Monday, May 12, 2014
This weekend was Mother’s Day. My gift from my hubby and my boys was to go horseback riding on Saturday. I can’t describe the feeling I have riding horses with my family. It is an amazing connection between all of us. There are no TV’s or video games, no chores and no work. It is just us, supporting each other and loving each other. Hunter feels at peace and is happy and more connected there than any place else I know. It is truly amazing how the disconnect from the rest of the world connects us with one another.
On Sunday morning, I woke up to Hunter’s smiling face in the doorway saying, “Happy Mother’s Day.” It made me smile. Soon, I was surprised with Starbucks coffee, muffins, hugs from my boys and sweet cards and treasured homemade gifts. You know, those sweet gifts that are like gold to the melting hearts of moms everywhere. Grant had drawn a picture with his handprints inside and had made a picture frame for me. In the picture frame was a picture of him holding a sign that said, “She cheers for me at baseball games.” I began to tear up. He hugged me. I’m sure he thought I was weepy because of the picture frame. Well, that is partially true…
Sometimes I feel so badly for my Granster. He is eight and Hunter is pretty tough on him. Some days are indescribably hard. I know some days he feels beaten down. Some days as much as Hunter loves him, he unknowingly makes him feel unworthy and unloved. As much as I try to explain to Grant why things are the way they are, some days I know that words are not enough to console him. Sometimes I feel like nothing I can do will ever be enough.
I can’t make many of his days easier. I can only try to protect him and teach him how to deal with the many hard things that are thrown his way. I feel many days like I can’t hug him, cuddle him, or tell him how much I love him quite enough to make up for the hurt he has inside. Sometimes I feel like nothing I can do will ever be enough.
On this day, Mother’s Day, my little boy taught me a very, very important lesson. Sometimes in life, it is all about showing up. It is all about cheering the loudest at the game. It is about sitting at the table as they struggle through the homework. It is about being there to wipe their tears when they cry and put band aids on their hurt knees.
This picture frame meant more to me than he will ever know. Those tears flowed from a place deep inside that he will probably never understand. That little plastic picture frame with a picture of him holding a sign, taught me that I am doing enough.
On the days that I am struggling and tired and I just can’t take any more, I just have to show up with all I have left. On those days, when my love is overflowing for both of my boys so much that it hurts, but my energy is gone, just being their Mom and loving them is enough.
What an important lesson for all of the Moms (and Dads) out there to remember. We don’t have to be perfect. We might expect it from ourselves, but our kids don’t expect it from us. They already love us. We already love them. That is the most important thing! All that is left is showing up!!
After debating and emailing back and forth with Hunter’s resource teacher, I found out that Hunter had to be in the IEP meeting to go over his goals for the future. After that, many of the students leave the meeting and go back to class, but Hunter had requested to stay for the entire meeting. His resource teacher really thought it was a good idea. I was not so sure, but decided we should give it a try.
I was so nervous before Hunter’s IEP meeting. I am always a little apprehensive, but knowing he was going to be there for the first time had me on edge. I was concerned as to how he would react to hearing things about himself. I know he does not take any kind of criticism well, so I thought it could be interesting.
The morning of his IEP meeting, he put on a polo shirt. My child who fights like Rambo to not wear any kind of collared shirt put on a polo shirt all by himself.( He wore basketball shorts with it, but I’m not complaining…baby steps!) He said he wanted to look nice for the meeting. I was a little shocked.
My hubby and I arrived a few minutes before the meeting. We watched as the teachers filed into the conference room. Then, Hunter walked into the office. He didn’t seem nervous or unsure. He was all smiles! He seemed excited!
The meeting followed normal protocol, but this time they addressed Hunter more than Jeff and I. They told him his rights, they told us our privacy rights. Then, the teachers introduced themselves and we introduced ourselves.
Each teacher began to tell their positive thoughts and concerns for Hunter. One by one they said how sweet he is. Each one said that he is so smart and funny. We heard over and over that he is a great kid! They genuinely seemed to like my boy and it was an awesome feeling. They talked about how happy he seems and how much more comfortable he seems this year compared to last year. Wow, what a sharp contrast one year can make!
One of the main concerns was his socialization. No, not that he is not social, but a little too social. Apparently, my boy is quite the talker. In typical Asperger’s form, his main problem is knowing when to talk at the appropriate time, so we will continue to work on that.
They are also concerned about his handwriting and speeding through his work, which has been an issue with Hunter since his first day of school. I am pretty sure his handwriting is a thing of the past. I figured out a long time ago that his penmanship was never going to be legible, and I’m okay with that. Thank God for computers! We just have to get him to slow down when he is doing his work. We have our work cut out for us on that one.
I looked over at him as the teachers complimented him and talked about their concerns. He just smiled and took it all in stride. He threw a few one-liners in every once in a while (not always at the appropriate time), and we all chuckled. He was genuinely a part of the meeting.
They talked with him about what he would like to be when he is an adult. He told them a professional athlete. The room kind of fell silent. Every kid has the right to dream, so we will leave it at that!
He has graduated from speech for the first time since he was 3. He is now on a consult basis. He felt really good about achieving that goal. He will still have a resource teacher next year to help him stay organized. He still needs accommodations like more test taking time, shorter assignments, and a few small things to help him along the way, but it is amazing how many strides he has made!
Hunter did a great job during the meeting. I don’t think it was a bad thing for him to be a part of it. I did feel like I had to suppress some of my questions or concerns because I just didn’t want to bring them up in front of him or embarrass him. None of it was earth shattering, so if need be, I can bring those things up as they arise.
I was proud of him! I am proud of the young man he is becoming. I am happy that he stepped up and wanted to be part of his education, and I am glad that we made the decision to have him in the meeting. I believe it gave him a new level of confidence. I am always telling him how important his education will be for his future, and maybe somewhere along the way he heard me…maybe!
Saturday, May 3, 2014
Next week is Hunter’s IEP meeting for 8th grade. He asked me yesterday if he could sit in on the meeting. I told him “NO” at first. I don’t know why. It was my first instinct. He took me off guard. Then he said, “This meeting is about me. I should be allowed to be there. I have to be there for my 8th grade IEP meeting anyway, so what is the difference.” Then I started to questions my spontaneous answer.So why did I react so strongly to him asking to be there? I don’t honestly know. I guess it is one of my last ditch efforts to protect him. Yes, he knows he has Asperger’s, but he has never sat in a room with a group of people telling him what he is doing differently from everyone else. I am so afraid that what might seem like a heavy dose of criticism would scar him for life. On the other hand, maybe it would be a good thing for him to feel like he is taking control of his own education. Maybe it would be a way of him taking responsibility for his own actions. Maybe I just need to let go and let him grow up a little.
These meetings have always been so hard for my husband and I. We both always leave feeling deflated. No matter how much we both understand the struggles that he faces, it just doesn’t seem to ever get easier to have it thrown at us all at once. It seems so hard to make decisions for him when his struggles change from day to day, and they vary from class to class. I just don’t want him to feel overwhelmed and defeated like we have so many times.
I know I have to prepare him for this big world that faces him, but I just don’t know the right way to do it. I wish I could Google, “How to raise a child with Asperger’s syndrome without screwing up.” For that matter, I would pay a hefty penny for the App that tells me how to make the right decisions for my children because this parenting gig doesn’t seem to be getting any easier.
I guess the next few days will be filled with quiet contemplation. Then, we will do what every parent truly does with these kind of decisions, we will jump of the cliff with a hope and a prayer that we made the right decision.