Monday, May 28, 2007

"That's okay"

Tonight we met the woman who will be Jonathan's kindergarten teacher this fall. The school had a kindergarten open house this evening, so we went to that--Rich for the first part of the hour, I for the whole meeting. The school has both French Immersion and English kindergarten, and when we all met together with the principal and teachers, I realized I was the only parent there for English kindergarten! (They have 3 French classes and only one English.) But that was actually wonderful because I was able to go down to the classroom with the teacher and talk one-on-one with her for about half an hour. She told me all about how she organizes her class, how the daily routine unfolds, etc. She seems like a very suitable teacher for Jonathan--a little older than most kindergarten teachers (by her own admission), and somewhat old-fashioned in her appearance and demeanour. I can see him becoming very attached to her, just as he has with Laurie and Janet, his nursery-school teachers.

Because no other parents were present, we got to talk about some of the issues which we'll discuss in more detail at the larger transition meeting being held next Wednesday (with the principal, special ed teacher, etc.). It was really neat because everything I would bring up as a possible area of concern, she would reply, "That's okay."
"He's pretty delayed in his language: his longest sentence would be 'there it is'."
"That's okay."
"He's not toilet trained yet."
"That's okay, I had a child last year, and they got an EA to come in and help him with training. Besides, he may come a long way over the summer."
"His fine motor skills are not that great yet; he can really only scribble."
"That's okay, we'll start wherever he is."

She seemed pleased and eager to have Jonathan in her class, and now that I've visited the classroom and met her, I can more easily imagine him as a little kindergartener in September.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

food for the soul

Today was a beautiful day. Instead of my usual afternoon of taking Jonathan to nursery school and doing errands while I wait for him, I let Rich handle that assignment and instead went to a noon-hour concert at St. George's Cathedral. This was the first in a series of Thursday concerts they are having throughout the summer; I've never gone before but decided to go to this one and invited my friend Lori to join me. A young tenor named Christopher Mayell was the performer, and I really enjoy listening to tenor vocalists. He sang a number of different pieces, most of which I didn't know, although a few were in English and familiar, such as "The Water is Wide", "Ash Grove", and "Down By The Salley Gardens".

The high point was the final piece, a duet which he sang with another young man. It is quite a famous duet from the opera "The Pearl Fishers" by Bizet. I realize all that makes me sound very highbrow and la-di-da, but in fact all I know is that I love this piece of music. I had to go on the internet to find out exactly what the song is about. In the song, the two men are in the temple and see a beautiful woman appear. They are instantly smitten with her and sing back and forth about how lovely she is. Then they resolve not to let their love for her destroy their friendship, but to let it unite them even more closely. It was a beautiful duet: a perfect ending to a beautiful concert.

This experience reminds me of the importance of taking time to do enjoyable things like this when the opportunity arises. As parents of young kids Rich and I realize there are lots of things we just can't do at this time in our lives, and accepting our limitations, rather than rebelling against them, is the best thing to do. But that doesn't mean we can't just say "I want to go to a concert" or "I want to join the church baseball team" or whatever. Doing what you love--whether playing a sport, or listening to beautiful music, or reading a good book--provides food for the soul.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Just say "NO"

There is a particular parenting website that I've been checking out for the last couple of years. It has forums on every parent- and child-related topic under the sun: from baby names to teen health to homeschooling and beyond. One of its forums is "Special Needs," and I check that one out most frequently, sometimes just to read the posts and gain information, other times to ask or answer questions. It's great when someone writes, for example, "My son is going to start taking Valproic Acid for seizures; has anyone else used this medication?" and I can respond with some first-hand knowledge of that specific subject.

But lately I've been disturbed by the negativity of a particular person who posts regularly. Someone might write to ask, "How does the school pick an EA [educational assistant]?" and she will write, "Your school will probably resist your request for an EA; be prepared to fight for it." Someone else might ask, "How does an IEP [Individual Education Plan] work?" and she will reply, "Don't worry about having an IEP; worry about all the roadblocks the school system will put in your path to make your child's life difficult." This is her take on every subject raised: everyone, particularly the school system, is out to thwart you and your child and to deliberately and maliciously keep you from getting what you need.

I finally had to stop visiting this forum--not before writing my own post stating my discomfort with this endless negativity. There is nothing wrong with expressing feelings of dissatisfaction or discouragement; there is nothing wrong with saying that we feel we've been wronged; there is even nothing wrong with complaining (that's often what these forums are great for: being a place to vent to others who understand and can commiserate). But purposefully and repeatedly trying to infect others with a negative, cynical spirit when their circumstances may be very different from our own is wrong and toxic.

I know that I can't let that kind of spirit affect me, especially at this point when we are preparing to start Jonathan in kindergarten this fall. The principal called yesterday to say that a transition meeting is scheduled for June 6 so that she, the teacher, the special ed teacher, and everyone else involved with Jonathan can discuss his entry into "real school". We feel a bit anxious, but hopeful and excited too. If problems arise, we will have to deal with them--but to anticipate them ahead of time, and assume that those whose job it is to help Jonathan are going to resist doing so, is unfair to both Jonathan and the school.

Besides, in the life of faith there has to be a sense of hope. We all feel discouragement and confusion, even despair, at times, but walking with God means we never lose hope--and we resist those who might try to rob us of it.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

"Welcome to our school"

Those friendly yet official-sounding words represent another step in our journey toward kindergarten entrance for Jonathan. A few weeks ago we were told that the Catholic school Allison attends probably cannot accept Jonathan due to unexpectedly high enrollment. So we were left to explore other options.

Last week I went to our local public school, which is within walking distance of home and only 1-1/2 blocks from Allison's school. It is a very large building with 400+ students and several portables (what we used to call "mobiles" when I was in school), and I felt a bit intimidated when I went in. But the secretaries were very friendly, and as I was asking them my questions about kindergarten enrollment, the principal stepped out of her office and introduced herself. I told her briefly about some of Jonathan's special issues, and she said right away, "That would involve setting up a transition meeting with the special ed teacher etc. and we would do all that before the end of this school year ... and we'd look into him having a staggered start, maybe doing only 1/2 days at first ... and we'd look into what kind of help he'd need in the classroom" etc. etc. She seemed so positive and so on-top of the situation; it really gave me a good feeling. There is a part of me (admittedly a steadily shrinking part) that thinks we are imposing and making more work for the school, etc.--but then I remember that every child has the right to the best possible education he or she can have.

After reviewing the kindergarten materials and talking to a couple of people from our church whose kids attend that school and who spoke highly of it, we decided to go ahead and register Jonathan. So today I brought in the completed forms and a package of background information about Jonathan's various tests and assessments. The secretary looked the forms over, then smiled and said, "Welcome to our school!"

So we have taken another step along the path. We can't see too far ahead, but at the moment it feels like we are going the right way.

Monday, May 14, 2007

This gives "baby picture" a whole new meaning!

First of all, I apologize for this very small photo. This is Jonathan at nursery school, looking at a box full of baby chicks--a beautiful picture that I'd love you all to see. However, I'm having a lot of problems posting photos on this blog and have been trying to shrink my photos until Blogger will accept them. (Thanks for your help, Franceen!) But this is the largest picture I could post! I kept shrinking the file and saving it with all different names: "" etc. This one I called "itty.bitty"!

Oh well, I'll keep working on it.

In the meantime, get out your magnifying glasses and enjoy.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

A Mother's Day reflection

When I was young I had a Barry Manilow album. That not only dates me, but leaves me open to public ridicule! Anyway, there was a song on it that I still remember (and which I heard a few months ago on CBC Stereo - I hadn't heard it since my teenage days). Its words bring home to me the reality and significance of motherhood:

I Am Your Child

I am your child.
Wherever you go,
You take me too;
Whatever I know
I learned from you.
Whatever I do,
You taught me to do.
I am your child.

And I am your chance.
Whatever will come
Will come from me;
Tomorrow is won
By winning me.
Whatever I am,
You taught me to be.
I am your hope.
I am your chance.
I am your child.

I'd like to dedicate this to 8 strong, funny, loving women--7 moms and a mom/grandma--with whom I meet every 2nd Thursday afternoon to share, talk, and provide support. Happy Mother's Day to all of you!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Happy Birthday, Rich!

Today is Rich's birthday, and as we like to say, he has now "caught up to me." (What a trial it is to be 3 weeks older than your husband!) We have been having an enjoyable day: we went to church and then had our friends/neighbours Jonathan & Heather Vandersteen over for lunch, a good chat, and a trip to the park.

I have now known Rich for almost 20 years. He is a thoughtful, humble person whom I am honoured to know and be married to. He is also an excellent athlete (soccer, running, etc.) and an all-round nice guy.
Happy Birthday hon!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Family fun

We've had a great week with Mom and Dad, who stayed 6 nights with us, and with Alan, Genevieve, and Sadie (my brother, sister-in-law, and niece) from London, who were in Kingston for 4 nights and spent lots of time with us. While we had a couple of outings, such as a trip to Lake on the Mountain, most of our time was spent hanging out with the kids and enjoying meals and coffee times together. It was especially fun to see the changes in our niece, whom we haven't seen since November and who is now 2 years 7 months old: she is speaking in complete sentences and becoming quite a little lady. Mom and Dad are seeing all of their grandchildren on this one trip, which is a rare occurrence.

We have lots of good memories of the visit and are already looking forward to vacationing in PEI in August!