Friday, June 29, 2018

Another round

On Wednesday, I picked He-Beat up early from school and took him in to see She-Beat's sleep doctor. Following She-Beat's diagnosis for sleep apnea and immediate improvement post-surgery, the sleep doctor recommended scheduling an appointment for He-Beat to have him assessed. Walking in, I assumed this would be a fast appointment where I was told there was nothing to worry about. Sure, the kid's tonsils had been swollen, he also sweats while he sleeps and there's been some increasing behavior issues, but he doesn't snore and never wakes up at night (though getting him to sleep is a challenge). I really thought none of it would be related.

I was right that it would be a fast appointment. What I wasn't prepared for was the same diagnosis, followed by the doctor looking in my mouth and nose, declaring that it's extremely likely I have the same condition too.

Normally, I would be fighting all of this. Surgery is not trivial and this one has a long recovery time. There's also the fact that medicine has too many cases of doctors diagnosing conditions solely to make money.

But this past week has been extremely eye-opening. Not only watching He-Beat struggle on the soccer field, having harder days as allergies flared, and seeing him struggle with social interactions while doing something he clearly loves (and having the coaches pull me aside to encourage me to bring him back as they love his energy and desire). It was also hearing reports from school about She-Beat and what an angel she has been: following directions, socializing well with others, being generally sweet and compliant. Furthermore was watching her initiate social interactions on the playground and actually defusing a fight in another group by asking a little girl to come join her on the swings, something I never would have dreamed of hearing 2 months ago when she was struggling to communicate her frustrations (still working on it, truthfully) and wasn't really interacting with others.

Color me fully shocked to have other parents complimenting me on her behavior

To date, almost all She-Beats teachers have been convinced about sleep apnea and behavior. (never mind brain function)  So when I mentioned He-Beat was given the same diagnosis, they didn't hesitate to ask when his surgery would be scheduled. Hell, they've become hinting at having other children who struggle to be assessed, fueled by parents who have also been raving about the benefits.

Surgery is scheduled for September 13th. The soonest I could get given that this doctor is fully booked (he's well rated). The only person who has reservations is Grey, who is wanting to make sure we're being prudent.

Honestly, though, I'm done. After watching He-Beat have a good morning, needing extra guidance from coaches modeling how to play (and being very proud of the good outcome) only to hear he was rough with another child at school, I'm ready to get this over with. Two-week recovery and all.

Hell, I'm tempted to have them take my tonsils and adenoids too.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Thoughts from the soccer field

Pulling up to the field 30 minutes early, I unbuckled He-Beat and handed him the pink box that was occupying the front passenger seat. Looking at me a bit sheepishly, he proceeded to walk/run over to the coaches tent, slowing slightly with his approach as 8 curious teenagers eyed him.

"We come with a peace offering" I announced as he handed his coach from the day before the box. A quick conversation happened where I thanked them all for their hard work before grabbing He-Beat so we could leave this group in peace with this well-deserved snack.

Almost 90 mins later the head coach for the program would find me to chat some more about our email exchange. We talked about what he had been seeing and the fact that He-Beat is actually falling within the normal range for behaviors expected from beginning soccer players. He would then ask what I did for a living given how our email exchange had gone down combined with the pink-box incident in the morning. Our conversations would weave and dip through education, parent involvement and how difficult it is to be a teacher of any sort in the modern era. Of how though most do this work because they are answering a higher calling, it can often feel thankless or unappreciated.

Watching He-Beat today, seeing him do better but knowing there's still much to learn, I though more about how often we don't focus on allowing our kids to fail. Team sports and activities seen as extra curricular are often seen as secondary to what is traditionally tested on standard exams. And yet, those that excel don't make them secondary. The things that feed their souls are incorporated into their daily routines, becoming a part of their work by incorporating the skills they learn. But in order to master that, they have to be allowed to fail. Something that can be incredibly painful to watch.

Practiced ended with another very tired He-Beat who was once again begging not to go to school. He also waved good-bye to another little boy, which I consider a big step in the right direction, with a promise to see him tomorrow. So today I'm counting as a mini-win, accepting that there will be more hard days in the future but that it's none-the-less important to continue down this road. If for no other reason than to see that delighted smile on his face again.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The normalizing

One of the things Grey and I promised each other back in January when we learned we were relocating to the Bay Area was we would start doing things normal people do. An odd statement given that "normal" can mean so many things, but after spending 4 years in crippling debt and somewhat stressful living situations, our normal had become defined as engaging in hobbies and extra-curricular activities.

To date, we've been somewhat successful. She-Beat is currently enrolled in a beginning ballet course, which she is both loving and doing very well at (the instructor has moved her up to the next level). After a month of massive bargaining and lots of reassurance, Grey finally got his bike out of the moving box from 3 years ago, had it reassembled & repaired and has started doing weekend rides along the local trails.

Two wins.

Which is why this week has been especially hard as after a lot of research and me shifting my work schedule, I enrolled He-Beat into a week-long morning soccer camp. And though day 1 seemed to go well, day 2 ended with him in tears and me pulling him from the rest of the morning session for the day.

I've been beating myself up all day since I dropped He-Beat back at school after the emotional morning. There's been so much focus on She-Beat over the past few months, all of which has been paying off as she's been making huge gains that have impressed even her teachers. But I know that with the focus on She-Beat, less focus has been on He-Beat. And the whole point of soccer camp was to give him something special that other kids his age tend to be involved in a way that is almost a given.

Hence I feel like not only have I failed at not properly preparing him, but we're actually souring him. Which sucks all the more as swimming lessons are also on the agenda this summer.

I'm hoping the coaches will respond to my email before tomorrow, because I honestly need advice on how to proceed tomorrow. How can I help this kid understand the importance of sharing the ball with others, waiting his turn and that the goal of practice play is to work with his team? Or am I asking too much from a not-yet 5 year old?

Monday, June 25, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: One before the four

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

Note: I'm overdue for a proper post, but this will have to do for today. More soon on life, I promise.

Fourteen years ago today, Grey, Lucas and I started our day by chasing Jaxson. In the midst of final preparations for the wedding later that day, we had neglected to lock Jaxson away in our bedroom while loading materials into the awaiting cars. As this 1 year old tuxedo cat sprinted from the apartment, he decided to turn left instead of the usual right, climbing the exterior stairs and settling in to watch three crazed 20-somethings taking the usual right turn and tearing down the walkways in hopes of catching him. All witnessed with much delight by my soon to be FIL.

This morning, as I dropped the Beats off at school, I told them about why today was special to our family. Contemplating this information, He-Beat looked at me and said "Fourteen. That's a one before the four." A seemingly simple observation that I feel has a deeper meaning. Because before the one before the four there is almost a quarter of a lifetime's worth of memories, crazy stories that bring about belly laughs and moments that still bring tears to my eyes. There's been journeys most never would have imagined taking, failures that broke us both and closed chapters that have far from happen endings. But there's also been joy and happiness that I never could have imagined finding, moments that have defined us both as individuals as well as a family.

Fourteen years later, Jaxson hasn't tired to escape. He's got a good deal with the guys next door that he doesn't want to miss out on. But the memory of that moment, though stressful at the time, has become a cherished one. Because fourteen years ago today, Grey and I formalized our family for all the world to witness. Including one devilish cat who still finds joy in messing with the humans.


Monday, June 18, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: The Ohlone Creation Myth

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

"All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was. Writers are like that: remembering where we were, that valley we ran through, what the banks were like, the light that was there and the route back to our original place. It is emotional memory - what the nerves and the skin remember as well as how it appeared. And a rush of imagination is our "flooding"

~Toni Morrison. Full quote here

Monday, June 11, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: Busy

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

I have a love-hate relationship with being busy. On the one hand, there's the thrill that comes with having something to do that not only gets me out of bed in the morning, but also makes the hours of the day fly by. This aspect of being productive and working towards a goal is one I absolutely love.

The hate part comes with pushing self-care to the back burner and finding myself pulling away from things that brought me solace. This blog being the first thing to take a hit each and every single time.

So I'm promising to try and be mindful about this space more. Because even though things are coming together, with Grey's travel looming on top of summer camps and activities for the Beats on the horizon as well as finalization for Kindergarten placement (we're fairly confident they will be attending their homeschool, meaning they will already be signed up for aftercare) and me getting into the swing of things with work, there's also a need for balance and finding a way to write here. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The new crossroads

The morning session started in an informal way, with people chatting and still grabbing caffeine as the Keynote speaker began. Finishing my introductions to people who are curious and confused as to who I was, I turned to listed to the keynote talk about the history of science education in the US, what initiatives had previously been done to bring us where we were today and the hopes for the future.

Yesterday was Day 2 for me at my new position. Figuring out the commute has caused a lot more stress than anticipated (as it always does) and there's already been a lot thrown at me that I'm rapidly working on figuring out. But sitting in that room, surrounded by others who share my passion for promoting science education, I found myself feeling more at home than I have in a long time.

Almost a year ago, my world would implode when I learned my contract wasn't going to be renewed. But the truth is I was extremely unhappy in the position, helping others promote a way of teaching I don't believe in while suffering in an environment that felt limiting. Losing my contract ripped out a safety net I thought I needed, forcing me to think outside the box and take risks I wouldn't have considered. A new crossroads that I didn't think I was prepared for and yet I didn't have a choice to not face. And those risks have been insanely rewarding, pushing me to truly think about how I wanted to teach and who I wanted my audience to be as well as who I actual want to be working with. Introducing me to people and mentors I wouldn't have considered if not forced outside my comfort zone.

Yesterday was an informal marking of the completion of that transition. It's been over a year of scrambling, putting myself out there and meeting more rejections and "no"s than I ever felt possible. There are so many moments where I felt I had hit bottom and wanted to quit. And yet, being in that room, I knew that the journey was worth it. The work ahead so exciting and the potential keeping me awake when thinking of the possibilities.

The future is still uncertain. I'm currently on contract, working part-time and acutely aware that I'm in a trial period. There's also a situation I wasn't prepared for that I'm now navigating. But looking back to where I was a year ago and seeing the road ahead, I'm grateful for the wake-up call. Even though it was unfair, terribly handled and extremely scary at the time.
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