Friday, December 18, 2009

It's snowing.

Joey pops his little head down the stairs. He's supposed to be in bed, but hey, its officially Christmas Break! There's a big, lit tree in the front hall, ornaments everywhere, excitement abounds! And now we're being hit with a lovely snowstorm!

"It's snowing!" he announces gleefully. He hops down the stairs.
"Whatcha doin', Buddy?" we inquire, the cue to tell us if something is wrong.
"I want kisses!" he informs us. "Two!"

Happy Snow Day.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Why I Love the Child Across the Street

Coming off the bus, his first question is always, "Can I play with Joey and Andy today?"
"Sure," I usually reply. Andy gets off the another bus, because the friend is slightly older, but he and Andy are quite compatible in terms of energy. Andy likes having someone to run off energy with. We wander over to our house together.
"Where's Joey?" He stops, then says, "oh, I forgot, he's on another bus." That is all there is to that, a statement of fact; his friend is missing, he misses him, he wishes Joey present, but will be patient.

"Let's go outside," he announces; the weather is nice, and he wants to be out in it rather than playing with Andy inside. Besides, my glass is up, so he can't bounce in here. Joey wants to watch the Disney Santa laugh, so he doesn't move. Andy tosses on shoes and coat. "Aren't you coming, Joey?" Joey doesn't respond right away, so the child says, "OK, then," and out he goes; as he reaches the door, Joey finally gets the words out, "I want to watch Santa laugh first. When this is over." The child looks slightly disappointed, but responds with another version of "ok, then."

Andy and the child race up and down the sidewalk with trucks, they are actually playing two different games, but the games mesh nicely. Andy then races off forward, is fussing with a tree; the child glances at our van. He has seen it dozens of times before, but suddenly notices my bumper stickers. He reads them aloud.
"What's autism?" he asks.
"Autism is a different way of thinking, having your brain wired a little differently. It causes kids to have different strengths and weaknesses than people expect. Autistic people often have trouble talking or having a conversation, for example."
"Joey is autistic."
"Yeah." He reads another one. "Autism is not a tragedy, ignorance is a tragedy. What does that mean?"
"It means people often don't understand people with autism, or what autism is, and they think it is a bad thing, or they think autistic people are stupid."
"Joey isn't stupid."
"No, he isn't..."
"He's one of the nicest kids I know!" the tone is one of offense; he is upset that anyone would think badly of Joey. I have seen him struggle with trying to include Joey, trying very hard to play with him, talk with him. I have often wondered what this child thinks of my son, since he has seen Joey react in unexpected ways, answer in unexpected ways, or not react or answer at all. Now there is no doubt, the fierce look, the sharp tone, the grim brow tell me everything. This child finds the idea of JOey being "different" to be perfectly acceptable, and people who think less of Joey as being ignorant.

And he's quite right.

I do love that child. He can bounce through my house anytime he pleases.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Pre-holiday Grabbag

The holidays are upon us.

Santa is working hard to find a large dinosaur, hopefully plastic, articulated, and with a roar, and somewhere in the range of $30. Decorations are going up. Tomorrow's plan: clean the kitchen so I can spent the majority of Tuesday. Wednesday, and Thursday baking. Oh, wait, that would be today's plan. Yes, tis the season for insomnia, too.

Also its the end of the semester. It is much like the huge deadlines faced by folks with real jobs. We all call it Hell Week- no, its not the finals that are the problem. Grading is no problem. The student whining, however, is enough to make your head explode. And this is the time of year when the whining is loudest, and the most useless. It is too late. This year, they went whining not just to me, but to my department chair. There is nothing that feels like a punch of stomach like having the students you have spent the entire semester supporting, giving breaks, coaxing, pleading, pulling out all the stops trying to get them to understand material and perform at the college level complain to your boss that you are "unprofessional." No, wait, how about an email from said boss asking you to "do some soul searching"? It sure makes you feel sorry you have standards. Life would be so much easier if you didn't. Students who get As rarely complain ("getting" and "earning" are two entirely different things).

No, wait, what about realizing you've dropped a ball? I've called the school Joey will be in next year- no, more accurately, I have emailed, as I was told to do that rather than call- three times. The first time I actually got a response from the principal's secretary saying he would call. He never did. The other two messages? No response at all. I should have already been in to see classes, meet teachers, and get the transition process rolling. I should be planning spring IEP now. Instead, I have done nothing, gotten nowhere, and been summarily and consequently ignored. I run the risk of Joey suffering as further consequence. One of those days I planned for baking will likely be swallowed by trying to stand in the office in protest until someone deigns to speak with me. It's a little more important than cookies, don't you think?

I still have holiday cards to send. I haven't even taken a good photo of the boys yet this year. With my computer crash, I lost a bunch of addresses and am still trying to track them down. I pulled out last year's cards, but of course the address I want most is the envelope that is missing.

I need to put together teacher presents. These folks have worked their butts off. Joey's teachers have really done gangbusters for him this year, now that the schedule is settled. This is likely to be the last year to give a present to Mrs. H and Ms. Macy, so I want to have something super-spectacular for them. Joey's speech therapist has been a godsend. Andy's teacher has been nothing short of a miracle.

I ordered some books last month from scholastic. I wonder why I haven't gotten them yet.

The boys have been so good, and got such good report cards, I took them to Charles d'Fromage for dinner. Two ecstatic boys. I signed up for coupons, which made it even better. Andy likes to go up in the tubes, there is a lion cage above where I set up basecamp. It roars when you go in. He can also sit up there and call down to me, and to his brother. Oh, and know when the pizza arrives. It must be a fabulous view. Joey won a bunch of tickets at skeeball, he was so pleased with himself. Yes, nothing like an evening of listening to Chuck and his pals singing classic Christmas carols, like "Big Band Santa" and "The Twelve Days of Chuck E's" .

Two more final exams tomorrow. I already have two who have called in sick. But I got their number. I put up an online version. They can do it nicely from home- where they claim to be as they send me email.

I gotta get these grades done. This semester desperately needs to be over.

Happy holidays!