Last Day: Looking Back

I think it’s only normal for people to look back before starting something new, and New Year’s Eve is a logical opportunity to do so.  It’s also important.  One of the things teachers benefit most from but rarely have time to do is reflect on their daily teaching to analyze what worked and what needs to be tweaked.  True in non-teacher lives, as well, I know.  At the end of the day, thinking back on what was positive, and what we could have handled better helps us learn from our mistakes, and decreases the likelihood that we will repeat them.

This year, I moved house in a major way, got married, left my career, battled for better schooling for my son, wrote a novel, and got a new job which I love.  I’ve left old friends behind (but never forgotten), and made new friends.  My life has improved, sometimes by sheer will.  I compromise more (a new husband and a blended family make this absolutely necessary), I don’t get nearly as many headaches, I relax (fully) more.

At the beginning of this year, I couldn’t see past June.  It was a complete unknown – What would I be doing?  What would my son be doing?  How would our lives change?  Now that I am six months past that point of all that was unknown, I am proud of us for taking this leap, trusting ourselves to get re-married, trusting that we could find a good school situation for The Boy, and trusting that I would land on my feet with a job I didn’t hate, making enough to pay the bills.  I am very proud of us.  It was a big leap of faith, and it has turned out beautifully.

2013 has been a year of great change, of great opportunity, of great hope, and of great reward for me (and us).  I hope it treated you just as well.  I look forward to 2014 with great anticipation for continued growth for all of us.

Happy Old Year, Friends.  And Happy New Year.

English: This came from New Years Eve 2004 int...

You Never Really Have the Knack of it

English: A vector image of a Nintendo DS Lite

As The Boy grows, I have these brief feelings of knowing what I’m doing, like I’ve got him figured out and can anticipate whatever may come up with him.  And then Life laughs in my face and says, “Are you kidding me?  He’s growing which means he’s changing, and you don’t have a clue!”

And I don’t.

He no longer requires toys for birthday and Christmas, which is a GREAT thing, but his electronics have overtaken everything, and if one of them gets damaged (a la an iPad screen) or goes missing for whatever reason, it can’t be replaced.  Did I say if one goes missing?  Hahahaha.  There goes Life laughing at me again.  I should have said when one goes missing…

 

I mentioned recently that his old DS, a gift from his 8th birthday, which had been forgotten in a drawer for a couple of years has recently resurfaced because many of his friends have them down here.  Many of the Christmas and birthday presents purchased for him this year are based on that rekindling.  And now his DS has gone missing because he has been taking it to school so he can play it in the van on the long, early ride.

He had been warned about taking his electronics to school, but now what?  What if it wasn’t misplaced at school or at Grammy’s or in his messy, messy room?  What if it was stolen, or “borrowed” by some unscrupulous acquaintance?  What do we do?

I haven’t a clue.

Very funny, Life…

Remembering on Memorial Day

English: WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 7, 2010) Music...My bands used to do our local Memorial Day Parade.  It took us a long time to prepare for it (we started in February), it was always scorching hot, and parents often complained about it.  After being accused of exposing their children to heat stroke for making them wear blue jeans a few years back, I decided that this gig wasn’t really all it was cracked up to be.

As always, when breaking with longstanding tradition in the education community, it is best to simultaneously propose a replacement activity.  Instead, we decided to visit a local nursing home and perform for real veterans.

This will be our third year, and I think it serves our elders well.  They really enjoy seeing the huge group come in and play for them.  Many end up in tears because it brings back memories of their own or their children’s experiences with school music programs.  They insist on shaking my hand, and tearfully thanking me, which always gets me.

It also serves the kids well, to remember these elders, to see how much they enjoy their performance, to understand what it must be like to have to wait for your entertainment to come to you.

On this Memorial Day, I’m thankful for the service of our veterans, and also the elder community who supported those veterans.

The St. Patrick’s Day “hat”…

My son remembers just about everything.

St. Pat's Day "Hat"A couple of years ago, he made Fabulous Babysitter buy him a St. Pat’s-themed head band with orange pigtails that got some pretty strange looks when he wore it.  He was oblivious, of course, but the rest of us weren’t.  This is one of the tough parts of being an autism parent (or caregiver, or teacher).  We don’t want to deny them anything that makes them happy (at least nothing as benign as this), but we also don’t want them to be targets for the less compassionate public at large.

A few years ago, it was a beanie (complete with propeller!) that The Boy had found around Halloween at a costume store.  Harmless, right?  Until I got the note home from his teacher that he was being teased, and could we please keep it at home…

And part of me screamed, “No!  Let’s concentrate on the teasers and not the one being teased!” while the other part said, “Oh, for sure.  I so get it.”

Fabulous Babysitter took The Boy out on Fun Friday, and he wanted to get some St. Patrick’s day “stuff”, and he dragged her from place to place (although she would never call it that), until he remembered the exact store they had purchased the pigtail-headband the last time.  And they purchased it again.  And again, we ask ourselves –  is it better to let him be himself, or help him to assimilate?

Teacher, Parapro, SLP, OT, Daycare, and Ex’s GF gifts

It’s that time of year to give gifts to the many, many people who help your child through his or her day, as well as to the other side of the family (you know, the one you don’t want to spend too much money on, because really it’s the ex’s job to buy for them, but it’ll never happen, and you don’t want your kid to feel bad for not bringing presents?…).

But buying gifts for all of those people would be outrageous.  So what is a budget-minded, single mom of a special needs kid to do?  Get crafty…

  1. As mentioned in a previous post, you can make your own sugar body scrub from fairly common ingredients like sugar, honey, tea, and vanilla.
  2. You can get yourself a metal stamping set (like this one from Harbor Freight), some washers (but probably better to get actual jewelry making metal from the craft store: zinc-coated washers are too hard), and some carabiners from your local big box store (they run about a dollar apiece) to make personalized key chains.
  3. Last year, when I asked everyone I knew for ideas, Dr. Leah from Singlemommyhood suggested paperwhite bulbs in a pretty bowl as a great gift for teachers.
  4. You could always do a donation to a great cause like Heifer International for teachers, as well.
  5. For daycare helpers, we have made fudge, cookies, chocolate-dipped large pretzel sticks (with sprinkles), and all sorts of goodies in previous years.  Just make sure to note any allergies!

I can’t tell you what we’re doing this year (because some of these wonderful people who help The Boy sooooo much read my blog!), but maybe you can share with us some of your ideas in the comments!

body scrub