Last Day of School

Today was a fun day for our little girl. Sort of.

A fire truck came at the end of the day to spray the schoolyard. Z’s class came out to play in the water, but it was too loud for her, so she went back to the classroom. I came early to watch the truck, and before I knew Z was in class, I stayed on the field for a while and took some video. One of the aides found me and said that Z was in class.

I picked Z up from her classroom. We walked to the schoolyard. Z saw the firetruck and the mist spraying from the giant nozzle. She liked the coolness of the water. It was still pretty loud: kids were running and screaming everywhere. She ran around for a bit, then the truck shut off the water, and we headed home.

We did fill up the little pool on the back patio, and she splashed around for a while.

Life is just so much more fun when there’s less noise.

Ain’t that a lesson to learn.

The Passing Evening

It’s 11:33 PM. I totally let the day get away from me.

I do not know what to make of the range of feelings about my baby heading to 2nd grade next school year. First grade was such a blur. Like, Kindergarten blurred into the summer, which blurred into 1st grade. And now another summer is already upon us. We like summer, but time is sure being funky with the pandemic and isolation and then people returning to society. It’s weird.

This evening I multitasked between watching Game 2 of the Jazz-Grizzlies series and piecing together a recording. Whenever I exported a revised version of the video from the editing software to the hard drive, I would peek out of the office into the tv room and check the score of the game. As I was editing, I could overhear Reilly and my brother talk about different players and the bad calls the officials were making. I mean, the Jazz won, which is what we want.

And I finished the video. Could have used a bit more cleaning up, but didn’t feel like it this time. Wanted to revisit my mid-teens again. Enjoy, and good night:

Dance Festival

Our girl participated in an end-of-school dance festival today. She danced with the other first graders. She watched the video many times, she was familiar with the moves. But did she do the moves? No. Did she move when the music moved her? Oh, hell yes.

Was she holding a pine cone while she danced? Yes, that, too.

She watched the other first graders perform, and she loved jumping around while the music played. She smiled so big. I caught about half of it on video that I hope to show her soon. She did such a great job.

I couldn’t be prouder.

She loved watching the other grades dance their numbers, too.

I told my brother today that if at the end of every school year she performs in a dance festival, and all she does is jump around and smile, I will go every year to watch just that.

She’s pure joy.

Monday Morning Movie

Sunday night someone decided not to sleep through the night, and she woke up at pretty inconvenient times. The first time was not long I’d fallen asleep for the night, maybe 11:30pm. I heard her crying and went to her room and lay next to her until she calmed down. Then I returned to my bed and fell asleep. Then around 3:45am she started complaining again. This time I went to her room and told her how important it was to sleep, because she had school in the morning. I curled up at the end of her bed with a blanket she wasn’t using. I slept, sort of. She didn’t fall back asleep. So at 6:30 I got up and we started our day.

Z wanted to watch a movie. She wouldn’t need to be ready until two hours later, so I listed off some choices. She asked for Disney Pixar’s Coco. This movie calms her, and she needed to be as calm as possible with the little sleep she got. I couldn’t say no.

While the movie played in the living room, I brought Z some breakfast and her water bottle. I looked at work emails and made sure nothing was too pressing. Toward the end of the movie, I brought down some school clothes, and she changed clothes. I also brushed her hair.

It came to the part where Miguel has come back from the Land of the Dead and finds Mamá Coco at home, looking very depressed and not responding when he describes seeing her Papá. His family come after him; he sees the guitar on the floor and starts to play for Mamá Coco, “Remember Me.” Coco slightly moves her finger, and after a moment she joins Miguel in singing.

That part always makes me cry. For all the reasons.

We finished getting ready for school. As far as I know, Z had a pretty good day. Last night we tucked her in. Then we watched some tv before bed. When we lay down and closed our eyes, we did not open our eyes until our alarms went off. Which means Z slept through the night, too. She felt the effects of not getting enough sleep the night before. Poor thing.

But I love when she chooses that movie. Every time she asks for Coco I’ll put it on.

Spot the Difference

I hung up the hammock today! Felt symbolic.

Not in an overly deep way. The weather is finally warming and keeping relatively steady. And Z really likes the sensation of lying and swaying at the same time. Very soothing.

Both Z and Reilly get the summer off at the end of the school year, and so much relaxing and playing will happen. These summer months are often pleasant.

Got a text the other day from a friend. She and her husband are both fully vaccinated, and she told us as soon as we say the word, they’re game for hanging out.

We are, too.

When people have come over in the past year, they’ve worn masks, and they didn’t stay very long. How will it feel to loiter for hours with friends again? Maskless, even? Will it feel…wrong?

Speaking of, I’m cooking up a post about masks. Not sure if it’ll be indignant or not. Just kidding, I’m pretty sure my thoughts will be carrying some heat.

Anyway: warm weather, friends, so much time in the back yard. Reading, gardening, snoozing.

That’s the hammock.

It’s back up, everyone.

This Week

Posted from other social media:

Baby Z is returning to school today, after a year of not attending in person. We have been spending so much time together. And now: taking these photos and walking her to class, my heart doesn’t know what to do. She’s probably fine. I don’t know if I am.

Here’s what she earned her first day back. She does like Crazy Bread:

She seems to be getting the hang of school. Tomorrow is Friday, and we’re all ready for the weekend.

***

The Asian hate crimes committed in the past year and finally being brought to light by the mass shooting in Atlanta has really made me sick to my stomach. I’ve been trying to process all of this in the last few months, and thoughts swirl and feelings jumble, and I don’t know what to make of it.

But friends and family have been supportive. They’ve reached out and checked in, and I’m so grateful.

I came across this Instagram post by Chanel Miller. So eloquent. Concise. Expresses much of what has been on my mind.

I hope everyone out there is safe and feels loved. The hate is unbearable.

Meetings

Yesterday Reilly and I attended a video call with Z’s teachers for her yearly IEP. We talked about her goals and progress. Her teachers seemed impressed with how well she’s doing with online school. It’s been almost a whole year. This week last year was when Utah decided to shut down schools for the rest of the school year, and my employer announced that we’d be working from home. This week last year we met with Z’s teachers on a Wednesday, and that following Friday the whole world changed. What a wild ride.

It’s probably easy to imagine a child–even one who has social delays–craving some kind of social contact beyond her parents. Even if we’re out running errands, Z will say, “Hi!” to a random child. To many random children. She will try to make friends. And we have to remind her about social distancing, even if everyone is wearing masks. Z’s teacher has said that her classmates (the ones attending in-person since the beginning of the school year) ask where she is all the time. Her name is on a desk, and it has been empty all year.

I had my weekly check-in meeting with my boss today. I told her about Z getting ready to attend school. I told her I had her practice unpacking her lunch. I told my boss about Z’s desk at school. She said that at the beginning there will probably be some separation anxiety, to which I quickly replied, “For me, probably not so much for her.” And my boss said, “Aww!”

Truth: it’s gonna be hard. After a 9 months of sitting by her and prompting her and waking her up in the mornings to do homework, I will have no easy time sending our baby off to school.

But like every other year she’s attended school in person, she’ll be amazing. And we’ll be proud parents.

Parent-Teacher Conference and Kevin

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Last night we met with Z’s preschool teacher. The first thing she asked when she saw us was, “Who’s Kevin?”

Well, Kevin could be a couple of things:

kevinup

or

kevinmin

Z’s teacher said that Z often says, “Come on, Kevin” during class. Which sounds totally not out of the ordinary to us. We know who Kevin is (or could be), why doesn’t everyone?

We then talked about Z’s placement for kindergarten. The teacher said that she, the speech pathologist, and occupational therapist agree that Z is on the cusp of going either to a special class or an autism kindergarten class.

We forgot to ask what the difference is.

But her teacher said that Z catches onto academic stuff like reading and colors and shapes and math really quickly. In other areas Z is working on a few skills, and she still has social delays. She’s fine working or playing alongside a teacher or aide, but when another child/peer joins the group, Z leaves.

Y’all, sometimes I’m like that. But I don’t want to be the reason Z can’t interact with people. So we asked what we could do to improve her social skills. And we decided to try scheduling regular playdates with kids her age, just like we tried last year.

Sometimes I ask myself, “What’s kindergarten?” I don’t see a totally regular class full of typical kids–what I and Reilly grew up with. That’s not the normal around here. What I do see is the possibility of the bird from Up or one of the Minions. Both are equally great: Fun, goofy, smart (maybe not so much the Minion); generally happy and unassumingly generous with cheer. That’s our normal. I’m grateful to have accepted and live it every day.

That’s our girl.

 

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.

screen shot 2019-01-29 at 2.28.36 pm
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.

Preschool – First Day

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Look at that photo. She looks so depressingly grown up. She does look pretty confident, though, which I love. Like she’s saying, don’t mess with me, mofos. I’ve been so nervous about today, Z’s first day of preschool. She had no idea what was going on. Reilly and I told her that she was going to a new school, and that she would ride a bus, and that she would have fun teachers. I made her try on her backpack several times yesterday so that it would be familiar to her and she would think it’s hers. Both Reilly and I like this backpack, but I don’t think Z cares very much right now.

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The day dragged on, and Z getting up at 6:30 didn’t help. We had breakfast and played and watched a few music videos. We hung out and cuddled and sang songs together. I reminded our little girl that she was going to school today, but I doubt she understood. She probably understands now that she’s there.

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It’s so weird thinking of our 3-year-old riding a bus. I mean, that’s what big kids do. Yesterday I emailed her teacher asking if an adult would sit with her on the bus to school. I totally stressed out about it. I know that if someone’s not sitting beside her, she would want to get up and wander around. But the teacher reassured me an aide would help Z with the whole bus experience. The teacher also said that everyone would make Z’s transition to the school as smooth as possible.

That helped me feel a little better, but just a little.

Grandma sent a text saying to give her a big hug and tell her she’s going to do fantastic. And that’s what I did.

Though the day seemed to drag, the time for the bus to arrive sneaked up on us. I helped Z put on her shoes, and we walked out to the curb. I sat on the ground and pulled her to me so she could sit on my lap. I held her tight.

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The bus pulled up to the curb. The door opened, and the aide stepped off. She said hello to Z and handed me a form to complete and explained some stuff. She helped Z onto the bus and guided her to a seat on the same side as our house. I took a picture of the bus, and the aide helped Z wave at me as the bus pulled away. I smiled and waved back.

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I went back into the house and cried. I’m still sort of crying.

She’ll be home soon, though. I hope she did okay.