An Update on Jack

DSCF0322I think I’m glad I didn’t write this last night. I needed to sleep and to run and to pray and find some serious perspective. I’ve done all three but I have no real answers.

Let me take a step back, well a couple of steps back and explain…

This summer was long. Moving from place to place was hard on Jack. He didn’t really understand what was happening. He was regressing quickly until we didn’t get our stuff and had to go to Grandma’s for a visit. That was familiar and the regression seemed to stop or at least slow down. We got our stuff, moved into the house and there was so much happening, Jack really wasn’t finding stability. It’s obvious that the boy needs a schedule and to know what comes next. More than once I found myself saying, “Jack REALLY needs for school to start.” After almost 14 weeks and a couple of shots, that was about the happen. 

The new school had an Open House to drop off school supplies and meet the teachers. I walked into Jack’s room and froze. There were 26 desks in a normal classroom. I introduced myself and after a long chat found out that Jack had been placed in an inclusion classroom for language delays. Jack would have two teachers, one regular teacher and one special education teacher that are always together in the same room teaching together. There would also be an aid that floats in and out of the classroom. This is a little different from the very small class and special attention Jack had at Alvah Scott. He was only with other kids for things like recess, P.E., music, computers, library, Hawaiiana… you get the picture. I won’t lie. I probably had a look of sheer terror in my eyes.

I went home and immediately called my mother. She calmly told me that this was great news for Jack. She thought being around other normal kids is just what he needs. Um, Mom…he is around Bria 24/7. She explained how this could be a huge step for him. I began to get excited. Someone else was pretty excited to be getting on a bus by himself with his sister.

So I explained to both teachers how Jack is a great kid. He can read and he can do math and his test scores look okay but when you are around him you’ll understand more the struggles he has. I told them I was excited for the opportunity and I have big expectations for Jack. I received an email from his gen ed teacher saying he is sweet and seemed to be doing well. Oh my word! I honestly thought things were getting better.

Then it happened. Last night was back to school night. We arrived. We saw Bria’s work outside her class. Then we saw Jack’s. There were a mix of emotions. There was a little “Look what he can do!” and a little, “His work isn’t meeting the mark.” 

Outside the classroom he was supposed to fill in math facts about himself. 

IMG_9775Jack didn’t know his birthday. He is usually a great artist, especially with self portraits and that field was left blank. He’s lost more teeth than I can remember since the first one was lost on the Big Island during our spring break trip. His family math doesn’t add up. There was so much to be sad about looking at this sheet. Then I got to his desk.

IMG_9776This letter to me looked like a lot of the other letters kids wrote. He does already love Mrs. Ahlers. He talks about recess and math. It gave me a little hope. 

I listened to the teachers explain the class structure. It was intimidating but I was thinking about all the things that I would do to help Jack.  I was thinking about how this inclusion class might be the thing that did it. It might be what helps him make the connections that he’s not making. I was getting excited. 

That’s when I hit the brick wall. The special ed teacher pulled me aside. Jack isn’t doing as well as I thought. In fact, this class is not where he is meant to be. Mrs. Tampio was very kind but she let me know that in Virginia and most places just saying that Jack has a developmental delay won’t allow him to have services. They need a diagnosis. There are lots of key words thrown around. There are words that I don’t want kid to carry around as a label but the reality is, for him to get the help he needs a doctor to say there is more wrong with him than the fact that he was an orphan. Mrs. Tampio said they will continue to assess Jack. They have 30 days to work on his transitional IEP. I’m not sure what happens in the meantime. 

So I came home and cried. I cried because things shouldn’t be this hard for my little guy. I cried because I don’t want him to carry a label. I cried because I thought somehow he would be totally healed and this would be a testament to God’s miraculous power. I cried because I worried that I haven’t done enough. I cried because I heard 1,000 people who told us adoption was a bad idea saying “I told you so.” I cried because this burden that I happily carry around for Jack may be passed to his sisters if something happens to me. 

That’s it. For everyone who’s asked about his transition to this school or his adjustment to the area. Jack is happy. Jack is loved and we are going to find a way to do whatever we need to do for him. I’m off to call Tricare for our referral appointments. Prayers are appreciated that there is a reason we are here and someone will find some way to help little Jack. If you asked Jack, he doesn’t really need help. He’s pretty happy with how things are. It’s just his crazy worrying Mama that’s off her rocker…




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Again…The Car Line

Oh…. the dreaded car line. Are you tired of hearing me fuss about it yet? Instead of telling myself how grateful I am that I have my big old mom mobile and healthy children to shove out on the sidewalk, I’m going to throw a big fat hissy fit about the people in said car line.

Arleigh gets stressed about things. She got another golden ticket this week (Yay Arleigh) and this means she has to use her before the bell morning time to go to the guidance counselor, pick up a pencil and put her name on the kindness board. This combined with the fact that she must write social studies reports in the classroom apparently puts her stress level over the edge. This means, Arleigh puts my stress level over the edge.

This morning, not ready for the world, I drove them to school a bit earlier to relieve the stress levels and give Arleigh some extra seconds. Let me take a second and explain how this works. There are kids who walk to school. There are kids who ride the bus to school. There are kids like mine, who are dropped off by parents, siblings, grandparents, and well, you know the drill. I drive up a hill to the back part of the school. I make a loop. The kids jump out onto a sidewalk and into the back door. There are always people there. The bell rings at 8:45 and the kids are allowed into the building at 8:45.  I could say something else about the afternoon bell ringing at 4 but my kids are always in my car by about 3:50…hmmm.

Here’s the problem. The line starts to form at some point a bit after 8:30. The kids are not allowed in until after 8:45. There is no supervision for the kids standing at the door waiting to get in. There are parents that park in the line and wait for the supervisors of the children to come out. There are others who let their kids out, pull out of the line and speed off. The line then creeps up to the next spot. By the time the bell rings, the line is now down the hill, and back down one block and circles to the next. You don’t want to get in line after say, 8:46 or your child will never be in their seat when the bell rings much less have their early bird done. Early bird is a whole other post.

Anywho… there is a new kind of parent. This parent’s time is more important than mine. I really don’t know why since I can see in your car and I know you are in your pajamas. If you just stayed in line like everyone else, no one would have known. Anyway, this parent has learned that some parents pull off, leaving a hole for a second just before the bell rings. So they drive around the line of waiting parents and wait to dart in the hole left by someone pulling off. Safe right? This morning as my head was turned to the right making sure everyone had lunch boxes and were safely out of the car, one of these people not only cut me off in a LINE but also gave me the perfect blind spot so that I didn’t see pedestrians walking in front of me. Luckly I saw them before they approached the bumper of my mom mobile. If looks could kill, you know where I would be… As I sat there, waiting on the pedestiran to finish the evil eye, the stupid pajama mom cut me off and proceeded to block me in.

I hate car lines. I hate for teachers and administration to constantly wave me forward when I have no where to go. I hate that other people try to cheat and cut line…lovely example for the elementary student in their car. I hate that I can sometimes allow my self esteem to take a shot when I see the pretties there. I hate that the principal stands on the hill scolding adults for whatever they are doing in their car. I hate that I drive away judging people. Maybe I should start praying for them all instead. Of all these things I hate, I still say it’s better than putting my kids on a bus. What am I thinking?

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Our Super Citizen

As promised, here she is, our Super Citizen. On the last day of school before Christmas break, Arleigh was awarded Super Citizen for kindness. She was very excited. Of course, we are very proud.

The sign is in our yard, still spotlighted by the Christmas spotlight on the house. I feel a little jipped because I missed two weeks of pulling in to the driveway. I like to be reminded that my children are behaving since they seem to be fighting more at home. Our fingers are crossed that Hanan makes the Super Citizen list before the end of the year. Even if she doesn’t, we know she’s super too.

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Fall Family Fun Fitness Day

This morning we got up earlier than I was ready for to go to Fall Fun Family Fitness Day. I’m not sure the alliteration actually went in that order but you get the idea.

The girls participated in lots of fitness activities. When we could, we participated with them. Ray did alot more than I did because someone needed to stay with Bria. They ran a mile, we did the wheelbarrel. We climbed ropes and did Hanan’s favorite, the hippety hop. When the mile was finished we ate lunch. There was a cakewalk. The little girl behind Hanan won. That’s always our luck.

Ray climbed the rope to the celing in the gym. He had to. Olivia’s dad did. I think he left more than a little skin at the top on his way down. He came down a bit faster than he went up. He has the blisters and missing pieces of skin to prove it.

It was a great day other than the drizzly weather. The girls had a great time and actually ate a healthy lunch.

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Mama, What’s A Hickey?

Seriously, a couple of days ago my darling first grader walked down the stairs and said, “Hey Mama! What’s a hickey?” My very perceptive daughter saw that my jaw was on the floor. “You know, a hickey…” My mind scrambled. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Surely it wasn’t in a Hannah Montana episode. Did she hear it at school? She doesn’t ride a bus… I was trying to explain it physically, not how you obtain one, “It’s kind of like a bruise…”

“I have to dress like one at school tomorrow,” Arleigh says, matter of factly. My shoulders shrug with a visible sigh of relief.

“Yeah, Mama, we have to dress like a hickey tomorrow,” Hanan chimes in, ready for a new outfit.

So now I’m thinking, what can it be? “You mean a hick?” I ask, wondering if I should be offended. I mean, I probably look like a hick every day that I go in to volunteer.

“No Mama, a hickey,” they insist.

So a quick email to Arleigh’s teacher and today was hippie day! Hallelujah. My faith in the public school system is restored. Tomorrow’s post… Why Hanan thinks her soccer coach is mean.

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Art Is Subjective

Arleigh just got second place in the Reflections Art Contest for their school. She competed with K-2nd grade students. The theme this year was “I Can Make A Difference By…” Arleigh painted a self portrait of “Arleigh Praying For Her Friends.” Hanan also painted a beautiful self portrait titled “Teaching.” Arleigh’s good friend Megan won first place for “Smiling.”

We had a wonderful evening of cookies and lemonade. We also learned about scat. Arleigh and Hanan are pointing to opossum poo in the picture. We saw what happens to sea turtles if we let go of our balloons. They drew their lives in tree circles. We fought the crowds through the water cycle of the Elizabeth River and took a couple of AR tests. It was tons of fun. It’s always exciting for the girls to take Daddy to school so he can see their AR stars and artwork.

There was also a brief lesson in the subjectiveness of art. Hanan had a well thought out idea that she put to canvas in a neat way. When we turned in the paintings I remember having a discussion on what would happen if Hanan won this year. I think Arleigh fully expected to get first again this year. As it turned out the scores weighed heavily on how you would actually make a difference. Apparently the judges didn’t think Hanan could be a teacher right now. It involves years of school, etc. We went home a little disappointed that she didn’t get a ribbon too, but she was great about it. We’ll post pictures when we get the paintings back.

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