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...

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Custom Built Bed for my Hypo-sensitive Boy

The Boy is often hypo-sensitive, meaning he needs more sensory input than is typical.  He rubs his shoulder on the wall as he walks down the hall, loves big hugs, and could spend all day in the water if we let him.  He needs that extra input on his skin to be able to tell where it ends.  Part of this is that he likes to be under blankets, and in enclosed spaces, as many on the spectrum do, and has taken to hanging out in his closet to achieve the desired effect.  No problem except that he is getting bigger every day, and his closet is not.

I mentioned the other day that The Man had designed and was custom-building a bed modeled after the Captain’s bed style, so that The Boy could have an enclosed space under it in which to hang out.  Here is the (semi-) final result:

custom built bed

I say “semi” because, as you can see, the shutter door has yet to be attached on the end.  The Boy chose the color, and would like the door to be painted the same color, but alas, it is made of plastic, requiring special paint, and well, there’s only so much time in the day.  Some of you IKEA fans, may recognize the dark long piece with drawers that acts as a step and added storage that can be accessed from both underneath and the front of the bed.  It is from the Expedit line, and we used it for sorting the recycling at our old house.  It provides much needed additional storage in The Boy’s new room design.  We got rid of the box spring, and his mattress sits on top of slats, allowing for extra head room underneath.

The best part is that The Boy loves it.  It really is nice to have a husband that fulfills his promises and is incredibly handy.

Sad to Lose My Bright Spot

My little kindergartener’s mom called today to say she won’t be coming back to me for tutoring.  She’s not verbal in the same way The Boy is not verbal, and her mom said she didn’t really know me, and you couldn’t be too careful, when she can’t tell her parents about anything that happens to her.

I get it.  Believe me, I do.

But I can’t deny that it hurts, and it makes me sad.

Once, when I was still doing my teacher thing, I was accused by a parent of putting my students in danger of heatstroke by having them march in a parade in 80 degree weather.  I’ve been called a lot of things over the span of my career, but that one really, really hurt.  That someone would think that I would ever harm one of my students was so wrong, such an unwarranted injustice to me…  Needless to say, it stayed with me.

As does this.  I looked forward to working with her, because I saw so much of my son in her, and she was a joy, a JOY, to work with.  I wish her well, and hope she gets every support she needs to become as independent as she can possibly be.  I hope she is able to advocate for herself someday.

Teaching can break your heart sometimes.

Broken heart symbol

A New Bed for The Boy

Today, The Man is working on building a new bed for The Boy.  This is something he and I have promised him since before we moved, and it is now coming to fruition.  I’m actually glad we haven’t done it before now, because The Boy has grown so much physically in the last year that he may not have been able to fit if we had based it on how big he used to be.

You see, The Boy fell in love with a Captain’s bed when I was buying a couch for our new home.  While I was in the process of testing, deciding and purchasing, he had disappeared into the kids section – literally disappeared.  He had crawled into the “hidey-hole” underneath a Captain’s bed, closed the door, and enjoyed the new space so much, decided he had to have one.

After we moved here, when he needed that extra privacy, and the extra-enclosed space, he crawled into his rather-small closet and hung out in there for awhile.  Now that he is as big as me, it hasn’t always been the most comfortable.  The need for his own extra-private-enclosed space was becoming greater.

The Man is building his custom designed bed, complete with a shutter door on the end today (and probably tomorrow).  We went to pick out the paint color this morning, which I thought would be a long process, but was most definitely not.  We begin the process of working on making The Boy’s room his personal space, only six months after he moved into it.  And The Man is designing and building furniture for him to meet his particular needs.

I will add pics to this post when it is all done 😉

Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday to you, young man.  We love you!

Is it Time to Call a Spade a Spade?

I described the ex’s latest cancellation the other day, and The Boy’s reaction.  I am always the one who has to relay the news to The Boy, and I am the one left to field questions to which I have no answers.  I am the one to deal with the acting out that quite often happens after one of these cancellations.

The ex will never change, but does that mean I shouldn’t try to show him what he’s missing, and what he is doing to our son?

English: : A mirror, reflecting a vase. Españo...

Time to hold up a mirror so he can self-reflect?…

I’m thinking of sending him a text (he doesn’t even access his email, and I don’t want to get into it with him on the phone) to point out that he hasn’t seen his son in eight months, and to ask him to imagine not having his own dad around for that long a time period.  Explain that I understand money is tight, and that he has a hard time taking work off, but that if he saved a bit out of every paycheck, and told his boss months in advance (instead of days), he might be able to swing it.  Ask him to stop “trying” to make plans and only tell The Boy he will see him when he is sure he can.  Point out that his son is sad and angry at him, and that he deals with this by acting out, often at school.

He will undoubtedly get angry and not speak to The Boy for months after I send it, because that is his MO.  But I feel I have the right to ask someone who continually hurts my son to take a moment to realize he is doing it, and to please stop.

I know he won’t change, but there’s a chance he has simply not given a thought to the effect of his absence and broken promises on his son.  And if there’s a chance, it’s worth trying, right?

Get Used to Disappointment

One of my favorite lines from one of my favorite movies (the Princess Bride, which I have seen probably a kajillion times).  Not one of my favorite things my son has to go through.

Broken Reflection

Broken Reflection, Valerie Reneé

Because the ex couldn’t manage to see his son for Thanksgiving, I offered (at Grammy’s urging) to give him the week between Christmas and New Years for visitation.  I suggested he or they come down to the beach for a few days, even rent a house real cheap to see The Boy.

I hadn’t heard anything more about it (although Grammy had overheard the phrase “meet you somewhere” in a phone call between The Boy and the ex), so I texted him last night to see what was up.

I expected him to hem and haw a bit more, but he said straight out he couldn’t get any time off, and couldn’t do it.  Sorry.

I expect this every time, and yet every time I cannot fathom why.  I don’t know anyone (besides the ex) who is or would be completely comfortable not seeing his or her own child for eight months or longer, nor speak to him for a month or more at a time.  I cannot understand his excuses, knowing how much I would do to ensure I would see my child.

But he is not me.

The Boy seemed a bit upset and irritated when I broke the news this evening.  “Why?” he asked.

“Because he can’t get time off from work,” I said.

Why can’t he get time off from work?”

I paused.  Good question, kiddo.  “You can ask him,” I suggested.  “Want me to text him and have him call you?”

“I’ll think about it,” he said.

He’s getting as tired of this game as I am.

Some Autism Lessons in ‘Frozen’

A picture of a Snow Crystal taken by Wilson Be...

Yesterday, I took The Boy and one of his buddies to see the latest Disney movie, “Frozen.”  (***SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen it yet, this post does contain spoilers, so come back and read after you’ve seen it***)  While I watched, and endured the entire row of middle school girls who decided to sit behind us (*gag*), I realized Elsa was going through very similar experiences to many kids on the spectrum.

  • She wanted to be around people, and to be close to her sister, but knew they wouldn’t understand, and didn’t want to hurt anyone.
  • When she finally allowed her emotion to show, there were some people who actually were hurt (more than once), because she couldn’t control it.
  • When she was able to get away from the castle (and other people), she was able to see how beautifully her powers could transform her surroundings.
  • Through her sister’s love, she was able to realize how to use her powers for good.

And I thought what a great message this movie had, and how powerful for our kids on the spectrum to see it, and possibly identify with the “bad girl” who wasn’t really bad, just misunderstood.  Evolved fairy tales are my favorite.  Girls who save boys, people who solve problems using minds not weapons, and the replacement of an “evil ice queen” with a young misunderstood girl with special powers both dangerous and beautiful.  Yep, this is the kind of fairy tale I want The Boy to experience.

Enjoying Work

I have to say that I am really enjoying my new job.  And it’s been since about 2007 since I could say that.

It’s a great feeling.

I Need You on the Job Every Day - NARA - 534704

For many, many reasons, teaching became less and less enjoyable over the years to the point that I would cry on the way to work in the mornings because I really just didn’t want to go.  Might sound juvenile, but it’s a pretty desparate feeling, especially when you are a single mom and have to provide for your son.  There is no opt out, there is no quitting to try to find something more enjoyable.  And teachers really don’t have that luxury like some other professionals do.  They don’t have the possibility of quitting and making the same pay in a lateral move, which is absolutely ridiculous, but I digress.

And it hasn’t been easy being unemployed for half a year, either.  I wouldn’t recommend it for the weak of heart.  Your self esteem takes quite a few dings.

But opportunity arose when The Man bought this house outright, and I had to take it.  I didn’t want to be miserable anymore.  Today, I’m so glad I did, and I’m so thankful for my new job that I enjoy.  I feel capable and trusted, appreciated and challenged.  I’ve been waiting a long time to feel like this again.

Have a great day, People! 😀

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…