This is a mixed feelings post. My son has always been delayed in life milestones. We never knew for sure if it was us not pushing him to be more independent because we love the process of parenting or does he just need more time. So when we looked at the first free weekend in forever (due to the shut downs across the state), we gave it a go at bike riding without training wheels. In the back of my head, I thought he would never do it or not yet. Autism, ADHD and little grit often speaks louder than pure determination, but we pressed on and prayed.
It did not happen right away. He lost balance and struggled and found himself ready to give up. We talked. We reasoned. We motivated. Then we gave him a break. The next day he saw the “big kids” riding motorcycles and he got the fire again. We told him bike first…mini motorcycle second. Out of nowhere he got a wild hair and got to work. Older boys around us gave him tips and modeled. He did it at his own pace in his own way…but 24 hours later…we were on our first bike ride….together.
We talked about life, racing each other, stopping to look at cool things. Surreal moment of “he is growing up”! Another milestone never to be repeated. No looking back. We moved on to big boy bikes. It feels good! Sad that it is a sign of maturity and another reminder he is getting older and closer to leaving home. It happens that fast. But exciting that he is learning, trying new things and showing us he can conquer fears. Blows my mind how last week this felt impossible and now look at him go! Of all the ugly memories that came from this time in history, God has given us a beautiful memory made possible with time.
One thing is for sure, I have never looked at my face so much as when I have been a virtual teacher in quarantine. Virtual conferences, my pic on a million teaching apps, recording my teaching, having to post pics of me to document I am working…I see me a lot and I am only looking quarantine cute.
My house looks like a hot mess!
I stare at this all day or constantly check my cell phone to respond in a timely manner.
I have heard the background noise of other people's houses more than I ever care to hear. There are some loud homes out there, America!
The codes, the codes, the codes. All the codes to get into all the things! Managing my class and my son’s classes just add to all the codes, new apps downloaded, new accounts created and all this technology makes me want to do my next topic…
Work out, walk, stand outside, put my headphones in and be by myself. I look forward to a workout every day now that there is time. Something about being still in nature and with God is special right now more than ever.
The hardest part is explaining it to a child that truly cannot get it. No words can explain it and it is hard to say no friends, no school, no going to parks. God is good and we will be stronger from this. Pastor Steven Furtick says it is not a matter of if this will end it is a matter of when it ends will you be better from it??
My campus was on Spring Break last week, so online learning started for us this week. Last week, I struggled to wrap my brain around what it looks like and this week I have been busy executing the plan. Crandall ISD has stepped up to give us a united vision of consistency and leadership. Today the first day of school at home begins!
It started with lots of online conference meetings which sound way more fun than they are. A great way to bridge the distance another tech tool that I can now use for the future.
Later came two days of connecting to the families, creating assignments for the Google Classrooms, creating videos to teach parents and forgetful students how to access those classrooms and lots of extra things to put the plan in place. I have a 7 year old that has really had to fill his time (un) wisely while I work 9+ hour days sorting it all out. Again, thankful the vision was already in place so I could execute my part.
Just when I thought I had had enough the Flipgrids started rolling in with their sweet faces and voices and then my first video call to try out the class. Breathe. This is worth it. The kids need the interactions as much as I do and it reminds me why I teach. Their faces remind me why I went back to the classroom after leaving it for leadership and more money. Their smiles are my why and their need for something normal is my motivation. For them the work is worth it.
God is doing something big in all this that I know will be missed when it is all over. Families are reconnecting, educators are innovating, kids are really learning for life not a test, and we are appreciating the roles we all serve and sometimes take for granted. God is moving in this stop and slow down moment in history. I believe in his promises!
I have chosen a word of the year to guide me the last 5 years. I call it “my word that empowers”. It starts in prayer then follows listening until I hear God speaking his will over my life. This year God and I fought about it as the word He chose made no sense.
Who wants to be vulnerable? Isn’t that weakness? Doesn’t it mean open to attack? It was clear that this was my word but it made no sense and I felt embarrassed to share it. So I began to research and found a great author and TedTalk that really shed light on the power that comes with bring vulnerable so I embraced it. Even made a bracelet!
My husband and I are getting more info on the process of fostering children in our home. A process we feel God putting on our hearts. We contacted our first choice agency and this is what we got in response.
God speaks. A word that made no sense was a guiding star to a future He has in store. Now it all is clear and we have a Word of the Year to thank.
This is the face of ADHD. As a teacher, I have often seen it as a setback. It keeps the student from working and keeps the student from sitting, but overall not a huge deal in the world of health problems. Then I became the parent of a child with ADHD. To be fair he is more ADD then anything else, but the new trend is to say it is all ADHD and that is fair since distracted decisions can be hyper ones too.
The truth is my son is the most amazing kid! He sees things outside the box for what they could be and not what they are right now. He is full of life, joy, curiosity and wonder. To be honest, entering school has beat a lot of that out of him as testing and being on grade level has overtaken his beautiful mind. He is a challenge to teach and parent, but no other kid will change you like he will…he just makes you see life differently.
As a parent, I can now see why it is considered a disability under Other Health Impairment and is under the umbrella of special education. His ADHD keeps him from learning, being organized, making transitions, keeping friendships, taking tests (and we know school has become one giant test), and socially keeps him acting at a grade level below his which really influences his behavior. As a parent, it is scary to think about him driving and working and even keeping a family…it really does make life as we know it hard, but he hardly notices it. As his parents, we have to teach him to manage it, overcome it and make adjustments to the way his brain works.
As his mom, we have to call in his prescription month by month as it is not refillable and we have to see the doctor quarterly to update progress. Getting medicines is not as easy as some may believe and is very expensive for all those teachers like myself that just said “medicate”. You have to be diligent in getting medical attention and be willing to pay for it. We tried everything before medication including CBD oils since we know all the risks and did not want to lose the personality of our son…but in the end we knew he needed them to function and to learn. It was best for him and we would never say no to medicating his epilepsy, so why say no to medicating this.
I write all this to say if you are like my brother and say ADHD does not exist…you are wrong-this is real. It is more than being a boy or just a kid if you truly have it…it may be over diagnosed…but it is real. If you are a teacher and say that discipline at home can fix it, wrong again. Discipline sometimes beats the kid down as my son was always in trouble. We said all too often, “try harder”, “pay attention”, “listen”…truth is he couldn’t and was trying harder than most. If you are a parent saying that medication seems wrong, maybe try other things first, but at the end of the day if it affects learning and day to day living then ask yourself “Would I not give him cough medicine if he was coughing?” I truly believe this is an illness of the brain and needs and the child needs extra help to do what others can do on their own.
Obviously, a true diagnosis takes lots of time, discernment and doctor approval, but I write this to speak up for the kids that need you to know the truth. The image above is my son 100%. I see now how much he endures to do very common things and how we need to support, encourage, but also teach him to manage his symptoms. I want to be sure I am not always beating him down with my misunderstanding. I also want to be sure I treat my students with this disability with respect as well. I need to create the classroom environment where these kids can thrive! The truth is we can all do better to understand this and support those that have it or the families navigating these murky waters.
This is my workspace 30 minutes after my son gets out of school
Every once in a while, I will have one of those parenting moments that are hard to put into words. Those moments that you cannot believe you are here. I have had a few lately as we cross the path into medicine for my son.
My son was diagnosed with seizures at 3 1/2 and has been on meds ever since. We have always known we live in a world of EEGs and MRIs, but we thought that was the bulk of it. We knew he had a bit of a wild side, but many boys do and then he started school…we learned his wild is wilder than normal and it is affecting his learning
So now we are on new uncharted territory. Riding the rapids of ADHD medication and testing for learning disabilities for all the time that focus might have kept him from learning. Hard to be sitting here having these conversations of side effects and dosage but here we are. In the middle of the chaos, God spoke to me at a worship night.
“You were made to be his mom. You were created for this.”
No one will advocate, fight, champion, and dig my heels in the dirt more than me. No one is more stubborn and will do all things possible to ensure he learns. God chose me to parent him…I was born to love this child. This may be new territory, but we will conquer it together.
I never knew the value of a teacher until I put my son in a classroom. Up until this moment, there was no one human (beside his parents) influencing his life…now there is one person we call his teacher; it changed everything.
It started with her rules becoming our rules around the house. Like one day I said booty and he quickly chimed in “Ms. Monica says we do not say booty!” It later turned to the way she does things like pass out snacks or wash hands. I quickly learned Mrs. Monica is a powerful person and to get on the same page as her or be told I am doing it wrong.
Later it turned into more than that…more meaningful. When she picked up his early signs for seizures were starting again so we could call the doctor. When she could tell he was acting off and might have an ear infection. When we were worried about his development and she could honestly say what was normal or delayed or influenced by others. Her experience and input became very important and valued.
Finally, as he was in her class for over a year, she became like a second mom. I trusted her to call me if the symptoms got worse so I could come pick him up. She also would tell me good ideas for next birthday gifts based on things he enjoyed. Made me aware of good times and bad times with other kids since I would hear about it later anyway. Helped with the transition when he began to be over aggressive and allowed us time to correct it before labeling him the bad kid. When he fell she doctored it up and knew he loved band aids or helped me out when I forgot a blanket. She understood the vomiting was not sickness but a side effect of his meds so let him stay at school or the coughing was allergies and not a cold. She especially was a saint when he had diarrhea due to his meds and allergies and heroically changed him or kept him near the potty. Clearly going above and beyond, but did it anyway.
As a teacher myself, she understood that days off are hard so she helped out when she could or at least gave me time to get a lesson plan made and return. She gave patience, grace and mercy knowing that the teacher life gets complicated because you cannot just call in sick without creating a plan. I never expected this of her, but was grateful when she offered.
With all this talk about teacher this and that…it all changes when it is your kid and you really see their power and influence on your child. You want the best and I was fortunate to have that in Mrs. Monica. Today is his last day of Pre K. He will no longer go to this daycare as he starts Kinder with me in the fall. I am thankful he has had a great 2 years, but sad that it is over. It means he is growing up and moving on and the moving on means change which is hard for this mama. I will no longer have her as a partner in raising my child (and for those haters…teachers see the child awake more than the parent most days so yes they partner to raise them…the teacher should not do it all, though).
So today I thank and salute the teacher that does way more than teach. I thank you for loving and praying and filling in the gaps that this working mom leaves. You are a gift from God and an answer to prayer. Your influence is endless and will be remembered for a lifetime as his first school teacher. Thank you!!
Kinda hard for me to believe, but for 10 years my husband was a police officer. He loved his job until the city he worked for struck chaos. All of a sudden overtime, no days off, bad shifts, getting the run around and unappreciated became the norm. He saw the writing on the wall and got out when an opening came up. He did medical sales only to learn it was not his thing. Selling to the elderly was a challenge and he realized policing had not destroyed his heart after all. So he went back to his roots and first job out of high school and jumped back into the world of hotel sales.
He got the unique chance to sell for a brand new hotel that was in the process of being built. I got the privilege to stay the night over the weekend and it was an eye opener. I always just enjoy hotels without thinking about how it got there, but hearing him talk about all the little details and why that was the best fit for that particular location was fascinating. The notepad on the nightstand, the brand of shampoo, the decor, the thread count of sheets, the lighting, the size of rug…every detail has to be considered. He hung the TV, put batteries in every remote, plugged in every alarm…this hotel has kind of become his baby and now it is about to open. The property is beautiful in a trendy spot walking distance from dog parks,restaurants, bars and fashionable shops. The rooftop bar has the best view of Dallas, dogs are welcome with pooch perks and their is filtered water stations on each floor..boutique hotel for sure and it is all Hilton!
The best part of my stay was hearing his passion as he was eager to tell me all about it. I also got to meet his coworkers and people he spends all day around. He knows my love of skylines and got me a prime spot to just look at my city, watch the planes and read my books in a lounge chair. Love to hear the passion back in his voice when discussing his work and I get some pretty cool hotel perks. It will make the nights he will be gone checking on clients much more tolerable.
God heard our prayers and blessed him with a purpose in his job and I am grateful to have seen him in his element. I write all this to encourage you that if you are in a job that does not fit we patient, pray and keep working hard. That year in medicine was challenging as he wanted to quit. We often questioned if leaving police was the right choice, but he kept working hard and being prayerful and went to work. In time, he got the answer to his prayer and it was a big blessing. We took a pay cut and it was scary, but we followed Old Diminion advice “chase after the dream not after the money” and it paid off. Proud wife post as we look forward to the big opening.
We noticed when he was around 3 that he would have these moments of going blank. At first, it was so quick that you would have to be staring at him to see it. Over time, it became more often and more noticeable that it was pretty obvious. At his worst, they would occur 20 times an hour and his eyes would roll back in his head. After much testing, we were finally able to get him diagnosed and on medicines.
Now, he has been on medication for over a year and we notice some academic delays. These are delays that could have always been there or delays caused by the seizures, either way we want to be able to make the best decisions for his schooling. As part of the process, we were instructed to get another EEG and thankfully we could do it over the summer. He did a great job! This test is stressful for this mama as they flash lights in his face, make him sit still for 30 minutes and strap him up to a machine. We are hopeful the results will give us more answers that the medicine is working. His testing was done at a hospital just for children which feels more like a playground! One of his favorite things is the trains…they are amazing and such a blessing to a nervous mom.
He is smiling so big because we timed that shot perfectly so he was in a pic with a train. God has been so good to us during this process to get him the treatment he needs. We are hopeful that he grows out of the seizures in a few years and continues his path to greatness.
Parenting is hard. Let’s face it there is no manual yet we all do the best we can. I found this in our backyard and it made me stop and think about how I can improve as a parent. My husband and I parent differently…not sure if it is a gender thing, but we do make different decisions at different times. Baths are optional for me, food can be eaten anywhere, matching is important…I cringe before teeth brushing time; the tough things in parenting scare me. I tend to avoid the meltdowns while my husband walks right into them boldly.
But one thing he has mastered is being present. He plays, he colors, he draws, he throws, he catches, he mows only when kid can ride with him. He seizes the opportunities to have togetherness. I tend to work, clean or be busy instead. I am a work in progress and I know it is an area that I need to improve, but I tend to take the lazy way out. It could be my number 9 nature where I like things easy and this is where parenting is hard; doing the things that tire you out as I do not have the energy of a 5 year old. But thankfully my husband is there to step in where I fail as I continually change to be better. I want my son to remember those times of playing just he and I and way more than I want him to remember the house was clean or I finished my last book. So I proclaim that this will be the area I focus on this next school year to follow the motto “Wherever you are-be all there!” I will focus on doing what needs to be done to be present even if it means the things around me are less than perfect. This motto will be part of my classroom as well as I miss great conversations trying to get all my work completed.
Thankful for the fathers out there on this weekend made for you. Thankful for you for all that you do that makes your kids smile. Thankful you carry the load with us mamas!