The IEP Prayer

We all do it right, the IEP prayer the night, week, month leading up to an IEP. You know the one, “Dear Lord, please open the teams mind, heart and soul in order to do the best they can for MY child.”

Wait… am I the only one? Can’t be. Please tell me I am not alone here. 

Anyway, here I am again… praying. This one… though… honestly… I’ve never prayed harder. 

This IEP, on Thursday, this one… it is a transitional IEP. Steve is winding down his time in elementary school and is about to head off to middle school. WOW, that’s scary. It is scary not just because the time has flown unbelievably fast bye my eyes, but scary because Brooklyn’s been in middle school now for two years and I feel as though I have a pretty good grasp on what life is like there. To be honest, that scares the CRAP outta me for Steve. 

Generally, Steve needs low levels of support. He can dress himself, he can use the restroom on his own, can get his own lunch from the shelter while at school, and so on. However, when it comes to his academics, well this is where his need for support lies. I’ve seen the work load handed to 6th graders out of the gate and I’ve seen Steve’s current work product sent home. Steve still needs support a lot of it, but not in the ways many others need support. Steve is an individual…. I guess this is why they are called Individual Education Plans.  So, lets be honest, it all starts with his executive functioning skills, or lack there of. So that’s what sent me off on my latest IEP prep spiral, how do I help him with his deficits with executive functioning.  

What’s that? Com’mon first you don’t know the prayers and now you don’t know the spiral? I can NOT be the only one this is happening to, Honestly, TRUTHFULLY… hello… Bueller.. Bueller… Is this thing on?

Well yes… It is true… for this IEP the usual spiral turned into the DEATH SPIRAL, but….ok so, well,  I ended up spending well over 150 hours researching, learning, figuring out, and taunting myself with the most amazing information I could find. This time, one thing seemed to lead to another. More great information after more great information. I stumbled on the holy grail of missing puzzle pieces, I met other mom’s in other parts of the country who have legal support on speed dial. Man oh Man I was gonna get this one RIGHT! Mama here was a dog… with a bone. Nothing you are gonna do can stop me. I am going to be the best, most informed parent at this IEP meeting that you have ever seen! (Really, you still don’t recognize the spiral?… Fine!)

It helped, it really did. I did learn a lot of new things, like how to write better IEP goals. I look back at my son’s previous IEP’s now and cringe. I wonder, how did I think this was okay. How did I think this was going to help him? It really is remarkable. How once you know more you DO more. How once you see something you can never “unsee” it ever again. This is how I feel about my son Steve’s previous IEP’s. I see the mistakes now, clearer than EVER.  

I know, don’t beat yourself up “mom, ” you didn’t know. 

That leads me to this… the BIGGEST thing I learned through this years IEP prep… you know all those people you thought were the experts and were going to lead you out of the darkness and we’re going to solve all your child’s academic problems he has….. you know… THE TEAM….. what I learned is THEY DON’T KNOW SHIT! Yes, I said it, and I mean it. I am not saying however that the fact I just stated, is their fault. 

I believe that every Special Education Teacher out there wants the best for their kiddos. I know that to be true. What I do not believe is that the districts feel the same way. I believe, the government (federal, state and local) feel educating “those kids” is costly. Especially those “autistic ones” with all the different problem. If they are all “snowflakes” and we have to treat them all individually, that’s going to get expensive, quick.  On top of that they can’t put our kiddos in an “autism classroom” and just have a new way of “dealing with them.” It is not how this works. So therefore, it becomes messy, complicated and expensive. In addition to that, I sure do not see the SpEd teachers be able to go back to class, learn about the newest disabilities emerging and how best to tackle the issues associated with them. THIS IS FALLING UPON US PARENTS TO DO… and this is why I am acknowledging here and now… the “team” is not your child’s savior… YOU ARE… I AM! Hence the 150+ hours of research, reading, educating MYSELF, first. 

I’ve taken the reigns. I am going to walk into that IEP this time like a boss, because, I am. You’ve heard it a thousand times, I had heard it a thousand times, “no one advocates for your child more than YOU”… I guess I never knew what that meant until now. Now I know, now I see, and I can never UNSEE again.

How am I going to do that, advocate better, you may be wondering. Well for starters, I am going to pray (you knew I’d get back there at some point I hope). Truly, I am going to pray. I am going to pray that the “team” opens their hearts, their minds, their wallets, and their spirit to do what is in the best interest for my child even if it is HARD, EXPENSIVE, and has NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE.  I am going to ask for what I truly want for my child, what I as his mother, his advocate, KNOWS will be helpful and supportive in his academics so that he can be successful. I am no longer going to allow them to paraphrase my parental concerns. I am going to hand then a typed up page of EXACTLY what my concerns are for my child especially with regards to his academics and I am going to ask that these concerns be entered into the record verbatim this time so that our REAL concerns are documented. I am going to ask for goals that are academic based and have supports built in. I am going to ask for a LOT of accommodations knowing that some may be handled in other areas or ways, but what I have learned is, if it is not written down they do not haveto do it. So, write it down and when we feel he no longer needs that support (to get to PE and get changed in a specific allotted amount of time, for example) then the accommodation can be removed. I am going to speak to my child, his father, and together we as a family will create a VISION for his future, we are going to ask the team to join us in making this vision a reality. I am going to ask questions, LOTS of questions. For example, if my son is in a behavioral program at school why is there no BIP in place? A Behavioral Intervention Plan is not written out for a child in a behavior program is kin to saying oh we know this kid is allergic to peanuts but I was out that day and a sub cook from the other kitchen filled in. PUT IT IN WRITING. 

The DEATH SPIRAL has to have been for something, it was. I have learned so much. I have read so much. I have watched so many YouTube videos, I have written so many notes that my hands are very confused and thought they forgot they had to know how to do that; you know, hold a pen. After all of that spiraling,  I fall face first into the dirt from exhaustion and can learn no more for this round, I create the bullet pointed notes to take into the meeting, it is then I realize….. I’ve come full circle. 

It all comes back to, my child has major executive functioning deficits that keep him from his full learning potential and now I need the team to build the bridge to success for him. 

So… here I go again… 3 days until the IEP…. I’m starting the prayer again… Dear Lord… please help the IEP team open their hearts, minds, wallets and souls  in order to do the best they can for my child. 

Say it with me, will you?

~me

 

 

 

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THE GM EFFECT

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It has been a month. One month today in fact. It feels like a year. I am still having an incredibly hard time dealing with the fact that George Michael is dead. I have JUST been able to start listening to his music again. I say start but honestly, I can’t stop. I have pulled out every single, every B side. I am amazed. 

I am amazed at just HOW MUCH George Michael has infiltrated my life. I mean it is no surprise that I am a fan. I have always been a fan. From the first time I ever heard Young Guns on KROQ FM here in Los Angeles in 1983. What I wasn’t ready to acknowledge is just how much he got into my HEAD. How decisions I’ve made I can look back now and realized I chose this path or that path based on one of George’s songs. Yeah… WOW. 

As I listen to these songs, I am astounded at just how much I know. Song’s I have not heard for 20+ years….. I still remember every word. I still remember every move of every music video. Every dance break hits me as if I never left the dance floor and I am 18/19 all over again. 

I am not only talking about the hits we all know and love like young guns, wham rap, careless whisper, wake me up before you go go, faith, i want your sex to just name a literal few. But I am talking about the obscure B sides. Every word flooding my memories, my heart. 

I can remember riding my bike around our favorite summer vacation spot in San Diego believing I was AT Club Tropicana. I can remember looking out at sunny LA in the morning thinking “ Sometimes,You wake up in the morning with the bass line,A Ray of Sunshine,Sometimes,You know today you’re gonna have a good time,And you’re ready to go. I will never forget being mad at a friend and thinking, “You don’t know how much I hate that answer phone.Are you standing there?But – you won’t pick up the ‘phone. Why lie to my face? When you can buy a tape machine to give me bullshit, in your face. I loved it when George told me it was okay to tell people to F off!

One song that literally hit me deep was A Different Corner. I am adopted. I think about this all the time about how if my mother had turned a different corner we never would have met. The whole sliding doors theory toward life is a part of me. George, put that into words for me. Even to this day….. this song haunts my heart. And if all that there is. Is this fear of being used. I should go back to being lonely and confused. If I could I would. I swear. Did I create a self fulfilling prophecy? Because here I am… lonely and confused. Did I know, did I know I’d end up in this place all along?

Where did your heart go? Edge of Heaven… all of them haunting me… haunting HIM. Looking back now, I can feel his pain. I can feel his fear. He was so brave to let us all in. Never giving up his faith that it would all be okay in the end. It is exactly how I have felt my entire life. 

The faith album broke and honestly, at just the right time for me. I was a young woman trying to find myself. I think this album more than ever helped define me. Just like it allowed George to finally open up and start being himself, I too started coming out of my shell. To say, I want your sex changed my life, well that’s just a crazy assed understatement. 

Every song on the faith album struck a chord with me, struck a chord WITHIN me. I can not even state how every single song means something to me DEEP in my soul. I have my monkey’s. I’ve had my fast loves. I’ve asked for one more try and man have I had hard days. Can we please not talk about kissing fools? Listen to me please, without prejudice, but know that I could continue this for days. 

I will end with a public declaration to George himself….

George, the skill in which you wield a pen is truly and extension of the gift God handed you directly. Your struggles with finding yourself, fighting depression, have been mine. You’ve taken missteps but I’ve always had your back. Listening to every single song you have ever written, I know you also have always had mine. But here I am now… alone. I will try to forge forward without your guidance. I will look back from time to time, as I am doing now, and realize you have already written all I’ve needed to hear. Isn’t it AMAZING. I thank the good Lord for bringing you into my life. I am so grateful for the gift he gave you and the gifts you have given the world. 

I will miss you EVERY day for the rest of my life. I will live by your symbols for my life: Faith, Music, Money, Unity, Love.   FOREVER!

~me

I care

It makes me sad when my kids think I don’t care. If they only knew just how much I care. 

At first when he says “you don’t care about me, about MY problems” it hurts so much I want to scream. 

But then I listen… what does he really mean, what is he TRYING to say, really? 

So I take a walk. I come back. I take a breath. Then I ask, “can we talk?” Then….. I listen. 

What he is saying is: I am struggling and you don’t see just how much. School is hard for me, harder than for others. I feel lost, I need you there, I feel alone. 

He is saying, screaming really: Mommy, I need help! 

So, tomorrow we try again. Tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow, we talk again. Why? Because just a few short years ago, he couldn’t speak. He couldn’t yell at me. He couldn’t tell me “I don’t want to fail 5th grade.”

So, we don’t give up. We try harder, we care more. We listen HARDER! 

Today was hard. Tomorrow, we try again. 

WE try again. 

~me

Why Do I Have So Much Anger?

I came to a realization yesterday that I am just filled with so much anger. Why? I really have no reason to be angry. Even those silly little things that have me feeling angry really do not deserve anger. For example, yesterday, I was told something I didn’t want to hear. My gut reaction was ANGER. Thankfully I realized it, so I told the person on the phone that “I had better go right now before I say something I am going to regret.” This had EVERYTHING to do with me acknowledging my emotions and taking stock of them. For me, this is a VERY giant leap in personal growth. Strangely, the other person wouldn’t say goodbye and hung up. That too just made me more angry.

So, why is it that ANGER is my go to emotion? How can I remove the anger to find room for the happiness, gratefulness, and joy? This is my goal for 2017. I mean yeah, of course, I wanna lose weight, and get healthier and blah blah blah just like everyone else… but this year I am going to be about actual TANGIBLE CHANGE. 

This year, I am going to try and open my heart and let the anger out to make room for some other emotions in my life. 

For me, I believe it all starts with gratitude. I am going to open my eyes and try to be grateful for the smallest of things and say THANK YOU. Thank you for getting me through that light and to work on time. Thank you for allowing me to feel that emotion. Thank you for the air in which I breathe. 

(don’t worry… I WILL come back to the topic of why my personal faithful growth bothers other people so much… but I simply do not have time to attack that concept right now). 

~me

 

Bad Parent? 

I know we are not supposed to judge our peers. We are not supposed to call others out on their faults. We are supposed to love God and one another. I know I believe that is the way to be closer to God. I believe in God. I believe he sent us his son to teach us, love us, forgive us. I know. Yet today, I sit here incredibly grateful for all I have in life, however,  I am angry at a bad parent. 

This parent on a regular basis puts the needs for himself, before his children. He regularly neglects to pay for basic needs such as doctor visits and is perfectly content in sending a such child off to be cared for by another parent because he doesn’t want to cancel the plans he already made. This parent chooses to spend money on frivolous things instead of on his responsibilities for his children. This parent rarely goes to parent meetings at school. This parent relys on other people to pay for repairs to his house instead of living within his means. This parent relys on others to give out information about school needs instead of taking a proactive role in his children’s education. This parent states that he can’t take a day off from work when children need tending to for illness or when school is out and daycare is closed but always seems to have enough PTO for things like Comic-con, Disneyland, and extra days around holidays when children are not there. This parent doesn’t prepare any meals at home and therefore rarely serves his children any fruit or vegetables. Almost never gives his children their daily medication when they are with him. This parent allows his child to dictate when and where they will eat or even IF. This parent thinks nothing of letting his child get soaking wet at night then walking them around in 50 degree weather outside for hours, while he shops. This parent believes it is perfectly okay to feed his child Doritos and churros as a meal for an entire day. This parent even after agreeing to plans says yeah well my child doesn’t want to do that so here, you can have him back.

At what point am I allowed to judge a parent like the one listed above? If it is a stranger, am I allowed to have feelings about this person? If it is one of my child’s friends parent? What about then? What if it is my child’s  other parent? What if the children in the story I am talking about are MY children? 

Well, the laws now state I am not allowed to judge him. Only a judge can do that and every parent deserves a chance to parent, even if they are bad at it. I mean com’mon, how bad can he be right? He’s not making crystal meth in his garage. Cut the guy a break, right?

What about moral court? If those are my children do I get to judge him morally for being a bad parent? But is he, really? Again, he’s not tying them up in the basement in a cage like those people on the news, so he’s okay. Right?

While I try not to judge there are times when the negatives just stack to tall and you have to do something, say something. 

I have worked VERY hard, VERY hard at keeping the peace with my ex-husband for our children’s sake but this list you read above, this is just the top of the iceberg when it comes to him. Add on top of that all the judgement I get from him about my choices for their extra curricular activities, education, behavior and friends all the while he refuses to take an active role in helping guide these areas. For my children so they can be in a room with BOTH parents at the same time without fear or hesitation of what “might” happen, I bite my tongue. I bite my  tongue a LOT. 

Today though, today I couldn’t. I judged him. During this week when I had been asked to celebrate the holidays differently. To be grateful of all the wonderful blessings we have right in front of us.  Well today I am grateful my children have ME. Today, I told him so. I went there without the kids and I talked to him. I asked him, HOW? How can you be like this with your kids? I don’t understand. Help me understand. He couldn’t. I knew he couldn’t. He is incapable of it. Yet, I did it anyway. I was not surprised by his response. I wasn’t even angry anymore when he looked at me not understanding what was wrong with what he did, leaving a freezing soaking wet child out in the cold like that having not eaten more than some chips and a churro all day. He didn’t even understand what was wrong with the fact that the cold wet tired hungry child had to call his mom to come find them where they were and beg me to take him home even though that wasn’t the plan for a multitude of reasons. He simply had no clue. That, that right there, that’s what makes him a bad parent. He doesn’t even TRY! 

So, yes, I have judged and I am trying not to beat myself up over that choice. I am trying to choose forgiveness, but sometimes, that choice seems like too high a price to pay for the safety and well being of my children. 

So today, we spent the day together, my children and I. They had a warm home, good well made food on the table. We sat down and watched a movie together we had wanted to see in the theatre, but there wasn’t money for. We popped some popcorn and enjoyed the show, in our jammies at home. We picked up our home together, we prepped food together preparing for our friends to come over tomorrow to celebrate the Thanksgiving feast. 

This year we are closing in ranks and I did not invite their father. After all that I listed above I just can’t. He can have his time with them on his time, in his home, not mine. I’m still too angry that he is such a bad parent. Even then, he won’t understand why his daughter will text the whole time she wants to come home. He won’t see all his son wants to do is lock himself in his room and play video games until he gets home. But the law says, he gets his “time.”

Siiiggghhhh. 

I am grateful tonight that my children call this place, HOME

~me

Decisions Decisions 

I am really not a fan of this. We had to do this once before and the anxiety that accompanies it is unreal. 

I have to decide which middle school to push for next year. 

So many facets and factions to think about. So many outcomes to think about and none can tell the future. 

Every choice causes a ripple down line, down the path of his future.  

I hate to say it but I  wish he was worse. Not worse, that’s the wrong word…. I wish it was more clear. 

I wish his challenges and disabilities were so clear that you could just look and see… Oh yeah, his least restrictive environment is clearly, right here! 

But that is NOT the card I was dealt. I am trying to take MY issues out of it. My hopes(not having to drive to two schools every morning) , wants (wanting his big sister to show hi the”ropes” at school. Warning him about this teacher,that table),  and dreams (that someday he will be in gen Ed with no issues applying to the top colleges in the country, just like his peers).

This is about him. Push to hard and he will crash and regression could equal failure. 

Don’t push him enough and he may ever find the potential that is in there.  He could fail. 

But how much is too much –the grey. I have never lived well in the grey. I don’t do well under grey skies. I look terrible in grey clothes. I could never pull off grey hair. Grey and I are NOT friends. And then you realize, even the grey can’t decide on grey. Light grey, dark grey. Who knew there were so damned many shades of grey!!!!!

So here I sit, for the moment, paralyzed with fear. 

I don’t know the answer. 

Just one more thing I need to pray upon. Just guide my way Father. Guide my way.  You gave me this wonderful child for a reason… Please light the way. 

~me

Uggghhh

Ssooooooo so many things to blog about and soooooooo little time to do so. 

Maddening that I can’t get the time to bust some of this stuff out of my head. I just need a week (preferably in a tropical island location with a Mai tai in hand and a cabana boy named Carlos….but I digress) to spill all these thoughts out. 

You know, kinda like Dumbledore and the penseive???? Man that would be awesome! 

Someday

~me