A Block South of Petrified

Stopped just short of petrified is how I feel about the full day of school my son faces tomorrow.

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The world has again shown us its kindest, most compassionate side while my boy has convalesced this past week.  Tomorrow?  I am not sure he is ready, except he has to be; I am not sure I am ready, except, being the adult, I have to be too.

Whatever it is you do to send good vibes out to the universe?  Please do that for my son Monday, won’t you?  I don’t know another way to describe his gait and posture but that of a 70 degree angle from the waist up.  He’s like the right side of a capital “Y.”  OK, I guess do know another way!  He’s stepping gingerly, oh-so-slowly, but he is moving on his own with the help of his pediatrician, an orthopedic specialist, a badass/compassionate PA, the right meds, and well, inertia.  A body in motion tends to stay in motion and all that.

My husband has been an exemplary physical therapist/cheerleader/motivational speaker/pill dispensary/personal health aide for our son.  He’s made our kid get up and at ’em (relatively speaking, of course), forcing him to maneuver outside his comfort zone of flat-on-his-back-in-his-bed.  I believe my husband has missed his true calling.

This last week has been a challenge for us all.  Though not the one who sustained the serious injury, I am weary.  As I watch my son fight to complete such daunting tasks as, oh, let’s say stand up or sit down, requiring midday naps (yes, naps, plural) to recover from the exertion, my maternal anxiety meter is pinging in the red.  How is he going to spend a whole day at school?  Can he possibly spend a whole day at school?  At what time will I get the “Come pick me up?” call??  How will he make up the three tests, myriad assignments, and Solo & Ensemble competition he missed last week, and under what time frame?

I can solve none of these problems for him; he’s on his own at school.  I don’t need to be reminded that’s how it’s supposed to be; I know. *sigh*

 

 

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Dyssynchronous

Dyssynchronous is a word–incorrect-looking and cumbersome sequence of letters though it may be, it’s as close a word as I’ve found to describe the out-of-timeness I’m experiencing.

As I overshared previously, I began my forty-seventh school year August 6.  After an entire lifetime of Labor Day-ish starts, it was decided that I’d begin #47 on what our district terms its “Early Start” calendar.  Notice the passive verb “it was decided. . .”  It was one of those I’m-a-total-jerk-if-I-don’t-agree kinds of scenarios; I could have refused probably, but someone else would have been significantly affected then, and given my kids’ ages, it wasn’t an apocalypse-caliber event for Team Weir.

I’ve been back at work three weeks already.  It should be mid-September.  Leaves should be descending from elms and maples, brilliant in their yellows and reds as they float toward earth.  Temperatures should start to dip, so that I am forced to grab a hoodie when I walk the dog.  It should be my birthday next week!  My office and my school are glacially cold–the thermostat in my therapy room read 62.4 degrees Tuesday, and I wear a blanket when I work in my office.  And yes, “wear” is the correct verb.  I need to bring back the work Snuggie.  OK, probably Snuggie didn’t create a version specifically for the workplace, but they should.  My point anyway is that it’s bitingly cold wherever I am these days, but when I step out of doors between schools or after work, I feel cuffed upside the head by the heat.  It’s very confusing.

It should be autumn. It’s not that I am wishing away summer, but my long-established internal clock tells me it’s September 14th or so.  And while I’m at it: Fall Ball.  My little one made the 2019 baseball team, and they began a 5-week Fall Ball season last Sunday.  ONE of their games of the five-week “fall ball” series occurs in autumn and only two days post-equinox, so “fall ball” is a lie.  Sure, it rhymes so therefore is catchy, but it’s really closer to “New kids on new teams, good luck on the MLB-sized diamonds, kids, you CAN be thrown out at first even if you hit the ball to left field” ball.  No wonder I’m so off!

In actual news. . .

Each of my son’s high school teachers’ course syllabi contained some type of contract wherein my child’s signature attested that he understands and promises to abide by the classroom policies and grading expectations set forth in said syllabus.  Parents too are made to enter into these same contracts, so you sign, hopeful your kid isn’t a total dick when you’re not around (he’s probably not a total tool, I feel sure of that).  Each syllabus contained too a comment section, captioned with text like “It would help if you knew this about my child.

Weighing the should I/shouldn’t I? angel and devil positioned on my left and right shoulders, I wondered how much to disclose this early.  You don’t want to lead with what he can’t do, but you want less that he be judged or graded unfairly because of the disease.  Yes, his school knows he has a Section 504 accommodations plan–there’s a little flag in the district’s data management system, and in theory all school staff are to be made aware of this.  But I work in this district myself, and if I had to hazard a guess, the only staff aware of what 504 truly means are the school psychologist, those teachers whose own children have/need a 504 plan, or those who have had a student with a 504 plan on their class list last year.  I did not just roll from the turnip truck, y’all.

For the English teacher who requires that kids mostly sit still, I explained that muscular dystrophy causes fatigue and discomfort, and that my kid cannot remain still for extended periods of time.  To the Biology teacher, I noted that muscular dystrophy stole my kid’s grip strength meaning he drops a lot of things (dig if you will the picture, beakers, test tubes, chemicals, microscopes in a lab–what will THOSE replacement fees look like, do you think?).  To the band director, I wrote that marching band with a bass drum along a parade route is probs a no-go.  He replied within a few hours, telling me that he would move him to a different, lighter drum, and one where the mallets are secured with wrist straps.  How I love musicians.

So far, so good is a fair statement covering his first few weeks.  His first official high school assignment grade earned an AD (which is an “A”, an “advanced” for those of you unfamiliar with standards-based grading), so yay.  I dropped his freshman butt off at 6:40 AM today so he could spin vinyl on the school old-school radio station before school starts.  There’s a football game tonight, and he joined the pep band, so look for him in the drum corps pounding out the backbeat to the Husky Fight Song tonight.  He will always be my baby, but now my baby is making his own lunches, he’s taking public transportation to school most days, and he’s doing homework without being told.  So far, so good indeed.

But not as good as this guy, a teacher at my kid’s school, locally famous for his Husky Lunch Songs.  It’s worth the minute it’ll take you to watch it.  Making hot lunch better, one chicken patty at a time.

It’s Been

One week since my child began high school.  I’ve adopted something of an air accomplishment, my freshman having gotten to school five days and home four to date.  I realized this is not an accomplishment, and even less so my accomplishment, but hey!  He made it, and so have I–our butts are draggin’ to be sure, but it’s Friday.  One week of high school under his belt, one more week of Fiscal Year 2019 under mine; one week of morning routines upended topsy-turvy; one week spent ratcheting back my alarm earlier each day to get him (us) to the city transit bus stop by 6:53 in the AM.

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I’m super time anxious, as most of you know.  I’m that nettlesome “I’m late if I’m ten minutes early” person.  My son does not share this same anxiety, afforded is he the special egocentrism through which teenagers float.  He does exhibit his own variation of time-related angst however.  His discomfort peeks out from the clouds when I frantically announce deadlines such as, YOU HAVE TO BE AT THE BUS STOP IN FOUR MINUTES AND YOU DON’T HAVE SHOES ON YET, or organization-related elements like, YOU HAVE GOT TO PACK THAT SHIT UP THE NIGHT BEFORE, SON! (and yeah, those are direct quotes).  My heart rate has hovered around 100 for much too much time this week.  It is no inverse relationship between my heart rate and my having to be or get someone somewhere on time, get someone somewhere early.

My son remarked that my morning stress levels are probably related to his new school routines.  He noticed (even he couldn’t not notice), and I felt terrible.  I wrote him this letter yesterday to explain, to try to anyway–

My Baby Who Is Not My Baby Anymore,

I am excited for you and proud of you for having stepped up and taken charge of a whole new high school world.  It’s one thing to have prepared for it–applying, touring, testing, purchasing supplies, even taking the bus for the practice run, but it’s another to be doing it in real life.

Any stress or weird behavior from me is MY responsibility; it’s all on me.  Of course I worry about you, and want things to go well for you.  I want you not to struggle, so I want things to go smoothly.  But my anxiety and my stress aren’t because of you being in high school.  I’m just wired differently than a lot of people.  Trying to work out timing of anything causes me to overthink and become unduly nervous.  When I get nervous and feel frustrated, I tend to swear or have those little fits.  I need to work on that, but it is important to me that you know it’s not because of you.

Your job is to focus on your studies, Kid.  You’re going to work more and harder than ever before.  Take it all in.  Try to see how you fit in to the world around you.  Look around and make connections between the world and your classroom learning.  Never settle.  Never.  Ever.  Always shoot for the “A.”  You will settle for a “B” from time to time, but I want you to think in terms of A, advanced.  IB (International Baccalaureate) will help you learn for life.  Great things don’t happen when your highest aim is to be proficient.  Every day of high school prepares you for what is to come in college and in life.  Be great, not just good enough.

Hard work and thoughtful attention to your studies and the people around you will make you a good student, and more importantly, a good person, a good friend.  No matter what you do, never settle for less than your best.  Even when it’s hard or it’s a subject you dislike, do your best.

Your grandparents always told me that if I gave anything my best effort, did all that I could, that’s all they’d ever ask of me.  And now I am telling you that same thing.  It’s good advice, son.

Congratulations on making it through week one of high school.  Can’t wait to see what you’re going to accomplish.

Love, Mom

Despite having places to be each night after work and school this week, I made a point to attend yoga last night.  I’m pleased to report that for the first time since re-re-starting, I didn’t wake up achy and stiff today.  Progress, that’s what we call that.  Before class, I attended the funereal visitation of a man whose son played baseball with mine three and four seasons ago.  I didn’t know him well, but his wife and I remained Facebook friends and continue to share inappropriate, sassy and snarky memes and baseball mom messages from time to time.  He lost his life at age 35, and all I can think about is how much he will miss.  Such an early passing is tragic, every passing is painful, but to be gone from your children so early is unthinkable.  My heart aches for his wife and three children.

My son read and saved my letter.  He may have even hugged me (but don’t tell anyone, OK?), and relief washed over me like a cleansing rain.  During last night’s final pose, shavasana (savasana?), lying on my back in a tightly cramped yoga studio, I shed tears.  I couldn’t help myself.  Though my body was present, my mind raced, reflecting on loss, love, connections, missed connections, growth, and how there is never enough time.  The tears refused to stop until I sat upright, but my heart knew peace.  I know that reads totally cheeseball, but my heart felt good.  I bowed and uttered namaste for the first time with not even a hint of fraud, sass, or irony.

Keep trying.  Do your best.  Admit when you’re wrong.  Apologize when a situation demands it.  Be good.  Do good.  All of this.

Grade 9

It was all I could do not to title this, “This is me in Grade 9,” a lyric any even casual Barenaked Ladies fan would sing, rather than read, aloud.  But this is serious, people, maybe even Serious with a capital S: My son starts high school tomorrow.

He’d clobber me if I divulged his super secret identity–that’s mine, the tall sloucher on the right with two buddies he’s known since K4 and K5.

Is he ready?  In the technical sense, sure.  His new backpack is loaded with all the correct supplies direct from the prescribed list; we scored the insanely pricey graphing calculator at an insanely reasonable price; he received his eighth grade completion gift today, his new laptop; Friday morning, he and I completed a dry-run of his bus route together–his school doesn’t run yellow school buses, no.  He gets a County Transit bus pass and will hop mass transit, transfering about 25 blocks from here due south to high school; my husband is assembling his new IKEA desk as I type.  In every technical sense of the word “ready,” my boy is.

But he’s nervous.  Weren’t you before your first day of freshman year?  Were your parents dying the thousand deaths I am today?  Did you sleep even a wink??

Me, ACTUALLY in grade nine.  Yeesh.

En route to my last (better be my last?!!) stop to gather the boys’ last minute school supplies, I listened to the song Grateful, my summer jam by Better Than Ezra, and cried.  Like tears ran down my cheeks cried, thank you very much Kevin Griffin, Tom Drummond, and Michael Jerome.  Non sequitir:  You know how my dedication to my concentrated hobby has landed me in my superfan group, the Ladies Ladies?  Ultra-mega-mega fans of Better Than Ezra call themselves the Ezralites, a name that tickles me a whole lot–it’s awesome.  Anyway, Grateful.  It’s a nearly perfect song, just not long enough really.  Long enough to elicit tears it seems, but I always listen to it twice in a row because I wish it was longer.  Anyway,  after snapping up two college ruled composition notebooks, I became paralyzed with terror, right there in the checkout line: Who will he sit by at lunch tomorrow?

Will kids be nice?  What if they’re assholes?  What if he unknowingly plops down at the cool kids table and he’s treated the way kids are ostracized on television?  What if there’s room for eight kids and he’s ninth in line?  What if the reality of his school cafeteria is the scene out of every 80s movie, or worse?  What if he drops his carton of milk or can’t open his water bottle?  What if it really is more like the high school depicted in Thirteen Reasons Why?  Laugh if you must, but this is the kind of shit that steals my sleep.  I experienced a similar terror the first day he took hot lunch in four-year-old kindergarten.  Anxiety is not Johnny-come-lately to me.

I am inert, so I busy myself with mundane tasks around the house, and I’m not doing those well or with attention either for that matter.  I have failed to locate a very important work binder brought home specifically this summer with the intent it stay “safe,” that it not get lost at my office over the summer.  Yeah.  Super.  It’s my first student day as a speech-language pathologist (year 28, yo!) tomorrow too, and I’m what you might call distracted.  Sorry other students, my own kid is top priority today and tomorrow.

It’s OK though, right? I didn’t get to this ripe, old age without surviving freshman year, and neither did you.  He’s nervous, did ya hear?  He’s nervous, but his mother puts on one hell of a game face.  I tell him it’s OK to be nervous, a little nerves are expected, appropriate even, that it’d be weird were he not a touch butterflies-in-tummy.  We’ve discussed his 504 plan, about which his new school’s 504 coordinators have already contacted me, so he’s on the radar.  I’ve assured him that he won’t receive detention for being late to class, that he’s got a contingency if his fingers choose not to cooperate.  He doesn’t have physical education first semester, and I’m working on some alternatives for next semester in that regard, so thank STARS for that!

He thinks he’s nervous?  Jaysus, the boy’s got nothing on his mother.  He doesn’t catch me tearing up because I’m the mom, and mom’s gotta keep that shit together.  He doesn’t see that my Fitbit reads about 102 all the time (which, for what it’s worth, is not a sustainable heart rate for daily living–it’s exercise simply being me, ofttimes).  He doesn’t see this stupid blog and read how nervous I am.

But he also doesn’t know how excited I am for him too. It’s a whole new world, high school.

He, and every other kid matriculating tomorrow, gets a clean slate.  He gets to be the same kid he’s always been, or he gets to reinvent himself.  HE gets to pick.  What a gift and adventure on which he’s about to toddle those shaky first steps.

My fingers are crossed and I also kinda want to puke, but as the song says–

I’m gonna be grateful every day

Make a little wave and we’ll ride it

I’m gonna keep shakin’ off the shade

Make a little ray and then shine it, shine it, shine it on.

Shine on, my baby.  Oh, how I love you, and how grateful I am for the opportunities awaiting you.  Got a million things to do, what’s the point in trying, trying?  Keep trying anyway.  Go get ’em, Class of 2022!