A few days ago, the boys and I checked out a preschool, a “young fives” program for kids with birthdays after the kindergarten cutoff date in CA. Mo is on the wait-list for a spot in the 2015-2016 class.* It was a sweet program, and the kiddos were as charmingly self-absorbed as is developmentally appropriate for their age group.

The boys liked the shady, well-equipped outdoor space, and I enjoyed the following exchange:

Teacher: “Elena**, have you brought anything to share today?”

Elena bounces confidently to the front, large trophy aloft: “Today I’m sharing my Pink Unicorn soccer trophy.”

Teacher gently prompts: “And how did you win this big trophy, love? Must have been quite a feat to earn such a nice one!”

The very briefest shadow passes over her shining face. Then all is well. “Nothing. Everyone got the same one. It’s bigger than my brother’s swimming medal though!”

Silence. “Well, where I grew up, we didn’t get trophies just for participating. But thank you for sharing!”

Love it. I’m still chuckling over the teacher’s befuddlement and the girl’s uncomplicated entitlement.  I totally feel her joy. Because I, too, have received an AWARD just for EXISTING! And it does feel great!

Thanks for the nomination, Fanny P. I have so loved reading your adventures, and I’m touched that you thought of me. I just started this here blog thing a few weeks ago, and it is such an encouragement to know a few folks are following along at home. I hope it will help me get into a more regular posting schedule. I’m all verklempt.

Ok– with every great privilege comes great responsibilities. Or something. As the recipient of this esteemed Award, I’m obliged to:

I. Post 11 interesting facts about myself. So prepare to, um, learn more about me than you knew before.

  • I got into medical school and decided not to go. My parents were thrilled. Every now and then, they say wonderful things like, “You’d have been done with your residency by now. Your cousin Prissy is making great money as a radiologist with a part-time schedule! She works from home a lot!”
  • I don’t have a middle name.
  • So I gave each my kids two middle names.
  • I was an investor before becoming a mom. I was the only female partner-track employee at my VC firm. I left because I never figured out a good way of saying, “I have to leave this meeting in 30 minutes to pump, or else I will start leaking.”
  • My husband had a stroke 5 weeks after our second child was born. While he was negotiating a merger of his company. During my sister’s wedding. We also had a 1-year old. It was an awesome time for all of us.
  • I can push a wheelchair and two toddlers around Disneyworld ALL BY MYSELF. During Spring Break. And have a great time doing it!
  • I thought I was a pretty good singer. Then I saw a video someone took of the baby, and I was crooning in the background, and, well, someone really should have told me years ago, like maybe when I joined choir in 4th grade? To consider a different performance art– perhaps as a mime? Just don’t sing. And speak only when necessary.
  • I secretly want to be a University professor. I like having people listen reverently when I speak, take notes, and quote me in conversation.
  • I once wore my contact lenses for an entire month without taking them out, ever. Ok, fine. Many times. Doctor says my eyes are great!
  • I don’t enjoy manicures or pedicures. I hate being stuck there while polish dries. I can’t even use my phone.
  • I was a ranked tennis player in high school.


II. Answer the 11 Questions given to you by the Blogger:
1. Why did you start blogging?

I’ve always written my way through my confusion, just never online. But I love having these conversations with people I would never have met in my daily life. I love the feedback, the encouragement, the information, the support. The knowledge that others are reading motivates me to think things through a little more carefully, to consider things differently. Which helps me too!

2. Which is your best blog?
As yet unwritten. I think this is like my 7th post or something, and I’m still finding my groove. Hope you will stick with me while I find it.

3. What is your favorite late-night show?

Oh man. I haven’t watched a late-night show in about 6 years. I’m either catching up on work or asleep. Wait, where are you going? I’m not really that boring. Pinkie swear 🙂

4. What was your worst job? 

I worked briefly for a small Investment Bank focused on a niche industry. My team was recruited from a competing, well-known bank to help revamp Small Bank’s image. The whole thing was bizarre, and it turned out Small Bank was run some Russian mafia group. There were skeezy male strippers at the Holiday Party. I never mention this job on my resume.

5. Your house is on fire! You can only grab three things, what are they?

Husband and kids! No contest.

6. What do you admire most about yourself?

There’s a happy, secure person somewhere deep in my core. Nothing can touch her.

7. What is something you’ve learned recently?

How to use my camera better.

8. What do you want to learn?

How to use my camera better.

9. Do you have any siblings? Do you think your birth order has had any effect on your personality?

No need to ask my younger sister what she thinks– I can tell you. I know everything and will take care of it all without bothering — er, consulting– her. In all honesty, she is the wiser of us. I look up to her because she’s got a great head on her shoulders (all that coaching), and also because she’s taller than me. I have no idea who I’d be without her in my life.

10. What are you most passionate about?

Besides everything to do with my family, healthcare and education (for my kids, community, country, and the world in general) take up a lot of brain space.

11. What would you do if you won the lottery?

I’d use it to create self-sustaining business that address social challenges related to poverty, access to education, etc.

I would also totally travel and adopt at least 2 more kids.

Rule 4
Proudly present the Liebster Award logo on your blog.
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Rule 5
Present the “Liebster Award” to eleven deserving blogs of 200 followers or less.

Here are 11 blogs I’ve been enjoying:

Teaching Seconds

Used Books In Class

Mookie Loves Bread

Early Learning Planet

The View Through a Lens

Pizzazzle

Night Owl With Coffee

The Adventures of Ernie Bufflo

Good Food Not Much Time

The ForeFront Law Group

Everything But The Ordinary

This Side of the Rainbow

 

THANKS!

———————–

*OK, I totally get how crazy this makes us sound, to be on preschool waiting lists two years in advance. I will only say that we are NOT anywhere close to first on the list for his year. So…crazy in good company? Crazy in crazy company?

**Names changed to protect the innocent. And so as not to anger the Teacher into moving us down on the wait list!

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Little Mo was approved for ESY, or extended school year, special day classes.

They start this Monday. Or next Monday. Or possibly this Thursday, which would be especially special because his class only meets MWF. Depends on who you ask, and in my apparently inexplicable desire to not miss the first day of class I’ve asked just about everyone. How…inexperienced of me to expect an easy answer.

Well, someone’s learning. I just wish it were Little Mo.

Today I schlepped my two preschoolers and their handicapped dad to the ferry so the boys could ride the boat from SF to Sausalito.

I carried a backpack and had my sensory seeker sit on dad’s lap in the wheelchair for safety. So I carried 15 lbs and pushed 235 more. While keeping track of my four year old…on a boat…for fun.

And it was fun! Rex said before bed, “I love this day.”

I am such a rock star mom. They appreciate everything I do and it’s all worth it.

“What did you like best, bug? The ferry? The bridges? The park?”

“Eating ice at the restaurant!”

Cold water, indeed.

My four-year-old– let’s call him Rex, a seldom-used nickname– has made a friend. A real friend, one who looks first for him at school, one about whom he wonders, “Do you think he has this lego set too?”, one whose role in his life– My Best Friend– has endeared him to me eternally.

Until now, all of Rex’s friends have been children of my friends. His playdates have been motivated by my own desire to socialize with people I like, who happen to have children his age. I have paved the path for these friendships, but today I followed his lead to the home of a friend he had chosen for himself.

The family was kind and pleasant, and we enjoyed getting to know them. That they were not people I would have been drawn to but for my son’s wishes made the acquaintence all the sweeter.

His friend chased me down as we were leaving, pressed a flower from their garden into my hand. “This is for you!”

It was a splendid Bird of Paradise, in full bloom.

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Pardon my sabbatical. We are in that harried three-week period in which the academic year ends, summer break commences, and summer camps begin. We move from potluck to picnic to year-end BBQ, delivering gifts and cards to teachers and therapists we may never see again. Or in most cases, to teachers we will see again next Monday in summer session.

As an aside, what is your preferred potluck contribution? And while no one can give me back the three hours I roamed Target in search of the perfect gift for wonderful teachers, I would appreciate any guidance on the same for future reference.

But I digress. The point is, I left you quite in limbo regarding a modern-day social dliemma, and I am sorry because things took quite the unexpected turn and it was really unfair of me not to let you know that my jade-colored glasses were completely unwarranted.

Not five minutes after I pushed “post” I received the following:

Hi, ive been thinking about it and it really sounds like you dont need the inconvenience of driving all the way back here. I have been very blessed by others and would like to bless you too. If you give me a mailing address i will send you the $29 tomorrow and i would like you to keep the stroller. If you would still like to come tomorrow at 7:30 that is fine too. I will give you the money in person but i really feel that God wants you to have the stroller. Let me know what you would like to do.

Not what you expected, right? Me either, and it humbled me on so many levels. I was totally just being cheap on the stroller because my kids are just about done with them and I know I’ll only use it once or twice. And because it just bugs me to get a bad deal. Especially when I’m buying someone else’s old crap.

But more difficult to admit: I went to her house to get the stroller and it wasn’t pretty. Not compared to our home. She wasn’t struggling, but I am pretty sure that our financial means significantly outstrip her own. And I bargained her down $6 bucks, just because I could, then made an issue out of the fact that it was broken. And in the light of her unexpected generosity, I found I looked somehow different than I pictured myself. Bad different. Selfish different. Indifferent to others, different.

I took the stroller back the next day and apologized. She insisted on returning my money. So we parted, each with our original posessions, my shame the only evidence our paths had ever crossed.

Today little Mo is THREE!

Three years ago I had a one-year old, a newborn, and a healthy husband.
None of us had weekly appointments with therapists or doctors.
I thought stroke only happened to old people.
I thought a sensory diet had something to do with food.
My life was beautiful and easy and I was oblivious.

It’s all the more beautiful now for being hard at times.

The IEP meeting went well. I think. I mean, I felt they did a thorough job of assessing him (within the scope of their education-focused mandate). I felt they took my concerns and observations into consideration. Their findings mostly described the child I know.

They found him eligible to receive services under the Autism criteria.

What exactly those services will be, is as yet undecided. At the three-hour mark, we decided to reconvene on Monday to determine goals and decide on program placement.

I hate entering these kinds of meetings without a clear idea of what I want to achieve, but without being familiar with the offerings I’m taking a shot in the dark. I want high-quality, research-based interventions delivered by caring professionals in the company of other high-functioning children. I want him in an environment that views his emerging personality as something worth protecting and celebrating because it is his. I want gentle guidance and re-direction when necessary. I want his creativity to be supported, never stymied.

Amazingly– by the grace of God– his current preschool is ALL of these things. It is everything that school is often NOT. I am beyond grateful for the dedicated teachers who have helped him to thrive in a typical environment thus far. But it’s clear that he will benefit from supplemental programs that support his sensory and social needs in a more structured, focused way as well.

And I have three days to figure out what those are.