Saturday, September 14, 2013

Rest and Reflection

I wrote a lot in August. There was a lot going on and I needed my space to vent it all out. Life has moved on, as it does and some of those past situations have had resolutions, and some are just... marinating. Quick update: My last post (Dear Teacher) felt necessary to write. We'd had a nightmare of a time at the first preschool that Elijah was placed in, and I was armed for Mama Bear protection at the new school. Let's just say that Elijah's teacher did not appreciate my letter as much as many of you did. She asked to have a word with me and started with, "Just so you know, I stress out easily." I said, "Oh....I'm sorry to hear that." (Wasn't really sure what to say to that one, but was actually kind of appreciative that she mentioned it. Good info to know.) The she said, "I need to ask you not to undermine my knowledge." (?) She continued, "I read your letter." I said, "Oh! Absolutely. I'm sorry that it seemed like that is what I was doing, because it certainly wasn't my intention. I assume you are in your position for a reason." She seemed to visibly relax and we moved on to new topics.  I thought long and hard about what she could mean by her statement. I suspect that my short sentence about what Down syndrome is could be taken as condescending. After all, she is a preschool teacher for a special needs class. She's been well educated in Down syndrome, right? Well...that's where I see a gray area. What a special ed teacher sees as ample education in a specific area seems downright lacking to a parent who lives it every single day of their life. Has large communities of people and friends who live it every single day of their lives. Then add a dash of super-ignorant comments by people in fields that are "supposed" to be knowledgeable about Down syndrome and it equals one cynical Momma, who feels it's necessary for a quick re-explanation. Just in case.

The teacher seems to have come around, and I have relaxed a little. Elijah is loving school! A friend of mine who is a teacher AND has a daughter with Down syndrome said (after I told her the teacher's response to my letter), "She'll never tell you, but I guarantee you taught her something." I do hope that is true, as my intentions were definitely not to attack her, but to have her understand my son a lot better. Charles and I laughed about the situation a little later, because I KNOW that I am intimidating. I don't try to be, but I have a strong personality that can be as much an asset as it is a defect. I can giggle about it because I know I'm a work in progress.

Christian is settling well into First Grade. The first week he lost his lunchbox every. single. day. of. the. week. However, come week 2 he was into the swing of things and hasn't lost it since. I hope I'm not "jinxing" myself by putting that out there!! His last words on the subject of first grade were, "I'm doing like WOW in first grade, Mom!!" It seems we don't have to worry about his self confidence much.

Recently, a close friend of mine called to tell me they are expecting a baby girl who has been diagnosed prenatally with Down syndrome. I wrote about it here. I found myself on a rollercoaster of emotions in the few days following my talk with her. We were texting back and forth and she was going through the natural process of dealing with that kind of diagnosis- wondering if they should consider adoption, etc. My stomach was in a pit because I know that there are joys to come for my friends if they just settle into what is, but I also knew I had to let her get there on her own. I thought at first that if I could tell her everything I wish I would have heard, that she would be able to instantly turn it around and see it for the blessing in disguise that it is. But, I also know from personal experience that it just doesn't work that way. She and her husband ARE coming around, but they need the time to do that. It's a process. One of last messages I got from her was a Birthday greeting, "Happy Birthday from a Momma who is starting to feel excited again." Best Birthday present this year. Hands down.

On the subject of Birthdays, I did have yet another one this year. I am now officially Forty two. The number 42 gained some popularity as the "Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything" from the Comic Science Fiction series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. My brother told me that "42" was the answer to that ultimate question in the first novel. So, I Wikipedia'd it. (Wikipedia'd- Jen Slang; verb; To check what Wikipedia says about the topic when accuracy isn't all that important and you just need the gist of it.) Wikipedia told me that, in fact, the author just made up the number at random, because he needed an ordinary, mundane number. Yes, 42 doesn't have the shiny, new-decade appeal that 40 did, or the youth and freshness that 22 did (Plus, 22 is my favorite random number. I often say things like, "I told him about 22 times!" Which is totally ridiculous. I would never, nor could ever say something 22 times...at least not in a row. That would drive me crazy before I got there. But, I digress...)

My birthday celebration this year was indeed just a little ordinary and mundane: a combination of feeling taxed out as Mother with little time to myself, a little birthday dinner ruined by a grumpy old man at a neighboring table, and a dash of family drama. I left the scene with the understanding that my kudos this year were going to be in the form of inner peace due to an additional year on the planet. I've learned more. Pushed myself harder. Plus, I have a new year to look forward to, and I plan to make 42 the year of my own, personal answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything. Bring it on.

Then, there was THIS:

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We got away as a weekend together with my parents and about 200 other people. It was a weekend called "Our Own Family Camp" put together by and for Families who have a child with Down syndrome. The lodgings were cozy (cabins with electricity!), meals were served (3, full square meals a day!) and there were a ton of activities to choose from. I unplugged for the weekend and just breathed in the fresher, cooler air.

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We canoed...

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Managed mischief...

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Enjoyed bunk beds (Well... Christian enjoyed bunk beds, the rest of us had a hard time remembering what the appeal was...)

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Took in the views and cherished the wide, open spaces...

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Tried our hand at something new... (Not Charles. He enjoyed being "Not New" at this particular skill. :)

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Smiled from ear to ear watching our youngest take interest in just about everything camp had to offer...

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Had moments of solitude...

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And joy...

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And learned to kick everyone's butts at Foosball. Actually, just Christian. I am perfectly comfortable with being unable to kick anyone's butt at Foosball. Now, Scrabble on the other hand? At that, I am not shabby. My favorite memory from camp might have been those quiet nights after the boys were asleep. My parents and I sat out on our patio with a smuggled-in bottle of wine (Yes. We totally got caught. I ALWAYS do. This is why I usually don't do "bad" things...) and played Scrabble. As Charles likes to say, 'I have an uncanny knack for managing 56 point words out of 4 letters.' Listen- it's all about the points and less about the fancy words, babe.

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We completed the camp experience with traditional campfires, skits and smores. I participated in an audience participation skit, to rave reviews from my 6 year old. Apparently, Mom getting up and making a fool of herself goes over BIG with these kids...

It was rest with some reflection and exactly the kind of family get-away we needed. We came back and I finally had the feeling that I'd been chasing for the last few weeks: the feeling of being re-energized and ready to go for the new school year. Plus we haven't had any lost lunch boxes since our trip, so it looks like I wasn't the only one who needed a getaway to rest and reflect...
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