Sunday, August 24, 2014

School Issues, Blah.

It's that time of year again.  Summer break is wrapping up quickly. Aside from when I was a child, I can't remember a summer break that I've welcomed more.  Roan really struggled this past year and as a parent it really was the first time I experienced a lot of frustration directed towards my child's school and teacher(s).  I've always been the parent to err on the side of the education system.  Why wouldn't I be?  Gage fits the mold of what a typical boy student is like (give or take a couple incidences where I had to talk to the Principal).  I really try to understand the frustrations a teacher must face day in and day out.  I can imagine...and frankly it's why I know I could never do that job.  Whenever there was an incident with either of my kids at school I made sure I followed through with the 'punishment' at home.  It was clear to my kids that they wouldn't be able to play one against the other when it came to me and the school system. 

Until this year.  Roan started a new school.  It's not an entirely new school to me because Gage did two years there as well before venturing off to high school.  Gage even won the "Most Personal Growth" award (or something along those lines). Gage excelled there.  But, Gage doesn't have issues with paying attention...Roan does.  And it's been made quite clear to me that, like it or not, this school ain't got no time for that!

I've read and heard numerous stories and reports from parents on how their school system has failed them.  I've listened to tales of frustration and whoa from family members about trying to fight the system for the betterment of their child.  In most cases, they've lost.  They've had to uproot their kid and move them to another school, another district and in some cases costly private schools and then as a final resort, homeschooling.  Now I'm feeling it first hand; maybe not to the extremes of the others, but enough to leave a sour taste in my mouth. 

Back in December we were strong armed into putting Roan back on medication 'for his own good' as he was currently not in an academic position to move on to Grade 8.  Scary words.  I felt like I'd failed.  We conceded but only with the promise from the school staff that they'd make concessions on their end too with the hopes of helping Roan succeed.  Those things the beginning.  And then they stopped. 

I tried to reason with Roan (my initial instinct was to side with the school after all) and tell him that a teacher has 30 students, so solely helping one stay on task isn't really in the cards.  I tried to tell him that he plays a huge part in his personal growth as well and that he has to find a way to push through his difficulties.  But towards the end of the year, I started to take stuff personally, on behalf of Roan. 

A couple of weeks before school let out, Roan`s teacher told him he was advancing to Grade 8, but barely.  Ya, she used that word!  Barely. Huh... barely...what did that mean exactly??  Turns out though that he didn't just barely pass.  He had three B's, three D's and the rest C's.  That doesn't scream barely to me.  I know he is capable of better but since four months ago he was 'failing' I think that's a damn decent report card and not worthy of the title of "barely passing".  My feelings were hurt on behalf of my child that she would use that word.  He struggles and has struggled for years with low self esteem and she is quite aware of that.  So for her to pick those words...well, I'm sad for my kid.  But that's not the only thing that wrapped up the year with a bang.

The second last day of school Roan and a girl in his class were being silly, throwing stuff at each other, giggling and laughing.  I'm sure their goofing off probably wasn't called for (But hey, it was the second last day of school, who's teaching?) and probably frowned upon.  In their silliness the girl ended up, unintentionally, with sticky tack in her hair.  When Roan brought it to her attention she panicked and ended up pushing it deeper into her hair.  Both were hauled down to the office and the parents were called.  The conclusion the Vice Principal jumped to was that she'd have to cut all her hair off, so Roan was suspended.  Even though, according to the Vice Principal he didn't do it maliciously.  Wait, what??  A couple months ago, three grade 8 boys kicked a ball hockey ball square into Roan's face (after several attempts and numerous requests from Roan to stop, they found success) which resulted in a bloody nose that wouldn't stop (so he was sent home) and a bruise on his face, and those shit heads didn't get a suspension...they got a "stern talking to".  To add more fuel to my fire in my belly, the girl showed up at school on the last day with NO new hair cut!  Big surprise.  It's in a mom's blood to get shit out of their kids hair.  Clearly this clown doesn't know that.

It probably wasn't a good idea or rather good timing to send his report card home for my comments after all this bullshit went down.  His teacher didn't like my comments about the structured, rigid school system that isn't willing to help kids who learn differently than others.  I ended my rant with a quote from Einstein, "Everyone is a genius.  But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its entire life thinking it's stupid."  It's a good thing my son who 'can't pay attention' thinks with a more level head than I, because I was ready to immediately pull him from this school.

So onward and upwards we go.  In a matter of a week he'll be returning to said school with a new set of teachers and mentally prepared to tackle what Grade 8 throws at him.  I've also given him a little incentive this year.  If he can make the Principal's Honour Roll, then I'll throw $500.00 at him as a reward to do with as he likes.  So far he seems up to the challenge.  We've discussed ways for him to be successful and while he remains a little sceptical, I'm confident if he studies, and brings his homework/projects home to actually complete then he'll prove himself wrong.  Fingers crossed for a smoother end to his elementary years and a good transition into high school.  Gulp!  HIGH SCHOOL.  I'm heading off to a corner to cry.  June is going to destroy me.

Friday, August 22, 2014

A Magical Playground

What is an ideal gift for a 6 year old little girl full of life, laughter and beans?  A little girl who probably has more than she really needs.  A little girl whose mom is often at her wits end trying to purge all the stuff her daughter has.  So I thought on it.  And I thought on it some more....

A while ago I gave some serious consideration to making her this fantastic thing (I'll keep it a secret, in case I actually get around to doing it) that she could keep forever and pass along to her own daughter or grand-daughter should that day come, but I haven't quite gotten there yet.  Perhaps one day year soon. It's not really a weekend project.  So I needed to come up with another idea.

And a Fairy Garden for inside her house is what I came up with.  Little Miss Sawyer-Bean already has an outside, awesome Fairy Garden that her grandfather and mother created for her complete with an actual stream and real, live fish!  But what happens when winter comes? When the snow blankets the earth and everything comes to a quiet hush and her Fairy Garden goes into hibernation?  Maybe nothing.  Maybe since she's just turning six she doesn't even think about it until Spring opens its rested eyes and the world starts to awaken again.  Maybe my idea was all for naught, but it certainly was fun creating it. So there's that.

Here's how I created my little masterpiece, because even if she could care less about it, I think it turned out pretty bad ass.  I took a metal pot/tray thingamajig that's made for plants and I filled it with potting soil 3/4 of the way up.  Then I planted four succulents.  Wanna know why? Because they're called succulents, they are pretty rad, they're little so they fit perfectly AND they barely need watering!  Win-win-win-win!  Then I covered all the exposed soil with teeny tiny mulch and started adding the Fairy touches.  I added a little boy and a little girl fairy.  I added a little teeter totter (see saw), and a little black kitty, because everyone should have a black kitty.  Then I added a gazing ball, a bird bath, a crystally-like rock, and some little river stones around the plants.  Et voila! An indoor Fairy Garden for a 6 year old magical girl.  I secretly hope she likes it.

Taking a break from playing on the see-saw.

One Last Dance

The other day Eric and I were talking, and it occurred to me that I'm not aware off the official last time I picked either of my boys up.  I mean physically picked them up (I pick Gage up from work far more often than I'd like).  You know though, to comfort them, for a hug, to dance... Did I know it would be my last time when I picked them up that final day? I doubt it or I would have emblazoned it into my mind. I would have made some sort of note of it.  I probably would have eaten far too many things I shouldn't have eaten to help stifle the sad, empty longing of just another thing I have to let go of.

 How did the years slip through my fingers? How did I already run out of chances to pick them up for a hug? Just typing this out makes me melancholy and I find myself missing those moments when I didn't even realize I'd been missing them.  We have all heard the cliché about it how quickly the time of babies and toddlers passes, but I never dreamed it would whip by this fast.  I look back on the past 17+ years after becoming a mother and so much has happened.  So much has changed, however the one consistency was my boys.  But my how they themselves have changed and I've not been acutely aware.

I don't have many regrets when it comes to how I've parented them.  Right or wrong in other people's eyes, they are turning out just fine. They are becoming people I not only love, but actually like! That being said, I kind of regret taking their years with me for granted.  Is that the right word?  I'm not so sure.  I just figured there were so many more years ahead of us.  Me and them. Them needing me.  Me secretly needing them. As Gage heads into Grade 12 this year I can't help but wonder if I have only this short school year left before he moves out.  Out of my house. Out of my fold.  My stomach is already in knots merely thinking about it.  Will he miss me like I'll miss him?  Gah, so many feelings!

It makes my heart hurt to now be consciously aware that in all probability the next time someone needs to be physically carried, our roles will likely be reversed. I hope my boys will remember all those times I carried them.  

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Who's Driving My Car?

Sometimes when I'm going about the routine, mundane, everyday stuff like driving home I change up my route at the very last minute.  I don't have obvious plans in my head to alter my route, sometimes I'm just sitting at a red light when the urge to turn left comes over me, rather than going straight.

But then once I make the turn a ridiculous thought pops into head almost immediately. Did I just turn into my pending death? Like is a truck going to come around this bend and take me out, head on, when I wasn't even supposed to be on this road?? OR did I just evade my pending death? Like had I gone straight would someone have crossed the centre line and crashed into me?? These are the things I think about all the way until I turn my car into my driveway. 

I think these things, yet I can't resist the urge when it strikes me. Sometimes it's so strong I even wait for all the cars in the left lane to go (thus holding up traffic in my lane) so I can make that non scheduled turn.  So who's driving my car? Me or my destiny?  Does anyone else have these kinds of thoughts, or just me? What about these strange, unexplained last minute decisions? Anyone have those? Maybe I'm spending too much time around death...

Monday, July 14, 2014

How To Live a Happier and Rewarding Life

Today was the first day of my in 'school' training for my volunteer position with Niagara Victim Services.  It was a really good and educational day.  Our speaker for the afternoon was exceptional.  I learned so much in the three hours she spoke; much of it is also applicable to my life in funeral services.  I feel like I took away a lot of helpful information to make me a better funeral director, a better crisis responder and a better person overall.  But the particular advice wisdom I want to share with you all that I was shown today actually came from an old United Way video called Suggestions on How to Live a Happier and Rewarding Life.

These suggestions are so simple, but often overlooked or out right ignored by many.  It's unfortunate that some people take life so seriously and in the process miss the important things.  Basically it should come down to two simple words.  A short but powerful sentence.  Be nice.

How to Live a Happier and Rewarding Life:

Take time to smell the roses.

Take a nap on Sunday afternoon.

Drink 8 glasses of water a day.

Never deprive someone of hope.  It might be all they have.

Be thankful for every meal. 

Don't be afraid to say "I'm sorry."

Don't take good health for granted.

Don't interrupt.

Don't tailgate.

Improve your performance by improving your attitude.

Wave at children on the school bus.

Listen to your children.

Leave everything a little better than you found it.

Leave the toilet seat in the down position.

Keep it simple.

Keep good company.

Keep your promise.

Be kinder than necessary.

Take good care of those you love.

Make it a habit to do nice things for people who will never find out.

Wear outrageous underwear under the most formal business attire.


Judge your success by the degree that you are enjoying peace, health and love.

Be a good loser.

Be a good winner.

Be romantic.

Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring and integrity, they think of you.

Enjoy real maple syrup.

Never refuse home made brownies.

Never give anyone a fruitcake.

Remember other people's birthdays.

Sing in the shower.

Don't nag.

Don't gossip.

Don't expect money to bring you happiness.

Be forgiving of yourself and others.

Never give up on anyone. Miracles happen every day.

Say thank you a lot.

Say please a lot.

Take your dog to obedience school.  You'll both learn a lot.

Slow dance.

Don't rain on other people's parades.

Don't postpone joy.

Stop blaming others.  Take responsibility for every area of your life.

Take care of your reputation.  It's your most valuable asset.

Count your blessings.


Marry only for love.

Call your mother.

Do more than is expected.

Be there when people need you. 

Be someone's hero.

Support your community.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Small Triumphs

Well it's the end of another school year.  I know I'll be kicking myself in a months time, but THANK GOD.  I swear this has been the most trying year I've experienced with my children to date.  I'm not sure which of us is more relieved that it's over, Roan or me! 

Last summer it was agreed upon by Eric, myself and Roan that we'd allow him to go off his meds for ADD during the summer break.  He didn't like the roller coaster feeling the pills gave him (time release meds tend to do that) and they made him feel...'meh'; just not like his usual fun self.  He was suffering from some 'hallucinations' as well which were a little frightening to me.  So the decision was fairly simple.  We'd try him without the assistance and see how he fared.  During the summer it was tolerable but became increasingly frustrating.  Life in the house wasn't that wonderful for him.  We were constantly on him for "forgetting"...EVERYTHING.  We felt like all we were doing was yelling or lecturing.  He was really vocal about his disdain for going back on his meds for school, so we gave him a window of time to prove to us and his teachers that he could do it.  Well come December it was crystal clear that he was really struggling to stay focused and get his work done accordingly.  His progress, if nothing changed quickly, was going to hinder his chances of moving into Grade 8 at the end of the year.  GULP. 

Meetings with the teachers, counselors, the principal, Roan, and us were held and they were strongly pushing for him to go back on some form of medication (of course they were).  We were pushing back with the request for the teachers to think outside their idea of the perfect student and make some concessions that were geared to his known, and mutually agreed upon, strengths.   To be frank, they won, we lost.  Because I can't be at the school day in and day out to ensure they held up their end of the deal we had a discussion with his Doctor about new medication options and she presented us with a newly approved drug.  A new pill that isn't time released but a slow release and over time would be 'even' across the board.  He has no ups and downs with it, and the side effects are minimal.  We gave it a go and he has really taken to it.  He doesn't complain about taking his pill, he doesn't bitch about side effects (one of them is drowsiness and since he's always had issues with sleeping, we just give him his pill at night), we see HUGE changes at home and have definitely seen changes at school. 

To be honest, we're not entirely sure if the leaps and bounds of changes we've seen in Roan is as a result of the medication or just maturity.  Hopefully a combination of both, but we're going to maintain it through the summer so he can get a proper start on Grade 8 in September (because YES he did make enough strides to get there).  He is an amazing kid and life for him (and us) has been so much kinder and pleasant since he started this particular prescription. 

The decision to medicate your child for any illness can be extremely difficult.  So many opinions of others (most NOT requested) are hurled at you.  But the decision is your family's and it's private.  You are the ones that deal with the effects of the disorder whether on medication or not.  You are the ones that live with it daily so the decision is yours and your child's.  As a parent, whatever I can do to make life not SO difficult for my kid is one of my number one goals.  Watching him unnecessarily struggle isn't in my cards.  So we did our part, we conceded and it paid off, but as for the school??? Well I've got my issues with them.  That's an entirely different post.