Thursday, March 25, 2010

Today's lesson

I am so tired.
I'm physically and mentally worn out, just from existing. No legitimate reason, simply fried.

So today's biggest homeschool lesson involved teaching the children how to type "hEllo" and "BOOB" on the calculator. Far be it from me to deny them this important skill.

Tomorrow's lesson: Spitballs

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I love Max

When I first heard about the new series Parenthood, I was excited to see a "normal" show in the works. Then I heard a little more and decided it was going to be boring. THEN my sister reminded me about the premiere, and I had an empty slot on my TiVo. And that's how I fell in love with Max.

I'm still not sure how I feel about the show as a whole, but I have to admit that I'm fascinated by Max's story and the family's journey through his Asperger's diagnosis.

J was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome more than 6 1/2 years ago. I can't even begin to wrap my mind around that fact. I can barely remember a time when I didn't know, or at least suspect. And yet, I can't believe it's been so many years.

My kid chooses a Yankee wardrobe over a pirate costume, and he was pulled out of school rather than kicked out, but so much of Max IS my kid.

My family didn't get all kumbaya and what not while going through evaluations, but we all dealt with so many of the same thoughts, emotions and fears, and the show is navigating them beautifully.

The biggest difference between J and Max is baseball. Max didn't want to play. J is obsessed with becoming a Yankee.

A couple of years ago, J joined our local Challengers League - Little League for special needs kids. J asked to quit within weeks, and we let him. I thought it was because he felt it was too hard. I'm not a big fan of quitting, but I've always had to pick my battles with J, and I did (and do) believe that those battles should be reserved for the important life skills he'll need to work extra hard on. Baseball didn't fit that category.

This year, J begged to try out for "real" Little League, and my stomach immediately tied itself in knots. He's 11 years old. His LL peers have been playing since before they could read, and J can't seem to walk across an open floor without tripping.

The husband, the ex and I had many serious conversations about this, and we all worried about J taking on a competitive sport, particularly one he loved so much. If he didn't measure up against the rest of the players, he would be crushed. And a crushed Aspie can transfer that emotion to EVERY SINGLE aspect of their lives. But we decided to risk it and sign him up for tryouts. The kid who can't ride a bike, or even tie his shoes well.

My extraordinary husband volunteered to take J, which was great, because I was going to make him anyway. I was too afraid I might tell J the school had burned down or baseball had been outlawed half way there. Or worse, that I'd get there and throw up on a coach's shoes. I knew J had to go through this experience, but he sure as hell didn't need me making it worse.

So J and the husband took off early to watch the younger kids try out. There was a flurry of text messages between the two of us while I stayed on the phone with the ex, relaying messages and venting my nervousness.

J was looking a little green.
The husband spoke to the LL president about J's "situation".
J was being given a separate tryout to see "what he had".

And then J called me to let me know he'd made the minor league team!

It turns out, the kid is a decent ball player, with real potential as a pitcher (the position he covets).
Which means the husband, the ex and I had seriously underestimated the child.
Which means it was an exhilarating moment mixed with some serious guilt.

I'm left wondering what else I've overlooked in these past 6 1/2 years. Have I held him back from other opportunities and desires? Have I pushed him to accept defeat by default in other areas where he could have excelled? I'll probably never know.

What I do know is that I have one very excited son. He can't stop talking about, writing about, or watching shows about baseball. I'm not ready to buy into the idea that he will be a Yankee one day, but I sure won't count it out. I won't count anything out!

Meanwhile, the writers of Parenthood have put Max in an astronomically expensive special school. The average parents of similar children do not have the access or the finances to do such a thing. I hope they plan to bring things back to reality by highlighting not just the gifts that these kids possess, but the incredible (and not so incredible) surprises they bring. I have enough material to get them through 6 1/2 seasons.

But first, I have to tell my 11yo child that his button down jersey is on backwards.

Monday, March 15, 2010

There are better things to fight about

If you weren't already aware, my husband and I are atheists. That doesn't necessarily mean we're raising our children to be atheists, despite our parents' (irrational) fears. Instead, we take more of a "free thinkers" method, though I didn't realize it had a name until I read Dale McGowan's Raising Freethinkers.

Since we began homeschooling, we've been studying history chronologically and science from an evolutionary stand point*. Since we're just now getting toward the year 1CE, we've yet to really dig in to Christianity and have only briefly touched on other "modern" religions. The majority of our focus has been on the ancient religions of the middle eastern and eastern world and standard physical science.
*My 11yo has obviously had more time than the girls studying history and science before being homeschooled, but we all know how school textbooks typically deal with these things.

Despite not being raised to be good little (enter any religion here), my children have managed to translate what they know to a broader concept.

J and I were having a conversation in the car, discussing whether it was feasible to be both Jewish and Christian (his father's family is Jewish and mine is Christian). Rather than give him an answer, I gave him a few contradicting points to consider. H and M were quick to take offense.

"Stop fighting. It isn't okay to fight about religion!"

I found it fascinating that 1, they would consider our calm, polite conversation to be 'fighting' and 2, that they - my 'unsocialized and sheltered' little girls - intuitively understood the personal nature of belief and the hurt that can be caused by (perceived or real) challenges to those beliefs.

Obviously I need to work on explaining the differences between discussion, debate, and fights. Our upcoming lessons on the Roman invasion of Britain should prove interesting. And as they continue to prepare for Tooth Fairy visits while questioning the plausibility of Santa Clause, I really have no idea where their world view will end up. But I'm pretty confident in their ability to determine what makes sense to them while respecting the ideas that lead others to different conclusions.

As of right now, J is still determined to mesh Christianity with Judaism. H labels herself a polytheist. M is determined to find fairies and C worships whoever holds the cookies. If they can manage to live together and respect each other (at least on this point, lol), how is it that so many adults have so much trouble doing so?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A whole bunch of nothing

So I decided to log in this morning and report that I've been a lazy sack, up to nothing for the past 4 months or so. Then I thought about it and realized that "nothing" includes:

1. Chasing a 2yo
2. Chasing a 2yo while educating 3 kids
3. Chasing a 2yo while doing laundry
4. Chasing a 2yo while volunteering in my community
5. Chasing a 2yo while volunteering as a Parent Community Coordinator's assistant for Foundation Beyond Belief
6. Chasing a 2yo while doing dishes
7. Chasing a 2yo while revamping the household budget
8. Chasing a 2yo while planning next years curricula
9. Chasing a 2yo while practicing more home cooking
10. Chasing a 2yo while playing Word Twist on Facebook
11. Chasing a 2yo while (finally) reading The Omnivore's Dilema and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
12. Chasing a 2yo while adjusting to the husband's new job responsibilities
13. Chasing a 2yo while reorganizing my pantry
14. Chasing a 2yo while (repeatedly) plunging toilets
15. Chasing a 2yo while trying to potty train said 2yo

My baby turns 3 in less than 2 months. I have very mixed feelings about that. On one hand, I'm ready to be done with the terrible twos. On the other hand, feeling I probably don't have the strength to raise any more 2yos, it's difficult to accept that this is the last time I'll ever do so.

Instead, I'm focusing on learning how to raise chickens, goats and sheep. Society doesn't expect me to potty train them, so surely it's a whole lot easier!

We've had a little taste of Spring these past few days, and I'm really hoping that will pull me out of my winter depression (which I don't believe actually exists, and yet I truly believe I do have) enough to play on my blog more often. Don't hold me to it!