Of two further positive COVID-19 cases in my kids’ school.
Fortunately (and I cannot believe I’m typing this) these individuals had been previously identified as close contacts of one of the preceding cases.
So no new infection right? Especially as they hadn’t been in school since they were notified.
Except that Massachussetts is running a fucking ludicrous “Test and Stay” programme which means if you remain symptom free after an exposure and agree to daily tests you get to stay in school.
So yet again my anxiety is spiking and I await the news on the test reports for my children – as they are tested every Monday..
No, they aren’t impressed by this. Especially #1 Son – he hates it. But they both understand why they have to do it.
But I have overcome one level of anxiety and have agreed to sign #1 Son up for Choir after school every Thursday from next week. This technicallycounts as an “out of school” extracurricular so we shall see how we go on this. I’m telling myself it’s only an extra 30 minutes – but it’s with the entire 4th and 5th grades. Or at least all those that want to sing – there’s no auditions. I can’t decide if this is a good thing or not.
But it’s still an additional level of exposure. I hope to God that they let the kids keep their masks on, else I will be yanking him out faster than you can say Jack Robinson.
That’s two in the school since the start of the year. Which may not sound like a whole lot, but the first one was Day 2 and was a staff member!!!
This next one is in #1 Son’s grade!
Though fortunately not in his class!
And so round and round we go again. I’ve told both kiddos and reinforced my masking rules again. Fortunately they are part of the pooled testing programme so get tested every Monday morning anyway but it does not help my anxiety.
I simply feel like we are just waiting for it to hit again. And please allow me to explain just what it is I fear – exactly.
It’s not that I’ll lose my kids. Statistically I’m aware that’s improbable. They’ve had a version of the virus before. Though over 8 months ago and not Delta.
It’s the long term effects on their health and overall well being I’m terrified for.
For example, #1 Son still has his cough. And there’s little data on long hauler syndrome in children. But we’ve seen the effects on previously star athletes and similar.
Forgive me for not wanting that for my children.
So just at the point I was beginning to contemplate relaxing my grip on my anxiety, the midden has hit the windmill again.
However tomorrow I will probably begin discussions on one of the highlights of my year:
I disappeared. I know I did. I’m aware. The Instagram kept me on the social media radar, as has The TikTok to a lesser extent.
Though my work there is veering more into feminist/political content far more than I ever intended this blog to do.
I also completely hate, and I mean truly loathe and despise the new WordPress interface. I used to simply compose posts on my phone, add gifs and photos practically instantly, then post up. Now? I can’t do it. And with everything that has gone down in the last 20+ months? I just didn’t have the head space for it at all.
Now? I need something more to focus on. There’s been so much anxiety and fear, and despair and depression. I’m coping – I have kids, I have to cope – but the Black Dog is definitely nipping at my heels, and in a way that isn’t usual for me.
I usually simply shut down. Climb into my box without even being aware that it’s what I’m doing, but right now, it’s sheer exhaustion. On a weekday I am crashing out regularly for a minimum of an hour, sometimes two, long nap. Usually after the afternoon school run, but not exclusively. Today it was after – from 2:50ish til about 4:20ish. I can’t help it – I try so hard to keep my eyes open, but it just… stops. And although I am walking to and from the Elementary school twice a day most days (on rainy/stormy days the hus-creature tends to take pity on us and agrees to take the car) it’s only a 40 minute walk in total, and we are already speeding up.
It is uphill in both directions though – and yes that is possible 🥺🙄🥺🙄
So, let’s divide this post up into some things of note that have occurred since I was last here. The first obvious one would be:
Yessiree Bob, both kiddos are now proud Winthrop Wild Cats. And while I can’t believe that #1 Son is now in Fourth Grade, I find it even harder to credit that TT is now a KINDERGARTENER.
Those of you who followed me purely on the Book of Faces know that #1 Son basically rocked out Third Grade entirely remotely. We did an entire full school year via Zoom and associated technological processes. And for a kiddo with ADHD and related issues? I truly, truly, could not be more proud of him. He met his academic expectations in 99% of all subjects and areas within them. And the areas he didn’t? I truly don’t remember where those are.
And he learned to play the violin entirely remotely. And the kid has TALENT he really does! He’s agreed to keep it as his ‘in-school extra curricular activity’ for this year, so watch this space to see how that goes. I can’t wait to see how his skill expands with proper 1:1 in-person learning. There’s serious musical talent on his dad’s side of the family, so I know it’s not just the usual parental bias of ‘oh, my kid is just amazing’ – begone Roald Dahl, thou hast no power here!
TT? Well her last year home with me was not what I had planned. I mean, she shared me with her brother – he was around 100% of the time. And he was her only source of social interaction for 95% of the time. We kept her in her Dance Class, but that was remote for most of 2020 and early 2021. The girl has suffered. She has always been my social butterfly and this has become more and more painfully obvious since the start of school.
She runs in every day – she doesn’t even glance back. In fact, 3 days out of 5 she tells us both very specifically:
Mommy/Daddy don’t follow me in!
TT – aged 5
I mean, we get a hug and a “see you after school” but she’s completely independent!
For any of the audience who remembers the year that was #1 Son’s adventures in Kindergarten it already couldn’t be more different. I mean, she’s sassed the Superintendent (Day 1) and the Principal (Day -1 – the week before school started!) but honestly? She’s happy. She’s learning and she’s thriving.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve already had to sign and return a “home – school behaviour form”, but it’s still so much better overall.
It’s not what I wanted for her, it’s not. I fully expected the complete William Wallace effect.
Instead, I’m stuck on the side lines, praying (to a God I don’t believe in – don’t @ me) that masks, hand washing/sanitizer, social distancing (of only 3ft), assigned seating and eating outside (weather permitting) is enough to keep them both safe. But what else can I do? Massachusetts beloved Governor has decreed that schools are safe. That the virus will, of course, respect all of the rules laid out above, and of course will take weekends off.
Believe me, I’ve seen the back of my own skull so many times since the option of remote learning was taken off the tablefor the 2021/22 School Year.
But what else is open to me beyond de-registering them then attempting to homeschool them both? By myself. With no classroom support. I mean, I did manage to teach TT to both read and write her letters, the short version of her name, and read 1,000 books before Kindergarten.
But that’s basic skills only. Social Studies? Science? Art? Music? Digital Literacy? I can’t do those. So, I take all the precautions I can, and pray. And count down the days until the end of the school year 🤬😬🤦🏼♀️
And believe me, my own rules? Draconian compared to those of the District.
Masks are worn at all times – NO mask breaks.
This includes eating – they raise the mask, take a bite/sip, then lower it, chew and swallow.
We wear our masks on the walks to and from school – I am allowing us all to not have to wear them whilst schlepping up the big hill on the way home.
If anyone tries to tell them they don’t need to wear them? I’ve told them to tell them that “these are our family rules and my mom says I have to.” And then to tell me, whereupon I will rain true hellfire and damnation down. I have already sent multiple emails to the school over lack of rule enforcement and policy weakness. I do not give a flying fuck what they think of me – I am keeping my children safe. Every other person can fuck right off.
In case it wasn’t obvious? I AM TIRED. So tired. Once my kiddos are fully vaccinated, I will have nothing left.
And that is looking like being possible from October (plus 5 weeks to full vaccination status)
For every other utter moron who wants to claim their Darwin/Herman Caine Award? Please do so. I’m done arguing with you. Get the vaccine or don’t. I no longer care. But you are not taking my family with you. And if you are unvaccinated? You are not coming into my house. End of. I’m not even thinking about boosters yet – though as I am J&J I am desperate for one – but no needle? No visit. I’m not even joking.
This segues me in a little to the topic of:
Yep, as of next week they both have the dreaded homework.
TT’s is, fortunately, currently nothing more than reading for 20 minutes a day. Which can be in numerous formats:
Reading with someone
Having someone read to them.
Closed captions on streamed programmes – which I have as standard on all my own accounts anyway.
So she has a 5-10 minute bedtime story every night, so adding in additional minutes shouldn’t be too difficult right?
Well, what about #1 Son?
Well, the expectation for homework is: Grade level times 10 for number of minutes. A night. So, for him that’s 40 minutes a night. For a child with ADHD. Oh deep joy. At least it’s being divided into 20 minutes Math – which is a major area of strength for him, and 20 minutes reading. Which again, everything listed above counts, plus:
Reading silently (in his own head)
Now, as I have zero desire to play the ‘let me test you on what you’ve read’ game, option two is out. However has anyone else spotted what I have?
He can read aloud to his sister for 20 minutes, and that covers BOTH of their reading homework.
And yes, I checked with his teacher, reading books at her level rather than his own will count. Especially if he does the voices. Which he does. She’s already noticed that, and she finds it just as adorable as I do!
So he started that tonight and it seems to be acceptable for both of them… For now 😬😬😬
I was going to write more, but I’m hitting a wall, so dear audience?
Tomorrow (well today really) my boy starts Second Grade.
I am nervous.
You see there was a chance that he would have been reassigned his Homeroom teacher from last year. Except we found out on August 15th that he hadn’t.
Not only that, but the friend he had specifically been partnered with last year has been given that teacher again, so they have been split up.
So allow me to summarise. The kid who doesn’t deal well with change (understatement of the freaking millennium there) has had everything that he was used to ripped away from him.
I. Am. Not. Happy.
Not one iota. I actually sent an email to the Principal a few days ago outlining my concerns. I received back a reasonably long reply but it mostly just amounted to a hand flap and an “it’s fine”.
Well. Ok that’s the way they want it, fine. I hadn’t ever told #1 Son that it was a possibility (I’m not so green as I am cabbage looking) so he’s not disappointed. He also seems to already know his new teacher and seemed pleased to have her, so that’s a relief.
She has brown hair.
She is a girl.
It’s something I guess? 🤣😂
So I’m trepidatious but hopeful. Hopeful that he will prove my fears groundless. But if he doesn’t? If there is backsliding? Oh you best believe that Mama Dinosaur will be coming out all teeth and claws.
Seriously the T-Rex from Jurassic Park: Lost World will have nothing on me
And the reason I’m still up at almost 2am? I was sewing a name label in his denim jacket. Yes, I was.
See I ran out of spoons again today and did another “Stop, Drop and Nap” at about 5pm so I’m wired.
Which segues me in neatly to my one week post-surgery check update
Overall I was doing pretty well but then I accidentally overdid it somehow on Saturday and paid the price on Sunday – and I crashed out completely whilst feeling exhausted and nauseous, much to the chagrin of TT.
#1 Son had a pool party that day too, and I was determined he was going to go goddammit. However I couldn’t take him for many obvious reasons:
Not allowed to get incisions submerged.
Not allowed to drive (not that I can out here yet)
Still fucking exhausted.
Would probably drown.
But the hus-creature did not want to leave me on my own with TT. So we arranged for the eldest daughter of the lovely lady who picks #1 Son up from school to come sit with her and me for those couple of hours. TT was in heaven 🤣😂
The boys had fun, though it was an outdoor pool so the water was cold.
There was also a playground where he chilled out when swimming got a bit much:
So that was my weekend.
So I had my one-week follow up today and as the doctor was running over an hour late I spent that time sitting in typical doctor’s office chairs which completely did me in – I’m not supposed to sit completely upright for extended periods of time right now 🤷🏻♀️🤷🏻♀️🤷🏻♀️
It did go reasonably well though. I’ve had both sets of stitches removed; we’ve gone through the packet of photos I was given immediately post-surgery.
I found them deeply fascinating surprisingly; and actually understood a fair amount of what I was looking at. It wasn’t just personal viscera.
It did remind me of what happens when you trim the fat off of raw chicken before you cook it though 🤣😂
They also included some incidental shots of my “very healthy” appendix and liver which is always good to know 🤣😂
I have to see him again in two weeks and am to gradually increase everything activity-wise up to approximately 50% of normal in that fortnight. I’m still not allowed to lift heavy things.
So I can go up to school with #1 Son tomorrow so that’s a relief. To him as well as me – though the sweetheart would never have asked me.
So the doctor says it’s okay for you to come mom? That’s good. You have to do what the doctor says you know – the doctor knows best
I don’t mind admitting that my heart swelled and broke simultaneously there. He’s so so special my lad.
I’ve already decided that I will not be going up to knitting tomorrow, as I can’t face walking that far, or sitting in a hard backed chair for two hours; or to have my nails done on Sunday – that’s an even longer walk, plus two trains and I just cannot justify that. I’ll provisionally rebook for the following Sunday – lord knows that my amazing Matthew will understand.
Goodnight dear audience, I ought to try and get some sleep tonight. Of course I know already that going up to school tomorrow is going to wipe me out.
I don’t care. My boy deserves this. I am going.
He asks for so little, I’m bloody doing it. For him.
Honestly? You could have knocked me down with a feather.
He’s grown so much. His progress report has him so much improved from Week 1 to Week 6 that I could just burst with pride.
His teacher was full of praise for him
#1 Son is a child with a lot of love to give
She also noted that Math is his strongest subject, but that he needs to continue with daily reading aloud practice to maintain fluency.
You can imagine his joy with that 🤣😂
I also got to go in to get him an hour early on Thursday to see what he had been doing, and to watch the children put on two plays.
He was in The Three Little Pigs and he played The Big Bad Wolf. And he did so, so well. He only got a little overexcited at the third “act” and did his bit over the narrator. But the other little pigs just rolled with it- so it was only the narrator herself I ended up feeling sorry for.
Then we were shown examples of their “Persuasive Writing”
And my son?
Where the other children had written statements and arguments about why they should be allowed a puppy? (Or at the very least a bunny?)
My little socialist is trying to persuade his teachers that they need a recess.
He was also theonly kid in his class to receive a certificate for 100% attendance. Which I struggle to understand, but a. It’s a free programme and b. The sheer cost of summer vacations of any sort more than triples in August.
But it’s a programme run for kids with IEPs, so in my opinion it’s beneficial for them to attend the full 5 weeks (and change)
However I can see why it might not happen, and I’m pleased his perseverance was acknowledged.
And I very much hope all the teachers who have given up so much of their summer now have a very well-deserved break!!!!!
Which is what we are calling the “Summer Learning Academy” which is a 6 week long, 4 day a week (except the week of Independence Day 😂🤣) for Elementary aged kiddos with IEPs.
#1 Son is enrolled and it started today.
Last year he was put on the fast track side for education. This year they will be focusing on the social side of it.
He’s actually got a specific slot every Tuesday for it, which is great!
That wasn’t too successful, as he resented having to redo Kindergarten work. Now today when I picked him up?
Came running out with a big smile 😍
Now, admittedly it’s only Day 1, and we’ve just had a pretty decent family vacation, but I’m taking that as a positive sign.
Also, given he read an entire story to his sister first thing this morning, and did a reasonable amount of additional reading in class today, he’s thrilled to be told he doesn’t have to do more today 😂🤣
So, since it’s being held 8-12 at the most local school, which is next to our usual playground, I’ve decided to let them both spend an hour or so (depending on weather) in said playground to burn off some energy.
You never know, it might help with the whole “herd of elephants” issue 🙄🙄🙄
Yes today my pride and joy, the light of my life and my first born turned seven years old.
What a ride it has been.
The Birthday Boy with his (ice cream) cake ❤️
I couldn’t ever have predicted parenthood. Certainly not the journey we’ve had.
But, and I really feel the need to state this:
I would not change him for the world.
I’m so gosh-darned proud of my boy. He’s kind, funny, caring, intelligent and just all-around amazing.
Do I wish he didn’t have certain struggles? Yes, yes I do. But only because I worry about the world. He has such a beautiful soul, I don’t want anything to harm or mar it.
But, those struggles have helped me grow. Through him I’ve become a parent and he helps me become a better one. Day by day, week by week, month by month and year on year.
I know what is and isn’t important. It’s not about grades or accomplishments or academics. He will find his place in the world without those should that be necessary (though I don’t believe that it will).
I shall end with sharing the First Grade section of the school concert we went to last night. We stayed through Act 1, which was Grades K-2 and not only did he perform, he stayed through the whole thing.
Readers may remember last academic year’s Christmas concert, where they moved him into the first part of the performance because he just couldn’t handle it.
Not this year – he did it all. And if TT hadn’t been nearly an hour past her bedtime we might have stayed for the rest.
There was a Pumpkin and Mums sale up at #1 Son’s school today.
Last year I was completely confused as to why they might potentially be auctioning off fellow mothers…
It turns out the hus-creature was also, as he checked – ‘mums = chrysanthemums
Which was a relief I have to admit 🤣😂
There was also hot apple cider sadly, (or perhaps not given my liver still seems to be crying after Friday), not alcoholic, and ring donuts and…. a petting zoo.
I’ve made a vow this year to actually do more of the after/outside of school activities and so I insisted we head up.
First came the petting zoo:
Sadly, #1 Son was not keen, but TT was enthralled. So I sent my boys off to forage for pumpkins – but sadly not mums as it turns out that they are highly toxic to cats and dogs, so no plant for me – while TT went in with the animals.
It wasn’t completely successful as she has actually listened to me about not petting strange animals it seems, and took a lot of convincing that it was ok to do so. There was a lot of “Mummy no, I not touch animals” but she had fun.
Then came… pumpkin decorating:
Both kids had so much fun. I had to intervene a little when #1 Son kept trying to attach stickers to his sister’s pumpkin (and believe me, she was not impressed by that!), and my role was “Chief re-attacher of pen lids”, but they both had so much fun.
Also TT was hilarious – she was most definitely choosing her own pen colours and would not be swayed.
Then it came time to leave. She would not be parted from her precious pumpkin. She had a full on level 10 meltdown when we left it in the boot of the car to, you know, dry and set.
Both children decorated a pumpkin of course:
And we had to let her have it on the way home from lunch, so she cradled it like a teddy bear:
Such pride many happy 🤣😂❤️💗
But then once we returned what were we to do? I had visions of her sleeping with the darned thing. However through some judicious use of lollipop based bribery, to prevent her from sitting outside all afternoon, both pumpkins now have pride of place on our front porch:
But this does mean that for once I have contributed to the Halloween decorations hurrah!
I started writing this post in late May this year. Mostly to quietly vent. I’m not sure if I ever intended to publish it. But I feel I should. It’s important to be honest, with myself as well as everyone else.
I’ve been ruminating on this post for a while, and I suspect that it will be a good few days in the writing before I hit the publish button to be honest.
We all know that I have my two kidlets:
And I love them both to death. I do. I would both die and kill for these two. I have been a mama lion for #1 Son over the last year or so, and will continue to be for as long as he needs or wants me to be. But, can I admit something?
I get so tired.
It’s so hard. So so hard. And half the time at least it’s just not his fault or anything to do with him as himself. He continues to be one of the kindest, funniest, sweetest boys that anyone would be lucky to know.
But it’s his condition. It’s his disability (and I bloody loathe that word).
He is not a standard child. And this world is set up for the standard. For the “normal”. And everyone else is left to sink or swim.
TT is growing up. Every day it seems she does something new.
And she is blowing right past him
I don’t mean like for like now, at almost six he still ahead of her, but at their comparative ages she’s miles ahead.
She plays with toys.
She has proper imaginative play.
She is capable of playing on her own.
She wants to play with her brother. She idolises him if truth be known.
Her language skills are amazing
She has concepts such as sharing down. Admittedly mostly when they benefit her but she’s got them.
Milestones such as crawling, walking etc she already blew past him with.
There are more, so many more, but these are the ones that stick in my head.
It’s almost daily that I will look at the hus-creature and say:
He was never like this.
He never did this/that.
And I wonder if he has somehow been short changed by my just not knowing that he was non-standard.
How did I not know? Well for a premature child and a boy, he was hitting all the relevant milestones within the age-appropriate ranges.
We didn’t see a problem until he first started formal schooling.
I worry for him. I worry about him. If I, as his mother, can get upset and frustrated
And I do, believe me I do
Then how will the rest of the world cope? How will he cope with it?!?!?
And that is where I stopped. I couldn’t carry it on.
I think my pain, worry, fear is quite obvious no? But, I’m pleased to say, that things are once again on the upswing.
He’s had a few knocks since the start of the school year. For example he started leaving class again, particularly after we got back from England. However that was two weeks ago, and he’s getting better.
I still haven’t had to visit the new Principal (which is great) and he’s making great strides in his reading, writing and math.
I’m just so proud of this kid.
He’s a trooper. He’s my best boy. And I will continue to be the Mamasaurus that he needs me to be.
He got that star in his first week and we have also had another since.
So Wednesday this last week was Independence Day. And because his teacher (not unreasonably) had booked a little extra annual leave – well it’s not really annual leave when you’re not supposed to be working is it – #1 Son was only in “summer learning Academy” camp for two days this week.
Monday was fine. He had a great day and everything was brilliant. You see, they send home daily worksheets of the things that he’s been doing; and I’ve seen such an improvement in them that it reassures me that this was definitely the right thing to do for him.
However Tuesday? Tuesday was not so good. The wonderful H’s daughter did the pick up run as H herself was I think feeling under the weather due to impending dental torture and it just wasn’t a good day. The report I got back was that he had not done anything and had really gotten grumpy with the teacher. What I got out of him (and I’m actually impressed he told me) was that:
They had been learning about dolphins again and he had already learned about dolphins 10, 20, 100 days before in real school and he did not need to learn about them again.
He also claimed that he had tried to tell the teacher this and that she just hadn’t listened to him and didn’t understand him. Now I’m a tad sceptical about this as I’m fairly sure this teacher knows what she’s doing (as they seem to have a lot of experience with neuro-atypical children) but he felt that she wasn’t listening and he ran out. Of the classroom. First time he’s done that actually in a good few months. I can’t say I was impressed with the behaviour but I am impressed that he at least told me the truth. We then had a nice talk about it and I try to explain (as I have done many times before) that he’s got to learn the simple stuff before he can learn the more exciting stuff.
I also tried to explain that the teacher didn’t necessarily have a good clear indication of which children had already learned about dolphins versus which children had not as these are kids who come from across the town and across the different primary schools that may even be cross district but I doubt that actually, as it does all seem to be the Melrose schools rather than some of the others that they seem to have around here.
Not sure exactly how much of it sunk in but he cheered up a bit and we had a better day the following day. Hopefully this means a better week this week as he is back at camp Monday to Thursday this week.
Another potential issue is that his current therapist is leaving the practice where we’ve been taking him since last year sometime I forget exactly how long and is going into private practice. I panicked a bit when the hus-creature told me this because quite frankly I can’t go through the changes again. However she did say that she will continue to take our insurance so hopefully we could just knows him across when she leaves in August. I can’t I just can’t go through explaining it all the new therapist, getting him to see the new therapist, building up that report again it’s just not going to be good. So hopefully we’ll have a clear indication this week what she plans on doing about her current clients.
I mean I can’t blame her, there is so much more money in private practice, but we’ve been through this before. Still, at least this one was able to be honest with us about it and not just leave us in the lurch.
Wednesday was pretty uneventful really. I recently made a new friend – another friend who previously only lived in my computer and is now part of my real life.
We are currently educating each other on films. Apparently if you’ve never seen “The Princess Bride” you must forever be shunned in this country. So he has educated me (and to a lesser extent the hus-creature – who is normally playing video games and rolling his eyes whilst we watch films and act like children 😂) on:
The Princess Bride
I have introduced him to:
I also have The Dark Crystal and Leon on my side of the list 😂🤣
It seems to be becoming a somewhat weekly thing, and it’s nice to have another friend who lives in-state.
The rest of the week was pretty uneventful until Saturday when #1 Son had Reading summer camp.
Which apparently went a bit better than the week before. Which is great. He’s still so bad at focussing, but he’s coming on in leaps and bounds so I’m confident he will be at the level he needs to be at come end of August.
The new principal of his school has been elected, and it is Candidate A – who has the PhD in Education Administration and the neatly trimmed beard.
While I think I personally would have preferred candidate B – who was keen and had not yet had a principal-ship I knew A would get it, and from the talks they both gave, both have a style that ought to benefit my son, so we will attend whatever “Meet And Greets” are held and go from there.
TT has been her usual happy self and there have been some wonderful days:
And me? I’ve taken my mental health in my own hands. I have been walking in the evenings. Usually a minimum of 2km a day. It started because I needed to return books to the library and it’s just slightly too far away to easily take the kids.
And then I rediscovered Pokémon Go (look it up and if you have a Smartphone go get it) and for the last week or so I have been simply “following the pokéstops”.
See, one of the benefits to living in this country is that everything is on the grid system so you can pretty much wander in a circle except it’s not really, and you will eventually find yourself back home after doing either a giant loop or maybe a lollipop/balloon shape on the map.
I mean yes, I do also have Google Maps which I use to cross check, but more often than not I simply find myself back on Main Street after about 45-60 minutes of rambling and then I just toddle home.
And the scenery is beautiful:
And I’m learning the local geography, am getting my heart rate up and am not getting bored. All bonuses really.