Executive Functioning Skills Don’t Grow on Trees

Yesterday, the band director’s text alert system let me know that the permission slip for the upcoming band competition was coming home today, as well as something about a spring trip to Washington DC (…yikes…). When The Boy came home, I searched his backpack. Nothing. I replied to the band director’s text – “Could you email it to me?” he said he could.

Last week, the science teacher, from the same text alert system, let me know that progress reports were coming home. Looked in the backpack. Nothing.

And you know that there is still math work floating around in that thing, but I have been told that it is not homework, and that it will be worked on in school, so I don’t touch it.

And there goes last week’s reading log floating by…

_Oh, look, Honey, there's an executive functioning skill tree! Let's pick up some organization, working memory, and focus on the way home!This type of lack of organization has to do with executive functioning skills, often a deficit for kiddos on the spectrum, and many with ADHD. Without assistance and support, and regular lessons and routines to help them get their stuff together, they continue to not bring things home-bring the wrong things home-not turn stuff in.

Considering that The Boy is not verbal about school either, this becomes a real issue. Like when I find out about a band concert two nights before (do his pants even fit??). So, I kinda need to know about any kind of trip that is leaving the state.

Before his program was annihilated, he had an opportunity at the beginning and end of the day to check in with his ASD teacher to make sure he had what he needed, and turn in anything. It is evident that that support has not been replaced.

And I kinda need the staff to do something about this. Yesterday.

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Get Out of the Way

As The Boy gets older, I fret about what he should be able to do, what he should learn so he can live as independently as possible. The Man and I know that he will be living with us for quite awhile (and to be truthful, I haven’t even considered him moving out to another, more independent situation yet), but we do a lot for him, and we need to stop.

When The Boy was little, he went to a lady’s house for daycare, and she was amazing. She was one of the kindest people I’ve ever met, and the lessons she taught him as a toddler still stick today. I will often find his socks in his shoes, as he was taught to do there at her house.I forget, sometimes, that I can teach those lessons that need to be taught, and they will stick because he is more of a sponge than I give him credit for.

It's not just laundryA couple of years ago, in an attempt to get him to do some chores, I tried to teach him how to fold and put away laundry. I still have him put it away for me (sometimes), but I do most of the folding. The other day, he happened to come into the living room the evening I was folding, and for some reason, The Man had turned Spongebob on – a rare occurrence. The Boy plopped on the couch, and I started handing him socks to match up. He not only matched them up, but balled them up the way I had taught him to do it. No prompting, nothing. He just did it, and with no complaint.

I must, must, must remember to get out of my own way, and provide him with these opportunities to practice and learn, and even allow him to help me a little. He just keeps getting older, darn him, and if I just let go a little, he will surprise me. I just know it.

Screaming Children in Public Places

There seems to have been a recurring theme all summer, and it has now bled into the fall with the latest story of a couple of ladies who took it upon themselves to write a passive aggressive note to a parent at a restaurant. In previous cases, a restaurant owner balled out a toddler, and a woman had her check paid by a stranger.

It seems a pretty divisive conversation.  People do not hesitate to comment, and comment strongly, about WHAT THEY THINK.

I get both sides of the issue.  I really do.  And I was not there in any of these cases, so I personally do not know the extent of the “screaming”. There are times that The Man and I have been out to dinner, and been severely annoyed by a toddler allowed to run around the wooden booth behind us, and there are other times when a particularly enthusiastic child doesn’t bother me. A lot depends on the situation, the age of the child, and the parents’ attempt or lack thereof to control the behavior.

But here’s the thing. Public spaces are public. Kids are kids. Restaurants are open to all kinds of people. You cannot control your environment unless you are at home, and as soon as you try to, you infringe on someone else’s rights. Parents with rambunctious children have a right to go out to eat once in awhile.  And you may have to suffer through an annoying experience once in awhile.  That’s just life.  Unless you want to go off-grid and live like a hermit, you will have to deal with other people who are not under your control.

Also, how do you expect children to learn how to behave in restaurants if they never get the chance to go to one? What are we teaching children if we whisk them out of every public place as soon as they make a peep? The Boy is not whisked out of his classroom every time he needs to pace or starts to get upset, nor should he be.  He needs to learn how to manage his emotions and still participate in class, much like a small child should learn this as well.  They can only do that in situ.

This does all depend on the parent making the moment teachable, and monitoring when the behavior gets to be too much for the surroundings.

Judgy and opiniony.  It’s getting a little thick out there again.  Be nice, don’t judge, offer to help, and get over it.

Boys in the Bathroom

The Boy has had his first encounter with bullying at school.  I should say teasing, because bullying is really defined as a repetitive, targeted behavior, and I have no evidence that this has been going on for any length of time.  Truth be told, I was very happy with the way the school personnel handled it, and took some responsibility, as well, because we kind of knew this particular instance might happen.

Let me explain.

When we first moved south, The Man noticed that anytime The Boy went into a public bathroom, he had a tendency to “drop trou” to go pee, meaning he would drop his pants in order to do his business.  Apparently, this is not typical male behavior in a restroom – I would not know that, having never been a part of this particularly male experience.  When The Man told me about it, and explained that he just couldn’t do that, I didn’t have an answer as to how to fix it — this is not something that I am equipped to teach him.  And having hit puberty, The Boy was certainly not going to let me anywhere near him while he was anywhere near peeing.  This was clearly a dad’s job, and you can understand why a step-dad may be less than comfortable with the responsibility.  We ended up urging The Boy to use a stall when possible.

Fast forward to the second week of school, when I got an email from The Boy’s program teacher explaining that The Boy had been teased about doing just this, and talking to others while peeing, as well.  Another group of boys reported the teasing directly to one of his team teachers, for which I am grateful and appreciative, and that teacher actually had another teacher cover his class that same day so that he could take the offenders to the teachers lounge and “read them the riot act” over the incident. “We just don’t tolerate that here,” he explained via email.

I called The Man and we decided The Boy needed a lesson in how to pee in a public bathroom, and that The Man would be the one to do it.  He didn’t balk, he didn’t hem or haw.  That evening, he said, as calm as ever, “Hey, I need to show you how to pee,” and The Boy said, “Alright.”

The Man and I exchanged a look, complete with two pairs of raised eyebrows…

The Man pretended our living room wall had two urinals on it, which The Boy liked, with his toilet obsession and all. The Man then proceeded to break the process into steps. “You put your thumbs here in your waistband, and pull down,” and they practiced as they faced the imaginary urinals on the wall. He explained the whole process, and explained that the reason boys do it that way is so that they don’t show their butt to everyone else, so it can be more private.  The Boy paid attention, and seemed to understand.

The Man and I were relieved that The Boy seemed so willing to take instruction, and we can only hope he is using his new-found knowledge.

In any case, I was proud of them both.  Sometimes a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.