Just call me Jiji

…me, just pretending to be me ….now, where did I put that cape??

Archive for the tag “school”

Nine Years Old and Already Breaking Hearts

A couple of days ago Leon came home from school and I could tell he wasn’t himself. Well not his, get off the bus and get the homework done right away, to get it out-of-the-way, so he can watch TV and play, self.

His ODD was in full force and rearing its ugly head. Everything was an argument or a fight, he asked for things he knew I would disagree to and then would have a huge fit when he would hear the word no. He lashed out, got fresh, and as a result he had to suffer the consequences of his actions. The consequences in this case being no video games for the rest of the day, including his newest addition to his collection; Skylanders.  He had just gotten it for his birthday the week before and was becoming obsessive about it. I felt he needed a break from it. Which he did. But the storm that came after that, resulted in a huge temper tantrum. There was yelling and crying, and screaming and runny noses, and soberly “i hate you’s”, and “i hate myself”, and “i just want to be left alone”, and screaming into pillows, and pinching and scratching at himself, and me grabbing a hold of him in my arms to cradle him and love him and keep him from physically hurting himself.

Phew! I see more and more of myself in this child every day! Memories and things long forgotten and tucked away in the far back of my mind. And now as I watch him go through so many of the things I went through in my own childhood (things that had made me feel “wrong”); and now to see him go through it, and not know how to deal with the intense emotions that come with it,  just kills me. I only hope that I can parlay my understanding and feelings to him based on what I have already gone through and cushion the blow even just a little. Let him know, he is NOT alone, there are others who understand, who get it, who have the same difficulties and differences.

This poor child carries the strain of always having to restrain and keep in check his natural ADHD impulses to do his own thing, his own way, while he is in school all day and for just long enough after school to get his homework done. The meds that he is on helps him to do that, and for all intense purposes work great, but some days are a bit more challenging than others. Sometimes the smallest monkey wrench puts a crimp in his day and throws him completely off course. It could be anything, maybe his schedule was unexpectedly interrupted, maybe he isn’t feeling well or maybe someone said or did something that he just can’t get off of his mind. What ever it is, it can cause the storm described above…

and below….

Leon: MOM! I am having a REALLY bad day! All I want is to come home and relax by playing my new game and you won’t even let me, And I am just really really stressed (pleading now, with tears running down his cheeks) PLEEEASE let me play with my Skylanders I just need to forget today happened!! Pleease!!! I DON’T WANT to go to fencing, I just want to RELAX!!! and I can’t do that if I can’t play my game!!

ME: (cradling my poor sobbing little boy whose trying desperately to sway me into changing my mind about taking away his video game privileges as a result of consequential behavior) I know you are upset, Leon. I am sorry that this hurts your feelings, but you know the rules if you get nasty with mommy you lose certain privileges and telling me you feel too sick to go fencing but just fine to play video games is not going to cut it.

Leon: I’m sooorrrrrry! I won’t do it again. Pllllllleeeeeeaaaassssseeee can I play my game. I had a bad day and besides I got some bad news at school and I am stressed about it! I just neeeeeeeeeed to playayayayay my GAME!

ME: What bad news? Do you want to tell me about it.

Leon: I just don’t want to talk about it OKAY!!! (screaming) Just let me PLAY!!!!!!

ME: eh, there is that tone again. (remaining as calm as any parent who just wants to strangle their beautiful child can)  Lets just try to stay calm and talk things out and we can see were we go from there.

Leon: If you knew this bad news you’d know why I am so stressed!

ME: So tell me about it

Leon: I don’t want to

ME: Okay you don’t have to tell me. But I am a little worried, can you tell me if it’s bad news about you?

Leon: no

ME: is a teacher involved?

Leon: no

Me: a friend?

Leon: yeah…

Me: did someone get hurt or sick?

Leon: no it’s not like that, it’s, it’s it’s just to horrible to say, I’ll write it down.

Me: (a little concerned now…. takes the folded up paper from his hand – reads his scribble and…..) (SMILE) Leon, is this what is upsetting you so much?

Leon: yes!

The note says: ” _________ has a crush on me! (It’s shocking!)”

ME: (inner voice) AWWWWW how freaking cute!!!!!!!!! (outer voice) This is flattering news, it should make you feel good about yourself. _____ is a very nice girl and she obviously has good taste. Don’t look at this as a bad thing, think of it as a good thing. I thought you liked ______.

Leon: I do! but I don’t want a crush, I want a friend!!!!

ME: All you have to do is just tell her that.

We talked a bit more about how he came to this knowledge….

Leon: Her friend came and told me, and then _____ said she was too embarrassed to tell me herself.

ME: what did you say?

Leon: nothing, I just fainted!

Ah the complexities of a fourth grader.

Today he came home in all smiles, we talked a bit before my bronchitis sent me back to sleep and he had a very nice evening playing with his dad.

I had asked him if he had spoken to ______. 

Leon: yeah, I told her that I didn’t feel the same way about her, and I asked her if we could still be friends. and she said yes.

Alls well that ends well!

I just hope ______  is okay! I mean who can blame her? My kid has always been a looker…… 

and he is an AMAZING KID to boot.

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SCREAM!!!!!!!!!!!!

You scream, I scream, we all screeeeeam…

That’s it nothing else, we all just scream

SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAM!!!!!!!!!!!

Back when I was young, about a million trillion years ago, I had a small group of people I hung  out with in high school, and  we had a brilliant way of dealing with stress.

We would get in the car and drive down to the beach at top speed with all the windows down
and just SCREAM at the top of our lungs.

I can’t tell you how good that felt!! It was amazing!!

I long for a good long scream

I NEED a good long scream!!!

Anyone want to go have a scream with me?????

{ Just FYI – This scream was brought to you by the letters N-O-T & H-A-P-P-Y  and is courtesy of my first impression of the new school psychologist – which is condescending, major-interuptus-not-listen-to-us, and blechy)

Reading Between the lines.

For homework today Leon had to use each of his spelling words in a sentence.

This is what he came up with;

1. I’ve got something planned.  ~(Uh-oh)

2. I can’t do it. ~(Phew)

3. I’m obsessed with myths,aliens, and monsters.  ~(He’s obsessed alright)

4. It’s okay I am fine. ~(That’s good to know)

5. I won’t play “Super Smash Bros. Brawl” on the Wii. ~(You won’t??)

6.I’ll play “Mario Kart” on the Wii with Jill. ~(Oh I see what’s happening here)

7. You’ll probably say NO!!!!  ~(It was my first thought)

8. Let’s play it, please, pretty please. ~(Well since you put it that way…)

9. He’s crazy, I’m serious! ~(yes he is seriously crazy)

10. I couldn’t ever hate my mom. ~(I LOVE you too, sweetie)

11. Aren’t you going to play? ~(yes, as soon as your homework is done and your room is clean)

12. I wasn’t here when it happened. ~(Uh-oh, now what happened?)

13.They’ve rigged the game. ~(umm…I got nothin)

14. Shouldn’t you be cleaning, your room!!!  ~(well, shouldn’t YOU?)

15. Don’t play with that! ~( ….things mommy says over and over again???)

 

I think he is trying to tell me something, what do you think??? 

A Message from Santa

 

Dear Jill,

Hello from the North Pole. I bet you are surprised to be hearing from me, here, on your blog. I hope you don’t mind me posting this note on your blog, but I wanted to make sure that your son Leon get’s my message. And who better to trust with such an important task then his own mother?  You must be extremely proud of him. He has come such a long way. I’ve been keeping my eye on him and I have to say Mrs. Claus and I are very proud of him too. Not only was his report card filled with 3’s and 4’s but I heard from my elves today, that he just won 1st place in the category of photography for his school in the PTA Reflections Contest. I hope he saves the Target gift card he won for something really wonderful. 

He is maturing very well and becoming such a responsible young boy. I really enjoy seeing how well he does his homework right after school. I would urge him to slow down a bit though, it is important to take time and work carefully when doing school work. I have noticed some improvement in his handwriting too! There is more work to be done, but I have every confidence in him. I’ve seen him do great things.

He is taking after you artistically, isn’t he? The combination of his wonderful imagination and the talent he is showing  when he draws make for some beautiful and creative artwork. I especially like the winter scene he drew, with me in my sleigh sailing through the sky. That one is by far the best work of art I have seen him do so far. You really should add it to the art gallery in your livingroom if he will allow you to. 

He also has the potential to be a great musician too, if only he would practice his instruments. He seems to be doing very well in orchestra with his cello, according to his teacher, just  imagine how good he would be if he actually practiced, I do hope you will urge him to practice! And not just his cello but also the guitar too. Did you know he wrote me a letter asking for a piano keyboard AND an electric guitar, along with some Lego and an Xbox? There is only so much I can do. Between you and me I think the electric guitar should wait a bit. I’d like to see him practice the instruments he is already learning more often and on a regular basis before I get him the electric guitar. Please tell him I said so.

He will be getting at least one thing he asked for in his letter under the tree, on Christmas morning as well as a few other things that the elves and I have overheard him talking about. And I will admit that we do check out his Universal Wishlist on Amazon regularly. What a smart thing to do. Kudos to you Jill, for making things a bit easier for folks.

There is something else I have noticed about Leon lately and I am very glad to see it. I see him being even more caring and generous with others and in life, than he has been in the past. It is truly wonderful to see Leon getting into the true spirit of Christmas. As you know, Christmas is not about getting presents, it is instead about giving, just as God gave us his son, Jesus Christ.

Leon has a lot to give this world and he is off to a wonderful start.

The message I would like you to pass on to him is in this link, I was able to record a video just  for him through my portable North Pole, please have him watch it; 

 http://www.portablenorthpole.tv/watch/guest/i0o2DZwhRB515cEvAUZugg

And don’t you worry Jill, I haven’t forgotten about you either. I received your letter too. It was very unique of you to write your letter to me on your blog, although in this new age of technology it isn’t surprising, you wouldn’t believe all the tweets I get, and don’t get me started on all the “Dear Santa” Facebook status stuff.

Regarding the wishlist in your letter, I am not so sure I can do anything about the time thing, you might want to try Father Time, but I don’t think he takes requests. All I have to offer you is advice; if you want more time in the day to have to yourself , you are going to have to make it. Try not to be so accommodating. It really is okay to say no every once in a while and take care of yourself first.

The will-power to continue to lose weight is already within you, so I will work on sending the soft-serve calorie-free, fat-free ice-cream your way. I’ll have to remind the elves to pick up some dry ice, before we depart the North Pole on Friday.  But incase we can’t get Jack Frost to share, rest assured you will find a gift under the tree from Santa. Afterall while looking under Leon’s name for his wishlist on Amazon.com, I looked up your name, and Ron’s too.

As far as the last thing on your list in your letter to me, that too, is something you already have. God has provided you with the perfect family just for you. Just as he made Ron for you; he made you for Ron. And then he answered your prayers and gave you Leon.  Praise God always and anything you could ever need will be yours!

Jesus is the Reason for the Season

                                                                                            Love,

                                                                                                Santa

P.S. I actually prefer Kahlua and cream with my cookies but I don’t drink and fly, so skim milk will be just fine. 

What Do Teachers Make…

Great poem about What Teachers Make by Taylor Mali

Thank you to all those teachers out there who make a difference!!

Yipee Skipee it’s Halloween!

I love Halloween! It ties with Christmas as my favorite holidays..

Both are fun and festive! Christmas lets me get my shopping on and Halloween lets me get my costume on.

Last weekend we enjoyed yet another Halloween Celebration. I say another, because this year is no different from any other year, where we attend many different Halloweenie events.

Traditionally Leon gets to go trick-or-treating at least 3 times each year.  First Leon starts his candy collecting in PA at Ron’s parent’s summer retreat, a campsite on the Delaware river, that they have been seasonal members of since Ron was Leon’s age, that hosts a costume parade, trick or treating, and a Halloween party at the close of the season in the end of September. His second T.o.T. collecting is usually at Pumpkin Park, a local amusement park that opens itself up for safe trick or treating every year, however there was scheduling conflict and we did not get to go this year. And lastly we always enjoy having a few friends meet up at our home for a light snack before we roam the neighborhood on Oct. 31, forcing our kids to collect candy for our – umm I mean their enjoyment. 

This year we have a packed Halloween schedule once again. In September, we had fun at the campground as usual. Leon wore a grim reaper sort of costume because as much as he wanted to be Emperor Palpatin from Star Wars, I knew the make-up involved in it would try his patience and his sensory issues. So I nixed it for the campground. He enjoyed himself none the less.

He’s the one all in black

Two weeks ago we went upstate to enjoy the fall scenery and do some apple picking as described in my previous post.

The 3 of us collected twigs, acorns, and leaves and put them together; and Leon snapped this photo.

Last weekend I spent Friday and Saturday putting our costumes together. I’ve always enjoyed making costumes and dressing up in either couples costumes or coordinated family costumes, and luckily Ron and Leon enjoy it too. Our theme is usually determined by what Leon chooses to be and then we work around that.

Being HUGE fans of Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas, it was only natural that we would portray characters from the movie. I am the Lovely Sally, Ron is Jack Skellington the Pumpkin King, and Leon of course is Oogie Boogie.

Putting costumes together for Jack and Sally was simple enough. Ron’s was completely store-bought and in the interest of saving money, (along with having an excuse to wear my leather corset) mine was put together from pieces of clothing that I already own (with the exception of the wig which I borrowed). Leon’s costume of the other hand was something entirely different. Oogie Boogie is not a readily available costume, in other words it had to be made. And Leon was very specific about it looking true to character.

I spent four hours creating Oogie’s head on Friday and about five hours creating his boogie, I mean body on Saturday. It turned out truly amazing if I do say so myself, I am quite pleased with the result!!!

You’re joking, you’re joking,
I can’t believe my eyes”

Mr. Oogie Boogie, Nightmare Before Christmas

We wore our costumes to a friend’s Halloween party Saturday evening and had a blast! Leon’s favorite part was getting to watch Nightmare Before Christmas and Scooby Doo with the other kids. My favorite part was the look of surprise on people’s faces when they found out Oogie Boogie was not store-bought. Well, that and getting together with friends.

On Sunday, Ron’s parents joined us at a street fair. We went in costume to participate in a costume parade and enjoy the farmers market and a wonderful musical group, The Bari Koral Family Rock Band. They were terrific but we had to leave early, Leon was having an off day due to the previous night’s activities.

Ron, Leon, my niece Kiera, and myself

You will notice that I did not go as Sally in the pictures; instead I was an eco-friendly witch. I felt that it was more appropriate daytime attire, and it gave me an excuse to wear my green dress that just happened to match my green witches hat that I had received as a gift from my sister a year or so ago. Hmmm.. Do you think she was trying to tell me something?

This whole week continued to be about Halloween festivities for us. Leon’s school hosted a pumpkin patch for the students during recreation time on Wednesday. He was happy to come home with a pumpkin, a pint of apple cider, and some candy corn. We decorated the pumpkin when he got home from school

It’s Not So Spooky Snoopy!

On Friday, Leon went to school in costume, as did the majority of the other students in his school. The principle, whom I adore as y’all know; led a costume parade in front of the school, and invited the parents to come and watch.

Jedi Leon

It was just so adorable to see them all dressed up and enjoying themselves. Our principle by the way dressed as Sponge Bob, which I thought was great. So did the kids, they just love her! Leon was excited to come home with his “crabby patty” prize for scariest costume. Funny enough, Leon did not wear his Oogie Boogie costume.  The student’s were not allowed to wear masks, so he donned a previous year’s costume, Jedi Luke Skywalker. Which, isn’t a scary costume, however, knowing my SPD son and his issues with clothing, I allowed him to wear a pair of skeleton pajamas as a costume underneath his Jedi costume, in case all that extra fabric was too much for him. So he went to school and marched in the parade as a Jedi; but by the time the principle got to his classroom afterwards he had stripped done to his bones, won scariest costume, and came home as a skeleton.

That same evening the PTA hosted a Fall Harvest Costume Dance. We  really, really wanted to show off the Oogie Boogie costume, and even though masks were not permitted, I allowed Leon to walk in as Oogie, knowing that my extremely hyper-active, run wild as soon as he hears music, ADHD child would take it off within 10 minutes of getting there. I was right, of course, and Leon spent the rest of the evening as a break-dancing skeleton. Which is quite funny to watch! Ron and I attended in costume as well. Ron as Jack, and I as the Green Witch, once more – I figured my leather corset would raise more than a few eyebrows in a school setting.

Conga!

CIt was very nice to see some of the other parents wearing costumes as well! My favorite adult costume was the Sleestak! As for the kids, the home-made Sally was great, as was the Mini Mad Hatter, the Peacock, and my favorite Little Witch in Training (just because she is the sweetest little girl).

Sleestak and Jack rev up the dance floor

The funniest part of the evening was when the DJ called the Sleestak and Beetle Juice over to help lead a dance. Funny because, he was pointing at Ron (aka Jack Skellington) when he said Beetle Juice.

You could not see his face under that mask but I am sure Ron was cringing every time the DJ (who was really great with the kids) said Beetle juice, which he said a lot. At one point Beetle juice, I mean Jack; I mean RON was asked to lead the conga line.

Conga, conga!

 I am very lucky to have a husband who is such a good sport (and doesn’t mind working up a sweat! – that is a rubber mask he was wearing). I think he really enjoyed it too, the notoriety, not the sweating.

On Saturday, Leon and Ron started their day early. Aside from Leon’s first Drawing class, they went to the Boy Scout Jamboree for the day, which being scheduled for Halloween weekend had to of course include a Halloween parade. Unfortunately they missed the parade, but they enjoyed the day none the less.

Happy Birthday BSA!!

When they returned, we got ready for a party at the haunted house across the street. Our friends (who are also our neighbors) go all out on Halloween. The outside of their r home gets totally transformed a week or two before Halloween, and is ever-changing. The house draws a lot of on lookers. This year the theme was a Cannibal Cafe and aside from the typical masked persons scaring the bejeebers out of passerbyers, including one who chases them down the street wielding a real chainsaw (sans blade); they added a new character to the mix. The zombie chef was working up his magic for the crowd, offering up; grilled upper intestines (because the lower ones taste like crap), liver and fava beans, fried fingers, leg of Sam, eyeballs, s.o.s. (shit on a shingle), and “The Exorcist” special. He was a crowd pleaser for sure.

The Spooky House day & night

(click pictures to enlarge)

Sunday, Halloween; was a very long day for sure. We spent the morning preparing for a Pre-Trick-or-Treat Get Together at our home. I planned games for the kids to play for prizes, including the ever popular mummy-wrap game which was a ball. The kids enjoyed a few crafts, some games, some chicken nuggets and cupcakes, and spending time with each other, at about 3ish we set out on our merry way, around the neighborhood. Keeping up with the kids was a task and a half. We managed to hit quite a few houses, some of them more than once, before we made it back.

Trick or Treat!

(click pictures to enlarge)

We had been invited back to the “cafe” across the street to enjoy yet another party because this year they decided to host a party on both nights of Halloween weekend, rather than just their usual one party on Halloween night.

Par-tay!

The second night was by far more crowded and busier than the first night, with both the invited guests and the passing onlookers. The live entertainment was a huge draw. Even Ron got in on it as kids high-fived him and asked to take pictures with him.

Ron enjoying the spotlight

And now I get to suffer the Day After  Halloween Hangover….

                                                                  ….that’s okay I got the cure

CANDY!

A Good Start

 

Half way into October and I am amazed how quickly time has flown, since school started this year back in September.

Looking back at Leon’s first 6 weeks of 3rd grade, I can’t help but smile. I am delighted at how things have gone so far. We have his IAP in place, he has possibly the very best match in a teacher that I could ever hope for, he has come to terms with having a Para following him around all the time, his confidence is up and he’s doing great, and dare I say it? He may actually like school.

I’d never say that to his face of course. He’d deny it all the way up, down and sideways; for sure. But I can honestly say that I have not heard the words “I HATE SCHOOL” in at least 4-5 weeks. And considering it was his daily mantra all last year and every so often over the summer whenever school was mentioned, I’d say that is amazing!

I’d say it’s due to a good combination of things. The first being how much he seems to have grown over the summer. He’s taller, yes, but I am talking about how much he has matured. He turns eight next month and I am just amazed at how grown up he is all of a sudden. The way he talks, the way he carries himself, the way he relates to others, the way he thinks… He is growing up right before my eyes!

Once he was my baby boy snuggled up in my arms, then he became my big boy, holding my hand to cross the street, what comes next?  As much as I want to hold on to his hand until the end of time, I know I’ll have to let go someday. Seeing how mature and wise he is becoming, I know he is well on his way. It makes me so proud and yet so sad at the same time.

I also have to give credit to the school itself. There have been a lot of changes at our school. The usual changes that are imposed on schools, like standardized testing, and the like, of course. But also a lot of changes to what is being offered to the students both academically and socially. Last year our school got a new principle, and if you’ve read any of my previous posts you would be right, if you’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not missing our old principle.  She wasn’t mean or anything, she was just very uptight, and stringent, she was set in her ways and very resistant to …fun and lightheartedness. My one real qualm with her personally was, her suspending Leon from school when he was in 1st grade for managing to get off school property and walk all the way home unsupervised rather than penalize the people responsible for allowing the whole thing to happen in the first place. In the end officials were called and things were rectified, but her poor judgment has forever left a bad taste in my mouth. I still have nightmares about the whole situation. It was a very scary time for us, one that I admit still haunts us all.

Our new principal is a breath of fresh air! She has brought so much change to the school in the year that she has been here. She has made school more enjoyable without sacrificing it academically. Learning has become fun for the kids, parents feel more welcome and are able to be more active in their child’s schooling, and there is a larger sense of community since she has taken on her role as principle. Leon enjoys the extra touches of lightheartedness that she brings to the school. Things like spirit week with crazy hat day, or costume parades on Halloween, or even the start of a student council for which he was eager to try out for. Her incentive programs have touched Leon personally, last year he was “Caught Being Good” twice, and plans to get caught again. And just last week he came home with The Star of the Month certificate, of which he was very proud.  He is enjoying his school so much more now that it has become a fun place to learn.

Add to all this, a terrific teacher, and Leon can’t help but LIKE school. Again I wouldn’t press him on that, but when asked about his teacher he will out-and-out tell you “She’s nice, I like her”. For him to think it and feel it is one thing but for him to actually say it, that’s quite another. His standard responses to most questions about how he likes something or someone are usually a very indifferent “it’s okay” or “fine” type of answer. I have to say though I very much agree with him!!!

Leon’s first day of school always brings out a teeter-tottering of emotions and nervousness in me, but for some reason his starting 3rd grade was especially nerve-racking. I guess it’s because everyone always talks about how hard school becomes in third grade. More is expected from students, responsibilities get larger, homework assignments take longer, more activities; like chorus and orchestra take up more of their precious time. Life for a third grader gets a bit more demanding.

Demanding…. Now that’s not something that fits well into the life of an ODD/ADHD child. Demanding, is something that Leon’s teacher is not! Accommodating, nurturing, open minded and open-hearted, those are words that I would use to describe her teaching style.

I was so nervous about Leon starting 3rd grade that I sent him to school on his first day with a big fat envelope stuffed with 5 type written pages about Leon. Yea…I know it’s a little much. The envelope contained a letter from me introducing myself and Leon, along with a page of helpful motivators and techniques we use with Leon to help him stay in check and last but not least a copy of the accommodations that I wanted included in his 504 IAP. Of course when I sent all of that in with him on the very first day of school, I was worried about what she would think; would she be receptive… would she resent being bombarded on the first day?  I didn’t know how it would be received!  

I was very, very pleasantly surprised!  She was very receptive.  Not only did she respond in a letter, (a real letter, not a just a short note), but she also called me in the evening from her home. That definitely earned some big time points with me. She took time out of her own day to reassure me about my child. Awesome!

I met her in person at the school’s open house; in which she took even more time with both Ron & I, one-on-one, to sit down for close to an hour to discuss a plan for Leon. I was blown away. And I left there so reassured.

Nothing has changed since then. I still love his teacher, his principle, his school, and of course my kid!

And dare I say it one more time?  …I think Leon may actually LIKE school! 

But shhh… don’t tell him, it’s a secret!

Scratch That!

I think it was about 7am-ish when Leon pounced on our bed and announced that it was time to get up. I am not too sure though because I was DEAD ASLEEP. I heard him, I even saw him through squinted eyes. I heard Ron say something about the TV. And then ZZzzzzzz!
It was close to 9 o’clock when Leon pounced again. The TV timer kicked in and turned off the TV (a tool we use to get Leon to the school bus on time). He need us to enter the password so he could finish watching his show.
I pad into the livingroom and through squinted eyes I fumble with the remote. Everything is all blurry. I forgot my glasses. I go get them and return. As my eyesight returns my gaze falls to the coffee table.
The words come booming out from my lips “GET TO YOUR ROOM THIS INSTANCE BUSTER!! YOU ARE IN BIG TROUBLE!!!”.
This is what I saw:  

Yes! He did use that ROCK to CARVE his name into the coffee table!

 

I plop down on the couch in disbelief only to stick my hand in something cold, wet, and slimy.
Ugh! Jello!
I take a quick look around…. there!….. there is the half eaten cup of red Jello.  

But wait, this is green jello?!  

Look! there’s some orange Jello too!  

I look around.  

Hmm, nothing, no sign of any other containers.  

I scan the floor…  

OMG! Between the couch and under the table…  

This is what I find:  

  

  

That’s 3 Jello, 2 pretzels, 2 Capri Suns, and several chocolates  

…and now he is grounded to his room for the day.  

   

Lesson of the day:  

Do not leave your ADHD/ODD child his own devices in the morning for any length of time without the aid of his medication!!

How is THAT for improvement!!!

I just wanted to share this:

This is Leon’s spelling test, taken last month on 1/7/10. And while the grade is wonderful, that is not what I am boasting about (he always get 100% and up). What I am so thrilled with, is his handwriting. For him this is GOOD! Granted it’s a bit all over the place, some of the words are floating, and the spacing is off, but you can actually read it!!!

In the past, he has had to do parts of the test over and over again in front of the teacher just so she could see that he knew how to spell it correctly as it was often illegible. 

I wanted him to keep it up so I told him I would award him 10-minute token in exchange for neat handwriting. The 10-minute tokens can be traded in for screen time (Wii, DS, or computer games). All hail the power of Nintendo

Over the next two weeks that followed, I didn’t really see much improvement or even effort for that matter in the work he brought home. So I reminded him that I would be grading his spelling test for handwriting when he got home, and that he would earn a token if it was really neat.

This is what he came home with:

NICE!!!!!  Do you see it? The improvement?

Obviously he still needs work, but the incentive program was working. I decided that we would focus on his spelling tests and not every little thing that he came home with during the week. We are taking baby steps….

Here is the next test he took looked like:

Awesome Job!!! For this test he earned extra tokens! Not only did he impress me, but he impressed Ms. Kelly! He was so proud of himself! As am I.

The following week was a tough one for me fibro-wise so I wasn’t as on top of my game as I would have liked to have been. The thursday night before last weeks test I had forgotten to remind Leon about putting the extra effort into his handwriting to earn tokens. Turns out he needed no reminder. this is what he came home with last Friday.

How is THAT for improvement!!!

When he concentrates really hard he can do it.

For him, though, that is half the battle. Given his ADHD, it takes real effort for him to concentrate. For things that don’t come naturally to him, like handwriting, he has to stop everything and just focus on that one thing. He is always in such a rush, with his mind racing ten steps ahead of whatever it is he is doing, it isn’t always an easy transition for him to make. Just slowing down his brain to get to the point were he can concentrate takes a huge effort on his part.

Leon responds well to the right incentive. Luckily I have figured out what the right one (for now) is. Now to extend it beyond just his spelling tests and into his everyday handwriting.

When he isn’t concentrating hard on writing legibly it looks like the letter he wrote to his teacher (in response to her taking his water bottle away for the day) below:

It reads: “What I was doing was trying to unburn my rugburn  P.S. you are the meanest teacher I ever had”

…..but wait there is more:

Reads: “the reason is you all ways punish me and the rest of us”

Well at least he is expressing his feelings in a nondestructive manner. So Kudos for that!

It’s obvious he was angry when he wrote this, so it would be easy to say that the rush of emotions contributed to the sloppy writing, but if you look at the handwriting example in my previous ‘Dear God’  post. You will notice it is just as bad if not worse. Both were written with in the last two weeks.

Our goal now is to have Leon keep up the good work on his spelling test while working on his handwritting in his assignment book.

Has it been a year???

Yup, and so much has happened. I haven’t kept up with this blog as well as I would have liked – You know, the whole “Life, getting in the way of life” thing…

As previously posted I plan to improve on that!  I feel as if I’ve left some ends dangling…

One of which has been Leon’s story. I’ve gone on and on about it, good and bad, but mostly bad.

So I wanted to make the time to talk about the wonderful progress we have made.

Here goes:

I am so very, very PROUD of my little man!!! He has been doing so much better!

Better in school, at home, and with his friends. Better in life!

I was so apprehensive about the new school year, but so far 2nd grade has been a breeze. And as much as I give credit to the new meds, that alone is not what has made the difference.

Not only did Leon made Santa’s List –

 “http://family.go.com/santas-list/video/86271-leonsmom/” 

 …but the principal’s too!!!!!

Here is a little background:

After having such a rough year in 1st grade, least not of which was a 6-year-old Leon leaving the school during recess undetected and walking all the way home by himself, the school quickly realized it would be in their best interest (and Leon’s of course) to re-evaluate their position. Afterall they denied him the 504 plan and refused to classify him the first time around (Oct 2008). After a long summer of waiting to find out what the school would be doing to assure his success this year (and hopefully for the years to come), I received the call the day before we were to leave on our 2 week vacation to Disney, a meeting was finalized for the day after we planned to be back. I spent much of my vacation on the phone with Dr. E. Petrosky and a Special Education attorney by the name of Brad Rosken because something that the director of the CSE said just did not sit well with me. When I had inquired about a parent member being at the meeting, she told me that, it was unnecessary as they would not be classifying him, and that this was to be his 504 meeting.

WHAT!?!?!? NOT CLASSIFYING HIM? WHAT???? 

I was very disturbed by this, after all not only did our doctor, Dr. Petrosky, recommend that he be classified but so did the Psychiatrist that they had sent Leon to, to be evaluated by. Dr. Petrosky is the one who contacted the attorney on our behalf because he felt that the school and CSE were not following due process. First of all the decision on what will be done with Leon is to be made by the entire CSE team, and as his parents, we are part of that team, so the decision to classify him or not, can NOT be made prior to the actual CSE meeting of which we must be a part of. Secondly they were calling for a 504 meeting when what we had requested was a CSE meeting. I was so worried that they were going to screw us and that we would have to borrow money to hire the attorney. Initially I wanted to reschedule the meeting so we could bone up for the fight I was expecting, but in the end the attorney suggested that we go to the meeting and just hear them out. If they were going to give Leon everything we wanted for him as recommended by the doctors who evaluated him, under a 504 plan than there would be no sense in rocking the boat, but if they were going to deny certain essential services then we should ask for an impartial hearing. We decided to follow his advice, and boy were we pleasantly surprised! Leon got so many of the recommended services that we have nothing to complain about. The only thing that I am still confused about to this day, is that with all the services that he was given, why then isn’t he classified? I mean anyone who knows anything about this and has read the final decision has said that it is written up exactly like an IEP yet because he isn’t classified it isn’t and can’t be an IEP. Friends who work with special needs kids have all said that I need to question why he isn’t classified, given all the services that he was given, but I am at the point where I just don’t want to rock the boat. He is getting exactly what he needs and that’s what’s important. I just hope he will continue to get what he needs…

As per his 504 Plan he has a BIP (Behavioral Intervention Plan) in place, a TA to accompany him to his ‘specials’ (ie gym, music, art, lunch, recess) and to help him stay on track in the classroom, he sees an OT once a week, and gets weekly counseling with the school psychologist, and in 2010 he starts social skills group every other week. He is in an inclusion class, which is wonderful because there are always at least two teachers in the classroom at a time, which is great for keeping Leon redirected when necessary. My most favorite thing about his whole school situation this year is not a thing but a person. Ms. Kelly, his teacher happens to have been a school psychologist, prior to becoming a teacher. Her love of the classroom prompted the unusual career change, and I gotta say I am so thankful for that. She is a wonderful teacher. She gets Leon, and she doesn’t fall for any of his shenanigans. She can see 10 steps ahead and cut him off at the pass. Because of this, life in 2nd grade is grand. I barely hear a peep from the school unless it’s about another PTA committee that I could not just say no to.

As for the meds he is currently on, Leon has been taking Concerta and Clonodine since Aug ’09 and they seem to work very well in helping him to control his ADHD. He puts more thought into things before doing them and he has mellowed out and isn’t bouncing off the walls every moment of the day, he is a new and improved Leon on them. But I do worry about the side effects. I really have to watch what he eats, or better said, I have to make sure that he does eat, he’s a stringbean to begin with, so the loss of appetite thing is a bit worrisome.  I used to have the opposite problem of him having a bottomless pit for a stomach, and hearing “Mooom, I’m hungry!” every five minutes. But now getting him to eat is a task and a half.  Then there are the mood swings. He can go from 0 to 60 (and back) in a matter of seconds. The side effects aside I am very, very, happy with his medicine regime. It has made a HUGE difference in his life (and mine too).

Between the meds and all of the accommodations in school and at home, the difference to his life knows no bounds.

In school, he does so well behaviorally, that Ms. Kelly and Mrs. Novick, the school psychologist, were hard pressed to find many behavioral issues from this 2009-2010 school year to base the BIP on. They based it mostly on the issues of the last school year. I give a lot of the credit to all the accommodations and services that are in place for him in school. Having such an intuitive teacher and a bunch of TA’s following him around certainly reminds him enough to stay on his toes. At our parent-teacher meeting in early December, Ms. Kelly let us know that academically he was doing fine. The only real issues were related to her being unable to read his writing and some of his test scores reflect that. Normally he gets over 100% including the bonus question, but the lowest grade he’s gotten so far was 60% in spelling because it was complete scribble. The answers were correct mind you, but it just was not legible. Other mistakes occur too, resulting in some lower grades in the 80’s and 90’s, as a result of his not taking the time to listen to the directions prior to starting the work, or his rushing through the work (often out of boredom and/or a fear of not being able to do it correctly – in other words, it’s too easy, so forget it and let’s just get it over with -or- it’s too hard, so forget it and let’s just get it over with). He ends up making very careless yet avoidable mistakes. Leon is still Leon afterall, he’s still always in a rush to get to the next thing, he’s just gotten a lot better at handling that -but improvement is still necessary.  As someone who did very poorly in school and was just happy to get a barely passing grade, I am very pleased with Leon’s grades. Even the 60 on his spelling test; I think it serves as a good lesson for Leon.

His report card, which was AMAZING, reflected all of this. The difference between last year’s report cards and this year’s is more than remarkable. It’s like he’s a different kid. He received mostly 4’s (meeting learning standards with distinction) and 3’s (meeting learning standards) with only a few 2’s (partially meeting learning standards) in only two areas. Whereas last year there were 2’s all over the his report card in several areas. The two area’s that he needs improvement in, are; “English Language Arts-Writing” where he received a 2 for ‘Writes legibly’ which he is working on in OT, and “Development of Learner Behaviors that Support Academic Progress” where his 2’s where for; Accepts suggestions for improvement, Follows directions, Organizes work space and materials, Demonstrates pride in the quality of work, and Approaches learning experiences prepared with necessary materials. Even the less structured areas like Art, Music, and Gym produced all 3’s and 4’s which was unheard of last year. I am more than pleased with Leon’s report card and all of his wonderful progress.

Behaviorally Ms. Kelly said that “While Leon still has his moments where his emotions get the better of him, for the most part he really is no problem at all, he is such a good kid that she wishes she had 10 of him in her classroom”.  

Ummmm? TEN Leons??? Really??? Are you sure you are talking about my kid????.

I’m kidding of course, but there was a time when that comment would have really shocked me. Now… not so much! He has grown into such an easy, pleasant child to be around. And by that, I mean not a “difficult child” to be around. He has grown and matured so much. Don’t get me wrong, he still has his moments. Boy! Does he ever, it’s like I said, Leon is still Leon, but now those moments come fewer and farther between. 

At home, life although still quite hectic and very chaotic, is more at peace now, if that makes any sense at all. He still gets very “emotional” about things, he still has yet to identify his emotions and learn to react to them appropriately. He still has his melt downs, and they do get quite explosive (perhaps even more so than before) possibly because of his meds, and possibly because like I said those moments come fewer and farther between, so when they come, they are BIG. Still, we are managing better.

So many things deserve credit for the changes we’ve seen . The meds help, of course; the absence of “reports of bad behavior” and the presence of constant “recognition for terrific behavior” from the school helps; the services and accommodations put in place under the 504 Plan at school help; the increased pride and new confidence in himself helps; and among so many other things that are intertwined and connected with it all; love being at the very tippy top of it; understanding helps.

Ours, his, and theirs. We; Ron and I, are doing so much better at handling the slip-ups, the outbursts, the emotional break downs, and the everyday-everything of it all (both Leon’s and our’s) because we understand so much more now. We make accommodations for him, for his ADHD. We run the house differently, we prep for “the next thing” differently, we talk to him and each other differently, we focus more on the positive and dwell less on the negative now, all because we better understand the nature of Leon, and his, …and this is important, HIS individual ADHD/ODD, differently. I stress individual because no two people with ADHD are exactly the same. similar yes, the same no. Leon, himself also understands. I feel Leon has such a better handle on himself this year as compared to last year because of his own understanding of ADHD, as much as a newly turned 7-year-old can understand it, that is. And because he understands that while he can’t control that he has ADHD/ODD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder/Oppositional Defiance Disorder) he CAN control how he deals with it, things are that much better.

Leon has learned to put more thought into what he does now before he does it. He has learned to stop himself a bit better before his impulses take control. For the most part anyway, we do still have some of the “what were you thinking?” moments of the old days. But even that gets handled differently now because we are more understanding and accommodating.

Like when I discovered several wads of gum stuffed between the cushions of our couch and loveseats just a couple of weeks ago. Granted, the “what were you thinking?” award really goes to my mom who bought Leon a huge tower of gum balls in varying sizes (the large ones being the size of Leon’s fist) in the first place. But Leon got the runner-up reward, for sneaking them, then hiding them in between the cushions, and then lying about them when presented with the evidence.

 

I am not a huge fan of gum, but I do know that gum can actually be good for you – as it can help in the increase of concentration, and help prevent cavities, provided it is the RIGHT type of gum (specifically, sugarless gum). I knew that when he opened them as a birthday gift that there would be trouble. My instinct to take them away and hide them was right, buuut it was a gift from my mom for his birthday and it would not be right to keep it from him.

(Although I have to say ‘blatant disrespect of my wishes and rules for my child’ isn’t right either!) – sorry had to rant.

Rather than keep them from him, we came to an understanding, Leon asked me to trust him, and I agreed, so long as he followed the rules, (the same rules I have always had), which are; You must ask and have permission before you have one, you must wrap it in paper when you are done, and you must show mom that you are throwing it out properly. Yes, yes, I know, some what redundant and annoyingly controlling however, this is what I mean by accommodations. In the end when all was said and done, and Leon fessed up to it, things were calm and rational and fair. We didn’t yell and scream, although I was/am pretty upset about it. We discussed it and dealt him the punishment calmly. Leon didn’t cry or have a fit over it, (okay there were tears but he was trying to hold them back)he knew there were consequences and accepted them. I was actually quite pleased with how well everything went down. And all because we are understanding more and more each day about ourselves, each other, and his ADHD.

Socially, Leon is doing so much better as well. He has developed more meaningful relationships over the past year. He interacts with them so much better than he used to. His understanding of give and take has become more refined. And he gets more involved with the person rather than just the activity. He has a ‘best friend’ named Jason, who he gets along very well with. Personally I LOVE them together. For one thing, Jason is always a pleasure to have around, he is polite and kind, and always on his best behavior, and this rubs off on Leon. They both enjoy the same things; Disney, Star Wars, Lego’s, Stitch, Pokemon, and of course video games. They play very well together and don’t rile each other up too much, if at all. But the thing I personally enjoy the most about this pairing is Jason’s mother. She is a wonderfully caring person. We parent very similarly, she’s a great mom and a very good friend. Definitely a plus in my book. The behavioral specialist who observes Leon in class twice a month, tells me that he plays very well with him and another boy in particular at recess. I am glad that he does not focus all his attention on just one friend, else he might get hurt. As with any friendship there will be ups and downs. Just a few weeks ago Leon was upset because Jason did not like him anymore (he said that Leon was too annoying, and that he talked too much). I can’t blame the kid, it’s true! After a talking about it with him, I realized Leon was taking it so much better than he would have last year. His solution was “that’s okay, cause Nick still likes me, maybe Jason just needs a break from me”. And, based on the playdate they just had I would say he was right.

My biggest regret for Leon socially, is that I can’t get him and his friends together more often. He craves the company of other kids his age so badly and between my issues with my fibromyalgia and my working from home it makes things more difficult to provide him with that on a regular basis. Being an only child certainly does not help either. At least having a sibling around would alleviate some of the boredom and loneliness. Kiera my niece, who is here 5 days a week does help a bit, but there is a 5 year age difference between them, so it isn’t the same.

We are very lucky to have a few neighbors with children ranging in ages from 6 to 12 all around us. Luckier still that I have been able to become good friends with them. Leon plays a lot with Jackie and her sister in particular. Not only is she our neighbor but she is also in Leon’s class. I do have to admit that their friendship while not forced, has more to do with convenience of proximity and the fact that her mother and I have developed a very close friendship that extends beyond our kids. It makes me laugh because Leon has clarified that even though he plays with her a lot she isn’t his best friend because she is a girl. 

So beyond the “normal” social awkwardness of childhood friendships, Leon seems to be doing a lot better socially than he did a year ago when he so wanted to be friends with anyone and everyone just to be around other kids, but other kids could care less if he was there or not. I consider it a very marked improvement, when other children are actually asking him for playdates as well.

So there you have it. When it comes to Leon, Life is Good!!

I am excited and hopeful for his future… but a bit nervous too.

…with the Section 504 Committee scheduled to meet next week to review Leon’s educational services, I can’t help but be a little bit nervous. I worry that they may take it all away (or even just some of it) because he has done so well, rather than recognize that keeping the services in place is the key to keeping things going well.

ADHD/ODD is a lifelong neurological disability, full of unexpected highs and lows. I will always do everything in my power to make sure Leon has only a few bumps in the road on his journey though life.

Here is to keeping the highs, high and the lows to a minimum!!!

Just a Quicky!

Been up to my ears in activity!!

I haven’t had time to breathe let alone blog about whats been going on. It seems everyday there is something to do. It’s life getting in the way of life. Today is just another really busy day, but I thought I would stop to take a quick breath and jot down a quicky blog post.

Boy this summer sure went fast! It started with crummy rain storm after rain storm, leaving us wondering when it would actually start to feel like summer. When the weather finally improved and summer activities could truely be enjoyed, we were busy with day camp, and summer festivals, days at the local pool, camping in PA with Leon’s grandparents, and of course all the regular ole’ daily grind stuff.

Camp ended last week just in time to remind me that “Oh crap, summer is almost over and I am not even ready for that!!”  

There are :

5 weeks till the Kids Kloset Consignment Sale – which I haven’t even started to prep for yet. Nothing like waiting till the very last minute. But I am hoping the $$$ I make will be enough to plan the next Disney trip — yes I am Disney Addicted

25 days till I start caring for my good friend’s 5 month old Nico – a new baby in the house!! Yay! I just hope Kiera and Leon feel the same.  I am thrilled about this. Not only am I helping a friend out, she is helping me out more than she knows. When I stopped watching V it put a huge dent in our finances and fueled quite a few arguments about money between Ron and I. After catching up from being so far behind in debt, we really don’t want to slide back into them again. PLUS – Nico really is the cutest baby ever (after Leon that is, of course!)

18 days till school starts -EEEEK! I mean YAY! I mean EeeeeeeeK! — yeah I have some mixed emotions about this, BIG TIME!  I worry so much about how this year will go for Leon. And I know the first few weeks will be busy just getting into the swing of things, I will have a CSE meeting to look forward to or to fear, I don’t know which yet. And to top it all off Leon just started a new medication today. Here’s hoping he tolerates it well!! I’ve got mixed emotions about this too.

8 days till we leave for Disney – I can not wait!! I still have so, so, so, much more to do before we go – packing, tie-dyeing, costume making, crafting, and more…

1 Day till our weekend in PA camping trip – I’ll admit, don’t love camping , but I do love getting together with family and makeing memories. It reminds me so much of my childhood with my grandparents and Aunt Kathi and Uncle John. GREAT MEMORIES! I am so grateful that Leon gets to make such wonderful memories.

2 hours till Leon’s “Almost 7” Birthday Party – decided on and planned at the very very very last minute – 5 days ago to be exact- because Leon “really really really wants a pool party and not just a boring party at home” – I think I am offended at that.  After all I am: “Da Mom!!” I throw the BEST birthday parties! Seriously if I were to start a buisness, that would be it!  Theme Parties are my specialty. I’ll have to share some pics of past parties some time.

But right now I have to get Leon’s Almost 7, Lilo and StitchStitchcopy Luau Pool Party packed up to go set up at the local pool. Fun, fun, fun!!

There is a light at the end of the tunnel..

 

…and it’s got

Mickey Ears!!!!

 

Light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel

Yup, we are going back to Disney, …AGAIN!

Originally we had planned for a fall visit in Oct, for the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. But given all of Leon’s problems in school I am wary about taking him out for 5 days mid-year. So we are leaving in 2 months. We will be there from Aug.29 – Sep.8. Unfortunately this does mean that Leon will miss the first day of school. It stinks, but it was the lesser evil. We can’t wait.

Things have been busy and hectic around here. Leon is completely off the zoloft and seems to be doing better, and by better I mean not as bad as he was. When people ask how’s Leon doing, I usually answer “he is doing good”, and in my head I am silently thinking “…well good for Leon, anyway”. He is more manageable, but the fact remains that he still has to be managed. Now that school is out, I think things may be a bit easier for Leon now because we will have alot of one-on-one time together. We still have not recieved any word on when his CSE meeting will be, but it should be soon. I am hopeful, the school psycologist seemed very positive about the outcome. We’ll just have to wait it out and keep our fingers crossed. I have yet to find him a child psychiatrist to manage his medication, we may go with a neurologist instead, it will all depend on our insurance and what Dr Petrosky thinks. We will meet with him once the school sends me thier neurologist’s report for him to include in his assessment.

 I am somewhat excited about summer but dreading it too. Summer vacation means I need to be even more ‘on’, for more time during the day, when it comes to dealing with Leon. Aside from the half day camp he will start next week, I am hoping to fill our summer with  play dates, trips to the beach, to the pool, free movies courtesy of REG’s Free Family Film Festival , and free bowling courtesy of KidsBowlFree.com. We are also hopeing to get away on one or two weekends to PA to visit his grandparents at the campground were they have a seasonal site.

For myself I would like to put time aside just for me,  to work on planning for Disney, organizing my photos, and working on my new hobby of digital scrapbooking. I’ve been promising to do a trip report on my last two Disney trips for some time now and I figure I better get to it before my next one. And since my photographs are what help me to tell my story I will incorperate my scrap booking into it.

Here is my first 2 pages:

feb20nyc-mco

gettingoofypg

I’m still fiddling with them, .. I am unsure if I really like the first one, but I think the second one is cute. What do you think?

 

TTFN

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