Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Talk about boy crazy

Last night we had our first Cub Scouts Pack Meeting.  WOW!  I mean, WOW.  There were about 50 boys, all elementary school age running around in a not big enough room and I think Husband's head was going to explode before we'd even been there 10 minutes.  I didn't really start to lose it until we Den Leaders took the boys outside to have snack and run around.  And, boy did they ever run around.  I suppose it was good for them to get some energy out but they were making me a nervous wreck.  I just knew someone was going to bleed at any moment.  Some boys were just running around chasing each other.  Some were rolling down the hill.  Some were wrestling.  It was chaos but I think they were having fun.  It didn't look like fun to me, but I'm not a 6 or 7 or 8 year old boy so what do I know?  Eventually one little boy got kicked in the head when he and another were rolling down the hill.  He cried for a minute but seemed to get himself back together soon enough.  Overall, things were going rather well considering the banshees were generally staying in the confined area where we could watch them and yell to them when their wrestling got rough.  Then about four of my Tiger Cubs lost the "brass" slides that hold their neckerchiefs around their necks.  I yelled out to the group, "We're missing four Tiger Cub slides.  Everyone look for them and the first one to find one gets a prize!"  Yes, of course, I had no prize.  You should have seen them run around looking for those slides!  They were boys on a mission!  I couldn't believe how well that worked to get them all focused on a task together.  I'm going to save that and use it again later someday.  I didn't even really feel bad when the first boy came running up the hill, grinning from ear to ear, screaming, "I found one!"  When he handed it to me, he said, "What's the prize?" I just smiled and said, "You get a round of applause and a high five."  He gave me that knowing sneer and walked off.  Yeah, sorry kid, life's full of disappointment.  Maybe I taught them something last night after all.

Friday, September 24, 2010

But wait, there's more!

The Kindergarten saga continues...

We had our regularly scheduled check up in February with our pediatric cardiologist.  He said things were not holding out from FB's first surgery as well as they had expected.  He wanted to get another x-ray and to also talk about FB's case at his heart board meeting in a couple weeks.  We knew that day FB was going to have surgery again, and sooner rather than the later we had planned. 

A week or so went by and we got the call.  "Yes, we do want to go ahead and do another repair on his aortic valve.  We'll set him up with an appointment with Dr. Amazing Surgeon again and go from there.  We're thinking about having it during his Spring Break."  Oh, you mean in just another month and a half?  Again, GREAT!  So we cried and worried and waited. 

At the same time they were still deciding about his IEP at school and for what services he would qualify.  We had our IEP meeting on Thursday before Spring Break and we had a meeting with the surgeon the next day so the school couldn't implement his IEP until after he recovered from surgery and returned to school.

His surgery was originally going to be another repair of his aortic valve.  Then when we met with the surgeon, he told us his plan was to fashion new aortic valve cusps out of his pericardium tissue.  OK. Sounds good.  We trust in your judgment, of course.

Surgery day arrived, after being postponed a week to accommodate the doctor's schedules, and we were again scared to death.  Our prayers were answered again and he made it through the surgery.  We did end up with a mid-surgery change in plans, however.  FB's aortic root was too big to make the aortic cusps out of his pericardium but big enough that they could go ahead and implant a mechanical valve.  This means that FB will need to take blood thinners for the rest of his life and that includes finger sticks to check his levels regularly.  Oh, and he ticks.  As in, you can hear his mechanical valve ticking all the time, which makes hide and go seek terribly difficult.  But other than that, he's the picture of health.  We also hope that he will never need to have surgery again, at least not before he's 70 or so and we're long gone!  Hallelujah! 

He went back to school about 3 weeks before school was out for the summer.  We survived those few short weeks without any issues and were glad to start our summer off on the right foot.

Long story short, FB has had so much shit to put up with in his life, it's just ridiculous.  I suppose other people have worse things and I shouldn't complain because in the end, he's fine now, heart-wise.   First grade has been pretty calm so far.  He's had a few incidents this year, the headlock for example, which won him a recess-free day on the following school day.  Fortunately, they haven't sent him home yet this year, which is awesome.  But we are surviving. One Day at a Time.  And of course, if you call my phone or leave me a voice mail during school hours, I'm liable to answer with an exasperated tone because you have just given me heart palpitations.  Don't you know it kills me when my phone rings? Don't call me unless it's an emergency, or in fact aforementioned headlock has once again occurred...

Halloween costumes issues

Second Born decided a month or so ago that he wanted to be Batman for Halloween. I was cool with that.  Of course, part of me wished First Born would want to be Robin to his Batman because I'm into that sort of themed Halloween costume stuff.  Last year they were both Star Wars Clone Troopers and the year before that we all dressed up as the Scooby Doo gang. 

Anyway, last weekend we had to stop by Wal-mart to get a card before my niece's birthday party and they had a Batman costume for $20 so I thought, "SCORE."  Check that off the list.  I took it over to SB and showed it to him and he said, "Yay!  I want to be the black Batman!"  Really loud, at Wal-mart.  Husband and I quickly explained that no he was not the black Batman, he was the "Dark Knight Batman."  Geez, you gotta be on your toes all the time with this parenting stuff!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I'm gonna have to work on that...

My kids are going through the "We want to sleep in your bed" phase.  FB much more so than SB.  SB will usually make it through most of the night in his bed.  If he comes in our room, it's about 5 or 6 am.  FB, however, shows up around the time we're finally going to bed at about 11 or 12.  I have resisted for a couple months now by making him go back to his bed, many times after several attempts to sneak in to our bed when he thinks we've finally fallen asleep.  He whines and begs for me to "puhleease let him sleep in your bed, I promise I'll be still."  We've told him numerous times about how he kicks and moves around a lot in his sleep and wakes us up throughout the night. 

Then on Tuesday night we all had the worst night for sleeping ever.  Husband was sick and woke up to get sick a couple times.  FB was having a hard time staying asleep and woke up several times to try and get in our bed or just tell me how he wasn't tired.  Then with all the comotion, SB woke up to pee and see why we were making all that noise.  Finally, I thought, if we're ever going to get any sleep I'm going to have to let them sleep with me.  Husband actually sent us all to bed in our room and put himself on the couch.  It was survival mode kicking in to high gear at that point. 

The past two nights we thought we'd be real smart and put both the boys in FB's bed together with a movie on the TV.  I know, I'm so terrible, I let my kids watch TV, and in their room, and sometimes to fall asleep.  I fall asleep with the TV on all the time even as a kid I did this and I'm fine. Don't judge.  Anyway, we thought that would keep them together and out of our bed.  They certainly wouldn't be scared when they have each other.  Wednesday night we put them in FB's room, turned on the movie and as usual, FB was asleep in 2.3 seconds.  SB stayed up and watched almost the entire movie.  He did finally come out and say he wanted to sleep in his own bed.  I tucked him in and they both slept well that night.  I think FB ended up in our bed at some point but he didn't wake me up to get in so I don't know when it was.

Last night, we tried the same tactic.  FB fell asleep pretty quickly and then SB finally fell asleep in his brother's bed too.  AND much faster than the previous night.  We're making progress here.  As Husband and I crawled into bed last night we thought we'd finally figured out the answer to our little problem.  

Then about five minutes later, our bedroom door busted open like someone was kicking in the door.  I looked over and said, "Geez, it sounded like you were bustin' down the door, FB."  He smiled as crawled up into his spot between us and said, "Yeah, I'm gonna have to work on that." 

Kindergarten continued...

We started at the new school in January of 2010.  We made an appointment with the counselor and principal and explained to them our situation.  They were more than willing to work with FB. Of course, being that we were now in a public school, they had no choice in the matter.  They were glad that we were willing to help out in any way we could.  They told us on numerous occasions about how grateful they were that we were willing to submit FB to any testing and that we wanted them to help us in any and every way they could.  I cannot imagine a parent not wanting someone to help their child if they're having difficulty at school, but apparently that is a common thing. 

FB had more testing through the school system and they determined that he did qualify for services and developed an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for him.  He also had the help of a school system behavior support person.  It was actually this guys job to go to school everyday and sit with FB throughout his day and work with him on his behavior.  OMG, are you serious?  You can do that?  We can get that?  Thank you, God!  Our prayers have been answered!  Unfortunately, this was just a temporary situation until they could get all aspects of his IEP in place. 

And then, more shit hit the fan...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Kindergarten A.K.A. The Year from Hell

Here’s the other part of the story that is happening all while this other crap is going on for FB.  Our school system has a messed up way of assigning students to schools.  It is supposed to create diversity and it used to be based on race but now it’s based on your zip code, which means it’s still based on race because the majority of the white kids live in the East end of town and the majority of the African American kids live in the West end of town.  When FB got his school assignment and they wanted to send him to a school in a neighborhood where people get murdered regularly and with a 4 hour bus ride, including a change in busses at a bus depot, we appealed, were denied, appealed again and were denied again.  Not to mention that I wanted to rip the heads off of everyone of the idiots on our school board and I cried nightly about how we were going to get him into a school that was acceptable.  We finally decided we were going to have to look for other options.

We also had him sent through the full gamut of psychological evaluation about this time.  We knew he was smart and that he was having problems with impulsive behavior so it really wasn't a shock when the results came back.  FB was diagnosed with ADHD and they also showed that his IQ was at genius level.  We were also told that the main issue was that his social skills and left brain thinking was delayed and that was why he acted so immature.  However, his right brain, cognitive skills were advanced.  So the disconnect between the development was our problem.  Again, great!  How do we deal with that? 

This information made the school situation even more of a challenge.  We finally decided to send him to a Catholic school nearby and we thought, maybe this is where we're supposed to send him.  Everything happens for a reason, right?  We explained to the principal and teacher that FB was not your average Kindergarten student and they said, "Oh, we understand, ha ha, it'll be fine."  Not so much.  On FB's first day, they called and said we needed to come get him, that they couldn't control him.  Oh, how my heart broke.  Not this again!  What are we supposed to do?  How can we help him?  He's just a five year old boy.  Surely, he can't be acting that badly!  Who will help us help our boy?  He's really a sweet and loving boy.  I cried and then I got mad, then I cried some more.  Over and over I thought, this is so unfair.  How can one boy be saddled with so much pain and difficulty in his life? 

But, we had to take care of our son.  Husband and I read every book, had countless meetings with his teachers and the principals at the school and tried our best to give him the help he needed to be successful.  All the while, the school principal kept saying, "if this doesn't get better, he will not be successful here."  Every time she said that, I thought, "Lady, if you can cure ADHD, I'm happy to try whatever solution you have."  We kept trying to work through it and were waffling back and forth a thousand times about what we needed to do for him.  You'd think by now we'd be able to see the writing on the wall.  When a school wants him out, we need to move him.

Eventually, we decided to give the public school assignment another shot.  We were again assigned to an unacceptable school and again we appealed the assignment.  After numerous calls to the Director of the School Assignment, we were able to secure a spot at a school near our home.  Now the real work had to begin...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Open house recap

Before I forget any of the gory details, I thought I'd post about Open House at First Born's school last night.  Our first mistake was not bringing him with us, cause apparently, you're supposed to do that.  Oops!  Anyhoo...we got there a little early because I didn't want to have to park in the street blocks away and we made our way back to see one of the Kindergarten teachers.  Her son is going to be in our Cub Scout Den and I had to drop off the forms to her so she could fill them out before our next Scout meeting on Wednesday night.  We chatted for a bit about Scouts and then it was time to start the Open House night so we all headed back to the cafeteria/gym for the meeting.  That part was over quick and we were able to chat with the principal for a minute or two while we waited for the herd of parents and students trying to get to the classrooms.  She had a nice story to tell me about how earlier that day FB had come up to her at the Fun Run pep rally and said, "Mrs. E, what do I have to do to earn the scooter prize?"  She said she was so proud of him and how polite he was!  Yay!  We don't usually get lots of good news from Mrs. E.  Overall it was mostly good news, but here are a few of the extra good parts...

We got to check out his classroom and finally meet his teacher, Mrs. N.  He was moved from one classroom to another about a week or so into the school year for reasons not really totally pertaining to him so we never met the teacher in person before yesterday.  Mrs. N. said, "FB was a joy to have in her class and she firmly believes that once he gets through the immaturity issues and figures out how to stay on track with his behavior, he will just soar."  At this point I'm wondering if it would be OK if I hugged her?  We got to see some of his writing journals.  Interesting reading.  I wish I would have taken a picture with my phone so you could see the stuff he writes about in there.  For example, he wrote about how he knew how to operate the remote control for the cable, the red button is to record, the big black button is for the On Demand and the arrows help you move the highlight around to make your selection.  I'm not kidding, he even said "highlight."  He also wrote about how when he grows up he wants to be in the Coast Guard to protect people from sharks like in the movie Jaws.  We got a Jaws game on the iPod a week or so ago and now he likes sharks and says he wants to watch the movie Jaws.  This from the same kid who is scared of spiders and monsters in his room.  So, yeah, not letting him watch Jaws.  He also wants to be an Air Force pilot, be in the Army and to be a hunter and he drew a picture of each of these jobs as well as a poor unfortunate animal losing out to his mad hunter skills.  We also talked to the assistant teacher in his class and she told us all about how she just loved FB and of course we were so proud!  That's the thing with this kid; if he can work his way into their hearts, they love him so much.  It doesn't always happen, some teachers never bond with him, but if they do, things work out soooo much better.

Speaking of bonding, we talked to the counselor, Mrs. B, a couple times.  She said go to the library and check out the video they made for the Fun Run.  Lucky for us we happened to walk in just as the video was on the part by the first graders.  When it showed FB's classroom, all the students were sitting nicely at their desks except our boy who was jumping around in the middle of the room, punching the air and saying, "Yeah," whenever the teacher would ask them a question.  I get that they were supposed to be excited and it was cute.  Husband immediately looked at me and said, "How come our kid was the only one not seated nicely at his desk like the rest of the class?"  Minor detail, right?   Later when we saw Mrs. B. again, she asked if we saw the video.  Husband said the same thing to her about him not being in his seat and in true Grandma fashion, without missing a beat, she said, "there were other kids up out of their seats too, you just couldn't see them from that camera angle."  Apparently, she loves FB too.

When the phone rings...

between the hours of 9:05 am and 3:45 pm my heart skips a beat.  I am scared that it is First Born’s school calling again to say that he has hit someone, or put someone in a headlock on the playground or just general disruptive behavior throughout the day and that they need me to come and get him.  His behavior is getting better all the time, so that is encouraging.  Actually, they haven’t sent him home from school this year yet.  In Kindergarten, he was sent home quite a few times.  But maybe I should start this story from the beginning, so you can get the real perspective.

First Born has been dealt a completely full deck of issues since he was born.  He has/had a congenital heart defect and has had 2 open heart surgeries, one at age three and one this year at age six.  He has been taking heart medications since he was very small.  When he had his first surgery in 2007, we were of course, scared to death, hoping for the best and fearing the worst.  He was so little.  Husband even asked our surgeon, who happens to be a leader in pediatric cardiothoracic surgery, “how can you operate on such a small heart?”  To which he replied, “he’s a lot bigger than most of my patients.”  Seriously though, his confidence made us confident in him and he came through surgery great and without any complications.  In fact, we were home from the hospital in just four short days and he was playing in his room like nothing ever happened in no time.  Kids are amazing.  He is amazing. 

So after that, and maybe a little before surgery happened, FB started having some behavior problems at daycare.  They would call and say, “he’s uncontrollable. He climbs on the tables and we can’t keep him from misbehaving.  You need to come and get him.”  Eventually, that led to us being asked to leave that daycare and send him to another.  Being new to this whole parenting gig, we we’re dumbfounded.  We thought, “seriously, if they can’t handle a three year old, he probably shouldn’t be going there anyway.” 

The new daycare started out great.  When I called to get him a spot there, I of course had one of those moments where my brain said, “STOP TALKING.”  But my words just kept coming out of my mouth.  They were a little tentative about taking on a kid who had behavior problems but were willing to give it a shot.  I still believed he was normal and they were just stupid at the first daycare and told the new daycare as much.  The director offered to give it a shot and he did great.  His teacher was awesome and he had zero issues, the director told me on numerous occasions that he was great and she didn’t know why he was having problems at the previous daycare.  So we thought, problem solved.  Why didn’t we save ourselves the heartache and move him sooner.  We know better now, etc.

Fast forward two years and the same daycare has now moved to a new location.  FB has a new teacher and they’re focusing more on teaching than just playing and having fun like they did in previous years.  We started getting the notes home.  “FB had a really tough day today.  He wasn’t listening to any directions and disrupted class most of the day.”  Great!  Just what we wanted to hear!  Eventually, we were asked to move him from that daycare too.  By this time, we had started taking him to see a child psychologist.  He said he believed that our problem was just a rambunctious boy who had been let to get away with things because of either his surgery or ineffective teachers at the daycare.  He recommended we send FB to a new daycare, where a friend of his was the director.  He said she was a “no-nonsense kind of director” and she would deal with the issue instead of sending him home.  Which at this point, FB is smart enough to know that if he acts out, they’ll send him home and home is always way better than daycare.

We start out at the new daycare and he is having issues right from the start there, but they seem committed to helping us out and working with him.  He does occasionally end up getting sent home from there too, but not quite as much.  Eventually, he gets into a routine there with the new teacher and things are going well. 

By now, FB is five years old and starting Kindergarten in August of 2009.  We are just trying to make it through the last summer and he starts acting out more and more and eventually they are done helping him and although they never came out and said it, they wanted us to find a different child care situation for him too. 

Next up, the Kindergarten nightmares…

Monday, September 20, 2010

I'm a survivor...

We live our life in survival mode at our house.  We get up in the morning.  We get ready for school and work and then try to make it there on time.  We come home, eat dinner, do homework, take baths, then it’s bedtime for the kiddos and Husband and I collapse on the couch to watch our shows.  The next day we do it all over again.  It’s just surviving.  Sometimes, I don’t feel like we get many opportunities to actually live. 

We survived our jam-packed weekend of festivities, with only one mommy meltdown at the grocery store checkout lane on Sunday.  The boys were fighting over the damn shopping cart and they almost didn’t survive!  I’m surviving the Tiger Cub Den Leader responsibilities.  (Never mind that my two male “co-leaders” are not helping at all, that’s another post.)  We made it to the hospital this morning before 7:00 am for First Born’s finger stick which meant that I almost made it to work on time!  Screw that, ten after eight is close enough, I’m calling it on time. 

Also, my self-esteem booster for the day:  My work is having a step challenge where they gave everyone who signed up a pedometer and asked us to record our total steps each week for a chance at a prize at the end of four weeks.  I knew when I signed up that I wouldn’t win - we have people who work here that run or bike to work every day.  I don’t think my children would dig on that.  This morning was the first time we had to go in and enter our steps for the week.  All I have to say is, “Thank God for the lady who is right before me in the alphabet.”  Her 28,000 steps make my 41,000 steps look pretty damn active!  I think if I’d known we’d all be inputting our steps in such a public way, I’d never have signed up for this.  I know I need to work out and that I don’t exercise, I certainly don’t need a little electronic reminder or for the rest of my co-workers to be reminded of that!

I have been debating with the idea of letting my friends, family, etc. in on this new blogging adventure.  I want to be able to write about everything without censoring myself for my readers.  But at the same time, I think it would be nice to hear what people have to say about it.  Your thoughts?

Friday, September 17, 2010

If they can do it, so can I...

My boys are constantly trying to one up or imitate each other.  And don't they (whoever "they" is anyway) say that imitation is the greatest form of flattery?  Anyway, I read a lot of blogs.  Some of them make me cry, some make me laugh, some make me want to cook or bake things, some just make me think.  I started a blog about 4 or 5 years ago to chronicle my son's life and keep the family members who live far away in touch with what was going on with him.  I wrote a few blog entries and then decided that I didn't have time to chase him and take pictures and blog about it all.  So it still sits out there and occasionally I go read it and look at the few old pictures that are there and reminisce about days gone by. 

Now that I have two boys and even less time on my hands, I am going to give it another shot.  Because, like I said, if they can do it, so can I.