Brave Little Toaster

Once upon a time, I was the mother of a little boy who was scared of the bathtub. Who was scared of so, so many things. He wanted to be brave. He tried to be brave. But when your brain sends you into fight-or-flight mode over the sound of a nearby lawnmower, or the feel of grass on your bare feet, it's hard to brave. It's hard to try new things when you can't process them, when you can't articulate what you're even afraid of, when you can't work those new things out to their logical conclusion. Even when the logical conclusion is: This is supposed to be fun, dammit. "I know what that is!" he said, pointing at the rental snorkel gear. "It lets you breathe underwater! Can I try it?" Uhh. Okay? Sure. Yes. The thing is, if we'd asked or offered, he probably would have said "NO." And that's okay. We've finally figured out how to sit back and wait for him to ask. To surprise us. And to always say "yes" when he does, even if it scares us, a little. Way to go, Noah. You're officially and for-real the bravest kid I know. BONUS: !... Read more →

Mr. Big Stuff

After Noah learned to ride his bike sans training wheels, and after the trip to the toy store and the coveted Ninjago Lego Set Of Six Hundred Eighty Four Infernal Fucking Pieces Are You Kidding Me was procured and assembled, Noah calmly asked us to put his training wheels back on. Uh. Well, see, the point was... "I'M NEVER RIDING MY BIKE AGAIN," he shrieked, before I even finished the sentence. He may have stomped up the stairs and slammed his bedroom door, but I can't specifically recall if that was over the training wheel thing or any of the MILLIONS of hideous injustices his six-year-old self is forced to endure on a daily basis, including but not limited to: 1) not being allowed to watch TV 2) being told he really shouldn't wear that sweater, it's 80 degrees outside 3) YOU HAVE TO EAT ACTUAL FOOD SOMETIMES 4) AND GO TO BED 5) being told to bend over all the way to the ground to pick up the thing that he just dropped, I mean, MY GOD, he's tall for his age. It's like, three whole feet away, down there. YOU DO IT, MOM. He stuck to his stubborn... Read more →

Go, Ninja

Noah's IEP meeting went very well, by the way. (The plot points! They are dangling!) Of COURSE it went very well. I always get myself so needlessly lathered up about these meetings ahead of time -- a peril of being overly-informed about other people's horror stories, probably -- and then we show up and remember that oh. Right. These people actually give a shit. About their jobs and their students and that whole "making a difference in the life of a child" thing. I'd gotten a somewhat...strange phone call from the school psychologist the week before that knocked me a bit off my axis, and then a conversation with a classmate's mother at a birthday party set me even more on edge. Because this same psychologist was causing problems for them and everything about their IEP was contested and a struggle and the whole thing sounded crazy combative and stressful. Just like another mother had described their experience this year to me a few weeks before, at another party. Sternly-worded letters! Hired advocates! Parents storming out of meetings! Peace negotiations all blown to hell! I think I need to stop attending so many birthday parties. Or find something else to... Read more →

Top Mini Chef

Hey! Let's talk about Ezra's cooking camp, all of a sudden! Because I am literally going to explode all over the place if I don't get some of this cuteness out of my system. (WARNING BRAGGING AHEAD WHATEVER FUCK YOU IT'S MY BLOG) So a couple weeks ago, Ezra started a once-weekly "Mini Chefs" class at our YMCA, for three- and four-year-olds. I admit we didn't even know exactly what we were signing him up for, other than OH EM GEE CHEFS THAT ARE MINI. It was $50 for six weeks and sounded adorable. Sold! We'll just go ahead and assume it's not a Hell's Kitchen reboot for the Disney Channel, or something. I admit I was a teensy bit disappointed at the lack of little kid-sized aprons or chef's hats, and it's a drop-off class so I haven't gotten any good photos of Ezra in full mini-cheffing action. However, 1) IT'S A DROP-OFF CLASS WHUT WHUT, and 2) holy crap, Ezra is having the time of his life there. Every day, he begs and begs to go to cooking class. There are tears, when I must tell him that alas, not today. At pick-up, while most of the other... Read more →

Outside the Box

When the flyer came home in his backpack, I groaned. The Valentine's Day class party was going to have a "theme." A 1950s sock hop, with music and dancing. Dressing up in poodle skirts and "greaser" costumes was encouraged. Please remember that all treats must be store bought, not homemade. Sometimes integration in the general education classroom sucks. No way would the room parents in special education plan something like that, with so many of the kids easily unnerved by changes in routine and costumes and noise and cupcakes frosted with Red 40 dye. But there was no party for the special ed class -- parties fall exclusively in the domain of the homeroom. The giant overcrowded homeroom, like the one I toured just over a year ago with other parents from the preschool program. We observed it with wide, terrified eyes -- one mom grabbed my arm and squeezed it while shooting me a WTF look, because we were both thinking the same thing, because our kids won't be ready for this environment in a million billion years. The kindergartners moved around the room in quiet, controlled movements, focused on independent activities, tuning out their dozens of classmates all... Read more →

"Teachers Don't Have Phones."

And with that, the question over whether or not he was telling me the truth was answered. We caught Noah in his first big, sustained lie yesterday. The details are exhaustively boring, but suffice to say he'd figured out a way to game his token/reward system at school and make us think he was earning more points for good behavior than he was. Then exchanging those points for treats at home like playing video games or getting some Halloween candy. (That is not actually from Halloween, but just what the boys call candy year-round here.) I'd grown suspicious and questioned him a few times, and he remained consistent with his cover story (his teacher couldn't find the stamp so she marked his paper with a crayon instead) and insisted that he was telling the truth. "I promise, Mom," he'd say, cooly and calmly, with perfect eye contact and an earnest, dimpled smile. That was what made me back off, every time: the eye contact. Noah remains a jumble of different quirks from both on and off the Spectrum -- at his last IEP his teacher said she absolutely didn't want to change his diagnosis code from the catch-all "Developmental Delay"... Read more →

Mr. Fixit

We have an IEP meeting today, the first of two IEP meetings scheduled over the next few months. For this year is Noah's re-evaluation year, the year he's due for...wait for it, oh, you'll never guess...a re-evaluation of his strengths and weaknesses and needs and services, up to an including the Big Label that keeps him in special education and keeps my mother-in-law up at night for fear of his PERMANENT RECORD and her continued, unshakable belief that the public school system is legally allowed to tie him to a cheerful Circle Time Chair and forcibly inject Ritalin into his veins. IT HAPPENS. SNOPES IS IN ON IT TOO. This particular meeting is, quite frankly, going to be bullshit. Not much more than a procedural checkpoint. We will show up and be told about all the different evaluations and testing procedures they plan to do before our next IEP meeting, the big one that will determine his placement for first grade. (Where there are no Circle Time Chairs, but I believe you may be able to request one of those coin-operated massage recliners for your child's Clockwork Orange-style med drip. Fingers crossed!) They will hand us five trees' worth of... Read more →

Halloween in Real Life

Noah still won't dress up for Halloween, by the way. Won't even consider it. In the past we've managed to get him semi-costumed at the 11th hour via: 1) Lying. 2) Candy-fueled panic with a side of peer pressure. 3) Bribery. While I was debating which one of these FANTASTIC options to go with this year, my mom actually had an inspired idea: Why not just let Noah wear his karate uniform? I asked Noah what he thought about that: It would look like a costume without actually being a costume. We'd be playing a little trick on people, kind of. He liked that idea. He liked that idea a lot. "Everyone will think I'm the Karate Kid from the movie but actually I'm just Noah the Karate Kid. From real life." It didn't exactly make for very exciting pictures, but still. This is easily the happiest he's ever looked on Halloween. And everyone in the neighborhood was completely fooled by his non-costume costume. Ezra, on the other hand... Ezra just can't even deal with any of y'all right now. I mean, God. You people. Around 5:30 pm, Young Master Ezra was sent to his room for a time out.... Read more →

And On Third Thought...

So. Yeah...turns out that was nicely anticlimactic, in the end. The best thing about about this whole...uh, thing (besides working itself out fairly quickly) was the fact that it rallied our mostly-dormant parent email distro list like nothing else in the world. What had previously only been used to send out links to special-needs talks and events and charity 5Ks suddenly came alive with the sound of HIGHLY ALARMED MOTHER BEARS. Everyone quickly passed along whatever bits of conflicting or corroborating information we'd received from the school, the teacher, the administration. We compared notes and conspiracy theories and even a horror story or two. (It was a dark and stormy Tuesday after the first day of school when one child spent 40 goddamn minutes wandering around the school completely lost because neither his homeroom teacher nor special education teacher realized he was missing, holy shit, the end.) By late last night, we were virtually toasting each other's wine glasses over email and firming up final details on a class playdate next week and a mom's night out the week after. It was beautiful. It was also interesting to see the different advocacy styles: Some go in with guns blazing. They... Read more →

On Second Thought, Hell No

The principal at Noah's school called us mid-day on Friday. She abruptly dropped an oh-HI-THERE-just-wanted-to-let-you-know-something-we're-changing bomb, in that sweet disarming way only cheerful elementary school ladies can. And after I hung up I stared at the phone for awhile, trying to figure out what just happened and why. The change in question felt like...not a good change, or at the very least felt like a change we should have been able to say "no thank you" to, or discussed a little further, instead of what it was: On Monday we're moving your child out of his morning homeroom, and sending him directly to the special education classroom. Try to give him a heads' up over the weekend, kthxbye. A flurry of emails among the other parents with children in the special education class confirmed that I was not alone in my unease. The "change" seemed to fly in the face of the program our children are in (small, self-contained classroom only when necessary, integrate at all other times), in the face of our IEPs, our right to be involved in these sorts of decisions ahead of time, and our right not to be fed a line of complete horseshit, just... Read more →