Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ah! So THAT'S Why I Do What I Do

I get a lot of looks when I go out in public with my four children and protruding tummy. Lots of people just shake their heads and make some kind of comment like "You must be so tired." or "I could never do it." or "Don't you know what causes that?". (For the record I do know what causes it. I also know that we've been commanded by God to use our talents. Can I help it if my talent leads me to chronic pregnancy?)The comment I get the most frequently, though is "Are you nuts?". Yep, I am nuts. I'm nuts about all of these little people, and there's nothing anyone can say or do that would change that for me.

Yesterday, Pretty reminded me why I do what I do all the time. She reminded me what could possibly make me crazy enough to endure the sleepless nights, the empty bank accounts, the frustrations with school, and all the other joys that come with parenting.

I had been out and about running a bunch of errands. I think the King stayed home with her while I was gone. I came home, unloaded everything from the van, and was going about my business when she came in to see me. "Mama!!!!" She came running to me with open arms as she crashed into me. Then, she stopped and looked at me with her wild hair all over the place. While she looked me square in the eye with that goofy little smile, she said clearly "Hug!" and threw her arms around my neck. She stayed that way for a good minute and a half, just not wanting to let go. It was just a happy hug for her. She loves her mama. And her mama loves her.

So, next time someone asks me how crazy I am to have all these kids, I may not have some swift answer to give them. BUT, in my heart I'll know exactly why I do what I do everyday. And I wouldn't trade it for anything else in the world.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Yay for Little Miracles!

I'm so happy to report good updates on the Beast's school situation. I took him back to school today for the first time since we pulled him out. His teacher is back of maternity leave. He did not want to go. At all. All the way there, he gave me reasons he shouldn't go. (Some were really creative). I reminded him that there would be cutting and gluing today, and that excited him.

He got very quiet when we pulled up. He was relieved to see the aid from his old special ed. classroom in the parking lot, and she waved to him and told him how glad she was to see him. That helped!!!

Finally, I got him to the classroom where he was greeted by his teacher, the principal, and some other people. I didn't see the aid that he butts heads with anywhere. I think she was inside the classroom. I hugged him and told him I loved him, and sent him on his way. (I also reminded the teacher and the principal to send him to his special ed. teachers from last year if he needed a break. To him, those women are his "safe place").

Anyway, he came off the bus, and dh asked him how his day went. His reply:

"I ate hotdogs with brown beans. I don't like brown beans. I also had fruit that you need a spoon for. I saw my friends. And guess what? Mrs. Turbyfill loves me!"

He told me several times and then told our family friends over dinner that "Mrs. Turbyfill loves me". I'm so relieved that his teacher is off leave and that she's making such a great effort at helping him feel loved.

So much of this success today is because of all your thoughts and prayers in his behalf. THANK YOU!!!!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

All the Fun You Haven't Heard About

I've been so busy being a Supermom and taking on the world on behalf of my children that I've neglected to be the usual sarcastic picture posting mom ya'll are so used to hearing from. Never fear. I'm back to my old self again...at least for now.

Shockingly, we have had a LOT of fun things go on in the last few weeks. Some of it will only seem funny to me because, of course, I'm the only one crazy enough to live through these things and actually admit it to the rest of the world. Anyway, onto the updates.

The Beast Turned Five!!!
In the first week of the month, my little man turned one year older. We told him he could have any kind of party he wanted, except a poop party. We reserve those for more important birthdays, like sweet sixteens. Anyway, he was determined that he just had to have a rock party. He LOVES rocks!!! So, rocks it was. Everyone brought a rock and we made pet rocks. We were going to roll them down the slides at the park and call it rock and roll. But we ran out of time. Some kids did put star stickers on their rocks and called them rock stars.

All in all, I'd say it was a GREAT party! He was pleased to have all of his friends there to celebrate with him, and I was pleased at the cost. I mean, seriously, rocks are FREE. All I had to pay for was the cake and stuff to decorate the rocks. Here are a few fun pics to show how much fun we had.

Number One Has Started Football

He is by far and away the smallest kid on the team. I just wish I could show you a line-up of all the kids on his team next to him. But, I have to admit that Number One has a huge spirit and a lot of spunk. He attempts to tackle even the one kid who is literally three times his size.

He doesn't get a whole lot of play time because he is the smallest and one of the slowest. Plus, he's a little unsure of where to go on the field. We have a missionary here who plays college ball and has been spending some time working with him on his off days. Number One thinks it's so cool that a "real college ball player is hanging out with him". It's pretty cute watching them play together.

I don't have any pictures of him in his full uniform, but here are a couple of him in his practice stuff. He's got so much padding that I'm not even sure you can tell there's a real live kid under there. Of course, his most favorite part of the uniform is the part you can't even see-his cup. The first time he put it on, he said, "Hey Beast! Kick me in the balls." Luckily the Beast had no clue what he was talking about and went looking for a soccer ball to kick. *sigh* I still have so much work to do to turn these boys into civilized members of society.

The Beast is Playing Soccer
What can I say about four and five year old soccer? It's hilarious to begin with. Then, you add in the little Deaf kid, and everyone on the sidelines is just rolling with laughter. He tries so hard, but he is pretty oblivious to what is going on most of the time. Eh, who cares really? They're all so little and just think they're so cool out there in their little uniforms chasing the ball.

Most of the time, the Beast is just trying to remember which end of the field he's supposed to be kicking at...and half the time he's still wrong. Then there's the distraction of rocks. Who knew there were so many rocks on a soccer field for my kid to discover in the middle of a game? Well, for those who didn't know, there are plenty.

So, he's out there hunting rocks and occasionally notices that he's in the middle of the game and jumps in. He may get a kick or two (not necessarily in the right direction), and then has to come running over and tell us about it...while the game is still going on. And, heaven forbid friends come to watch him. He has to stop the whole game to tell the referee that his friend is here to see him. One thing I can say for sure, though, is that he has no lack of enthusiasm.

Snort is Mobile
Honestly, I don't know that this is such a good thing. We've been trying for months to get the kid just to roll over. Then, all of a sudden, he does it and decides he needs to move on to greener pastures. All in one day this week, he learned to crawl, climb up to standing position using furniture, and get out of his bed.

He now has a new bed and is rooming with Number One. Number One says Snort snores (apparently he hasn't listened to himself lately), but is still a better roomie than the Beast was. Honestly, I don't know one way or the other. Regardless, Snort doesn't seem to mind having a new room. I think he likes that he gets more attention, and there's a lot more to look at in Number One's room.

Now that he's crawling, I have to actually keep the floors clean. To get around that, I put up the super gate. He has his own safe place to play, and I buy another couple of days before I have to scrub the floors. It also makes it so Pretty cant' get to him as easily. She's not fond of this. She was rather content to be able to sit on his head whenever she wanted. Yeah, she's a real gem.

In other news, Snort is no longer aspirating on his reflux!!!! So, we can stop thickening his formula, which should help his weight even out a little bit. Now if we can just get him to eat some food, we'd be doing well. It's not like he's wasting away or anything. Have you seen him lately? That kid is not missing any meals.

Pretty, Pretty, Pretty
She's the same sweet little darling she was last time I posted anything about her. She's always got something up her sleeve, and delights in torturing her brother. I suppose that's what happens when brothers is all you've got.

She loves wearing Number One's football helmet and carrying his ball. I have tried making her into a delicate little princess. She's not having it. So, instead I'll enjoy the bundle of fun and energy that I've got.

We're working with her on learning some new words, and she's really coming along nicely. Thanks to her brothers, she can say poop very nicely and prides herself on letting me know when anyone in the house poops. Such a lady, isn't she?

So, that's the news from our neck of the woods. There isn't much more to tell. Well, maybe there is, but not much more I'm willing to admit to. We look forward to the Beast going back to school tomorrow. I'm crossing my fingers and toes that all goes well there.

As for me, I'll just be doing all the Supermom things that I always do, like washing dishes, scrubbing floors, changing diapers, sending classroom snacks to school, and attempting to grocery shop without getting arrested for my children's indecent exposure.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Updates

I know ya'll are just dying to hear what happened with the Beast's schooling. Here are the updates.

Sept. 20
I've found another school that will take him and work with me on helping him hear. He went to it for a month 2 summers ago, and did great. They have quite a few special needs kids there, so I know they'll be good. He goes Monday to try it out while I sit and observe to see how things go. It's only $200/month for 5 days a week 8-2:15, and that includes breakfast and lunch. We'll still have to work with the nap thing, but I can deal with that. So, we'll see.

I ran into the teacher I originally wanted him to have yesterday and she asked why he wasn't with her. I said I wondered the same thing. She said the school told her that I had requested this other teacher!!!! WHAT??!?!? This was the one teacher I really really didn't want. I hadn't heard great things about her, and I wouldn't put him in with a teacher who wasn't going to be there the first 6 weeks. He needs consistancy too badly to be able to handle that. I'm totally ticked knowing that the teacher I wanted actually requested him and was told she wasn't who I wanted. The whole thing just makes me mad and then sad and crying and then just mad again.

I chatted with a fried in the know last night and there are some legal things we can do. Once something is in an IEP, they MUST do it. None of the few things I asked for are happening. And I asked for less than half of what IDEA says he's entitled to. Heaven forbid I'd asked for anything more.

Sept. 23
I took him to his old pre-school that he LOVED for a visit and to decide if it would be the right place for him. He cowared in the corner the whole time. Wouldn't look at or play with the other kids. Wouldn't speak one word. He literally covered his face and hid behind me if his teacher (who he LOVES) spoke to him. This is NOT the child I sent to school three weeks ago. It's like they broke him somehow. They have just taken the Beast out of Beast. He did circle time with them, and the teacher let him hold the magic wand to do the ABC's, and you'd think they were asking him to cut off his right arm. He was just terrified to go up there in front of his peers. Same thing on the playground. He just hid at the top of the slide the whole stupid time. He couldn't wait to go home.

Then we went to speech therapy, and he hid behind my leg and signed to the therapist!!!! He has never once done that. She's oral only. He kept his head down and looked away from her just about the whole time. After about 40 minutes and bringing out some M&M's, she finally got him to mumble a few words for her. It was painful to watch. He loves this woman, and for him to be afraid of even her is the biggest red flag I can imagine. She was beyond stunned. I hadn't told her what was going on with him because I wanted her to see what she thought and how she felt he was doing. As soon as she saw him, she knew something was wrong. By the time I filled her in and she'd worked with him, she was just about ready to bring on a lawsuit herself.

He hides in the backseat when you so much as drive past his school's campus. I just feel so awful that he's been through so much, and I kept sending him there over and over and over. It won't be happening again.

I've spoken to everyone and their dog at that school. The lady at the head of Head Start feels terrible that it's gotten this bad. The school principle and the Sped. people have left her completely out of the loop on everything. The poor woman is trying all she can to meet his needs, but it's hard because I'm the one filling her in on what they're doing. Hello??!?!?! They're in the same building. How can communicating be that hard. The Sped. lady called me and said she and the principle and the Deaf Ed. teacher could see us tomorrow morning at 8:30. I asked if Head Start could be there, too. She said, "Oh, well..I guess we can get someone there, too." Like it was an afterthought or something. What the heck??? If you're putting my child into their program, shouldn't they have a say in how things go???? I'm pretty sure this problem with communication is what has created this mess.

Then, the sped. lady tells me that there have been three subs. in that class already. THREE!!! In three weeks!!!!! AGGGGHHH!!! And she says I shouldn't really listen to the aid since the aids aren't really all that experienced. WHAT?!?! If I wanted lack of experience, I'd open the yellow pages and send my child to the first daycare I see.

I finally decided to take advantage of my connections, and called the head of Deaf and Hard of Hearing services for all of North Texas. She has a LOT of power. We have a 3:30 conferance call with her today. I want to know where to go next to push this to a point that it NEVER happens to another child like mine. I want them to know what's going on and do whatever it takes to make them understand. It sounds mean, but I want the school district to hurt like he's hurting. I know they won't except for the fact that they'll lose some dollars, but that's something.

Then, we have that meeting tomorrow in person with the local district. They keep telling me to just give time for his regular teacher to come back because she's the best they've got. Then they say to give time for her to settle into things. I gave them time. They let my kid down. They hurt him enough after three weeks that we're going to be doing months and months of damage control that is going to cost us hundreds of dollars. Thank goodness dh is an only child of parents who would give anything for their grandbabies. That's what will save us.

After talking to the speech therapist and looking at things ourselves, we've decided on a plan. The therapist feels like (and I agree) anything they offer won't be good enough. He needs to go to a familiar place with teachers he knows and some peers he knows and then be treated with kid gloves for a while until he can rebuild his confidence in himself. It broke my heart to see him hunker down when people he loves tried to hug him. So, we're going to put him back into the school he visited yesterday. They love him there, and they know his quirks. They'll work with him and with us. They even have some elderly people that volunteer there that will give him lots of extra one on one time with hugs and love.

We're back. I'm so tired and emotionally drained, but so relieved that it's done.

The head of Head Start, his intended teacher, the head of Sp. Ed., and the principal of his school were all there. They were very nice, and I'm sure feeling just a little nervous about what I was going to have to say. It really helped having dh there with me. Usually I do this stuff on my own.

The teacher he is supposed to have is VERY nice. She genuinely seems like she wants to work with him. That said, the aid in there makes me so nervous. This poor kid has been through so much that just putting him back in the classroom makes me nervous.

Everyone at the table did a good job of hearing me out. They listened to the whole story before trying to butt in at all, which I so appreciated. I needed to feel heard. Then, they started going point by point over each issue and trying to address it.

First, I think they know they've screwed up when it comes to his ARD. Not honoring its content has led to a lot of problems, including that they didn't know how to communicate with him in such a way that he could understand. I explained that, although he can hear, processing things takes a lot more work for him. I put into terms that they could "get", and I think that helped.

Second, it sounds like the aid made things worse than better. She told us that more than half the class is only three. Out of 17 kids, only 4 are three years old. 7 of them are returning kids, and it is possible that they haven't done a good job of integrating all the kids together into the classroom. So, that's something that has to be worked on.

As far as curriculum, they're going to be bumping it up. Since school has started without a teacher there (due to maternity leave), they've just been sort of doing whatever. She showed us what is in the plans for the next month, and it's MUCH more appropriate for the Beast. So, that's a good thing to see.

Then there was the issue of calling him by the name he's used to. The teacher was a little alarmed that he's been required to go by his given name. She said the kids do need to be able to write their given names, but can be called by whatever they're used to. I'll be watching to see that this really does happen. The Beast is not the first child to be told he can't go by his nickname, so I'll be a real stickler on this. When he hears us call him by his given name, he knows it's because he's in trouble. I wonder if that's part of the trouble. Maybe he's been thinking he's in trouble every single time they addrerss him.

The other thing we were concerned about was naptime. To me, it's cruel to give a kid a stuffed animal or a book and then tell them they have to just sit there and be quiet for an hour. Then, when he's not quiet, to punish him like he's some criminal or something. Not okay. So, the plan is to have him do "jobs" for the teacher during naptime whenever possible. When she has conferance or something, he'll be given tons of books to read rather than just one.

The teacher is scheduled to go back to school on Monday. She has been to the classroom each Friday with her new baby so she could get to know the class. The Beast has mentioned to me that she'd been there, so I know it's impacted him. She wants to come to the house to see him and let him show off his room (something that did NOT happen at his first home visit. At the first visit, they didn't even acknowledge that he was there, and only talked to me). When she's here, she's going to invite him to "help her come back to school". She wants to approach it like they're both going back together.

I really like the teacher. I think she sincerely wants to work with him, and is going to make some BIG changes and bring a lot more structure to the classroom. I'm still deeply concerned about the aid, who seems to have already gotten a bad taste in her mouth about him. I don't really want her to have any disciplinary control over the Beast.

The teacher does agree that, rather than picking on him for all his behaviors, we can choose a couple behaviors a month to really work on. We'll work at home on whatever he's working on at school. We also insisted that communication needs to be a whole lot better than what we've been seeing. There will be a weekly phone call as well as notes as needed.

While we were at the meeting, he went to his old pre-school. They were having a chaotic day there because it was picture day, so I wondered what would happen. I called around lunch time to see how he was doing. He was doing great! I went to pick him up half way through naptime. He was sitting on his mat with a pile of books about a mile high happily reading. He showed me his art that he made, told me he'd invited his teacher to come over for dinner, talked about the whole day, and was just the little chatterbox I hadn't seen in weeks. I finally got my kid back!!!!!

So, we're torn. Do I send him to the school I know he'll be happy at, even though it'll mean he misses out on some opportunities at the school he's currently in? Do I take the risk one more time and trust this woman who wants to be his teacher not to let him down and hurt him? It's such a hard choice. The Sp. Ed. lady made a point that hit me really hard, and I strongly agree with. She said that pulling him out denies him the chance to go back to the school and face what he's so hurt by. By letting him go back with his teacher as his ally, he gets a chance to see that those kids he thought weren't his friends can be his friends. He can learn that he is okay, and doesn't have to run away from his school. That makes SO MUCH sense to me. But, he's my baby. And he's been hurt before. And it's so hard to trust that he won't be hurt again.

We talked to him about it. He was thrilled to hear that his teacher wants to come to our house and see his room and be his friend. We drove him past the school, and he was excited to see it. So, those are good signs. Tomorrow night is open house there, and we're taking him. I want to see for myself how he relates to the aid and his peers.

I spoke to the director at the private school he was at today. I really love and trust her opinion. She had the idea to go ahead and let him go back with the understanding that we are watching very closely. One false move, and he's out. She suggested giving them until Christmas to make improvements with him. If we feel that something is still off even after all this, just pull him. She's holding a spot for whenever we need it for him. I LOVE that woman.

So, that's the plan. He's going back Monday with his teacher. They're getting some equipment in the classroom to help him drown out the background noise. They'll be checking to be sure he understands what is happening around him, and communication will be opened up. So, I'm just crossing my fingers. Luckily, the Beast is one of the most loving, trusting, and forgiving people I've ever met. He's an amazing little person. His mama, however, is still feeling very concerned about his well-being. But, that's my issue, and not his. It wouldn't be fair to deny him the chance to conquer this just because I'm scared for what will happen.

Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers. I only teared up once or twice. Not so bad. I was able to clearly convey my concerns in a way that I think they understood me. Now I'm just praying that it's not all empty promises, but that things really will improve for him.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

And I Wonder Why They're Always Telling Toilet Joke

The following conversation occurred in the less than five minute drive to church this morning. You have to read it out loud to yourself to really find the same humor the King and I did.

Number One was bugging his brother.

Me: Number One, do you need to lose some privileges this week?
NO: Like what will I lose out on?
Me: Well, for starters, it's open house at your school this week.
NO: No! I can't miss that. I have to show you the brochure I've been doing on Uranus!
King and Me: Bwahahahahaaha!!!!!

And, somehow, we're still baffled as to how it is that our children so enjoy toilet humor.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Sometimes, Even a Supermom Gets Tired of Fighting

I've never been much of a fighter. I was always one of those people who just sort of stepped back and let people do what they want. If it bugged me, I never said anything. Then I had the Beast, and the mama bear was forced out of me. If I don't speak up for him, no one will. So, I do. And I've gotten very good at it. But, can I just confess that I'm really, really, really tired of having to fight for common sense? The soccer thing was huge, and yet it was something so simple. The kid wanted to wear his hearing devices to play. I won the battle, but the soccer association made it into some huge blown up deal. And, now I'm battling with the school.

Warning: Long-winded vent ahead. If you make it to the end, you get a cookie.

So, the Beast is totally oral. He uses sign only when he can't wear his hearing stuff. An interpretor is not an option for him because he's so very oral. Because he's doing so well and speaks so beautifully, he doesn't have the option of being in a Deaf Ed. classroom. That's wonderful!!!! But, it's also a curse. The school district has to serve him simply based on his diagnosis of bilateral hearing loss. And I'm going to make them. He does have some needs, especially social, that can't be met by just being home with his psychotic mother all the time.

At the end of the year last year, I received the call that it was time to set up his ARD and determine his placement for this year. During that phone call, they basically told me I didn't have any choice but to put him in Head Start. I made clear that I had some very serious reservations about that, and they insisted that it was the right place to put him. I was literally in tears over it because he's been in fully mainstream classes before where the teachers didn't understand how to communicate with him. Yes, his speech is good. Yes, he hears pretty well with his processor and aid on. But, he needs time to process what is being said and fully understand it. And, if there's added background noise at all, he misses big chunks of what is happening around him. Because of their lack of understanding, he really struggled last year with getting in trouble. I'm not denying that he's a handful. But, it's not always totally his own fault, either.

Anyway, they had me tour the Head Start program, and even choose the teacher I wanted for him. I did that, and found only two that I was really okay with. They had some special education background and spoke my language in terms of what I was best for him. So, I relented and let him go to Head Start with the understanding that he'd be in with one of those two teachers. Guess what? He's not with either one of those teachers. I was told that the one we really wanted would be teaching 3 year olds, and that wouldn't be a good placement for him. Okay, fine.

So, he is placed with another teacher, who has been on maternity leave and hasn't even set foot in the classroom yet, except for a few minutes to show off her new baby. They tell me she's "perfect for him because she knows sign language". Ummmm, if you'd read is ARD, you'd know he's ORAL!!! Idiots. This is NOT perfect for him if you account for the fact that the teacher won't be back until the very end of this month.

I've gotten calls from the aid in the class so that the Beast could tell me what he'd done wrong all day long at school. He is so upset by the time he calls me that he can't even talk. The kicker? I'd never once received any kind of feedback from the school telling me they were having problems with him. Never. The aid says she's "been butting heads with him from day one". I don't mind if you call to let me hear what he's done wrong, but you sure the hell better call to let him tell me what he's done right, too.

To top it off, his classroom is still not equipped with the FM system he needs to drown out background noise and hear the teacher. He's getting in trouble for "zoning out in group time". HE CAN'T HEAR YOU!!!!! The other kids are wiggling around him, the air conditioner is on, and whatever else. If you are not doing what he is ARDed for you to do, you have no legitimate reason to complain when he doesn't comply with your wishes. She tells me she knows he hears, but just doesn't want to listen. Ugh!!!!!

I asked if she's complying with the ARD and verifying in a very specific way whether or not he heard AND understood what was being said. She says "I know he heard me. He just doesn't want to do what I asked." That's not the right answer.

He was also ARDed to have a meeting with me, the teacher, and the school nurse BEFORE school started to sit down and go over how to use his equipment. I don't know how many times I've asked for this meeting to happen. They just keep telling me to wait for the regular teacher to come off of leave. Um, six weeks after school starts is too late. Period. He's frustrated.

I called the aid again a day or so after she called me and just wanted to check up to see how he's doing. Same story. He's a problem in group time and in nap time. He's ARDed not to nap because his circadian rhythms are a mess and any nap will mean he doesn't go to bed until 2am. She says he's too loud at nap time. I ask what he's given to do during nap. He has to sit on his mat, but they do give him a stuffed animal to hold. Thanks, but a stuffed animal isn't going to do it for a kid for a full hour. I aksed if she'd given him a book like I'd suggested before. Yes, she has, but they won't do it again because he wants more than one book and that's not okay. What??!! One book is not going to keep any kid entertained and quiet for a full hour. Why are they not using this time to really work with him one on one without the noise distractions of the other kids? I said I'd start picking him up and bringing him home at naptime. She said I'm not allowed to come get him. Full attendance is mandatory. You can't tell me I can't come get my own child from a school where he's miserable! And, furthermore, the ARD was mandatory, too, but they don't feel the need to follow it. If they can't do these simple things for him, I'm not doing much for them.

The Beast is miserable. He doesn't want to go to school. Even when he was in trouble last year, he still wanted to go. I asked him why he doesn't want to go, and he says he has no friends. This is a kid who could make friends with a corpse, so him feeling lonely is a huge red flag. I asked the teacher about that. She says it's true. He has no friends because more than half the class in only three years old and they don't know how to play like a five year old. WHAT?!?!?! He couldn't have the teacher I wanted because she was teaching mostly three year olds, so he gets put in some other class with the same situation. AAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! She says there are some 4 year olds in the class, but they're best friends from last year and don't like to play with anyone but each other. Poor miserable little guy.

So, now he has no friends. He is being taught a curriculum for three year olds, even though he is reading and writing very much on his own. He can't hear half of what's going on. We don't know if he's really understanding what he does hear because the teacher won't check for clarification. He is too loud at naptime. And he only gets acknowledged when he's in trouble. Am I the only one who sees a really serious problem here?

I have tried calling everyone and their dog. I'm tired of fighting. I'm not quitting because I love my kid too much, but I won't pretend I'm not emotionally exhausted by the whole stupid situation. The head of Head Start was kind and said she'd look into it. The principle at his current school completely dismissed me and said I should just wait it out until the regular teacher comes back. It will be too late by then. It's already too late. The damage is done. He has a bad taste in his mouth about school. The aid doesn't like him and sees him as a problem. Waiting another minute is not okay. At all. And, in case that's not enough, he can't go by the nickname (his first two initials) he's had since the day he was born in class. He must go by the name on his birth certificate. So, while they're destroying his self-esteem, they're also taking his identity away. Why not just poison the kid and put him out of his misery?

We've looked at other options for him. Most of them are waaaaay out of our price range. If I pull him out of school, and keep him home with me, he's not getting the social time with his peers that he so desperately needs. The kicker is that he just missed Kindergarten by 4 days. All of his friends from church got to go, but he's stuck behind. And he's so ready for Kindergarten, at least academically.

I finally called the principle at Number One's school. This is an amazing man who really fights for the best interest of special needs kids. I laid it all on the line for him. I told him I've tried every single line of authority to no avail. He's looking into loopholes in the birthday rule for getting into Kindergarten, but he isn't finding much. He did note that Kindergarten is NOT required in the state of TX. Plus, if a child has completed a grade, the school has to promote him to the next grade the following year. So, if I homeschool him for Kindergarten this year, and can prove it, he could go straight to first grade with his friends next year. And, he'll be in Number One's school with a principle who cares. And, I can basically hand select his teacher. (I already know who I'll choose, too.) He also gave me the number to the head of the school district's special ed. dept.

I called the special ed. lady and left a message. She called me back yesterday, and I told her what is going on, and that I'm very concerned for his well-being. She agreed with me!!!!!! What?!?!?! Someone from the school district actually thinking a parent might know more about her own child than the school????? Can this really be happening? She said she'd be having meetings at the Beast's school all day and would discuss some other options with the principle there (the one who had just dismissed my concerns before).

One possibility is to put him in pre-k. This is what I've been asking for all along. Now all of a sudden they're giving it to him? I guess I'll take what I can get. Because the pre-k in Number One's school is full, he'd still have to stay at the school he's in. But, it's still an improvement. This class would have 10 "typical" kids in it, all over the age of 4. Then, it would have 10 kids like him in it. These kids have some quirks, but aren't your typical special ed. kids. And, here's the great part. It's being taught by the special pre-school teacher he's had for the last two years!!!!!! She is wonderful. The kid could spit nails at her, and she'd firmly address the issue, but never have him feeling bad about himself. She was supposed to have been a resource for the mainstream teacher who had him last year, but that teacher never would really listen to her. This year, she'd be THE teacher for him, so I know that what needs to happen would actually happen.

So, now I wait to hear what was decided yesterday. Regardless of what the school decides is best for him, his mother has decided that today is his last day in that classroom. He's not going back there. Period.

So, there's my long-winded whine. To anyone who has gotten to the end of this, you deserve a cyber brownie. I'm off to go fight another battle with the school...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Score One for the Supermom!

A few months ago, we started the process of signing the Beast up to play soccer. Number One started when he was four, but the Beast seemed a little more clutzy than him, so we waited. Normally, you'd just sign your kid up and enjoy the games. But, I wanted to make sure all my t's were crossed and my i's were dotted in terms of letting him wear his processor and hearing aid.

I started by finding out what the rules were on such a thing. I knew they were weird about jewelry and didn't know where this would fall. Turns out, no one seemed to know anything about hearing devices. There were no rules, so they apparently decided to make some up. At first, it was just that we had to give him a sweat band to make sure nothing flew off his head and injured another child. You know, because we read in the news all the time about kids at soccer games being blinded by flying hearing aids. Then, it came to them telling me they'd need a note from the doctor who implanted him stating that there were no safety risks. Interesting. Last I checked, a medical release wasn't necessary for kids with asthma or other health issues. Not wanting to rock the boat, I complied, and got the letter. I also had to put in writing that I wouldn't hold them responsible if the processor or aid got broken during a game. Those things are pricey, so I could see their concern there. I put it in writing for them.

I made sure I made it very easy for the head of the soccer association to communicate with me regarding this issue. I even made sure I told him that he could call me when it came time to make decisions about hearing devices or when they were training referees on what to allow in the games. I said I'd bring the Beast and all his equipment and meet him anywhere anytime to go over this with him. It's important to me that we set our kids up for success rather than failure.

I mentioned that he has an FM system that would allow the coach to wear a small microphone around his neck, and the coach's voice would go straight to the Beast's ear with a radio wave. His response: Well, maybe you can wear the microphone, but the coach wearing it puts the Beast at an unfair advantage. Ummm....what??!! I was clear that, even with his equipment, his hearing is poor. When you add in the background noise and cheering and wind, we're lucky if he has a clue in the world what is happening. How on earth would this put him at an unfair advantage. He explained that we had to consider what other parents might say. I'd like to be there when some parent at a four year old soccer game yells out, "Hey, Ref!! That Deaf kid over there who can barely hear anything in the first place has an unfair advantage over my kid! Throw him out of the game!"

Anyway, I was willing to compromise on the FM and just see how things played out. I thought we had everything squared away when it was brought to my attention that the refs had had their training session and were instructed that the Beast could wear his equipment, but every piece of it had to be fully padded. This is the part where my head exploded slightly. When were they going to tell me this??!?!?! Did they just plan on kicking him out of the game once he got there? I went nuts.

I spoke with two people who are higher up in our local league jurisdiction. They pointed out that kids with casts on their arms have to bubble wrap them and then put material over that. That's very nice, but a hearing aid is hardly the same size and weight as a cast, and an arm goes flying all over the place while kids are playing. How many ears do you see flying all over the place on the soccer field. I looked them straight in the eye and told them they were welcome to bubble wrap my kid's head if they honestly thought that was the best solution. Then it was suggested that maybe we should just take off all his equipment and let him learn to use his instincts since such a big part of soccer is instinctive. Those of you who have met the Beast will know that it's a bad idea to leave him to his instincts. He'll be peeing on the field, picking up rocks, and asking girls out on dates to his mom's house for beenie weenies. NOT an okay situation. I suggested that we make it fair for everyone. Let's put earplugs in the refs' ears and let them use their instincts, too. Shockingly, they didn't think that was such a hot idea.

I did get creative with the help of some friends, and was able to pad his equipemnt, but he was miserable with it. It was bulky and uncomfortbale. Besides, I was beyond livid, and determined to find a loop hole in these stupid rules. But where? I was talking to my friend, Danelle, on the phone and she pointed out that she'd seen kids with glasses playing all the time with no special padding or straps to hold them on. What?!?!?! Surely those kids had to jump through hoops to make it happen, too, right? I had to find out the rule on it.

Number One's coach happens to be the head of our city's jurisdiction and kindly brought him home from practice the other day. When he dropped him off, in inquired about the rules for kids with glasses. Thinking that I was referring to Snort, he said "A kid's gotta' see. There are no rules." I didn't say a word, but just looked at him. Then his lightbulb came on. "Ooooooh! I see where you're going with this." I let him know he could tell the head of the soccer league that he'd be hearing from me the next morning.

The first thing I did the next morning was to track down the cell phone number of the man in charge. No more e-mail. This man was going to talk to me like it or not. I told him we'd gotten the padding, but it was uncomfortable. Then, I brought up the glasses. I was polite, but made sure I gave him no outlets. He stuttered, came up with excuses, and whatever else he could. I had an answer for everything. I reminded him that I'd offered to come show him what we were dealing with, but never got the call. He told me he was concerned about safety for the Beast. I asked if he'd received the letter because I made plenty of copies. He backed off and said he had it, and it should do. So, I asked bluntly "What is the problem here? Why do kids with glasses, which can shatter and take an eye out, have more rights than my kid who just wants to wear a little hearing aid and processor?"

He replied, "This is new to us. We just don't know what we're dealing with." Ummmm, I think I made clear that I would answer any and all questions. Instead of asking, those people just assumed, and it was at the expense of my kid. NO WAY!!! Finally, he relented. "Okay, but I need to see them before he can play. Once we okay this, it puts a stamp of approval on hearing aids and processor for all kids wanting to play soccer in our state." I was ecstatic!!! Not only can I make it better for my kid, I can make it right for all of them. Then he said he wasn't available to see us on game day. My response: "Fine. Where will you be tonight?" Coincidentally, he was going to be in town handing out uniforms at the park. I told him I'd be there. And I was.

I had to wait nearly an hour for him to finish with the uniforms, but it was worth the wait. In less than five minutes of meeting me and the Beast and looking at his equipment he said, "Oh! This is small. Looks just fine to me. I'll e-maill all refs. tonight and let them know he just needs a sweatband to hold it on. No padding needed." WAHOOOOO!!!!!!!

Never again will a kid in our state who wants to play soccer in a town league have to get a letter from a surgeon, sign silly releases, wear bubble wrap, or go without hearing. They just need a sweatband and a soccer ball, just like all the other kids. And that, my friends, is just how it should be.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Memory Lane

I know! Three blog posts in one day! Not bad for me, eh? Enjoy the pics. and the fun details of the Beast's first day of school. But, I saw this on MOF Heidi's blog, and thought I totally needed to do it, too. (Mostly because I LOVE having comments on my blog).

Memory Lane

1. As a comment on my blog, leave one memory that you and I had together. It doesn't matter if you knew me a little or a lot. Anything you remember!

2. Next, re-post these instructions on your blog and see how many people leave a memory about you. It's actually pretty fun to see the responses. If you leave me a memory about me, I'll assume you are playing the game and I'll come to your blog and leave one for you.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Summarizing Summer 2008

Boy Genius

The Beast started Head Start yesterday. He was apparently most impressed by the peanut butter sandwiches in the cafeteria, and "really liked peeing in the potty" at his new school. He said he also said his teacher sang a song about being happy and ya' know it, and was proud because "Mom! I already know that song!".

Head Start is a potentially good program for him socially and emotionally. Academially, I don't know how much he's going to get from it. I warned the school district that I was afraid he would be bored academically, which would lead to him creating his own activities to entertain himself. Usually, his own entertainment includes strange chemicals, the toilet bowl, and some bouncy balls. Occasionally, it will only include a pair of scissors and some cat hair, but that's only on his slower days.

The school district assured me that the Beast would do well to be placed where he's being placed. He's in a program where they're learning colors, numbers, shapes, and letters. The Beast knows all about those things, and I'm not sure how they're going to challenge him, but whatever. Perhaps they'll have him figure out the perimeter and area of each shape? Who knows? I'm just waiting for the phone call from the teacher asking me when he learned the difference between a hexagon and an octagon. Beats me. I didn't teach him, but he does know it.

As I said, yesterday was his first day of school. Most of the summer was spent watching PBS or playing on the PBS website on the internet. I didn't think it was having much impact on him, but he seemed to be enjoying it...until yesterday. Number One had a calendar with student names on it laying on my desk. The Beast came up and looked at it and said, "J-i-l-l. That spells Jill."

What??!?!?!?! Did this kid seriously just READ a word to me?? I have done NOTHING to teach him one single skill. I promise I'm the ultimate slacker mom. I turned on the computer and typed in some other simple words for him, about a dozen. He sounded out every. single. word. CORRECTLY!!!! Apparently children do learn from what they see on television.

So, now we go back to the orginal question I asked when he was first placed in this program: Will he be challenged enough this year, or will he have to devise his own creative means of entertainment? I've already made my prediction based on what I know of him. You can feel free to make your own.