Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Don't Play Games With THE MAN, He Always Wins.

In an effort to convince myself that I've just made up this sudden "calling" to homeschool Kman, I've come up with several game plans that God is just laughing about.

First, he was having several "good" (behavior) days in a row last week, so I decided that was a sign that I was making this all up & I should tuck my tail & continue on the public school route.
The "bad" days came back.
Yeah, yeah, total coincidence.

Next up, I knew they were adding a new class to Kman's grade this week, so I decided that it would be a sure sign that I was supposed to do this if studentX was pulled from his class.  You see, studentX is Kman's "best friend" in class & one of the big reasons that he doesn't like the idea of leaving public school.
StudentX got transferred to the new class.
Really?  Come on!  What are the chances of that?  ...but maybe the odds weren't as steep as I thought.  I mean...  really??  When I threw that thought out into the universe I swear I did not expect that answer.  Seriously.  Grrrrr.

So I said this morning (after a "good" day yesterday that even included not getting an "oops slip" from the one specials class he ALWAYS gets one in), "okay, if he has a 'bad' day today, I'll believe you, this is for real, I need to get on board & quite fighting it".
Guess what?
He had a "bad" day.
In fact, by the marking in his folder, I'd say it was bad enough to frustrate his teacher a bit.

So, there you have it.  I quit playing.  I'm obviously not going to win.  (Yet that tiny voice is still saying "I just don't know...  maybe there's a way out of this still...")

I was already pretty convinced that homeschooling is right, I just don't really wanna.  I mean, I DO.  So many things get me so very excited about it...  but so many others scare me to death!  You know what the #1 thing for me is though?  The thing that makes me feel like I'm really just a homeschool supporter?  The thing I find absolutely broken about elementary schooling?

I'd rather my kids play than study.

Don't read that incorrectly.  I did NOT say I'd rather them play than learn (and remember that playing is learning!), I said I'd rather them play than study.  Maybe my opinion is largely based on the type of kiddo Kman is, maybe it's not, I don't know, but I think kids are expected to grow up too fast.  I think kids have to leave behind make believe, discovery, and carefree fun way before they should.  Should a 7 year old really spend 7 hours sitting in a school, 30 minutes - 1 hour studying (homework & reading), and then have to cram a little play into what's left?  The whole concept just doesn't sit well with me.  It feels so very wrong.  Don't even get me started on how I feel about summer breaks...  ;)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

To Homeschool or Not To Homeschool...

To homeschool or not to homeschool is a pretty big question.  A HUGE question actually.  Or, rather, the decision is HUGE (though the question is lingering enough to make it pretty huge also).
I put lots of thought & tons of prayer (and even a smidge of research) into my answer of this question.  Then I asked Kman his opinion & it brought me right back to square one. /sigh/
Before you even say them, I am well aware of the following things & have put much thought into them the past few days:

I am the parent, what I say goes.
He can't really decide between something he knows & something he doesn't.
We can always change our minds.
And about a million other arguments both for & against me letting him have an opinion on this.

One morning I woke up & randomly had a *very* strong feeling about homeschooling.  It scared me that I suddenly wanted to pull Kman & join the homeschooling world.  I always said I would if I had to, but I was always counting on not having to.  ha.  Be careful what you say, huh?  I prayed over it, I asked several other people to pray over it, and I started doing some serious research into it.  Curriculum, co-ops, extracurriculars, ways to socialize, laws, schedule examples...  I looked into so much.  Within a week I had a very calm but intense feeling that homeschooling was the right choice.  All the stress I have been carrying for months washed off my shoulders.  (Well, other than the stress of having to tell hubby that I was sure I wanted to do this. :p)  I had no more doubts, no more worries, we'd figure this all out, even if it were just for the rest of this year.  Homeschooling doesn't have to be forever...  but it can be.  That's the great thing about freedom of education, we can try everything we need to & stick with what works until it doesn't before changing things up again.
In my head I was ready, and I wanted to pull the plug on public school soon.  I figured I'd finish out the month, take a little break to de-school, then get things started up.  Bring it on!
...then I brought it up to Kman.  I asked him what he'd think of getting to be with me (and Sweetie Pie Sparkles (SPS)) all day.  He said he'd be annoyed because SPS whines too much.  He doesn't whine all day, but totally legit.  I tried a different angle...  I reminded him of a friend that homeschools & asked if thought that would be fun, getting to be at home all day like she is.  No, he likes school (where did this come from?), plus he has to be really bad at school for his teacher to call home, but if he were with me I'd probably call his dad more easily & he'd be in big trouble.  Yet another angle, a bit more bluntly...  what if you got to do your schoolwork at home with me, and you'd have lots more time to play?  Nope.  He'd miss his teacher, he really loves his teacher.
I have since moved on to a totally different method of showing him videos of things homeschool kids do during their co-ops.  He thinks it's really cool, but he asked if he could go to a co-op one day & school the other days.  Womp. Womp. Womp.   I'm going to keep trying some with the videos.  I really wish there were some YouTube videos of kids talking to other kids about why homeschooling is great.  Maybe there are some & I haven't found them - yet.
I do think he deserves to have a say in this, even if I have final say.  Not only because he deserves a voice in his education but also because the kind of personality he has, he has to be on board or this will be a big nightmare!
This morning he woke up & asked to do some school.  (WHAT???!!  Okay!)  So I took out his handwriting book & he willingly, and happily, worked on a few lessons.  Then, I read to him while he played.  There's our writing & literature lesson for the day.  Just like that.  Now he's playing Legos, which is kinda play & education because you really have to exercise your brain for Legos.  We're going to have a short lesson about poop (yes, you read that right - all boy here!) in a bit because he wants to learn about it.  I'll probably also throw in some kind of math game on the computer.  When he's done all that & I tell him he just had a full day of school, maybe that will help him see how different, but not bad or scary or un-fun, homeschooling is.
Of course his not wanting to homeschool put doubts back into my mind.  So many fears of being able to teach him all he needs to know (but let's be real, public school is wonderful in lots of cases, but it basically teaches every kid the exact same thing with little chance of learning extras or being given one-on-one when you need it), worries of ME burning out with 2 kiddos underfoot 24/7, stresses of keeping the kiddos quiet enough for the hubby to get his work done & not add to his stress...
There's the other side though - the excitement of having freedom to go when & where we want, for learning or just for fun, the ability to alter his education around his abilities & his interests, the joy of knowing my child better than I ever imagined...
So, the summary of all these words is that I still don't know for sure what I'm doing.  I'm pretty sure I do want to homeschool.  I'm pretty sure I will homeschool (maybe I'll just start in January), but I'm still not totally sure.  I'm doubting myself, I'm uncertain of what's best for Kman, I'm worried about the hubby not being 100% on board & making things harder on him.  Basically I'm still carrying a lot of confusion around with me about this.
Time will tell, right?...

**As soon as I finished writing this, Kman showed up in the room, so we went ahead with our poop "lesson".  He kinda paid attention, but SPS was also in the room and, oh boy!  SPS was chanting "poop. poopoo, peepee, poop", and acting pretty 2-year-old-ish, Kman was not super interested because all he really wants is to go to Target & buy something, and I was frustrated because - really?  /sigh/  Could I really do this?  We did sorta get through what I wanted to.  Kman should at least know what an esophagus is now.  I guess that's something.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Decisions Suck

Yesterday I was finally in a place that I was ready to discuss what has gone on in my meetings at the school.  Then I got the report from the district psychologist & it has kinda put me in a bad place all over again. I'm going to try to stick with my original plan to go over the meeting, but I may veer off course.  You've been warned.  ;)
So, the first meeting I went to at the school was horrible.  Not that anyone there was mean or not willing to help my child, it just struck deep for me because I am the mom.  Even the things I already knew they'd say hurt because them saying it all made it more real.  If that even makes sense (I'm sure if you've been in this position it totally does!).  *Side note, I share this info for 2 reasons - 1, so that the people that know us & care about what's going on know without me saying it a million times; 2, so that those of you living this lief also know what happens in other parent conferences.  Remember - you are not alone.*

Meeting #1 started as going over a bunch of things I already knew:  His trip to (and many subsequent hours spent in) the asst principal's office.  (He stuck a paperclip in an outlet.  /sigh/) His behavior in the classroom & in specials (he was getting an oops slip pretty much every day).  His difficulties with peers.  Things I DIDN'T see coming were numerous.  Among them, other parents expressing concern about him (both in regards to slowing the class' academic progress & in fear of harm to their kid - what?!), which they couldn't really discuss in details & that still bothers me.  Why are they allowed to talk about him, but I'm not allowed to know what they say?  :(  They also blindsided me with a write-up from the school bus where he was pushing kids & told another student to do something to a kindergartner, which the student then did.  (I have since pulled him from the bus, it was obviously too overwhelming for him to be on there.  PS, carpool in a school of almost 1,000 kids SUCKS.)  There were other things discussed that had me on the verge of tears, but I managed to keep it together until I left the school.  We left this meeting with a second one set, which would happen after the psychologist observed him.
Meanwhile I had the "normal" parent-teacher conference, where his teacher had nothing new to report (yay!), and his academics were great.  He's a really smart kid, he just has typical ADHD problems.
Meeting #2 was much better, as they really had nothing bad to report to me.  The psychologist didn't have her report written up yet, but she went over her observations with me.  She had called me after she finished the last one, so I kinda already knew what all she was thinking (or so I thought...), so nothing she shared was new.  She expressed concern about his anxiety & explained that it went hand in hand with depression, and depression is very common in ADHD people, so we need to keep an eye on it.  She had come up with wonderful accommodations for him (velcro under his desk to fidget with, a behavior chart to tally throughout the day, with rewards based on the number of good marks, the option to leave the classroom to regroup when his meds wear off...  I don't even recall all of them anymore), but his teacher felt that he was doing really well by meeting #2 & didn't feel the need to implement most of the recommended accommodations.
Then yesterday I got the psychologist's full report.  Wow.  I had no idea just how much was going on with him in the classroom!  Even with all I had been told, so much was left out!  When she did her observations he was already on his new med (Focalin), so it was even worse before.  HOW did they wait this long to clue me in?!  A few excerpts I don't mind sharing...
   During the 25 minutes of instruction & independent practice, he was out of his seat about 15 times - either going to the front to look at books, to talk to another child, or to go to the treasure chest (even though he had not earned it).
   He asked a girl next to him several questions, each time about 6-7 times before she answered him (she appeared to be ignoring him).
   He then asked her [teacher], "X, Y, Z" and continued talking about clothes and mom sewing clothes.  [I don't sew, by the way.  :p]
   ...students were allowed to lie down if they chose, and he crawled around on the floor picking up things from the floor.  He appeared to be listening as he popped up & said "let me see" as she read certain things... he brought the things he had collected off the floor and brought it to where a boy was sitting...  he was told to throw them away, then returned to collecting them.
   He made noises, about 3 per minute at times (motor running, martial arts, robots) during warm-up & poem time.
I left so much out because I don't want to cross a line for him personally in the future.  But, you can get an idea.  If this is what she observed in just 2 one-hour visits, what is going on ALL DAY LONG?  ...and what do I do with this information?
I really thought things were looking up until I got this report back, He had a solid week of good days & success (as far as I know anyway), and now he's had 2 "bad" behavior days in a row this week, so I fear him coming home & having to report yet another one to us.  I'm starting to realize that morning are so awful & stressful because he is stressed about going to school.  He's not quite as bad on the weekend, so it's not just that mornings are rough (though they all are, don't get me wrong), he's just anxious.  What do I do with that?
What I'm considering is homeschool.  Oh, heavens.  I've always said I would if I had to, I just hoped I wouldn't have to.  He is starting to not like school though, and I really don't want to see that!  Private school would be great, except the part where it costs money.  I won't rule it out completely, but somehow I just don't see it happening.  Of course I don't really see homeschool happening, but I may just me temporarily blind to it.  Every day that goes by does make the possibility seem more real.  HOW though?  HOW?  If a school full of people trained to handle all kinds of kids can't help him, how will I???  I want what's best for him though, so I'm doing some serious research & I'm going to figure this all out.  Maybe things will start to look up for him in public school.  Maybe we'll wake up & find a money tree growing in our yard to cover private school (hey, one can hope!).  Or, maybe I'll wake up one day & say enough is enough & figure out a way to make homeschool work.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Peaks & Valleys

The thing about ADHD is that you have these periods of time when things are good.  You're all coping well, the stress is a bit lower, everyone is somewhat happy...  then you have these periods of time when things are REALLY awful.  There doesn't seem to be an in between (at least not here), it's good - or, well, it's hell.
It's been several weeks of stress, chaos, anger, extreme hyper, intentional annoyance, unintentional annoyance, insane (and early) mornings, difficult nights...  well, you get the idea.  I really don't think you can understand what it's like unless you have seen it firsthand (either my version, or your own).  I've almost gotten used to the ebb & flow of these peaks.  I know not to get comfortable when things are good, but I swear to you that the times of bad seem to be getting longer & longer, along with being more intense.  I often smile or give a knowing glance when I see people watch in almost horror as my crazy kiddo does, well, crazy *impulsive* things.  Inside though, I'm actually about to break.
Today, I didn't want to get out of the bed.  Yes, it's that bad.  I can't get much more real than that confession.  Dragging myself out of bed was a major chore.
I don't mean that I really wanted to be able to just have a relaxing morning (though I do long for that!), nor do I mean that I just wanted to have a little breather today...  I mean I didn't want to get out of bed.  Like when people become crippled by depression & can't pull themselves out of bed despite the things around them requiring it.  THAT bad.  It's not depression though, it's stress. (Which I guess is why I was able to get out of bed, though I was fairly useless most of the day, besides making sure everyone stayed alive.)  The stress of school and teh chaos of home has caused a stress that has taken its biggest toll on me yet.  Unfortunately, there are no vacation or sick days.  There is no nearby relative to offer me a reprieve.  There is no time away to recharge.  I have a kid to get to school every day & a toddler to keep alive - & happy! - every day.  We do have a nice respite coming up, but it's only 2.5 hours.  Oh, I'm more than thankful for those 2.5 hours...  but...  /sigh/
The flip side of it all is thinking of what it must be like for KMan.  If he's acting out this much, what on earth is happening inside him?  Is he miserable (appearances can lie even in kids, right?)?  Is he hurting?  Is he scared?  Is he overwhelmed?  Is he all of those & more?  ...and how do I help him?!  I know he's a compassionate, loving, well-mannered boy, but all of that hides behind his lack of impulse control, and the scrambled messages in his head, and the lack of self esteem I see continue to grow in him.  I hurt for him.  So much.  As much as my heart hurts because of the amount of love he fills it with, my heart also hurts because of the amount of uncertainty his life seems to bring him.
In moments of sheer desperation & hurt, I fall down & scream out WHY LORD?  I don't ever really hear an answer, I think He has missed the memo that in this house we do not do whispers. I know there's a reason.  I know there's a reason why KMan is the special guy he is, and that all of his struggles, all of his frustrations, all of his hurts, are all for something greater than we know yet.  I also know that He chose me as KMan's advocate because I was the perfect one for the job...  but, oh the lessons I continue to be taught are so exhausting!!  Patience (I can't seem to get that lesson right, so it comes again and again and again).  Trust (I screw up there too, so He keeps pleading for me to have faith).  Love (I feel like I get this one...  but sometimes it's just so hard.  And yet, no matter what I ever do, He loves me.  Always.)  I'm sure I could go on & on thinking of the lessons I'm being handed.  Sometimes I get it, but so often I fail.  I am human after all.
Tomorrow is a new day.  Plus, it's a school day.  So, there's my "vacation".  Sorta.  I do have another meeting at school though, so I expect it to be trying & even more exhausting.  It's just a day though, and it too shall pass.