Of Field Trips and Spoons

So, last Friday I went on my first ever field trip as a chaperone. It was for TT – who is now in Second Grade. It was to the Harvard Museum of Natural History. I’d never been there before, and as #1 Son missed this Field Trip due to the Pandemic closing everything in March 2020 I think we will all go as a family in the summer as a day trip.

She’s been desperate for me to be more involved with School-based activities since she started Kindergarten. So, after a mere seven years of being a parent in the Melrose schooling system I finally managed to get a CORI check.


A CORI check is the USA equivalent to a UK DBS (formerly CRB) check. I didn’t manage it before #1 Son was in 2nd Grade because as a Green Card holder I caused significant turmoil and confusion when I first asked in 2017. Then in 2020 the Pandemic hit and I just wasn’t mentally able to face the risk involved with being in a classroom with that many other people.


So in early May I was informed that I had been “randomly selected” to be one of the class chaperones.

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Now, initially I did genuinely believe that it was random. Honestly, it’s true.

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However it soon became abundantly clear that it was very definitely done deliberately.

Because TT was assigned to my group. And anyone who know anything about Field Trips, knows damn well that you do not usually have your own child assigned to you. But TT has her particular flavor of special needs, and without me there she would have almost certainly assigned to her Home Room teacher’s group. Which also included the absolute scrote* who has been relentlessly bullying her all year*. Which would have made the trip hideous for her.


*Yes I am working on a post about all of that, but as you might imagine dear audience, that post is taking time as I need to wait for my blood pressure spikes to calm down whilst composing it. Because I. HAVE. VIEWS.


So I turned up to school last Friday at 08:20 and as assigned my group:

  • TT – and she was thrilled – which was genuinely lovely for me.
  • R – One of TT’s current besties.
  • A – The only other girl. She was so sweet and kind.
  • B – whose mom joined us for the ‘free play’ part of the assignment.
  • S – who seemed to be strong buddies with B so that most definitely helped.

So one of the first things I did? Offered an introduction. I told them that I was TT’s mom and that they could call me that, or Mrs. TT’s mom or they could call me by my first name if they felt comfortable doing so and if that made it easier for them.

I then informed them that I am an adult with ADHD and that one of the ways that this might show itself is in anxiety if I could not easily see them at all times, so I would prefer it if they walked in front of me during the Field Trip.

But Mrs. TT’s mom we’re supposed to stay behind you, that’s the Field Trip rules

Don’t ask me to tell you which of them said that, it was in chorus!

However I then explained that whilst I understood that, for my own comfort and brain weasels (it’s amazing how much kids will accept if you make it funny!) I needed to be able to see them. And also that I needed them to regularly sound off on a roll call if I called for one.

And by the end of the trip? B and S would swiftly raise their arms and call ‘Here’ if they saw my head start to turn in either direction. Honestly they were total sweethearts and really well-behaved boys from start to finish. And yes I told them that often and praised them for helping me out.

So we headed out. Rather unsurprisingly the school bus we were assigned to was the one running late but hey ho. I have to admit I am now in awe of how their class teacher keeps them all in check. Her roll call is done numerically – each child knows their own number on the register and they shout them out. She also makes a game of it by seeing how quickly they can do it. And its really efficient.

She also has her method for ensuring both silence and stillness.

Mrs. O:

Hands on top

Class (whilst freezing in place and putting their hands on their heads):

Everybody Stop!

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There were also a number of bus-specific rules, which were followed with various stages of efficacy. The most important one being: Sitting on your Pineapples/Pineapples on bus seats.


Pineapples = butts πŸ€£πŸ˜‚


So I had planned to take many photographs to commemorate the trip, but there just wasn’t time. If I took my eyes off the group for more than 30 seconds at any point? One of them would vanish. And it was often R. So this is us from the bus ride to Harvard Museum:

So the first hour was free play within the main exhibits, which includes but is not limited to:

  • Glass Flowers
  • The Rocks and Minerals Room
  • Climate Change
  • Dinosaurs
  • Sea Life
  • The Taxidermized Animals

Yes these are not the official names, and I’m missing some out, but there was a lot to cover in a very short amount of time. You see, we were given an imformation packet, which inclided activitires focused around the Taxidermized Animals exhibit to try and make it fully educational for the kids. However, allow me to enlighten you on something dear audience:

There is no damn way to do that and keep an eye on five excitable children who all want to see different exhibits at the same time.

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Honest to goodness it isn’t. I somehow managed to ensure each child got to spend a decent amount of time in their expressed favorite exhibit, and we did manage to see everything on our list – but with no depth of inquiry time really. Highlights included:

  • Glass Flowers – they were astounded by the fact that each piece was hand blown/created but that lasted for less than 5 minutes before they were bored AF.
  • Rocks and Minerals – I managed to get them all to find their favorite stone, and kept them engaged with the Birth Stone case that the Museum had put together.
  • Climate Change – I forced them to do the interactive bits and read the main exhibits within this room because goddammit this matters for them.
  • Dinosaurs – enough said. Show me a kid who doesn’t like dinosaurs and I’ll show you a liar!**
  • Sea Life – TT adores sharks so this kept her on an even keel during a potential meltdown.
  • The Taxidermized Animals – I had some stories about some of them, comparing them to the Tring Museum of my own childhood, and the times I’d ridden a camel and seen Orangutans in the wild.

**I gained a lot of Street Cred with B and S because I love dinosaurs. They had what we all initially thought was a Mosasaurus – but it was actually a Kronosaurus – and the world’s only wall-mounted one at that. B and S were asking how I knew about them, and I explained that I had been re-watching the fourth and fifth Jurassic Park movies a lot recently. Thanks ADHD hyper fixations!


There are SIX Jurassic Park Movies????

B with his mind thoroughly blown!

I then explained about the later three films. Either he didn’t know that the three Jurassic World movies are part of the JP franchise, or wasn’t aware that those films even existed. Either way, I suspect he went home full of the news that not only are there more dinosaur films and that adults watch them!!!

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Then we took a break for lunch. At 11am. That honestly felt like cruel and unusual punishment. I have the utmost respect for teachers. I ended up cooking and eating my own dinner at 6pm that evening because I was hungry to the point of nausea.

The aforementioned little scrote randomly spent a lot of that time peppering me with questions. I promise I was civil, but I had very little desire to spend time indulging him when each new question caused my daughter’s face to fall more and more. She doesn’t like him (I don’t blame her!) and she does not want me spending time with him (again I don’t blame her). But in observing him I become more and more convinced that he has no idea that his behavior is causing him to be disliked. Because it wasn’t only my child giving him a wide berth.

After lunch came my only real chance to take pictures whilst we had an presentation about fossils and fossilization as a concept. It was truly fascinating. I did mention I liked dinosaurs etc. right?

This is fossilized poop. Yep, excrement. I have no idea how that occurs but I find genuine joy in the idea that we keep preserved poop simply because it’s millions of years old

After this, it was bathroom break and journey home time. And that led to a conversation between myself, TT and A that I was not expecting or prepared for. In the Ladies toilet was this:

Side note: Excellent job Harvard Museum – having free tampons readily available? Yes. Great. Good job. Keep it up! πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»

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However, TT was curious and wanted to know what they were. So I simply said ‘Tampons’. To which both TT and A asked: “What are tampons?”

Which, fair question. However, A is not my child. And is only 8 or 9 years old. And the thought of A going home and telling her parents:

TT’s Mom told me what tampons are today.

Quite frankly filled me with cold dread. That’s not something I want to have happen. Therefore I was completely honest and told her that they were something she needed to ask her mom about. That it was nothing bad, they were completely normal but that as she was not my child I didn’t personally feel comfortable discussing them with her, since her own mom might not want me to.

A couple of other adult women in the bathroom did compliment me on how well I apparently handled that situation so that made me feel better.

I explained to TT a few days later what tampons are. And she actually spontaneously said:

I understand why you didn’t want to tell A about those mom. I think that is something her mom needs to talk to her about.

Which again reassured me. I did tell her that when she and her friends are older I would be happy to talk to them about this type of thing. But from around age 13+ I think. I do want to be known as a Safe House for both kids and their friends overall but it just felt a bit young to start, especially as I’ve never met her parents so I didn’t know anything about them or their own personal beliefs.

So after that little interlude we were to leave. The bus actually arrived on time and we all piled on. And TT just shut down.

This happened as soon as the bus engine fired up πŸ₯ΊπŸ₯ΊπŸ₯Ί

I’ve suspected for a while that TT might not simply be ADHD. That she (and indeed both of them) are AuDHD. Now I’m certain. I literally watched the mask fall away from her and she was just done. She didn’t fall asleep – she passed TF out. You can see how pale she is in the photo. It sadly only last about 10-15 minutes, because the rest of the kids on the bus were truly hyped. They were wilder on the way back than on the way there. She had her hands clamped over her ears for the majority of the trip home. I’ve therefore informed the hus-creature that we need to get her a proper pair of ear defenders for the next field trip.

I was also completely out of spoons. I cannot cope with doing this again within this school year. I might be on the list for #1 Son’s Field Trip to NH on his birthday, but I’m not chaperoning Friday’s DPW trip. I cannot. It took me the whole weekend to recover! R was… a lot. He would get upset when TT just wanted to look at things herself. He spent a large amount of time during the talk portion of the event trying to get her attention. She had her hands over her ears asking him to leave her alone and let her concentrate because she wanted to learn. So he got upset and went to Mrs. O to tattle. But the teacher was thankfully on TT’s side on that one.

In addition? Poor A appears to be a true introvert, so it was also a lot for her as well. She was so quiet, shy and unassuming that I felt very worried about her. But letting her chill out on whatever benches I could find and checking in with her regularly kept her on an even keel.

When we got back to the school the kids had 50 minutes left of the school day so I wasn’t able to take her home with me. Her teacher did congratulate me on getting through my first chaperoned event and told me that I did an amazing job and should consider doing it again when I could manage it.

I probably will. Next year. I need a chance to recover. But TT’s sheer joy in me attending made it worthwhile. But for now?

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Christmas Eve (and Eve-Eve) 2019

Well it’s here again. Five days ahead of TT’s birthday and the tree is up, presents are under it and both children are sleeping.

So we seem have some traditions forming now. The first is that we go for a nice meal on Christmas Eve-Eve (yesterday). One friend informed me I ought to call it Christmas Adam. I’m tempted. But another friend (who is Danish) informed me that in Denmark it is actually known as Little Christmas Eve.

I love both of these ideas. Tune in next Christmas to find out which I go for.

We went to Buffalo Wild Wings last year. This year we went to Bertucci’s – a lovely Italian chain.


Olive Garden is vile – we don’t go there


And I have my own tradition now:

The kids ate well and I’m off the dairy-free bandwagon. My mental health has been in the toilet this whole month and I cracked like an egg.

But I feel so much better mentally, if not physically necessarily.

And so to today.

We went to the Flaming Grill and Buffet in Malden today for lunch. It’s a Japanese-Chinese-American fusion buffet. It was a resounding success.

My plate:

The hus-creature’s:

TT’s:

#1 Son’s:

All completely different. And everyone ate and ate well.

A resounding success. We will go back there again.

Then we spent the rest of the day at home. Yes, the kids got progressively more and more excited, but not wired.

I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.

Here is what we left out for Santa:


The apple is for the reindeer – the hus-creature has researched this and apparently reindeer farmers genuinely give people apples to feed to them as treats.


The kiddos went happily to bed and tomorrow will be awesome. Food is planned. Drink is planned. The hus-creature and I will be a team cooking and hopefully the kiddos will be distracted with new things.

And I think they might just have been on the Nice List:

We can confirm that Santa does indeed appreciate macarons and Japanese whiskey.

Goodnight all. See you on the other side ❀️❀️❀️❀️

Apartment Life

Can suck. Suck utter balls.

We live on the first floor. The landlady lives above on the second floor.

Around December last year, after significant unpleasantness, new neighbours moved in downstairs on the ground floor.

I took down soup and apologised in advance as I have two children, one of whom is around full time.

Everything seemed fine.

While we were away, one of said neighbours complained to the landlady that:

The children run around so much it shakes the light fittings.

Now I admit, my children can be… boisterous… but no more so than any other 3 and 7 year old pair of siblings.

In fact, #1 Son, when left to his own devices, is perfectly happy snuggled in his room with his tablet.

So I was mortified. Since I thought we had dealt with this issue last year.


Apparently there were issues with doors slamming. We put large rubber bands over the relevant door handles and the problems went away


However, more information has just come to light. The landlady and her partner came to do some light maintenance (with about four hours notice this time πŸ™„) and the topic came up.


Side note: if you’ve never had kids do not try and discipline someone else’s thank you very much. Yes the landlady attempted to talk to TT and #1 Son about the excessive noise and, rather unsurprisingly, was ignored.


However, as it turns out, downstairs have set up a Meditation Room and have placed it under my kid’s bedrooms.

I’m more than willing to work with my neighbours, but that? That is taking the piss.

Fortunately, the landlady’s partner has grandchildren. He understands kids. She is child free, and kind of seems to view children as little aliens/a different species. Which is fair, but I am not hobbling my kids. They are entitled to live in their homes.

And though I would never put it like this – we were here first. They saw us all leaving the house en masse on the day they viewed the property. So they knowingly rented an apartment where they knew there were kids living upstairs.

So, there have been discussions of what can be done. The landlady and partner have suggested they will buy large Ikea rugs for the relevant rooms.


I’m not footing the bill for it. Rugs are a bastard to keep clean.


And I have suggested (and will follow through with) buying slippers for the kids. I have no problem with that.

But I have stated, on record, that while I will happily have “no running in the house” as a rule (indeed have been trying to institute that since we moved in) I am not stopping my kids from playing in the place where they live.

TT is in bed before 7pm, #1 Son before 8pm. That is not unreasonable. I am not putting their lives on hold for a Meditation Room.

I will not be shitty about it, we all need to live together, but I have my limits. I know my kids well, including their flaws, and they are not as bad as is being made out.

Mama Dinosaur mode has been engaged.

Many things

It’s been a busy few days.

TT is (whisper it) 100% reliable during the day on the toilet when it comes to doing a wee!

We have also had two days in a row where she has successfully done a poo in the correct place*

We have had no accidents all week thus far.

Night training is not happening, as we are attempting to wean her away from her middle of the night bottle and it’s just cruel to do both at the same time…


That and the one night we tried it she screamed bloody murder, fully woke up, and then actively refused to go back to sleep without said bottle – she won that round!


But she’s doing amazingly – especially when you consider she’s only 26 months old!!

Okay so she doesn’t now need the “cooling” pull ups we bought, or the plastic pants. Bugger. Ah well, we live and learn. And if we hadn’t have bought them, we would have needed them.

Sadly we had a bit of a backslide with #1 Son on the behaviour at school front today. He ran out not once, not twice but five time today, and even ran back into school at pick up time whilst the Mothership was talking to his teacher about the previous five occurrences.

I received an email from her this afternoon confirming that he had had an “emotional” day (stating that no-one would play with him and that he felt that no one loved him 😰) outlining her strategies for helping him tomorrow and giving us a framework to talk to him.


One of the problems is his refusal to accept that other children might just want to play games of their own choosing too – we are working on this…


He has had two more party invites though (one of which is ice skating – but thankfully with options for non skaters) which ought to help a little.

The other is a bouncing party – your guess is as good as ours on that – but that should at least be fun for him.

The lovely H brought up some presents for the kidlets today and he completed one of them

Momma and I are hoping that H will be able to join us on a small night on the town on Saturday.

His reading has come on in leaps and bounds. He actually asked to read with mom when he got home from school!!!!

He still hates writing, so I think that will have to be the next point of focus, but it’s amazing to see how well he is doing.

Mom met up with his teacher on Tuesday afternoon to discuss his progress and ensure that we (mostly her) are not confusing him compared to how they are teaching him in class.

It meant she got to meet his support team, and see his little cubby that they’ve built for him to (effectively) escape into when he gets overwhelmed.

Yes, it is literally a cupboard – it works for him.

He will also be having weekly sessions with his therapist every Tuesday at 07:15 – this means he won’t be too late into school, thus not impacting on his daddy’s work day too much.

As for me? I’m slowly getting back behind the wheel. I’m not great, but at least when I screw up I’m following through and have not (for example) crashed into a roundabout, nor ran a red light, nor turned into oncoming traffic without signalling.


Which are all things I did back in England prior to passing my U.K. licence


So I consider that I am doing okay. I need practice, and I need to pass my theory test (yet again) but I am studying and having gotten through half of the USA equivalent to the Highway Code today.

I’m now exhausted and have an incipient migraine πŸ˜‚πŸ€£

I also had my second post-op checkup yesterday.

My doctor is very pleased with my progress. I am to increase my doing of things, though not to lift anything heavier than a gallon until I’m the full six weeks post-surgery.

He does however want me to break up with dairy πŸ™€πŸ™€πŸ™€

(I mentioned I wanted to lose weight)

At the moment dairy and I are merely agreeing to see other people πŸ˜‚πŸ€£

I can cope with losing chocolate but not my cheese. And I’m trying to work out what I could put in my tea instead of cow’s milk.

But I’m going to try.

He next wants to see me in six months, and this appointment is already booked 😱

Mom and I also went up to knitting group yesterday and had much fun πŸ‘πŸ»


*With many apologies to the non-parents in my audience, this sort of thing is big news when you are a stay at home parent!

An incredibly successful day

For both #1 Son and myself.

At 09:00 this morning I strode off to school suited and booted for #1 Son’s initial evaluation meeting for Special Education Provision.

I’ve been both dreading and looking forward to this by turns.

He had to meet certain specific criteria to qualify for an IEP – which is an Individualised Education Programme.

Basically it was to see whether or not he could be statemented.

I spent a year working in the SEN department of Oxfordshire County Council, so I knew how hard getting one of these could be, at least without a metric tone of supporting documentation and medical backup.

And the autism assessment process is stalled a bit. It’s just so slow.

So I had reports from:

  • An Educational Psychologist.
  • An Occupational Therapist.
  • A Speech and Language Therapist
  • The School’s own SENCO

Which came home on Friday, which I read, re-read, highlighted and annotated.

I went up to this meeting agreeing with the reports, but prepared for battle if needed. I knew they wanted to help him, but criteria are criteria and he had to meet them to get the extra help.

At the meeting were:

  • Myself – daddy stayed at home with TT
  • The Principal
  • His class teacher
  • The school nurse
  • Head of SEN services for the district as meeting co-ordinator
  • The school Counsellor – who #1 Son has dubbed “The Feelings Lady”
  • The SENCO
  • The Occupational Therapist
  • The Speech and Language Therapist
  • The Educational Psychologist

It was a full meeting. I was completely drained both physically and emotionally after it. He’s not the only one in this household who can get overwhelmed.

So he couldn’t be registered with a disability due to autism, as the school cannot diagnose that.

He couldn’t get the IEP on cognitive ability because the reports proved he is average to above average in almost all areas.

So what’s left? Well, a few things but the main one is Developmental Delay.

That is a blanket term that covers a lot of things, but the one that covers him best is social, emotional or adaptive functioning.

I don’t disagree. He has severe sensory issues, cannot relate to his peers (but is great with much older and much younger children), confidence issues and is struggling generally.

I just feel a massive sense of relief.

Within 10 school days we will get a copy of the IEP and once we read it, sign it and return it, it becomes “activated” and off we go.

There will be more meetings, more reviews. This is not a one-off thing, but the main hurdle has been jumped and he will get more help.

And now for the second good thing of the day.

I went for a pre-operative assessment with the surgeon who would perform my hysterectomy if agreed to.

Well, take a shufty at this ladies and gentlemen:

For those in the audience who cannot read doctor handwriting (it’s a skill), he had agreed, without any hesitation, to perform:

A TOTAL ABDOMINAL HYSTERECTOMY

WITH BILATERAL SALPINGO OOPHERECTOMY

They are taking Every. Single. Thing. Out!!!!

I could have kissed Mr. Surgeon Man.

πŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠ

I’ve been warned that because they will go in through the belly it’s going to be the full six weeks recovery time for the procedure alone, coupled with six months to feel myself and back to normal again.

That’s fine.

Today

Was mostly a quiet day. After yesterday’a madness we needed a bit of a break.

So I decided to take a little mosey on up to Lucky Cat Yarns.

It’s a gorgeous little yarn shop only 0.5 miles away, newly reopened and refurbished.

It’s beautiful.

They are so welcoming there, and they run classes and have β€œSit β€˜N Knits”. I foresee the occasional evening up there with my needles – maybe they can even teach me to knot Continental style…

And some of them are doing the same knit along as me πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ’•

It was Bath Night tonight.

The kidlets are no longer sharing. Ever again. Took a very long time to clear up the puddles.

#1 Son actually let me clean his ears (which I had to give up nail cutting for, but they’ll last another week).

TT has decided that having her hair blow dried is the worst thing ever – but I managed to accidentally create perfect ringlets for about 10 minutes.

Already dropping out by the time I took the photo 😰 and I doubt I’ll ever be able to replicate it sigh.