Sunday, November 16, 2014

With Me in Ways Great and Small

There's a lot going on.

I guess it's best to start with the big guy in high school. Inclusion is a mixed experience, at best. He went to his first high school formal and stayed the whole time. The downside is that he didn't have a posse to hang with. The upside is that he is comfortable enough with himself for it not to matter. Much.

We had a teachable moment Friday night. I signed him up to do concession stand for the high school play. When I texted mom in charge to ask when and where we were needed, I was told that Nic wasn't needed, so don't come.

Yeah. No.  I texted back that he wanted to do it, and we would happily see them later.

Except I'm not happy. I'm pissed. She specifically asked me who this was "because I can totally free you up."

Meaning: "If you aren't in/cool/one of us, no, thank you."

We get there early. I tell Nic he gets ice cream regardless. He walks in and balks, because he feels the cold front. I nudge him ahead. I can tell from his uncertain glances that he gets the vibe and is not happy. I shrug with my mouth, he squares his shoulders, and sits tight among the chatty girls who pointedly ignore him and the crazy stage mom who is watching him and the money box like a hawk.

When intermission breaks, it all changes.

Crazy mom is otherwise engaged and becomes the mayor of the table. The girls socialize.  And Nic springs into action, engaging customers, explaining choices, and making change like no one's business.

In short, a lot of good stuff happens because he's back there.

And mom couldn't thank me effusively enough for bringing him. I exude gratitude in giving him the opportunity but am BEYOND fuming because it should not have been this difficult for either Nic or me to make this happen.

So Nic got his sundae and all was well in the world.

We had a sleepover at the Franklin last night. G was sick, so Nic went in his place. Six years ago, it was the two of us at the same place for the same reason. And I needed to go because I was running it.

Honestly, I did not want to go. I find everything hard lately. I was afraid of the drive in to the city, even though I've done it a million times. I was afraid I wouldn't find parking. I was afraid of a lot of little things. That's what happens when I get tired of fighting all my battles. I get afraid. And everything as a consequence becomes hard for me.

When things become hard for me, God makes them easier. A quick, scenic route appeared in my head, and I took it. Nic chatted and obliged when I asked him to stop if I became too overwhelmed. And amazingly, I pulled into the Franklin's garage, and a spot opened, right in front of the elevator bank at street level. Such a little thing, but such a big deal for some one like me who gets overwhelmed over the dumbest of things.

Everyone eventually showed up, and Nic and I, as we did last time, went off on our own. He had a happy, fabulous time.  And I was happy to share it with him.

We ate breakfast and departed ahead of everyone else. I enjoyed the quiet ride home and beautiful foliage along Kelly Drive (Nic remained unimpressed until I told him we'd stop off at Dunkin Donuts on the way home). Gabriel greeted us happily and was thankful for his donut.

Church--brings me to a strange place, as we were seated behind a small boy who reminded me of someone Nic attended special preschool with. All the sudden, I was 12 years ago and doubled up in tears. The past tends to double me over when I least expect it. And I see myself and another mom, now almost decade ago in a focus group with tough-looking moms. Our boys are in K--theirs are in high school, in outside placements. When I voice my (positive) experience, one mom with short spiky blond hair, hard eyes and a leather jacket eyed me coldly and asked "Are we in the same school district?" The other moms laughed.   I just met her cold gaze and wondered to myself how she got this way.

Ten years later, I totally understand how she got that way. By breaking down walls with her bare hands and wading through solid concrete up to hips for great distances. By sitting in countless meetings. By sending endless texts and emails, begging, pleading, then demanding on behalf of her child. By refusing to be ignored. By screaming "I AM" when people do their level best to ignore that you are. And that your kids are.

By making sure your kids get the bare minimum that the rest of their peers are entitled to by dint of their being like everyone else.

Oddly, I am not hardened by any of this.

But I do acknowledge that I am broken.

And somehow, despite that, I go on. Because my job in this world is my children, and God has entrusted them to me. To that end, He ensures that what needs doing, gets done.

His will be done. He knows I have none of my own anymore.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Write Now!

I literally do not have anything to do right now but write.

And it's beyond time for an update.  My boys have settled into the rhythms of their school years; my older one is now talking about going stag to the coronation dance. I worry about who he's going to hang out with or if he'll find anyone to hang out with.  My younger boy brought home his safety patrol sash and proudly announced that he is directing the third graders during dismissal.

And mom is in the process of letting go of all the volunteer stuff. This next chapter of our lives challenges us all, and I can't afford distractions. Alas, the world is full of them.

This summer, we had more outings and get-togethers with friends than we ever had before. And the best part was that we didn't have to explain anything to anyone--we just went out and had a great time. And had a whole bunch of great times.

While I hammer out what the remainder of G's religious education program is going to look like, AS at the high school has taken note of all Nic's growth over the last six months and is pushing him to the next level. And G's AS works toward giving him the tools he needs to conquer middle school next year. Already, Nic's parted the sea for little brother, but little brother will still have to paddle his own way.

Speaking of sea, G surprised us all this summer by literally diving into the ocean. He used to be afraid of the waves, but this year, he's developed a healthy respect for the size and strength of the ocean alongside genuine enjoyment. We also re-discovered his preschool music teacher, who now visits us in the house once a week and works with Gabriel on singing, piano, and occasionally, guitar. (He still plays the trombone. Summer POPs was, at best, a mixed experience for him).

And we're supposed to sell popcorn. But I can't think about that right now.

And Nic's made a bundle metal detecting. He's becoming a pretty apt businessman, also.  Between snow shoveling and various scientific studies, he's doing better than I ever did baby sitting at his age.

I don't know what the future holds for either of them. But they have each other, and they have us.

And that's a good start.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Persistence

At what point does one give up?

I'm locked in a constant search to find something--anything--my kids  can do. In some ways, it's been easier to find stuff for G. He's never been the behavior issue his brother is/has been. But having said that, he's quieter, he tends to disappear in his own head, so people tend to overlook him.

Unless of course I've drawn attention to him.

I sign him up for things, often against his will. After all, he'd be on the computer all the time if I didn't.

But I have to be prepared for the downside of that.

He's a sweet, goofy, lovable kid who digs in and keeps going no matter what.

Maybe it's time to define 'what.'

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Navigating Heartbreak

My older son is now a high school student.

His nervousness was palpable as he filed in with his classmates to the high school auditorium yesterday morning. His shoulders hunched a little less when he glimpsed me and his dad in the crowd. And they squared as he mounted the podium to shake hands with the school board.
And he is quite the young man, now.  He sought our eyes a few times over the course of the ceremony. It was long(ish). And hot. And crowded. But he made it through, just like the rest of his peers. 

After the ceremony, dad and I surfed the crowd, looking for him. Outside, I found B and his mom. I congratulated them both, and as I chatted with them, I was acutely aware that they were both distinctly uncomfortable talking to me. So smiling, I turned away and looked for my men. 

A little later on, we went to a local eatery to celebrate, the three of us. And there were quite a few of Nic's classmates there, in groups. And there was my son with his folks. They poked each other and pointed. Nic did not notice.  All Nic noticed was that he got to sit at the bar with the adults with his burger and seltzer. And he wished his friend went to the same school as him. 

I'm not sure what my point is. I am elated beyond belief that he was promoted at his home school with his peers.

OTOH, I had my husband kicking me at different times during the ceremony. Like when the girl giving the send off speech said that in the seventh grade, you might change friends.

"If you have friends to start with," I muttered. Kick one.

And the part about sorting through Bar/Bat Mitzvah memorabilia:

"Assuming you were invited to any," I muttered. Kick two.

I forget what the third one was about, but you get my drift. 

So, my son has made massive gains this year because of inclusion. But he still remains socially isolated. And I worry this will continue. Don't get me wrong--I love, respect, and admire all the teachers and staff that have helped get him to where he is now.

But I can't ignore the fact that he has no friends in this place.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Finding the quiet

So, older son graduates 8th grade from his home middle school tomorrow. Younger son moves one year closer to middle school.

I've been so overwhelmed by the demands of daily live that it really takes some enforced down time to understand the magnitude of this accomplishment.

And realize how daunting the gauntlet ahead is.

This summer will be spent preparing for 9th grade--literally and figuratively. We need to get our house in order and we need a plan.  Up until now, the plan has been rather fluid, since my expectations have required adjustment and re-adjustment over the years.

Now,  we need plans A-Z--and maybe beyond. My recent employment history has given me a great deal of experience strategizing for various events and outcomes. These things have only been practice for the real thing.

It's go time.

Now is the time to prepare for the rest of his life.

God speed us on our way.

Monday, May 12, 2014

(R)evolution(s)

Fledging is as good a place as any to begin.

After years of attending the church of "Let's Fling This Against the Wall and See What Sticks," my boys have a fairly good idea of where they excel, what they like, and how they want to spend their time. Recently, G told me he didn't want to go to campover 'because it will ruin my weekend plans.'

Up until this point, I didn't realize my 10-year-old was making plans.  So I asked him what he had in mind. And he laid out a fairly complex and well-thought-out itinerary that quite frankly blew my mind. It included the camp-out, but it also included a pasta dinner, bowling league, and the rest of the weekend as it played out. And it was quite reasonable, so I amended our plans accordingly.

And much to my surprise, my 10-year-old boy's plans yielded an enjoyable weekend for us all.

I think this is where my previous entry, about things coming to an end, comes into play. When you stop forcing things to happen, there is room for other, wonderful things. Although we are not quite where I expected we would be by now, I couldn't have planned for some of experiences that have come about--marvelous opportunities and times for both of them.  They have had opportunities to chose, and make choices, and make the most of those choices.

In some ways, both of them are testing their wings. And finding strength each of them never realized he had before. It's wonderful and terrifying, all at once. I am awed and humbled as they both learn to take flight.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Shutting down

A friend of mine talked to me many months back about shutting down, taking things off her plate, getting ready for a big change.  "How do you know when it's time to pack it all in?" I asked her at the time.

"You just know."

Much like the answer my brother gave me to the question, now decades ago, "How do you know who Mr./Ms. Right is for you?"

"You just know."

He was right.  And my friend is right, too. I find myself in the peculiar place of knowingly ending some things, and readying up, preparing for something. What? I don't know. I just find that some things that need to be said are coming out, sometimes unbidden.  Things that I used to worry about now seem to be answered with "So what?"

The busi(y)ness of this year actually camouflaged an eerie calm. I can see the surface of our lives glass-clear under the sun. But I see red skies on the horizon, and any good sailor knows that you'd better pay attention to those skies in the morning.

I don't know what's ahead; I only know it's time to get things in order.