Not a Tween

GBandKyra

When they were younger

GB has been friends with a neurotypical girl since they were three. They went to nursery school together, took swim lessons together, attended the same gymnastic class. They loved dress-up and dancing. They took hip hop and went roller skating. Our families took day trips to water parks, overnight trips to Six Flags. The girls went to Sesame Street Live, Disney on Ice and a Selena Gomez concert together. There were barbeques, parties, and high tea. Our families grew so close that we went on a cruise together last summer and swam with the dolphins. We go to dinner with them most weeks.

Over the years, the girls progressed from coloring sheets we brought to entertain them, through dolls, craft projects, singing Kidz Bop, to Double This, Double That and Mary Mack. Both girls will be ten in less then two months. Double digits at last. Nothing stays the same, but sometimes you don’t notice the little changes as they happen. When you do notice them, it is all at once and the glare can catch you by surprise as it momentarily blinds you.

At dinner last night, it caught up with me. GB’s BFF was a Tween and GB was painfully left behind. BFF received a Kindle Fire for Christmas. She kept to herself, absorbed in the wonders of the internet. GB had made them bracelets and  BFF refused to take it. GB tried to connect with her and couldn’t. She was sure she had done something wrong and tried to make it right. It hurt to watch. Eventually, I brought GB by me and just held her.

On the way home, I cried silently. GB is unable to be a tween. With her developmental delays, it won’t be happening anytime soon. Like most mothers, when she hurts, I hurt.

Laying in bed together, GB asked me what awful thing she had done to make BFF not like her anymore. I told her she had not done anything awful, but was unable to explain what happened so that GB understood it. I can’t change it. I can’t take the hurt away.

Friday nights at Friendly’s was an enjoyable era that may be coming to a close.

Back to School

girls

Today was the girls’ first day back to school after winter break. GB started her new class in her new school. They take different buses, but leave and arrive within a couple of minutes of each other. After they were safely on the bus, I began to worry- serious worry that consumed my mind and left no room for everything else.

It is hard to send any child into a new school situation in the middle of the year. It is even harder when that child has disabilities that make communication difficult for them. My primary goal is that she feel competent at school and finds joy on occasion. I still want her to learn as much as she is capable of learning. I do not want to put limits on the future of a child who hasn’t turned 10 yet.

GB came home with a smile, one page of homework, and lots of things to share. Day 1 went well. Hope came of the bus whining and complaining and pure attitude. She struggled through homework and when it was bath time, she lost it. She didn’t come back. The bottom line on Hope is that she still is not safe. Her psychiatrist is suppose to come back this month.The medication she is on does not cut it. We meet with her new therapist Friday. I am hoping she will lead us in a new direction.

My moment of the day: laying in bed with GB, working on a word search puzzle. She is a very visual kid and is good  at them. We enjoy them together and it doesn’t hurt her vocabulary or spelling skills.

Good Bye 2012

2012 was a long year and I am not sorry to see it go. My health reared up and demanded attention. I lost my focus with Hope, lost it in a sea of attachment. I forgot I was trying to make Hope an integral part of my family. I let others take the lead with Hope. I have never done that with one of my kids.

I thought I was improving my relationship with Mk, but it was superficial. She still hates me and thinks I hate her. I have been married almost 35 years and this year I came closer to divorce then ever before.

There were mixed events. I got to know GB’s needs much better. The cost? I had to face how much damage alcohol exposure prenatally did to her. My pain has steadily increased, but I discovered acupuncture provided relief. I dared to reach out to new friends. It is a much better way to live, but it sometimes results in pain.

There were a couple of blessings. Jimmy came back into our lives. I have three new grandchildren and became a great grandmother for the first time. We found a team of four therapists to work with our family.

2013 holds the joy and promise of healing and a new start.

GB’s Wish List

Christmas_tree_02_svg

GB’s wish list is tacked to our refrigerator:

  • a doll with eyes that open and close
  • a tea set for pretend tea parties
  • a coin purse to color
  • a pad and paper for drawing
  • a diamond ring

My kids do not watch anything with commercials. All of GB’s friends are very specific with their wishes. This time of year I really appreciate GB’s social immaturity. I haven’t had to set foot inside a box store yet.

It Is the Little Things…

I have decided that at this time, in this place, for GB, happiness is more important than being educated. The decision made at last week’s CSE was that her class was working at a level and speed GB was not capable of handling. The decision was unanimous. She

IMG_0917will do a thirty day trial, in a new class, starting January 2, 2013.

The Dad and I met the teacher and observed the class. It is officially called the “Multiple Needs” class. The new teacher went to GB’s class yesterday and spent an hour. GB liked her. GB visits the class for three hours tomorrow.

It was agreed at the meeting,  since GB was leaving, and the work was beyond her, Mr. Teacher was not going to place any demands on her. Sounds straight forward enough. Unambiguous.

GB has missed every recess because of incomplete work. That is four days straight. I have called him, emailed him, and wrote in her notebook. Finally, today I sent an email to Mr.Teacher and copied the principal and the Director of Special Education and told them that the next time she missed recess would be her last day in that class room. The principal and Director of Special Education are unhappy, although it wasn’t clear who they were unhappy with.

GB is looking forward to her new class. For now, that is good enough for me.

Stunned

We went to GB’s CSE today. I showed up with my printed agendas, not knowing what I wanted. The people around the table read my agenda and unanimously agreed with everything on it. It seems that the state changed the requirements and what GB’s class is doing is driven by state requirements and totally unrelated to what they did the two good years she had in the class. The bottom line is GB’s IQ of 71. They want to move her out of the academic track into a life skills class- for kids who will not be able to earn a diploma. We agreed on a 30 day trial to start January 2, 2013. GB will transition over the next three weeks. She will change to a third school. change teachers and aides and all service providers.

I am sad, close to tears and over the top angry. GB has to make yet another transition, my baby is being labeled mentally handicapped, and it is all because her birthmother couldn’t be bothered to deal with life without alcohol.

Happy Verses Educated

The girls brought home report cards this week. Hope’s report card had some good news academically. Hope is not on target to meet any of her social/emotional goals. GB is hard working and a pleasure to have in class. The academic information I expect in a report card wasn’t there.

The same old debate started in my head before I even realized where it was going. It is a debate I have carried out, by myself, for every child we ever had. How much is an education worth? When is the price too high?

I have never been able to answer the first question and it is only in recent years I have started to answer the second.  For my daughters, I have temporary answers that may change. Given GB’s abilities, I want her to keep working hard and do the best she can. I do not want her pushed so much that she is chronically frustrated. Hope’s abilities are much different than GB’s. Ultimately, I see no limits as to how far she can go. Right now, however, academics aren’t making the radar. Hope’s behavioral and emotional challenges have to be addressed first. Then she will be ready to learn.

If you have a child with any kind of special needs, I would love to hear how you feel and why.