Monday, October 20, 2008

Weekend Hangover

Ever feel like you have a hangover on Monday morning just from doing so much all weekend? I think I have one of those. Too much weekend!

I actually had one of the most fun weekends ever, just packed full of activity.

Let's back up to Wednesday. Dyed my hair with a home color (box from drugstore). It was supposed to be light brown. Turned out almost black. Got really emotional & all across the board with it. Then realized: it's only hair! I think I look like a Hispanic with blue eyes. I'm sticking with it for a while. However, I'm making a coloring appt with a stylist in a few weeks to see what I'm doing wrong. Washed my couch slipcovers (remember this for future reference).

Thursday. Shopped and cooked for my 10yr old's bday party. Took the puppy in to get spayed.

Friday. Went to work at one of the local high schools. Got a call from my 11yr old saying the dog threw up on the couch. Poor kid (& puppy). So the 11yr old had to clean up the couch & wash the couch cover. When I work at the high school, the 11 & 10yr old are home for less than an hour, and then they get on the school bus. Anyway, I worked at the high school. Showed up to find Mardi Gras, ie.., HOMECOMING! Wish I knew this ahead of time so I could have dressed accordingly. This was actually really really fun, and brought back so many great memories. I was in the Self-Contained room for the day. So I walked with a mentally retarded girl & a downs syndrome boy thru the city parade. Yes, our local high school goes ape with homecoming, including a mid-day city parade. 2400 students plus many locals are in the parade. CRAZY! Went to work and ended up in a parade. Quite a day. After the parade we went to the pep assembly. Best day of work I've ever been to!
Friday evening we had our 10yr old's bday party/sleepover. Three boys came, thank GOD! Apparently he is able to retain friends! Whew! Then I went in the wee hours of the night to retrieve my 13yr old from the local homecoming game. He went with his football coach & friends from the middle school.

Saturday. Got thru breakfast & exiting the 10yr olds. Sleepovers always seem to end in such lack of sleep that children are psychotic. We noticed this all morning. I proceeded to tell the boys to take a nap. They asked how long? I said until dinner.
I went for a job interview (part-time) at Home Depot. On top of our eye surgery bills & putting two kids in braces, I now reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaally need hearing aids. I've needed them for about five years, but put it off. They cost about $7K for the type I need, and our insurance covers 30%. Apparently I work to pay the medical bills. The thing that gets me is we have really good insurance. Yet how can there be so many services not covered? ARGH. Anyway.
Early evening I went to my make-shift high school reunion at a local roadhouse. My husband said I must be off to go whoring at the roadhouse. Nice. Actually the whole thing was so much fun, dozens of old classmates came, and was a huge success. People have requested doing this more often than annually. So we will make it semi-annual. My friend C & I ran the whole thing with the roadhouse owner (went to school with him). I rolled into my bed at about 2:30am. I was the designated driver, so stayed until the end. Fortunately no one needed a ride home.

Sunday. Got up at 6:30am to go to church. Don't remember much after that seeing as I was so tired! I recall taking a nap, doing some ironing, and taking the kids out to lunch. Maybe it was a dream. Tried to figure out how the DirecTV box is not working in the family room. Figure it got broken during the sleepover. Won't bother me for the kids to be out of a TV! This is my dream come true!!! Told the kids and my husband there's really no incentive for me to get the box fixed. I would have to take a day off work without pay to wait around for the repair man, pay $75/hr for a repairman, and pay for supplies/product. Works for me to go without the kids tv. (Silently rolling on floor laughing a maniacal laugh).

Today. I thought I would be going to work to recover from all the weekend activities, ya know, go to work to relax! Then I remembered it's a teacher in service day. I will relax tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Things are going really well right now. We are now beyond the one month mark of when we started our two bipolar sons on Depakote. The difference is night and day, & yet, no serious side effects. We don't see any side effects at all. What we notice is a normal life. Alot of peace. Almost zero chaos created by mentally ill children. It's a luxury I think most parents take for granted.

Work is going well. I have worked almost every day for the school district the past few weeks. I really enjoy working with the high school kids the best. That's my favorite so far.

My youngest son's birthday party is Friday night. Some kids have RSVP'd. Phew!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Friendship Drama

My heart hurts when the kids come home with their friendship dramas. I guess I should get a thicker skin, because this will only go on for forever. But, what do you do with the autistic child (of any form) who just doesn't understand alot of social skills, nuances, and aspects, yet he WANTS friends? And friends usually think he is weird................

He is weird, and it's heartbreaking.

All three boys, and one of our girls when she was here, go thru the "nobody wants to be my friend. I have no friends." I can honestly say that is false for all those children.

Perhaps they want something different, or situations hurt their feelings, and/or they feel disappointment. I've expressed many times this week to come home and tell me how they FEEL, not to just scream, shove a brother, and say "people treat me like dirt!"

Could they be more specific please?

So I tell them to tell me what is going on and tell me how they feel. They I ask them, "so what are you going to do about that?" I want them to first look inside them self for alternatives and solutions. Then we can talk about lots of options, including ones I throw out there.

What I really loathe is the drama queen routine. sigh. Any suggestions? This really only goes on currently with the 11yr old & almost 10yr old. Could be kids at school, could be neighborhood kids. What I really dislike about our neighborhood kids for the most part is that they are spoiled rotten little rich kids. We live in a neighborhood where the homes are $500K thru a million dollars. Pretty nice. Most of these people do things like shove tons of gifts and monetary extravagance at their kids. Hmmm, wonder how their kids will like it when they want to move out of mom & pops, and discover the world does not hand them a silver platter. We insist on the kids pitching in, rare trips, and we do not keep up with the latest gadgets and electronics. Apparently in most circles, this is extremely important. We are trying to drive home the point that kids who are nice & share something in common with you are going to make the best friends. We've noticed that the kids who are filthy stinking rich and spoiled are not really nice for the most part. We don't like their parents (typically) and we do not have the same values. We live in the Pac NW, and one of these families will take their kids to DisneyLand just because it's someones birthday. Ah, my kids have been once. ONCE! And that's probably the only trip they will get there on my dime! I'm not being stingy. I feel we have good financial grounding and we are realistic. At the same time we are saving for retirement and the future.

So, what else can I do to help with the friendship dramas that will go on until they move out? Diana, perhaps you can write a post about this? You always have such great insight....................

Friday, October 3, 2008

Work Update

The accounting agency has still never sent me on a job. I interviewed with two other gals for a company. This company has still not selected any of us. This was three weeks ago I interviewed. I gave up on that and called the school district to see if I could sub (they said they would hold my file open for 12 months). So I went to a training orientation on Wednesday, and substituted yesterday at the alternative school. They loved me and asked me if I would like to work there in a permanent position. There are half a dozen programs at the alternative school: middle school, high school, blind/deaf elementary, teen parents with daycare on site, severely disabled (age 14-21), & parents attending school with child. I worked in the severely disabled classrooms (2 classes). These are kids where half of them will never speak or live independently. Either strokes or highly mentally retarded. The lowest functioning in the district.
I worked with three girls yesterday ages 19, 20, & 21. Heartbreaking work, but necessary. I think the 19yr old had a stroke or something......she is strapped to a wheelchair, in diapers (someone else changed her, thank GOD!), can't speak, and has to be hand fed & bottle fed. Poor thing. I was reading to one girl and pulled the girl in the wheel chair over to us to listen as well. She was just sitting alone in the middle of the room. I thought "If she were my kid, I would want someone with her doing just what the other kids are doing". I think she liked me; I got a smile out of her. I had to roll my eyes at this male teacher. When I was reading to the girl in the wheel chair this guy is shaking his head "no" at me & says "you know she can't interact or participate, right?". I said, "If she were my child I would want her included." I kept her with me & read to her. I was trying not to cry, thinking of this poor woman, age 19, so severely disabled, and no one cares if she sits all alone. Sheesh. Then briefly I helped six kids who are working VERY hard to get their food handling license. They want to work at Alfy's, Top Foods, etc., nearby. One of the boys (downs syndrome) put boxes together at Alfy's each day. Some of the kids work at GoodWill and Safeway a couple hrs a week. But they have to have adult supervision on the job until they pass a test. So I went thru a couple of practice tests with the kids. I think maybe half of the six will pass the test. I wrote the district today & officially am in the ring for the job. 8am-2:30pm Monday thru Friday. Perfect. And the alternative school is less than 15 minutes from my home! If I don't get that job, I'll keep subbing. There wasn't any need for subs today, so I'm at home.

Happy Harvest Everyone


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

And So It Goes.....

Remember when I wrote that the 13yr old was a prick over me taking him to school when he was late? That night he came home and apologized. I was ready and waiting for him to come home, seeing as I've come up with "options" for him. In love & logic, they are big into sharing options/choices with your kid. So I told him "no problem. Next time you are late, you could have one of two things: a) walk to school (6-7 miles?), or b) yes I could jump out of bed and drive you to school as is. And this means I'm in my tanker summer nightgown, greasy face, no teeth brushed, hair pulled back in a clip, and to boot, no underwear on. I'd be more than happy to hop out of the van, go into the office, and sign you in."

He looked like he was going to die or vomit, and was speechless as he shook his head "no". Yea, that's what I thought.

Lauri's blog post (clickable) has me traveling down memory lane. I'm big into getting kids to solve, or at least think thru, their own problems. At school as well. Most if not many complaints and/or problems kids have are able to be addressed by the one who owns the problem. I've avoided being a helicopter parent. I think the kids have learned alot of social skills in dealing with their own stuff. However, on a rare occasion, I've made inquiries with the teacher and/or principal. Only once have I ever had to go above the Principal's head. When do you feel it's appropriate or necessary to go above the teacher's head or the Principal's head? I'll share with you when I've done this.

Going above the teacher's head, cause it was just not being resolved:
stealing in the classroom
violence and/or bullying

Going above the Principal's head:

We dealt with the stalker for two years. It all started when J was best friends with my 11yr old. J was a bit possessive, and had no other friends. 11yr old is basically a pretty nice kid, and had lots of friends. So he was like "whatever." Until J became an obnoxious mean spirited child who lied to other kids, telling other kids that my son didn't like anyone else. So, being the tender hearted boy he is, not wanting to hurt anyone's feelings, he told J that he likes all the other kids, and to knock it off. This did not go over well, and J turned into psycho stalker in the 2nd grade. I won't go into a million details, but he was a really ugly child in the classroom, playground, and bus. Sadly we live half a mile from the child, and yes, they rode the bus together as well. My son continued to distance himself from J, and this angered J further. Vicious cycle. Since it was all words and no violence, we kept tabs on this, listened to our son grieve over this, and kept giving him "atta boys". I checked in with the teacher about once a month about it all. After a few months of this, I called the parents, who are entirely clueless. They were like "why can't the boys be friends and just like each other?" Um, because your son is a mental case! I did not say that, and just shared the facts, stating the boys would not be friends because of their son's meanness. They are totally in denial. All I requested at the end of the school year was that the boys be in separate classes the next school year. Hopefully this would phase out stalker child.

No one listened to me, and the boys were put in the same class. I held my tongue, and waited for the problems to ensue. They went on all school year, into the spring. I worked with the teacher & principal (or so I thought). The boys sat across the room from one another. But that really didn't help. Finally got to the point where I was dealing with the principal exclusively, over the classroom, playground, and bus. This got me nowhere.

I resorted to pulling out the school district policy book, called the school Superintendent, and cited all the harassment that has been going on for two school years. By this point too, our son was so depressed and beaten down, he was not even the same child. J was now on my son's ball team (by request of J), and yelling at him & taunting him every day at practice. He also threw baseball bats at my son in the dugout, at close range. The buck stopped here. I told the whole saga to the Super, including all my conversations with the principal, and said "I'm now ready to get the police involved. I will get a restraining order against J & his family, and that will be a far bigger problem for the school district to deal with. J will be moved to another class & possibly another school to keep X amount of distance away from my child, J will be kicked off our city baseball league, and J will have to find alternative transportation to school. His parents both work full-time, so they will be highly inconvenienced finding a way to transport him around without the school bus." The buck stopped here. I never regret making this phone call. Surprisingly, the principal was most accommodating at this point. Immediately. No restraining order, but the school kept J away, the city league kicked J off the team, and he sits in another part of the school bus. The school required personal & group counseling for J, including social skills classes. ya think?

We are really proud of our son for how he dealt with this. He did his best to ignore, and never once used physical force against J (even though our son is physically much bigger & stronger, our son turned the other cheek). He talked with his parents, teacher, and principal, about all this. He also got to see that there are higher powers that be, above and beyond the almighty school principal. He also saw his parents love him thru this, we were his safe haven, cheerleaders, and we showed him that the police are there to help us when others aren't.

On the flip side, my 13yr old dealt with 2 school bullies from the 2nd thru 6th grade. No where near the extreme of J, but annoying to say the least. This all stopped in the 6th grade when the 2 bullies tried to beat my son up together, out of the blue, and my son kicked their asses. Both of them. All three kids were suspended, which I protested in person to the school. I was not listened to, but I feel that since all the witnesses agreed that the other two boys instigated & were beating up my son, my son has every right to protect himself. The school policy is to suspend everyone physically fighting. We were able to walk away from this pretty well, because the bottom line is those two assholey kids will never bother my child again. People are still talking about how my son beat up those two punks. Everyone thought they deserved it. Kids and parents alike. I still have to chuckle. And given the same scenario, I would still tell my child to fight back when a couple of kids are beating his head into concrete.

Fortunately, after it's all said and done, I feel I have good repore with the school and district. I feel I handled myself well, and consider the principal to be an acquaintance. She was even a personal reference for me during my hiring phase this last month with the district. I think we've come a long way.

So, where do you draw the line? Where do you let your kid deal with it on their own and where do you step in?