Sunday, July 31, 2016

Missing The Point...

Back in the day I sat in many a meeting about Youngest's progress in school.  Specifically, his reading.  He was not a reader.  He actually couldn't read at his grade level according to every standardized test they shoved down his throat.  More important, he didn't want to read.  And why would he?  Every day he was told, or reminded in someway, that he simply want't good at it.

In fourth grade his teacher gave him a book she thought he'd like.  Poppy and Rye. It was short, easy to read, and involved animals as the main characters.  She was right.  He loved it.

He loved it so much that he got the entire series.  He got his friends reading it.  He raved about it so much, they bought copies for the school library.  Then I stumbled on another book, The Only And Only Ivan, and he was hooked.  He read it over and over.  His teacher got a copy for the class.  They read it at the end of every school year, and even up to last year, he returned to her class to read passages out loud to her class at the end of the day.

Thing was, it was never really that he couldn't read.  It was that he wasn't ready.  If you've read here long, you'll know that he is now and avid reader, consuming books often times in lieu of calories. He was actually recognized for being the top reader in his entire school of approximately 800 students. I had to stop him from taking the library book to Scout summer camp this morning in case it got rained on. Not deterred, he went back to his room and chose a book we owned to bring.

Now, he (and I) have worked long and hard to get him to this point.  While I will never knock home schooling, for us, public was the way to go. But it was never the easier route.  I never, ever dropped him off and let it go.  Every day was a constant struggle between expected curriculum and his creative mind. He constantly challenges his teachers requests, and when he gets into a pickle, I question administration.  Never disrespectful, his constant questioning of the "system" earned him a place mentoring younger students who also learned differently.  Sometimes he would comply with the standard.  Other times he would rewrite it.  But every time, he learned something.  He is currently a high honors student starting his first year of high school.  The school department and I decided to move him from an individualized education plan (IEP) to a 504 plan.  A decision I was fairly confident in until Saturday.

Our school requires summer reading. I'm cool with that.  Oldest has to read 4 books, do 2 artifacts, produce 1 paper, and complete a math packet of 6 pages.  Youngest has to read one book and create an artifact (illustrate a passage in the book, make a movie poster, etc.), find a quote in the book and write a 1 minute speech about why he feels it's a key moment in the book.

1 Book.  1 Minute Speech. 1 picture.  That's it.

It was a four hour fight folks.  FOUR HOURS.  And not being mobile made it virtually impossible for me to gain control of the situation.  Because like always, my son had very valid loop holes to justify not doing the 25 minutes of work.

"Why can't they just trust I read the book?"
"You could sign a note that says I did."
"They can just ask me about it."
"Why do I have to produce this?  It says nothing about the book."

and the best...

"I've read NINE books this summer.  That's like 3,000 pages.  Isn't that enough?"

And there you have it folks.  How do you argue that?  Nine books IS enough.  It's more than enough.  It's WAY over and above, especially since I know half his grade is using the audio books. And yet I am stuck with the recourse of "Failing out of summer reading is not going to be your first impression. Especially because you DID the work."

In the end, amidst the swearing, compromising, and threats, he produced a picture and typed up a few words about it.  It's not even remotely his best work. It's not even a book on the list, mainly because he read 4 books on the list last year already.

And I don't even care.

Because that is where our public school and parents are failing. Most parents never question the system. Read one book.  Churn out a piece of paper. Done. Onward to summer...

And the school just needs a quantitative way to "judge" all the students equally and quickly.

But my son is not equal to anyone else in that school.  He is uniquely different, with a specific, hard wired brain all his own.  It's what makes him awesome. And no standardized 25 minute assignment can determine that.

He will read approximately 12 books this summer.

He will turn his friends on to the new series he found.

He will be reading, which is the entire point of summer reading.

It can be verified by his library card.

The books he carries all year long in his pack.

The fact that his biggest wish is to be able to freeze time, go into his books, live them, and then return to this life without anyone missing him.

Maybe he should draw a picture of that.

You think the administration would get the point then?

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Surgery No. 1...

My surgery was scheduled for 1:30 on Wednesday, and like any normal person would do, I went to Walmart for one last grocery trip to ensure we would something to eat.  And cat food.  Because there's nothing more dangerous than being immobile for 2 days with a hungry cat.

 Any hoo...  I went to Walmart... in my sneakers, foot brace, ankle high socks, and my "easy on" sun dress for surgery.  It was a lovely, fashionable, combination. I'm sure it will make an appearance on Youtube later this week.

So after I hit the store, came home, cleaned, threw in some laundry, and made some phones calls, I was off to have multiple bone spurs removed from my left foot along with a large chunk of my plantar tendon.

Mom dropped me off, the husband picked me up. The scheduling was beautifully executed. I have no idea how the surgery went, as I slept through the entire thing. I came out wrapped in a large ace bandage, they gave me some crutches, a bunch of prescriptions, and sent us on our way.

I am in zero pain. ZERO.  I find myself  wondering if they actually did anything, or if I just got a really good nap.  And then I accidentally hit the stitches and I go back to sitting with my foot up on the couch.

Three days I've been sitting here.  I planned to work on some Christmas gifts while I was captive.  I am giving my niece a "day on the couch" for her gift.  Pajamas, a DVD, a bucket of popcorn, sweet treats, and a blanket.

So here I am.  Sitting on the couch, losing my mind. But, the blanket is just about finished....

At the rate I'm going I may have to make one for my nephew as well.

Countdown to Surgery No. 2..... sixteen days....

Friday, July 22, 2016

A Whole Lot Of Nothing....

Youngest got a text from his friend the other day:

"What has a mouth but can not drink, has a head but can not think, has a tongue but not a lung, some are held and some are hung."

He responded with "A severed head".

I asked him if she responded back yet.  He said "No, but I'm not really sure what the proper response to 'severed head' would be."

And so it goes in our house of boys. My foot surgery is scheduled for Wednesday and I'm as cleaned up at work as I will ever be.  Bottom line is that there will be an enormous mess to clean up when I get back, regardless of how much work I do now. I am more or less doing this for my own sanity and so when it all hits the fan I can say "I left a note...". Sometimes you just need to know when to walk away so you don't get hit when it splatters.

My boss came into a mail house that I deliver to to see what can be done about the flooring (AKA the underlying cause of my feet issues). In the end if nothing can be done, I will have to change routes when the opportunity arises. It will be very hard for me, as I have carried this route almost since it's development (nearly 12 years ago) but it is the only way I can ensure that I won't need to have this surgery again in 5 years.

On the plus side I have noticed a marked improvement in my pain levels since the route adjustment. While I am still at a 5-7 on the frown-y face scale by the end of the day, I am not limping or having radiating pain through my legs and back. But of course, there is the downside being the 5 hour a week pay cut. *sigh* I will not worry about money, because by worrying you just make it a problem.  But I'm not going to lie and say I'm a bit nervous about how all the finances will fall, particularity since I will inevitably go at least a week without pay while I'm out. So, yeah... there's that.

The kids have been working everyday.  They had today off and were supposed to go to the local water park until Youngest woke up with an excessive fever.  Oldest opted to go to work and help out with the charity golf tournament.  I went to pick him up at the course tonight... sat a 30 full minutes watching teens run the putting green until I noticed one of them in a hat waving to me.

I seriously had no idea who it was. We shall call that epic Mom fail number 687.

I have some home improvement projects nearing completion that I'll share soon.  The mind is always tallying snippets of my life to share, but exhaustion always wins by the time I get home.  And then of course, I'll be over sharing all the juicy, sorted details of my surgeries... or not.

Maybe I'll just share the actual answer to the riddle...

It's a bell.

Which is no where as entertaining as a severed head.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Waiting...

really is the hardest part.

I have 14 days until my surgery on my foot.  Not saying that I'm looking forward to it, but the waiting.... the uncertainty of not knowing how the healing process will go... is driving me crazy.  There really isn't anything I can prepare for, no little projects to finish up, it just will be what it will be. I know this.  I've embraced it. But still...

The lack of mobility right now, every step like walking on sharp pointed rocks, makes it tough to enjoy the day.  

Having no choice, I took a sick day to get cortisone shots in my wrists.  While the doctor is very good, and the medication worked well, he missed the initial target and my hand is still swollen at the injection site two days later, causing random pain and a general soreness.

I decided to do something good for myself and went to the dentist.  A simple cleaning, long overdue, quick and painless.  Except that it isn't.  I need deep root scaling, throughout my whole mouth, costing about $800 after insurance. Awesome.  I couldn't even get my teeth cleaned, since they would need to be cleaned after the scaling, and the insurance company would only pay for one.

I sat outside the dentist office and cried in the car.

It's frustrating not being able to do what I want.  It's 80 degrees out, perfect weather, and I can't even go for a walk.  I can't surf the web for long periods of time because my wrists will lock up. I can't wear flip flops for a long period of time.  And in two weeks, because of the chance of infection, I won't even be able to use the discounted tickets I bought for the water park back in May.

I tried going to  lunch with the husband to lift my spirits, but lack of proper scheduling in the office made it not happen.  He doesn't really get it anyways.  He tries awful hard, but he tries to fix it, and it's just not fixable.  I just have to wait things out, see how they fall.  I called a friend who is also going through the same issues.  She gets it, but the momentary sense of belonging fades quickly after the call ends. The kids are working and don't need me as much.  The husband's new schedule has allowed him to be home more.  Projects that used to linger forever are getting done without my asking (twice).  Laundry is getting done without me.  Food is being bought and cooked without me. So many things are getting done without me because I can't do things right now.  And while I'm wanted, I'm no longer needed.

And it's left me feeling lost...

...waiting until I can be me again.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Art Of (Not) Being Busy

Today is my day off.  Which, under normal circumstances means that I would be better off going to work.  But times have been anything less than normal around here, and I am slowly adjusting.

As I sit here, the "bit o' fit" I wear on my wrist says that I have taken 2,989 steps.  A far, far cry from yesterday when the "Congratulations you've reached your 15K step goal!!" joy buzzer, electrocution-style vibration nearly scared the pee out of me as I headed for the grocery store bathroom after work.

The reality is that I have slowed my roll because I have to.  Multiple bone spurs, 4 years of excessive damage to the tendons, and a small hairline fracture, have slowed me considerably.  The main goal is to not damage it any further until the surgery at the end of the month.  Needless to say, the to-do list for today looked a lot like this:

1. Mail out summer camp check
2. Re-Schedule 2nd surgery
3. Clean the fish tank
4. Sign the boys up for summer camp
5. Buy battery for stupid smoke detector that eats batteries every frigging 8 weeks.

Number one was pretty easy, and number 2 has been on going for two weeks since no one would call me back. Number three was actually done yesterday, but sometimes I leave things on my list so I can cross something off right away. True Story.

Any hoo...

Feeling a bit stir crazy, the boys and I headed to their camp to sign them up for the next two weeks. After that I will be out of work, and they will be my nursemaids while I re-cooperate.  They are thrilled let me tell you, but I am far more thrilled at the prospect of not paying $3000 for summer camp while I am sitting home. So, yeah, I went in to enroll them in two weeks of unplugged, face to face, interaction.  And that's when it happened...

... They offered them summer jobs.

Like, 5 days a week, 5 hours a day, paying jobs. For the whole summer.

Five days a week, they will be off the computer. They will not be home messing up the kitchen, or throwing piles of clean laundry on the floor because it was in their way. No wrappers on the counter, recliners left up, radio blaring down stairs, or whining that they are bored.

Five days a week of  Not. Rolling. The. Eyes.

All I have to do is drop them off in the morning, and the husband will drive them home after work.

Then, I can really not be busy.

Not busy cleaning, doing countless loads of laundry, or finding missing shoes.

Not busy nagging about how a person needs to eat to grow, or that the people in the computer aren't really your friends, and that if you go to the pond you can't go past your armpits.

Not busy wracking up fit bit steps following the trail of rice crispy treat wrappers and dirty socks.

It's going to be SO boring...