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I need you to know

Anyone Can Do One Day

If Luke was to create a Top Ten list – David Letterman style – of Things That Irritate Me The Most, ‘Being Told What To Do’ and ‘Highschool’ would both jockey for the top position.

Getting Luke motivated and out of bed every morning was my job. He stayed up way too late, slept fitfully, didn’t use an alarm, and never once in the history of his life, popped out of bed eager to start his day, lol. I have written more than once about my role in getting Luke on the bus or in the car and on his way. Sigh. Good times.

During the course of my morning Luke routine, I got in the habit of cheerleading Luke by breaking down the school year into manageable bites. At first, it was fairly large bites.

“Only 3 months till December break, son. Anyone can do three months.”

I would encourage him and cajol him into thinking that he could manage his suffering for that length of time. Problem was, those timelines became insurmountable in his mind, as his ability to deal with the consequences and negativity in his life declined. Pretty soon I was reminding him that there are only five days in the school week and “anyone can do five days”.

In Senior Year, Luke was at his lowest and he was feeling crushed by his teachers and administration and schoolwork. With his hope at an all time low, I would go into his room in the morning, shake his calf to stir him a little, and when his eyes would finally peek open, I would give him the only piece of cheerleading I had left.

“Anyone can do one day, son. Six and a half hours. You can do it, sweetie.”

And he would. He would get up and get showered, grab his coffee, and go to Wachusett. He would greet his friends in the hall, sleep though a class or two, wander the halls, laugh through lunch. And at 2:10 pm, or whatever time they released the students, he would exhale and spend the next 12 hours doing what HE wanted. Chillin’ with friends, shooting hoops, gaming. At 6 am the next morning, it would start all over again. He kept doing One Day, One Day, One Day for seven months. I think it is a testament to his damn stubbornness that he got through for as long as he did, lol.

So here’s what I want you to know: We are just finishing our second week of the Coronavirus Quarantine. Social media is flooded with folks struggling to stay at home or struggling to stay sane in this new normal. As the experts caution that we may not peak for another month or so, I would like to suggest we take inspiration from the Luke Inwood play book to get through this time. Start your day by reminding yourself that anyone can do six weeks of this. Or, if you have to, you can break it down, to just the day. Because anyone can do ONE day. And if even the day is getting you down, like a rainy Sunday in Week 3, try and get yourself back to your happy place: maybe it’s listening to music, or reading, or television. Maybe it’s hiding under the covers for longer than usual. Whatever it is, IT’S OKAY. On the days when you are not feeling your best, you need to take the time to scale back and find the joy again. Now is not the time to be Superwoman or Superman and show the world how amazing you are and how much you can do. Breathe. Live simply. Put the joy first and the strength will come. And don’t forget – Anyone can do Just One Day. Or a series of Just One Days if that’s what you need. #HoldOn

I need you to know, Things that help

Harvard…Here I Come

There is a lot of talk this time of the year around state testing. As a teacher in upper elementary school, we eat, sleep, and breathe MCAS. Now people will try to tell you no one is holding you accountable for the results, but the fact is… they are. The district cares because the scores influence funding and the district’s overall rating; principals care, well, because their boss cares, lol; and parents care because everyone wants proof that their child is a gosh darn genius and headed to Harvard and they think the MCAS score tells them that. They think.

As I have recorded for all of eternity, Luke and school *broke up* lol in eighth grade. From that point on, Luke truly struggled to get any grade over a C and that darn F was everywhere on PowerSchool when I would check. He failed Physics and French in Freshman year and Sophomore year he added English to the list, so I think you will understand my surprise when the Grade Ten MCAS scores came out and Luke had a glorious ADVANCED stamped across the page. Advanced. Yep. Now, don’t get me wrong, Luke was a bright kid, but it seemed to me if he hadn’t been paying attention and learning, how could he possible know any of the material being tested?

“Some people are getting Advanced on the MCAS that SHOULD NOT be getting ADVANCED on the MCAS!”

This was on Twitter shortly after and it made me CRY with laughter!! I heard Danny J. was pissed that Luke had done so well and said this, but that’s an urban myth. 🙂 Dan did confirm that Luke taunted him, saying he was going to get a higher score, lol. Not sure if THAT actually transpired, but it’s funny to think about.

Junior Year is all about the SATs. As Luke continued to try and follow the same path as his peers, he signed up. He definitely didn’t do any practice tests or try any sample questions. lol Actually, looking back it was a miracle he got there on time that day. 🙂 Anyhoo, The results get emailed to you and when Luke got his, I am sure the whole neighborhood heard him whoop. I don’t remember the number now, but John and I want to say it was 1390 or something like that. It was beyond decent. It was *buy your kid into college* kind of good. Between Luke’s MCAS score and his SAT score, suddenly our mailbox was FLOODED with college materials from all across the country. Like stacks and stacks! I secretly hoped that one of these pamphlets would appeal to Luke and inspire him to get his act together so he could actually attend one of them, but he barely gave them a glance. More school was not on his agenda.

As Canadians, this whole SAT score thing didn’t mean much to us. We didn’t know anything about the whole college process including timelines or requirements or test scores. I’ll never forget standing on the back deck of the Sachs’ house talking with Mike Fiorelli. He was asking about Luke and I was sharing the drama of the day and happened to throw in a comment about his SAT scores.

“Apparently that’s pretty good,” I remarked. Mike’s eyes sort of bugged out a little and he said, “With a score like that, he could get into any college he wanted.”

“Maybe, ” I returned, “but the fact that he is FAILING every class in high school might be a problem.” Mike softly shook his head and laughed.

“Kid’s freaking smart, man, ” he said. Tell me something I don’t know, I thought to myself.

So here’s what I need you to know: MCAS scores and SAT scores and ACT scores are not the measure of a child. They are also not a predictor of success – in school or in life. Luke performed above average on both of these assessments. Did his teachers do an outstanding job at high school? Nope ( no fault of theirs of course, lol). Was Luke going to attend the best colleges Massachusetts has to offer? Nope. He Wasn’t even going to graduate high school. Did these scores mean Luke was a well-adjusted, achievement-oriented young man? Well, we all know the answer to that one. So, do they mean ANYTHING, Miss Patty? Sure. Data always gives us something to reflect on and use to make decisions – as a district, as a school, as a teacher. But it is ONE thing. It is ONE day. My recommendation? Keep a balanced perspective. Don’t put TOO much weight on those standardized tests. Let’s promote JOY and CURIOUSITY in our schools. Let’s raise our children to be KIND, HAPPY, and LIFELONG learners. Let’s measure our school systems, our communities, ourselves, EVERYTHING by their HEART. Forever and ever. Amen. lol

I need you to know

There’s Always Time For Dunks

I was caught in a long line of traffic the other day – the cars were backed up almost to Howe’s Farm stand- as inexperienced drivers navigated their way to the high school after a night of freezing rain. Sitting in the midst of this made me think back to all those days I drove, first Luke, and then Logan, to high school every morning.

Both boys hated the taking the bus and the fact that they had to be ready by 6:30 in the morning did not help. Mornings were always challenging for Luke and before he had his license, I drove him to school. It wasn’t a huge deal as I was already driving that way to go to Boylston to teach. Logie was still at Central Tree so Luke and I had this time together every morning. Luke was always making the mad dash out the door, but no matter how late he was, he would INSIST we stop at Dunkin’ Donuts. I would holler and protest and remind him he was going to end up with a TARDY slip, but his very chill response every day was…”There is always time for Dunks, mum.” I laugh thinking about his now. ‘Cause how right is he? As a society we are always so rushed and stressed about time, when in truth, in the grand scheme of things… what IS ten minutes? Especially to grab a bagel and a coffee and start your day off just right? lol Well, in high school it turns out it is a lot, but that is for another blog. :/

I loved the time I spent driving my boys to school. It really is true that kiddos spill more sitting in the car with you then probably any other time. We would talk about music or class or the gossip of the day (as long as it didn’t involve them, lol). Logan loved this radio morning show where the announcer calls up random people and pretends to be asking them survey questions. They were ridiculous and listening to Logan giggle at 14 and 15 years old made my morning. That time in the car was precious and looking back, I am glad it was never a big deal for me. I liked being needed and relished the opportunity to have each boy to myself, even if it was only twenty minutes or so a day.

So here’s what I need you to know: I heard a quote the other day that really struck me: Love is Time. We show someone we love them and that they are important to us, by making the time to include them in our day, in our lives, to spend time doing things together. This speaker said, “Isn’t it the most important thing we can do for those we love? As we stretch and start our day shouldn’t we ask ourselves – how will I make time today to be with those I love?” So for all you parents out there – forget work, and house chores, and the mowing the lawn – how many minutes will you give your child today? To be with them, to show them that you love them? Some times we may have to push to be included – like when your son is at college and would rather hang with his friends (ahem, Logan!) but you figure it out because it’s important and you’re the MOM gosh darn it. 🙂 And for some of us, we would give the world to read a bedtime story for the millionth time, to go to a soccer practice in the rain, or make a last minute dash to Dunkin’ Donuts. I think that’s what my time at the cemetery is, quite frankly. It’s my time, every day, when I choose to be with Lukester, to let him know, even though he is on the other side of the stars, I love him. Love is Time, friends, and we don’t always have all the time in the world. Xxx

I need you to know

Mr. Bays

I started my Friday learning of the passing of an old family friend, Doug Bays. As I sat in my car in the parking lot at school, I sobbed. I hadn’t seen Mr. Bays in a number of years, but the mere mention of his name brought an image of his face to my mind and a million memories came rushing back.

Growing up, my family did not spend long living in one location. My dad was chasing his next big break so we were always on the move. Our longest time in one house was in Kingston, Ontario on good ole Knightsbridge Road. I spent five years between kindergarten and fourth grade there, and when I look back, they are truly the happiest memories for me. Life was simple, joyful, uncomplicated. It was during these years that our family began spending time with the Bays’.

My Dad and Mr. Bays met each other through Sears Canada. The Bays’ lived just outside our hometown of Kingston in Perth Road Village. It was a mere twenty minutes away, but at nine or ten it felt like one hundred miles traveling in the back seat of my family’s Oldsmobile. We went out to Perth Road more weekends than I can count. The Bays lived in an old farmhouse that I loved. I imagined that it held so many secrets in its limestone basement or the passageway between the girls room and the master bedroom. They had a red barn that seemed constantly full of kittens and an old workshop building. The backyard had a large garden and an old tree where a family of long ago had built a treehouse, now filled with cobwebs. Nestled in the woods, at the end of a long driveway, their home was magical in my eyes.

Mr. Bays was quite the character. He was always in good spirits, laughing and telling stories. He loved to tease us kids and always had us working around the property – gathering beans or picking up apples. I wish I had a picture of Mr. Bays, but he was always on the other side of the camera. As an avid photographer, Mr. Bays saw the beauty in the smallest of details, in every living thing. He was just a darn joyful human being.

My Dad goofing around while we were making cider. Good times.

Mr. Bays is tied into a thousand memories I have of life in Perth Road. Making apple cider, raising and killing chickens, lol, yes it is as awful as it sounds, sliding on pillows down the main staircase, snowmobiling through the thick woods, making forts in the evergreens, milk with every meal. What is it they say about the innocence of childhood? Well, this was mine, and as much as I often felt I was journeying into the land of Deliverance, banjos and all, lol as we made our way down Wilmer Road, this time may have marked the only time I lived and breathed without fear or anxiety or sadness.

Can we bring back 1976?

I think the best part of this story is… as I spent time making memories with my family, and Mr. and Mrs. Bays, and Jennifer and Melissa… just one and a half miles down the road, the man that would be my partner in life was also growing up. The infamous John Inwood lived literally over the hill and around the corner by the baseball diamond. Worked at the General Store that we would walk to and buy our penny candy and banana popsicles. Turns out John’s Grandma and Jennifer and Melissa’s Grandma were sisters. That when I would go to the cottage on Draper Lake, John Inwood was probably swimming through the weeds two cottages down at the exact same time. I mean, SERIOUSLY. You just can’t make this stuff up. The Universe is some kind of wonderful.

So Peace be with you, Mr. Bays. You were a good man with a big heart and an even bigger smile. You teased me, but never too much which I appreciated lol. I will try and find the beautiful in the ordinary just for you. With love Xxx

I need you to know

New Driver Alert

I reached out to my boy, Eric, as I was contemplating writing about Luke and driving. “Was he really as bad a driver as I remember?” I asked him. “Most definitely,” was the response. “The worst.” lol It was true. Some people, like Eric and my good friend, Sue, were born to be behind the wheel. Doesn’t matter the weather or the traffic or the vehicle, good drivers confidently navigate the roads with ease and love every minute. Luke was not that guy.

Luke was looking forward to the freedom that comes from having your license. I don’t think he was prepared for the steps and practice that needed to be completed to achieve this goal. First up was the permit. I told Luke to study, made sure he had a hard copy and a digital version to review, and he must have looked at it at least a time or two because he passed. Barely. lol. Like by just one point passed. I remember him walking out, practically in a cold sweat because he was worried he wasn’t going to get his permit. Oh, Lukester.

Luke went through driving school at CMSC in West Boylston. He hated having to go in every day and attempt to pay attention, but he managed to make it through. The driving lessons were a bit more complicated. I don’t know how it works where you live, but the teens were expected to put in so many hours as the driver, as well as so many hours observing others drive. Sigh. Apparently Luke slept through a good portion of that time, and twice he told the instructor he had appointments so he needed to be dropped back at the high school early. Crafty bugger! 🙂 I was Luke’s co-pilot most of the time and managed to keep him between the lines. lol But in classic Luke fashion, he took from each driving session only what he thought he needed and when the time came to take his test, he was incredibly anxious. Luke was surprised to learn passing on the inside was frowned upon during a driving exam and the resulting *Fail* totally pissed him off. Take two got him his license, but I wish you could have seen his face when, at the start of his test, he climbed in the driver’s side, buckled up, and hit the gas without putting the car in drive. lol We all heard the roar of the engine and when he looked my way, “For fuck’s sake!!” was written all over his face.

But he was off! Driving to Dunkins, driving to work, driving to school. I am certain he and the Altima had some adventures together, lol, but some things a momma just doesn’t need to know. I do know the snow gave him a hard time, as well as highway driving, and he tweeted about almost biting the dust coming back from Solomon Pond Mall once. Of course, it was the lady driver’s fault. lol Sassawanna Road in Rutland is where Luke and a tree had a run-in. I only found out because he tweeted about the incident, and I was *stalking* his Twitter, as the kids like to say. Of course, I was a naïve mom and asked him about it. Sigh. Classic parenting gaff. Never ask about something you read on social media when you are not supposed to be on there!!!. So he told me his version of what had happened. Sort of. And promptly blocked me on Twitter. HA! I earned that one.

So here’s what I need you to know: I worried every time Luke went out in the car. Heaven forbid a siren go off when he was out driving. I immediately would go into panic mode and text him. But the truth is, kids need to get their license. It is an important step up in responsibility and one of the first things kids can do on their own, separate from mom and dad. I think that is what is so scary. We aren’t with them, can’t be with them, and have to trust and have faith that they will be okay. It is a BIG deal and excruciatingly difficult to watch as they get in their car and head out into the world. It’s not exactly the same as pushing them out of the nest and hoping they will fly, but it’s close. Prayers to all you parents of future drivers. You’re going to need them. 🙂

I need you to know, The Rise and Fall

Mother Mary

This has been a hard week. It is not unusual in grief, to have a bad that day that is then followed by a series of bad days. After this past Sunday I did my darndest to pretend I was okay, but time and time again I found myself tearing up. Or outright crying. It was official. I was in “I miss my boy” mode.

Now it is not easy to say there is a benefit to being almost five years in my grief journey, but there IS comfort in the knowing. Knowing that when you are in the depths of sadness that it doesn’t last forever. Knowing that the pain, although fierce, is less than before. But getting yourself in a better frame of mind takes work. And faith. Doesn’t have to be in God or the Universe. It only has to be in yourself. In your ability to open your eyes every day, to fill your lungs with oxygen, to put one foot in front of the other.

Since losing Luke I have been inspired by Mother Mary. Whether you are religious or prefer to think of the Mary as a historical figure, her story is pretty incredible. Although I could construct an entire blog around the Immaculate Conception, it is her journey as a mother when Jesus begins his ministry that draws my admiration. Imagine how hard it would be to hear people speaking words of hate against your child. Imagine fearing for your child’s life. Her own family attempted to kill her son because they thought he had lost his mind. Did Mary beg Jesus to stop? Nope. By all recollections in both Christian and Jewish recounts, Mary stood by her son, supported him, followed his ministry. And as Jesus died on the cross, it was his mother who stayed by his side till his last breath. Sigh. What we won’t do for our children.

And then Mother Mary lived on. Day after day, year after year, without her boy. Missing a piece of her heart. It is thought she lived another twenty years before passing away. For those of you fortunate enough to not understand the magnitude of this, I can tell you living one day feels hard. 7,300 is a feat beyond comprehension.

And so I am inspired. On my hardest days I remember that I am not the only momma that has lost a child. There is a community of women that wake up every morning and do the difficult work of carrying on. I often go to my alter and look at my beautiful Madonna and ask her to fill me with the grace and strength to go on. I imagine her whispering in my ear… that I can do it, just as she did it, just as countless other mommas have done it.

So here’s what I need you to know: Just like in the Beatle’s song, “When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me. Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.” My model of strength might be spiritual, but yours doesn’t have to be. If you are a momma missing your baby, find a woman who has walked this journey and let her story lift you up. I think about Judy O. missing her daughter, but greeting each day with strength and humor. I think of Rutland Momma, CherylAnn Gengel, impacting countless lives with Be Like Brit, all the while missing her daughter. Trust in yourself and believe that if they can do it, so can you. We grieving mommas are lost and found and continue on. We are a “woven net of broken hearts and we keep each other safe.” Together we get through. Xxx

I need you to know, Things that help

Your Job

This past month I have had a few conversations around the hardships of  raising children. Nobody tells you, when you’re young and fresh-eyed and dreaming of the smell of baby powder and snuggling, that parenting is damn hard work.  Is it a conspiracy to make sure we keep procreating? Lol I think not. I believe the good faaaar outweighs the bad when it comes to having a child and that’s what keeps us going.  The challenge is… what do you do when the bad far outweighs the good?  For most parents, those difficult times are the infamous developmental phases every child goes through: sleeping through the night, potty training, terrible twos, not-to-be-mentioned threes, puberty, grades seven through ten. Lol  You are in it for a relatively short time and when it is over, when everyday’s back to hugs and Hallmark moments, those times of anguish or frustration get tucked away in the memory box. You share war stories with other parents and laugh at the similarities and high-five over having made it through.  

But some of us parent under extraordinary circumstances. We have children with physical or mental health diagnoses.  We have children who, despite our best intentions and our biggest dreams, are not living the lives we would wish for them.  Every day is a gosh darn struggle. It’s not a phase that ends in a few months, it is a hardship that we wake up to every single day for years.  Like Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day, the trials with our children are on repeat.  And because they are our children and there isn’t anything we wouldn’t do for them, we try and HELP.  You could insert the words “Help You” into each of these sentences, but I know that you know that I know that YOU know that this is what REALLY happens:

*Let me zipper your coat.

*Let me tie your shoes.

*Let me make your bed.

*Let me pick up your room.

*Let me find you a friend to play with.

*Let me make your lunch.

*Let me do your homework/book report/project.

*Let me navigate your social relationships.

*Let me get you a job.

*Let me pay for that.

*Let me fix that situation. 

Oh, parents.  I am also guilty of all of the above. As my firstborn, any time Luke hit an obstacle or even the potential of an obstacle, there I was trying to clear the path.  My heart was in the right place, but what I have learned is that it is not my job as a parent to make the world easier to handle.  Read that one more time. It is not a parent’s job to make the world more manageable for our children.  This is such an acceptable behavior that we even have funny terms for it: helicopter parents – who hover over their kiddos taking care of every need that comes up and more recently, lawnmower parents -who actually clear the path of life so their kiddos can go merrily on their way.  This whole “paying for SAT scores” scandal has erupted as a result of what society believes is a good parent.  SIgh. When we look around and are disappointed in the entitlement and lack of skills in our children, we only have to listen to Logan, who loves to remark, “Your generation did this.”  SIgh, you are so right, son.

Turns out, a parent has three jobs:  model what it is to be a kind and decent human being who contributes to their community; instill these same values in our kiddos by providing the words and experiences that support them; and love.  Mostly, love. This quote that reminds us to focus on the “WHO” of our child and not the “DO” of our child sums it up perfectly.

So here’s what I need you to know:  I know, I know, you are rolling your eyes at this one because you LIKE the way you are raising your children. Lol And you are allowed.  But maybe 2020 is the year you step back a bit. I know I wish I had let Luke struggle more. I wish I had let him learn from the consequences of his actions instead of solving them before he had a chance to.  I wish I hadn’t walked on eggshells around him; afraid he might not love me. Because it didn’t matter how he felt about me – I would always love him. And that’s all that matters. There isn’t anything he could have done that would change that.  SO, Let the kids live their own lives, make their own mistakes, experience the joys and pains. I know it can be hard to stand on the sidelines and simply watch. But that’s what a good parent does. We aren’t out in front of our kiddos – getting rid of the obstacles, we aren’t behind them – fixing the consequences of their actions.  We are beside them – cheering them on, loving them through the good and the bad, as they fall and get up; as they grow and shine. That’s what a parent does.

I need you to know

So This Is Christmas…

I read early on that when you lose someone you love that it takes in and around three years to start to feel some semblance of yourself again. That number bumps to five years when you have lost a child. John and I both set our eyes on that year, that number as a goal to get to. “If we can only make it to that year we will be okay again,” we told ourselves. Five years sounds so far away when you are first in the throws of grief. Every day is damn agony – the purest form of torture; of hell on Earth. How to survive one let alone one thousand, eight hundred, and thirty- two?

But by some miracle, you do. You get up every morning. You miss your child. You do your day. You cry. You go to bed. Repeat. And at some point, I am not exactly sure when, small moments of happiness sneak in. They are tiny pinpoints of light or laughter, fleeting, but still, a welcome reprieve from the pain. And next thing you know the waves of grief don’t drown you. It is more like the gentle lapping of the water on the shore. Constant, but softer, wearing down the edges of your sadness.

And so here I am. Just shy of my fifth year and it is true, I am feeling more like my old self. Christmas has always been a time of joy for me and these past few years it has been difficult to look at any part of it without thinking of Luke and missing him. But this year I feel a bit more at peace with where I am in this journey; of how I hold Luke in my heart. Grief is not like running a marathon where you get to the end and you look back and think, “Wow! Look what I endured! Look what I accomplished!”. Grief is more of a “Phew! Made it through that day; that anniversary; that Christmas.” If this is your first Christmas missing part of your heart, I am sorry. I wish I could tell you it gets easier. I do know we get stronger. I do know we get better at carrying our love and our missing. I almost never look back now – I just look forward, to the day when I will see my sweet boy again. And I remember the love.

Rivers and roads, my son. Merry Christmas. Xxx

I need you to know, Things that help

Special Delivery: HOPE

These past few weeks I have been teary and I couldn’t figure out why. I have been busy, but in the best possible ways, so I knew I wasn’t stressing over any work or Hope Lives Here issues. Maybe I was tired. You know how when a little doesn’t get their nap in and they cry over the smallest thing? Hmmm… Was that it? Logan is definitely happy at college so that wasn’t it. The answer came to me, of course, in a moment of stillness and sadness around Luke: the freaking holiday season is upon us.

When you lose someone you love, many days can be full of memories and angst, but none more so than the Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve stretch. Just think about what these six weeks hold. Time with family and friends, thinking about what you want to buy for someone special to make them smile, holiday cards and finding the perfect picture, traditions around baking and decorating, picking out a tree. There are a million special moments that go into making this season so magical, but now these are bound to the feelings of missing a loved one. It’s a proverbial minefield – never knowing how you will react on any given day. Add to that the fact that the rest of the world is feeling so JOYFUL and you are not, and well, it is tough, friends.

So, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that my heart was starting to feel heavy. Grief is a complex beast. Four and a half years can feel like a very long time – like enough time to pass that healing can take place. Or grief can make you feel like you’ve been dragged through every single one of those one thousand, six hundred, and twenty days. If you are just new to the grief journey you might be asking yourself – Will it ever really feel like the “most wonderful time of the year” again?

So here’s what I need you to know: Today, I bring you great tidings of HOPE. Yes, that first year is to be survived. Yes, that second year the reality sets in and the heartache is real. But then you start to figure things out. You know your triggers so you take steps to keep out of their way. You start to wake up more mornings with a lightness in your heart. You breathe a little easier. And when that holiday season shows up on your doorstep and announces “I’m here!” you get a little teary, but you don’t lose your sh*t. You invite it in, and maybe even embrace it. Because what you have endured, whether it’s been one day or one thousand, proves that You can do this. It may not always be pretty, it might require more Kleenex than a Hallmark movie, but You are getting through. Here’s to HOPE for the Holidays and Hearts full of LOVE. Here if you need me. Xxx

One day at a time. Xxx
I need you to know

I’d Like an IEP With a Side Order of ASR, Please

When we last left off, our main character, Luke Inwood, had just been diagnosed with ADHD. He was working this like nobody’s business and had suddenly developed a *bouncing leg* because… you know… he had ADHD and couldn’t stop himself. 🙂 This both amused me and irritated me and it’s one of the reasons I don’t like labels. Give a person a label and he or she is sure to live up to it.

What WAS true was that Luke was still not doing well at school. It was the middle of Grade 10 and it was obvious that this year was going to go down in flames if steps weren’t taken to help Luke out. What that might look like I had no idea, but Luke’s therapist, prior to leaving the practice, had suggested something called ASR or Academic Support. This was a class where students were pulled out to work on organizational skills, homework completion, and any other intervention activities that might need one-on-one or small group support. I thought this sounded like a game changer for Luke because all the zeros he was accumulating around homework were impacting his grades in a way that he could never recover from.

So I inquired about the ASR and found out you have to have an IEP to qualify for this accommodation. So THEN I started asking about getting Luke on an IEP. An IEP is an Individualized Education Program. They can be put in place for any number of reasons – learning disabilities or physical disabilities, for example – and the goal is to provide the needed support to allow students to access the curriculum in a way they would not be able to without the accommodations. Logan had an IEP in elementary school for speech therapy so I was not new to the process. But Logan on an IEP for speech and Luke on an IEP for whatever the heck we want to call what was happening at High School were not the same thing. At Logan’s IEP meetings we would sit around the table and talk about how sweet and wonderful and hard working he was. It was more of a formality or update on his progress. This was not the case for Luke.

By the time the required testing and reports had been completed it was March when we got together for Luke’s initial meeting. I remember gathering my thoughts prior to going in and all I really wanted them to know was Luke was not making adequate progress and we, as his parents, had no idea how to fix it. Luke was on a 504 for his diagnosis of ADHD, but those accommodations like preferential seating, for example, were clearly not doing the trick. It was just not enough and as I sat at the long conference table that day, I desperately hoped that one of them, someone, could help my child. What I needed was a gosh darn miracle.

So here’s what I need you to know: It is not easy to be the parent of a child struggling in school. We just want our kids to be happy, to be like all the other kids coming to school every day and having a great experience, and yet they are not. So when we show up at those IEP meetings, we are looking to you, as the educators, as the team of professionals, to give us a little hope. We, more than anyone else, know what the *challenges* are with our kiddos; we are looking to you and that IEP to help make things just a little more *right*. Turns out an IEP is not a miracle cure, but more on that next time. Sending love to all my fellow IEP families. Xxx

I need you to know, The Rise and Fall