Back To (Home) School – for Special Needs

It’s back to school time!  For many, this means the smell of freshly sharpened pencils and the unmistakable scent of Crayola crayons.  I can almost hear the binding crackling on a new composition book being opened for the first time.  The feel of new clothes, new haircuts, new shoes.  Moms and dads jumping for joy, while it being bittersweet that the kids are another year older.  I’m getting ready to send Bubba to third grade – state testing year!  I am in awe of the young man he is becoming, but I’m also ready for Fight Club to adjourn to weekends only.  Littles will be in school for his first time!  Away from mom and growing his independence!  Back to school is full of happy emotions of growth and maturity.

Unless of Course You Must Home School

There is a select group of moms where Back to School isn’t the happy time it is for others.  These moms homeschool, not by choice, but because the school districts fail their special needs children.  These moms send their special needs children to schools where the child has the same teacher in the same classroom, even though they are another year older.  These moms use therapists for education, instead of a teacher.  These moms have lost their children to traumatic and tragic accidents, even if the child is still physically here.  Those types of accidents where it isn’t the same child, you know?  Where life changed in an instant.

I’m one of these moms.  Smash-N-Break should be in kindergarten.  Those words – should be – biting me to my core.  Smash-N-Break will go to ABA therapy three days a week.  He would miss so much school, and our district won’t work with us because he isn’t “autistic enough”*.  We’ve been told he would be a “truancy issue”**.  So, when faced with the decision of getting him therapy or sending him to kindergarten, we chose therapy.  I’ll homeschool the days he is home.  This may be a failure, we will see.  We hope to transition to public school, but will have to wait and see.  I may end up homeschooling if the regular classroom is too much for him at first.  I don’t exactly want to, as I feel school has many benefits.  I may end up with him in a private school.  That makes me worry, too, as all 3 kids in private would be way too much of a financial strain.  And I have it easy!  We have every reason to believe Smash-N-Break will be in public school come first grade.  Many others are faced with this every year.

Smash-N-Break is jealous, so jealous, of Bubba and Littles.  He was supposed to go to school with Bubba.  He finished preschool, which Littles is starting.  He’s in this strange in-between.  And for a kid with ASD, who knows he is different, he just wants to fit.  I’ll hopefully help teach him to embrace the uniqueness.  We’ve had many conversations about it, but that hasn’t curbed his questions.  He wants to do kindergarten like normal.  I

 

know it would be a failure.  But I can’t explain that to him in a way he will understand or not blame himself.  It isn’t his fault he’s different, any more than it’s mine that he has autism.  (If I tell myself it’s not my fault, maybe one of these days I’ll actually believe it…)

What Will I (& You) Do?

Do I take a “first day of kindergarten” picture?  Is it really kindergarten?  Is this really the right decision?  I’m struggling with all those questions right now.  And there is no right answer.  When the day comes that we do our first homeschooling session, I’ll decide then.  I’ll wipe tears away for different reasons than the cute poems kindergarten teachers hand out.  When faced head-on with the differences our children face to the typical kids, pain comes up.  Grace and forgiveness haven’t happened for myself yet.

So, as you take your pictures of your kids smiling faces as they grow, say a little prayer (if it’s your thing) for those mamas who hold back tears for different reasons.  If you know one of these moms, give her a hug or a text to say hey.  Invite her for coffee, or whatever.  She may say no, but she will know she isn’t forgotten.

 

*Direct quote from the school district special needs coordinator. Still not sure what this means.  Seems like someone who doesn’t understand special needs though.

**Unless he was to attend school and then do 24 hours of ABA after. I mean who of us doesn’t like to work 65 hours a week every week for months? He doesn’t need time to, oh I don’t know, be a kid. Of course no ABA therapist is even open after 5 so…

Sharknado Party Ideas & Recipes

HAPPY SHARKNADO DAY!

I love campy SyFy channel movies.  The shark ones are the best.  Well, Lavalantula is a close second.  But Sharknado?  Oh. My.  God.  Seriously.  I look forward to Shark Week, because it’s awesome and fun, but it also means SHARKNADO DAY IS COMING!  And SyFy now does it for a whole WEEK!  Squee!  Trailer Park Shark, Toxic Shark, Sharktopus – all awesome.  I’ve recorded so many of them.

I’ve passed my love of all things Sharknado onto Smash-N-Break.  He is obsessed with sharks and sharknados right now.  Obsessed.  He asks Alexa, my Echo Dot, a bunch of questions about sharks.  Where do they live?  What’s the biggest one?  How do you spell Sharknado?  Can I keep one as a pet?  Where can I see a shark?  So, naturally, he wanted to celebrate Sharknado Day.  Bubba, Smash-N-Break, and Littles pretend to fight Sharknados.  Bubba is Fin, naturally.  They know the song.  They sing the song.  Alexa knows which song it is, too.

How do you celebrate Sharknado Day, you ask?  Well, you watch all FIVE (five – pinch me, I’m dreaming! FIVE movies now!) movies in one day.  You plan a menu around sharks, sharknados, and a weapon of shark destruction.  We will also try to build a shark puzzle.

First, we have Shark Attack punch.  It’s pretty easy to make.  Blue Hawaiian Punch, Sprite, with drops of Grenadine.

Snack wise, we have Sharknado Chips.  Other people call them Bugles.  Boring.  Sharknado Chips is better.

We also made Shark Bait.  Popcorn, Reese’s Pieces, and Vanilla chips.

Chainsaws.  What would a Sharknado party be without a nod to Tara Reid’s chainsaw hand!?  Red, white, and blue Twinkies (blood spatter) with a pretzel rod.

Shark Tooth Pizza.  You cut pepperoni into triangles and make a pizza.  I may also make this into nachos.  That’s a flour tortilla cut into a triangle, baked in the oven to make it crispy.  Then, top it off with sauce, cheese, and triangle pepperonis.  I haven’t decided yet.

The piece-de-resistance is Blood in the Water Sharknado cupcakes.  You have to find blue velvet cake mix, or make your own cake and dye it blue.  Then, squirt something red into the cupcake after it’s baked.  I just used frosting.  Frost it like normal.  Take a sugar cone, cover it in royal icing.  Squish it into the cupcake.  Fill the cone with frosting, and add gummy sharks.  Sharknado cupcakes!

So, now, go out and enjoy the awesomeness that is Sharknado.  And eat junk food, too!

Happy Sharknado Day!!!!

I Don’t Fit

No, this isn’t about fitness or how I fit my (large) butt in an amusement park ride.  That would be a short post.  I’m fat.  I like food.  I still fit.  The kids didn’t fly out of any ride at Six Flags over Texas.  The end.  This is about how I fit in to the mom groups.  The bottom line is, I don’t.  Do any of us?

So, you would think I fit in.  Hey, you’re a stay-at-home mom!  Oh, but I do taxes on the side.  And I just got a new part-time job.  So, no, the “real” stay-at-home moms don’t want me.  The work outside the house moms don’t want me because it’s part time.  The part-time moms don’t want me because it’s working at home.  The working at home moms don’t want me because it isn’t data entry, selling things to my friends, not full time, whatever.  Plus, pierced and tattooed in a small, southern town.  I’m strangely okay with that.  If all you see is holes and ink, and think less of me/more of yourself, go away.  Over there is the direction in which I wish for you to go.  So, I don’t fit.

 

But, you have special needs kids!  Those groups are very welcoming!  Well, yes, if you’re autistic “enough” in my area.  (Seriously, Snobby Lake Town – I’m looking at you, you judgmental snobs.  Not all of them, obviously.  Just the ones I’ve seemed to run into.)  The welcoming ones?  Yeah, an hour away.  I do fit in with those, but between special needs and an hour drive, I can’t get to many things.  I fit in well with the ADHD groups, as long as I only discuss Bubba.  If I move to Smash-N-Break, he’s “ too complex”.  So, I don’t fit.

 

Well, preschool and school.  Nope.  We live too far.  I need preschool, but don’t need it like a “real” working mom.  We don’t live IN Snobby Lake Town.  We don’t go to church.  Well, yeah.  When your ASD kid thrives on stability and regularity, and the nursery school workers ask you to be there in class with him to help with just him, it becomes another chore.  My faith shouldn’t be a chore.  I get it, I do.  But, it isn’t filling my spirit.  My spirit is being ignored.  I can read sermons at home and discuss it with the family comfortably, without worrying if Smash-N-Break is going to use the “f word”, bite or hit someone, have a meltdown, or anything else that can and does occur.  He uses the f-word appropriately.  I’m strangely okay with that, given his speech delays.  Shut up.  I’m not a good mom.  I’m an okay mom.  I’d get a participation award.  My kids are happy, so shut your pie-hole.

Add to it the amount of negative things I’ve had hurled my way about my kids while out in public.  No, they aren’t perfect little angels.  They are 110% BOY.  One has ADHD.  One has ASD and ADHD.  One’s 3.  (That age should come with a wine-of-the-day club.  It can be a small bottle.  Just sign parents up in the hospital.  Maybe I should start a company.)  I’m trying my best.  I have days I fail, but guess what?  I get back up and try again the next day.  I’m human!  I seriously dread going out in public.  Especially on the days that are Smash-N-Break’s “bad days”.  Going to a birthday party of an ASD little girl was a breath of fresh air.  I knew all the parents would get it, no judgment and no comments.  He could be himself, and if that was ignoring everyone around him, so be it.

But, Bubba is in Scouts!  Yes and no.  He is, but we still don’t fit.  Football.  We live far again.  Cliques are a real thing.  We’re new, and everyone else started as Tigers.  They’re now Bears.

Football!  Football is like religion in Texas.  Surely you fit there!  Not yet.  Not a coach.  Not from the area.  We stick out.

Couples/families.  You can meet couples and families.  Yes, we can.  Yes, we have.  We even have a roughly once-a-month group where we get our geek on and play Tiny Dungeon (think DnD for beginners) or Magic the Gathering.  And those people are awesome!  I love that group.  But, past that, it’s been hard.  Plus One’s ASD is real, and it’s very people-y out there.  I’m okay with that.  He’s comfortable and happy, I’m happy.

Don’t get me wrong.  We’ve made friends and met lovely people.  It’s just….not the same as feeling like we belong, you know?  This isn’t just a Texas thing, either.  We had it in Colorado, too.  We were too conservative there.  I’m a tad too liberal with my looks here.  Oh well.  I think I’m cute.

When did we stop giving grace and replace it with judgment?  When did we stop offering a smile, a hug, a helping hand?  When did “what does your husband do for a living?” replace “tell me about yourself?”  And WHY did we embrace this change!?  Is ANYONE happier this way?  Other than therapists.  I mean, I think we are buying our psychologist a new car with how often she sees all of us.  Therapists are making bank in this area of life.  Maybe I should consider a career change….

So, today, I’ve decided not fitting in is a good thing.  I don’t belong to just one group.  I’m too colorful for that.  I’m just going to do what I do best – be me.  I’m going to get up everyday, be human, love my God,  love my kids, love my husband, love my job, and be caffeinated.  I’ll extend grace instead of judgment, kindness instead of rudeness.  I’ll still be snarky and sarcastic, but that’s me being me.  I fit in the one place I’m meant to – The Adventures Family.  I created the damn clique, I best fit in with it.  Everything else is superfluous.