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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Out of my comfort zone

Hi Everyone. Life has been crazy for me this month due to the course I am teaching. It's been a great experience teaching but a huge time commitment.

Ellie is doing well in her new classroom this year. They are definitely feeding her brain. We are a little concerned with her positioning needs and it feels a little bit like we have traded some things for others. That's not a good feeling. I sometimes think I am the only one who remembers that she is really just 5. Though she will be 6 in November she should have been turning 6 in February. I am worried about her emotional needs. Because though she is wowing everyone with her spelling and reading and finger spelling and computer work at school, I am asking myself, questions like:

When I was 5 in kindergarten we did crafts and music and colored and had naps. It was all play based learning. And then in first grade it was table work, group work on academics. But when I did it I was 6. Not 5. So is this ok to have put her in that environment and ask her to give up so many things she loved about being in preschool?  Instead of swimming twice a week she does it once. Instead of getting to roll on the jumpoline (this huge blow up trampoline) she goes on field trips  - meaning more sitting and more sitting versus stretching out.

It just seemed like the pre-school was more fun for her. I do know that there were times when the rest of the class would be doing some play type learning activity and Ellie would pick to read a book. She did get the reputation there as being a bit of a nerd. So there is evidence that she needed a more academic approach. But I'm worried. 

I want her to be happy. I want to protect her spine from curving which is why Dave and I are both worried about making sure she is allowed to stretch out  - throughout the day - not just in the afternoon and not just once. I am worried that her AFO's are not being checked enough and she will get another pressure sore. I am worried that some of the basic goals like working on potty training have fallen off the radar. 

What really sucks is the guilt I feel because I am away from her. And I won't be able to sit in with her at school until next week. That is three weeks of just dropping her at the door and letting her fend for herself in a new situation that I am finding it very hard to get any insight into. It's like pulling teeth to get information from the new crew in the new class.  I am sure my lack of comfort with the new situation is due to the imbalance of information I have about her day compared to the huge number of questions I have. 

I guess I am learning what I am teaching my class and what I talk to my clients about all the time - people will support change that they help to create. I see how this works in reverse. We were told that Ellie would be moving up. It definitely was not our idea. It didn't feel like we had any say. We could have fought it but any parent knows how stressful fighting their kid's school is.  And we trust her new school. They have been so good for her and good to us. That is also part of the reason we were caught off guard with by having concerns about a situation that seemed flawless for the past year and a half. 

So maybe I am just resisting the change because I can no longer imagine every bit of Ellie's day and feel that she is safe?  I have lost that competency for now and have to make new relationships with the new crew - which seems really difficult when I am working so much and their personalities are so different from the old crew who were markedly outgoing and information giving.

The good news is, I think Ellie is managing well.  She has not been exhibiting any of the behaviors she does when things are really bad. She doesn't wake up screaming. She is not extra clingy. She did cry the first week each day at points. I assume out of frustration in the process of having to get to know new people and being exposed to new things. And fair play to the new team for letting us know. I assume she has not cried since.   I think too I am extra protective of her because of her rough start in life. I think she has suffered enough and I want her days, every day to be good - really good. I know that is not realistic but I will certainly try to realize that goal for her as long as I am breathing. 

On the up side she has taken to working on the school's computers - which she would not touch last year (though she would touch our laptops at home the big ones at school made her upset) and that is huge progress. She seems really attached to the new teacher and teacher's aids. She seems happy.  And she is tired at the end of her day - which I hope is a good kind of tired - the kind of tired you get when you have been engaged in interesting activities and fun. But I just am not 100% sure - and that bugs me!

Still trying to find the balance and looking for the new comfort zone in all this change.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

First Day In New Class...ummm... two days ago

I screwed up. I didn't take a picture of her on her first day in her new grade/class/etc. She was so cute too in her new stretchy/comfy jeans and pink Lucky Peace and Love t-shirt and pig tails. I cut her hair just a bit  - it was down to her bum. I asked her if she liked her long hair and she said no (alright, I asked her about 5 times to be sure and each time no, no, no). So I cut 4 inches off. He hair is now down to her shoulder blades and allot lighter on her head such that her cutie-pie pigtails are back. 

By the end of her first day she was making the Peace sign to all who would see (using her right hand to hold up her two fingers on her left) - yes that is way too heartbreaking cute. I am sure someone there read her shirt and showed her how to make the peace sign which made the peace sign way too cool to be ignored and there you have it. 

Overall she is doing great with the transition. It's been a slower start than we expected. And the first day Ellie communicated via picture symbols that overall she was bored. And there have been a few bumps like the fact that her new classroom is about the size of my closet (which is way too small for a kid that needs to be on the floor to stretch out and roll, etc.) and not very wheelchair accessible. But in true "new school" style they are fixing it by this Friday with parental help. Yes, new school still rocks, still listens to us, and still cares about our Little Miss.

Today Ellie's new teacher surprised me. She showed me a sheet of images and words that Ellie had created by herself on the computer. She said, "Ellie worked on the computer today." And I replied, "Oh, did she actually touch the computer?"  Teacher looked at me like I was daft and said, "Yes! She loved it, she did this!" Showing me the sheet again.

I was happily amazed. Ellie loves my computer and Dave's. We have the missing keys to prove it. But last year when various people attempted to get her to work on "their" computers, school computers she acted like touching them was the scariest thing you could ever ask a person to do. There was, let's just say, a great deal of resistance to that idea.

So get over me why don't you. Once again warrior princess make a giant leap forward without telling me! That is such a good problem to have (not really a problem even if I appear idiotic to people who only know the latest version of Ellie and don't remember all the other versions because they weren't there).

We are on Ellie 007 I think! She is like a bond girl these days. This morning before school she insisted on going in her Pony. She immediately went over to the chair with Dave's (turned off lap top) and wanted to open it. Right, because if she's in the Pony her videos should be playing on the lap top in that room and on the TV in the other. It's a party to be in the Pony after all and the right atmosphere is necessary. She is very inspired to take big steps for kisses and hugs when she reaches me. That is the cutest thing ever, other than the other cutest thing ever I just told you about. 

I am impressed by how she is taking consecutive steps. She really understands the whole one foot in front of the other thing. She is such a hard worker and so determined. It seems like with all this activity and all these new brain waves, as they say in Ireland for epiphanies, she is having that we finally have the med balance right. One that allows her brain to relax so she can sleep which she has for two nights in a row (yes calling the Mockas...) and having enough energy during the day to rock out in her Pony and impress everyone with her vocabulary.

I can't promise any pics for the next 3 days. Tomorrow I teach my first live graduate school class and again on Saturday and Sunday and the rest of September is going to be a blur between the teaching all month and my consulting days. I love my work but I miss Ellie when work takes me a way from her either mentally, physically or both. I wish we were independently wealthy and all I had to do was take care of her. And I feel bad that she is in this big transition without me right there by her side as much as I was last year. I just miss her in general. It's been awhile since I have been flat out with this #$%^& course. What was I thinking? It's a love / hate thing for sure with my work. Sigh. Time for sleep.