Vince had a rough day at school yesterday. As a result, he was punished by not getting a story before bed. That's the deal. That's always been the deal. He's always known this was the deal.
That doesn't stop him from complaining and whining and trying to weasel his way into getting a story before bed, though.
So after his bath, the whining started. "But Mommy, I'm really sorry. I've been really good tonight, right? I'll be good tomorrow, too!"
"Vincent, you didn't listen at school. If you don't listen in school, you don't get a bedtime story. You know that."
"But I've been good all night!"
I started getting annoyed, but as usual, a quick tap on the shoulder reminded me I sometimes sound an awful lot like that.
How many times have I pushed off prayer or good deeds or something because I could "get it all in" later? Heck, all throughout college, I figured I didn't even need to go to Mass or anything because I'd eventually become one of those little old ladies stooped over in Church after the "good part of life" was behind me.
I need to be CONSISTENTLY GOOD. I can't just rack up points "at the end" because, in truth, no one knows when the end is. God doesn't ask us to listen to him "at the end." He asks us to listen to Him always.
Just some food for thought I ended up chewing on.
At Mass on Sunday, our church looked SPLENDID with all the red and gold finery. When we Exalt the Holy Cross, you'd better believe we know how to do it!
Anyway, I picked up Vincent so he could see the procession and various trimmings adoring the altar and sanctuary. I explained why our pastor was in red and gold, and I whispered how special this Sunday was because of the Feast it celebrated.
He clung to me in rapt attention, clearly enjoying the brilliant splashes of color. However, as I was explaining this, Mr. Knight of Columbus whispered (not so quietly) to his wife: "You'd think he'd know that by now."
I'm not the type of person to let comments like that roll, but it was the very beginning of Mass (the Processional) and I didn't want to make a scene before Father got to the sanctuary. Plus, people ALWAYS assume Vince is older than he is because he's taller than most 7 year olds.
So I bit my tongue and stifled the urge to give the man whiplash.
I continued explaining things - as I do - to Vince throughout Mass. He's at the point, however, that he's really starting to "get" certain things - chief among these is the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. When our pastor raised the Host during Consecration, Vincent always says "I love you, Jesus!" as I've taught him to do.
This time, he said it a little too zealously and the man audibly huffed as if my son's adoration was somehow disturbing or shameful.
Again... bit my tongue.
Finally, Vince had to use the potty right after Consecration. I asked him if he could hold it until after Communion, but he couldn't, so we started leaving the pew. Knight Perfection huffed again.
I gave him a death stare as we left the pew.
When we got back, folks were already lining up for Communion. Vince, as he always does, genuflected with me before I received. When we got back into the pew, he kissed me on the lips (as he always does) so he could "kiss Jesus." I was proud of him, and I wanted that guy to see why. Sure he doesn't know what the liturgical colors are all about, and maybe he doesn't know the responses yet, and yeah, okay... the kid's got a bladder smaller than a dixie cup, but ya know what? His heart is as big and beautiful as the Milky Way Galaxy, and all he wants to do is have Jesus come live in it.
SO BACK OFF MR. KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS DUDE.
As I was venting about this today, my buddy said I should've said something to him. Again, normally I would, but I didn't think it'd do much good. He was a crotchety older guy who obviously didn't have a soft spot in his body for children. Such misery doesn't tend to find sunshine in July let alone a lesson in a mother's scold.
But now that I've vented, I feel somewhat better. I just hope I never have the displeasure of sitting in front of him again. Yick.
Prayers for him and all those who would treat children with such disdain. The Kingdom of God belongs to them, too.
My little man on his first day of Kindergarten. KINDERGARTEN! This was taken on Tuesday, but still - KINDERGARTEN!
Where in the world has the time gone?
Just a few months ago, John and I were worrying about restarting preschool given our experience with mainstream classrooms. Now, we're happy to report that Vince is happily where he is and looking forward to seeing his friends every day. He's in a small class (8 kids) and is with a teacher he knows and loves.
Thank you, God, for such a gift! :)
Vincent and I spent the weekend down the shore with family and friends. Usually we hang out as a group on the beach, but due to the rain, our neighbors ended up coming over to our house and my in-laws hosted an impromptu barbecue.
It was a blast. Our neighbors, Pete and Daisy, have two little girls named Jasmine and Lily. Jasmine is Alliya's age, so the two of them are best buddies. Lily is only two, so she and Vincent are a little pair. The four of them play well together, too, but they definitely tend to break up into two distinct groups.
Anyhow, when my FIL brought Jasmine over in the morning to give Pete and Daisy a break, Vincent was angry that Lily hadn't come, too. He didn't understand why she needed to nap when she should've been having fun with him. Later, when Pete showed up (also without Lily), Vincent didn't even bother greeting him. He demanded to know why he dared to come over without bringing his "best friend in the whole wide world."
Finally, Lily woke up from her nap and Daisy brought her over to join the rest of us. Vincent was in his glories. He jumped off the couch, rushed over to her and gave her a giant hug. "LILY!" he cried. "We gotta play!"
This is what the two of them look like for the rest of the time they're together:
Vincent leading her by the hand everywhere, checking to make sure she's got everything she needs (or does everything she's supposed to do before she gets a snack - ha). They also both tend to scramble if you try to sneak a picture of them being cute together. Rascals.
Later on in the day, Lily settled into my FIL's lap. She calls him "Uncle John" and she knows she's got him wrapped around her adorable little finger! Anyway, it was so sweet to see how they were interacting together. I snapped this picture of her giving me a toothy grin:
Vince is right behind her with his back turned, but Lord, that kid won't let Lily out of his sight for very long. It's so cute!
I admit, however, that I got a bit wallow-y when I wondered what it'd be like for Myla to be sitting in his lap. Vince is such a good big brother to Lily (and his other little cousins), I feel sad that he didn't get the chance to interact with Myla the same way.
I pushed those thoughts out of my mind until later that evening when we took the kids out for ice cream. Again Lily was sitting on my FIL's lap while I had Jasmine, Alliya and Vince huddled up in front of me. Lily was successfully convincing my FIL to hand over all of his ice cream to her, and he was happily obliging, looking like the proudest, happiest person in the universe.
It made me sad to think that we'd never provide him with the grandchildren he takes such delight in. I felt guilty... like I'd failed something on an intrinsic level. He wasn't doing anything to accuse me or even make me feel badly. He likely didn't even notice I was there watching him enjoy Lily's manipulations for ice cream. It was my own brokenness projected and magnified by my intense longing for not only Myla, but all the children I've envisioned and subsequently been denied. I understood that, but it didn't lessen my feelings of inadequacy, failure and sadness.
I didn't want to further my upset, so I turned away and imagined myself making a fist and physically punching back the knot in my throat until I could breathe without crying.
Sorry if I sound miserable or depressed. I'm not. I'm certainly sad now and again when this sort of situation arises, but I'm trying to be honest with how this sort of thing affects my daily life. Myla is always in my thoughts, so my imagination sometimes puts her into situations like this. Is it logical? Probably not. Then again, I think it's human to always wonder "What if?"
In this situation, it's obviously a moot point, but I guess we're so used to exercising our God-given gift of creativity that we can't help ourselves sometimes.
Losing a child (or even the opportunity for children) is a terrible cross. It's hard for folks who haven't been in this situation to understand how all-encompassing it is. I don't write these things to remind people of my struggle, but I do write to remind folks that this struggle is real and it's daily (not just for me, but for the many, MANY other men and women who struggle with this sort of cross).
Tread softly and with much, much compassion, because even when we're trying our best to look past our sorrow to count our blessings, we can't help but hear echos of our indignant humanity insisting "What if?"
So I was a terrible mommy last night. I reacted out of frustration to something Vincent did and he got so frustrated in response that he actually started crying.
Seeing him scrunch up his face and cry like he'd been wounded through the heart made we wish I had a medieval flaggellant on hand to smack across my back a hundred times.
I'm his mom. It's my job to keep calm and show him the type of mercy God has in store for all of us. If he doesn't come to recognize compassion in me, how will he ever come to recognize and emulate compassion in the world?
So I immediately pulled him close to me and apologized. I sat him on my lap and cuddled him to my chest saying, "Mommy was very wrong to be so mean. You are not a bad boy. You are a very good boy and I love you very, very much. I'm sorry for being mean and I am going to try really hard to be better for you."
Still crying, he nestled his head into my neck and said, "It's okay, Mommy. I still you're best friend."
I pulled him back to look at him. His little tears streaked down his face, so I wiped them away with my thumb. I kissed his cheek and said, "Mommy is not good enough for you, Vincent."
He looked back at me and he said, "Mommy, I love you. You a good girl. I still love you. You love me. I want to serve you. You serve me. That is love, right Mommy?"
I was stunned. Where did he get that from? I never compared service and love before. For a second, I wondered if he understood what the word "serve" meant and tried to figure out where he might've heard it before. It's just an odd turn of phrase for a 4 year old.
I laid him down on his bed and asked, "How'd you get so smart to say something like that?"
He just giggled and said, "I a smart cookie and you a smart cookie!"
I then laid down next to him and realized that he showed me exactly the sort of compassion I'd mentally chided myself for withholding from him. He was Jesus in that moment, showing me what true love looks like - forgiveness and an instant willingness to rejoin the circle of service that is indicative of care and compassion.
I'd made a mistake, I'd apologized, and I'd been forgiven - all in the span of 60 seconds. I failed as a parent, but God used my failing as a teachable moment. I learned something of what true mercy and love look like, and my son was able to exercise his mercy-muscles. I really don't deserve my son. He's such a good, wonderful little boy. I wonder sometimes how I got chosen to be his mother.
Then I realize the poor kid was sent precisely because I needed a teacher to guide me into becoming a better human being. I'm not molding him; he's molding me.
Again, the adage comes to mind: Adults do not make children; children make adults.
My poor kid was so sick last week! His fever just wouldn't quit. I ended up taking him to the ER late Friday night because his breathing was so awful. He had some fluid in his lungs. My poor little munch!
He missed a whole week of school. This is the first time he's actually registered that he wasn't feeling well. When the doctor asked him where he hurt, he replied, "My esophagus!"
Ha ha ha. That anatomy app I purchased was totally worth it. The doctor got quite the chuckle out of that one.
I made this diaper cake for a coworker's baby shower. I always enjoy putting this sort of stuff together. I'm not a baker by any stretch of the imagination, but you'd be amazed at the things I can do with a few diapers. Ha ha ha!
This is our first office baby, so we're all pretty excited (at least the women are). I can't wait to meet her! This is my coworker's first child, too, so keep her in your prayers. She's due in a few weeks and is nervous (as all new mothers are).
The shower was so much fun. I think Carla (the new mom) was surprised. She was definitely super appreciative that we organized the event for her. Good times!
Had a REALLY disturbing experience on Friday night before taking Vince to the hospital. I went out with my friend, Theresa, to a brewery for dinner. Great food, nice service, REALLY ridiculous dining neighbors.
While Theresa and I were enjoying our food, an older woman (45-50) and a younger man (maybe 25?) sat next to us at an adjacent table. Their table was likely a foot and a half from ours. The woman was obviously inebriated, and apparently they were on a first date. She kept smacking him across the table and repeating, "You're so HOT! You don't think I'm gorgeous. Tell me that I'm gorgeous again!"
It was embarrassing. If that wasn't bad enough, she slipped off her shoe and placed her foot against his lap (we were outdoors, no table cloths, and again... we were less than 2 feet away). I started giving Theresa the "We need to get out of here NOW" stare, so she started pounding back her drink.
The woman then suggests they take a selfie (REALLY, lady? A SELFIE? Just stop). She threw herself into his lap and put her hands where her foot had just been. She then said, "This would be easier if you'd open your legs" and then loudly declared, "I'm going to bed you tonight." (WHO SAYS THAT?!)
I immediately paid the tab and left. I couldn't stop balking about it the whole way home. It's almost a week later and I'm STILL balking about it! Who DOES that?!
That guy was young enough to be her son, and she was acting like a tweeny-bopper fawning over One Direction. I was so incredibly embarrassed for her. As for the guy, he didn't seem to mind anything her aggressiveness nor her inebriation (for obvious reasons). I just can't...
They were in a VERY public place during the dinner rush. They were in VERY close proximity to us and the table on the other side of them. The woman was loud and obnoxious, and the guy did nothing to point that out. I almost felt like looking around for Candid Cameras because the situation seemed so ludicrous.
Ick. Please never let me turn into that when I get older. Ick. Please never let Vincent allow himself to be as degraded as the yahoo with that woman. IIIIIIICK.
What are you even supposed to do in that situation? "Excuse me, folks, but could you take your lustful stupidity down a notch? Normal people would like to enjoy their dinners."
When did it become acceptable to act like this in public?!
I got the opportunity to take Vince to see Medieval Times. We had SO MUCH FUN! At first he was terrified due to the over-stimulation, but after we got him focused on his own shouting (cheering on the black night you see us standing with).
There were nine of us altogether. The three kids had a blast and us parents were getting giddy just watching them enjoy themselves. Definitely one of the best nights we've had in a long time.
My son said the strangest thing to me en route to daycare yesterday, and I was so caught off guard that I almost pulled the car over to allay my own confusion.
He said, "Mommy, I'm peach."
He was referring to the color of his skin because he uses the peach crayon for his face and body (also known as circles 1 and 2).
I said, "Yes."
He replied, "I want to be brown."
Curious, I asked, "Vincent, why do you want to be brown?"
He replied, "All of my friends are brown."
I said, "Vincent, is your heart good?"
"Do your friends have good hearts, too?"
"Yes, Mommy. They are very, very nice."
"So it doesn't matter what their color is. It doesn't matter what color you are. What matters is how you treat people. If your heart is good, YOU are good, okay?"
He seemed content with that, but I was so caught off guard! I honestly didn't think a thing about skin color until I was closing in on 8th grade. I was a minority in my elementary school, and that fact never actually dawned on me until someone from high school brought it to my attention when he looked at my graduation picture. He said, "You only had 5 white kids in the whole class?"
Looking back, I remember feeling instantly defensive and incredibly stupid. It had NEVER occurred to me that I was a minority until he pointed it out, and I felt stupid for never making that connection. Then I felt doubly stupid for thinking my color-blindness was something to be ashamed of.
It makes me sad that Vincent is already aware of color. Granted, he obviously doesn't think about it negatively, but the fact that such a thing is on his radar at all surprises me. I asked his teacher if they did a lesson on differences or something, but she was just as surprised as I was.
His class is a good mix of kids, and I like that. I grew up in a diverse community and I want the same for Vincent. He's got friends of both genders, of several ethnic backgrounds, and doesn't care if you collect Star Wars or Star Trek memorabilia. He loves everyone regardless, and I love that. I'd love to know what spurred that comment, though. I really would.
Ah well. At least he seems satiated for the time being. Dunno what I'll say if it comes up again, though.
We had a loud thunderstorm last night that got Vince all sorts of upset. He didn't want to go to bed, and I can't really blame him. The thunder was so loud it shook the house, and the lightning looked like it was going to strike our tree any second.
So I told him the same thing I used to tell my students who were afraid of storms: Say "Cheese" and smile for the angels!
The lightning is the flash from their cameras and the thunder comes from their drums as they tried to get his attention.
As you can see from the video above, it ended up working pretty well. He wasn't scared anymore and he ended up enjoying having his picture taken so much!
The garden leads you directly from one mystery into another, which I like. There are areas for you to sit or kneel for prayer, but the path simply continues to follow in the footsteps of Christ on the road to our salvation.
I really like that.
This set of mysteries is my favorite of the bunch. I just love the expressions of Christ. The artists did a fantastic job. They really, really did.
The Scourging was a little sad and confusing for Vincent. He couldn't understand why Jesus ("a good guy") had His Hands tied up. Vincent went behind Him and tried to undo the rocky tethers that bound Him. I explained that Jesus wasn't trapped anymore, but that when He was on earth, He took the beating so that His friends didn't have to. That made Him a hero to everyone. Vincent understood that, but it left him kinda quiet for the next couple minutes.
The Crowning with Thorns is simply Christ seated with with a simple robe, His Hands still bound, and a sad (and regal) expression on His Face. The way the artists placed His Hands enables the faithful to leave behind flowers as a sort of scepter. Of the mysteries, I think this is my favorite. It's nothing like the Coronation of Mary, but the way the artists created the two, they obviously parallel one another.
Next was Christ taking up His Cross, and again the expression on His Face is remarkable.
Walking along the path a bit father I saw a huge chapel-like shed which stood directly across from the Nativity "stable" from the Joyful Mysteries. Obviously drawing yet another parallel, the Crucifixion placement and artistry again highlights a theological truth. Christ was born to die on a Cross. He came into the world to die saving it. Incredible.
Stay tuned for the Glorious Mysteries. Hopefully it won't take me a month to cycle back through and update you! :)
Last night, we celebrated the wedding of our cousin, Ryan.
Something really, really special happened out of no place, and my heart is still incredibly grateful.
Vince and I were taking a rest from the dance floor when I heard the beginning chords of "Can't Help Falling in Love With You" by Elvis.
I thought it'd be nice to scoop Vince into my arms for a slow dance. As we began rocking to the music, I felt John come up and put his arms around us.
Instantly, I had this inner yearning for him to be dancing with Myla. I was struck with missing her fiercely. I should be dancing with Vince, and he should be dancing with Myla.
Suddenly, as if on cue, our niece, Alliya, tugged on my dress and said, "Here you go."
She held in her hands a perfect, pink rose.
I took it from her and handed it to Vincent. Immediately he began kissing it over and over and over again.
Just when I began grieving being unable to physically hold her in my arms, Heaven sent me a rose in the vein of Myla's namesake, St. Therese, who is still known to shower these flowers to those who ask for her intercession.
I clutched Vincent to myself and felt the tears of gratitude spill. Vince kept that rose with him for the rest of the night. He fell asleep with it on the way home. When I finally tucked him away in bed, he wanted to make sure that "his flower" was safe in water. We put it in front of the Blessed Mother statue on his dresser.
What a blessed gift when I needed it so.
Thank you, God, for giving me these little kisses from my daughter. Myla Therese, you be extra sweet to Sister Therese for me, okay? One day I'll return all of these kisses a thousandfold. I love you, sweetie.
Vince was "helping" me in the kitchen the other day.
He's been doing this a lot more frequently. He'll grab a kitchen chair, drag it to the counter, and start doing any number of things that "help" me.
Now as every parent knows, help from a 4 year old is rarely help. Usually it's a sure sign your two-minute prep is about to become a 15-minute circus show of you trying to keep him from burning himself on the stove, stop him from reaching for a knife, begging him not to dance on the chair, and assuring him that the pasta doesn't need Cinnamon Toast Crunch added to the sauce.
However, we grin and bear these annoyances because, quite frankly, it's really sweet that our kid wants to help. It's wonderful that our children love us and want to be near us, even braving the sweltering heat of the kitchen and the annoying sound of the exhaust fan. It's a beautiful thing that our kids want to feel like a needed and necessary part of the family, and it's even more beautiful that we've done something right to get them to express that (by dumping cereal into your pot roast; I gotta move that stuff to a higher shelf).
That being said, Vince was being particularly "helpful" that afternoon. I almost sent him into the living room to wait for lunch because I was getting frustrated. Terrible, right? But it's the truth. Sometimes having a 4 year old's "help" is frustrating.
Before I gave the order for him to plant his butt on the couch, a little voice whispered in my ear, "You are the same."
The thought came and went so fast I actually stopped smearing peanut butter on the bread and pondered it a second.
"You are the same."
I'm an annoying kid pulling butter knives from the dishwasher?
As I thought on it more, I realized that in many ways, I am like Vince at the dishwasher. I love God and want to help Him out, but does God really need my help? No. My version of help is only going to result in Him cleaning up after me. However, God doesn't get frustrated that my pathetic offerings of help muck up His groove. Instead, He patiently allows me to try - over and over again - giving me pointers on how to better do the job of helping Him. In this way, I grow and mature until I am eventually able to offer help that is worthwhile.
The reflection was humbling.
I did not send Vincent to the couch. Instead, I taught him how to properly put the silverware away (which you can see him doing above). I snapped this picture because it was an eye-opening moment for me.
How incredible the lessons of parenthood. We are called, as parents, to exemplify the love of the Father. And in this, God is leading the way, briliantly choosing to use our own children as examples of His Love.
This is a photo I took last year at some point while visiting the Basilica in Philadelphia. On the left is a painting of the Ascension. To the right is the Assumption. Pretty awesome, right?
Today, I took Vince into Philly for their 12:05 Mass. We were in for a treat since Archbishop Chaput was the main celebrant. His homily consisted of quotes from Pope Benedict's previous sermon on the Ascension several years ago.
Anyway, when we entered the Basilica, Vince and I sat up towards the front as we typically do. I like him being able to see what's going on. Today he was incredulous. It was his first Mass at the Basilica, and woooooooo - his eyes were in Heaven!
When we sat down, I didn't realize that we were directly in front of the painting of the Ascension. Vincent looked up and said, "Mommy, Jesus is going to Heaven! Look!"
I followed his line of sight and smiled at the good fortune of having been steered to our particular seats. I snapped this picture with my cell phone (so it doesn't look nearly as nice as the one above):
I said "Vincent, that's exactly why we're here today! We're celebrating that Jesus went up to Heaven!"
He said, "Yeah!" as if he'd known that all along.
I said, "Do you know why He went to Heaven?"
And again, as if I'd asked the silliest question ever, he replied matter-of-factly, "To make lunch for everyone."
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Right on, grasshopper. Right on.
I realized while clearing out my photos that I'd completely forgotten to share this one of Vincent.
The day after Mother's Day, he presented the Blessed Mother with this rose. This little setup is in his bedroom. The dresser (and thus, the Blessed Mother, St. Michael, Holy Family, etc) overlooks him while he sleeps.
Anyway, I thought it was so sweet, because he kissed the rose and put it in front of her statue saying, "I love you, Mary."
My little munch. :) May the Blessed Mother claim him for her own.
I have been having a very rough time getting Vincent to pay attention to directions. Because he's all over the place, I need to be very firm with him sometimes.
"Vincent, look at me. Look at me in the eyes, Vincent. VINCENT."
Then he'll finally realize I'm talking to him and look at me for a split second before turning his attention elsewhere.
"Vincent. Mommy is talking to you. You need to look at Mommy."
He looks at me again for about two seconds. When I think I've got his attention, I begin to tell him to get on his shoes. No dice. He's not paying attention again.
"Vincent, put on your shoes or we're not going outside."
Begins to move towards shoes, but clearly only discerned the word "shoes" because once he gets to where his shoes are, he makes no move to put them on.
"Vincent, you're not listening to Mommy. Look at me in the eyes."
He looks into my eyes.
"Put. Your. Shoes. On or we're not going outside."
UUUUUGH. Then the process all but repeats itself if he needs to put on his jacket or take a back pack with him. It's enough to drive me bonkers sometimes.
He's also having issues with impulse control.
"Vincent, stop smacking your stick against the slide."
Not two seconds later, he's smacking at the slide again.
"Vincent, look at Mommy in the eyes. Did I just tell you to stop smacking the slide?"
"I don't know."
"Vincent, stop smacking the slide. If you smack the slide again, I'm going to take away your stick. No more smacking the slide, 'cause if the stick breaks, you might get hurt."
He stops smacking the slide, but maybe two minutes later, he's at it again and I need to take the stick away.
All day, every day, this is what I sound like. I'm trying to splice together the negatives with positives ("Good job being gentle with Zoey!" or "I'm so proud of you for playing so nicely with your friends!"), but I've been feeling really overwhelmed by his inability to really listen and process directives (an ability he HAS to have for a productive experience in school).
I'm beginning to worry that I won't be able to prep him in time for school in July and that I'll be faced with him being removed again. I realize that's not likely, especially because this school had worked with him for two years successfully, but I can't help but worry.
And then there's his litany of "I'm Sorry."
Since he hasn't been listening to directives, I've had to punish him (taking away the stick, for example, or not letting him go to the park because he'd thrown a temper tantrum that morning).
When he realizes he's about to be punished, he immediately says "I'm sorry" because he knows that's what is expected of him. However, he's not usually sorry. He'll say "I'm sorry" and in the same breath, "I'm really angry with you" because I'm taking away a toy or something. He's not sorry he didn't listen. He's sorry he's in trouble.
I was about to say to him "I don't want to hear 'I'm sorry' from you ever again" until I stopped myself. Why? Because I saw myself in him. Painfully so.
How many times do I have to apologize in the Confessional for the same stupid sins over and over and over again? I have to wonder - am I really sorry at all? If I were, wouldn't I stop myself from getting into the same trouble?
And if God were to shirk my apologies, what would I do then? He even accepts my miserable contrition and extends mercy. How much more, then, should I work to extend that to Vincent so he has an example of what God's mercy looks like?
So I stopped myself from giving into my own frustration and sat him on my knee. I said, "Vincent, when you say "Sorry" to Mommy, it means you're not going to do the bad thing anymore. Sorry means you're going to work really hard at listening and doing the right thing, okay?"
He instantly shook his head "Yes" because that's what he thought he was supposed to do. I just sighed and let him loose. I imagine that's how God feels sometimes when He sends us forth from the Confessional.
I'm going to try a lot harder to be more steady in my resolve to "sin no more and avoid the near occasion of sin."
A lot harder.
Sorry, Lord. Really. <3
I took Vince to the Aquarium today. We're season pass holders, so for rainy days like this, it's a perfect "outing" that keeps him active, learning and indoors.
As usual, we headed straight for the string rays. Vince never wants to pet the sand sharks, and he doesn't care about sea stars or cucumbers or anything else. He just wants to pet the sting rays. All the time.
So he was supremely happy when we got to the sting ray exhibit to find we had the whole thing to ourselves. The lonely guide was so excited to have people present that he launched into a very enthusiastic explanation of string ray anatomy. *Grin*
Vince didn't care. He just wanted to pet the sting rays.....
What happened almost immediately after this video was taken will give me laughs long into Vincent's adulthood.
Because the sting rays were so playful today, Vincent fed off their energy. He started getting just as excited as them and that made the sting rays get even more excited. They kept coming higher and higher over the tank to "say hi." Vince would then bounce around super excited and reach his hands further and further into the tank (with the guide's blessing).
Pretty soon, I had to escort him from the room and calm him down with a hot dog. Still laughing, I made this video for John to let him know what we were up to:
Yup. He half jumped-half slide right over the edge of the tank and dove head first into the thing.
The guide and I were immediately by his side to pull him back, but it was still startling to see him just dive in like that. He was perfectly fine, of course, as were the stingrays, but whew. That'll give you a heart attack!
So since his top half was soaked, I pulled his jersey off and took him towards the gift shop to buy a new one. On the way, I saw a chance to calm him down with a hot dog and was rewarded with an instantly compliant child. Given how much he was freaking out about being wet, I marveled at how quickly a hot dog and some fries cooled his nerves.
Pretty soon, I'd gotten him fed and changed into a Shark Shirt from the gift shop and he was back to pleading for the sting rays again. This time, I let him go in, but I removed the new shirt. Good thing, too!
It's nice to know the sting rays are good sports about everything. *Grin*
Good day today. We both had a lot of fun.
While going through Vincent's toys to either donate or sell at the flea market this summer. His massive collection of Mr. Potato Heads was on the chopping block. However, this collection is one of those things I didn't think I could bring myself to part with.
So I put them in front of Vincent. We ended up playing with them for a while. Then John took over and things sorta exploded from there. It was a Mr. Potato Head night. These aren't going anywhere. In fact, I might have to add some more to the collection. :)
I dropped off a few items at Goodwill this afternoon. While I was there, I figured I'd peruse the aisles for educational toys now that I was home. Divine Providence rained down on me something fierce, and I walked out of the place with a treasure trove of goodies for less than $6.
Prepare to be astounded.
First up is a set of multi-colored monsters. Instead of attempting to explain them, I made a quick video showing how they work. Lucy, one of my tabbies, makes a cameo:
Adorable, right? On the back of each monster is a number. They go in order of increasing difficulty, and as you make your way to the "highest level" you get into digraphs like "ch" or "st." SOOOO creative, and the fact that he'll be able to check himself means he can practice on his own if he likes (a mother can dream, right?).
Next up on my Booty List is a Bingo game focused entirely on sight words. I firmly believe in a strong foundation of Phonics, but sight words have their place as well, and I think as he gets better with his phonics, this will be a welcome change of pace for him.
This was only 99 cents and has EVERYTHING. It seems the game was rarely used as all the parts and "boards" seem in almost new condition. Nary a tear or smudge anywhere!
After I found the sight words game, I noticed a volcano of sorts on the top shelf. It glows in the dark and shoots little beads to look like lava bubbles. I thought it would be a nice addition to his bedroom at night given how much he loves glowing things. It's made by Discovery Kids and is called an Animated Volcano Lamp. Check it out! I took the footage tonight after Vince had fallen asleep.
The last item on my list was actually the first one I found. That being said, it is the motherload of thrift store finds. Seriously. This alone would have made the trip worth it. I found a brand new Hooked on Phonics Kindergarten Edition pack. BRAND NEW.
Originally this was something like $40. But check out the two tags that were stuck to the box. One is from Goodwill and the other is from JCPenney.
I was only charged $1.97 for this. Can you believe that?! I still can't believe it! Look at all the stuff it comes with!
Zoey, my miracle kitty, did not come with the Hooked on Phonics set. That being said, everything else you see DID. And it's all unused!!! Stickers, workbook, progress charts, flash cards, CD-ROMs, coloring books and reading companions - ALL INCLUDED! And none of them have been cracked open!
I was so excited by this because I've been working on the Hooked on Phonics program with Vincent for the last week or so on his iPad. My friend gave me a heads up that the program was free through the App store for 24 hours, and I was lucky enough to snatch it up for nothing. Recently, Vince read his very first book to me - by himself - but it was on the iPad. A friend of mine said "Make sure you keep that book!" not realizing I didn't have a physical copy. Now I do! These lessons are slightly different than the iPad app which means I'll be able to use them both to supplement one another. How exciting!!! I cracked this open and used it with Vince already today and he got a kick out of it. I am SO pleased!
Apparently Piper was, too, because she came over to investigate what had Zoey so intrigued. When she didn't spot any treats, she promptly turned her nose up and left us to ourselves. Lucy, as you can see in the next photo, just casually kept watch over everyone on the sofa. This is her still hanging out after I'd packed everything away into the convenient storage box that came with the set.
All in all, I'd say this is the best haul I've ever scored at a thrift shop. God was certainly very kind to us this afternoon. It's like it was all gift wrapped for us. Truth be told, I'm pretty sure it was.
Thank you, God! You're so wonderful! :)
John, Vincent and I attended the surprise birthday party of a friend of ours this past weekend. It was really nice of Vincent to be invited, too. Several children were in attendance with Vince being the oldest (and most active!).
Unfortunately, John and I didn't know there would be a pool at the house. Had we known, we would've gone out of our way to find a babysitter. Vince, like every other child in the universe, can't be near a pool without wanting to dive in head-first.
It was still too chilly for a swim and we hadn't brought bathing suits anyway. That didn't stop Vincent for begging, bartering and pleading to go for a dip, though. When he realized John and I weren't going to budge, he placated himself by zipping around the edge of the pool, successfully giving John and I enough agita to last us the rest of our lives.
I had to put him into a time out for disobedience. He wouldn't stop running around the edge of the pool even though I'd asked him not to three times. So I stuck him in time out.
My friend, Leo, made a well-meaning comment. He said, "What's the worst that can happen? Skinned knee? Soaked pants? Just let him be."
Oh Leo. How I love Leo. He's a new parent, himself. He's got a little princess named Maggie who is about 8 months old. He hasn't had the pleasure of her testing boundaries yet. He hasn't tasted the anxiety of seeing her (in his mind) tumble head-first into an ice-cold swimming pool. He can't even imagine what that's like until she takes those first precarious steps into toddler-hood. It's all fun and games until your kid discovers how much fun dangerous situations are. LoL.
Anyway, Leo didn't realize that aside from me trying to teach Vince obedience (and actions having real consequences), I was also trying to prevent, specifically, soaked clothing. Most people don't like sitting in wet clothes, but for an SPD kid, that's akin to being water-boarded; it's torture.
Vince sometimes freaks out if he feels even a spot of wetness on his pants or shirt. Imagine, then, the freak out that would occur if ALL his clothes were soaked through and clinging to him.
Leo doesn't think it'd be a big deal, because to him, it wouldn't be a big deal. To Vincent, however, it'd be huge.
John was getting increasingly agitated, so instead of leaving, I took Vincent inside and away from the temptation. The poor kid was over-tired and frustrated by several things:
The fact that he hadn't had a nap that day (because the party started when he usually goes down) only added to his upset. After I had him sit and settle for 15 minutes to regroup, he was able to sit on the couch and watch a game being played without issue.
It's funny. I don't fault Leo at all for the comment he made. Several of our friends waved off my attempts at wrangling Vincent as overprotective. They didn't realize I wasn't worried about him bumping his knee or even going for a swim. I was aware of a bigger problem that would come should the latter accidentally happen.
My guess is that's how God feels sometimes. So often, I look at a situation and figure "Eh, this isn't really such a big deal" while God is shaking His Head and saying, "Gina, put down the extra slices of bacon. You don't think it's a big deal, but you've been eating like a glutton recently and are increasing your risk for heart attack. I want you to die saving orphans from a burning building, and you can't very well do that if you're dead of a bacon-induced heart attack."
God is able to see so much more than we can. He knows more than we do. He's experienced more than we have. So when He repeatedly throws up roadblocks to our own ideas of satisfaction, my guess is He has good reasons. Just as I had reasons that went beyond Leo's understanding, God has reasons that extend well beyond mine.
Last night, I took Vince to visit with my friend and her family. While there, Vince had a mini-episode with the pasta which understandably frustrated some folks, myself included at one point.
For the last year or so, Vincent has been very finnicky about pasta - specifically pasta sauce. I thought he was simply getting into the "fussy eater" stage, but truthfully, he's not a fussy eater. He still eats fish, lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, beans, corn, etc, etc, etc. He loves ham and chicken, goes to town on pork chops or turkey, and can eat starch like it was his job.
Pasta, however, he will only eat white or with cheese (mac-n-cheese).
The last year, I just thought he was being picky, but it finally dawned on me that it's a very specific sensory response.
Tomatoes are naturally acidic. In fact, when Vince used to break out in facial rashes as a toddler, his pediatrician warned us to steer clear of tomato sauce, ketchup, etc because he suspected they were the culprits behind his pimpled cheeks. When we cut them out of the menu, Vince's skin cleared up pretty well. Never thought a thing of it again.
His visceral reaction (almost like fear) to the pasta sauce last night suddenly made sense. He kept insisting that the pasta "smelled bad." What he actually meant was it TASTED bad, and not so much that it tasted bad, but that it hurt.
For you and I, our sense of taste and smell are inextricably linked. The same is true for Vincent, only it's a heightened experience. Sometimes he confuses taste and smell as a result of this. Also, his grasp of language still isn't super developed, so he kept using the word bad to express his negative association.
The nerves in and around his mouth and face have been inflamed enough by pasta sauce to instinctively tell his brain the red stuff on the yummy stuff is a bad idea.
He loves pasta, he just doesn't like the sauce, and it's because the sauce causes an overload of sensation.
But he likes pizza! Pizza has sauce!
Yes, but it's also got a lot of cheese, and being a dairy product, it is a base which neutralizes the acidic content of the tomato sauce. Much like a hot wing contestant chugs milk to stave off ulcers, cheesy pizza helps buffer Vincent's mouth against an overwhelming sensation from the acidic tomatoes. He still gets a few bumps on his cheeks after pizza, especially if I don't clean his face right away, but he doesn't complain that his mouth or tongue hurt.
In short, I'm not going to try to force him to eat red sauce anymore because I finally realize why he shirks it so much. It never occurred to me that this was a problem before. Now his disdain for pasta, Hot Pockets, ketchup, and even barbacue sauce makes sense.
I wish I had realized this sooner. Would've prevented a lot of frustration for all of us, especially at family gatherings (given that we're Italian and we love our pasta sauce). So if your child is getting picky about certain foods, give some thought to the sensation that particular food type might pose. It might not be pickiness so much as a sensational challenge.
I'd like to take a moment to reflect on a little known sensory disorder that many times coincides with Autism. This disorder is known as Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). Autistic persons often have SPD, but not all persons with SPD have Autism.
SPD involves any disorder of your senses. This can range from over-sensitivity to light, smells or sound to an under-sensitivity to taste and touch. SPD can also affect the vestibular and proprioceptive systems which control balance, movement and spatial orientation.
As a mother of a young son with SPD, I've come across so many people who are unsure of and even put off by his unique behavior. Here are 10 things I'd like to say.
Please take a moment to read, share and spread the word. The more we educate others, the better we become at responding to these children who need us.
Some sensations, though inconsequential to you or me, are overwhelming to him. The tag on your shirt isn't noticeable to you, but for Vincent, his nerves are telling his brain that a thorn is digging into his neck.
He fidgets, but he has very good reasons for his fidgets.
You hear the voice of your boss telling you the deadline for your next project. Vincent hears his teacher explaining a math problem, but also hears the humming of florescent lights, the rattling of the heater, the chatter of other students, the footsteps of the aid, the cars driving by outside the window, and even his own breathing. Because his auditory discernment is not as strong as yours or mine, he is unable to focus on priority sounds and, in an effort to push aside all that noise, he makes sounds, himself, that help drown out the confusion.
I did not cause his Sensory Processing Disorder. My parenting style did nothing to bring on his sensitivity to certain situations. I love my child fiercely and do everything in my power to see that he is cared for, protected and loved. I may not be the most savvy parent in regards to the latest therapies available, but don't you dare mistake my novice ignorance for bad parenting. I are fighting to make myself and others aware of this disorder, and I are doing all I can to give Vincent the therapy he needs to cope.
So the next time you see us in the store while Vincent is having a meltdown because the lights hurt his eyes and the cart feels especially frustrating to his backside, refrain from suggesting I stop spoiling him. I might not be so charitable in my response.
We are working on this. Please be patient with him.
In addition to forcing John and I to keep the floors relatively free of items, this also creates a problem with shoes. Vincent is very sensitive to the type of shoes he's willing to wear, and it's many times a fight to get him to keep them on, even when we're outside. He's not throwing a temper-tantrum because he wants to wear his SpongeBob boots vs. his Spiderman sneakers... he's having a meltdown because his SpongeBob boots give him relief from his tactile craving while his Spiderman sneakers compound the frustration and add to his anxiety.
Again, please be patient. He is doing so much better with this, but it is a difficult skill to learn when your nerves rebel against you.
His memory is better than mine, his math skills never cease to amaze me, and his appetite for his new passion, spelling, makes my heart swell with pride. The creativity and problem-solving skills he's developed while playing adventure games with his Daddy have only proven to me that his capacity for intelligence hasn't even begun to be appreciated. Standardized testing cannot verify his penchant for architecture. Circle time cannot concede to his superior grasp of cause and effect. No Child Study Team will ever capture the wisdom he shows in his thoughtful, gentle care of those he instinctively understands need his affection.
Again, my son is fearsomely, awesomely intelligent.
What joyful music.
My son loves laughter. He loves being "tricked" and surprised. He loves being the cause of laughter around him. He'll clown about or say silly things with the sole goal being laughter... glorious laughter.
In a word, my son is love... pure, unblemished love.
Please remember that the next time his sensory challenges leave you frustrated or confused. Above all, simply remember that he is capable of giving and receiving love. Next time a sensory-craver like Vincent has a melt-down, respond with love. Push aside your own frustration and confusion because it pales in comparison to the anxiety he feels on a routine basis because of this disorder.
Respond with love, too, to the parents of these special children. Do not discount us as bad parents or folks to be pitied for having a "problem child." Far from it. We love our children and are proud of them. We are joyed at being given the opportunity to unwrap their potential and can't wait to see how they change the world.
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Spread acceptance by spreading awareness. <3
I spoke with my two directors today. I don't qualify for FMLA, but they're willing to work with me so as not to lose me as an employee.
So now I've got a little weight lifted off my shoulders. Now I need to come up with a working solution for all involved - Vincent, John, myself and work.
Thanks for the prayers, folks.
Financially, thanks to my husband's fiscal responsibility, we are in a good position. We'll have to cut back on some things, but we're blessed to be weighing our options at all in this regard. This is only a short-term solution. Even should we cut back on yearly vacations, change the way we spend money for holidays and birthdays, alter our eating and entertainment habits, I'm not sure we could justify the thirty-some thousand dollar hit we'd take should I leave my position indefinitely.
That's a lot of money. A LOT of money.
And that puts a lot of pressure on John to be the sole breadwinner. Already he takes on so much responsibility in this regard. I'd hate to burden him with a $30+ thousand deficit to boot, ya know?
Then there's always the question of job availability should I officially leave. There's no guarantee that I'll be able to quickly find a job should I need to when Vince rejoins school. All these things are what have me on what feels to be a teeter-totter.
But again, the fact that I can weigh these options at all is a blessing, and I thank God for his generosity.
I just wish I had a better idea of what the best course of action would be. Ah well. In time, I'm sure He'll reveal it to me. That fact that, right now, I was given respite by my company is a blessing, indeed. A much welcome one in light of this past weekend's anxiety of "What now?"
And again - thank you to each one of you who has sent me messages, comments and e-mails. This is going to sound really silly, but I felt my heart jump each time I saw one pop up. The joy of hearing from folks was enough, even for a moment, to lift my spirits. The suggestions are all being taken to heart, I promise. It takes me a while to process and read all the links that are sent, but I promise, promise, promise that I do, in fact, read them all.
Eventually I'll get around to responding to everyone. Just... please accept my humblest thanks for all the support and love you have shown to my son. It hurts me so much to see him ostracized by his peers and shirked by school systems who are unfamiliar with his unique set of challenges, but I am buoyed by the love you have shown him. I am hopeful for him, and you feed that hope.
Blessings to you all. I thank you with a mother's appreciation.
That's a question that's been bouncing around back and forth, over and over the last few months.
Truthfully, it's been something sitting in the back of my mind ever since Vince was a baby.
The answer to that question is "Yes, I can homeschool Vincent."
In theory, my background is education. I've taught children from preschool to high school. I've tweaked curricula to account for struggling students and I've developed entire lesson plans to challenge those gifted with a natural appetite for knowledge. So in theory, I could easily homeschool Vincent.
Theories, however, are often-times victims of reality. In this case, I don't believe homeschooling is the best option for Vincent. While my background with education is proven and strong, I don't have proper experience with Sensory Processing Disorder. Obviously I can learn, but do I want to subject Vincent to months of my own trial and error until I figure out the best course of action for him?
I fear that's doing him a disservice.
Then there's the question of financial feasibility. Are we able to rely solely on John's income? We can for a few months, but long-term? We'd really need to crunch the numbers to come up with a realistic long-term picture.
And then I worry for his social development. Most home-school families have a number of siblings, so they are able to learn social cues even amongst themselves. There are no real homeschool groups in my area... the closest to me is about 30 minutes away and in a different state. Again, that doesn't seem to be the most efficient course of action.
I can always put him into extra-curricular activities, but I truly believe there is something to be said for learning in groups (even small ones). I want that for Vincent because I believe with the proper care, he will flourish in such setting.
Right now, though, it looks as if I'll need to spend the next two months with him. I don't know what that's going to translate to in terms of work. It depends on how my conversation goes tomorrow with my bosses. Will I be able to take a two month leave? I honestly don't know. They can't really afford to lose a worker right now, especially given the contract we just took upon ourselves. But I have no other options for Vincent right now, so I either am granted leave or I give notice. Either way, it is in God's Hands and I'm sure it will work out as it's supposed to.
But I don't put forth that option as a last resort or even a jest. I truly say it knowing it's a valid option... just one I don't necessarily think is right for Vincent. I know I'm a good teacher, but I'm not entirely confident in my ability to learn new techniques that would specifically benefit Vincent in a manner that a seasoned special-ed instructor in a special-ed classroom would have already mastered.
Those are my thoughts, anyway.
I have so much respect for homeschoolers. I don't know that I am organized and effective enough to do it for my own son. That makes me feel like a bit of a let-down, but I'm trying to be as honest with myself as possible because I don't want my arrogance to be the cause of him falling further behind, ya know?
But thanks for all the encouragement and prayers. What a blessing your e-mails and comments were. I love you guys so much. Please know I kept you in my Easter prayers this weekend, too. <3 My family and I are blessed by your generosity of spirit.
On Holy Thursday, John snapped this photo of Vince and I before we left for Mass. Vincent was holding Chase, his stuffed German Shepherd. He's gotten incredibly attached to him the last few weeks, and I admit I sorta love that. He's never had a toy that he MUST have with him at all times. Chase is his best pal now, and he always wants him wherever he is.
For Mass, he was well-behaved. We were very close to the front because I wanted to explain everything to him... especially the washing of the feet. However, I was SO incredibly disheartened to see only three men come forward to have their feet washed. The rest were women.
Two or three e-mails were sent out by our Director of Religious Education practically begging people to volunteer for this role. Only three men could be found? THREE?
How incredibly sad. What does this say about the men of our parish?
As I explained in this entry, the Washing of the Feet is an act that goes well beyond proving Jesus' humility. It was an act of preparation for His apostles - the first priests of the Church. Only after washing their feet and charging them with serving one another so fully did Christ then instruct them in the Eucharistic Prayer. Only then were they to take part in the first Mass.
Mother Church requires the feet of men to be washed because of the incredible symbolic nature of this act. It's why many old-school parishes wash the feet of retired priests. How blessed is the parish that recognizes that the rituals we still take part in can be educational as well as prayerful! Should all parishes be so lucky.
On Good Friday, Vincent was pretty exhausted by the time our services rolled around. I took him in early so he could see Jesus in the place of repose. I answered his questions, but he surprised me again by how much he understood.
He said, "Jesus died, right Mommy?"
I said, "Yes, Vincent, and the Church is very sad."
He asked, "But He's in Heaven, right?"
I said, "That's right. And He's going to bring us to Heaven, too."
Then he said, "But I don't want to go to Heaven. They don't have toys."
I laughed and said, "Heaven is more fun than Ocean City!"
He looked at me, incredulous, because to his four-year-old mind, nothing could possibly be more fun than the Boardwalk, curly fries and roller coasters.
Midway during the service, he nodded off to sleep right in the pew, clutching Chase under his coat.
After the service, two kind elderly folks came up to us separately to express their appreciation for Vincent's presence the last two days (Holy Thursday and Good Friday). One woman commented that she loved how he says, "Jesus, I love you" when the newly consecrated Host is elevated and the gentleman said he liked that Vincent behaved and genuflected before the altar.
I truly puffed up with so much pride and appreciation then. I'm always so worried that I'm not doing enough to teach him about how beautiful our Faith is. Truth is, I'm not. That being said, I know that God is making up for my inadequacies and is patiently leading Vince by the hand. It makes me so incredibly happy to have reminders like that, especially given the difficult week we'd had at school.
On Easter Sunday, Vince was not a big fan of Jesus' when I reminded him that after his egg-hunting, he needed to get ready for Mass. I knew it'd be tough getting him on board, but as always, once he was in the car, he was perfectly fine.
My niece, Alliya, even ended up coming along with my MIL.
We went to a parish that I've only been to once before, and it was completely by accident that we arrived there. I've STILL got a terrible taste in my mouth from their Mass.
The tabernacle is off to the side (I hate that), the priest was omitting things left and right (whether on purpose or not, I honestly don't know, so I'm hoping it was accidental), the parishioners who sat to the right of us were incredibly rude (but they might not have been regulars) and the whole set-up felt very, very... New Age-y? I dunno. I just got a terribly off feeling and it left me unsettled until we were about half-way home.
Alliya was asking me all sorts of questions as I took them around the church to show them the various statues and sacramentals. We had gotten there early, so to burn energy and utilize a built-in theology lesson, I took them on a quick tour. Alliya had so many smart questions (questions which Vincent jumped in to answer at points!). One of her questions was about Jesus being in the tabernacle. When I explained that we genuflected to Jesus who remained hidden in the tabernacle, Alliya became confused. She wanted to know how He fit, if He was a ghost, etc (she has basically no catechesis whatsoever). These are all smart and valid questions! So I explained as simply as I could without confusing her further.
I said because He is God, He can take on whatever form He wants. Because He loves us so much, He decided to look like Bread so He could personally feed us, Himself. Thus, because He appeared so small, He could fit into the tabernacle until the priest opened the door at Communion time.
She seemed to accept this answer, but when we got back to the pew, she asked if she would have to SEE Jesus. The concept of seeing someone she only knew as dead was understandably scary to her. She doesn't get that Jesus is God. She only knows that He's someone we celebrate at Christmas but He died a long time ago and went to Heaven.
Anyway, this thought scared her, so she kept asking me if she'd see the Consecrated Hosts.
I simply said, "Alliya, Jesus is not scary. He loves you so, so much. He has a real body, just like you and I. He's the one who sent you your Mommy and Daddy who love you so much. He made sure you had a Mi-Mom and Pop to take you fun places. He makes sure all your family and friends are nice. All the good things in your life are because of Him. He's not scary... He's the nicest person in the whole universe!"
Vincent emphatically agreed with me, but Alliya didn't seem to believe me. Again, I don't fault her for this. She hasn't had any religious education. Hopefully one day she will, but even if she doesn't, when she asks me for the truth, I will always give it to her.
But to end with something amusing, on Holy Thursday, after Jesus was placed into the side repository, we waited our turn to go up to say a prayer. When we reached the kneelers, Vincent looked at the small tabernacle holding the ciborium and asked, "Mommy, how do we get Jesus' trophy?"
Ha ha. Nice.
Also, the veils pictured in this blog are from Veils by Lily and Liturgical Time respectively.
My title isn't even a little bit kidding. I feel like I've ruined Vince forever regarding school.
As a child, I always looked at school as something fun. I enjoyed learning and I RELISHED taking tests because I liked to challenge myself to see how much I knew. I even liked pop quizzes. I always assumed my kids would one day be the same way.
How wrong I was and how incredibly harmful my expectation has been for Vincent.
I fear I pushed him too early into preschool, and the experience has left him scared of school altogether.
The knowledge of that kills me. It absolutely kills me.
Once again, I got a call from the principal telling me they could not work with his specific set of issues in the classroom. My husband and I had warned them of this MONTHS ago, but they poo-pooed us and assured us they were more than capable of handling his particular brand of behavior.
Now they realize they should've listened to us a little more carefully, because their Child Study Team could not assess what we'd already seen firsthand - Vincent is not equipped to handle a mainstream classroom. He's certainly smart enough, but from a behavioral standpoint, he is simply not ready to handle mainstream education. At least not yet.
And now they realize it after a grueling two months of frustration on their part and on Vincent's part.
I hate this. Vincent gets such anxiety about going to school which only makes his time there that much more difficult. The teachers are getting overly frustrated with him and it makes for a very upsetting experience for everyone... most especially Vincent. That sort of experience is enough to scare him off of school forever. What's to stop him from being terrified of school next September?
Four schools in 9 months. The Learning Experience (which he loved), St. Theresa's (which helped us diagnose him with Sensory Processing), Tippy Toes (which harbored a bully), and now the public school which gave us an overly confident CST that now only wants to touch him if he gets an Autism diagnosis.
Pardon me while I cry my eyes out in frustration, disgust, and guilt.
I feel like I've failed him so terribly in such an important area of his life... I don't even know how to handle myself right now. I don't know how to handle him. I don't know how to handle John who is just as upset and frustrated as I am.
This entire year has been one massive struggle after another with his schooling, diagnosis, therapy and ARGH. I don't know how to navigate this for him. It's my job to know... my expertise is education, and I can't figure out what to do or where to turn without causing even greater damage to him.
There is no school that will take him now... not with only a few weeks left in the year. Next year no one wants to touch him because he doesn't have a "proper diagnosis."
WTH is a proper diagnosis??? He's been seen by a developmental pediatrician and she diagnosed him with Sensory Processing Disorder. It's not in the DSM, but it's recognized as a valid disorder by doctors across the world. There are therapies aimed at teaching a child to handle the symptoms. But yet because it isn't in some stupid blue book schools use as guidelines for IEPs, Vincent can't get the help he needs???
THAT ENRAGES ME!
It's not like he's a bad kid. All of his teachers insist that his intelligence is above average and he is perfectly sweet, obedient and docile in a small group environment. He's super affectionate and compliant. It's only when he's in a large group that his symptoms show and he falls apart and becomes a wailing, inconsolable mess of screams, tears and frustration.
I can understand that. It's like asking a blind kid to read a book. It's going to solicit frustration and tears because a blind kid CANNOT READ until you give him braille.
Vincent CANNOT learn in a large group. He is best suited to a small group environment. We've known this since the beginning of the school year, yet no one wants to try that because he doesn't have an Autism diagnosis.
What they're telling me is that they don't want to try that approach because without a "proper diagnosis" the government won't subsidize him as a special ed student. If they're not getting paid to teach him, why bother?
*Cue more tears*
I hate this so much, and I pushed him into it thinking that along the line, they'd finally understand he needs a small group and allow him access.
Stupid me. Arrogant me.
And now my son has almost 9 months of fear and anxiety under his belt by being bounced around in my attempt at giving him what I thought he needed.
And what has it done for him? What have I done to him long-term?
I shudder to think of it.
And now I don't know what to do. Short of quitting my job and homeschooling him, myself, I have no idea what to do.
I am lost. God help me, I am lost.
What started out as a fun picture to join the #AshTag movement quickly turned into a game of "Who can make who laugh harder with the most ridiculous face?"
All funny business aside, I'm really moved by how much my son understands about the Mass.
Tonight (we went to a late Mass), the lector got up for the first reading and Vincent said, "Now we're gonna hear the Holy Spirit!"
As we got into line for Ashes, Vincent mistakenly thought it was time for Communion. He kept asking, "Mommy, you gonna eat Jesus? Jesus is in the cracker, Mommy, and that's how He gets into you heart beat."
He said this as he trailed his finger from my mouth to my heart. Then he asked, "I get bigger, I can eat Jesus, too?"
I said, "That's right, Vincent. When you're bigger."
He said, "I four years old. I is bigger now?"
I said, "No, honey. Not yet."
He said, "That's okay. I still His best friend. He loves me. He in my heart beat, too. We all His friends (the congregation)!"
Ha ha. The people waiting in line were all smiling at him and pointing him out to the folks around them. I was so proud then, because I realized if he can understand the Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, there's hope for the rest of us, right?
Such a necessary reminder for me. It really was.
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