I'm making a bunch of cakes this week. This afternoon I was working on a princess cake with 7 Disney princess miniatures dancing around the outside. (The girls are pretty bummed they are going to the party with the large mouth bass cake I'm also making.) Claire, Makenna and Alice all wanted a piece of the princess action. The temptation to play with the little princesses was too great. Sense these do not belong to us I made a rule that they had to stay at the bar by where I was working to play with them. Claire was not fond of this rule. At one point she threw herself to the floor humphing that she could not walk away with the figurines. When I told her no, just where she would have stuck her tung out in frustration she gave me crazy eyes and a scary joker smile instead. I had to stop myself from laughing as I realized that they have been coaching her on this at school. Her teachers and classmates are telling her "smile please" when she sticks out her tung. Just like she was plotting to kill batman Claire did the joker smile for Nate at the dinner table tonight, LOL, Nice work Claire!
Claire loves movies like a squirrel loves their nuts, a pumpkin needs its vine. It's not a healthy obsession. Claire also loves dogs, the bigger the better. So Beethoven hits a sweet spot in her heart only topped by Disney princesses and Mary Poppins. This morning she was watching a new Beethoven that also had something to do with pirates. Unfortunately it was time for school before the end of Pirate Beethoven. Now if you have ever pulled a child with Down Syndrome away from their favorite thing you will understand it's not pretty. She was not going down without a fight. Oh Claire, it was rough all the way to the door of her classroom. Everything I said was meet with a smart remark.
Me "Claire, please get into the van."
Claire "It's a car"
Me "Claire, please buckle up"
Claire sticks her tung out at me...
I wish I had the magic solution for transitioning a child with Down Syndrome, braking them out of their funk. (If anyone reads that blog feel free to pass it on to me.) One thing I have learned is you just can't out grump Claire. This girl is going down with the ship. If I come to grumpy Claire with my own attitude she will get so much worse. She feeds off my frustration like poring water on a grease fire. Keeping my cool, easier said then done. When she is being a pill part of me wants to go down with the ship too, gosh darn it, if you get to be mad I get to be mad. I have an actual reason to be frustrated, you have to come eat crackers or whatever. Then I remind myself who the grown up is, forgive myself and move on. If it appears I'm not phased that my child (or children) is having a temper tantrum I'm just overcompensating.
Claire decided to go with a "Mary Poppins" pumpkin this year.
Alice "pirate eye patch pumpkin." "He is sad because he wasn't wearing his helmet on his bike and hit his head."
Makenna drew out a designed for her own pumpkin this year, pretty impressive. It was her first year wielding a blade-ish tool, fun and frightening.
The girls wondered off and when I checked on them they had busted out the pipe cleaners. Makenna was decorating Alice and Claire turned Olive into a reindeer. I love this dog! She just sat their for 20 minuets.
Disclaimer, I promise not to give daily updates about recess unless it's ground braking but just one more.
No teacher feedback after school today but I had good chats with both teachers this morning about yesterday. However, I did get an update from Makenna, Claire's kindergarten aged sister. According to Makenna today "Claire did great the whole recess. I watched her and played with her the whole time. No teachers told her she was bad." Okay, thank you Makenna. She is so perceptive. I never talked directly to her about Claire going to big recess. Just standing next to me while I talk with the teachers she picks up on so much. She totally understands that Claire is on trial and she wants to help her "be good."
Which brings me to the double standard. What other kid out there is being scrutinized to see if they are good enough for recess with their classmates? Answer, none of them. Students in special education sometimes can be held to an even higher standard. They are under a microscope. I'm sure another student stuck out their tung, touched another person, stepped onto the play field while a soccer game was currently in progress (gasp)... but unless someone tattled the aid probably missed it with so many kids on the field. If a special ed student does those things shame, shame I know your name, off to the saluted playground with no equipment for you babe. I'm so glad they are working with her, this is just one of those things about special ed that gets me.
Also, how cool is Makenna?! What a great big, little sister.
Claire had her first "big recess" today! There was no feed back so I went with no news is good news. Ya, that lasted for like an hour and then I couldn't take it anymore. Nate picked her up this afternoon so I shot a message to Claire's special ed teacher asking how it went. Bless this woman, she knows how to deliver a report, "still trying to figure out lining up and will have a para tomorrow explain rules and expectations. She was super excited about going out to big recess. So need a few more days to iron out any concerns."
I'm going to go with glass half full here. I love how this teacher delivers news! The first week of school Claire was so excited and happy to participate. The second week she was fully disenchanted and realized, hey this feels an offal lot like work. She showed them her stubborn side, pulled out all her tricks. At the dreaded pick-up time report her teacher gave me Claire's list of offenses but at the end said "she is still figuring out our rules, she'll get it." Following every horrendous day that week her teacher told me, with a smile, "she'll figure it out." I can not express to you how deeply those words touch this special needs mommy. Those end of the day rehashing session suck, they are the worst but if you have a teacher who lets a little hope shine through it can take a mommy's heart from shame and distress to healthy concern.
I predicted that lining up after recess would be an issue but for the love of Pete, not letting her do an entire recess with her classmates because she has a hard time transitioning at the end (insert at the end of anything) is silly. Hopefully we can get creative and encourage some classmates to help her come in or send her a para for like 2 minuets.
I'm so glad they are working this out. She asks me daily, "play with the big kids." Claire has a hard time communicating. I rarely get reports from her after school about anything other then the hot lunch menu and a list of people she likes. This one was obvious, I want to play with my friends please. Thank you!
Brought to you by, man it's cold outside! Get all the backyard s'mores you can in before it snows.
She loves to chat about her favorite movies like the characters are really people.
"Do you like Prince Edward?"
"Mushu is so funny!"
While I was getting ready for the day she was going on and on about Arial's "squids." Anyone care to guess? ... She showed me on a picture and pointed to Ariel's clam shell top, "squids" apparently and there will be no talking Claire out of it. So now my bras are affectionately referred to as squids and I'm just going with it because that my friends is hilarious, at least to me her adoring mother.
Speaking of Claire and breasts, did I tell you the one about the twins? My sister-in-law was pregnant with twins so Claire had heard a lot of talk about two babies in Auntie Nanna's tummy. Well, we were at the indoor play area on base and my little friendly one walks up to an unexacting, large chested woman, cups her bosoms with both hands and proclaimed "two babies!?" Fortunately she did have a great scene of humor and thought it was awesome. Classic Claire
New school district how do I love thee? Let me count the ways:
#1 Claire's amazing 2nd grade teacher! Just today I mentioned to Claire's 2nd grade teacher that Claire is on a seporated special ed play ground with like two other kids in the afternoon at the exact same time her regular ed class is out on the big playground. I didn't even have to go into advocate mode. Just bringing up the facts and that I thought she would be okay on the playground was enough. She was all over this quick as grease lightning; I got a text from her one hour later. She already ran the idea past Claire's special ed teacher and principle. It's a go! What, what these people are amazing! Now, let us all pray Claire cooperates and really doesn't need a one on one for recess. I think she'll be okay. You can do it Claire!
#2 Did I say amazing teacher? When the school year started Claire's day began in 2nd grade, gen ed. After the first few weeks the district moved some teachers around causing Claire to have to start her day in special ed. I wasn't loving the lack of morning routine and structure but hadn't said anything yet. Her special ed class is like a resource room. Kids are in and out of there doing their own thing all day... it's set up differently then a regular class. Anyway, Claire's regular ed teacher brought up the exact issues I was concerned about and volunteered to talk to her principle and special ed teacher about it before I even had a chance to bring it up. Can I kiss your feet? I pledge my undying devotion to you teacher of the second grade. Claire's schedule was fixed just a few days later.
#3 Claire spends way, way more time with her second grade class here then we would even have dreamed to hope for in Spokane. It's not because we don't believe in Claire but because I know the way it works there and I wan't about to make enemies out of the folks who could make my life miserable until Claire turns 21. Spokane diverts everything special ed related down town from ages 3 to 21. Just skip the principe and go straight to buracrats. So if you have an issue in preschool (which we did) your calling the same people down town in high school, not awesome. I could say mean things here but I'll resist and stick to we are so glad to be out of there.
#4 Claire could not have all this time in second grade if her special ed teacher wasn't making it happen, being creative and finding the best times for Claire to be successful there while still getting her special ed goals accomplished. We haven't had any issues, I know I shouldn't be surprised but I am. It just blows my mind. Thank you special ed teacher, you rock!
#5 Which brings me to, I love the principle! He is just always around. I don't know how this guy does his job because he is so involved with the students. I not only see him at least twice a day but he makes eye contact with me and greets my line of checklist by name every morning and afternoon (including the ones too young for school). If and when we have an issue I'm so glad I'll be going into his office and not the secret principle's office of mystery which has been our experience in the past.
#6 The kids, staff and parents are so friendly. I think we were strangers for like a day and now everyone knows Claire by name and she knows a ton of their names too. After we talked to Claire's class about Down Syndrome I have recieved e-mails from parents asking to get together, awesome!
#7 Our neighborhood is at our school. I can't get over how fun this is after not having it for so long. I'm so jazzed that the relationships my kids are making now will take them through high school.
I just had to take a minuet and celebrate today. We are so thankful.
P.S. Something else to be thankful for, all this rain washed off the disturbing fake blood on the manikin I have to drive by with my kids twice a day. Now that's making lemons into lemonade, I normally detest you but today I appreciate you, thank you rain.