Friday, October 31, 2008

What do you have to say for yourself?

There's a new feature on my site that invites users to add their ideas and stories to the end of my articles. I've added it to three so far, and if you have answers you want to contribute to these questions, please join in!

What's the worst thing a "loved one" has said about your child or your parenting?

How have you handled head lice?

What are you thankful for about your child with special needs?

I know many of you who read these blog posts have things to say about those topics. I hope you'll stop by and sound off!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Constant supervision gets constant-er

Well, my guy survived his day yesterday, and came home seemingly not the worse for having been forced into school and analyzed by grown-ups. His aide talked to her supervisor and the case manager, and they decided to have him change for gym in the clinic instead of the locker room, and to have the aide make sure the bathroom is empty before he goes in.

In a way, I'm sorry for him to have those extra restrictions, and I worry that he'll be embarrassed by them. But I am a big believer in constant supervision for kids with FASD, and controlling the last few places he couldn't easily be supervised seems like a good idea. I'm glad it was proposed by the school and not by me. The more adult eyes are on him, the less we'll have to trust in his ability to articulate what's going on. Hope so, anyway.

At any rate, he went to school today without complaint.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Oh, what a horrible morning!

My son did not, did not, did not want to go to school today. This is a new behavior since high school, and surprising because generally, he seems to be doing okay there. It's hard to tell whether his resistance is because he didn't feel good (though no cough, snot, or fever apparent), because he didn't get enough sleep (took a long nap yesterday, though), because he just wanted to lie in bed and look at Miranda Cosgrove pictures on his iPod (always a possibility), or because something is going on at school that he's afraid of.

I tend to leap to that last likelihood, only because he's never been one to want to stay home. But of course, once I try to ask him questions about what's bothering him, it's impossible not to ask leading questions, and then impossible to know whether the answers are for real, or just to get me to let him stay home, or maybe something he's fixated on from a TV show. Since he couldn't give me a good explanation (and couldn't give one to his invisible friend, either, as far as I could eavesdrop), I did make him go, but I felt like a parent in one of those young adult novels. You know, where the child is in danger of bullying or other terrible consequences, and begs to stay home, and the parent blithely sends him into danger, while the reader goes, "No, listen to your child! Don't make him go where he doesn't want to be!" Well, I yell that while I'm reading those books, anyway. But I still sent my kid to school.

I did chat with his aide a bit about the problem, and asked her to keep an extra eye out. I put in a call to the gym teacher regarding any locker-room problems (since that's one place the aide can't be). I got a call from his case manager, so apparently the word's gotten around that I'm worried. She's going to talk to him tomorrow, and I wish I could believe that will solve something, but past history with my daughter suggests that this level of adult involvement only tends to make things worse.

And in the back of my mind through all this is that gossip item about one of his old friends being in a gang. Would this friend involve him in gang business? Or hurt him as a gang thing? I'd like to believe not; the kid I know wouldn't. But he wouldn't be in a gang, either.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Distraction and fun for hospitalized kids

I made this my Site of the Day on this morning, but thought I'd mention it here, too, because it's such a neat idea. The blog network 5 Minutes for Moms (I'm a fan of the special-needs blog there) is giving away 10 PSP bundles to kids whose serious illnesses require a lot of hospitalization. You have until November 18 to nominate a child or teen, and can find out all about what's involved here.

Monday, October 27, 2008

To meddle or not to meddle

Sometimes I feel like my son and his friends are in a bubble, kept safe from the normal stress of adolescence by their special needs and their self-contained classrooms. And then sometimes I hear about one of them having something stolen at school, or get a look at the way some of the girls are dressing way beyond what their emotional sophistication can protect them from, and I worry about the way the world pops that bubble.

The other day I heard from another mom about a boy who's been in our kids' classes since first grade. He's a sweet kid, polite and smart, a survivor of many medical procedures we haven't been given much information on. He's also a child who doesn't get a lot of the sort of helicopter parenting I favor with my own kids. I've seen him around the community with boys I don't like the looks of, and now this other mom has mentioned that, according to her daughter, he's in a gang.

And you know, it just makes my heart sink. I feel like I should do something for him, talk to him or a family member or a school administrator or someone who can protect him from himself. I think he's recently been mainstreamed, bright idea, so I'm not sure he even has supports from special-education personnel to be put in place. I don't want to make my son a target by getting involved in gang matters, but there's a degree to which I feel motherly and protective of all these kids who've gone through self-contained classes with my son. This boy in particular has been one of my favorites.

What would you do? Should I try to help? What's the best way to do that? I feel like I'm caught in an episode of 7th Heaven here.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fundraiser blues

We're in the thick of fundraiser season now. My daughter currently has two band fundraisers and a Girl Scouts fundraiser, while my son recently finished a Special Olympics fundraiser. I've been trying to find him a club to join at school, but the knowledge that it may come with fundraiser obligations may be dampening my enthusiasm.

When I say my kids have these fundraisers, I am, of course, lying. I have these fundraisers. I sell stuff to a few kindly friends and family members and then buy stuff myself. Now, back when I was in high school, those were the Wild West days when kids actually went door to door selling stuff themselves. I remember long afternoons slogging around far-off neighborhoods trying to interest strangers in tickets to my choir concerts. These days, door-to-door is discouraged, and the biggest rounds your merchandise is going to make is around your parents' office.

Which puts our family at a disadvantage, because I work from home and my husband works in a supermarket. Can't really bring the form for that band citrus-fruit fundraiser into the produce department. I should probably set up some sort of e-commerce widget here to sell fundraising things to you, my readers, but I don't think I'd have too much luck shipping those fresh pies my daughter's selling.

Plus, then I'd be getting guilt e-mails from you to buy what your kid's selling.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Getting my Halloween Things in order

I'm so spoiled by online shopping, it always amazes me when something can't be obtained with a quick spin through, or maybe a little concentrated Googling. Last night I was looking for a "Thing 1" T-shirt to go with the "Thing 2" T-shirt my friend bought at the Dr. Seuss store in Universal Studios a couple of years ago. I wanted the two shirts as costumes for my son and his buddy for a Halloween party being given for their special-needs social groups. The T-shirts would be a funny coordinated costume without having to put anything too hard-to-wear on them. (We may be adding wigs, but that's in negotiations.)

I figured Universal surely had some studio store online where I could pick a T-shirt out and order it ... but, no. There's a Universal Studios store site that sells tickets, and lots of places that sell baby-sized "Thing" shirts and child-sized ones. But the adult version was nowhere to be found. Most of the Google listings were of message boards asking, "Where can I find Thing 1 and Thing 2 shirts?"

It was on one of those boards that I found reference to a mail order e-mail address that is actually lurking down at the very bottom of that ticket-selling Universal Studios store, in unobtrusive type, like they're hoping no one will ask. I did ask, though, and got an e-mail back promptly saying that they could get me the shirt. I called and placed an order, and we should be in the Thing before Halloween. The woman on the phone said it would take a day to place the order, because they have to send someone in the park to buy the shirt and then mail it to me. Seems like a pretty low-tech shopping solution for a high-tech amusement park, but as long as my Thing gets to me, I guess I can't complain.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Teachers and tattoos

There was an article in the blog Parent Dish yesterday about a school district requiring teachers with tattoos to keep them covered. Apparently they're a distraction to the kids, or send a message about tattoos being acceptable that somebody doesn't like, or something. Personally, I'd say that if you want to discourage students from getting tattoos, seeing a bunch of teachers sporting them might make them somewhat less of an instrument of rebellion. With "body art" being more and more mainstream these days, I wonder whether future generations will begin to find it terribly uncool?

I've never noticed a tattoo on my kids' school teachers, and I don't know that it would bother me particularly. Not as much, anyway, as the speech therapist at my kids' elementary school whose thong used to show prominently above her pants when she sat on the bleachers at assemblies and leaned forward. Don't know if a tattoo was also visible; I was too embarrassed to look. I'll bet some fifth-grade boys weren't, though.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Lacking sense, and cents

Giving lunch money to my son has always been an adventure. He likes to buy Snapple to go with his meal, and asks for extra cash for that. Then we'll find, like, 50 quarters in a drawer and ask where he got them. Whether he's overcharging us for the Snapple, or not buying it, is hard to tell. I'd like to be able to ask his aide, but they're big on not micromanaging the kids at lunch. Which is why my son has mystery quarters, and why his friend let somebody look at his iPod and never saw it again. Folks, some kids need micromanaging all the time.

This year in high school, we were lucky at first because he liked the juice that came with the lunch -- no extra cash needed! Then he said the juice machine is broken. Then he said he didn't like that juice anyway. He took extra money for bottled water, but then said he bought Snapple, which is more expensive. Did he borrow from someone? We gave him more money, and got no change. Is he giving money to someone? There are quarters floating around the universe somewhere, not sure whether they're going to turn up in his drawer or his pockets or the pockets of some other kid. I'd ask if there was a prepaid card he could use, except it's good for him to learn how to pay for things. If only he would just pay for things, and not play.

Micromanaging, people. I want a helicopter aide.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Water, water anywhere

I've been reading a lot lately about the environmental terribleness of bottled water, how it's no better than tap water and costs a lot of money and leaves a lot of plastic behind. What I never see addressed in all these diatribes are the reasons I buy bottled water: To drink when I've no access to a tap, or when I need a disposable container.

When I'm home, I'm perfectly content to drink tap water from my Brita pitcher and be all small-footprinted. But when I'm picking up something, say, at a convenience store, do I really have to buy my kids some vat of soda in a biodegradable cup to avoid purchasing water? If my child is going on a field trip and is forbidden from carting containers around after lunch, are sugar-packed juice boxes the only acceptable option?

I'd like to think the water in those bottles are clean, and maybe I do imagine pristine mountain waterfalls when I twist one open instead of some sink in Newark. But at those times when water seems the best beverage option, and the only way to get it is to buy it, yeah, I'm going to spring for the fake spring water. And be glad it's at hand.