Tuesday, January 19, 2010

On the Edge of the Team

Today is going to be a two parter, the before and after. Not for any particular reason, just to be exciting. Actually, I think the before part is sort of my therapy, you know, the Vicadin they give you before a particularly stressful dentist appointment. Let's look at it that way. . .

I've written before about Alex being the manager for the basketball team at school. I don't know that he is especially useful to them, but the coaches and the kids let him hang out with them during practices. It's really one of the rare times he gets to be with kids outside his special ed class. He loves doing this. During the home games he keeps score, very unofficial score.

The only reason this activity is even available to Alex is because Mrs. Teacher made it so. I've told you before about this amazing person we have been blessed with. In case you haven't read my prior posts, Mrs. Teacher volunteers all her time to be with Alex at these practices. Did you get that? VOLUNTEERS !!

Well, a few days ago, this fantabulous Mrs. Teacher of ours, lost her mind ! She came to Alex's Dad and I with this great idea. She wanted to take Alex to an away game on the team bus. On the bus. 8th grade BOY'S basketball team. Away Game. Here's how we knew she'd really lost it . . . "I just think he should experience the whole thing. He'll love it!"

OK, I haven't told you everything about Mrs. Teacher. You already know that she is the most beautiful angelic person on this planet as far as we are concerned. But, she is also, the most beautiful, angelic person to people who don't know her. Get it?

So, when this idea comes up, so many things start racing through my mind. Alex doesn't ride the bus very often, and when he does, it is with his classmates that he knows well and is comfortable with. Then, there's his whole overall anxiety thing. A different gym? He leaves the home games early half the time. No telling how nervous he could get in an unfamiliar setting with an unfamiliar crowd. . . and with all that, no telling how he will react! Oh man, too much stress!

That's not all, though. I also have this fear that Mrs. Teacher, as wonderful is she is, doesn't really have any idea what she is getting herself into. Sure she's ridden a bus and been around kids. But twenty five boys on a bus with HER. I kept getting this picture in my head of all the boys on the bus and her gliding up the steps . . . It was like a commercial in my head, maybe for shampoo or something!

Anyhow, of course, this is a great opportunity for Alex to spread his wings! Mrs. Teacher is sometimes (OK, a lot of times!) better than us at seeing what is good for him! So guess where Alex is going tonight?

We do have an escape plan built in. You know the one, mom follows bus, sits at game, blah, blah, blah . . . I'll be back in a few hours to let you know how it went!

Well, well, well . . . as Alex likes to say. What a perfect evening. The only bad thing about it is that my backside hurts from the bleachers!

According to Mrs. Spectacular Teacher, Alex was a bit reserved on the bus ride to the game. Once they arrived at the school, he had a little snack (which is very important to Alex) while the team changed into their uniforms, then settled in behind the bench to take stats and photos. At some point during one of the games, they play two games, Alex told Mrs. Teacher that he wanted to stay for both games and ride the bus home with the team.

Unbelievable! Now, odds are 100-1 that the stats aren't right, but he did it! And he stayed for both the games. He even took some pictures with his new camera for the school newspaper. Quite a few of them are good, too!

From what I gathered, Alex did quite a bit of visiting with the coaches on the ride home. Great, no telling what I am going to have to explain to them !

Thanks to Mrs. Teacher, Alex got to do something that most every other boy gets to do at some point in his life. He's not quite a part of the team, but now, he's on the edge of it! And we thought she was crazy !

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Will ? . . . Now ?

Today I am gonna be selfish. Today I am writing all about me. Today was supposed to be a day about Alex and his sisters, but I just can't quite make it about them. At least I can admit it, it's all about me!

You see, today was our meeting with our attorney to draw up our wills and special needs trust. We've been putting it off for years. Don't start yapping at me! We know it should have been done years ago. We just haven't been able to agree on who could take care of the kids the way we want them to be taken care of, especially Alex. Not only that, but it's not like there is a huge estate that needs to be divided!!

And NO, there is nothing wrong with either of us, well medically speaking anyways. We just decided that it was time, way past time, to do this!

Anyhow, we get to the attorney's office, still not sold on the guardianship issue, and man, things just got worse! The good news is that we've put this off long enough that Big Sis is 19, so she's an adult. I just gotta give her some money! Boy, is she going to be disappointed!

She is also old enough to be appointed guardian of Alex and Twin Sis. That is sort of a good thing, but she's is a college kid. I can't do that to a college kid! No matter how mad this particular college kid can make me! So, what to do in the interim?

Well, we filled in the blanks. I'm not happy about it. But not for the reason you might think!

You see, it's not that I won't be around to see them grow up. I am truly convinced that somehow I will. I know that I will be with the girls at their weddings and when they have kids. I'll be able to see Alex at his big horse show and at his first job. I don't exactly know how it will work, I just know that somehow, in someway, I will be there with them, even if I'm really not.

This may be a bit disturbing to some of you. But I know that Bis Sis is old enough to take care of herself. Twin Sis will be okay, too. The part that just sends me over the edge, as far as guardianship, is who would fight like me to get Alex what he needs at an IEP meeting I might miss? or to get an employer to hire Alex and help him succeed? For some reason, I have had all these meetings in my head, over and over. (I think I have too much time on my hands!)I have put every person I know in my shoes. As much as I, and Alex, love these people (well ... most of them!) NONE of them are would handle these meetings MY way.

Now, those of you that know me understand. Those of you that don't, here is Alex's Mom in a nutshell. There are always two options, mine or the other one. One is right and the other is wrong, VERY VERY WRONG! Guess which one is RIGHT? Do you see my predicament? Not only is my way the right way, I will fight to the death to see it through. Hmmm... That is gonna cause some problems here.....

Alex's Dad and I are very lucky. There are so many people out there who care very deeply for Alex and his Sisters. I know every one of the names that I could put in that blank would take very good care of Alex and both of our girls for as long as they live.

Can I help it that it upsets me that no one would do it MY WAY ?

I hate to admit it, and I am hoping he doesn't read this, but Alex's Dad put it to me very nicely. "No body's going to handle those meetings and things the way you do because no one else has lived with Alex." (I chose to believe that was a compliment to me and MY WAYS!) "Anyone we choose is going to make sure that he is taken care of very well and that he gets everything he needs and that we want for him!" I know he's right, that is how they made our short list!

I guess in the long run, it's not really how you get there, just that you get there! Everyone will make sure my kids reach their goal lines!

Maybe now, I can stop having meetings in my head and just go fill in that stupid blank! If only I had done this years ago when a responsible parent would have..... back before I knew what an IEP meeting was, back when I just needed to chose someone that I knew would love my kids!

OK... Lesson learned. And will completed. Now I just need to build up a nice estate!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Road Map to Success

I hope everyone had a good holiday! We have had some snow storms and very cold weather here, so the kids are getting an extra long holiday break!

I haven't been able to write since Christmas, as my computer crashed. I don't know anything about computers, but I did learn that the message it gave me was basically the equivalent of your computer is dead! So, tonight I am working on a borrowed one. It seems to work the same......

The other day I was talking to a friend of mine whose kids both have some minor speech concerns. She was researching different diagnoses and treatments. It made me start thinking about some things... and that is never good!

I was thinking about labels. We label everything, we label everyone. That's the part I hate! The way we label people. Obviously, it's not all labels I despise! I'd love to be labeled "the hot chick!" That's one I wouldn't hate! I won't hold my breath for it, though! "The fat one," that's a label I hate. Anyhow, you get the picture.

My mind really got in a flurry when I started thinking about the labels put on kids, particularly special needs kids. Remember, Alex and Twins Sis are in Middle School, so labels are important. I started thinking about who put those stupid labels on Alex and why.

Let me start with the labels I am talking about. Of course we know Alex is the Sped Kid, the one who has to go to speech because he can't talk right, the kid that goes to those special classes, the kid that rides the short bus and the one I wrote about before but won't use, the R-word. That's just a few. Twin Sis and Big Sis have them to. You know what I mean, "the girl whose brother blah, blah,blah...".

It seems like all the kids in middle school fit into some sort of category. They aren't all bad, it is just sort of sad.

The categories that Alex generally fits into, always seem to to be the ones that the other kids love to hate! This, of course, means the girls get the negative labels attached to them, too. When I hear people talk about, or to my kids in this way, it not only hurts, but it makes me angry. And I am one mean momma!

Anyhow, during all this deep thinking, I had another one of those aha! moments! Great . . . usually, just shortly after that aha!, I realize... I am an idiot! For the record, it is only for that one second, that I ever think this about myself, and it is only here, for this one minute, that I admit to ever doubting myself !! :D

All of a sudden it hit me, Alex's Dad and I had given all three kids these hurtful labels. What an awful gift to give your children, right? Well, here's the deal. Alex is the Sped Kid! We made him the Sped Kid! We did it when he was very little! We did it on purpose! We would do it again! Alex is better for it! Alex's Dad and I are better for it! Big Sis and Twin Sis don't realize it yet, but they are better for it!

By being the Sped Kid, Alex's Dad and I have given him the chance to learn things that he would never be able to learn in a regular classroom. By forcing him to be the kid who goes to speech because he can't talk, we are giving him the opportunity to learn to talk better when he is older. That's a much better way to look at things, isn't it? Actually, that's not just an appearance that's the fact of the matter.

Everyone has a weakness. We chose to aggressively treat Alex's weaknesses so that his life would be the best it could be. Just think if everyone chose to treat their weaknesses how many labels there would be. Maybe then, none of them would be treated as a negative one!

My one and only New Year's Resolution is to make myself remember this. I am really not overly sensitive to the matter, I just don't like to see people hurt my kids. I do get my feelings hurt on occasion, also. But from now on, I am going to remind myself that as painful as these may sound now, these labels are actually Alex's road map to success!

Now all I have to do is sell this to the 850 middle schoolers at the twins' school. That's the answer! I can hear it now! "Stop picking on him! It's his ROAD MAP TO SUCCESS!!! " Then maybe a kid can just be a kid!