Thursday, September 29, 2005

Tipping the Scales

Can I just say, before I move on to more important news, that since I posted this link, I can't get my eyes off of it. The Kid saw me looking at it and made me put it as my wallpaper on my computer. Now I can just sit at my computer, doing nothing, but looking at the Last Judgement from the Abbey Church of St. Foy at Conques, in France. It may not be the most beautiful work of art or sculpture, nor is it the most didactic last judgement, but I have to say that it is one of the most scary last judgements around... Those devils!!! That dastardly devil fighting an angel over the scales where they weigh the souls, where the damned people are being literally fed to the beast, snakes slithering over their skin... And that one heaven-bound woman, looking back in fear and making eye contact with one of the minions of hell... Oooh, it's chilling. I love how the angel is taking one of the dead people out of his coffin, too. It's just so alive, and I'm feeling one of those rare moments where I look back on my former academic career with a tiny tinge of regret.

To those of you who don't know, I got pregnant while working on my masters degree in Ireland. I came home for health care and family (mostly family), and suddenly 12th century Irish romanesque churches (my thesis) meant nothing to me, and I was on to the next project, motherhood, childbirth, etc... One of my professors sent me a card after The Kid was born (after I'd not turned in my thesis which they had given me an extension to do, and had politely informed them that I didn't intend to either), and in it he wrote, "I told you you'd never look back." For the most part, I honestly haven't. A masters degree in medieval archaeology would have been great, but, meh, that's life... Now I'm close to family, now I have (some) financial freedom. Now, I have The Kid. But when I look at Conques' last judgement, I get, well, wistful.

A great deal more later on Wednesday's adventure to the start of The Kid's pyschological evaluations at the University of Denver, and right now I have to get ready to take The Kid to the Shrink, and then to school. I might actually end up finally going to work today as well, imagine that...

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

I have reason to believe we all will be received...

"Tigers eat antidotes, Mom." The Kid just told me that. I think he meant antelope (which, do tigers eat antelopes? Do they even live on the same continent?)... Tigers eat Antidotes. Sounds like a good band name, huh?

Speaking of bands, or at a stretch, of Rock and Roll, I think The Kid has decided to dress as Elvis Presley for Halloween this year. I have a good amount of Elvis memorabilia about the house, which The Kid has noticed and ultimately has come to love. I have some great Christmas decor w/ Elvis on it, several books, photos, magnets, stuff like that. We do have some odd tastes here in the Soapy Water household, and the Elvis Presley thing, is, well, a kind of good story (kind of). Seeing as it is a slow news day as far a progress in the whole "The Kid at School" narrative, consider this my big Elvis apologia.

I am not a huge, die-hard fan of The King (I am more of a Woody Guthrie is the roots of rock and roll type of gal, I like them RAW rock n rollers). I am, however, emotionally linked to Elvis. Like all good stories, this one starts in the middle ages...

When I was a senior at DePauw University, a hybrid Art History and Archaeology major, I took a course on Romanesque art and architecture. A great deal of the church building that took place in the 11th and 12th centuries that are considered "romanesque" in Europe were linked deeply to the popularization of religious pilgrimage from Paris to Santiago de Compostella in Spain (cool links about it here and here), and the resulting churches that were built were stations along the routes (camino). While it was a deeply religious experience (and continues to be), it was also a well-organized cash cow for the Church. See this as the advent of tourism, if you will, the churches and towns along the camino saw windfall profits. Small churches, in order to attract pilgrims, contstructed elaborately decorated churches and made up -er- were devinely gifted exotic and important relics. The art of the time exploded with enormous tympana (the decorated interior of a classic Romanesque arched doorway) carved in deep relief with reminders of man's earthly sins , the sublime possibilities of heaven, and the judgement that awaited them all.

Our final project and paper was to create either a pilgrimage church, its place in the route, its place in history, etc... We were to write a paper and then, with visual aids (most of us were art majors of some kind or another, so greatness was expected, not just toothpick-cathedrals, yo), present our paper, filling up a 1-hour time slot with our material--yikes!!! (and quite obviously the best class I ever took at DePauw...)

As I sat up one night thinking about my final project for this class, I read again what Saint Bernard of Clairvaux had said about the art of that time... That the images were profane, filled with "deformed monstrosities and monstrous deformities" and that the art was simply created for "the concupiscense of the eyes." He believed that the images were so seductive and so explosive that they would distract the pilgrims' minds from the worship and into fiery orgies of sin and decadence.

So, clearly, Romanesque art was totally rock and roll. I instantly knew what needed to be done for my final project: a pilgrimage of my own, to quite possibly the only true American reliquary shrine, Graceland. The home of Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll, the owner of the dynamic pelvis who's movements inspired in parents (echoing the concerns of St. Bernard) the fear of the concupiscence of the eyes (not to mention minds) of American youths. Elvis resided at Graceland, the decor of which remains in tact, frozen in time with his death in 1978, giving entirely new meanings to the ideas of "deformed monstrosity" first fretted over in the 12th century...

I was bartending at the time, and started asking everyone I met or served what they thought about Elvis. I found that tiny Greencastle, Indiana, was literally filled with Elvis fans, and more than that, a large number of people who saw him as more than a man. My bar patrons loaded me up with books (my fave was a cookbook called, "Are You Hungry Tonight?"), tapestries (so very medieval!), black light velvet paintings and even a 10-pound bust that doubled as a whiskey decanter. Most of these things were loans, although I made off with a few things inadvertently, and still keep them in safe places. If there was a fire in my home, I would make a concerted effort to salvage them.

I documented my pilgrimage (which of course doubled as a full-on college road-trip) w/ super 8 film. We couldn't film at Graceland, but I taped with a voice recorder interviews with a few pilgrims there. It was spookily somber. There were people literally weeping when we walked in the front door.

One man I interviewed had come from Holland. It was his first visit to America, and had come straight from Rotterdam to Nashville, followed by Tupelo, MS and finally culminated at Graceland. The next day he flew back to Europe. He insisted that while he was a fan, he wasn't one of those "cultish freaks." As we left Elvis's gravesite, I watched the man reach over a fence, grab a pinecone and quietly put it in his pocket.

I presented my paper as a kind of Elvis-loving High Mass, extoling the virtues of the relics I'd collected from the folks around town, showing my film, playing a song, but mostly talking about the amazingly mystic bent of mind required to turn a man into a legend, and the spaces that he inhabited into shrines. I will be forever in awe of the power that this very simple Mississippi hick holds over us.

So, as I assemble The Kid's chosen costume for the season, I have to laugh. The Kid sees around our house my picture of Elvis's grave, my magnets, my books, and while I, myself, do not subscribe to his cult or am even a huge fan of his music, I've just as quietly and surreptitiously kept my relics of Elvis, only to breed a new generation into it all. How do you explain to a 5-year old your bizarre academic interest in a cultural phenomenon?

I suppose I don't, but instead closely watch as my clandestine child transforms himself on Halloween into that most wicked and ghoulish role to play: that of the American Rock Star.

Rock Star Scare, Indeed!!!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Special Day!

We had a very early wake-up call on Saturday to get to the soccer field at 8am for team pictures. I've had so much going on that I've not been able to tell you about The Kid's soccer team, The Earthquakes!!!

If you have never had the pleasure of witnessing 3-on-3 soccer played by 5-year old boys, I urge you to immediately make an effort. It is truly an experiential thing. How can I describe to you in mere words the delicate ballet that is a 6-child scrum of pure heart and kicked shins? The thrill of victory? The tragedy of defeat?

The Earthquakes have been playing together for three weeks. They are coached by two teenage girls, who offer absolutely no strategy or pressure, which makes them quite obviously the greatest coaching staff ever. He's having a blast playing and appears to be making friends with his teammates. Sports are so important, they give you (if you enjoy them and feel like you are good at them) a confidence, feeling of ability, accomplishment, and the friendships that are forged there are somehow different than the ones made in a school setting. There is a lot to that whole "sport is my anti-drug" thing, I truly believe in that one. It's fun to watch The Kid gain confidence, I've watched it grow in only three weeks. It's pretty cool.

This week we played a team from a neighboring town, with a father-coach who is the complete opposite of The Kid's two teenage coaches. I am in no way kidding, this man had one of those clipboards with a soccer field on it and was showing the kids diagrams before the game. Five year olds were being directed from FREAKING DIAGRAMS!!! Once the game started, they clearly didn't have any advantage over The Earthquakes' minimal diagramatic soccer instruction. This didn't stop the coach, however. At one point he picked a kid up in the middle of the game and moved him to where the ball was. It was beyond ridiculous, and my first taste of the "insane sports parent." Mmm. What was that I was saying about sports giving CHILDREN a sense of accomplishment and self? I meant to say, you make your child play sports to give YOURSELF a sense of meaning. What was I thinking?

After the game, we set off for The Kid's special day.

After three weeks of Kindergarten, The Kid finally filled his sticker chart with hard-earned happy faces from school. So, we set off for The Kid's chosen special destination, The Butterfly Pavillion, or as The Kid calls it, The Butterfly Pavilliam, like it rhymes with the name "William." Hee!

The Butterfly Pavillion is pretty awesome. It is relatively expensive, in that it cost us $14 for admission and has only three rooms. The exhibits, however, ROCK. There is a creepy-crawly room, which The Kid loves, but gives me heart burn. There is an exhibit titled, "Beetle or Roach?" While they have a terrarium with freakishly huge and scary South American cockroaches, they also have one with the common household roach. Every time I go there I have to laugh at that one... There are so many people out there that live with these un-killable bugs but here in suburban America, we put them under glass so we can show children what roaches really look like. WOW are we lucky or what?

In the creepy-crawly room they also have a tarantula that a docent and the very brave Pavillion-goer can hold. The Kid has chickened out every time we've gone there. I think he chose to come here for this special day because he was determined that this time, oh yes, he would hold Rosie, The Tarantula. I must admit that I, too, have chickened out every time as well. This time, we both had the steely resolve to hold Rosie. Long story short? We did, and it was SO cool. She had the softest touch. I watched her "feet" on The Kid, and was reminded of the little bushy feet of a Bichon Frise... So, when it was my turn, I just tried to imagine that she was a very small, black Bichon with eight legs and a thorax instead of a tail. This delusion actally worked proving that with bugs, it's all mind over matter.

The other (and main) highlight of the special day was the Butterfly room. It is a huge greenhouse filled with butterflies. They are just everywhere... If it was hard for me to describe soccer, this one is impossible. Its just really cool and you'll have to take my word for it.

Oh, and The Kid saved a turtle. We rounded a corner of the butterfly room where a large crowd of people had congregated. The Kid, who must always know what is going on in a crowd, pushed us forward and we saw two turtles, a small one (about 9 inches long), stuck underneath a large one (about 1.5 feet long). The little one was just big enough to make it impossible for the large one to get any kind of footing to get off of the little one. They were stuck. I have no idea how they got into the predicament, but the kids were all mesmerized, and the parents were all looking at each other with a "what should we do--is there a turtle wrastler among us?" look on all of their faces. The Kid, who cannot stand to see his fellow earthly creatures suffer, just walked up to the turtles, assessed the situation, picked up the large turtle and gently set him back down on the ground, next to the little turtle. The little turtle was no doubt grateful for this and literally ran off of the path and into the faux jungle bushes. I think the whole holding of a tarantula made The Kid quite comfortable with all sorts of tropical creatures. The crowd dispersed, and we followed the big turtle around for another five minutes or so, and watched him try to eat leaves and slowly make his way back to his home in the little pond of the Butterfly Greenhouse.

Our next special day will be the Zoo... I hope he fills the chart before it starts to snow!!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Thank you, thankyouverymuch!

So, good news today! 4 happy faces! He had a great day!

When I picked him up from day care today, he told me the great news, hugged me and we shared one big happy face between us. I said, "well, we should have a party!!!" We went to the gas station and bought three bottles of soda (a rare thing in my house, that soda).

After dinner, we invited Little Neighbor down for our rocking party. I asked the kids if they wanted to have a dance party, but they decided on a much tamer drink-soda-while-we-play-with-the-Leap-Pad party. I just love parties, so I was in for it. I played, or rather, watched them play for a little while and decided instead to have a do-the-dishes party. We know how to party, yo.

A while later, Little Neighbor came into the kitchen complaining of the hiccups. I handily cured them, I think, because after he drank his water, he ran back down the hall to go party, but instead ran head-to-head into The Kid. It would have been a manageable collision if The Kid hadn't been holding a robotic dinosaur at the time. Little Neighbor got hurt, and I walked him home for some tender lovin' care from his mommy.

When I got home, I found The Kid crumpled up on his bed, quietly crying. I asked him if he was hurt. He said, "No, I ruined my party!"

I said, how can we turn this party around? You had such a good day, let's make this a good night! I was thinking bowl-of-ice-cream better, or perhaps extra-chapter-of-Harry-Potter better.

The Kid wiped his eyes and looked at me, and said, "Mom? I think I need some Rock and Roll."

About three months ago I had a dinner party where The Kid made his room into a concert hall. He put all the blankets and pillows on the floor (so I guess it was more like a jam-band flophouse than a concert hall) and he got on his bed and performed a rock concert for us. We asked him what his band was called, and he replied, "The Rock Star Scare." He sang The Rock Star Scare's biggest hits, "Twenty-million years ago" and "T-Rex/Velociraptor." He even signed autographs. The Kid LOVES the Rock and Roll.

So, rocking and rolling was apparently in order. I asked him, what kind of Rock and Roll do you need? With complete, earnest resolve, he replied, "Mom, I need Elvis." Amen, hallelujah.

We put on my CD of Elvis's 1978 tv concert and rocked out. We jitterbugged, we boogied. I taught him how to dance like Elvis the Pelvis... He got our wooden back scratcher for a microphone and serenaded me with "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" By the end of Don't Be Cruel, he had completely forgotten about the Little Neighbor vs. Robotic Dinosaur collision (although I'm not sure about Little Neighbor, doubt he's forgotten), and The Rock Star Scare ended his very good day with a good night, Thank you! Thankyouverymuch!

On an aside, if you think that is funny, check out Mister Lady's kid's recent night-night "tuck in."

Monday, September 19, 2005

Parenthood isn't my only passion, you know...

Being a Denver native, I definitely belong to this club. My sister and brother-in-law have started a new blog...

Classroom Observations, 9/16

I stuck around to attend Kindergarten in the afternoon after the meeting on Friday. The Kid behaved pretty darn well in my presence. He took just a little redirection but mostly sat quietly, participated in class and completed his assignments.

What struck me in the classroom is that The Kid is definitely NOT the only spirited child in the classroom. With The Kid on good behavior in the presence of his mommy, I watched the other kids pretty closely. There is a Sir-talks-a-lot, L'il Wanderer (gets up and wanders about the room, looking at stuff, books, basically not paying attention to anything going on that he's supposed to be doing), The Scott Fargas (looks, exactly, like the bully from The Christmas Story and appears to be just as mean).

Then there is Chief. I am conflicted with this nickname, as Chief really is native american, but it's quietly been the nickname I've had for him for a long time. Chief went to The Preschool with The Kid, so we've known him for a year. Additionally, Chief's father looks a lot like Chief from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and is just as silent (further conflicting me on the nickname). Like his father, Chief is extremely tall (easily over four feet already), and is by all accounts a beautiful child (in the to-look-at way as well as the inner beauty that you can tell a child has by looking at him). Chief is very sensitive. He's prone to bawling and acting out as well. His mom and I have talked about Chief, and he's in behavior therapy. The Kid truly LOVES Chief. Chief is truly a very quiet, sweet kid. Except when he gets upset. Then all hell breaks loose.

Basically, The Teacher has her hands full. The paraprofessional seems not to do much to help. I couldn't help but dive in and work with the class. I was helping the kids stay on task during centers and during storytime. I redirected The Kid and Chief (because I knew them, I left the Scott Fargas kid to The Teacher, because he's kind of well, scary). It seems like a little positive redirection could go a long way in this class and I didn't see a whole lot of that going on. Perhaps the para can't do that? Maybe The Teacher has asked her not to? I don't know.

On the playground, the good day headed south. The kids were playing very nicely until it was time to line up. There are two kindergarten classes out at the same time. Teeny Tiny is in the other class, and I had to help him get in line because he was really mad about something. Perhaps the Karate Chops for breakfast had worn off. I got Teeny Tiny in line if not totally composed, and that precise moment, some random evil child ran up to Chief, hit him, and said, "You're a big fat baby!"

Chief was instantly inconsolable, stoking the fire of the random evil child, who continued to yell, "cry baby! cry baby!" over and over until I looked him in the eye and told him to get in line. Chief was crying so hard, Teeny Tiny started up again, and The Kid was getting into Chief's face to tell him that he was SO NOT a cry baby. The whole time, the para just kept walking them into the building. I thought hitting was totally against the rules! This is how bullies get away with their crap! They pick on the kids that already are the focus of the teachers, like, "oh, there he goes again..."

I had Teeny Tiny cracking up by the time he had to go to his classroom, but Chief was still crying, hard. I put my hands on his shoulders and asked him, Seriously, Chief, are you a baby? You're nearly as tall as me! He said No, between sobs. The Kid gave Chief a huge hug and said, "You're my best friend and I'm not friends with babies, you're a nice boy." This cheered Chief up enough to get over the cry-fest, and he went in to sit for "meeting."

The whole thing, I think, went completely unnoticed by The Teacher and The Para, until The Kid and Chief were back in the room, and The Kid was saying the stuff that got Chief to finally stop crying. Then, it was more of the same ol' "darn special needs kids aren't going straight to the carpet being compliant." It was slightly frustrating. Teachers can't catch everything, but they have to perceive that this is happening. Haven't they?

Sunday, September 18, 2005

More from Dr. JohnL @ UVA

I meant to link over to this, and I just remembered. JohnL has linked to me again, this time with a very kind and supportive index of my struggles, here. Thank you John!

I can't link specifically to his post, but I'm the second from the top right now.

My own private council of Elrond

I don't know where the Lord of the Rings allusion comes from but I have to laugh about The Kid as the Samwise Gamgee to my Frodo, tackling Mt. Doom, perhaps a metaphor for us taking on ADHD or perhaps the bureaucracies of insurance and the school system. The Kid really is a Sam, as he likes to water our plants and all, is loyal and ultimately kind, but no, it doesn't work. I don't think he'd ever eat a rabbit, although when he was a toddler he called guinea pigs "cookers."

So anyway, I met with The Teacher, The Principal and The Social Worker on Friday over their lunch hour. We talked about the efforts I've done to get us outside help. The Social Worker outlined the things she is doing to get moving through the bureaucracy to get Special Ed resources on our side. The Teacher talked about The Kid's comportment in the classroom. The Principal, who has a special ed background, talked about the time they spend together every day when The Kid loses it, runs away or hits.

We also talked about our behavior chart/smiley face thingie. I think I got them to agree we needed more criteria. The Teacher is still not willing to (or able to get her head around the idea of) evaluating in shorter spans of time. I tried to explain it as an identification of bad times of the schedule for him, but I think she's still of the opinion that it's generally all bad. I think she'd be surprised, as we move ahead, that we'd see trouble in certain sections of the day. Then again, I'm not there everyday.

Instead, we came up with four criteria, each earning their own value. We're targeting hitting, shouting, running away from class/teachers and then we'll have an other category. I asked for more detail, hence the "other." I also asked that if he does anything well during the day, that that be added to the other. As much as I need to reinforce that what goes wrong during the day has consequences at home, I also need to reward/congratulate him for the things he does right. He also needs to know how awesome it is when he does something well. A little positive feedback goes a long way. We also decided to stop with the emotionally-connected smiles and frowns in favor of the value-neutral 0,1,2 (thanks Ms. Ris and Peggy for suggesting that!). So, while it's not perfect, its moving in a direction that I want it to go.

Overall, we all love each other. I can feel the school's appreciation of a parent that is willing to work with them, and I feel very lucky with the team I've fallen in to. Imagine, a principal with a special ed background! The Teacher taught for 15 years prior to coming to this school at our district's open school, a catch-all for unique kids/parents seeking alternative education in a public school. I don't know The Social Worker's background but she's just great.

Whenever I speak poorly of school districts, the school, etc, I know that it is a symptom of bureaucracy, bylines and guidelines, but not of the individuals (necessarily, or at least generally--we all know of individual teachers who aren't "there"). My parents were both teachers. The majority of their friends were teachers. Most of the adults I knew through my childhood were teachers, in school and socially. I hold them in very high regard. This is the toughest job since parenthood, and most of them do it very well.

One last thing, and this post is done. We talked about sensory integration and The Kid. The Principal reported that when he comes into her office all riled up, she applied pressure to his head and shoulders, rubs his arms. She said he visually melts when she does this. I thought that was so very interesting. Isn't the human body amazing?

Friday, September 16, 2005

An Inside Joke, like the flat thing with legs where you eat!

Sorry folks, this is a post specifically for two very important ladies in my life...

The Psychologist told me that one of the IQ tests she did was identification of pictures of objects. It started simple, and then the objects got more, um, advanced, at least for a 5-year old, to identify. She told me that once the objects got more difficult to identify, The Kid knew what they were, but would describe them not merely by their physical attributes but for what they were used. She said a couple of times he would talk around it before he got the answer, and she allowed those answers as correct.

The example she gave me was an hourglass. The Kid at first called it a sand-timer. He talked around it until he got the word hourglass. I had to laugh and say, one of the smartest people I know in the world does that as an adult! She's been known to call a glass a "water holder!" He he. Tiger, you've got a kindred spirit in The Kid. We already knew that, though.

To make this post more universally enjoyable:

The Kid is not alone. When I dropped him off at school this morning one of his classmates (we'll call him Teeny-tiny) was running around growling at everyone, doing kung fu, and pretending the arm-straps of his backpack were numchucks. Teeny-tiny is an ADORABLE kid. He's the smallest in the class by 6-7 inches. He's got a little round face, closely shaved brown hair and is missing his two front teeth. He's not fat at all, but his cheeks are so chubby that he's got a kind of squint to his eyes. Teeny-tiny is also ALWAYS wearing something StarWars. That always cracks me up.

So Teeny-tiny was running around, alienating kids and parents, growling, screaming "HI-YAAA" and some other unspellable karate noises. I asked him, "Teeny-tiny, what did you eat for breakfast this morning?" He replied, "Karate chops! I eat Karate guys for breakfast, HIII-YAA!"

That made my morning.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Moving right along.

Two major developments today.

The first is that I had my telephone consult/conversation with The Psychologist, where we made our appointment dates and all that jazz. We mostly talked about the tests she is going to have him take, the surveys she is going to have me and The Teacher complete and of course the price (sheesh!).

I am hopeful this will provide a great deal of help. This will all go down during the first weeks of October.

The second is that the school psychologist (or one of them, at any rate) who performed an IQ test on The Kid called me today and went over the results of the testing with me. I will get a formal report sometime next week.

Turns out The Kid's a bonafide genius. Well, he scored in the 82nd percentile for his age in the total test. He's in the 76th for verbal, 86th for math and 76th for another section that I didnt get the name of but basically invovled numbers, counting, talking, oh, I don't know. One of the math sections was "picture similarities" for which he scored in the 96th percentile. The art historian in me was instantly proud, and it is clear all the museums and the talking over art books actually stayed in his brain... He's a little Iconographer!!!

I really don't know how much stock I take in the whole IQ test thing, though. I mean, I'm glad he is smart, and I've never doubted that. I mean, a lot of the testing just shows that he's talked to in a mature, engaging way, that he's read to every night, and that we count stuff together.

Ultimately the test tells the teachers that he is capable of learning at a level that they may not be seeing at school. In The Kid's case, we already knew this to be true, we have just put numbers to it.

The numbers might present a new reality, as the school psychologist pointed out to me. We might be looking at a twice exceptional classification. Double your fun! Can I have some special needs with some special needs on the side?

While its gratifying to know my child is smart (which I already knew), it calls into question why I value smartness so much, even to the detriment of valuing behavior or comportment in a classroom. Right now, I would take "behaves in school" over "is smart."

Maybe. I like smart people. Who am I kidding? How did I introduce you to Little Neighbor? He's a dumb kid. But Little Neighbor makes friends and does okay in school. The Kid on the other hand might have two reasons now that will make it hard for him to adjust to life and school. So, it's a mixed bag, having this smart, wild kid. But I guess it's my own preference to have that than the dumb, wild kid. That would totally suck, so I guess we don't have it all that bad, right?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Three bits of good news (finally)...

1. Finally, by all reports, The Kid had a good day. He came home with two happy faces. We had a party tonight.

2. Finally, I talked to the psychologist that is going to be doing his evaluation. Because we both have pretty crazy work schedules, we've penciled tomorrow at 2pm in our calendars for a teleconference.

3. Not finally as in the sense above, but as it is the last of three items I can say: Finally, one of my mom's good friends, a retired special ed teacher, has agreed to go into The Kid's classroom to observe for me. She is a trusted friend (She helped me teach The Kid how to nurse in those first crucial days after he was born! She keeps coming to my rescue!) and can act as my ears and eyes in the classroom, as I wouldn't be able quietly observe his classroom without tainting the experience somehow just by being present. Additionally, her background will be helpful to both the teachers and me.

Here's to good news, and just in time, I was starting to feel like Eeyore or Debbie Downer or something.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

This is your kid on drugs...

Things have taken a most serious turn in the past 5 to 6 days. I'm finding a lot harder to write now that I'm not writing about a merely spirited child but about a child with a "mental illness."

I guess I'm honestly shocked at how bad it has been, how grave the reaction to him has been at school, and how I've been left up in the air by school and professionals (psychologist, etc) for days at a time, not really knowing what's going on or what to do about it.

So, because of his complete inability to even participate in class, let alone do anything in school, I've decided to give Ritalin a try. We started Friday, and apparently it worked GREAT! Or at least, according to the note the teacher found time to scribble to me, "medicine helped." I'm a busy person, I have hundreds of clients and wear a lot of hats at my job. I easily write 100 emails per day, at least 5 or 6 letters, and many, many phone calls. I understand being busy, but in important cases, you use complete sentences. Nothing makes me feel unimportant like the lack of care to take time to communicate. This is really bugging me, and I really don't feel like I'm getting much from the teachers at The School right now. I guess the exception is The Social Worker, who has called almost every day and always has time to talk with me. I appreciate her for that.

Monday, per doctor's orders, I upped the dose to a full 5 mg pill. I was called midday by The Social Worker asking me what the heck I'd slipped in his morning glass of milk. He'd been crying at the drop of a hat all day. He was extremely sensitive and overly emotional. Hey, I've been there for a week without any drugs--maybe he's become a mother!

After a talk with his pediatrician, I know now that these are signs that he was given too much medication. So today, we went back to the half pill. Except that I suck at chopping pills. They didn't teach pill chopping in high school. Don't they sell pill choppers? I need me a pill chopper. Bet insurance doesn't cover those. Anyway, he got half a pill, alright, but the other half was utterly destroyed. I'm a waster of a category II controlled substance.

I didn't hear anything at all from the school today, but when I picked him up this evening from day care, I was greeted with a very unhappy Kid, and two more frowny faces (quick review, he gets a happy face if he refrains from both hitting and yelling in either the AM or PM sessions). Under the faces, it read under the first, "hitting," under the second, "run away from teacher 2x." With three frowny faces, you get eggroll.

Apart from the Oooga Booga caveman communication about The Kid's behavior at school, that is MY WHOLE LIFE and concentration right now, it is extremely clear to me that this happy face thing is not at all what I had wanted it to be, and regardless of that, it is not working AT ALL. The plan was to examine his day, to allow him the opportunity, to borrow a phrase from our illustrious president, to see what went right and what went wrong.

I certainly do not define my days by what I did not do (did not commit murder, did not kiss a llama--must have been a great day!), and I can't expect The Kid to either. Sure, getting him to understand how completely serious it is to not hit at school is of the utmost importance. What is also important, however, is to get him to click with what he is doing that is good, and to let me play up those victories, however tiny, to reinforce those good things and help them keep happening. I also think it might be useful to see what portions of the class-day are harder for him than others, rather than one evaluation for a full 2.5 hour period. As it stands now, with all of the sad faces coming home with the terse notes, all I can assume is that he is all bad and that everything I've ever done with him has failed him in being ready for school. It's a really depressing thought! The Kid's exhausted and so am I.

So, I will just wake up tomorrow and mangle another pill into a 2.5mg size and keep on trudging along. Someday something will actually start to work. I just wish I felt like the teachers know how much of The Kid's and my life is consumed by those freaking frowny faces they are sending home every day. Is he really that bad? For reals? My beautiful, darling kid?

As I snuggled him into bed a little while ago. I always give him more kisses than he'd prefer that makes him wiggle a bit more than I'd prefer at bedtime. It's one of our "rituals." After all those kisses, I said, "you know what?" The Kid smiled and said, "I know, you love me." I said, well, it's true. He said, "I'm glad that you always say that to me, mom." I said, Kid, you are special and you are loved. He put his hand on my back and smiled at me and then turned over and went to sleep.

That is The Kid I know.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Russell Barkley

My brilliant cousin, who is working on a PhD in psychology, forwarded me a number a links and book referrals that I am slowly reading my way through. Today, I got a chance to read around the PBS Frontline website, as they had a truly in-depth show a while back. Here is the link: Check it out. It is so complete, this has been a great resource.

Thanks Leslie!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Quickly, news in brief

It's late, I'm tired, but need to get this stuff down:

1. Weds. talked to a psychologist who will do a full evaluation/assessment. In addition to the write ups that she and her team will provide, she will also be available for staffings, etc, and communication with the school, with other doctors. Of course, she doesn't take my insurance but I've decided not to let that stop me.

2. Went to the School on Weds as well to meet with both The Kid and The Teacher. We did this so that we could discuss, in his presence, the importance of the sticker chart thing. I still don't think the Teacher has totally bought into how much I would like her to do with it (a more regular evaluation of his behavior with positive requirements, rather than the current negatives, don't hit, don't scream), but think that rather than demanding that she change her criteria and do it my way, I figure that of all the things we can let slide for a few days, this would be the one. So, she just didn't think that The Kid cared about the sticker chart, but now knows that he does. The next step? Perhaps he can be given stickers/smiley faces for things that he DOES do as opposed to things that he DOES NOT do. This disturbs me and I want it to change.

3. During the meeting with The Teacher, I got to see first hand how The Kid behaves in school. It was scary. He couldn't stop moving. Either he was pushing his chair back on to two legs, grabbing crayons, or getting up while we were talking to him and going to do something else. He couldn't not make eye contact. It was frightening and it really broke my heart. He could NOT pay attention.

4. Had an appointment with a psychiatrist. We spent about an hour and a half in her office. She asked a lot of questions directly to The Kid, and then of me. My impression of her is good. She gave us a Rx for ritalin. Had it not been for what I saw in item number three, above, I might have resisted the prescription. But believe me, this is a crisis.

5. Friday he got his first smiley face! Hooray. It was also the first day that he took a half a tablet of ritalin in the morning. I asked both The Social Worker and The Teacher to give me their impressions of his behavior with the ritalin, but all I got back was the note with the happy face, scribbled along side said, "medicine helped." I know they are busy, but c'mon, first day with a psych drug I think entitles me to at least a full sentence.

6. Sat. gave him another half tab and took off to my hometown's annual festival parade. The Kid was excited and had a blast (danced to the bands, shouted Hi! to just about every car that came by), but was noticably reserved, for The Kid, that is. He had good boundaries and was polite to the folks around us. That was interesting to see.

More later, now, me sleepy.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Insurance SUCKS!

This title is all the more funny to me, as I am an insurance agent employed by the largest insurance broker in the world. Heh.

Yesterday ended on the note that the Children's Hospital had a two month backlog. This morning, I thought I'd get cracking at that. There's always a way in. I'm a bulldog. Heck, I'm an insurance agent, I'm connected. I call hospitals all of the time, and if I am diligent enough, I always get what I want. Eventually.

So, I call around to the other referral number I was given yesterday. Leave a message.

After a half hour of no results, I decide to call the pediatrician back to get either more referrals or a better roadmap to get what I need. I have, of course, to leave a message for the pediatrician and she will call me back.

When she eventally does (to her credit, in less than ten minutes), we talk about my situation. We talk about The Kid, about how dire things are at school and how badly I need attention quickly. She gives me one more phone number, suggests I call my insurance company and wishes me luck. Thanks, I'll need it.

Leave a message with psychologist 3.

I'm starting to wonder what people do when THEY are the one that needs the help. Like, say I was having a nervous breakdown today. How do you leave that message? "Um, hello Dr. Smith, this is Joe Smith. I'm currently feeling anxious, depressed and the little voices in my head are telling me to jump off of the Brooklyn Bridge. Due to the high volume of little voices in my head I may not be able to answer your returned call right away, but I urge you to call back if I haven't answered within two days. My phone number is 555-1234, thank you, and have a fantastic day!"

I call the insurance company. My employer, the worlds largest insurance broker, provides me with mental health coverage. I get transfered all over God's holy earth before I actually speak to the rep from the mental health area to get referrals. She asks me my zip code, and she searches within five miles of my home for a psychologist/psychiatrist specializing in children. Nada. Not a single one.

So, I ask her to cast the net more widely, say, a 60 mile radius from the center of downtown Denver, Colorado. I'm not remembering 7th grade geometry right now, but that' s a pretty big area, and would encompass most if not all of the 2 million people that make up the city and its outlying suburbs. She returns to me with seven phone numbers. Seven child psyciatrists/ psychologists in the Denver metro. Only seven?

Two of those docs were in the same office, so really, it's more like 6.

I call each one, leaving messages at each. After each message, this is getting me more and more mad. If there's a two month wait at the hospital, shouldn't we have started this earlier? Especially if The Preschool's reports are true that these violent behaviors had manifested themselves daily for months? Hmmm?

Then, slowly, throughout the day, the calls are returned. "I'm sorry, doctor so-and-so isn't taking new patients right now" is a regular response, as is, "Dr. blah-de-blah has a waitlist of about 6 to 9 months." Suddenly, two months doesn't look half bad.

So I call Children's back. They are happy to hear from me! I speak to a human being! The world has righted itself again! Hooray!

What insurance carrier do you have? I tell her. Oh, we can't see you.

Why? I ask.

Well, we require that if you have insurance, that you use it, but in your case, we don't have a contract with your carrier, so we won't be able to see you.

Even if I pay out-of-pocket?

We wouldn't let you even do that, she responds.

Flustered and shaking, I get off of the phone call to immediately get another one. The University of Denver's center for neuropsychology is calling me back regarding my inquiry, this being the second referral phone number I was given on Tuesday. They offer a full psychological assessment over three sessions for $1,200. This is totally outside of all insurance. They could get started right away, but the assessments take about two to three months to complete. Gotta think about that one.

A couple of hours later, I get another call back from a psychiatrist who has an opening on Thursday. Whoo hoo! Book it up! We have an appointment! Finally.

Towards the end of the day, I get another call back from another psychologist. Ends up that this is actually psychologist #2 that I called, a direct referral from my pediatrician. She and I had an amazing conversation, I truly like this woman. But first we talked about insurance. I asked her if she worked with my carrier.

She told me the story, which illuminates why there are seven child psychiatrists contracted with this carrier in the city. This carrier (the Mental Health one) went bankrupt about two years ago. They liquidated the company to a mega-huge health insurance company, who now piggybacks the mental health services on to the health insurance. When they went through the reorganization to join the mega-huge health insurance company, the mental health company sent out new contracts to providers, but failed to provide any kind of fee schedule or any kind of "reasonable and customary" guideline. So, providers could sign up to be in their network, but they had no idea if or what they would get paid. Sounds like a crappy contract to me! I just can't believe that my company, the largest insurance broker in the world, who provides consultation and brokerage services to employers across the nation in regards to their health insurance, would have as their carrier one as disappointing as this!

Okay, enough with the insurance rant.

I'm getting behind in my ongoing story, but I'm also getting behind in my sleep. I've got so much to tell you! The psychologist who seems to be awesome! Meeting the psychiatrist! And DRUGS are involved! It's all very exciting. More tomorrow. A LOT more tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Mean Reds

The alternative title to this post is: Stay the Course, My Ass

Today was a rotten, horrible, no-good, bad day. We're yet to hear any good news come out of the school. The Kid's been in kindergarten for 9 days, all sad faces, no, he did well. Not even a "he did okay." I'm getting really discouraged, but at least we're getting some work done.

Mrs. Social Worker called this afternoon to tell me that he was hitting again today and at one point had a chair poised above his head threating to throw it but apparently chose not to, because he set it back down. Again, I was told this kind of behavior is going to result in suspension. I asked her, Why put it off? Suspend him now! But what would Suspension do? He's not tested to behave in my house. We've already been through how he doesn't act violently in my home.

She "off the record" agreed with me. In this case, it probably won't do anything, except to reinforce that he can't do those things in school. She paused and added, "But I truly believe he has such an advanced case of ADHD that his impulses control him, and that suspension wouldn't help much." So much for the dance of last Friday, huh?

Suspension is the county protocol for obvious reasons, however. I believe they get two suspensions before expulsion. I asked her, out of curiousity, where he'd be sent if he got expelled. She said he'd likely be put in a school with kids with severe emotional issues. So, like other kids with ADHD, I ask? No, more like kids who've experienced deep and disturbing trauma in their lives, kids with emotional scars and the behavioral flaws that grow from that. Oh, let's NOT suspend him then, alright?

We talked about the happy face chart thing and I told her what Mrs. Ris told me the other day, that if its not working it needs to be tweaked or The Kid is just being set up for failure. I requested a change to the system, and suggested that more criteria be added so he can see when he does something well. This is something that seemed to work well at The Preschool, I added.

Mrs. Social Worker said she talked to The Preschool. The Preschool teachers gave her a laundry list of all of the terrible things The Kid did while he was there, all of the time, every day. He threw things, punched, ran from class, and would make himself throw up. EVERY DAY apparently. Funny, because while he was enrolled the same Preschool told me that he was improving, that things were going well, that I should stay the fucking course with him. Yeah, we had bad days. HORRIBLE days there. But I got daily reports from them. They weren't bad every day. In fact, I remember him having WEEKS of good days.

Then this summer, I heard next to nothing from them. I would pick up The Kid, talk to his teachers every single day, not hear a single bad thing. When I asked The Kid how the day went, he'd tell me, Great! No news is good news, right? He must be really improving. WRONG.

One day in the first or second week of August, while I was traveling for work (which happens rarely, once or twice a year), one of the teachers decided it was her job to finally let the truth out about The Kid's horrible behavior. TO MY SISTER.

When I confronted them about how inappropriate it was to talk to my sister about things they had yet to even talk to me about, they said that he has a lot of issues. OH REALLY? But then I asked, are these daily issues? Is he violent every day? They had no documentation. I asked why, when the channels of communication had been so wide open from August to May, that from June to August again, they had completely closed those channels and I'd heard nothing. Again, they had no documentation of conversations, although they said we'd had a number of conferences. Perhaps they had, but I had not been invited to nor was I present at a single one of them, and well, they had no documentation of those conferences either. There was no communication, and to this day I didn't know whether these behaviors were daily or not.

I feel so betrayed by those people it shoots anger into my eyes and I feel I may well go blind. These people told me to stay the course. That I was doing a good job with him. Okay? I'm not parenting for my self esteem. I want the truth, and I want to help my kid.

STAY THE COURSE? Oh I am raving with anger. Surging with fury. Why would they tell me lies? Why would they tell me NOTHING?

So I'm feeling completely blindsided with The School, when I get daily phone calls about how violent and impulsive The Kid is, and we're 0 for 9 in the good-day tally. It's frustrating but at least I know what's happening.

So, I get right on the horn to push the referral to The Children's Hospital and to get the appointment ASAP, rather than waiting to hear from them, like I had been instructed. This is when I completely lose it. The Children's Hospital has a two month backlog. In two months, The School will have kicked The Kid out and he'll be attending a school for emotionally disturbed children.

I'm back to square one finding a physician to help my son. Thus, the mean reds.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Single Motherhood and The Kid

I've been stewing on a post I read this morning from an education blog, I can't remember which. The main post was about the interesting distribution of special ed classification across different subsections of the populations: it cited the fact that the amount of all black kids in school is not proportional to the amount of black kids in special ed, and further still, not proportional to all kids in school vs kids of all ethnicities in special ed (I can't find the page again, otherwise I'd have numbers and a link). Someone commented on the main post by saying, "I wonder about the parents of these kids. How many kids with ADHD come from single parent households?"

--Molly is steaming--

Alright, alright, I know that anyone with a keyboard and an internet connection can and will often write whatever they please, but I think this is a pretty prevalent belief, and one that makes me bristle like the proverbial mother bear protecting her cub. This is the "soapy water" comment that drives me absolutely the MOST crazy.

As I understand it, ADHD is a neurological disorder. It involves a complex of neurotransmitters and synapses, and lots of other medical jargon I simply don't know. It is basically a chemical reaction in the brain to the stimuli provided by the world and the internal processing of information, reactions and actions. Whether or not a woman or man alone vs a man and a woman together are sleeping in the bedroom next to the child with ADHD have little effect on how that child's synapses fire. They may have helped make those synapses, but they don't control how they work. This is apples and oranges. I can't "marry" the hyperactivity and impusivity out of The Kid.

Where the environment comes in is in the advocacy and support that the home provides the child. It is simply insulting to suggest that a single parent household does not provide advocacy and support. It is ludicrous. The world has all types. I don't have hard numbers, but there are an alarmingly large number of troubled two-parent households, and there are a large number of single-parent households that are better for it.

This poster has also gotten under my skin because he implies that ADHD can be "disciplined" out, in a way. And that the single parent cannot discipline. This is one I run up against so unbelievably often that I don't even want to go into this right now.

Single parenthood is tough. But wanna know something? Parenthood is tough. Being a single parent, married people often tell me things about their home lives they wouldn't tell just anyone. I hear stories from married women about how they do everything at home (and I know a few men who play that role as well). I know a lot of married women who feel completely alone in the raising of their child. I also know wonderful, supportive married couples who are raising kids with all sorts of mental disorders and learning disabilities.

I'm in the mix there too, I'm just doing it by myself. In many ways, I'm lucky. The decisions I make are my own. I am the only one to do the work of the house, and I'm the only one I can resent when those things don't get done.

I can't say I'm alone. In fact, I truly believe I have a larger support system than most people, married, single, anything. I have a great family and a lot of close friends. I wouldn't have chosen single motherhood without them.

My case might be somewhat unique, I know. I am a single parent by choice. Dad has never been involved, except in that, um, seminal moment (gross, sorry). I've been alone since day one (except that I've never been alone). My household income is greater than the national average (a metric that takes in to account double income homes too...). I own a home. I have a college degree. By all accounts, I'm upwardly mobile. But I don't believe that any of these economic factors effect my ability to parent (except that I am able to work in a job for only 37.5 hrs/week, etc). They certainly don't change the fact that The Kid is having serious issues at school and needs help.

I remain a single parent mostly because of The Kid as well. My disastrous attempts at seriously dating have manifested themselves into two vastly undesirable categories:

1. The young man, who, imagining me sans child, is my economic, educational, hobby/interest-having equal. Except, this young man has absolutely no interest in knowing me as a mother, and completely recoils at the thought of The Kid, even without all of his wondrous educational and behavioral issues. This man is fun to spend time with, and will certainly take you out to your favorite restuarants and bars (especially the bars), but is not worth investing any amount of emotion on.

2. The young man who imagines himself as a firefighter racing to the aid of me, some kind of kitten stuck in a tree. He wants to come to my rescue, and deliver me from the cesspool of my life into the enlightened and legitimate world of partnership (all this after two dates!). This man thinks that he can fix everything that is wrong with me, but more importantly, with The Kid. He alone, because he has a penis, is capable of righting The Kid's behavior. This man must be avoided and literally run from. I will never make this mistake again, ever.

Any wonder why I don't date often? I'm doing a better job without that crap. Thank you very much.

I would love to find someone to marry someday. I was modeled a great partnership and loving marriage by my own parents. I won't settle. I wouldn't settle as a childless woman, much less as a mom. So for now, I exist in the real world. This is a world where in I am not dating anyone. And the issues with The Kid are here. And I deal with them.

The Kid's issues with impulsivity won't go away with any magical cure, whether that cure is me getting married, some magical pharmeceutical, therapy, behavior chart. Parenting is hard work. PERIOD. Parenting a kid with behavioural challenges is really hard. I don't care who shares my bed with me, it would be hard work. End of story.

I could go on and on. Perhaps I will later. For now, I'll end this post.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Sundae Sunday Sunday!!!

On a lighter note, The Kid and I (and a few of my best friends) devised a new ritual. Sundaes on Sunday. Today we went to a baseball game, sweated profusely and then went for ice cream. What a heavenly day.

Here Comes the Cavalry! (of MD's, that is)

I've been putting off writing this one for a couple of days. Lots has been going on...

Friday lunchtime I received a phone call from Mrs. Social Worker. She told me that The Kid had been involved in yet another violent outburst in the classroom, hurting children ( believe he kicked this time, screaming and overturning a basket of lunchboxes (there was possible food spoilage involved--not to sound flippant, but do I really need to know about that?) and this time he had been sent in to talk to Mrs. Principal. I was also told that Mrs. Principal has a background in special ed, and so understands what is happening with The Kid. Mrs. Social Worker also added, probably inappropriately, that I'm lucky to have Mrs. Principal, because any regular Tom, Dick or Harry Principal would have probably suspended or expelled The Kid for the trouble he's been causing for these 8 days he's been in kindergarten.

Mrs. Social Worker suggested we get working right away on The Kid's case. I was glad she called, but I thought that we had already decided to get working right away on getting The Kid some help. But this time, poor Mrs. Social Worker had to do the dance. This is the act wherein they must tell parents to consult a physician regarding the child's mental health without actually saying, "I think your child might have a diagnosable mental/behavioural disability or disorder." I'm assuming it's because parents have gotten defensive at this statement, maybe they've even sued school districts for it (which is ultimately suing oneself, if you think about it). I knew the act had started as soon as Mrs. Social Worker paused to think of how to do this. I let her say that she was going to get started with special educational testing, but... I told her right away that as soon as I got off the phone with her, I'd be calling our pediatrician. That cut the song and dance short. She thanked me, and wished me a good holiday. I did the same.

I like my pediatrician (and her whole office), but she had once told me that she was uncomfortable with diagnosing things like ADD. I left it at that at the time, unsure why. Does she not believe in ADD? Who knows? I was nervous to call her, but did so right away anyway. These are not easy phone calls to make. Once we started talking, she began again on how she was uncomfortable doing this. What I didn't understand is that she may not want to do it herself, but she will gladly refer me to some experts, and then continue on as a resource, but not an expert. Aha! This is good news, I think. The end result: I'm going to be getting a call, hopefully Tuesday, from Children's Hospital's Child Development Unit. This is one of the best ranked hospitals in the state, region, and I believe (at least for the trauma unit) nation. I am encouraged. The Kid will begin testing there as soon as they can begin.

So, teams of professionals will now be working to understand The Kid's brain and the impulses it give him. This should be interesting.

I want to appeal to my tiny internet community for some books, websites, etc on what to expect now that I've actually reached the stage where ADHD or some other synaptic-release issue that is causing my child to be unable to process the information put forth by the world in a "normal" way may actually be diagnosed. What are the drugs and what do they do? Is drug therapy the natural progression of things? What are the alternatives to drugs? I don't even know this, except for the whole "refined sugars and starches" diet stuff.

This is a wierd thing to have to do. I've books from most of the "attachment parenting" style kind of stuff. LOVE Parenting magazine. LOVE good ol' Dr. Sears. I subscribe to a number of their practices (I was a long-time nurser, co-sleeper and natural childbirth survivor, er, practitioner), but I distrust their distrust of the medical community. I think the hippocratic oath is generally kept, and just because some (or rather, many) of the medical establishement's remedies don't come from herbs that can be planted in one's own backyard, they can be useful (um, like birth control! Hooray! Love that Tylenol too. Oh, and antibiotics have sure saved a few lives).

I also don't think that I will be completely okay with a scenario wherein a doc spent 5 mintues with The Kid, gave us an Rx for Ritalin or Concerta and left it at that. I don't think that this will be what happens, though. I just am an anxious person and like to read up on things so I'll know what to expect (this in itself explains the veritible library of books on natural childbirth and attachment parenting in my home library already, no?).

Anyway, if any of you would like to share, I would welcome the help. There is just so much going on right now. The school is taking The Kid and I very seriously, and I appreciate that. I know that they have to, partially to protect the other students and free up the teacher from having to spend more time with The Kid than the more compliant students, but I also get the feeling that they are starting to understand the love that The Kid truly is at his core. There's just something else going on in there... Anyway, perhaps the doctors at Children's will help us find out a little more about what is going on inside his beautiful mind...

Po Ta Toes

Last night The Kid had a sleep over with a friend. He's our neighbor, also 5. For the purposes of this blog we will call him Little Neighbor. He's kind of the Sancho Panza to The Kid's Don Quixote. Not physically though, Little Neighbor isn't really very little at all (The Kid gets his hand-me-downs). Instead, The Kid dreams up all sorts of things for them to play, and Little Neighbor follows along best he can, sometimes I wonder if he understands the Robin Williams-like leaps of faith and subject The Kid leads them into. As they get older, though, Little Neighbor is getting smarter. He's resisting, and Little Neighbor wants to play what Little Neighbor dreams up. The Kid is having none of that. Imagine the war. Ugh.

So they are sparring, a lot. Little Neighbor is The Kid's best friend, for all intents and purposes. The thing that is interesting to me is that The Kid hits at school, but for all the drama last night between these boys, not a single incident of violence occurred. What makes The Kid hit at school, but not in any real epidemic way anywhere else? From Whence?

Moving right along... We made individual pizzas last night. I was making my ingredients (veggies, yum) while the boys were circling around me, hungry for both attention and food. Little Neighbor, not the brightest kid I've ever met but still a general sweetheart, sees me slicing tomatoes to put on my pizza. "PO-TA-TOES." he says, "I LOVE PO-TA-TOES. I want PO-TA-TOES on my pizza." Little neighbor annuciates every syllable of the word potato like his mouth is a drum. The Kid was incredulous. "Little Neighbor, those are sooo not potatoes. They are... um, mom, what are those?" All my self-righteous thoughts about Little Neighbor's mom not teaching him the names of fruits and vegetables fly out the window. The Kid does not eat veggies. He's got the gag reflex from hell, and unless I hide them in soups or sauces, pretty much every vegetable he tries makes him throw up.

I correct them, no boys, it's a tomato.

Little Neighbor picked up the tomato I hadn't begun cutting and said, "Can I eat that?" Stunned, because my own kid is starting to wretch and just the thought that Little Neighbor, his ally, his Sancho Panza!, is about to abandon him to the vegetable world. Of course I say yes, because I want to see Little Neighbor do it. He bites into the PO-TA-TO like an apple and eats the whole thing in two bites (this was not a little tomato). Little neighbor says, "you don't care what I call it, because I eat it!" Oh, my wacky, lovable little Little Neighbor!!!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Oh, no. Please, No.

New York Times: Rehnquist dies at 80

This is a political post. But it does relate to The Kid, or at least the future of the America I believe in and hope he will still inherit. God help this nation. So, we're facing the most horrific event America has seen since I've been alive. Soon enough, congress will return to their usual tomfoolery, tax cutting, funding wars, giving kickbacks to corporations. Now we've got Bush appointing TWO supreme court justices. After O'Connor, I sat back and said, this is the system. This is how this works, it's not the end of the world. But now "the scales of justice" will be effectively tipped in a very certain direction (and one that concerns me greatly). COME ON DEMOCRATS, it's time to fight for your constituency, namely ME, mother of THE KID. I know I'm not alone.

Why do I feel like we're witnessing the end of the world? I'm so unbelievably sad. I can't even rant. This is beyond rant.

For good measure, I love Frank Rich.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

I have to say it was a good day...

Oh, a day in the life of the soapy water family, and yes, that title was a shout out to you, Tiger, if you get it, yo.

Normal morning. Actually, exceptional morning. The Kid woke up in a great, helpful mood. Dressed himself, took only a few seconds to decide between oatmeal and cold cereal. Ate oatmeal in reasonable amount of time. Got him to school, drove to work. Got coffee, water-coolered about Katrina, Iraq and bird flu--all the usual apocalyptic-news talk--and then the phone rings. The Kid's had an accident at school. Huh?

What kind of accident, I say? He's run, full speed, into a doornob, nasty goose-egg, he's a trooper, I'm told. Huh? He ran into a what? A doornob? Who does that? Who does that on accident?

Do you need me to come get him? Yup, school policy regarding head injuries.

Oh Jesus, head injury. It hadn't even occurred to me that he would be actually injured by that. I've seen this kid do much worse than run into a doornob. Is he okay? The nurse pulled out her inner ER and told me, His pupils are equal and reactive, and he isn't vomiting.

Alrighty then. See you in 10 minutes.

As I'm driving home, I get a phone call on my cell. Hello?

"Hi this is Mrs. Social Worker from The School, calling to set up a meeting with you to discuss The Kid and his adjustment to kindergarten."

Opportune, I think. I say, Oh, I'll be there in about two minutes, if you'd like, we could meet if The Kid's head injury isn't too bad; his pupils ARE equal and reactive, after all.

Mrs. Social Worker is confused. She thinks I may be insane, scribbling nervously onto her case notes, "the mother exhibits paranoid behavior and seems to be talking on the cell phone while driving, yes, clearly insane".

"What are you talking about?" I think were her exact words.

--Insert conversation that clears up this confusion, she erases case notes about my insanity (hopefully) and agrees to meet me in the clinic in two minutes--

When I arrive at the school, The Kid is supine, holding large ziplock filled with ice to his head injury, playing it up to the fullest, clearly enjoying the one-on-one time with Mrs. Kindergarten Paraprofessional, and I'm reminded of Draco Malfoy playing up his Hippogriff injury. I instantly know The Kid is alright. Mrs. Social Worker is also in the clinic. She is truly a wonderful lady, I can tell.

Have I mentioned that a large number of my closest and best friends have jobs or degrees in social work of some kind or other? I generally like social workers. Lucky for me.

We have a good long talk about The Kid, how awesome he truly is, and how Mrs. Social Worker can help us help himself acclimate to the culture of school. We also talk about how IEP's require a formal diagnosis and that she, like all other professionals I've spoken with, is nervous about categorizing The Kid into a disability before he's matured enough to be truly diagnosed (IF he will ever be diagnosed). The effects could be stigmatising, she says.

After that, The Kid and I head home for some TLC and mac-n-cheese.

His head injury, by the way, is pretty good. It is located on the left side of his forehead, about the length, width of an adult pinky. It is also raised just about that much, a good half-inch. No kidding. So The Kid has what, by the looks of it, is a purplish-blue pinky on his forehead. Hope that one sticks around until picture day!!!

He was so fine, pupils equal and reactive and all, no puking (which wouldn't concern me at all, remind me to write a post about The Kid and his frequent puking), so I send him back to school for PM kindergarten, at 12:15. I spend the remainder of the afternoon "working from home," also known as, calling my sister, mom, doing laundry and watching CNN. I also make some work phone calls and keep up on my work email, I'm a champ, I'm a MULTITASKER...

I pick The Kid up from daycare and we go to run some errands. It's great. We're having fun. Why don't we go to a restaurant, The Kid suggests. Like all children who enjoy restuarants (myself included), The Kid knows when best to pluck the ripe opportunity to hit mom up for a meal in a restaurant. Wait at least a week from your last dining-out experience, find a day you've been out and about for at least an hour, when mom is harried, and the sense exists that cooking might not be something she'd not want to do...

It just so happens that my sister's birthday was this week, and my mom had taken her to The Olive Garden for lunch. I've not eaten at the OG since college. The sense-memory of their breadsticks sprung from me and a desire for the OG hit me like a stoner craves Taco Bell. The Kid suggested the restaurant when we were approximately .02 miles away from the OG. Aw, shoot.

Lovely dinner, until, near the end, The Kid makes the cough. THE COUGH. He and I know THE COUGH all too well. Like firefighters, we spring to action, sprint to the bathroom. The puking is about to start. The Kid knows that now is not the time to have the "but I'm a boy, I should go into the men's room" fight, and opens the women's restroom door just in time to projectile vomit onto the ceramic tiles so that it spreads from one end of the stalls back to the handicapped door, closed in the back of the aisle. He makes it to his chosen toilet, I'm on his heels, and no, I'm sliding... I slid on The Kid's output until I slammed into the handicapped door. The occupant in that stall says, "Um, I'm in here!" and I start laughing. The Kid is alternately crying and vomiting, and I'm freaking laughing. All I can think of is this really bad movie this film-student friend of mine made in college where this guy was in the bathroom (I believe said guy in bathroom was my then-boyfriend) when a crazed lunatic or zombie was trying to bust into the bathroom to complete his deadly mission or eat brains or whatever, and the guy in the bathroom says, "um, occupied!" in a really sing-songy voice. This was that character's last thing he ever said. It was hilarious.

And this is hilarious. Oh, wait, no it is not. The Kid is puking. But are his pupils equal and reactive? I can't see! Poor Kid! Puking in the OG!

When he's done, $4.95 down the toilet, he appears, like usual after a puking spell brought on by THE COUGH, perfectly fine, although in need of a good hand washing, and in possession of a good case of puke-breath.

After we cleaned up The Kid and the bathroom (it really was slippery), we headed out to the front of the restaurant, where the hostess was concerned. The Kid just said, "It wasn't because of the food here, well, it was, but I just liked it a little too much." He ate too fast, that's The Kid's diagnosis. As long as it isn't due to the purple pinky on his head.

For the first time since he was a baby, I've checked in on him sleeping about three times tonight. All's well that ends well. I have to say it was a good day, right, Dr. Dre?