The One About The Bus

Bria had a seriously cool night last night. If you’ve seen my Facebook, you’ll know what I’m talking about. It was exciting but not quite as exciting as my afternoon.

So, we drew the short straw this year. Our elementary school has the latest start. Our school system has one of the largest private fleet of school buses in the country and they are still stacked three to a seat. Good times y’all. There is so much construction going on at the high school, even seniors are taking the bus. I’m working car pools and taxi services from 3-9 p.m. everyday like it’s a full time job. I am about two seconds away from putting the uber app on the big girls’ phones. Complicating matters even more, that late start means Bria and Jack don’t get off the bus until almost 4 dang thirty. 

Here’s what went down. After a morning of pushing and prodding, I finally folded and cancelled Jack’s before school speech appointment. I got everyone to the bus and then prepared for their return. It was busy day for some one of us. 

The haole dog opted for the summer recovery program while I folded mountains of laundry. 

I decided to leave my phone on the charger and head to the bus stop a little early just in case. Silly me. It was the first day of school after all. I stood there, rocking back and forth. There was lots of nervous anticipation not because I was worried about the first day of school. It was because Bria needed to get to a soccer field at 4:50. She didn’t have on her soccer gear, I had only filled her water bottle and it was now 4:40 in the afternoon. My blood pressure was slightly elevated. Any other day, no big deal but I knew there was a special guest coming to her practice that she wouldn’t want to miss. 

Finally we saw the big yellow hound topping the hill. Bria gets off with her face contorted. Jack wasn’t on the bus. The new bus driver asked if he was in kindergarten. “No. He has special needs. He’s in the third grade.” She told Bria she needed to get back on the bus to look for him. I told the bus driver that everyone knows Jack and every child on the bus was telling her he wasn’t there. She just looked at me like I was crazy. We ran home to get to a phone. 

By the time I got to my house the school was calling with a “We aren’t really sure what happened but Jack missed the bus could you please come get him,” message. I called the school. Again, they said he’s safe but we aren’t sure what happened. It was first day chaos.

Bria and I ran for the car. She was pulling on shin guards and cleats while I drove like a bat out of hell through the neighborhood. I’m sure there will be a new neighborhood message about safe driving coming out shortly. Whatever. We got to the school, ran into the office. “Where’s Jack?” You’d think he’d be sitting there. Nope. He was with his teacher…in his classroom…on the other side of the school. They called her again to bring him down. Finally, we see him, waltzing up the hall without a care in the world.

I wanted to be really, really angry with his new teacher. She can’t know what it’s like to have a child that can’t really take care of himself just be missing. She looked like she’s been through the ringer…or me after a weekend soccer tournament with a band competition and cross country meet thrown in for good measure. She was slumped, trying to smile for Jack but clearly braced for what I might throw at her. I just told him to hurry that we were late, thanked her and went on my hurried way.

Bria was supposed to report at 4:50 and start at 5:00. We pulled in at 5:03 by the skin of our teeth. Her coaches were thankfully understanding. I made it to get Hanan. Arleigh caught her carpool home. By 7 p.m. we were all enjoying dinner. Everyone had reports of great days. Thankfully, I think it’s going to be a great year. Hopefully Jack will make it to the bus today. 

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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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