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December 5, 2011 / letsmeetinthemiddle

Why can’t they hear me scream?

As a parent, I always feel like I could have made a better choice.  I should have done this rather than that, said this instead of that.  And I am constantly second guessing myself while rushing forward to get the job done.   With lightning quick speed I can see all choices and rush towards the only real option for me to take in that particular situation… at that time… with that information…and for that particular problem.  But 3 seconds after the choice is made… more information comes in and another option is made painfully clear.   Frustrating, right?  But what choice do we have as parents?  I don’t think that the chemical make up of a parent could allow for any other scenario.

OK, perimeter of bush sufficiently beat… moving on…

The Boy, our oldest and the first child , is 13.  Every step of his learning process has been confusing to me.  Why isn’t he getting it?  What am I doing wrong?  What can I do differently?  How can I make it better for him and us?  And all along the way we have been making little to no progress.  We were asked to hold him back in kindergarten but my husband and I were not fans his kindergarten teacher, AKA the Shrew.  So there was no way we were going to let her put her tentacles on him again.  So we moved him to 1st grade.  We did enlist the help and advice of other teachers and specialists before I promptly disregarded them.   I think my exact wording was “over my dead rotting corps am I going to let her tear my son down for another year”.  There is only one school and only one teacher for that grade.

The next year, after talking with respected sources, we held him back because “they” said they think we “probably” started him too early.  OK!  We had a solution!  Alright… let’s do this thing!  Holding him back in first grade was going to fix this and he would have the additional year to mature and grow into the class.  But… foiled again. While the teacher was kind and patent he still wasn’t where he needed to be.  They talked about headsets that would allow him to only hear the teacher.  They used privacy walls to keep unwanted stimuli out of his sight. Moved him up front.  Sat him between 2 smarties, and on and on, the list was endless and creative.  They didn’t work, but the team of teachers and experts all said he is smart, socially advanced , a fun and caring child, higher than average vocabulary (even though he couldn’t spell shit with a mouthful).

The next year, we were fortunate enough to have a teacher who related to him and his frustrations.  She encouraged him, tutored him before and after school and helped to build up his confidence again.   We went on like that till the end of 5th grade.  And believe me, the teachers were thinking outside the box.  They gave the tests verbally and used stress balls and Velcro to help kinesthetic learners to focus (I use the same technique when giving information to groups of adults).  We all worked together and helped him over every hurdle and by summer before 6th grade he was reading on his own for fun.

Then 6th grade came and it was, as warned, a huge adjustment for him.  And each time I asked his teachers: What is it?  What can I do?  What’s this problem we’re facing?  We were told we are doing everything we can “just keep doing what you’re doing and love him”.  I know they just say that because they really can’t say anything meaningful, because at the end of the day they have restrictions and they are bound by bureaucrats.  Of corse we’ll love him, dumbass.  Loving your child is not the problem.  Being rendered impotent in his learning process and growth as an adult is the problem.  Knowing for certain that your child is smart and can retain information relayed to him but not be able to read and write at his grade level is the problem.  So because children adapt, he has sadly (and incorrectly) learned that science isn’t going to be something he can do because he can’t read like everyone else.   That is what he has learned on his own.  Thanks school district, I’d like to poke you in the blind eye you keep turning.  But he has us as parents and we will fight until we bleed or die for our children.

Now, what was hard for me to vocalize was my fear.  I was afraid that our son who had once loved natural sciences (frozen water and reflection), animal science (bugs and birds and horses) and palaeontology (all things dinosaurs) was now going to do what comes natural for children who have a hard time in school to do, run away from it.  I feared that he would drop out and get into drugs and we talked about it ALL THE TIME.  Poor kid.  Every time he asked why a septuagenarian was running the drive through at a fast food joint that was my opportunity to warn him about drug use.  Drinking, making bad choices and the split second that can change a child’s life from great to unwed daddy or methamphetamine user or paraplegic or worse are now comfortable discussions for us.  But we talked about it, right or wrong.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago and another meeting with his science teacher and his IEP teacher.  I asked (AGAIN) is it dyslexia?  The IEP teacher said that he was not qualified to test for it but that he was certain that our son has a mild form of dyslexia.  FINALLY!  We have a name.  If there is a name there is a treatment!  But NOOOOO… they tell me that the school district does not recognize dyslexia and they can not test him or teach him in the method that he needs in order to arm him for high school and college.   Cherry on top of this bull shit sundae… there is a teacher in his school with the certification in (what I am told) the perfect method to teach our son and he can’t/won’t because there isn’t anything in the budget for it.  Super!  The IEP teacher also said that he will never use the term dyslexia again with regards to our son but that we should know that when he says “learning disability” with regards to our son… he is saying Dyslexia.  I understand the bureaucracy of it.  It’s a sticky situation for the district, I understand… and don’t care.  They are on my list and when I get time, they will learn to not like the sound of my name, I guarantee it.

So, after this meeting I went on-line and I found (fairly quickly) a  site for contacts in Colorado related to Dyslexia and other learning disabilities www.wrightslaw.com .  The First name I find in Durango, Colorado I email and pour my heart out to.  And within minutes I have an email back from a mother of a boy who went through the same things our son is going through.  He went to the same school district and even the same school as our son.  This wonderful woman then gave me the name of her son’s tutor who happens to be the best tutor trained in the same technique that the teacher at his school is trained in and her track record is amazing.  She gave me the email to another woman who would go with me to the meetings if (I need it) who is versed in the law.  But, the most important thing she gave me was hope.  Hope for the future. Our son has been raised knowing that he would be going to college.  Like making your bed, brushing your teeth and breathing, college is just something that will be done.  But he was always disenchanted by the notion because it would mean more struggles for him.

So where am I today?  Still hopeful.  The Hubs and I will do what it takes to get this wonderful child everything he needs.   The tutor is out-of-town for another week then we can talk about getting on the waiting list for her.  The cost… irrelevant.  We have been lucky enough to have been saving to build our home, so we have the money.  We’ll build later.   I’m told that we will only need to have the tutor for a couple of years and then our son will be out of the danger zone.  Worth it.  We would live in  a yurt if need be.

So why tell all of you?  Because, information is power.  Some of you are Educators and most of you are parents.  If there is one person who thinks this sounds familiar, please contact me.  If you know something I don’t, fill me in.  We have it better than our parents did because we have information at our fingertips and we have no problem telling authorities they are full of shit.  What I don’t know (yet) is why dyslexia isn’t considered… as anything.  I’ve asked and have not had an answer yet but… someday someone will have an answer and maybe there is a kiddo out there that we can help in kindergarten rather than 6th grade.

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January 31, 2011 / letsmeetinthemiddle

6 minutes older…

One day, a long time ago, there were two little girls walking in the woods by their summer cabin.  One was smart and brave and one was shy and unsure of herself.   The shy one depended on her sister for everything.

The little girls walked on the circular driveway by their cabin until they got almost to the other side.  Then the brave one said to the shy girl that they should split up, one going one way and the other going the opposite way and they would meet back up on the other side and see who was the fastest. The shy little girl headed back to meet her sister and then, was suddenly so afraid that she had lost her sister and would never see her ever again.   The thought was crazy of corse (you and I know that), but this was the first time that the shy little girl could ever remember being without her sister and she was suddenly struck with panic that she would never ever see her sister ever again.

The shy little girl started running until she got to the place where her sister said to meet.  She got there and didn’t see her smart brave sister.  For a moment she thought that maybe she was finally the fastest… but that wasn’t the case, her sister was always faster.  Maybe she was gone forever.  Maybe for some reason she would never see her sister ever again.  The shy little girl began to cry harder and harder and ran to their cabin to tell their mother that her sister was gone. 

When she got to the house, there was her sister.  The shy little girl was over taken with relief that her sister was there and not gone forever, but she was still in a complete panic.  Their mother came and asked what was wrong and the shy little girl could only gasp and cry and make no sense at all.  But her sister was there, and she knew that things were alright.  Because even though the shy little girl was the older sister she always leaned on and needed the smart brave sister.

These two little girls grew up and moved away from each other as siblings sometimes do.  But the shy little girl, no longer shy and unsure of herself still always needs to know where her smart brave sister is in order to feel like things are alright with the world.

To my sister, thank you for being the source of my strength and self-confidence and for always being there, even if you missed that one time by the cabin.  Happy Birthday Sis, I love you and am still so grateful for you.

 

January 13, 2011 / letsmeetinthemiddle

My angel-hole…

My child, the youngest, gave me a nugget of her wisdom the other day.  A blaring neon sign of insight into how she sees the world arround her.

We are working on having no accidents at bedtime.  Slow going but I’m sure she’ll be fine.  So, because I’m one who delegates for efficiency (or is bossy and lazy depending on who you ask) I asked her to throw her pull-up in the trash.  My sweet heart took it in her hand and stood motionless looking at it with a squished up nose (that we have all decide makes her look like Chucky)and then looked up at me and said with a head-bobbin 3-snaps kind of attitude… “you bought it.”  I was sure I had heard wrong, so I ask, “Uhhh, what?”  And she repeats herself… “you bought it“.

 

I BOUGHT IT THEREFORE, I SHOULD THROW IT AWAY!  WTF and OMG and you are outta your fucking mind if you think…. was running through my mind and down past my cerebellum and well on its way out of my mouth when I took a breath, engaged the self censor button and said…

Let’s talk… and then proceeded to explain the role of the child and how it relates to the role of the parent.  I thought I had covered this in earlier teachings with the little one, but clearly, I missed this lesson with her.

And My child, my love, my angel-hole… remains unconvinced of the hierarchy in our family.  And some days, so do I.

And if I sound exacerbated, I’m really not.  Secretly, down not as deep as you’d think, I am cheering her tenacity on and can’t wait to see what she’ll do next.  God, I love women, and I really love little red heads.

December 13, 2010 / letsmeetinthemiddle

My Hubbs doesn’t bring me flowers… or does he?

I have been conditioned to believe that your spouse or lover should bring you flowers, and that is how I should gage the level of affection that person has for me.  I think we have all had the same idea carved into our Lifetime Chanel for Women brains, right?  White picket fence, 2.4 children, open the doors, throw down a coat to allow me to pass over a mud puddle without getting my shoes messy… blah blah blabidy blah.

So, this means some men in my life must have been pulled aside and given this valuable knowledge and some were not.  And this brings me to my best friend.  My Hubbs… this man has given me flowers of varying degrees… live potted, red roses, an apple tree but never my favorite (Gerber Daisies by the way) and never consistently.  And up until about 10 years ago, this made me feel bad.  It didn’t make me mad at him, it made me feel like I was not valuable to him. 

Then one day for some reason, I decided to look at things differently, I don’t know why, I just did… and I realized that he does value me.  I know this because

1. he took the time to marry me

2. he cares enough about the kind of person I am that he is willing to talk to me and tell me when I am being an ass,

3. he starts a fire every morning and shovels the snow and scrapes the ice off my car and brings in the wood and…, and… and… the list is never-ending.  

So the “flowers” he gives me are more substantial than a 60.00 bouque of red roses (I despise red roses) and requires more effort on his part than dropping into a quick mart or a flower shop.  

So the solution (I think) is to raise our young ladies and men with the ability to decide and decipher what is important and what the actions of your partner really mean.  And be able to know what you want also and why.  If you want flowers, great, is it becasue they make you happy or is it becasue that is what you have been trained to recognize as affection?  

 Communication is so important, that includes reflective listening.  Try it, and remember, your loved one probably wants to make you happy, and the fact that he or she wants to needs to be considered too.

November 24, 2010 / letsmeetinthemiddle

Hunting Season

My son is 12.  “The Colorado Boy/Man” right of passage commenced last week.  My angel… my baby, the little guy that would hug my neck so tight so that I  would not could not let him go to sit on Santa or The Easter Bunny’s lap in the Mall for the obligatory holiday picture… was now headed off with his father to hunt down, shoot, kill, process and then eat a beautiful female deer. 

I was terrified for him.  I just knew that the moment would come and he would be affected by the event in a way I could never understand because I do not hunt.  I checked with friends and researched how to best help him and signs to look for if the event was traumatic for him.  I felt sure I was as prepared as I could be for my son’s life altering event and would be there to help him any I could.

As I knew he would, he accomplished his goal.  He came in and I carefully asked how he was.  With his slightly messy long blond hair and his clear blue eyes… he shrugged… and looked at me like I was a complete maniac (guilty as charged) and laughed and said… “I’m fine, why?” 

Anticlimatic to say the least.  Final thoughts… Hubbs thinks I’m a dork… Son concures.  Can’t wait for the girl to chime in :0)…

November 20, 2010 / letsmeetinthemiddle

Hello world!

OK.  So I wondered what kind of people blogged.  I mean really?  Who thinks that their opinions are worthy of “The World Wide Web”?  Who would be so arrogant to think anyone outside their friends and Granny give a (insert expletive) about what they have to think about anything? 

Well, I have discovered that I am that arrogant.  Ta-DAH!!!  No shocker to those who have met me.  BUT…I am human and have made errors in judgment, I HAVE BEEN WRONG.  I want to make sure that if you have never said those words out loud before that you do it now… no one is looking (and who cares if they are).  Say it loud and proud “I HAVE BEEN WRONG BEFORE”. 

I remember the first time I admitted that I was wrong to my husband, it rolled off my lips with the same ease as gargling with peanut butter.  Each syllable was preceded with an uncomfortable taste.  But after, (No the birds did not sing and the cat did not snuggle with the dog) but, it came out of my mouth easier, and communication with my husband was better.

I am a thirty something, ex-bartender, non-arobics instructor, with adequate looks and horrible spelling.  I am a conservative liberal married to a liberal conservative.  Here is the “thing”, I like me.  No one else apart from my kids and my Hubb (Husband) needs to like me because I really am comfy in the skin I tote arround.  I also think that there is a middle ground somewhere on most topics and I’d like to see if people can meet in it.  I want to believe that if you just take a topic (like my former opinion of who blogs) and look at it from a different angle, you may just develop a different opinion or at least a new respect for it.

SO… that’s what I would like to do here.  I would like to have a local-ish small time experiment and see if we can listen and learn from one another and maybe get better at being human to one another.

So there are rules, because if you don’t have rules then you don’t really know how far outside the lines you can go.

Rule #1 Be nice.  NO name calling unless its a friendly “Poodle” or one of my favoriets “Monkey Tinkle”.  You don’t have to agree, you just have to treat the other opinion holder with respect. 

Rule #2 If you have an opinion, you must own it, but be ready to strip it down and look at it naked. 

Rule #3 If you have a complaint, YOU MUST HAVE A SOLUTION.  Please remember this is not a poo-poo podium it’s a place to have ideas, opinions and try to have some fun while getting better as people.

Rule #4  If this starts to change into something else… that’s ok.

And while we are waiting for the Sky to open and Angels to sing, I’ll tell you about some crazy stuff that I see or do.