Tuesday, May 7, 2013

So, some Tuesday ramblings....

Several interesting things happened today. Not necessarily things that were interesting in themselves, but the context made it so, or the way I thought about it did, or something like that.

1. I was driving home and passed a guy and a girl walking along on the sidewalk. The girl was wearing really short shorts and my first thought was, "She needs more pants." Not longer, more. And the more I thought about it the funnier it got. I'm sorry if it doesn't make you laugh.

2. Later on the drive--I left really late for reasons I'll explain in a minute--I was going through the ghetto and saw at more than one house a group of people gathered on the porch, just hanging out and talking. Old people, little kids, whatever, just hanging out on the steps. I thought it was nice.

3. State testing is going on this week, so the kids are naturally crazy. This afternoon the third grade teachers took their classes outside to the track (we don't have a playground, and "track" is really a loose interpretation) to run around. I had brought two of my kindergarten special ed kids outside with a basketball and a football to play, not knowing the big kids were out there. All the big kids immediately greeted my kids and started playing with them--really playing with them, talking to them, not just taking the ball and running away, no games of keep-away..... Just kids being kids. School doesn't really let them do that anymore.

4. One of our autistic kids has started mocking the other autistic kid. The mocker is a repeater anyway (as in, you tell him, "Say thank you!" and he says, "Say thank you!" in the exact same tone of voice.) The mockee is much more verbal, and most of his talking is questions ("She musty? She got her shoes on? Where the rainbow at?") or demands ("I want choc'it cake!") So now the mocker has taken to repeating his most common phrases, and starts cracking himself up every time he does it. Thing is, we're not sure if he's making fun of the other kid, or if he thinks the kid is being funny on purpose and he's laughing along. So we don't know if we're allowed to think this is funny or not. (But it is.)

5. My poor baby who is sick and in the hospital--has been for almost two months now--and had fingers and toes amputated, plus dialysis and who knows what else, is doing so much better. He will probably be in the hospital awhile longer, but we are no longer worried for his life. His mom has said he is playing video games, even--he was having trouble using the hand that lost all of his fingers (including thumb), so he just up and started using his elbow, just like that. His language isn't very good so he often doesn't understand what you're talking about or what's going on, so I'm sure he doesn't realize that not having those fingers is going to completely change his life, and I'm so thankful for that. He'll figure out how to do what he needs to do and not give it another thought.

6. I spoke to another teacher today who told me she wished more parents knew that they could choose to OPT OUT OF STATE TESTING. SAY WHAT??? I didn't even know that, and I have never heard it mentioned before. I'm not sure what it takes to opt out or what kind of circumstances it requires or will cause, but look into this. I never had heard this was an option. One of our small-group special ed kids burst into tears today taking his test and he just said, "It's too HARD!" Another one got frustrated and said, "I don't know what it says cause I can't read." I will be the first to tell you that all these kids are wonderful and most of them sweet and they try hard. I don't want to box them in, but for the VAST majority of them, any job they take will not require an ACT or SAT score. It might require a high school diploma, but it might not. These kids are the salt of the earth, the ones who keep the rest of us in line when we get sidetracked by things like whether or not our smartphone has a specific app on it, or that we accidentally locked the keys in the car and have to wait an hour to get back in it. Other things are more important. They know that, so let's let THEM show us how they're going to lead their lives, instead of forcing them into testing that shows nothing they CAN do, and everything they CAN'T do. Cause it's what they CAN, WILL, and WANT TO DO that will help them succeed.

Further on this topic, Bob and I ate at a Cracker Barrel several months ago and the guy who was going to seat us was moving pretty slow, apparently. The girl at the hostess station muttered something about his always being slow, too. When he walked up, I watched him grab the menus carefully, then turn away without meeting our eyes or saying a word. We followed him, and he put our menus and silverware on the table and walked away, still without a word or even looking at us. I kept watching him while we ate, cause I knew that man had to have fetal alcohol syndrome. The facial features, the slow exaggerated movement, the methodical way he cleared tables--it was all there. And it gave me so much hope. Because the baby I see most at school is the one who also has FAS. Let me tell you, that kid can sort stuff. He could sort and roll up silverware, take people to tables, put together menus, bus tables, all that, and he would be good at it. If he can get to that place, he'll be the most successful person I know, not because of the money he makes or the value of the service he performs, but because of all the tiny little successes that will have to fall into place for him to get there.

Okay, that's all. I really had intended this to be funny. Oops. A thirty-minute conversation about amputations, life skills, and kids crying because someone is forcing them to do more than they're able puts one into a thoughtful mood. Maybe the next post will be more light-hearted, but until then, maybe I've helped you see something in a different way, and that is what makes ME successful.

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