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So shortly after writing my last post, I was called to pick up Aaron from school because he was inconsolably crying.  The counselor, with her knowing voice, assured me it was the Adderall, and she’s seen it happen many times with kids on the drug.  Well, I’m not that sure.  I’m also probably reeeeeally hoping it’s not.

Other factors:

he still might have an ear infection (going to doc today)

he just had a visit with bio-fam the day before

he only had the Koolaid and piece of candy in his lunch right before his outburst

and/or he was tired.

So, right, realistically, it’s all of those plus the meds.  Even before he started the med, he’d been having trouble going to sleep without crying, but he usually was easily comforted and fell asleep quickly afterwards.  Lately though (like the last two weeks, so still before the med), it’s become 30+ minutes of loud wailing, and more than an hour in bed before he falls asleep.

And I suspect, knowing how much he loves adult attention, he had no reason to stop crying, what with the nurse, the counselor and his teacher all fawning over him.  Plus he got to go to the nurse’s office and they called me at home! What excitement – I’m sure he was eating it up.  In fact, on the way home, when I told him he had to stop crying if he wanted to watch a movie at home, he stopped it right then and there.  Hmmmm.  Not to say he was faking the whole thing, but….

So if I can get the staff to semi-ignore him if it happens again, maybe just send him down to the sensory room, hopefully we can nip this in the bud.

 

 

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Love the spelling!

Aaron has been on an ADD med for 6 days now.  I’ve never had a kid on meds, believe it or not.  I was nervous at first, but as we waited for the prescription, I started to become more optimistic.  He’s got so many other issues, medical and otherwise, that taking away at least a small part of his problems seemed only fair.

So, I’m trying not to read too much into it, but he has seemed calmer over the past few days.  After school, he sat at the table on his own initiative and started cutting and pasting schoolwork.  And after dinner, he sat down with me and focused on writing practice with no problems!  I won’t say he’s like a new boy, because he still has lots of annoying habits and deficiencies that no med can fix, but it almost makes me cry to see him able to work like he did last night.

(That sentence above was a fill in the blank – I had him write “I like to get” and he spelled Reese’s Pieces by himself.)

We’ve realized Aaron does not understand addition or subtraction.  He can count objects up to 10 pretty well, but he doesn’t get even the concept of adding one.

OH MAN.

I’d hate to be the person teaching him math.

Oh wait, I am one of those people.

Actually, it’s a four-letter acronym.  ADHD.

First of all, let me repeat how weird and varied Aaron’s neurological symptoms are.  They seem to have affected him cognitively, socially, physically, and every -ly you can think of, but there’s no one diagnostic box he fits in.  And I finally saw his developmental eval from last year – they ruled out a lot.

On top of that, in the past six months, seven discrete entities have reported to his pediatrician on his behavior/symptoms, often times conflicting one another.

All I can say is Aaron’s behavior is NOT disrupting our home to a substantial degree.  He has his issues (clumsiness, repetitive questions, slow learning) but our household is not on edge because of them.  We have and will continue to handle his challenges no sweat.  His teacher also agrees that his behavior at school is NOT an issue.  And actually, his teacher, with 30+ years of experience, doesn’t even think he has ADHD.  I trust this teacher a lot too.

The ADHD initial consult was with his mom and dad.  If they reported to the doctor the kinds of behavior I’ve been hearing about from their household, there’s no doubt the doctor would prescribe something.  So now I get to find out if he’s going to stick with his diagnosis OR admit the initial problem might have been parenting and environment.

And if the doctor insists on prescribing something, I get to find out how much discretion foster parents get in refusing treatment.   Luckily, I think the caseworker leans more toward not medicating him unless necessary.

Well, there’s nothing like a long sleep to help with grief.

I’m feeling a little more energized, perhaps because the house is a HUGE mess.  I suppose I should actually clean up a little of that mess before I write of directing my energy at it.  Or maybe I’m just using visualization to help me get started?

I’ve been really behind in my blog reader, so as I’ve been slowly catching up on my foster blogs, I’ve read a lot of grieving stories.  It surely does help to know I’m not the only one profoundly affected by the little ones who float in and out of our lives.

So anyway, for memory’s sake, I do want to actually get a little bit about the boys down on paper, er, screen.

Steve was 7, very very quiet, tall and gangly.  Alex was 5, more mischievous and more talkative.  He did have a speech impediment though, so I had to ask Steve to interpret a few times, as much as I tried to avoid saddling him with that ‘older brother’ responsibility.

They came from poverty, educational neglect, domestic violence, etc.  The freaky thing we learned later is that their home was less than 2 miles from ours.  We drove by it a few times and while they did notice it, they didn’t act like they missed it either.  They also hardly mentioned their mom or family.  So we made sure to avoid that route anyway, but I was very surprised by their apparent apathy towards their home and family.

The boys settled in no sweat with our kids – they played Brio trains like nobody’s business!  Seriously, would you expect two impoverished black children to know so much about Thomas?  The whole Thomas thing always struck me as very very white.  Anyway, it’s a good thing we have a huge box of tracks and trains.  They spent so many hours playing, especially on that first snow day, and I could tell it helped them feel more comfortable.

They took a few days to get comfortable with me and Husband, especially Steve.  He would lurk around the house, especially the kitchen, looking expectant.  At first, I would ask him if he needed something, which he always said yes to, and then he’d just point at what he wanted.  Often, it was candy, 🙂  (Note to self: finish the Christmas candy sitting around.)  After we’d warmed up to each other, I started ignoring that behavior and requiring him to use words to ask.  He was reluctant, but especially during our last few days together, he talked so much more.  Even his school was reporting he was expressing his feelings and talking more than he had ever before.

And the school – what a complication that might’ve been, although it turned out not to matter.  The boys’ school was about a 10 minute drive away, and I was told after accepting the placement that they would continue to attend that school because the school would provide transportation.  Now, let me say that I am lucky enough to live in one of the best districts in my area, and our elementary school is GREAT.  I was vaguely insulted that they didn’t want the boys to go to our school.

After meeting their teachers and counselors there, I can see why it might’ve been okay to keep them there.  This school showed so much compassion and caring.  The staff definitely went above and beyond what would be expected of them.  If the transportation actually had worked out, and they had stayed with us longer, I guess it would’ve been all right.

BUT the transportation promise turned out to have been a misunderstanding, so I ended up driving them to and from school every day.  Not a really big deal, but it did add 45 – 60 minutes of driving to my day.  I thought I was done with that after Mark and Nikki left!  And if they’d stayed with us?  I like to think I would’ve insisted they transfer to our school, but I know it would’ve been hard on the boys, and what if the caseworker had threatened to move them to another home in the district?  (Not that one was necessarily available, but she still could’ve threatened…)  I’m not sure how I would’ve reacted.  At some point, all that extra driving is unsustainable, but the boys really did have a loving environment at that school.

There’s a LOT more I want to write about their schooling and education, but this would turn into a truly monstrous post.  Also, I guess I really should go do some dishes and work out some of this sadness.  Before the next call comes.

 

In our district, the classrooms have three parties a year, plus teacher gifts, plus each classroom makes a basket for the school auction.  So I know it makes sense for the room parents to ask each family for a donation.

But when I have four children enrolled, three of those classes are asking $10 each, and one of them is asking $15, it starts to get obnoxious.  I know $45 isn’t that much, but most of it is paying for plastic Chinese throw-aways and sugary snacks.

OTC, anyone?

 

 

 

 

 

So since Nikki and Mark are going home by December, would it be petty of me to just send $5 to cover their part of the school year?

(I know what the answer is, and I won’t really send in just $5, but I sure am going to feel huffy sending $10! I’ll be sure to put on my most indignant airs when I put the envelopes in their backpacks.)

Mark’s brought home a dirty joke.  The funny part is, he couldn’t retell it the right way.  I still shut him down from telling the other kids, but since he didn’t seem to understand what liqueur was or that he got the punch line all wrong (it’s supposed to be ketchup, liqueur and rubber buns;  all he remembered was liqueur, ketchup and buns) I’m not too worried about his innocence.  Probably the kids who told him got it right, so he knew it was ‘sexy’, but didn’t understand it enough to retell.

Unfortunately, he did get the ‘hairy pickle’ joke right, knew what it was talking about and managed to tell Nikki before I noticed.

I don’t really care that much; I remember those sorts of jokes from when I was about this age, and boy, were they hilarious.  So I’ve told him I don’t care if his friends tell him jokes about private parts, but if he repeats any of them at home, he is in big trouble.

 

So, I talked to Mark’s teacher.  The gist of Mark’s behavior problem at school is a self-soothing noise he makes.  It’s not constant by any means, and it doesn’t really bother us at home (it does get to me occasionally) but it is definitely something that is distracting the other kids.  So he needs to learn how to refocus it.

Mark’s teacher seemed to be think it was something Mark could control.  I suspected otherwise and his teacher is inexperienced, but I wasn’t comfortable just arguing with him.  (I’m always wary of being the mom who thinks her kid is special and doesn’t need to follow the rules.)  He wanted to set up a behavior plan with me right then on the phone, so I agreed to a 3 strikes sort of plan, but then got right back on the phone with the school’s counselor.

She backed me up that it is a self-soothing measure he can learn to control but in much slower, smaller steps.  She spoke with the teacher and he is going to switch tactics with us, but I hope I didn’t create an awkward situation.  I told him I didn’t want him to feel like I was over-riding him, but rather that I was just looking for ideas.  I don’t know if he believed me, but he acted like it at least.

The kind that say, “Oh! I can’t WAIT til school starts!!”

I do like spending the day with the kids, and sleeping in, and not having homework and official functions to worry about.  (Geez, that makes it sound like I should homeschool…)

But there is a small part of me that is looking forward to cleaning the house without the big four undoing my work within minutes (and that is yet another post unto itself) and running errands with just Baby (who is really now a Toddler and I should rename her).

We met the kids’ teachers this week and got their supplies up to school.  If you mail order Pullups, they come in boxes of 4 packages, so imagine a box that big.  Mark, Daughter and Nikki each had a box that big full to the top with their necessary supplies.  Of course, the two boxes of Kleenex were a big chunk of that space, but still.  It was a lot to carry from the car.  Luckily, Junior just needs a backpack for his first day of kindergarten.  As it should be.

Mark’s teacher is a man, and he’s young, friendly, and he made a good joke with Mark right off the bat (rhyming his first name with something pretty clever) so I think Mark will like him, plus there is at least one boy in his class that he is friends with from last year, and I know this boy is a good kid.  Whew.

Nikki’s teacher seemed pretty friendly, but a lot more ‘entrenched’ – you know, she’s been a teacher for a while, and her friendliness seemed a lot less genuine.  I’m sure she’ll be a fine teacher, and Nikki is pretty happy with most adults, so, eh.  And there are several friends of Nikki’s from last year in her class, including the boy she’s sitting next to, so that makes her really happy.

All in all, the kids are excited to be starting back, and I just hope that enthusiasm can continue through to the second week!  (Once they realize it’s still hot, the pool is still open, and the work is harder than last year.)

In case there was any doubt, Mark did NOT enjoy leaving his Mom yesterday.

And then this morning was his psych eval.  Great.

So as I was trying to get him to school in time for lunch, he was angry and kept doing odd things like telling me not to say his name.  He also wouldn’t tell me what he and the doctor talked about during the eval.  Fair enough, but the name thing was really unlike him.

But I’m nervous that I pushed him too fast back to school.  I do think it’s important for him to be there, but I don’t want to embarrass him if he’s still got emotions to work through.

And then I ran back in to the cafeteria to give him his gloves, and he was sitting all by himself eating lunch.

😦

There were a lot of kids in line still getting their trays, so maybe someone ended up near him, but I now wonder if he’s not exaggerating when he says he eats all alone.

Again,

😦

I know it’s hard being the new kid.  I really want to think of some ways to make it easier for him, but I’m just not sure what.