Tuesday Open Thread

It’s Tuesday! And I’m coming off a bit of a ride on the old emotional roller coaster.

Last Friday we found out that Maya has been chosen to play soccer at the club level. She had to try out and it’s kind of a big deal around here: big weekly time commitment, a 10-month season, some travel, etc. Kids who play at the club level are likely to go on to play at the high school and college level, or so we’re told. Her coach is a former professional soccer player, yada yada.
My immediate fear was that it will be too much, too soon: that she will end up burning out on soccer by the time she is 12 or whatever. But DH and I talked and agreed to let her decide, and if we end up realizing it’s too much, she can always quit. We told her the news and she was thrilled and honored and way excited to do it. All good.
On Saturday we went to see a professional production of The Nutcracker and when the music started and the dancers came out I got all weepy. Maya was in The Nutcracker last year for the first and only time. Hearing the music made me very nostalgic, especially because I realized that her ballet days are likely over. She did it for a few years and enjoyed it but eventually quit in favor of figure skating and soccer. She also quit folklorico dance this year, as we realized we couldn’t keep spreading her so thin. She is so curious and energetic and having her try everything she wanted was crazy, but very fun while it lasted. So my daughter won’t be a ballerina, and that’s OK. It was just another reminder that she is growing up so fast, honing in on her true interests, and maybe starting to chart her future. So proud of my big girl, but it’s still painful for me to let go of her little girlhood. Sigh.
How about you? Are you on a roller coaster lately, or a serene carousel? Something in between?
What’s on your mind? Let’s talk!

33 thoughts on “Tuesday Open Thread

  1. Congratulations to Maya. That’s great that she is figuring out what she enjoys. My kids both tried soccer early on and it was not for them, but it’s ok to whittle down to find the things you really enjoy. My younger one still hasn’t really figured that out yet. He is doing karate now but his interest seems to be flagging a bit. He has dropped out of everything he’s tried so far. His interest seems to be short lived when it meets the reality of continual attendance. He is more of a loner or one on one person than a group / team guy which is part of it I think, he doesn’t get as much out of the social aspect as some other kids do. We tried music early and he bailed on that but we maybe should try it again, it’s more solo. My older one has been playing baseball since he was 4 and is such a social person, he loves that part of it in addition to the game. I played soccer and ran cross-country, and always liked being on a team, it’s fun. I also did dance for a couple of years because a friend was doing it, but didn’t enjoy that as much. It’s ok to be selective :)

  2. I need some advice from the MT brain trust.

    A month ago at my first conference with DH’s first grade teacher, she said that his reading was on the weak side and so she was sending him to a pullout with the reading specialist (who was also there.) She feels that he’s very bright, above grade level in math, science, with an expansive vocabulary, and that (therefore?) the weak reading skills were a problem that could hold him back from his true potential. She also mentioned that he had difficulty with listening, focusing, following the rules, staying in his own space, walking in line, etc. All things that are much more important in first grade than they were in K. (And DS is, AFAIK, the youngest child in first grade.) We set up a follow-up conference for last Friday.

    On Friday the reading teacher said that he has made progress, for instance learning several sheets of sight words, getting closer to grade level proficiency, and that she also observes his (lack of) attentiveness being a significant barrier to his learning, as well as disruptive to other students. They want to do testing, and based on the results possibly modify what the reading specialist is doing, or involve the special ed person.

    I also learned more about the pull-out situation. They are pulling him out three times a day! One of these is for a reading computer thing (Lexia) that he really enjoys. He is the only kid from his class getting pulled. The first grade teacher said he had had an amazingly good day on Thursday. This was a day that there were no pullouts because the reading specialist was busy.

    He attends the Lunch Bunch with the counselor once a week like last year, but it is a new counselor I have not spoken with. This year he has been attending the after school program every day (with occasional exceptions) until 6pm, and often attending the before-school program, starting between 7 and 7:30. He enjoys these, but it makes for a crazy-long day. He’s obviously very tired at the end and sometimes has pee accidents.

    They are supposed to do their homework there, and he often does and then leaves it behind. Other times he forgets to pick it up in school, or forgets to turn it in when it’s done.

    He still wets the bed every night and never wakes up to use the toilet. If I wake him up to go he’s less wet, obviously, but he has been wearing “sleep pants” so we don’t have to change his sheets every night. When all goes to plan he calmly goes to bed in his own bed at 8:30. This happens rarely, and only when my parents are home, healthy, and awake to help with almost-4-yr-old DD.

    I talked IMed with DH about the situation and he pointed out that DS concentrates very well when he’s motivated. He loves to play computer games, and also board games and he’s gotten better about following directions and being a decent sport although he still has a ways to go. He loves to build stuff, whether with legos or tinkertoys or recyclables and tape. He emphasized his concentration ability and fine motor skills over the weekend by producing 15 complex designs with perler beads which he plans to sell.

    DH reminded us that he himself had trouble in the early grades because he didn’t want to pay attention and felt like the teachers were insulting his intelligence and treating him like a baby. DS says his classroom teachers tells them “harder makes you smarter,” but that the stuff he does with the reading specialist is “really easy.”

    He was assigned to read 5 minutes over the weekend and while he difficulty staying on task, when he was focused he got through several I Can Read books.

    So I feel like he does have challenges regarding attentiveness, and that’s something we need to work on from several angles (better sleep, more consistent routine, better follow-through on behavior rules, less screen time probably a scaled-back after-school program schedule and more physical activity as finances and the big hairy uncertainty of my work opportunities allow). And we need to practice reading more consistently and for longer periods, and I need change some of the ways I was correcting him that were counter-productive. But I don’t have a clear idea of how his being behind on that relates to his social/emotional/urinary development, and healthy development for his age.

    I hate that they have homework every day and that he gets sent home with a bunch of blank pages from the work he missed when he was pulled out. I regret putting him in this school rather than the big one with lots of resources for the free-lunch and single-parent set, but it right next to our house and I don’t know if we could change now anyway. I feel like jumping into pulling him out three times a day was not a positive thing. I think this is a good opportunity to get him/us more support and progress monitoring, but I don’t know that I want them doing testing at this point, especially if it’s more focused on learning than social/emotional/behavioral/psych stuff.

    Help? Advice? Direction? The wisdom of experience or professional judgement?

    • I’ve been in similar shoes with my younger one. I think it’s great that the teacher is focused on the discrepancy in his skills, which can be a sign that there is an underlying learning issue. But I don’t think I’d be thrilled with a pull out three times a day. I think you should talk with the teacher to find out why they want to hit this so hard so early, and maybe ask them to scale back if you don’t agree.

      He may just be too young to keep up with the rest of the class, but testing is not a bad idea if you suspect something really may be off. It didn’t tell us exactly why my son couldn’t read, but it moved us a step forward and confirmed many things he could and could not do. I know some kids are ready to read earlier than others, and I was hoping maturity would help, but my son never did kick in. He still hasn’t.

    • on bed wetting… our pediatrican told us that he didn’t consider bed wetting an issue until after age 10. Some kids sleep soundly and it takes longer for them to be able to stay dry or wake up enough to go to the bathroom. My kids are on the older side of staying dry at night. Here’s the story of when that really hit home for me:

      Sometimes in the summer we lay on the deck and fall asleep watching the stars. When DD3 was a baby, DD1 and 2 were 6 1/2 and 3 1/2, DH and the older girls slept on the deck. I was in the house with the baby. She woke up in the night and wouldn’t go back to sleep. I got DH up to help out and we eventually fell asleep inside. I woke up to the sound of rain. I found the two older girls still asleep on the deck. It had been raining long enough that they were soaked. The blankets were soaked, their PJs were soaked, and their heads and hair were soaked. I realized that if soaking wet from rain wasn’t going to wake them up then neither was a little pee.

    • From what you’ve written here, it sounds like he may have ADHD. Bedwetting is a common symptom, as is the ability to hyper-focus on things that he finds highly interesting. Having difficulty focusing for 5 minutes in first grade is outside what would be expected. I think my kid was supposed to be reading 20-30 a day at that point. (He wasn’t crazy about doing it. He also has ADHD.)

      If he’s doing Lexia, they probably suspect his phonemic awareness is not strong enough to support independent reading, so they are trying to accelerate that development. The longer it takes to begin reading fluently the more urgent it becomes, since reading to learn will be here before you know it.

      If the school is right next to your house, is it necessary for him to be there for so long each day? It’s possible some of what sounds like disruptive behavior may be stemming from overtiredness? (guessing here) It’s probably not doing him any favors socially to be having accidents. I wonder if they are associated with tiredness, or with having difficulty stopping whatever fun thing he’s doing to use the bathroom?

      I would look at some books like “Smart but Scattered” to get organizational ideas. He should have a simple, regular routine to follow as far as getting homework, completing it, and turning it in. Sometimes a colored folder system works. Sometimes the teacher needs to prompt the student until s/he internalizes the “I need to turn it in to get credit” part of doing homework. Kids with attention problems really need routines and predictability to keep them on track.

      In my experience schools don’t really push special ed evaluations for kids that aren’t showing some signs of learning problems, which could mean behaviors that interfere with learning, slow progress in academics, or whatever. It’s a hassle for everyone involved to do the assessments so they try to use that process judiciously.

      If he’s receiving intensive push-in services and they continue to have concerns about his progress in school, I’m not sure why you would resist the next step of assistance for him? You can refuse to implement an IEP, if they develop one for him. OTOH, if you are opposed to him receiving special ed services, there’s not much point in having the assessment done. And I think it’s harder to decline the services if you first accept them.

      If you don’t want the school involved in dealing with attention problems, perhaps you can bring it up to his pediatrician. Sometimes they will do an ADD / ADHD evaluation.

      Good luck. It’s not easy to not have an easy kid.

      • You are definitely right about overtiredness. Partly I had him in the afterschool program because it seems to provide schedule and routine, plus social opportunities that he really needs. But he started going everyday when I was in the welfare workfinder program, and the condition of the childcare voucher was that he go full time every day. Which he would need to if I got a full time job, but that doesn’t really seem to be on the horizon.

        It’s not that I don’t want the school involved or don’t want evaluations; it’s just that I feel like family/emotional stuff, from being tired to changing schedules to uncertainty in general about finances and whether we’ll have to move and when we’ll see dad…and the fucking abysmal level or organization and consistent routine my depression/anxiety/slight OCD-tendency ass displays, not to mention Grandpa…

        It’s not that I don’t think he needs help; it’s that I think we need different/more help than they are suggesting. So probably the solution is meetings with more people, like the counselor and maybe the principal, maybe the special ed person to explain more? Kinda wish I could get the pediatrician in there somewhere.

        I have a situation now where I am receiving psych. services and DS sees the counselor at the school and his ped and the reading specialist…but we don’t have any person or program that helps us coordinate all that stuff in a coherent way.

        And then the added challenge is that DH is out contact and not generally available.

        No documented history of ADD/ADHD in our family. But my father and I do have executive function issues that seem to be more related to anxiety/OCD. Not that my dad has ever had a professional opinion on the subject.

        • I think a meeting with the principal, teacher, and school psych would be really helpful. They can help you tease out what piece of the problem resides within your DS and what part is environmental. If it’s really the latter, special ed evaluation would not be indicated. And maybe they can come up with some suggestions if they know more about the challenges at home.

          Hugs. I know this is really, really hard. xoxo

      • My oldest son is in third grade and only is expected to read for 15 minutes nightly. It’s interesting how the schools vary. So far the first grade and second grade homework packets have just said to read nightly and have not suggested a set length.

        I think that I would ask a pediatrician about whether he should be evaluated for ADHD. The bedwetting would not be a red flag to me as it’s fairly normal for some kids to do that late. That was an issue with my husband and all of his siblings and my kids seem to be following suit. In their cases, it just stopped abruptly around age 8 and there was very little to do about it. Our ped said that it is way more common that people think. They are very sound sleepers so that may be a factor.

  3. Hugs mama- this is a lot to process all at once. First, just breath and take a minute to imagine your sweet boy in a moment when he is happy and calm and doing something he loves. Hold that picture in your mind when things get squeezy- scary for you. My experience with stuff like this is that it’s easy to be so caught up in the worry and fear that we lose track of the AMAZING kiddo in front of us. A few questions:

    What does the doc say about the enuresis? Is it part of a bigger set of issues or just a typical “bladder not growing fast enough” thing?
    What’s the point of the Lunch Bunch? Does it have a curriculum or learning goals or is it more of a free flowing conversational group? Does DS enjoy it?
    What’s the school’s stance on homework? What happens if you opt out of it- or most of it- for him? (Particularly in light of the research showing that elementary level homework has no impact on student achievement.)
    Does he enjoy being read to?
    When you say “scale back the screen time,” what would that look like? Is there morning and afternoon screen time, just one or the other? (No judgements here- I love me some TV-as-babysitter, that’s for sure)

    I know that’s a lot of questions, but I think you can sort of approach this in little pieces instead of trying to attack it all in a piece. You know, eat the elephant one bite at a time…

    FYI- you can opt out of any and all SpEd/ supplemental services that you think aren’t a good fit. A lot of parents don’t realize that.

  4. Laura, you are awesome. I cannot reply now as I just got called to work. Def. will think about those questions when I can. And the spec. ed. info is something I was especially concerned about. I had visions of the CPS-type situation of “once you’re in the system, you play by all our rules!”

  5. Erika- that’s great for Maya–I love watching Liza move to the next level of anything..the whole going on pointe thing has me so so happy for her! But like Maya, Liza experimented with a few things like soccer and clarinet before realizing dance, voice and theater were going to be her passion… but I fully expect next year in high school we’ll see more things crop up in the form of afterschool curriculars like newspaper or yearbook and maybe some dance will fall off the table (like her modern class.. which she doesn’t love but of course is one of the classes she excels in…LOL) and she’ll skip some shows to do others etc…

    but one thing I know is it’s never too late to start something – so just b/c maya doesn’t dance now -doesn’t mean she never will for example. I know a BOATLOAD of people who didn’t start doign their ‘thing” until well into adulthood…so ride out the hills and valleys and enjoy that sweet girl!

  6. Just finished giving a final exam. I’m looking forward to grading these in my PJs on the couch as I enjoy the Christmas tree. I still have one more class of final projects to grade before they take their test on Thursday, but tonight I’m going to treat myself to going to be early as a reward for burning the midnight oil in a major way several nights in a row. Lucy’s been home sick, Clara’s been sick (but back at school today), and I’m just worried if I don’t get some rest tonight, I will get sick. I hate the end of the semester crunch time, but I do enjoy the sense of relief I’ll have when it’s all over on Dec 21st and the sense of renewal in early January!

  7. Serene carousel? Are you out of your mind? At what stage would that be expected to happen, assuming it were even realistic?

    I’m still kind of bitter about the soccer. My elder son really had a natural talent; coaches pointed it out when he was only four. He was every team’s top scorer. I’d frequently overhear parents on the sidelines talking about him. An Italian soccer dad called him “a little Maradona” (I had to google that) in tones of obvious admiration. And he loved it so much. But it just wasn’t a sport he could do, the pain attacks came closer and closer together until he was forced out. As much as I hate sports, I think I may have taken it harder than he did.

  8. DH just went to play ball at the rec for the first time in 3 years and I’m all teary over it. It’s a small thing, I know, but after the whole journey… We’ve gone from “WTF is going on?” to “suck it up you’re just getting older” to ” we think it’s MS/ lupus/ degenerative arthritis/ bone cancer” to “we don’t know what it is, but you’ll be in a wheelchair in 18 months- get your affairs in order beyond that” to “this may not be what they think it is” to “this is operable” to…DH going to play ball at the rec.

    We’re so freaking lucky. Thanks for all the support over the years, ladies.

  9. Checking back in after a travel week, after catching up in some of the older threads. I went to a big conference in SF and had a great time. The meeting went really well and has me all fired up for research again (a struggle at times as I do loads of teaching). I apologize for not getting around to setting up a meetup up with our NoCal members – hopefully next time! I did get around to a little shopping (clothes are a lot cheaper than here) and was very pleased to discover a Target downtown! I got back on Sunday and am struggling with the jet lag more than usually, but I know that will work itself out. Meanwhile, I should focus on getting stuff done before the Christmas break – I can’t believe it’s mid-December! Anyway, I’m happy to be back – I miss you people when I can’t find time to come here.

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