What I want for Christmas

listIn 1989, when my two oldest were six and four, we instituted a family tradition. Everyone was welcome to have a wish list and talk about what was on it. There were a maximum of five items per list. If an item wasn’t on your list, you could not mention that item. You were welcome to add it to your list, but since there was a maximum of five items on a list, you would have to cross something out. The first couple of years, our lists had a lot of cross outs on them. Then, as our lists went from being new to being a family tradition, the kids adapted. Lists could be maintained year round and much thought went into deciding if they wanted something badly enough to put it on the list.

In keeping with family tradition, here is my list:

1. I want gun laws, similar to those in Japan. I know I can’t stop people from killing other people, but that would at least slow them down.
2. I want every child to have all the physical and mental care they need as a  right.  Perhaps the right to lifers would help me on this one.

3. I want education at all levels to be given more money and thought than weapons and wars get. Then the powers to be would make sure education was funded and effective.

4. I want the world to slow down. I want relationships to be purposeful and valued.

5. I want all children to be an integral part of this world. I want  all children to be nurtured and loved for who they are. Kindness would be a valued characteristic.

6. I want to be healthy enough to enjoy my littles until they are grown. I am innately a rule follower, so I will stick with my five most important wishes.

I do realize nobody gets everything they want… but it would be… a really good Christmas.

Happy Versus Educated: Part II


The comments on my last post left me much to think about. Thank you to each person who took the time to share their thoughts. I realized my first post was incomplete. There are children who have special needs and are being educated and are happy. This is not the situation I find myself in. However, I should have stated that this decision is not one that  all parents of children with special needs face.

I have a meeting tomorrow with Hope’s school, but it is not consuming my energy. Hope has been as volatile and hard to contain at school as she has been at home. In true RAD form, she has been trying to triangulate between us and her school. This is one of those periodic check in meetings to try and contain the manipulative behavior.

Wednesday the CSE is for GB. GB’s situation is different. GB is never a problem for the school and always works hard. I expected this to be an easy year. Even though she changed schools, she brought her teacher, aides, and support services from the old school. The new school is the neighborhood school, with all the social opportunities that implies. The only note of warning in the background was GB’s state test scores from last spring. They were as low as they could be. The committee assured me that the tests did not really measure what was learned. Having been in the education field for so many years, I knew the one thing these tests were good for was to predict who would be able to pass the exams in high school and earn a diploma. When I said that out loud, nobody could disagree with me.

This year GB’ teacher  has structured things differently. GB is still in a class with seven other students, two aides, and Mr. Teacher. This year, all eight students are doing Saxon fourth grade math. It replaced the Touch Math GB used the previous two years. Saxon has a spiraling curriculum, which means that they cover a little bit of everything each year, each year going into more detail. At the moment, they are doing two step patterns, place value, fractions and multiplication with regrouping. GB struggles with simple repeating patterns, does not understand that for fractions to work, the pieces have to be the same size, and was working on multiplication facts with Touch Math. Since the class is doing math as a group, GB is lost much of the time. The whole group is working on fourth grade spelling. GB comes home with spelling exercises where she can read less than half the words on the list. Homework is taking eighty minutes a night, when GB is cooperative and focused. GB’s anxiety level is through the roof.

GB is a fourth grader this year, but the aides still require ice cream money and school store money to come in a labeled, sealed envelope- a requirement none of the other fourth grades have and one she doesn’t need.

CSE meetings only go well when I can tell them exactly what I want and why. I have no answers going into this meeting. I only know they better be expecting Mama Bear.

Therapy to Rider

GB had hippo-therapy years ago. She absolutely loved it. I wasn’t sure how much benefit GB was getting out of it, but the joy on her face kept me schlepping the hour and a half round trip every week. Then my mom got sick, and there was no time any more. A love of horses had been planted.

GB found the television show “The Saddle Club” about girls in Australia who loved to ride and hung out at a stable. It was on PBS and she saw every episode dozens of times. This year her reading advanced enough that she started reading the books. We were looking for outside the home activities that would engage her. She asked to go back to horseback riding. Hippo-therapy was not as good a match. GB adapts much better to new ideas than she did back then and after watching “The Saddle Club”, that is the experience she wanted. She had also ridden a horse on the beaches of Grand Turk when she was six (by herself, but with difficulty) and taken trail rides at a resort when she was eight (easily).

With much angst, we decided to let her try to fit into the world she wanted so badly. We signed her up for an assessment at the local stable. The instructor sent her into the stable to tell the girls she needed “Sally”. The girls took her to Sally, who was a chestnut horse. They showed her two different kinds of grooming brushes, how to use them, and helped her groom the horse. The girls showed GB where Sally’s pad, saddle, and tack were kept and how to put them on. GB led Sally back to the ring and her trial lesson began. She listened carefully to what the instructor did. She remembered lot of what she had learned when she was younger and beamed the whole lesson.

GB will be a riding student at the local stable- just one of the girls. I am praying it works out… she wants it so much.

Petite Fours

Hope finished her dinner extraordinarily quickly last night. The Dad took her upstairs to bath her and once she was in the tub, threw the dress she had been wearing downstairs to the laundry room. He never checked Hope’s pockets. Ellie (GB’s dog) went gaga and tore the dress apart. Hope had put her steak from dinner in the dress pocket so she could have dessert. 
Up until that point, it had been a reasonably  quiet day. The girls had wanted to make Petite Fours, like the ones served at High Tea. I cut a pound cake into 21 little cakes. I frosted 5 sides of each little cake. The girls gathered all the sprinkles, colored sugars and candies they could find. They decorated each little cake and were very proud of the results.
I would have included a picture of them admiring their work, but by the time I  got around to it, Ellie had eaten the meat out of Hope’s pocket and Hope was already in bed. Maybe next time.

Follower of Christ

We went to church today. Hope is still stuck, but life won’t wait for ever. The sermon started by asking why “they” were holding hands and celebrating as “they” walked down the street because “their” law passed and Christians were nowhere to be found. I missed most of the rest of the sermon because I stayed stuck right there. This quote came to mind:

I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.

Mohandis Ghandi

As I watched everybody clapping and yelling “halleluiah”  in response to the images of Christians taking to the streets to proclaim God’s rejection of same sex relationships, I felt detached. Why would this image be something to celebrate? I looked around at other church members. The ones who were loudest and most in agreement are the same ones who have no tolerance for Hope. The same ones who went after MK last summer. These are the people who are sure they are going to heaven, even if nobody else is. Their love is confined to those most like them. They show no compassion. The amount of righteousness in the room was suffocating.

I came back to the sermon towards the end. The pastor was telling the people that they should proclaim what God is to them any time and any where the Spirit moves them. I was about to ask if that applied in the middle of a sermon, when my friend behind me grabbed my shoulder and told me the pastor wasn’t talking to me.

He probably wasn’t. Maybe followers of Christ need a new name. “Christian” seems to be already taken.