It’s the differences that hurt

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

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.

Or

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.

Summer update

Wow it’s been a while (again) hasn’t it?

The issue is that for us, summer rolls on and on and therefore nothing really changes on a daily or, even weekly, basis.

#1 Son finished his summer camps. The reading one keeps trying to coax us into a fall programme for a mere $199 but given how disruptive he was for a good period of the first one, I really can’t justify that.

The Summer Learning Academy was much more successful, and I really hope we can build on it from August 29 when he starts 1st Grade.

Don’t know who his teacher is yet, nor have the supplies lists been issued, so I await that with bated breath.

He is signed up for Education Stations (basically after school club) for one day a week – pending cashing of cheque as I let that little bit of house admin slip past me!

Which will give him a little socialisation outside of school hours with his peers. I’m hopeful about it. It coincides with knitting group as daddy needs to pick him up so that seemed smart.

The wonderful A has agreed to pick him up from school for the rest of the week for the foreseeable. Yes, I will get my MA licence – I’ve just been terrified. I’m actually considering learning to ride a bicycle instead. I mean, it’s good exercise, but it’s mostly because driving here scares the beejeebus outta me!

As for me? Well I’ve lost almost 20lb and can fit into dresses I was wearing four years ago! Admittedly those are merely a (U.K.) size 16 but hey it’s progress in the correct direction.

I have finally gone to the dark side of men’s sandals but goddamnit they are comfortable. And they don’t look too bad with the dress – which is actually loose in this picture as it’s (U.K.) 18 but I felt good.

I’ve been baking more and it’s nice to find my zen.

These are the stages of a butterscotch pie – so good. I will be baking that one again!

Next up this week is homemade lemon curd.

TT continues to amaze and amuse. Her language is coming on in leaps and bounds. She is such a determined funny little person. She seems to finally have accepted that daytime clothing is a good thing. Occasionally she even lets me brush her hair!!!

She has also rediscovered her love of baths and even occasionally asks for a hair washing!

We still haven’t made it up to the damn beach as every free weekend we’ve had, the weather has been shite.


Not unlike Old England really πŸ˜‚πŸ€£


So the current plan is for the hus-creature to take a midweek day off and we will either head up to the beach or to the local indoor water park we’ve found.

In less than a month we are heading back to the U.K. for about a week for the wedding of my gorgeous sister in law and her handsome soon-to-be husband and I cannot wait. I’ve missed them so much.

We will be crashing with my parents, so I get to see everyone which is awesome.

My best friend lives within short driving distance of mom and dad too, so we are going to pop and see them too before we head back. I need my bestie cuddles too.

It’s not long enough, but we can’t keep #1 Son out of school for longer than a week (including jet lag recovery time).

He has a doctor’s appointment today for a Polio shot (he’s going to hate me!) and an IEP update. He’s decided he wants his daddy to take him. Am I a little miffed? Well not really – it’s lovely that he feels able to state a preference for the parent he wants. Daddy is more practical and won’t weep so I get it. I’ll stay home with TT to keep her out of the way, and the boys will go for ice cream after, to deal with any residual trauma.

I have a checkup with my own doctor on the 27th for blood pressure things – maybe I can also get some anxiety meds but we will see.

I also have my six month post operative check up on the 22nd. Since I’ve lost 20lb (and there’s still a little time to shift more) since they last saw me, I’m hopeful I won’t get too big a lecture on not having completely broken up with dairy πŸ€£πŸ˜‚

I shall sign off now. There might be changes in post formats to try and encapsulate more stuff “as it happens” rather than trying to wait for enough to write an epic.

I leave you with a recent collage of my offspring. Because I’m bloody proud of them πŸ’—

A long break?

Hello dear audience, I know I’ve been away for a very long time. I think my mental health took a little bit of a downturn. I just couldn’t face writing things down honestly and quite a lot has happened in the last… almost 2 weeks gosh.

But here I am sat in the park with the kiddos on a warm but overcast day and there is a breeze okay there is traffic but will ignore that and quite frankly I’m feeling a little bit at peace.


I also just got handed this treasure from TT and it made me smile


Well in the first case #1 Son’s birthday party happened on Saturday, the 6th of June which was almost 2 weeks ago.

We had had quite a few replies in the positive for the party but on the day of I still could not shake the feeling that he was effectively going to be stood up by his classmates. But I needn’t have worried there was so many kids there it was wonderful. TT had a whale of a time and honestly despite it costing $600 (it was all thanks to Merry Tax-mas that we could pay for it!) it was well worth it.

Yes that is Jestro and The Red Ninja from both Ninjago and Nexo Knights who guest-starred in the party room. #1 Son was ecstatic truly. TT was in the “okay I really want to play with them and I really want to hug them but I know they’re scary!” mode which was sort of hilarious πŸ€£πŸ˜‚

There was pizza and cake:

So. Much. Cake. And So. Much. Pizza. As part of the booking there were seven pizzas and lord alone knows how many cupcakes included.

All I know is, we brought 4 whole pizzas and 16 cupcakes home!!!


No we weren’t allowed to give some to the staff. We tried.


So H received two pizzas and a box of cupcakes when we returned home, as, sadly, the twins had been poorly and hadn’t been able to attend.

And the gifts. Dear lord. We have never exactly cheaped out when buying the gifts for those classmate birthday parties that he attended, but seeing the sheer generosity from the fellow parents I definitely feel more than a little bit guilty. Well, now we know more for next year.

And I didn’t have to do party bags either praise the good lord Jesus because there was a buildable mini figure for every child included in the party package. That included a Duplo figure for TT so even she was catered for which was lovely.

The next thing to happen really of note was spirit day on the Tuesday which would have made it the 9th of June. Each child had a shirt:

How to make a parent feel old in one easy step? Put the year that their child will graduate overall from high school on the back of the Kindergarten T-shirt. Yeah my son will graduate in 2030.

Welp always good to be prepared right?

So Spirit Day seemed very much an open event but I didn’t manage to get up there as TT wasn’t being cooperative. However class photos were shared πŸ’—

My boy is, as always, clinging to an adult God love him.

He had an amazing time though, and even caught the sun a little.


Fret not dear audience he did not burn


There was also an entire school photo posted on the schools own Facebook page so I feel no compunction about half inching it and popping it up here.

Hint: my son is the one clinging to an adult on the left hand side the bottom.

And after spirit today came DPW day. This is a day to celebrate Melrose Department of Public Works. Which for the adult sounds about as exciting as it probably was except that the kids had such an amazing time.

She’s absolutely in love with that little hardhat and tries to take it with her everywhere. Unfortunately it’s really flimsy plastic so blows off with the slightest breeze so I keep trying to persuade her to keep it in the house.

Again school wanted us to go with him to chaperone but there was free ice cream and snacks there was sunshine and all manner of giant heavy duty vehicles for the kids to climb on and poke, so I consider it a morning well spent.

Sadly it was too far away from the house for me to go it alone with TT so daddy had to come to and drive but we’ll had a pretty good time.

And then, it was Friday. Having chatted with his teacher at DPW day, at length, it was decided that we shouldn’t take him in for the half day on Monday because he actually handled the fifth graders leaving not very well.* And she felt (and I didn’t disagree with her) that given they already finished the formal teaching part of the year it would just add stress to have a half day. Which meant that Friday was his last day of kindergarten. I didn’t really quite know how to feel if I’m honest he’s grown so so much and then I saw this picture:

There just aren’t words to describe the sheer pride I have felt in seeing these pictures. He’s grown, he’s changed and he’s done so so well. And then to top it off his report card came home on Friday as well. Now okay he has slipped a bit in certain areas, but overall? He has excelled compared to the winter report. I’m so so proud of him.

So this update is already super long so I think I’ll leave it there and will try and catch up with this week plus last weekend as soon as I can which hopefully will be tomorrow. Having said that, he’s got his first summer Reading camp tomorrow so we will see how we go.

*We have put so much effort into explaining to him about the transition to 1st grade, the change in class, the change in teacher etc, but we completely forgot that he had a lot of friends in the fifth grade who are moving up to the middle school in September. He was devastated on the Friday.

And then he was SIX

Yes, today is #1 Son’s birthday!

Can I get a small round of applause for keeping a small human alive, healthy, and reasonably well-adjusted for six whole years?

No?

Ah well, worth a shot πŸ˜‚πŸ€£

Today was a slightly hard one for him, as he had to go to school on his birthday. Something that, if we had stayed in the UK, (barring royal jubilees) he wouldn’t have had to deal with.

However we dealt with it by opening a few presents this morning:

We then had a pretty amazing day at school. When A dropped him home she apologised for being late as he had been mobbed with birthday wishes.

She commented that she often feels like she is a bodyguard for a film star, like she needs to smuggle him out under her coat πŸ˜‚πŸ€£

He got a Happy Birthday card from his SENCO.

We then opened just one present (the biggest πŸ€£πŸ˜‚) while waiting for daddy to get home with cake.


Birthday cakes here tend to be sold “fresh”. Boxed cake is something very different.


We did candles

And why yes that is a chocolate cake, with vanilla buttercream frosting, surrounded with kitkats and covered in M&Ms!!!!

Don’t think he was too sad that mummy didn’t bake for him πŸ˜‚πŸ€£

We opened more presents – my boy has been thoroughly spoiled πŸ’• and we watched about 2/3 of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.


Or as he knows it: Harry Potter 2


Which we will finish tomorrow.

He was sad when he went to bed tonight as it was “the end of his birthday” but the reminder that his party is next weekend had cheered him up muchly.

God I adore thiskid πŸ’—

School Science Fair

Well not really, but sort of.

On Thursday #1 Son had his Kids Enquiry Conference. It was 18:30-19:30 and attendance was strongly encouraged.

I can’t say that I was particularly happy about it as it was after TT’s bedtime and ran past his own for a school night. Still, since it was the school making him go, I figured that they could just suck up any residual issues potentially caused by him being late to bed.

As it turned out, it was more of a “kids showing parents what they had been up to during science” in the same manner as the writing wherein we learned all about dolphins

(Please to be remembering that it is, in fact, about dolphins):

And the Maths one I previously wrote about.

So daddy took him up as someone needed to stay behind with TT and I had seen the others. I felt it would be good for #1 Son to spend some time with daddy.

I think they had fun?

πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£

It was all pretty standard. The class had been doing group projects building bridges out of cardboard, egg cartons etc.

We also had the school reading and maths lists for the summer sent home.

Big stuff to do sigh. I just hope we can get most of it done.

We are now all signed up with the Melrose Public Library now at least.


And I am also endeavouring to ascertain whether all the reading he does must be off of the prescribed reading list. I’m hoping not.


I am in shock.

Total shock. I am stunned. I am speechless.

Tonight I made (another) soup.

  • Rainbow new potatoes – 1 bag
  • Rainbow carrots – 1 bag
  • 1 boneless pork chop
  • Acorn squash – roasted with olive oil and maple syrup (and I tipped the maple-y juice back into the pan)
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 2 apples
  • A good handful of kale
  • Veggie stock from the last two soups
  • 2 cloves of garlic

Did the usual 6-7 hours in the slow cooker and blitzed it down:

#1 Son’s is on the top,TT’s is underneath.

I used some leftover baguette from yesterday’s lunch as the dippable item. TT yummed that up.

#1 Son was much more reticent, but that’s kind of standard and expected these days.

He actually dipped the bread though. And ate it. He told me “I don’t actually like it mom, but I want my sister to eat it, so I am saying how yummy it is”

I could have burst with pride.

And this was what was left:

The bowls are in the same order. Yes TT practically wiped hers out, which is great, but look.

He. Ate. Food.

Real food.

Food I cooked.

And, and and he asked to have it again tomorrow!!! I damn well nearly keeled over in shock.

And I may have been *this* close to crying tears of happiness and shock.

I can’t not share this

I made a meal that both kids ate!!!!!

I am astounded and amazed and slightly scared to be honest.

It was another stew/soup thing made of the following:

  • Fingerling potatoes – white, russet, purple.
  • Sweet potato/yams.
  • Rainbow carrots – orange, yellow, white, purple.
  • Red onion.
  • Beef.
  • Roasted Acorn squash – roasted with olive oil and maple syrup.
  • Frozen peas (because it needed something green!)
  • Two cloves of garlic
  • My homemade vegetable stock from the last batch of soup, leftover store-bought chicken stock (yes, yes, I know it’s not normal but it’s what I had on hand)
  • A sachet of posh beef bullion to deal with the above.
  • A good dash of salt

And I don’t mind admitting it tasted bloody awesome! Heck, I had some for my lunch today.

I decided that since there was so many carbs in it, that I wasn’t going to add pasta to it. However, based on observation, I felt it best to blend it down and turn it into potage for them.

And wow am I glad I did!

Now admittedly #1 Son’s bowl is the one on the right, but look – it’s half empty!!!!

Okay, it took patience and cajoling and persuasion to get him to do that, but it’s homemade and nutritious and he ate it!!!

I’m not foolish enough to believe that it’s any kind of breakthrough, but it progress!!!!

School Events

There’s been a lot of things happening in the last couple of days with, for and to #1 Son.

So on Tuesday evening there was his second parent teacher conference. Now I’m pleased to say that I didn’t approach this one with as much trepidation as his initial one back in November.

I knew that there had been some improvements, and that was in both social and academic areas. Of course there were still issues, but what Kindergartener won’t have those?

I also took up his three exercise books that we’ve been working through to show his teacher that we’ve been trying to do improvement work at home on more than just reading.

He has 180 Days of Kindergarten in:

  • Math
  • Writing
  • Reading

The idea is that from the start of the academic year you do one page a day (I assume they mean workdays) and improve as the class and the year goes on. We only picked them up after the 100 days of school celebrations, but they are still worth doing.


I can’t say that he’s been totally thrilled with it but he does it with minimal fighting. Possibly because I mark it as we go along, and he likes to see how well he’s doing. He would do better if he just concentrated but neither me nor his father were particularly good at that either.

And when I say “do better” I mean the difference between getting 6 out of six and 5 out of six. He’s good at it really.

So our 20 minute conference time turned into nearly an hour but fortunately I was her last meeting of the day and apparently she is regularly in school until 6 PM as it is. The woman is a saint, have I mentioned this?

She talked me through his systems for taking breaks, how he concentrates (better than it has been, though there is obviously still room for improvement), and perhaps more interestingly the system she has devised for tracking his particular outbursts and what triggers them. Spoiler: there is no apparent pattern. Although the day when he has music as his “special” (Wednesday) seem to have more outbursts. This does make sense to me, as it’s a very noisy class and he gets overstimulated.

I also noted that he seems to work better in a classroom setting when he is buddied up with a female friend. And interestingly his teacher noted that he will play outside with his peers now and that when he does, it is normally with the boys! I think I don’t need to explain how absolutely ecstatic this information made me.

Don’t get me wrong, he does still have days when during recess he will just walk round and round in circles talking to himself. But that’s fewer and he’s playing with children his own age!

For the sake of brevity (and so that you, dear audience, do not die of boredom) I will skip over the academic stuff except to say that he is doing better and concentrating for longer. And I will now move to the most important part of the session where she told me something that made me literally dance around the classroom which was:

He is no longer the child causing her the most grief!!!

Okay so there is still the caveat of “for now” but let me have my moment in the sun here!!!!

They do want either myself or his dad to go with him to supervise in a couple of upcoming field trips, but I can’t really blame them on that.

All in all after the conversation I had with his therapist regarding playing with peers and her concern that he wasn’t, I left that meeting pretty much walking on air. One darn proud mama bear.

Then came Wednesday. Which was a pretty normal day. Except at about 11:30 I got a phone call from the school nurse. To tell me that my poor son had gotten into a fight with the playground. Not in the playground with another child oh no with the ground itself. And he lost. Except at about 1130 I got a phone call from the school nurse. To tell me that my poor son had gotten into a fight with the playground. Not in the playground with another child, oh no, with the ground itself. And he lost.

The top photos were taken just after he came home on Wednesday afternoon, and the bottom two were taken the next morning.

He still feeling very very sad and sorry for himself. I’m not surprised. It’s still sore and he still wants band aids on the grazes. I have no problem with this, as apart from anything else it helps prevent infection. He’s been talking about not wanting to play outside at recess and “keeping everybody safe”. Perhaps he will learn to look before he runs?

Honestly? I doubt it but it’s taught him a valuable lesson I think.

Today I went up to school for a Math Fun morning (!)

No really. The idea was that you would undertake different activities with your child and see what they have been learning.

He made me a chain link necklace – a rainbow necklace πŸ’—

He needed to take a 5 minute break in the middle of the work, and when there was only 5 minutes left of the session because he had run out of steam. So with the second I decided to leave a little early, as by the time he was done with his break it would be time for the parents to leave anyway.

He handled that fine. Also I ought to note that it was extremely noisy in the classroom, and he didn’t have one outburst. I was so proud of him πŸ’•

He also came home with this:

It is a “Rainbow Egg for keeping stuff in” πŸ’—

And finally, it seems that due to the late March snow, the Ida, Always author needed to cancel her previously scheduled visit. So, she will return at some as-yet-to-be-determined time, and his copies of the books will be signed!

Spring Break is now upon us, so stand by for stories of trips to the park, ice cream and lots of shenanigans…


IT MIGHT HAPPEN


Oh, and one other lovely thing. When he was dropped off by the lovely A this afternoon she left as normal, and then came back to ask if she could take him to the local ice cream parlour that we also frequent – because her youngest daughter (Grade 5, so aged 11 or thereabouts) and her friends wanted him to come with them.

Okay I know that the therapist wouldn’t have been as pleased as I was, but I was thrilled that he was able to socialise like that in a public place.

I’m one very proud mummy tonight.

Play Dates

A thing that is fraught with pitfalls. Especially for me – a non-standard parent of a very non-standard child.

It may be difficult to believe, but I dread public gatherings. I am not good at small talk. I have odd hobbies. I fear judgement. And I hardly ever open up to people now.

So, all that being said, yesterday I had a full 1:1 meeting with #1 Son’s therapist; and one of the things that came out of this meeting is that he struggles socially with his peers.


And oh dear lord did that sound familiar 😫😞


And I was gently, yet firmly, advised that I have to know “when to push, and when to pull”. Translation: Set up some goddamn play dates woman

But that isn’t easy, precisely because he is struggling with his peers.

We had set up an initial Skype date with his former friend from school for last Sunday, but at the last minute the poor thing got camera shy.

To give her credit, she both broke her leg and their family dog was put down over Easter, so she’s been through one heck of a lot for a 5/6 year old.

So I started to consider options. Which is tough when I barely know any of the kids in his class, and he’s not exactly the best at communicating about them as is.

But, while we were doing homework, he did this:

Now, as an aside, can I just say look at how well his writing is going!!!!

But he not only drew the “snow hills”, he also drew a specific class mate helping him up the hill.

Bazinga

He also went to her birthday party – it was the one at the drama house that, uh, did not go well for him. But never mind, as I result of that I knew I had her mom’s email address.

So I sent an email asking if, since Spring Break is next week, whether said friend would like to come for a play date.

She wanted to!!!!


Side note: I am currently waiting on my appointment for #1 Son’s Parent:Teacher Conference. You have to walk through After School Club to get there. I was stopped by a little girl asking me by name. She asked if she was coming to our house!!!! She seems happy to!!!

πŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠ


So, next Saturday I will be hosting my first ever school play date.

May God have mercy on my soul πŸ€£πŸ˜‚

I just hope that I myself don’t scare anyone off!!!

The therapist also said that he has a beautiful singing voice. Apparently he has perfect pitch! So that is something to consider.

She also stated very firmly that although home schooling “might be tempting” she very definitely believed he was not a candidate for it. He needs the structure and socialising of school.

Since I have no clue how one might go about it, and have no desire to undertake such a mammoth task of significance, school it is!!!

I will update regarding the Parent:Teacher conference soon.