Monday, March 17, 2008

My Life Monday-March 17th

It's My Life Monday again. Rachelle has assigned us this week to describe a great adventure we've been on. As crazy as my life is, I just have had a very difficult time this week thinking of an adventure I've experienced. After all, my life is one adventure after another. How do I choose just one to describe this time?

Every day, for me, is some sort of adventure. From the early-morning wake-up calls with Number One demanding clean socks and his favorite jeans to the Beast wanting not one, but two pop-tarts, to Pretty cleaning a freshly-used unflushed toilet with a fork to Snort having explosive diarrhea, which somehow finds its way into my pants, how do I narrow down any one adventure?

Quite simply, just being a parent means I live my own personal adventures on an almost daily basis. Truly, I am never bored.

Friday, March 14, 2008

It's Deaf History Month!

Yesterday kicked off Deaf History Month. I've been planning for months to use this month to start a history on my blog of our journey with the Beast, starting with his newborn hearing screen, and following up until now. Instead, I got a call from the school yesterday telling me that they know they have to provide him services next year, but they don't really have what they need. So, they're offering me second (or in my opinion, bottom of the barrel) best.

There are a few things that need to be made clear:
1. He is NOT just a number that you have to service. He is my child, and he has needs. It is the responsibility of the school to meet his needs. Period.
2. There is so much more to him than just Deafness. Get past the hearing loss, and see the child. Then, you'll understand his needs much better.
3. I haven't spent the last 4 1/2 years working my tail off to get him to where he is just so someone put him somewhere, potentially allowing him to slip through the cracks and regress. The simple fact that I am his mother makes me powerful. I will NOT stop until he gets all that he needs.

Apparently, we make too much money for him to go to the local school which has a brand new pre-K program coming in. But, we don't make enough money to get him what he needs ourselves. (My opinion on the way middle-class children and their families slip through the cracks is a whole other blog post for another time.) So, he's got to go to Head Start. That would be fine if any of the other kids there spoke his language. They don't, though. More than 90% of those children speak Spanish. I have no problem with that, except that the Beast has to work really hard to understand people who speak English clearly. Imagine the frustration for this child at having to overcome accents. Additionally, the academic curriculum for Head Start contains several things that he has already mastered. He knows his shapes, numbers, colors, alphabet, writing, coloring and cutting. He's putting letters together to sound out words. I'm well aware of the fact that he has more than academics to gain from the program, but why should we place him in a situation where he'll be bored academically?

Another issue is his sensory integretion needs. For those of you have raised hearing impaired children, you know what I mean. It's not just his speech and reading that has been affected by his hearing loss. It's his sense of balance, sense of where he is in space. It includes his ability to hear and process what is being told to him, and respond accordingly.

He has been in an English-speaking mainstream classroom with 12 other children this year. The teacher has had the assistance of a special ed. teacher AND several aids. Still, the Beast is the odd one out. He can't sit like the other kids. He can't respond at circle time like the other kids. He's overly impulsive and distracted. He's in trouble. A lot. All of this goes back to his sensory integration issues and damaged vestibular system. The school district had their OT's look at him, and they acknowledged his issues, but said assistance with it wasn't educationally necessary. I find that laughable. How can anyone suggest that a child who has difficulties feeling comfortable sitting in a chair possibly have an effective experience with learning in today's classroom?!

The Head Start program will have around 16-18 children, most of whom don't speak his language. It will have one teacher and one aid. If the Beast got lost in the shuffle with smaller numbers of students and bigger numbers of teachers, what will happen to him in this scenario? This, my friends, is setting him up to be lost in the shuffle and struggle with frustration, esteem issues, behavior issues, and so much more.

This is my biggest argument: If my child were autistic, there would be a program for him. If my child had Down's Syndrome, there would be a program for him. If my child were in a wheel chair, there would be a program for him. If my child were signing Deaf, there would be a program for him. But, because he's oral Deaf (by HIS choice), there is no program for him, and he gets lost in the shuffle. What a waste! Here we have a child who has really beat the odds, and doors get slammed for him because of it.

May I suggest something different to the powers that be? May I suggest that, rather than just putting him somewhere and hoping I shut my mouth about it, we build a program for our oral Deaf children? With the improvements in hearing aid technology and cochlear implants and earlier identification of babies with hearing loss, we are going to see so many more oral Deaf children coming through the system. Are we just going to put them all somewhere? HELL NO!!! We are going to embrace them, nurture them, observe them, and build them a program to meet each and every one of their needs.

This is my cry out to other parents of Deaf children, to their educators, care givers, and those who hold the power to improve our educational system: Stand with me! Stand up in defense of these amazing children. Raise your voices and demand the best for our children. Fight for the education they deserve. Do your research. Gain an understanding of the needs and implications of hearing loss in children. Be their mouth pieces. I will not be quieted. I will not be put somewhere. I will fight this fight until there is no longer a need for it, which I assume will be long after the Beast has already been through the system. Empower yourselves on behalf of your children. Those who come behind you will thank you for it someday.

Monday, March 10, 2008

My Life Monday March 10th

It's My Life Monday again. This week's assignment was to choose a picture, and describe it. All week long, I've been snapping a TON of pictures as my mind spun with what I'd say about them. Nothing quite fit, though...until today.

The king needed his prescription filled again. So, again, I decided to take all four kids to Target with me to pick it up. After my last trip, I was just sure things could only get better for me. Ummm....I was wrong.

Just as I pulled into the parking lot, I noted a very familiar odor. Pretty's laxative apparently had finally kicked in, and in full force. I figured I'd just change her diaper and be on my merry way. Then I pulled her out of her carseat. There was poop everywhere. This was no small poop. It was enough poop to clog even a turbo flush toilet, and it was everywhere.

I loaded everyone into the buggy, and rushed straight to the family restroom. I had Number One stay with Snort, and brought the Beast in with Pretty and me. Anyone who has ever been in any public restroom knows that the acoustics are good, and sound is carried everywhere. The Beast was kind enough to give a very loud play by play of the whole event. "Look! Poop is falling off Pretty!" "Eeeewwww! She smells bad". And, my personal favorite: "How did she get corn in there?" I wanted to die.

I wasn't bright enough to bring a plastic bag into the bathroom with me, so I had to hold the poopy clothes in my hand while I dragged my naked daughter across the store to ask for one. The checker (who might have been 18 years old) had a horrified look in his eyes as he quickly gave me the bag. I think he was secretly wishing he had a twenty foot pole to pass it to me with.

I left Number One in the store with the babies while I ran to the parking lot with the Beast to put the clothes away. Luckily, I had gotten a really good parking spot, so I was only gone for thirty seconds. My next order of business was to find some clothes for Pretty to wear. It is, after all, still winter and my 19 month old is sitting in a shopping cart wearing only a diaper.

As I walked through the store, I got the usual glares. I couldn't help myself, and caught myself saying "She really did come with clothes. I swear." Honestly, it would be much easier if I would just carry a shovel with me everywhere I go. That way, I could dig a hole to crawl in a lot quicker.

I scoured the little girl department, and finally settled on a little dress with matching bloomers. I ran as fast as one can run with four kids in tow and purchased the dress. Immediately, I put it on her.

It only took me another ten minutes to do what I had originally gone in there to do in the first place. As soon as I finished, I made a bee line for the door. On my way out, I ran into an acquaintance who works for CPS, and took a deep breath. I can only imagine the consequences that would have come had she seen my naked daughter in the store.

Anyway, the picture above is of Pretty in her new dress holding the bag containing her poopy clothes. Hopefully next time I decide to take the whole crew to Target with me, I'll look at that picture and think again.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

I Put Her Outside

We got snow this week. Twice. That NEVER happens here. It's probably a sign that the end of the world is coming, and I'm in big trouble because I'm completely unprepared. I haven't a thing to wear!

Anyway, snow around here pretty much always means no school. I'm not sure if these people know what a snow plow is. Maybe I should draw them a picture, and suggest that they google it, and perhaps even purchase one. Until that happens (which it probably won't since the end of the world is coming, as mentioned already), we stick with having our kids home from school.

Number One actually got to go to school, but was two hours delayed. Since there was a delay for regular school, the Beast's school was called off entirely. He got to stay home and have a lovely day enjoying Pretty. Poor kid.

Pretty is really a very sweet little girl, but she has a devious nature about her. I can always see those wheels turning, and it's clear that she's always plotting something. Lately, her favorite thing to do is come up with ways to sneak up behind Beast, and steal the listening devices off the back of his head. She squeals in sheer delight as he runs behind her yelling, "Give me back my ears!!! I can't hear you!!! Mommy says that is a bad choice!". Eventually, she stops and gives it to him, only to wait five minutes or so to let him get comfy before taking it again.

This cycle went on for hours on Tuesday morning. Time after time, I'd hear the squeal, the yell, the running, the slamming things, the cats running to find cover, items breaking, and my mind slowly turning into mush. After a while, I got to a point where I didn't even hear it anymore. It's kind of like when you get used to the ticking of your clock, so you just don't notice it...until it stops.

I remember hearing the squealing and the yelling and then a slam. Then, things went silent. Finally! A little peace and quiet. After a few minutes of peace, I realized something was not right. Our house is not supposed to be a quiet, peaceful place. It's supposed to have more of a Grand Central Station feel to it. I walked down the hall, looking into all the rooms until I finally found Beast.

"Where is Pretty?"
"I said she's outside".
"I know you said she's outside. How did she get there?"
"I put her outside".
"What?!?!?! Why?!?!?!"
"She bother me. She take my baby ear".
"So, you put her outside in the snow in just her jammies?"
"Yep. And I close the door. She don't bother me anymore".

So, I opened the door fully expecting to have to run up and down the street looking for my daughter. Instead, I found her still standing on the front stoop waiting to come back in. She simply strolled in as if nothing had happened. I think that's a good sign that she wasn't scarred for life by it.

Let this be a lesson to you all: Peace and quiet in a house full of young children can NEVER be a sign of a good thing. Oh, and don't let your kids watch you put the annoying dog out. They'll assume the policy can also apply to little sisters.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Where's My Boat?!?!

Today was the presidential primary voting day in our state. I was going to wait for the King to come home and then go vote, but he was working late. So, I took all four kids and went after Beast's karate lesson. We arrived at 5:54 and left at 7:35. Yep. I stood in a line to do my civic duty for nearly two hours with four children.

The bigger boys did very well. They made friends with anyone they could find, and even somehow were so cute that the kind lady in front of us asked if she could get them treats from the vending machine. They were delighted! Number One just sat on the floor by my side while the Beast moved forward to sit on some chairs and make befriend an older lady. I think they may have entered holy matrimony in the time we were finished, but had it anulled shortly there-after. (That's what happens when you're voting at the local courthouse).

Pretty and Snort stayed in the double stroller. Snort just slept the whole time, but Pretty did her Miss America wave to everyone who so much as glanced in her direction. Should I be concerned by the fact that she is such a huge flirt? She seemed to really enjoy just looking at all the people. Whenever she got bored, she simply reached up and goosed the nice lady in front of us. (The one who had given the boys yummy treats). The lady was very kind about it, and even stooped down to talk to her. She seemed to think Pretty was really cute. I wonder if she'll still be feeling that way after she sees the miniature hand prints left on her backside.

So, all in all, I was very proud of my kids for such amazingly good behavior. Really, I couldn't have asked for much better from them. I was praising them profusely as we walked out of the voting room and into the hallway, which was still full of people waiting to vote as well. Inside I was thinking about what a great mom I was for making the sacrifice in my time and potentially driving myself nuts with all four of them just to show them that I believe it's important to get out and vote. I was almost having a proud mommy moment there.

That's when it happened. I figured it had all been too good to be true, but just shrugged it off as good behavior. Number One informed me that he was being good so I'd take him out to eat. (Eh, he'd earned it). But it was the Beast's comment that got me good. "Mommy, when do I get my boat?" The downside of being hearing impaired is that you often mishear things. The poor kid had just spent two hours in a line thinking there would be a boat ride at the end of it. And, of course he said it so loudly and pathetically with his huge brown eyes looking so disappointed that you could hear literally every person in the line go "Awwww, bless his little heart".

So, if you ever opt to take your children to learn how to do their civic duty, make sure they understand that water, life jackets, and floatational devices will not be involved.

Fun Pics From the Last Few Weeks

More Snow Pictures

A Little TX Snow

Monday, March 3, 2008

My Life Monday

One of the girls on the Cosa MOFstra webring created a "My Life Monday" tradition. Each Monday, we're assigned a topic to post about. She gives us our topic the week before so that we can think about it some. This week's is challenging, so I'm glad I had a week to think about it. Our assignment is to write a six-word memoire of our lives. I've put a LOT of thought into it, and can only hope it's as meaningful to read as it was to live.

My Life
"Doors slammed shut, windows ALWAYS opened".
So, what would your six-word life story say?