

 

Moms Back To School Burn Out September 22, 2015

The kids have handled going back to school like champs.

Me?  I’m already burnt out.

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Every day I have big plans for the evening and every night I lay in bed wondering where it all went wrong.

The main issues – I think – Are that the kids bed times have moved up a little earlier so there’s less time to get things done and there’s more to do.  It all leaves me frazzled and stressed out.  I’m yelling too much and not smiling enough.

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I hate it.

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Maybe I need to put less pressure on myself and lower my expectations.  But how?  There are things that need to be done.

Granted, some days are worse than others but often, I feel very ill-equipped to manage everything.

Every day there are (lots of) things left undone.  I feel badly about all of them but the worst is when I realize after the kids are already in bed that their homework was not in fact completed.  The problem with that is 2 fold.  First of all, homework is important and it helps with learning and it’s a valuable component in the kids education.  Second of all, it shows teachers that you, the parent, are not on top of things.  That’s not a good look.  Especially this early in the year.

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No-one can see that I’ve had the pieces of a bookshelf leaned up on the wall in my bedroom for months with the intention of putting it together.

No-one can see the bags of un-put-away laundry in my hallway.

No-one can see that we haven’t been able to find the TV remote for over a week.

No-one knows that the giant plastic container in my living room is full of supplies from when we went camping – In early August – That still need to be put away.

But the undone homework or un-signed papers … That, people can see.

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I try to catch up on sleep on the weekends.  I think that would help both my productivity and my mood, but that’s only partially successful.  There’s not a lot of time for sleeping in.

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It’s not all bad.

We didn’t get home until after 8pm so that killed the entire evening BUT, I did make it to both kids back to school nights – In 2 different schools – On the same night – And they went well.  The teachers are all happy with the start the kids are off to.  That was welcome news.  From what I hear, Ace is doing a decent job of staying focused and behaving appropriately.  Jay also is coping well with being in a mainstream class.

I managed to go through the kids clothes and take out all the size 5’s and 6’s to give away.  I even went through and put away a tub of clothes that had been handed down to us that were too big at the time.  They now will be perfect for the upcoming winter.

Oh and this week I cleaned out the cat’s litter box once already – while I listened to Jay read about Dinosaurs.

Every day the kids get to school on time, with their lunch boxes carefully packed and (thanks to some help) their uniforms clean and pressed.

I feel good about those things.

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There is still a sink full of dishes and the bathtub that should have been cleaned over the weekend still needs scrubbing.

But I’m not worrying about it.  I JUST CAN’T.

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I recognize that I need to make some changes though.  The way things have been going is not OK.

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Each day I will set myself just 1 or 2 achievable goals; in addition to focusing properly on homework.  No more planning to get it all done.  That just leaves me feeling defeated instead of accomplished.

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Todays task is to look for the remote which I’m sure is stuck in the crease of the couch.  I will also wash dishes and clean the bathtub.  I know that’s 3 things, but think it’s do-able.

Another day, I will tackle the bookshelf or the sticky kitchen floor.  It is what it is.

I don’t like putting the kids to bed when I am angry which is what’s been happening.  Time to shift my attitude.

Going forward things will be different.  This is my pledge to myself – and to my boys who deserve better from me.

 

A Catching Up September 15, 2015

Now that school is back in session, everything else in our lives should pretty much also get back to normal and I should be able to write more regularly.

As usually happens when I’ve been away from my blog for too long I will do a quick run down of multiple things in this one “catching up” post.  Hopefully I don’t leave out anything too important.  Lets see …… No wait … Before I start catching up I need to go back and see where we left off.

OK.  I talked about our camping trip and Jays love of quills and Spongebob.  Got it.

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1. Ace turned 9, which in his words means that he’s no longer a kid.  He’s a pre-teen.  I wasn’t sure what new privileges he thought would come with that new title until the following week when he asked me to leave him at home by himself for the 1st time while I went to pick Jay up from school.  Jay’s school is only 5 minutes away so after giving him a much longer speech and many more rules than I probably needed to, I said ok.  It went well and he was very proud and pleased with himself.  I was a little freaked out.  This is my baby.  My 1st baby.  This baby growing up business is hard.

As seems to happen quite often, his birthday celebration lasted for several days.  There was cake and presents at Nanas house.  There was another cake and more presents at my friends house.  There was a water park and an indoor arcade (on 2 separate days).  On yet another day, there was park and playground and more presents with Aunty Juddles.  Finally the long (holiday) weekend was closed out by a visit from Dad and more presents.

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2. In this part of the country the kids don’t go back to school until after Labor Day which based on my Facebook news feed is late compared to most other children around the country.  Our year has gotten off to an interesting start.  For Ace, it’s been all good.  He’s excited about 4th grade.  He loves his teacher.  His best friend is in his class.  For Jay it hasn’t been quite so smooth.  There have been bus issues that had me yelling and cursing at the driver and the bus company.  Not my finest moment I admit it.  There have been issues with Jay and his lunch.  I don’t need to get into it all but – Jay no longer takes the bus to school and I am going today to buy him a container that will keep his food hot for a few hours.

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3. We went back to the zoo that we got memberships for earlier in the summer.  Why not?  We had a Saturday with no plans and we get in for free and there were exhibits that we didn’t get to see the last time.  It was a really nice day.  Face painting, touching sharks and sting rays.  Another ride on the train.  Following the zoo we visited with friends of mine from high school who I don’t see very often.  One of them lives here in New Jersey but one was on vacation from England.  It’s hard to believe that we go back 27 years.  Yikes!  The kids did an OK job on the visit.  They were getting tired and hungry so we held it together with some string and duct tape.  We managed to stay for about an hour and half before we told our hosts thanks but no thanks to the dinner invitation and high-tailed it outta there.

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4.  This week I became the worst mom ever.  I put back into effect the rule of “no electronics except for educational purposes during the week” rule.  I can’t properly explain the disgruntlement that followed my proclamation.  Their worlds all but came to an end.  What ever were there supposed to do?  Did that mean no SpongeBob?  What about The Avengers?  It sooooooo wasn’t fair.  What if they got all their chores and homework etc done and there was still time left before bed?

No, no and no.

Then it got worse.  I told them that even though it wasn’t a part of the school assigned homework for them to do nightly reading, I was giving them that assignment.

*WHAT???*

*WHY???*

But what followed was pure magic.  After the showers and the dinner and the other responsibilities we settled down to read a story.  Just the 3 of us.  In my bed.  Jay chose Finding Nemo.  The book is below Ace’s reading level and I thought it was above Jay’s level so I suggested that Jay read to us and Ace help him with the words that he struggled with.  As it turns out, Jay is reading at a much higher level than I knew he could.  He breezed through most of it and only needed Ace’s assistance with about 3 words.  It was really awesome.  They even admitted that it was nice.  They asked if they could alternate in the evening reading to each other.  I know that means only half the reading time for each of them but I think it’s an awesome bonding experience so I agreed.  They win and Moms heart wins.

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5. The last thing I’ll say is that I dropped some news on some of my family and close friends and they were awesome!!!  I don’t, and haven’t always, felt like I got the best draw where family is concerned but the truth is that there are a lot of good ones and I want to take some time to acknowledge that.

CC, Mom, Sis, Angel, Sun Man, Juddles, K-Poo, J-Cuz, Malico, Ted and others.  THANK YOU for your support!!!  I LOVE YOU ALL!!!

 

Ace’s Start September 19, 2014

Third grade is off to an up and down start for Ace.  In one week the teacher sent 4 notes home.  She’s not required to send notes home.  She does it when there is something particularly good or bad to report.  2 of them were good (yay!) and 2 of them not so much (boo!).  One day he’s doing well with his school work and participating in class and giving “knock her socks off” explanations to math problems.  But … the next day he’s playing with toys when he should be listening and he’s running in the hallways when he knows that’s not allowed.

 

This is pretty much the same type of situation we’ve had since kindergarten.  He manages to get decent grades but he doesn’t listen.  He needs constant reminders to pay attention and to put things down and to stop the talking but he’s sweet and kind and funny and caring which makes him a joy to have in class.

 

At home, getting through home work and reading and studying is a TASK.  I’ve had to get a lot more strict about it and there has been a fair amount of yelling which I wish wasn’t the case.  He hates it.  I hate having to lay down the law like that on him but it’s for his own good.  I’ve tried to get a little more creative in order to help him but it still kinda sucks the life out of us every evening.  When he gets the good grades we all feel good though.  That’s the pay off.  It is what it is.

*It’s taken me a few days to write this post.  So now I need to edit it to add that there have been random evenings where everything goes perfectly smoothly.  The boys come home, take showers, eat dinner, do homework without any fussing and they’re relaxing/playing by 7:30.  That’s my dream for every day.  Why that doesn’t happen every day I don’t know.*

Ace goes to an after school program and even though he doesn’t get it all done he does start working on his homework there.  I was proud of him when I heard that he asks to go to a quiet room in order to do his home work.  It’s hard for him not to get distracted when he’s in a room full of other kids.  I’m really proud of him for taking that initiative himself.

 

In non-school-work news … He signed up for his school chorus.  I love my boy and to me he’s the most handsome, smartest, kindest, sweetest, wonderous thing ever … BUT … the boy CANNOT carry a tune.  (I’m assuming they don’t care about that at this age.)  Not only can he NOT carry a tune.  He does NOT carry a tune LOUDLY.   It will be interesting to see how this chorus thing goes.  He’s excited about it and I’m encouraging him all the way.

 

In true Ace fashion, he’s ALREADY lost a jacket.  He got ONE wear of it.  Last year he lost 4 sweaters, 2 jackets, his lunch box (at least 3 times) and several hats/scarves and gloves.  That’s ma kid and did I say I love him?  Although I won’t tell him this, he definitely gets that “losing things” trait from his mom.  It wasn’t until I started having to pay for my own stuff that I became way more careful.

 

So there you have it.  We’re managing.  Sorta.   I suspect that the rest of the school year will go this same way.  Bumpy but not unbearable.  Infuriating but exhilarating.  Busy but fun.  Tiring but OH SO WORTH IT!!!

 

June Where Are You? September 12, 2014

I didn’t realize how tired THE BOYS being back in school would make ME.  This is not our 1st year doing this, so I SHOULD know, but I guess along with giving me a most fabulous tan, the summer sun burned it out of my memory.

Gone are the summer mornings where we got up at 7-ish and Ace threw on any old shorts and t-shirt that he could find while Jay (probably) stayed in his pj’s and they got dropped off at Nanas who fed them.

Gone are the evenings where we got home at 5:30 and had 3 hours of heat and daylight to do whatever we wanted before thinking about bedtime.  The pool?  Sure.  The park?  Why not.

 

Now I have a 6:30am wake up call and I have to get some food into their system and make sure their uniforms are on neatly with shirts tucked into pants and teeth and hair are brushed.  I don’t think their hair got brushed ONE time all summer.

*Side-note – How the heck do parents of girls do it?  With the hair combing and the putting on of tights and all that in the morning?  Thank God for buzz cuts and elastic waisted pants.*

Now we get home at 5:30 and there are 2 sets of homework to be done and projects to work on and a reading log to fill out.  Lunch boxes need packing and uniforms need laying out which includes finding 2 sets of matching socks.  The next thing you know it’s 8pm and it’s dark out.  The darkness alone makes me feel ready for bed.  But wait, there’s a giant hole in the kids book bag and it can’t make it one more day.  What tha?!?  There are forms to fill out and notes to read.  A spelling test?  Tomorrow you say???  Come on Ace, we have studying to do.  How do you spell P-U-M-P-K-I-N?  Good.  Now L-E-T-T-U-C-E.

 

Is it Friday yet?  Shoot, is it June yet?

 

I say all that to say that there are a few things I’d like to write about but time is limited and my brain cells are struggling to churn back to life.  What follows is just getting thrown out there in a messy hodge-podge because I don’t want to forget it or it just happens to be on my mind right now.

 

* In the morning we stand on the curb waiting for the bus to pick Jay up.  When he sees it, he puts his hand up as if he’s hailing it to stop.  It’s very cute and makes the driver pull up to us with a smile.

 

* Why is it that when you FINALLY find some time to get a manicure you smudge it as soon as you get home?  The injustice.

 

* Jay’s language is developing at lightning speed.  When I pick him up from school he runs to me and says “I’m so love you.”

I’m SO love to hear it.

He’s still mostly scripting but his library from which to pull is VAST and he’s using a lot of colloquiums.  Eg. If he’s doing something and I tell him that it’s time to go, he’ll say “Just a sec Mom.”  If I see an empty juice pouch on the table and ask Jay to put it in the trash he will say “Oh my bad” and then throw it out.

 

* Even though he does it the same way every single time, it makes me grin every single time Jay gets a chance to introduce himself to someone.  If you ask him his name he will say “I’m Jay” and with a dramatic flair he will point his arm and at me and say “And THIS is Mom” and then he will turn his arm to Ace and say “And THIS is Ace.”

 

* Kindergarteners are cute.  I love seeing them going to school.  I always smile at them and their parents.  And OhMyGosh there is a set of twins who started kindergarten at Ace’s school this year.  I see them almost every morning and I can’t get over how adorable they are.

 

* Up to this point Jay has never really seemed to be bothered by any sounds.  His sensory issues have pretty much been limited to him wanting to wear long sleeves ALL THE TIME.  But lately he’s been complaining about things being too loud.  The main offender seems to be our toilet.  Are those kinds of sensory issues something that can develop over time?  I’ll have to keep an eye on it and do some research.  I’m on my way Google.

 

 

Whew!  I feel sort of caught up now.

I’m off to enjoy my weekend of no homework or clothes that need ironing and … ahm … wait, scratch that … Ace has a social studies test on Tuesday.  I guess there will be some studying this weekend after all.

 

Only For Select Company September 4, 2014

Ace got to open one of his birthday presents before heading off to school.  It was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles watch.

 

Now, if I said what I’m going to say next anywhere else I’d be viewed as an awful person and a terrible mom, but I know you’ll understand.

 

Jay took one look at Ace’s watch and asked for one also.  I told him that he couldn’t get one because it was Ace’s birthday present.  Not satisfied with that, Jay tapped his wrist and said “Me.  This one.  Jay want Ninja Turtles watch too.”  Again I told him that there wasn’t one for him since today was Ace’s special day.  I asked him to go brush his teeth.  He unhappily stomped off to go brush his teeth.

 

He was sad and acted rudely with the stomping off but I felt a spark of delight at his reaction.

 

When he was done with the teeth brushing he came and asked if he could get a cupcake.  I had to give him the bad news that he couldn’t get a cupcake either since they were for Ace’s classmates.

 

No cupcake for Jay.  Just cupcake for Ace school.”  He said matter-of-factly.

I told him he could have cake later at home.

He then looked Ace in the face and said “I not say Happy Birthday” … and with that he left the room.

 

It made me happy that he was mad about not getting gifts.  It made me happy that we could have a conversation about it even though he was angry.  I’m glad that he showed signs of … what? … Jealousy?  It made me happy to see him get a little bratty because Ace was getting things and he was not.

For years, special events and gifts and celebrations meant nothing to Jay.  Or seemed to mean nothing.  It’s so exciting to see him getting into these things now.

 

I love that he’s understanding so much more and that his ability to communicate has grown as much as it has.  Sometimes it can make life difficult because when he is determined about something he is damn freaking determined – But I’d take that over the Jay we had a couple of years ago who appeared to just be going along for the ride.

 

I remember the days when Jays Christmas presents sat in a pile on the floor.  Unopened and un-paid-attention-to.  I remember the Easters and the Halloweens where we were just holding on for dear life trying to get through the egg hunts and the pumpkin picking.  I remember the birthdays that we didn’t bother to get him a cake or a candle or sing the happy birthday song because he told us he didn’t like it.  I remember wanting so badly for him to show some interest in and excitement about special occasions and now that he does – I can’t help but be happy about it – Even if his interest in Ace’s presents leaves him a bit peeved at me.

This would be a great time for him to ask for a pony.  Right now, I would get him almost anything he wants for Christmas or his next birthday (which are back to back).   Shh, don’t tell him I said that.

 

Ace had a very happy day.  Overall he and Jay got on well – I don’t think there was any yelling or fighting all day!!!  School “was awesome” according to him.  He got to pick out his own toy at the store with his own money and then we came home to balloons and more gifts and a cake.  Ace got cards in the mail [thanks Grandma and Aunty Naffie] and even received a package via UPS which made him feel very special [thanks Aunty J and Uncle P ].  He was in such a good mood he even volunteered to let his little brother open one of his presents so he could share in the fun.  It was very sweet.  They spent happy time with their Dad and both boys went to bed feeling good about the day they had had.  Mummy went to bed feeling good about the day they had had also.

 

The letter and the response September 5, 2012

School started yesterday for Ace.  I’m both excited and nervous.  Both my kids have improved in many ways over the summer but Ace has a lot of lingering anxiety related to school.  Last year was a tough one.  The below letter got sent to his teachers last night.  Within 2 hours, I got a response and I’ve posted that below also.  The high-lighted parts are my doing.   I read it about 5 times.  I cried.

I’m really hoping Ace will have a great year and grow to love school.

————————–

 

My Letter to the Teachers

 

9/4/12

Dear *1st Grade Teachers

Welcome to the 2012/2013 school year.  I hope you had a good summer.  My name is Deenie and my son Ace is in your class this year.  Before we meet formally and talk at the upcoming open house, I’d like to fill you in on some things with Ace.

Ace was diagnosed with ADHD earlier this year and we are currently working with your VP,  and your Special Ed Coordinator to come up with a 504 plan for him.  Kindergarten was difficult in a lot of ways for him but we are hopeful and confident that with proper support he will have a great year in 1st grade. Ace is not on any medication for his ADHD, but there are tools we have found that help him to focus and to control his behavior.

Ace is currently seated at the back of the classroom.  If at all possible, I think it would suit him better to have a seat close to the front or directly in the front of the class.  That will reduce the amount of possible distractions and will make him less likely to get lost in what’s going on around him.

Things are easier for Ace when he knows exactly what is expected of him and has measurable expectations.  Abstract concepts are hard for him to process.  For example: Giving him “5 minutes” to do something works better than telling him he has “a few minutes” left.  Also, he does better with structure and routine.  Eg. If he knows that his “spot” is always at the back of a line, that will be easier for him than asking the kids to form a line and leaving it up to him to fit himself in.

In general, although he doesn’t like to get dirty, he does well with hands-on activities.  He loves science, computers, math and art.  However, sitting still for a story is difficult and he will do better with that type of activity in a small group or if he’s allowed to take a break.

He is a very friendly child and very seldom gets into mischief. He wants to be liked and to make others happy.  He does have some socially awkward behaviors such as butting-in to conversations or getting into peoples personal space.  We are working on those things but he does need constant reminders.  He also tends to be clumsy and lacks a certain body awareness.  Again, we are working on these things and have seen improvement over the summer.

He takes criticism personally and hates being yelled at and may use “silliness” to disguise hurt feelings. When he gets hyper or appears to not be paying attention, we have found that quietly, but firmly, reminding him that he is not listening and then telling him that we are not happy with his behavior gets him to calm down and re-focus.  When he receives positive reinforcement, he is more likely to stay on task. It is best, when possible, to talk to Ace about misbehavior in private.

When possible it is best to keep him busy. If he is finished with his work, maybe you can assign him a “job” such as cleaning up the supplies or maybe you can have extra work-sheets available for him to keep occupied.

If he is asked to do something he does not like, he will get it done quicker and with less “fight” as long as he knows what will follow.  Eg. If he has been asked to write a letter and he does not like to write but he knows that once he is finished writing, it will be computer time, then he will be motivated to get the work done.  We use a lot of “first this, then that” when asking him to do something.

Ace has a pleasant and vibrant personality.  It will require some patience and understanding on your part, but we think you will enjoy having him in your class.  He likes to learn and he is very funny and helpful.  He also has a very compassionate and caring heart and would never intentionally be hurtful to anyone.

Ace is excited about this new school year but he is also slightly nervous. His self-esteem got a good beating last school year as he consistently got color changes and was frequently punished.  At the time he hadn’t yet been diagnosed so he was left feeling like he was a bad boy which didn’t fit with how he viewed himself or how he wanted to be viewed by others.

Our hope is that the information in this letter will make your life in the classroom easier and will help to facilitate a better relationship between you and Ace.

We welcome any ideas you have to keep Ace engaged in school, while boosting his self-esteem and helping him succeed.  Ace’s Dad and I believe in frequent, open and honest communication between us and the staff at *the school.  We are always available to talk over the phone, respond to an e-mail or come into the school for a face to face meeting.  We look forward to working with you and hope you have a wonderful year.

Sincerely,
Deenie and CC

(Phone #’s)

 

 

 

The Response

 

Hi Mrs. C,

 

Thank you for your email. It will be very useful in helping us find ways to make Ace comfortable in his new setting. Fortunately, Ms. H and I teach in a collaborative setting. Ms. H is a special education teacher and has experience in making accommodations based on student needs. *(The schools spec ed coordinator) will also be in close contact with us to update us on his 504 plan when it is completed. With your help, I’m sure we will make this a successful year for Ace. I have noted specific recommendations by you and will implement them as soon as possible.

 

Talk to you soon.

 

*Ace’s 1st grade teachers