Routine resumes #Life #Mentalhealth


Finally had a full week. The kids had a full week of school. I had my first full week of work on the floor. The kids were mostly able to return to their normal sleeping arrangements. About the only thing missing was the regular Monday events because of the crazy wind storm that shut the schools down. It felt good.

My first full week of regular work went very well. I continue to shine in the basics. With most every call I can feel myself getting better. The calls get easier. I can foresee doing this for quite a while.

The kids all made it through their first (mostly) full week of school. Which went well. No traumas. Jimmy even had a chance to wrestle with the Varsity at their dual. He wrestled well but lost. The kids all seemed to adjust to the new reality of Dad working again.

Kim even undertook the project of getting our room rearranged. Setting up her new entertainment options in there. The goal being for her (and us) to have the option of a place where we can go and hide away when necessary.

I don’t want to go overboard, but I feel good about where we all are. I don’t have the same feelings of boredom and tedium I had at my last job. While there is a general undercurrent of worry about politics it is not a constant preoccupation. I am not letting sports occupy my time either. (Although I am impressed by the choices my teams made for their new head coaches.) In general, my mind has happily been focused on work, and role playing. Which is a good place to be in for me, living in the now where I have control of what I am doing.

It is still just the first real week of the New Year, but the return to a routine felt good. And the new elements of that routine are improved and manageable.

Parenting and school thoughts #Kids #Life


School began yesterday for all 3 kids. Jimmy began his High School Journey as a 9th grader. Danny began his Middle School Journey as a 6th grader. And Emily continues her Elementary School Journey as a 3rd grader. I got all 3 kids to school (or to their transportation.) And while I was getting them ready I had some thoughts. More thoughts came to mind after they got home and shared what they did. I had even more thoughts come to mind this morning on the second day.

First, you know the saying or common wisdom that the youngest child gets away with more because their parents have tired out by the time they came along. Well, my thought on that is not so much a matter of the parents being tired as it is their experience.

Watch any top athlete, there are plenty of opportunities right now with the Olympics. Then try and go out and do any of the things that they are doing at the same level. Like try and run a 100 meter dash. When you do that you begin to realize how effortless these athletes make something that is very hard look. That is a matter of experience. They have done this one thing so many times that what is hard for the average person looks easy to the rest of us.

This applies to anything that someone does with repetition. I drive my car every day, I have been driving for over 30 years now. But in a few months, we will begin the process of teaching our oldest how to drive. Which means teaching someone how to do all the things that I have made effortless and routine.

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I think that a lot of the seeming permissiveness that the youngest child gets away with has a lot to do with that kind of experience. As parents, we know what is involved with getting ready for school, homework, sleep schedules, chores and all of that. We know what to expect. We also know what really is a priority and what really is not a priority. That last one is a big deal because a lot of what seems absolutely necessary about daily life is really not all that vital.

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Second, with both of them starting new schools and working on a different level I had one big piece of advice for the boys. I told them to keep their minds open and accept new experiences and people. To not look at all these new people and experiences as something to be scared of. Instead, view it is an opportunity to expand. Make new friends. Learn new things. Expand their horizons. Which is why I referred to their Journeys. Each major new level at a school is a new and separate journey in life. A Journey that will expand their horizons and the world they live in.

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Third, it may seem strange to start the school year in the middle of the week. But after going over what the boys did their first day I realized that someone out there with more experience than I at this whole teaching thing is being really smart. The first day or two of the school year is really about getting comfortable in the new locations and with new schedules and experiences. Meeting new people, peers and teachers. It makes real sense to take a couple of days to do that, get the kids through that. Then give them a weekend to process everything. And then begin to tackle actual learning and work with the start of a new week.

With all of that, a new school year has begun. I get to adopt a new routine. Which has its cons, I have to get up earlier and have more things to do in the mornings before going to work. It also has its pros, I do not have to worry as much about the house being a disaster when Kim gets home or worry about what the kids are up to all day long. There are different concerns and worries, but nothing I have not seen already so I am ready. Bring it on!

 

Ah, it is finally here #Kids #School #Summer


(My wife and other people will be jealous when they read this, and I am sorry for that)

This morning my alarm went off later than it previously had. Last night I was even able to delete my early alarm. I then hit my snooze alarm a few times. And was able to leisurely get up a good hour later than I had been getting up.

I then performed my normal morning routine of making my lunch, showering, dressing, making and eating breakfast. I cleaned the kitchen from my dishes and last nights remainders. Made sure the rest of the house was cleaned and ready for the day. Then left the kids with the simple instruction to pick up after themselves and left for work.

I did not get up early and work out, as I hoped to do. But this was just the first day of summer vacation. And I am not going to beat myself up for that. Instead, I am going to focus on the relaxed feeling I am getting from this. On the well being I get from a simple good night’s rest, and a chance to relax a little in the morning.

Granted Jimmy still has a couple of days left. After that, I will be asking more from the kids. But for now, for this week, I am just going to enjoy this as much as the kids do.

Making a list, checking it twice #Life


I slept in a little this morning, just resting, and enjoying how little I had to do. Because it is Friday, the last day of the week, and second to last day of the little one’s school year. That meant I did not have to pack lunches, did not need to deal with the dogs because Jimmy will be home with them. In celebration of the day, I went out to breakfast so I did not have to save time for that.

After the initial morning rush of urging the kids on, serving them breakfast. Then getting dressed and getting the trash out. I had some time to sit down and look over my reminder list for the day. And it occurred to me just how much that has helped me out over this school year. It feels really good to get things done, and rid myself of that anxious ‘I forgot something’. It has made a big difference to my life.

The little ones do have school on Monday. Which seems odd, but I think the reason they do that is to have some open days at the end of the year in case there are too many snow days. But it is odd for them to only be going back to school for one day. And Jimmy has 4 days left, which will be hard for him in the days that he is at home with the little ones. But, the important thing is that I only have to drive a kid to school one day next week. And that is a great relief.

The weekend will be devoted to getting stuff done around the house. There is a serious amount of weed eating to get done. Some mowing. Some cleaning of trash. And Kim has some things inside the house she wants to get done. We will make room to do some fun things as well I am sure.

 

Finding my way through it all today #Mentalhealth


I didn’t sleep great last night. The dogs woke me up twice. But that has happened before. But for some reason, my stupid brain picked today to fuck with me. I am hyper aware of every little flaw and small thing that bothers me. I know now from experience that I just have to ride this out. That by tomorrow things should get back to normal.

In the meantime, I just have to pick and choose my fights. Do my best to keep myself mentally isolated so the hyper-awareness does not drag me down. It is a strange feeling. I wish I did not have to cope with this. But I can at least be thankful for the awareness that it is only temporary. And that I know what is causing it. And that I work the kind of job where I am not constantly under a barrage of the kind of input that would overwhelm me.

On the plus side, we at least know where Danny will be for school next year. I called the one school where we were waiting on his permit. And they said that they would not be able to give a firm answer until August.

Kim made the very good point that we should just put him in the neighborhood school after all. And not worry anymore about wait lists. Because waiting until August, having him ready for one school, and then switching him, would not be good for him. Throwing that kind of uncertainty and change at my mini-me would be really tough on him. All of which means that we will just withdraw the permit application and put him in the local school.

This does have the advantage of knowing that he will be going into a smaller environment, which will be better for him. He will still have his family supporting him socially. And he will have Scouts as well for support. As an added benefit he will get the chance to make more neighborhood friends. It is the opposite of my own experience, but one I think will benefit him. He will go from the magnet school where his classmates come from all over town to the neighborhood school.

Academically I think he will be fine. With his reading issues, he needs to be somewhere where he can get some level of individual attention. And being in the smaller school the odds of that increase. With him, it is not as much of an issue to be challenged academically at this point. He has a long way to go academically and I do think that being in a larger school the odds of him being ignored are greater.

Even on a day when my stupid brain is being annoying I can find some positives. And focus on those. And do my best to ignore all the other little stuff that threatens my mental well being.

 

Odd how excited I am about this #Kids #mentalhealth


The kids have a 3 day weekend this week. They have Friday off from school. I don’t have the day off, neither does Kim. But they will be off. And I am possibly more excited about this than the kids are for some reason.

I guess it is because the daily grind of waking them up, making lunches, getting them ready, taking them to school, is getting close to ending for the school year. Danny looked last night and said there are 30 days until the end of the school year. But those 30 days includes weekends. The fact is there are 4 weeks, 20 days, not including today or the last day of school for the little ones. Well, Jimmy will have another 4 days on top of that. But while there have been some drawbacks to the online school, it has the advantage of my not having to deal with him every morning. Ultimately, I have about a month until my mornings are clear, which is a good thing and something I am definitely looking forward to. So tomorrow is just a taste.

Mentally and emotionally this has been a good week. I was dreading it as I thought we would be especially short staffed. But it turned out that the staffing was not as bad as we thought it was going to be. We have been continuing to work with Jimmy, but he has been pretty good about accepting where he really is. So the usual stressors have not been there, or at least have been a minimum.

I have been feeling conflicted this week. You may recall my plan to get something for myself every month. Well, the first couple of months were easy to do that. I got my new iPad and cover, then the wonderful new book bag from Sidgl, and then some new shoes and headphones. But now I have run into a bit of a wall. I kind of want a new dice box and transport for some role playing gear. But I cannot bring myself to spend the kind of money the really nice one’s cost. Plus I am working with Sidgl on developing a solution for this as well.

There are a couple of other cool craft things out there I have been looking at. Impractical but fun things to own, like a set of wooden swords. Or a cool wristband made by another friend.

In looking at all the cool gaming gear products though I think I have decided to come up with a creative solution. It is a chance to get something that I will use. And actually, be creative as well. I plan to get some generic items tomorrow from the craft store and then decorate them myself. I will take pictures and post what the results look like. Hopefully, this will provide the outlet I am looking for in doing something for me this month.

Waiting, but accepting #Kids #Mentalhealth


We submitted Danny’s paperwork for a different school yesterday. We hope this works out for him. The first choice school is apparently the first choice for a lot of other people, people who got in ahead of him on the list, still a little fishy but cannot change it. Also had our annual IEP review and I cannot get over how much he is like me in certain ways. Now we just have to wait.

I talked last week about the illusion of choice. Here is the breakdown of how things worked. One, we live in a poor district, where the majority of the middle schools are majority free & reduced lunch kids, sadly this can be used as a measure of how the behavior of the kids will be in school. Not that discipline, or how kids are raised, or how smart they are can be traced to economics. Just that the economics is a big factor in our society and culture. The school we wanted for Danny is one of the few middle schools in the district that is not majority free & reduced lunch, so it is a popular choice as people try to get a better school for their kids.

Two, the choice rules work as follows. First, all the kids in the direct feeder schools get in automatically if they want to go there. Second, kids who have siblings in the school next year also get in. Third, children of District employees have a higher priority, including teachers kids. Then, after all of that, the kids on the wait list can get in if there is space. Because this is a popular school those first three groups fill up the school.

Three, the schools have limited Special Ed resources for incoming 6th graders. Since Danny is on an IEP he is in that mix. Since the above groups filled up all of the resources for special ed that means they cannot accept any Choice kids who are on an IEP. This is a little fishy and a gray area in the case law for disabilities. Because if Danny was a part of the above groups they would have to make a space instead of being able to deny him.

Four, here is where the glass gets half full. That school will be full to the brim. And who is to say that Danny would not have gotten swallowed up in all of that size? Even if he ends up in our poorer neighborhood school he will almost certainly get more individual attention there. So our second choice school, which we are waiting on, or our neighborhood school may end up being better social environments due to the school size.

The thing that caught me in the IEP review is how much Danny reminds me of myself at the same age. He is shy, and introverted, but is also very amiable. So other kids like him, enjoy doing things with him. He may not be popular due to a magnetic personality, but people like him because he is so genuinely nice to everyone. Unlike me, he does not have the escape of hiding in his books, but that almost works in his favor. Because he can use his highly active imagination to create fun things that attract other people to him.

Here is where we are at. Danny does work well with other kids in smaller group settings. We know he has a good grounding morally and socially from Montessori, Scouts and us, so he is less likely to let certain influences cause trouble. Therefore, this might all end up as a blessing in disguise for him, he might thrive in the smaller schools in spite of their fewer resources. We just might have to be a little more active in his school and extracurricular activities to make sure he does not miss out on things that more affluent schools than our neighborhood school will provide.