Tag Archives: Education

The Nag or the Friend?

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Since becoming the Home School Mom (of the Year…not) of my Aspie’s life, we’ve had a few ups and downs. I’ve been the teacher extraordinaire, the grumpy teacher, the balanced teacher…the good mom, the evil twin sister mom, the huggy mom…it’s been a mixture of good and the not-so-excellent. Overall, I think we’ve made some progress. I can’t always be the Mom they remember. Teacher Mom gets in there and makes them work. Other times, Fibro Mom lays in bed for a day and tells them to do a few things here and there. I mark their stuff in bed and life goes on.

Lately, I am thinking because of the general state of pubescence, I seem more of a nag to him than usual. Or he’s losing some brain cells to the hormonal surges and I need to remind him more often. All he says he hears me say are things he has to do. He says he cringes when he hears his name because it will never be something fun or positive.

It hurts my heart a little that he perceives our lives like that. Me the Drill sergeant, never the soft mom who listens to his problems/happy talk all the time. He sees me as definitely someone who sucks joy out of his life. I call him back to what he is supposed to do in his life and school and little else. I have to say, I feel the same. I feel we’ve lost a bit of our rapport. It used to be great. I think it’s NORMAL for an almost-teen boy and his mom to not be as close but I still want to have a good relationship with him. How do I change this? How do I make it less him against me?

I should probably read a few books about it. There is probably some very good books on the topic.

A few ideas I’ve prayed about are:

*Taking more time to play with him. I need to play those Wii games I dislike. We always have fun doing it.

*I need to listen more. It’s been easy to gloss over what he’s saying and not really listen. We’ve had great conversations in the past but the kid can talk and there are only so many mine craft convos until I start staring into space. I need to be more aware of what he wants to talk about.

* We need to get out more. Or maybe he needs to. He needs more stimulation than ever. He likes to move, play ball, be with friends. It’s a normal part of his development when friends become important and parents aren’t. I get it. Just who do you trust with your son. We’ve had some interesting things happen to us in this community with “friends” so we are wanting to let him spread his wings, however we still need to be watchful and vigilant in whom he hangs with. I am praying about this one so very much. I want my child to have some really good friends and ones he and we can trust. It’s complicated when he’s an Aspie. He has the ability to make friends (yay) but not the ability to make good judgments when his friends are asking to do something he knows is wrong. Anyways…it’s a tough one.

* We do our best to give as many opportunities as we can to cater to our children’s interests and to keep them just busy enough but not too busy for family. When we home school two and public school two the dynamics of what that means gets complicated. We need him to have more positive interactions. This year he has found basketball difficult but has worked through it tremendously. Still, he thinks he has to do basketball because he has to and I’m praying he can start enjoying it. There are many people on his team with which he could enjoy it with.

* He wants to figure out what his passions are, what his purpose is so that he can plan for the future…what do I want to do with the rest of my life? I pray we can help him see what he is good at because there are so many things.

My sweet, kind, goofy, spirited boy…how I do love him. I pray that we can find a balance in it all as he grows . He was born for a purpose and I know he will find it.

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The great highs and lows of Aspie livin’

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skateboard (Photo credit: expense)

This last year has been a time of great achievements and growth in J-man. HE had started to act less “Aspie” and more “normal”. Crying was a part of his daily life not to long ago, far longer than what the rest of the world thought he should cry. I have never actually taken to what the “world” or “they” tell us. His crying had become almost non-existent.  To see him be more calm and in control about things did my heart proud. He had made such big steps and is able to control himself to only show mild frustration and not let it escalate.

That was last year, before we decided to home school he and his sister full-time. I’m pretty sure there have been all the adjustments and frustration with HS’ing with his arch (family) enemy. It’s hard to be with a sibling that is bent on making you scream every chance she gets. On the other hand, she is entering pubescence as well as he is, so we have immature tween hormones at it’s finest here. She is crying or screeching and he’s barking like a dog or crying like the world is ending. Or meowing like a cat. Or he’s melting down like his life is at an end, at times.

I have mediated like a CHAMP and using the opportunity to build their rocky relationship…and it’s working. I play psychologist and they play my patients. They don’t see it, but it’s totally working. I clap my hands in silent GLEE! Until the crap hits the fan the next time.

Enter: Major Growth Spurt.

I was wondering why he was back-talking me and acting like what I said was the exact opposite of what he should do, then I realized he is pubescent. Yah, that’s right. And in the middle of the most major growth spurt of his life.

This made me shake my head at my blindness. Of course he’s going to be a hot mess while these things are happening in his body! What was I thinking? That since he is the size of an adult that he would think like one? Silly me.

No…it means a good dose of REGRESSION. We get to see the toddler years re-emerge into the bigger tween years.

christmas treeAdd to that the Christmas season, and we have some awesome fireworks around these parts, and I don’t mean the kind you buy off an illegal stand somewhere. No we have fireworks right in our own walls. Just as spectacular too. You should come over and watch. On the other hand…

I know that all the progress we’ve made is not lost, it’s just jumbled around in that brain that has a million chemicals trying to shoot around, in his body, so that he can grow and mature into the man he that I am sure he is becoming.

Watching your child lose part of their mind…the part they use to listen to our parental words like “Hey, man. Can you do the dishes for me please? Hello? Helloooo?” Well, it throws me back to my pubescence and I want to retaliate. But I don’t.

Ah forget it. I’ll just take the DS away from his face then he’ll “hear” me. Yah, that’ll work.

Aspie plus One

005I was pretty sure that bringing home my spitfire of a girl, my second oldest, would result in epic battles between she and my Aspie. She is delightfully strong-minded and I don’t mind telling you she’s adept at making many people cry. Her skills would do well in a future career of law, but she is setting her mind to be a Veterinarian.  She can be her own boss and Top Dog at the same time!

I have had a few friends and community contacts ask why we took her out of school to home school her. After all, she does just fine in the public system. I have many reasons, but I’ll just share a few.

1. My Aspie needed a sibling at home. He is definitely not going back to school and he needed a pal. Out of all of my kids, historically he and she do not mix well. This is going to be an opportunity to build their friendship and give company for each other during the times we are not actively doing “schoolwork”. It has worked out VERY well (so far) as I see them working out the differences many times. Sometimes I have to step in and help them work out squabbles, but mostly they are working it out and dare I say…having fun! There have been a couple of times where he’s begged “Can you please send her back…PLEASE!”

2. She is on the brightly intelligent spectrum and I foresee no problems getting her going on some projects that would help push her even further, intellectually and personally. I fear she has not been pushed to excellence and I can work one on one with her in areas that need improvement, like handwriting and printing. I know how much more she can do, even if she’s pulling easy 90’s. She likes a challenge and I’m good with being the one who is challenging her to reach farther.

3. Spiritually, she has so much potential and in school she was becoming discouraged with the amount of non spiritual content. She felt like she was spiritually alone in the school and that there were very few people that she could relate to in that way. That is not to say that she did not have some good friends at the school. She values those relationships greatly. We still make sure she can have opportunities to see those friends from time to time. Homeschooling allows us the time to play/interact with some peers who do love God and are now a part of her social group. We have also been able to take many teachable moments to discuss in-depth what the Bible says about certain topics.

There are a few more reasons I took her out. I was nervous about having her home. She and I can have some epic battles of the wills but I have not found that to be the case at all recently. In fact, she seems so much more relaxed and willing to back down. She has been the loving, caring, helpful and respectful child I knew that she could be.

The last six years, with my kids gradually going into the public school, I found myself more and more having to manage stress and fatigue fall-out from school. I would have to work out situations that were almost daily in occurrence. After school activities included De-escalating behaviors, instead of doing their homework and playing. Everyone felt deregulated.

This year, it seems like (for the most part) my two at home stay regulated and happy or at least relaxed when the other two come home. The other two are thrilled with school this year and so I think we are a happier and calmer family all around. There are still days, but I remember months of days where I would be talking all four children down from their proverbial ledges (simultaneously) from the time they arrived home until the time they would (finally) fall asleep. Homework often got pushed aside while we tried to manage life and behaviors.

I am so very thankful for the direction and support I have received from friends who homeschool. Also, I appreciate the folks who don’t understand why we do what we are doing, yet still accept that we are doing the best we know how for our family. We’ve got a pretty great community here.

Feeling GOOD!

English: Houses for the junior school students...
English: Houses for the junior school students at Isha Home School (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This year we are planning to home school J-man and he’s, quite honestly, stoked!  I have gone from being nervous to super excited as I plan his traditional home school curriculum. Traditional means that I get to decide what to teach him and in what context he’s learning it. I will be responsible to a facilitator who will make sure we are on track. I have changed schools and will be going with a Christian Based organization called Wisdom and it is run close to where we live. I just need to get a few things finalized and we will be READY!!

Now, I have thought of bringing the middle two home. The middle two are firecrackers in a wild circus show. They have a tonne of energy, a lot of sparkle and seem to get set off by each other in the blink of an eye. It’s quite a show but not one I look forward to homeschooling.

Belle is fantastically bright and just itches for a brain challenge. Don’t ask her to clean or make her bed though…it gets ugly. I think if she came home she would be able to be stimulated intellectually as I can gear her program to make the most of her beautiful brain. She would make an excellent student and I would have the challenge of keeping her busy enough to stay out of trouble.

Ninja is a gem. He loves to buckle down and get things done and it could take him millennia to do it because he’s on his own timetable. I think that would be the most challenging for him. I would hope that I could give him the space he needs but teach him to get things done in an proper amount of time. He’s a bright kid too so I have no worries except the possible huge blow-ups between the middle children. He does have some issues with sensory and a few social issues so school has been harder for him than I thought it would be. Would he survive Gr.2? Absolutely.

Honey is staying in school for sure this year. It will give her a little more time to learn how to read, give us more time at home to get used to schooling at home. She is a busy BUSY creature so I don’t think bringing her home quite yet is the answer. She LOVES school. We’re keeping her in Gr.1 for this coming year, unless something unexpected happens.

I know that we will not bring ALL the children home, as Honey will do best this year at school. Of that we are confident. On the other hand, eventually our goal is to bring them all home the next year. I did a whole blog about reasons for it over here.

I am excited and nervous about our next year of homeschooling/school. It’s so up in the air in some ways. I know how to make myself crazy. Give me a lot of good options and it will keep me up at night!

We are praying for clear answers and wait in holding pattern for now.

Thriving on structure…I’ve got to find ME some of that.

I’ve known for a long time that it was a very real possibility that we would have to pull J-man out of school and home school him full-time. I put off the doing of it because I knew that the decision had implications for the very structure, or lack of it, in our lives. There are other, more important, reasons why we took him out of school but the thought of what it meant for me as a mom to become a teacher and be on top of his education and the structure of it…well, I was happy to leave that up to the teacher at school. I am really distractable so the pressure to segment my time and not have interuptions getting in my way seemed an impossible task.

J-man thrives on structure. Before he could tell time he would ask me “How much longer until…?” or “What time is it?” He would base all of his life around the time on the clock. I just thought of it as a quirky little attribute when he was very young. Being able to tell time has made a world of difference in his world. He no longer has to ask me what time it is but he certainly keeps track of everything in our lives and chats on and on about how much longer it is until…everything. If I have told him something is going to happen, it is very disturbing for him to have that cancelled by weather, sickness or any other reason.

On the very first day of “doing” homeschool, I had him create a schedule for us. We determined what order we would do certain things at. Have we followed it? Ah, some of the time.

The good news is that we are FINISHED Science for the year. Can I have a witness?? Are other moms as excited when they finish a subject in APRIL? So, that leaves us with the other subjects. The subjects that he was doing at school are Math and Language Arts. Oy!  There are the other two reasons we put off Homeschooling until the very last straw. I received the curriculum before Easter Break. I didn’t touch them until after the holiday. I was avoiding it,really . Then the online teacher and I emailed a little discussion about it. Since he was barely passing in school, and it was hard to figure exactly where to start in the books,we decided that it was best to start at the beginning of the courses instead of plunk ourselves somewhere near the end (since it is April). That had me very stressed. The teacher reminded me that it was better for him to actually understand the basic concepts rather than push him ahead of where he was at. I could not argue with it. So, we are starting at the beginning.

I do not like Math and LA, but I am learning right along side my child. I am learning what a subject and predicate are. This is probably a very good thing, since I am writing two books at the moment. I should know the basics of writing too.

My life has not become any more structured in the last few weeks. Our lives are at the very core, scattered. Since my main squeeze is a Pastor, our phone rings at any moment and if I answer it can very well turn our morning into an afternoon. If someone shows up at our house, it sends J-man into an internal panic and his behaviour goes a little nutty. He likes structure, so anything that messes with it can cause him to get in a tizzy. This is an interesting balance to figure out.

We are feeling our way through it. I am relieved to have one subject done, another almost done and then two more that we are starting at the beginning with. Who knows if we will get anywhere near “done” by June. I am trying not to panic about it.

I just want to figure out how to draw boundaries that will ensure our structure a little more predictably.