Kindergarten Planning and Placement

Z turns 5 in the next couple of months. She’s been going to preschool since she was 3. In the fall she’ll start kindergarten.

KINDER-freaking-GARTEN.

A few weeks ago Z’s preschool teacher notified us of an informational transition-to-kindergarten meeting being held on January 24. We were able to go. It was only an hour long, but the presenter, Linda Chadburn, gave a lot of information. She was clear and easy to understand–she’s been in special education for over 25 years. I could sense a lot of the other parents were also trying to process all the information she presented.

We learned about Least Restrictive Environments, where by law children are placed with other children most like them. The presenter showed us an inverted pyramid with different levels of restrictive environments:

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From Linda Chadburn’s slide presentation

That’s a lot of levels.

Reilly and I have been talking, and we have an idea of where our little Z should go.

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From Linda Chadburn’s slide presentation

Z is currently in a special autism preschool. She goes Monday through Friday, for four hours each day. We feel she would most easily transition into an autism kindergarten. We just have to meet with Z’s preschool teacher and IEP team to see what they recommend.

This makes me so nervous.

The thing about the combined general education and special education classes is that the teacher/aide-to-student ratio is much larger, which means less individual attention. Her safety is one of our biggest concerns. Everything that you can imagine being an issue IS an issue, a definite possibility. Things you otherwise would have taken for granted. We don’t take anything for granted. That’s our world, and frankly, we’re ultimately better off for it.

But, we know Z is very smart. And her speech is really coming along. And if it and her comprehension have developed enough by the time her kindergarten placement is due, maybe we’ll be able to teach her about safety rules?

We’ll approach this milestone of kindergarten the way we’ve approached everything about Z’s development: one day at a time; one moment at a time. Learning as much as we can along the way.

That little girl. Getting to be quite the big girl, now. We love her.

Shadows, Sunrise

Sheets cover the lower half of my body. The nearby freeway hums and rumbles in the background. Light from streetlamps sneaks through closed blinds and diffuse the darkness. Turned toward the center of the bed, I watch; I listen. I realize I’m not breathing, not because I’m consciously holding my breath, but because of the little one beside me.

She takes my breath away.

Little lungs inspiring as deeply as they can, relaxed eyelids, the muted and peaceful glow of her face siphon happiness from places within I never knew and fill my heart that I’m still getting to know. There’s tightness, discomfort from contentedness. It is solid ground and a highwire. I teeter along the cognitive dissonance where happiness and doubt coexist.

The first eight weeks cast an easily darker shadow on my perspective. I couldn’t ignore hormones and just smile. I couldn’t ignore harmless comments or even generous offers of help and instead took offense. I couldn’t ignore persistent, pulsing cries pleading for simple needs to be met. I couldn’t help myself.

Objectively, months later levels are more even. There’s more smiling, fewer eggshells. We use the bathroom. We eat. We sleep. Fulfilling these needs reveals the complexity of her personality, the obvious need to be nurtured, guided, taught. Is it Maslowesque. Is it even a pyramid.

What am I doing. Is it good enough. Will it ever be good enough.

I allow myself to inhale her overwhelming beauty, her skin aubergine, opalescent in the wee hours. I continue watching her as the bedroom slowly brightens. The air conditioner and refrigerator harmonize in my subconscious, but her breathing completes the chord and finally lulls me to sleep.

It’s good enough for now.

There are still shadows, though fainter. They do not come from her.

Christmas Day, 2011, at Jacksonville Beach

I check my pockets.

I check them again.

I check the curb.

We had finished brushing the sand off our feet and rolling down our pants legs. The sun was setting, and the air was cooling considerably in the past hour. We are in Florida, and it is December. Christmas, in fact.

Familiar white noise of my childhood somehow keeps me calm. The shore froths and foams at low tide. The beach stretches for miles, and the horizon produces muted purples and blues with a backglow of pink. Flat clouds gather and blend into the greying blue above us. Seagulls congregate along the softened zig-zag margin where the rolling waves stop on the sand. We know those birds are wondering why we are there. They probably already know.

After we put our shoes back on, I tell Reilly that we have to walk on the beach again, because I don’t have the keys.

He checks his pockets, too. We spin in place and look at the asphalt and adjoining sidewalk; the keys could appear as quickly they disappeared.

We had walked a least a mile on the beach. The sand, the sea, the pelicans could have swallowed the keys. We need to retrace our steps.

We start on the land bridge connecting the asphalt and the great expanse of sand. I look up the coast to the pier where we started walking.  We begin our search together then decide it might be better to divide and conquer.

Just minutes ago we watched a parascender float through the air while a speedboat pulled him, and now our eyes focus on the sand, and I try to recall our exact path. I realize that I didn’t really pay attention to our steps, because we were lost in conversation, in each other. My heart pounding in my ears matches the volume of the ocean waves playing Yahtzee on the shore. White and static bounced and tumbled in different combinations. Did it ever roll all sixes? On a day like today, I would say yes.

On our walk down, we occasionally noticed the sun’s descent, the temperature’s decrease, and kids running around or writing in the sand. We had walked mostly on the packed sand, and the balls of my feet had nearly rubbed raw until we walked up toward the dunes where the sand was softer.

On the walk back, Reilly is 50 yards ahead. While we scan the sand, I sometimes look up the miles of coast. I notice certain landmarks that we passed the first time: sandcastles, holes and little plastic shovels, piles of seaweed, where people had written in the sand, a jellyfish.

The worst-case scenario crosses my mind. I am not worried that we wouldn’t get back to my parents’ house.  I don’t have anyone’s number memorized. If we could get into the car, then maybe I could get my cell phone and get a ride back to the Westside.  That would be easy enough.

But that is not the worst-case scenario.

The lost keys aren’t mine. They don’t belong to my family. I have them because I agreed to housesit and dogsit for my friend Jenny while she went on a Christmas trip with family. And she let us use her car. So I imagine having to explain how I lost the keys and why the dog is dead. I imagine poor little Henry the wiener dog lying stiff and unconscious by the front window of Jenny’s home waiting for Jenny’s car to pull up. But it wouldn’t be me in the car, because Jenny would have killed me for losing her keys. I would be dead. My ragdoll body would wash onto the shore days later while kids played catch with the keys we were looking for. And Reilly would have to explain awkwardly to my mom what happened.

This situation would be a much smaller deal if the keys were mine.

I have a feeling we wouldn’t find them on the beach, but at the same time, I want to get to the first part of our walk, where we rolled up our pants and let the water wash over our feet. I know that if the keys happened to drop into the water, there would be no chance of retrieving them. Not exactly a reassuring thought, but it is what I want to do.

We see a man scanning the beach with his metal detector. I ask him if he came across a set of keys. He says that he hasn’t. He asks if we lost them along the beach. I say that we did. He suggests we retrace our steps, to follow our path exactly the way we walked. That’s something we had never considered.  We know he is trying to be helpful, but we are just frustrated, and Henry is waiting for us. My brother is waiting for us. When he finishes talking, we thank him for his advice and part ways. The coast looks as long as ever.

We finally come to the spot by the pier where we stood in the ocean. Of course we don’t see any keys, and I hope that a seagull would drop them into my hands. The seagulls mock us instead. They would never lose their friends’ keys.

Then we start up toward the parking lot. We check by the sidewalk where we originally took off our shoes.  We reach the car and check the keyholes of the doors after we tried opening the doors.  We talk about making another sweep of the beach, and I sigh at the cooling breeze and darkening sky.

Reilly walks up to the pier’s entrance, to a small parks and rec office where people can buy fishing permits and supplies. I check the sand again where we first took off our shoes.  I keep wondering about Henry and having new keys made for the car and Jenny’s house and I kept telling myself how irresponsible I am and that I should have secured the keys instead of putting them in my back pocket.

Reilly comes down from the pier. I look at him, and he smiles and holds up a set of keys that I immediately recognize by the leather Harding University keychain. He says that someone found them and turned them in. We walk quickly to the car, and it feels so good to be able to unlock the door, text my brother to tell him we are on our way to dinner, and look forward to Henry’s tail wagging when we returned to Jenny’s house. It feels good to live.

Just before we put back on our shoes and started our search, we stood on the sand and watched the ocean. Our conversation had gotten quiet and after a few moments, Reilly said he had never been happier in his life and I began crying and he said that he really enjoyed spending the past few months with me and he wanted to spend his life with me, and he asked me for the chance to make me as happy as I’ve made him. He said, “I would love for you to have this” as he pulled out of his pocket a little black velvet box. I said that I would love to give him that chance, and I kept crying as he took the ring from the box and put it on my finger. I wiped the tears from my eyes.  We hugged tight and gently kissed. With his arm around me, we continued to stare at the ocean.

We put on our seat belts. I turn the key in the ignition. I check the side and rear view mirrors. I check the time, the headlights against the dusk. I check my phone after sending a mass text to all my friends. I check myself in the eyes of the man sitting next to me.

As we pull out of the parking lot, I check my hand.

I am engaged.

If You Want to Read This, You Know What to Do.


Discipline


I lie in bed at 3am
trying to write a poem.
My light is on
and I try not to disturb the crickets.
Their hearts have reached a resting state
and they are saving their songs for tomorrow.
They have discipline.
The loudest thing this morning
is my pen
The most impetuous thing this morning
is my mind
conspiring against the pen
haphazard on the page
scrawling into illegibility
which isn’t like me.

I Am Wearing A Snuggie

I am also about to watch another episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Sometimes I’m weird.

On Wednesday, I had a work bowling party. Nine of us came to the BYU Games Center, and I only knew one other person. We divided ourselves into two lanes, and I ended up going third out of the five people on the right lane.

So, at first, whenever it wasn’t my turn, I talked to the one person I knew, but as the game progressed, I loosened up a little and started at least commenting on other people’s games.

Also, I’m really good at being excited for people. I will cheer for you and cheer for you, and I will feel bad for you if I know that you really wanted that strike, or if the gutter was particularly merciless.

Anyway, all that outwardness didn’t stop me from winning. By 50 points over the 2nd-place person. Of course I wasn’t boasty (of course?), and I especially don’t like attention from people I don’t know, so I made sure to deflect attention and accept compliments and the quickly shoot compliments back. The outwardness didn’t help the awkwardness.

It’s sometimes really hard for me to accept compliments, but I do practice at saying “thank you” and actually feeling grateful.

Then later on in the week I admitted to someone that I can be anal retentive.

I spent most of this morning packing up my room before going on a bike ride with some friends. When we got back, I popped some popcorn and we relaxed a bit before moving my stuff to my new place. We laughed a lot about some things, and I laughed until I cried about a thing that I can’t talk about here just in case somebody’s somebody happens to come upon this blog. It’s just hilarious to me.

So, we packed up my friends’ van and moved a lot of things over to the new place.

Then we returned to the old place and saw that I left my NYC subway map on the wall. I removed the pushpins and took down the map and began folding it while my friends were telling a story or texting their family or something. When they finished, I asked them, “Do you know what makes me so happy?” And, they let me answer: “When I can fold a map, and it isn’t wonky and it can lie perfectly smooth when it’s nicely folded.” And they were like, “Uh, sure.”

Then we went out for sushi, because my friends are the best for helping me move, plus one of my friends received a text coupon for a buy-one-roll-get-one-free deal, so we had to take advantage of it. The food was great, and I might have eaten too much, because the rice in my stomach is staging a coup. Too crowded. Overpopulated. Not equal benefits for everyone.

After dinner, we stopped by the new place again to drop off a few other things. We looked at my bed, which was on cinder blocks so that I could store things beneath it. The bed isn’t pushed up against the wall, but a few inches from it, and I expressed a small fear that the bed might not be stable enough. I shook the bed, and the cinder blocks rocked a little. A friend asked if I was going to rock the bed like that, and I said that I wasn’t going to tell her. Personal stuff, you know?

Anyway, I ended up saying that I didn’t want to push the bed against the wall yet because I needed to make the bed, that I really like making beds, that once I make the bed and get all the hospital corners right then I’ll push the bed against the wall and it will be safer. I said that I make my bed every day, that sometimes I’ll completely strip my bed just so that I can make the whole thing over. I said that it is soothing and that it helps me clear my mind.

The same thing goes for most housework.

I can’t believe I’ve dedicated 700 words to how weird I am. Maybe I should scratch that and include the last eight years of blogging. Which is even harder to believe. Maybe not as hard if you’re not me, but maybe you should be grateful that isn’t the case.

Whatever. It’s time for Buffy.

Out of 20

So. French 321. The first quiz. We’ll see if we can keep this up. What I described as happening is actually what happened: 2 half-points off, but I got the bonus correct. J’ai fait des fautes bêtes.

Did I mention I’m in this class with returned missionaries and other people who speak fluently? I hope the osmosis is extra effective, because I sound like an idiot when I speak. We’re supposed to be beyond the sentence level and working up to the paragraph level, moving smoothly between imparfait and passé compose, using the present tense only intermittently. Anyway, if I listen enough and practice enough, … I don’t know. Being a wiz on paper is great, but I need to improve communication in other ways, be in touch with the real world.

***

In other news, the forum this morning with Condoleezza Rice was incredible. I hope to come across a copy of the transcript. What an admirable, inspiring woman. She was a captivating, charming, lively speaker. She made us laugh, and we applauded every time she said something amazing, like it was the State of the Union address, but this was much, much better.

I’m still processing a lot of what’s been going on the past couple of weeks, and right now I feel I can’t do any of it justice. I don’t know if I’ll be able to catch any sort of a break. I would love just to sit back and talk or hang out sometime.

Rise and Shine!

Last night I got to sleep sometime after 12:30. I set the alarm for 4:30 this morning. What time did I wake up? 4:27. That’s just not cool. So I lay there until the alarm actually went off. Then I stayed lying down until the snooze alarm went off once, then I got up.

I have an outline for class today. I have handouts. I’ve been trying to visualize how I’d set up the classroom and how I’d greet the class. These are a new bunch of kids to me. I’ve gotten off to a rather rocky start, but I want today to go smoothly.

Wish me luck.