Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Look Out, Mom's Loosin' It

November 14, 2006 (8yrs 1 month)

Leo had a great birthday (10/15). His father and I didn’t even have to speak about what was going on inside our minds. We are so proud of him! Now that he’s 8, we’ve graduated to the small party of good friends. Phew! I sat back and admired his friends. And they are good friends! Not just one, my only hope for him at one point, but several. They are complex, well-rounded kids that are each different in their own right. His hard work is never forgotten. Every day I remember where we came from. It’s hard to believe that just 6 years ago he was officially diagnosed with PDD-NOS and just 2 years ago he was therapy-free going to typical kindergarten.

Leo continues to enjoy school. He still much prefers his 1st Grade teacher, even after 3 months. I’d have to agree. She’s friendly and funny, but not warm. Does that even make sense? On his birthday we brought in Yankee cups full of fresh fruit. Yes, I’m “one of those moms”, those fruit bearing moms that Kristina Chew references on Autismland. Ha ha! Here are a few examples of her lack of warmth and enthusiasm. Is she burned out? Has she lost that lovin’ feeling? You decide...

As snack time was approaching, Mrs. P said to Leo, “well, I guess we can do your birthday now to get it over with”. She also sent the snack trays home with Leo on the bus after I sent a note saying I’d pick them up. She said to Leo “I’m tired of them being in the classroom”.

During a field trip to a beach, not once in the 6 hour span did I see her take joy in seeing the children discover new things. “Hey look what I found Mrs. P!” was rarely said. They got her number. Of course they all circled like flies around me and the other chaperone moms on the trip. With wonder, they all screamed, giggled, and ran around with excitement. Some had never seen a jelly fish or a crab, let alone hold one.

Many talks later, I have to believe that Leo is telling me the truth – her words aren’t hurtful. “I’m fine, Mom. I don’t care, Mom.” And then it’s the old catch 22, should I worry it DOESN’T bother him? Or maybe it does but he’s concealing it? He’s gotten quite good at acting these days....
R>He likes Mrs. P but doesn’t LOVE her like his old teacher. He’s happy. I have to believe him. I told him we have options, but he declined all of them. I’m going to “say something” during the conference on Friday, but I’m not exactly sure what. I want to scream “look lady, hundreds of thousands of dollars, countless hours later, Leo has excellent self-esteem and confidence . If you fuck it up because you can’t muster a fake “happy birthday”, your dead”. I know I’m evil! Today I felt those panicky old feelings creep up again as I saw Leo’s report card lying in his home folder. My head was swimming, the vacation is over. I started making plans to get his old ABA team back in my head. I began practicing my spiel for the kids and the moms why Leo is no longer free for play dates and now needs a shadow again. I began practicing my 2nd grade definition of Autism. I felt cold. I finally opened it and I could barely see the print. I was so freaked out! Finally, there it was parked under the heading “Personal Development”. It jumped out like an old friend does. Self Control. And next to it a -. A minus which means “needs improvement, not where it should be”. Nothing else noteworthy, just that. I should be throwing Leo a party. Handwriting, reading, math, everything else with a positive mark. No need for what I was thinking. I’m the worst mommy in the world for thinking like that. I suspect it’s the same challenge as 1st grade – it’s the calling out, talking out of turn like last year. And thus it begins, the agonizing countdown till Friday when I have my parent/teacher conference.

Same thing, different year and teacher. Will she realize that Leo is different? Will it make a difference? What will her version of the executive functioning deficit be? What will Self Control mean to Mrs. P? Will she guess he has a disability? Will the jig be up and he’ll be treated like a toddler?

We’ve had quite a few days off due to professional days and holidays. Leo prefers going to school instead of being home those days. Weird? I don’t know. For a child that likes routine and likes seeing his best friend in class rather than staying home, unstructured, with his little sister....sounds predictable. He was a little bored, whiny, and irritable. He relishes his weekends which is pretty much the same thing, other than the fact that Dad is home too. It does bother me and makes me question his schedule.

Leo’s little sister swallowed her first pill, a B vitamin. Still a challenging task for him. What I loved was his response. He came into the kitchen and watched Sydney and me jumping up and down. He looked at her and smiled while watching her “moment”. A few minutes later, I offered that he could try swallowing pills now if he wanted to, and he declined. He said “No....I’m just a little jealous, that’s all”.

What a big kid – he signed for a UPS box.

I know I’ve jumped around a bit, but that’s how it is for today. Lot’s of stuff floating around in my head aching to get out. Stay tuned – only 42 hours until the conference!


mcewen said...

It sounds as if you 'Leo' is not unlike mine, if only because their mums are close to the edge.
Best wishes

Kristina Chew said...

Happy Birthday Leo! (a bit late, I am afraid) Looks like his teacher has a lot of learning herself to do, and some fine teachers.