Posts Tagged ‘school’

The school year comes to a close once again this Friday. The boys are very excited about it as they have not really been doing work for the past week and can’t wait for it to be over. They are also very excited because we will see Jurassic World this Friday after school lets out.

It has been a very rough year for both of my sons. Older son has been struggling with pre teen angst and all the joy and fun that goes with that. This also was the year that he discovered he has to actually do work in order to get straight A’s. He had his first F in his life although he did pull it back up to a B- just in the nick of time. He did well on his math placement test and I’m sure he will still be in honors next year.

Younger son’s year was filled with struggle because of that highly annoying bully. He simply can’t wait for 4th grade to be over. He also faces the challenge of his best friend moving away this November. However baseball offered some wonderful relief to these struggles. His team won the championship in the minors division. So as is always the case, there is balance and to quote Ian Malcolm life find a way.

As for me I am finishing my marathon 6 week summer courses and soon my life will settle down a bit too. And yes to relax I will declutter my house.

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This has been bugging me. A custodian smokes a cigarette in a school on a Saturday. Yes, he’s not supposed to be smoking in the school. He throws the cigarette into a trash can and a short time later, no school because of a fire. A person at a motel has a cigarette in a designated smoking area, throws the cigarette, and a short time later, no motel because of a fire.

The motel has been called into question for smoke alarms, sprinklers, code standards.

The school hasn’t. At least as far as I’ve heard in popular news and and media.

Why the double standard? How does an entire school burn down from one burning trash can? What if it had been a bad toaster, microwave, faulty wiring? The cause shouldn’t matter-the fact that an entire school could burn down should matter. How did the smoke alarms and fire alarms not get triggered? What happened to the sprinkler system? Aren’t schools supposed to have those? Isn’t the alarm supposed to be directly connected to the fire or police department? If the school could burn that easily, thank goodness it was a Saturday.

Is the school not being questioned because no one wants to implicate the fire inspector who said it was safe for children to attend that school? Is it because no one wants to fess up to how much asbestos was in that school, perhaps explaining why it burned so easily?

I’m telling my boys if they smell smoke at their school, hightail it to the office and report it as they go out the front door. I also need to reach out to my fire department and confirm that the school met code and passed inspection with flying colors. Check with the administration that they fire drills will really work. Have they tried a fire drill during lunch? In the afternoon when the kids are all antsy? And on and on.

Oh, and while I’m thinking of it, smokers=bad, but let’s legalize pot.

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In the mid sixties, Hubby began attending elementary school.  He was not the big man on campus.  He was more of the hanging-on-the-outside-fringe-because-no-one-quite-understood-him kid.  He was different.  In the mid seventies, I began attending elementary school and traveled the same path.  I can’t share the details of Hubby’s journey, I didn’t walk it.  My journey included being teased because of my buck teeth, glasses, hair, then teased for my braces.  Then it turned to a feeling of being excluded. So I took care of myself as best I could.  By high school, my mom had given me permission to drop out when I turned 16 and take the GED.  Fortunately, I got cast in a play at a local college and was able to spend time with people who I fit in with.  I auditioned for the performing arts high school and got in.  Knowing I would only have to be at my regular high school for English and History the last two years, I stayed in school.  My choir teacher made the time at the regular school tolerable, though the administration fired her my senior year because she refused to teach at every school in the district for the same pay.  She told me to keep the faith and try to find a college.  I found one and went and it has made all the difference.

Fast forward to 2008.  Older son entered kindergarten.  2010, Younger son entered kindergarten.  They too are different.  And in all those years, schools have not gotten any better at supporting the different kids.  My oldest wants to be home schooled (not gonna happen).  But he’s tired of being told to shut up by the other kids.  He’s tired of feeling excluded.  Younger son has a slightly different experience because like finds like and he made a best friend with one of the kids who also isn’t really understood.  They have a ball together and can lean on each other for support during the day.  They recharge together hanging out together on the weekends.  Older son has invited kids over but the answer is usually no thank you.  He’s tired of rejection.

Older son even thought about just conforming.  I asked him if he thought he would be any happier and he realized he probably would only feel worse.  I spoke to the school again.  And then Hubby and I talked about it and realized the schools just can’t handle all the differences and they function on the middle ground-the students who follow the current trends and fall in the middle have an easier time because that’s the way the school can function.

Keep in mind-the school our boys go to is a fantastic school.  They have small class sizes, great resources, involved teachers and administrators, but in the end, the student who is on the fringe, who marches to his own drummer, doesn’t fit the mold.  Ironically, Older son plays the drums in band.

I realize that the majority of students may feel this way, at least at one time or another.  Everyone has their own defensive moves to keep a feeling of safety around them in school.  Some of them may not realize that the defense strategy they use may hurt someone else.  Older son acts goofy because any attention, even negative attention, is better than being ignored and excluded.  Younger son acts moody to keep others away when he feels overwhelmed to avoid attention.  Everyone’s perspective in school is similar, but the skills aren’t there yet to realize it.  They’re eight or ten years old.  Can’t expect them to be able to step outside and see the bigger picture.

Mama Bear came out last night and really wants to protect her baby cubs.  I can’t impart this wisdom.  This wisdom is learned from living.  So for now, they have to muddle through this time called school.  And hopefully, with love and support from Mom and Dad, they’ll stay true to themselves.

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I know the funny memes go around the internet this time of year.  Pictures of happy parents driving away from the school, or lounging with a drink, celebrating the first day of school.  I always feel happy that my sons are healthy, happy, and here to return to school too.  But a part of my heart cries along with the tears that drop from my eyes because it marks another milestone in their lives and another big step toward independence.  It means they are growing up a little bit more and little bit more away from us.



I know that older son will face more challenges this year as he yearns for his classmates to realize that he has done some growing up and isn’t exactly the same young man.  That he doesn’t want to be the “talker”.  He is who he is and he is embracing that.  Since preschool he has corrected teachers (politely) when they asked or said something inaccurate and he did it again this morning as one of the teachers asked if he went on any archeological digs this summer.  “Well, technically, it’s a paleontological dig, but no, not this summer.”  He is comfortable with himself and that is what I will carry in my heart today as I think of him walking around the school as a fifth grader.


My third grader had to go it alone to the classroom this morning and this was not the plan.  He debated it all evening and finally decided to have me walk him to his classroom to explain his brain and stomach ache to the teacher.  To help with his TS, he has a foam brain (from my work-no one could try to say it isn’t younger son’s brain unless his parent happens to work with me) and one of his stomach aches.  It’s a little stuffed representation of what causes a stomach ache.  These two objects will be safely tucked into his desk and if the tics start acting up, he can release some energy by squeezing them.  The tics were in full force last night and the night before.  My little one is nervous about being back at school.

But the new rules prevented me from walking with him.  Luckily, I had written a note in his homework notebook to his teacher about the brain and the stomach ache, so she shouldn’t give him any trouble.  But we didn’t get to do the Kissing Hand.  He was already in the school and I wasn’t allowed in.  I suppose that is more for me now than it is for him, but still it’s the first time he’s gone into school without doing the Kissing Hand.  IMG_7369

Older son was still waiting outside and he did the Kissing Hand with his mom, risking torture if seen, because he realized I really needed it.  He saw I was crying and told me it would be okay.  He’s a good egg, if you ask me.

A fifth grader, wiser, gentler, and more compassionate than most would know.  A third grader facing a huge challenge that seems daunting, but armed with a brain and a stomach ache.  Yes, I am happy they are back at school.  Not because it’s “easier” for me, but because they are two strong, smart, little men.


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The change in younger son continues to be amazing.  We scheduled an appointment for January 3rd (the first available date) with a pediatric neurologist for younger son.  His behavior over the past nine months had dramatic changes.  He developed three distinct facial tics.  He became very angry and reacted violently to the most random situations.  You could ask him if he wanted vanilla or chocolate ice cream and he would hit his head and scream that he was useless and run to his room, slamming the door in your face.  He continually said how useless he was, how stupid he was, how he shouldn’t be alive.  He was six years old.  Then he was seven years old and it continued to get worse.  No six- or seven-year old should be talking about how he is a mistake.

So we started watching him closely.  Hubby and I noticed the one really big head tic.  Then we noticed the mouth tic.  Finally we made note of the blinking pattern.  So we called the pediatrician.  Then we called the pediatric neurologist.  And we tried to use different approaches to start helping him.  Then we started to prep him for starting school again.

On the first day of school, I told his teacher that we were going to have him evaluated for Tourette syndrome and gave her a quick list of his tics and warning signs that he was reaching his limit and would then shut down or get violent.  I told her that he had been worried about going back to school for three weeks, not sleeping well, not eating.  She was on it and ready to work with him.

Younger son came home from school that first day beaming.  Second day-shared details about “all the learning”.  And the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth day.  His teacher emailed me and wrote what a sweet, sweet boy he is, how smart, how excited to learn.  He’s happily done his homework each day and is keeping his room clean too!  He reads to me with energy and enthusiasm.  Haven’t seen the tics.  His teacher reports the same in the classroom-happy, sweet boy who loves to learn.

Tonight I asked younger son how smart he is.  I asked if he was “very”, “very, very”, or “very, very, very” smart.  He thought for a moment and then asked if we could watch Mary Poppins.  I replied yes, but why?  He said, “because I’m supercalifragilisticexpialidocious smart!”

My guess is I’ll be able to cancel that January appointment.  And schedule one instead with the principal.

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I really am going to participate in Freddie for a Day one year.  My boss said she’d let me do it.  I need to pick an ensemble and just do it next year.  Put a reminder to myself on my work calendar to start prepping for it in July or something so I don’t forget.  I miss him.  I wish I could hear new songs from him and wish I could hear how his voice would have matured with age.  It was so gorgeous and full of so many emotions.  So rich.  Ah, Freddie, hope you had a hell of party today.

I sharpened pencils tonight.  40 of them-which means my sons are each four pencils short since they are each supposed to bring two dozen.  They can get more later.  I have double and triple checked their new backpacks.  They are set.  Hubby and I gave them new flashcards (math, history, and science) to celebrate tomorrow’s first day of school.  Older son also got a magnetic message board for his locker (first year with a locker!) and younger son got a new backpack clip.  We then asked them what time it is…and they answered with some random responses…dinner time, bedtime, back to school time.  Hubby and I finally said “Adventure Time” and gave them season 1 on dvd.  We watched a few episodes tonight.  Both boys were exhausted this evening and willingly climbed into their beds.  Younger son didn’t come out even once, just closed his heavy lids and fell asleep.  Older son was asleep even more quickly than usual.  It felt like there was a release for them.  Summer is over.  Back to routine.

I’m not going to walk older son to his classroom tomorrow.  Time to give him space.  He’s ready.  I am going to walk younger son to his classroom just in case the boy who spread the rumor is in the same class.  I want younger son to have a good first day and he may need some parental support to walk through the door.  If he decides in the morning to go it alone, I’ll let him.  But if he needs me, I’ll be there for him.

If only I could protect them from ever having their feelings hurt again or more deeply than they have already experienced.  I can’t-I have to let them feel it, live it on their own.  I can comfort, celebrate, and share in their lives.  I hope they learn to play the game, by the rules, while still having fun.  They are two of the loves of my life (Hubby’s the other!).


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