Parents’ Perspective

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I had a the fortune of joining my son and his Boy Scouts troop on a campout a week ago.  It was an adventure to behold no doubt.  We had a great time hiking, cooking over campfire, skipping rocks, telling stories around the campfire and in general being in the great outdoors.

Amidst all of the joy of the weekend, I could hear several conversations around me from other parents who were getting their children ready to go back to school. It’s hard to tune conversations out once the topic becomes our schools and our communities.  One conversation in particular truly had me leaning a little bit closer.

There were three fathers discussing what the expectations for their soon to be sixth graders would be.  A little background here. One is an engineer, one is an accountant and the other is a small business owner.  So when their talk turned to math and the homework their 5th graders were coming home with I was all ears.  Here are some snippets:

“My son comes home with this math homework that makes absolutely no sense to me.”

“Mine too.  I can’t even start to help my children with their work.  I look at it and I know how I would get the answer, but I know that isn’t how their teachers want them to answer it.”

“Yeah.  When I try to explain it to my daughter and the way I learned it she gets confused and doesn’t understand so she becomes frustrated and doesn’t want my help anymore.”

It is not enough to make them aware of WHAT their child will be learning, but we also must let them know HOW their child will be taught.  This was powerful perspective for me.  I had long thought this was how many parents felt, but to hear it confirmed was eyeopening.  So the question becomes are we preparing our parents to actually BE partners in their child’s education?

The D’s are a DIFFERENCE…not a Disorder

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Sure, you can beg to differ with me on that.  ADHD, ODD, BPD, LD, etc…etc…etc.  They are DIFFERENCES for our children and our students.  My friend and teaching partner pointed this out years ago as we sat in IAT/IEP/SST meetings.  I liked the sound of that — a difference.  A child has a learning difference, an attention difference.  There comes a negative connotation with the term DISORDER.  Now, I know I’m not going to change that terminology, but I certainly can change the perception with those I speak with.

About three months ago I sat on the other side of the teacher conference table.  As a parent.  This was not my first meeting in which the differences my son had were pointed out.  This was not the first time I felt as though I was doing something wrong in parenting that I had nurtured this difference in some way.  My son is Twice-Exceptional.  He is profoundly gifted, ADHD, and ODD.  Or is he?  The behaviors co-exist and it is difficult to determine which one…but we made the decision out of the safety concerns for our son and other children, that we had to do SOMETHING to help him slow his brakes.  He is impulsive.  He cannot stop.  His doctor referred to it once as our son having a Ferrari engine with dune buggy brakes.

So, this morning I did not give him his meds.  He has one pill left and I’m saving it for tomorrow.  Monday when he goes to school and has to be able to tamper down the “difference”.  Then we will call in for the refill to get him through another month.

But, this morning I brought my son and daughter with me to the grocery store.  A pretty good adventure overall.  Until checkout. He wandered around, pushed the cart around.  Put items on the belt.  Took items off the belt.  Asked questions about what we were buying and why.  Asked why the bag of grapes the frazzled cashier had just dropped had to go into the trash and why we had to wait for another bag to arrive as a replacement.  He always has a lot of questions and quite honestly doesn’t miss much.

As the cashier who watched my son in full ADHD press this morning said to me with greatest concern in her eyes, “I give you credit.” It was all I could do to not let the tears come streaming down my face as I thought once again that somehow my son had this disorder everyone keeps labeling him with.  Until the gentle words of my teaching partner, Jen came through my mind and soothed my soul, “I think of it as a DIFFERENCE.”  She is my idol as a parent of a child with special needs.  I’ve watched her journey with her own son who has a difference and I am in awe.  I think of it as a difference when my friends, Daria and Traci speak about the adventures of their students and they have all of the love for children that many would wonder, “How do you do the job?”  It is a difference.

And I suppose in a way it is a difference in perception as well.  As I walked out wondering what the future of my child would be, the words of the cashier rang through my head, “I give you credit.” And I walked a little prouder, taller, stronger to my car.  Her perception was different, and so my perception of her words changed as well.

I would say, “Thank you for understanding that it isn’t easy. I give myself credit too.  It isn’t easy parenting a child with multiple diagnoses.  It isn’t easy not being invited over for playdates. It isn’t easy explaining to someone his behavior. It isn’t easy being judged as a bad parent. It isn’t easy reminding family that he can’t control it. It isn’t easy deciding to put your child on medication. It isn’t easy, so guess what? I give myself credit too.  I give myself credit for taking comments made by family, friends, and strangers and knowing that we are doing our best.  That my son is fine just the way he is and if someone wants to give me credit then I will gladly take it.”

Slices and Good Reads

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Oh boy.  So, through this writing on Slices of Life, I have also rediscovered my passion for reading.  Reading for a purpose or no purpose at all other than the shear joy of reading.  Tonight, I entered the world of Goodreads.  I think  I mostly stopped reading for pleasure because I was so caught up in having to read to learn.  I should say having to.  Wanting to.

Following our Dublin Literacy Conference, I realized how long it had been since I had read anything for me.  Just for the fun of it or discovering what is out there and popular with children today. Thank you, Donalyn Miller for that.  I read “Out of My Mind.” and have been devouring books ever since.  It reminds me of when you hook a kid on reading.  It’s a fix.  I can’t get enough of it.

I would have posted this entry a lot sooner EXCEPT I’ve been on Goodreads making a list of what I want to read and what I’ve already read and loved.  The problem is that I remember loving some of the books, but not exactly why. I am excited with the prospect of rereading and wondering if the books will still move me.  Or if they will touch me in a different way now that I am at a different point in my life.

My goal this year is to read 100 books.  I know I will get there because my children devour books.  I suppose that’s what I’ve been doing for the past 7 years is nourishing their love of reading.  A book fair is a dream, Barnes and Noble a wonderland.  They love reading.  I’m proud of that.  I shouldn’t be so behind in my own reading.  I’m looking forward to making up for lost time.  Recommendations are welcomed.

Happy Reading and Writing!

http://www.goodreads.com/

Better Than Disney?

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Today we were on a grand adventure.  We were in a land of enchantment and dreams and wonders.  My family and I set off early this morning to explore the joys of childhood amidst the twinkling sunlight.  We dressed ready to conquer worlds unseen by many…comfortable clothes and bottles of water…then we were on our way.

As we drove through the grand entrance, the landscaping was immaculate.  The foliage so green it was blinding.  The roars of the waters at times deafening and at times soothing.  The tree lined drives welcomed us with open branches ready to discover what they so expertly hid.  We had no idea how massive this park was!!!  There were 9 main features.  And we explored each and every one…and then some. We were not sure if our six year old son or our four year old daughter would be able to keep pace or take in all of the wonders.  But they did!!!  They never once complained and we couldn’t believe it.  We were also blessed to have my in-laws with us as well. (They never complained either :-) ~ but then again, they never do).

Our destination…Falls Creek Falls in Pikeville, TN.  It was beautiful and magical and a perfect adventure.  After our visit to the third waterfall, my son bounding with excitement exclaimed, “Mom!  This is BETTER THAN DISNEY!”  I could see the appreciation on the faces of the fellow adventurers.  I could not have been more proud of them than at that moment!  It WAS better than Disney.  I’ve always thought so.  Our many treks to the Metro Parks over the summer are evidence of that.  But this day, was perfect.  I could not have planned it better.  We left with the only agenda for the day was to get to the park and explore.  That’s it.

We walked down marked paths and unmarked paths, we sat above and below raging waterfalls and cascades, we walked across suspension bridges (one too many for my motion-sensitive self), we peered down into gulfs and gorges, we gazed upstream into glistening waters over smooth rocks.  It was perfect.

Now, I have to go back to my son for a moment.  I love him so much.  He has been diagnosed with ADHD and is often bundling with energy enough for all of us.  He was in the lead on every journey and soooooo careful.  Those of you who have heard tales of this fine fellow will know that he is a Navy Seal in the making.  Several things about today made me take pause.  As we crossed our first suspension bridge, he gently took his sister’s hand and said, “Don’t worry, I’ve got you.  We’ll cross this bridge together, Sis and it will be fine.”  And off they went.  I watched as a couple intently watched this unfold.  As we reached the other side they were smiling at us.  I smiled back and said to them,”When did we stop approaching the world with such fearlessness?”  (BIG SMILE!)

As we moved on to our last stop, the cascades, my husband and I were huffing and puffing our way up the rock steps.  Our calves burning from today’s exertion.  At the top was our son, “Come on you guys.  You can do it.  There’s so much more in this world to see.”  There may very well be magic in Disney.  But the magic that unfolded today in the greatness of the natural beauty of the land and the hearts of my children can never be outdone by fantasy.  I simply cannot imagine a day so perfect as this one.

8 years…and counting..Time, time, time.

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Sorry, I had to take another day off.  It was my 8 year anniversary.  My FB post though said 7 years.  That’s because I’ve never been good with dates.  Ever.  It took me 5 years to get to know my husband’s birthday complete with year.  It took me 4 years to get my anniversary day correct. And the year, that has eluded me as well.  Not very good for a girl.  Aren’t we supposed to remember everything for “important” dates and events.  Not me.  It’s not that every “special day” is just “another day”.  It’s just that for me every day is special…

Now take that as cliche if you want to.  But it’s true.  I grew up a child of poverty.  Every day is a blessing as are the things we get to enjoy in a day.  Time is the most precious gift we can give to each other.  Every day.  Each and every day.  So, for me. I ask myself each night before I go to bed, “Am I happy with how I spent my time today?  With my husband, with my children? If the answer is no, then I strive to make the next day better.  Because, I know that unlike things, the next best gadget, etc. etc. TIME cannot be replaced.  It may be nice to get things, but people crave time and comfort.  Special memories come with the time spent together…not what we received.

I had a friend ask me what I received for my anniversary.  To which I replied, “nothing. The best thing”.  To which they replied, “Nothing is the best thing? “.  For me, it is.  I don’t need one more thing to find a place for.  My most precious gift is the gift of time.  And that is the most precious gift that I can receive.  So, to be fair, I didn’t actually receive “nothing”.  My in-laws gave my husband and I the gift of time by watching our children so that we could have the time to enjoy the beautiful Biltmore Estate.  This has been on my list for a very long time.  My husband gave me this gift of the trip.  Time with him.  To enjoy something I’ve never taken the time to enjoy.

As we pulled in, my husband leaned over and said, “I have a secret.”  I’m thinking “oh, yeah.? It must have shown in my eyes.”  He said, “Yeah.  I bought this place for you.”  :-)  We had the best time imagining a day of if this place was ours for a moment in time.  As we left, we thought about if we could’ve been party crashers back in the day and have crashed the Vanderbilt’s New Year’s Eve Party.  How great would that have been?

Not greater than this day.  Time is so precious.  This memory will live on.  We didn’t buy one souvenir, but we have a treasure of memories from this day.  Sometimes.  Nothing is everything.

I’ve missed a few slices…So, how about a couple of pies?

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Wow.  So, this year’s journey into the slice has been a little difficult to keep up with AGAIN.  Mostly, because I’m not taking the time to do so.  When I think about it and my mind is shutting down for the day, it is bedtime and I SWEAR I will get to it tomorrow.  Tomorrow.  Yeah, there’s no time like tomorrow.  Unless I start taking advantage of today.

My son has given me great material to write about this day.

My daughter has made me proud beyond words.

My friends are amazing strengths that lift me up through each day.

My coworkers show new insight into the world of education through ways I cannot measure.  Nobody could measure.

My husband is my rock.

They round out one of my pies!  And I’ve had a few slices this week.

My other pie is wrapped fruitful with insights:

A house does not make a home. ~ It is the people who are in it and the traditions that grow.

Birthing a child does not make you a “mother. ~ It is the work and love of making the world a better place.

Calling yourself a friend does not make you one. ~ It is knowing that like love, friendship ebbs and flows.

These are larger slices of a bigger pie that we have to know each and every day, we work towards.  Life is work.  It’s hard sometimes.  Sometimes it’s easy.  I’m just thankful for the people I have on the journey with me.