Three!

September 2, 2011

Hamhock has only 17 kids in his second grade class so far.  I suspect that some more kids will be offered a spot, because I am sure there are kids on the wait-list, and the class size is approved to 23.  But for now, 17.  (Nice!)

But here’s one of the best parts for him. . . there are three African American boys in his class!!!!!!!!  Weeeeeeeeee!!!!!  And, at least a half dozen Hispanic kids too!!!!  I’m so excited to have kids with beautiful shades of skin color in his class.  So excited!  (Yes, we *are* the ones who chose to live in Sandy, UT, where it’s pretty white-bread mayonnaisey, pretty much everywhere you go.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  I just yearn for a little more color in my life).

Anywhoo. . .I stopped by the other day to take Hamhock to a doctor’s appointment, so I got to peek in and watch his class do their yoga exercises before lunch.  He and a new school buddy were partners. . .doing a rock and lizard.  They were laughing and following the teacher and learning and having a great time.  True to Hamhock form, when we were leaving, his buddy and another kid came up to give him a hug goodbye (can I just express how much I love kids before they get all pre-teen/teenager/angsty?).  Hamhock has always had a big personality, and when he’s in a situation to feel comfortable in expressing himself, other kids gravitate towards that big personality.

Then I peeked in on Superboy as his class was getting ready for lunch and he saw me and immediately gave me a big hug hello (can I just express how much I love kids before they get all pre-teen/teenager/annoyed?)!  His shoes needed tying (no, he doesn’t know how himself, yet) and he showed me the discipline chart.  He already had one warning by 11 am.  My little manchild who got my chatty-cathy genes for being too social in class when the teacher’s talking. . .poor kid (but also good, right?).

So. . . my completely neurotypical, fairly easy-going child has already been warned several times for behavior in the first week of school.  My child diagnosed with autism hasn’t had one problem at all!  In fact, when another kid pushed him at gym this week, instead of pushing back, he immediately just told the teacher.  That’s it.  Told the teacher and didn’t act out. 

Another thing about Superboy. . .this is the first time he’s been in school for seven hours straight!  Preschool and Kindergarten were 2 1/2 hours.  He and his bff have been so funny when they come home afterschool. . . so much pent-up boy energy, so that they start playing, giggling, and eating like they’ve been in a work camp for a week.  It’s pretty cute, ’cause boys are just darn cute.

Oh, and yet another thing about Superboy. . .he was upset that we weren’t going to play at McDonald’s after school on Wednesday this week, so he decided to throw down a big tantrum. He was crying and screaming and I told him to calm down in his room.

A few minutes later, after he calmed down, he came out and said: “Mom! I learned at school how to calm down! Watch!”. He proceeded to show me several different yoga poses and told me how he learned all about calming down with yoga at school.

Awesomesauce!

Whew!  First day of school!  Finally. . .the summer fighting and endless exhausting activities and lack of structure is DONE!  Now it’s momma’s time to shine and have some quiet time to myself!  Wooooeeeeee!   (Dancing a little jig of joy!)

Both boys started at a brand-new public charter school:  Alianza Academy.   There is only one class of each grade, and the first and second graders are in their own section of the building.  The Executive Director and Principal are both former Waterford teachers and administrators, and the Alianza curriculum incorporates self-directed computer programs for each student (hybrid learning).  The school currently offers through eighth grade, so we don’t have to worry about regular Middle/Junior High School for my two little budding nerds.  Yay!  They will probably have the option to stay with Alianza through High School, or we can see whether they want to choose a different High School once we get to ninth grade.

Whew.  Here’s to hoping for a great year!

Both boys did awesome last year at East Sandy Elementary.  Superboy had a blast in Kindergarten with his bestie BFF, and made a bunch of new friends as well.  Hamhock made several friends last year, and *loved* his first grade teacher.  He made incredible progress in reading, spelling & math!

The only bump in the road we had was during the last three months of school with a friend in his class.  This friend’s OCD just kinda happened to clash with Isaac’s ASD.  They started out as friends, but on a play-date here at our house (where Hamhock has a *really* hard time sharing toys/personal space/video games, etc) Hamhock got mad and punched him in the face.  I was right there, had Hamhock apologize and take a time out, and tried as best I could to smooth things over.  (The punch wasn’t strong – more like a close-fist slap, so his buddy just got a red mark with no bruising.  But still, it was scary & hurt, of course.  Hurmpf).

His buddy was obsessed about it at school and was also very understandably scared of Hamhock.  Hamhock wanted to be his friend and play and joke with him at school again, but his buddy was not interested.  That makes Hamhock obsessed about *why* his buddy isn’t interested and makes him act out even more.  Finally, Hamhock, in trying to get some kind of reaction from him during recess while playing tag, “tagged” his buddy a little too hard on the face, which left a bruise under his eye.

Of course I didn’t hear anything about it from Hamhock, so his teacher told me what happened the next day.  By that time the other mom got the principal involved, which totally freaked me out!!  The principal was really great, though, by having both boys come to his office to talk it out and agree to not play with each other for a while.  I touched base with the mom to smooth things over as well.

Unfortunately, Isaac with his ASD, and this other boy with his OCD, had no clue how to ignore each other.  The only problem during the school day was at lunchtime and lunch recess, when there is no structure or organized activity, which is just the hardest for Hamhock to figure out what to do and how to act.  So I decided to pull him out just for lunch and lunch recess for the remainder of the year.

It worked great!  By pulling him out of that time period during his school day, it helped him “reset” his obsession with the other boy and totally chill out to find other friends.  He finished the rest of the year with no problems at all, and I got some cute pictures of the last day of school.  I also had him take a hip-hop class with another good buddy, which helped a ton.

Hamhock with buddies on the last day of first grade 2010-2011:


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eric and his best buddy on the last day of Kindergarten 2010-2011:


Panic

September 14, 2010

I’m having a hard time shaking the sad today.

Pretty much every morning going to school and church Hamhock says he doesn’t want to go and resists in all sorts of creative and various ways.  We deal with it by planning the mornings as best we can to accommodate the length of time it takes to get him fed, dressed, shoes on, and locked & loaded in the car to go.  Most of the time we’re late, sometimes we’re there on time, and sometimes we skip it all together.  But usually once he is wherever we are, he is fine and gets excited by all the stimulation and has a good time (even church. . .!!!).

This morning. . . not so much.  Ugh.

He.  Did.  Not.  Want.  To.  Go.  To.  School.

He had a 3-day weekend.  Tomorrow’s a field trip.  He made a new buddy last week. Lots of fun to look forward to.

Nothing.

I suspect that Moms of kids who are not strong-willed (no matter the cause – ASD, ADD, ODD, etc) often don’t seem to comprehend why you can’t just *make* your child go.  (At least that’s what it feels like when they tell me how *they* would do such-and-such).  Well, here’s how it goes when I try that approach:

I got Hamhock fed & clothed, with backpack ready.  He climbed on top of the roof of the car and said he wouldn’t go.  Normally he’s been responding to my 1-2-3 and time-out approach, but he ignored that this morning.  I kept trying to assuage his concerns, or answer his counter-arguments, and he kept digging in his heels.

It’s at this point that I get panicky.  It’s a feeling of complete panic, that I have no idea how to “make” my child get himself to school.  None.  It’s a feeling of complete out-of-control-ness.  And I hate it.

So. . . I said that if he didn’t start scootering/walking/biking to school that I would carry him there.  So I physically pulled him from off the top of the roof, carried him down the driveway to show him I meant business.

WRONG APPROACH, MAMA!

He simply started hitting and scratching and kicking me.  Just like a toddler.  I set him down and he started bawling and tried to run away.  So I chased him down to the corner and led him back to the car.  Then I just start ordering everyone around while raising my voice.  Remember out-of-control?  Panicky?  Yeah, that’s what it sounds like.

Finally he’s in the car and we’re driving.  He tells me he doesn’t want to get a “Think Time” (a time-out) for breaking a rule.  I reassure him that his teacher likes him and hasn’t given him one at all because he’s been following the rules every day.  He got one from different first-grade teacher (from the first grade pod) the first week for laughing at some other boys goofing around in bathroom (at least that’s *his* version of the story).  He doesn’t like the teacher who gave it to him.

Aha!  He’s feeling anxiety about an unresolved issue!  (Why can’t people just tell you what they’re *really* worried about?)  Makes sense. . . we had a few incidents last year where he’d get into a fight/misunderstanding/power struggle with another kid and if I went to ask both kids to say sorry and I forgive you, Hamhock would be good & could move on.  He needed to have some closure about this.

Duh.  I didn’t think about it.  Man, parenthood is tough.

Luckily, this teacher happened to be standing right by the door when I walked Hamhock to class, and he saw me start to talk to her.  She was very nice and understanding and wants kids to learn and follow the rules, but doesn’t want kids to be scared of her.  She said she would try to talk to him to clear the air about it.

Every day so far he has been very happy to see me when I pick him up after school and says:  “Mom, I didn’t get in trouble today!”  I hope today will be no different.

I just hate when it takes me a while to figure things out, when I don’t handle power struggles better, and when I feel sad the rest of the day. . .think I’m going to go get in a run, watch some Arrested Development, and clear my head before school is out. . .

________________

UPDATE:

Hamhock came home very happy.  He said the teacher talked to him and:  “She likes me Mom!”

I thanked her the next day, and all seems to have returned to right in his cute little brain.

Whew.

It’s the anxiety, baby

September 14, 2010

Mark’s brother got married the Thursday before school started.  Totally fun, family-oriented, spiritual, fabulous day.  But the next day I woke up with the reminder that school starts that coming Monday, and all my fears and worries hit me like a Mack truck.

It’s fun living with anxiety.  Really.  Fun not to be able to focus or think or relax or enjoy.

My body breaks out in this lovely rash, too.  Nice.

So. . . .anyway. . .Hamhock met his new first grade teacher and he wore his new Mario t-shirt to the first day and it all seems good.  He greeted me with a big smile every day for the first week:  “Mom, I didn’t get into trouble today!”  So sweet, and so heartbreaking.  He gets it – gets the rules are there, there is a way to behave, a way to act, and he’s trying as hard as he can to follow it all.

I’m very proud of him.

Here’s Superboy, a week later, going to Kindergarten for the first time.  He’s super excited and super easy-going.  It makes my brain a little crazy when I seriously don’t worry about him at all.  I know he’ll be just fine.  I know he’ll make friends, follow the rules, enjoy school, learn what he needs to.  It’s very strange.

Kisses

January 26, 2010

Hamhock kissed his first girl today.  Gulp.

She’s a tomboy in his Kindy class; really sweet, nice, funny cute girl.  We had her over for a playdate & they went out scooter-ing.  I was watching from the yard, and he dropped his scooter and ran over to her with a big bear hug, and then planted one right on her lips!  Oh. My. Gosh.

When they came back I tried to explain to Hamhock that you can’t kiss girls unless they say “yes” *after* you ask them.  Yeah. . .we’ll see how that goes.

On another note, Superboy had his very first cavity (first for either kid) and it was a bit of a struggle in the chair, but he powered through it and got to get two prizes afterwards.  He chose a glittery, shiny, jeweled ring.  Yes.

And he wore it all day proudly on his finger.

Yep, my boys.

Girls!!

January 16, 2010

Last year in preschool Hamhock would say girls were icky, although he loved to chase them around squealing at high-pitched decibels at recess.

This year in Kindergarten, Hamhock has made friends with two girls in his class, Ahnika and Mackenzie.  Although, I have to say, they are definitely more tomboyish than cute and princessy.  (Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but hey, he’s my kid, you know!)

So. . .we had a playdate with his friend Ahnika at our house!  It was so cute.  She marches right in and asks Hamhock to see his room (usually boys just start playing and they want to see his toys, not his room).  Very very cute.

The other day we were picking up Foo’s drycleaning when Hamhock pipes up from the back seat:  “That girl is pretty!”  “Which one?” I asked.  “The one with the long hair and glasses.”  Oh. My. Gosh!  So very cute.

Superboy, on the other hand, has always been in touch with his feminine side.  He’s very comfortable playing with and talking about girls.  He’s going to marry a hundred super hero girls when he’s a man, he says.

Buddy the Elf

December 22, 2009

After getting our Christmas tree, we watched Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer with the boys for the first time and they loved it!  It whet my appetite to watch Elf with Will Ferrell as Buddy the Elf again. . .

Hamhock has a buddy too. . . the fourth grade class comes down once a week or so to do various activities with the Kindergartners.  One day while dropping off Hamhock in the morning, I watch him run over to a big kid and drape his arms around his waist.  So cute!  I went over to see what was going on. Hamhock just stared at him with adoring eyes.  He told me this is his buddy, also named Isaac.  He is a really nice boy and was very patient with Hamhock holding on to him in the school yard.

Here are a few things Hamchock answered during their “get to know you” Buddy activity one day:

1.  My favorite color is red
2.  I love to eat donuts & hamburgers.
3.  My favorite tv show is Wolverine, Hulk & Ironman.
4.  If I could be a make-believe character, I would be Hulk.
5.  My favorite thing about school is drawing.
6.  I love to play video games.
7.  If I could travel anywhere in the world, I would go to Candyland (hee!).

Tantrum Time

December 22, 2009

This time, it was Superboy. We’re talking a very intense, rigid, non-negotiable all-out 4-year old tantrum.

Hamhock had parent teacher conferences with no school.  I wanted to drop Superboy off at preschool, and go to Hamhock’s classroom for the P/T conf.  Superboy knew what was going on, and he wanted nothing of it.  He dug his heels in and refused to go to preschool.  I realize that sometimes/often I have less patience for Superboy because I “expect” him to comply because he doesn’t have the nerological deficits that belong to ASD.

I finally dropped him off, heaving and with tears streaming down his face, with the preschool teacher.

But, I felt bad about it all day.  The intense, angry, panicky emotions I feel in those moments are just so horrible.  It makes me feel so out of control, while I was raising my voice to get Superboy to calm down and go to class, but my head is telling me to *not* raise my voice.  Hamhock kind of freaks out in those situations and he’ll start hitting me to stop me from getting angry at Superboy.

In this instance, it was all in front of the elementary school in the playyard.  Ugh.

Superboy’s got a tough road.  Hamhock is intense and demanding and bossy, all as wonderful benefits of having a brain wired with ASD.  Superboy loves and looks up to him as little brothers do.  We expect more of Superboy, and are probably more lenient with Hamhock as we pick and choose which battles to fight.  It’s tough.

I’ve noticed that Superboy wants to follow Hamhock’s lead.  Hamhock says he doesn’t want to go to school?  Superboy says he doesn’t want to go to school.

I just hope both of my boys will someday forgive me for the mistakes I make, and have good lives in spite of my shortcomings as a parent.

Moms who let their kids. . .

September 16, 2009

. . .watch CN and Nick will appreciate this one:

I’ve allowed my kids to enjoy spending their credits on Fruit by the Foot treats on the way to and from school. Here was this morning’s conversation:

Hamhock: “I replace your cough by Fruit by the Foot.”
Superboy: *coughs* “So you did.”
Hamhock & Superboy: *laughing*

HAR!

This morning as we approached the Kindergarten playground I hear lots of squealing. Apparently, it is ‘boys act like monsters while chasing the girls around the playground’ day. Human nature is so fun to watch in action. The boys have these silly smiles and goofy tongue-protruding faces, while the girls are running from them with their little-girl-high-pitched-screams and huge smiling faces.

I’m just so happy that Hamhock joins right on in.

I don’t know why. . .

September 14, 2009

. . . but today was the first day that Hamhock went to school just fine without his strawberry Fruit by the Foot reward (ok, fine. . . call it a bribe, whatever. . .).  Two darn stores didn’t have the strawberry flavor, and so I bought the combo flavors, but he does not like them.  He smells them and says “yuk!”  I smelled them, too, and I get it.  The strawberry *does* smell better.

So he simply played with the yucky berry tie-dye all the way to school and was very silly about it, but didn’t fight me or tell me any reasons why he just shouldn’t go to school today.  We were even running late b/c of strep-frickin-throat for my 4th time in 5 years, and Superboy was up all night with a fever and asthma, and I was rushing to get him to the pediatrician after the Kindy drop-off.

Upon my return for pick-up, Hamhock runs straight to me and gives me a big hug and a smile.  So cute!  Then. . .

  1. On the way home, I ask him:  “What fun things did you do at school?”  He has, every day until today, ignored the question.  Today he totally expressed something about looking around the school for a special place and was obviously very excited.  !!!!  I learned later from Mrs. Larson’s weekly newsletter that they have written a letter to the Moon, and are waiting and searching special places in the school to discover a response back (patterned after a book they read).
  2. Then while he was coloring after his snack, he started telling me all about his old preschool teacher Mrs. Riley visiting the class, but more importantly that she brought “Mrs. Larson’s daughter Lora!  Mrs. Larson has a daughter named Lora!” Lora is actually in Superboy’s preschool class with Mrs. Riley this year.
  3. Finally, when Fooboy was asking Hamhock how school was on the phone, he answers:  “School was great!  It was fun!”

He was then a very pleasant, happy little boy all day.  He hasn’t broken one rule today and hasn’t taken one time-out.  (Until literally 30 minutes ago when bedtime started).  We went out searching for bugs in the rain and got 2 potato bugs, 1 weird ant-fly thing, a daddy long legs (minus one leg, sorry, spider), and a grasshopper!!!!!  The grasshopper was trying to hide behind our new sunflowers and kept moving 180 degrees behind the stalk, each time I would reach around.  But I got him, minus one leg, too.  Not sure if that happened already or in the capturing.  Sorry, grasshopper.

We also had our first speech therapy last Thursday with Helen at the Scottish Rite Learning Center (Freemasons in Salt Lake City offering children free speech therapy with a grant from Shriner’s Hospital  – go Masons!  Woot!)  It went great.  Helen has over 30 years experience, and a great, tough, kind of boisterous approach which just fed right into Hamhock’s personality.  The whole thing was a game and he loved it.  My favorite thing about the session was every time he would answer a question he would point at Helen and shout:  “In your face!” and then laugh hysterically.

HAR!!!!!

Helen said about 40% of the children she sees have speech delays due to autism spectrum disorders.  She gave me the best compliment by saying that whatever we’ve done has given him some incredible skills!  YEE-HAW!!!  She said she can see why our school district tested him as too high-functioning and they wouldn’t touch him without alot of pushing from me, but she definitely had some areas that we can work on to help him improve in processing delays (took about 5 seconds to remember the word yellow, for example) and a string of adjectives (couldn’t point to the right cat:  “point to the little, black kitten in the corner of the box.”)

And, did I mention it’s free!?!?!

Now, if I can only get rid of the pain in my swollen throat gland. . .I must have a virus cold on top of the strep. . .ugh.  Hopefully Superboy will sleep through most of the night tonight. . .