Nothing’s Ever Easy

That’s my father’s saying. Mine is “It’s always something.”

Baguette’s IEP includes bus transportation between home and school. Because she is now able to attend the after-school program (this is a whole story of its own), she only rides the bus to school in the mornings; Mr. Sandwich picks her up in the afternoons.

At the beginning of the year, I called the Special Education department, which is where you’re supposed to call to let them know this.

Her bus comes at about 7:15 each morning, except for when it doesn’t–usually because there is a substitute bus driver, or because there is some sort of maintenance issue. Usually (but not always) we get a robocall about the latter.

Baguette, meanwhile, loves the riding the bus. She is ready ahead of time, can hear it 1/2 mile away (I am not exaggerating), and is almost frantic to get the front door to the house open when it pulls up.

little girl boarding school bus

Today, the bus did not arrive. We waited on the porch for almost 20 minutes. There was no robocall.

So I called the Area Bus Supervisor, who was not there, and left a voicemail. Then I called Dispatch, which required a lot of time on hold before I spoke to a person, and many more short times on hold while that person talked to other people before finally let me know that Baguette was not on the route sheet.

Which is weird, because she was on a route sheet YESTERDAY.

Then I got Baguette into the car and called Special Education, who confirmed that their records showed that she was to be picked up in the morning and said that her “profile is active,” but that they did not see any routing information.

And then I called the Area Bus Supervisor again, and actually got a person. She remembered talking to me earlier in the year (when I was trying to get Baguette’s pickup time changed because I refused to cut into her inadequate sleep even more by waking her up before 6:00 a.m.), confirmed a.m.-only pickup, and said that the only thing she could think of was that sometimes “when you make some changes, the system goes ahead and bumps kids off of routes when it’s not supposed to.”

You know what? That’s not a system.

But she did email the person in charge of routing and get them to reinstate Baguette’s transportation starting tomorrow, and she called me to let me know it was fixed.

So that’s good. But to get it fixed, I had to make multiple phone calls to multiple offices for a total of 45 minutes, be late to work, and find breakfast out in the world (thanks, McDonalds!) because I hadn’t been able to eat at home the way I usually do.

This is going to happen again, because this is how it “works.” Nothing’s ever easy, and it’s always something.

Endings and Beginnings

Friday

Today was Baguette’s last day at the school she’s gone to for the past year and a half (almost). We fought hard to get her into that school, and in the end we succeeded. She spent last year in TK, and overall we were happy.

Pros: The special ed teacher was amazing. She really cared about Baguette–and all her kids–and went the extra mile (and then some) for them. The kids were welcoming to Baguette, and didn’t mind when she screamed, and kept reaching out to her even when she didn’t seem to respond. The parents were friendly and supportive and made sure that Baguette was invited to birthday parties. The office staff was delighted by her, and repeatedly told us how much progress they saw her making. The principal always said hi to her, and made sure she was included in the morale events he sponsored, and told us how much change he was seeing in her.

Cons: The TK teacher didn’t want Baguette in her class. It was obvious, and if we could tell, Baguette surely could. Seriously, I don’t think this teacher said a single positive thing about Baguette all year.

At the end of the year, they tried to get us to move her to a special day class in another school, instead of staying in the mainstream classroom. The original plan had been to give her two years, so we insisted on staying for kindergarten.

This year is kindergarten.

Pros: A new classroom teacher, and several of the children from her TK class.

Cons: A new special ed program and a new special ed teacher, neither of them a good fit. A new principal (she could be fine–I don’t know her–but it is change). A classroom teacher who didn’t seem resentful, but who didn’t connect with Baguette either.

The real problem was that Baguette wasn’t fully participating in the class, and wasn’t demonstrating mastery of the curriculum. I need to point out that I think the key word is demonstrating. Baguette is constantly learning, but she knows when she’s being tested, and she does not cooperate. It’s a challenge. But it doesn’t mean she isn’t learning what you’re teaching her.

The thing is, it was clear that the staffing changes at the school meant the school had changed. The parents and kids and office staff were still great, but the teachers and the assistant principal (who runs the IEP process) are going by the book, and their book doesn’t include Baguette.

You know who knows that? Baguette. She didn’t take to the new teachers. And like a lot of us, she performs better when she knows you want her around.

So we agreed to move her, and move her now, because hopefully there’s enough of the year left for her to adjust to a new classroom. If we like it, and she does well, we can keep her there next year. And if we don’t, we may be able to find another school for her. We’ll spend the spring looking at how to do that, so that we know what our options may be and how to make the most of them.

We’re sad about leaving that community, and we don’t really want to take this step–but since we’re taking it, we hope it will be a good one for Baguette.

Monday

Occurrences Of Late

Mr. Sandwich: I’m developing legal arguments regarding why Ariel’s contract with Ursula isn’t binding.
Me: Because she’s a minor?
Mr. Sandwich: That, and Ursula keeps employing metaphors that Ariel cannot be expected to understand, like “Rake ’em across the coals.”
Me: When Ariel doesn’t know ‘what’s a fire, and why does it–what’s the word–burn’?
Mr. Sandwich: Yes. And she talks about how “if you want to cross a bridge, my sweet, you’ve got to pay the toll.’ Ariel has no bridges in her life.

[pause]

Me: This is based on our extensive knowledge of Law & Order. But have you considered maritime law?
Mr. Sandwich: Good point. After all, my Opa did sign a contract and go to sea at age 12.

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Baguette has two loose teeth. They’re her top front incisors. This will be interesting.

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In the “nothing’s ever easy” category, we’ve just changed Baguette’s aide at school. We thought that having the aide who was with her at day care would be a good transition, and offer some continuity, but it didn’t play out the way we expected. First, it took a month and a half to resolve all of the communication issues between the district and the private agency, so the need for continuity was pretty much gone by the time we were up and running. And then it turned out that there were persistent punctuality issues, and we stopped getting our daily reports (which are kind of important when you have a child who’s not yet able to tell you about her day). The aide had to be out for a week and a half for a family issue (this was valid–we have no issue with the week and a half, just all the rest of the time around it), and that meant we had a sub.

The sub was amazing. As of tomorrow, the sub is the permanent aide. Fingers crossed, and moving forward.

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Baguette has a new iPad Air. The old iPad ran out of memory, and there was really nothing to do about that–just because she hasn’t played with an app for a year doesn’t mean she won’t start again in 10 minutes. And the apps were starting to hang up due to the lack of available memory, so the solution we came up with was a new device.

New to her, anyhow. We went with refurbished. We’re not insane.

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Los Angeles got rain today! I was really hoping for a solid day of rain, and there were a couple of sunny hours in the afternoon, but I’ll take what I can get.

October 2015: Scarier Than You Think

So I’ve had pneumonia. That’s meant too may trips across town to the doctor, and lots of medication. Unfortunately it’s been hard to rest, because even with taking sick days from work, Baguette still needs to go to school, and I need to drop her off. And Wicket had had a mysterious sore on her outer ear that required several vet trips for antibiotics, bandaging, rebandaging, and bandage removal.

But on the days when I didn’t have a doctor’s appointment, I took naps. Naps help. And that was my plan for Thursday–even though I did have an appointment, it wasn’t until early afternoon. So: school drop off, nap, early lunch, doctor’s appointment. It seemed like a good plan.

What that plan didn’t include, though, was what happened before Baguette woke up. Wicket, who is normally an exceptionally continent dog, had two accidents in the kitchen that morning. We never get upset at her for going in the house, because she actually works really hard at not doing that. If the dog door is closed and she’s really desperate, she scrupulously keeps it on the tile (I tried putting down paper; she went next to it and then looked at me with an expression that said, “I did’t want to mess up your nice paper! It looked special!”)

Then she started vomiting. This is something that happens only when her stomach gets too empty and she brings up bile, and we have changed her feeding schedule to accommodate that. What never happens is vomiting six times in a row.

Then she couldn’t climb onto the couch cushion that was on the floor. This from a dog who, the night before, had been jumping onto the couch with only her usual intermediate step (floor to giant memory foam thing to couch).

Then she started tilting her head to the left. Then she stopped being able to stand up. She just lay there, breathing heavily. I brought her bed out from our room so that she would have a soft spot to lie. Then she started frantically rolling, over and over in seemingly endless circles that flipped her out of her bed, but didn’t end the rolling.

I thought she was dying. I said goodbye, I told her that we loved her, I told her she’d taken good care of us. I cried and cried. I made Mr. Sandwich get off the bus as soon as he could so that he could pick up one of the counter-traffic buses and get home, because I had to take Baguette to school, but I couldn’t bear the idea of leaving Wicket alone. It was absolutely terrifying.

During her second bout of frantic rolling, it seemed like she was trying to get her collar off. So I took it off for her–and she was still. The rolling stopped, and she just lay down, exhausted but calm. I called Mr. Sandwich back, just before he was about to get on the northbound bus, and told him that I thought he didn’t have to come back, after all. I got Baguette up and fed and dressed, and had her say goodbye to Wicket, just in case. And then I crossed my fingers and took her to school.

When I came home, Wicket was still exhausted but calm. I called the vet and they had me come in right away. She still seemed like her normal self, albeit unusually tired.

What the vet thinks happened was this: The day before, Wicket had gone to the groomer. It was the place we’ve been taking her for at least five years, but that day there were different techs, and they gave her the fastest grooming to date. So the best guess is that she got stressed out by the speed grooming and her blood pressure went up, causing a small seizure or stroke. They gave her some medication to settle her stomach and sent her home.

I went to my doctor’s appointment. On the way, I started to have chest pains. My doctor gave me an EKG, and everything was normal, so it was probably just stress.

Here’s the thing: We’ve had Wicket for six years, and everyone’s best guess at the time was that she was 12 years old. That means she’s now 18. Overall, she’s in great shape–she may nap a lot, and she may be missing more than half of her teeth, but she loves her food and her walks. People are always amazed to hear how old she likely is. And no matter how long we’ve had her, I’m not ready for her to go.

The food has changed; the blood tests and x-ray showed that she has pancreatitis, so she’s on a prescription low-fat diet for the rest of her life. She’s had antibiotics and fluids, and is stronger and back to her usual scramble onto the couch. We each have follow-up appointments next week.

So all of that? Is why I can’t remember which day last week I had another kidney stone.

This October is not easy. I think this sums it up:

Change

Remember when I talked about how routine is important, but disrupting the routine is, too?

No?

That’s okay. Here’s a link. But you don’t necessarily need to read that, because I’ve got more examples from this weekend.

  • Mr. Sandwich read one of her “Touchy Feely” books using the adjective written on the page, but not the one Baguette prefers. She didn’t get upset, and she didn’t repeat the original phrase. Instead she corrected him, saying, “They are prickly.”
  • We were in the car, and she started to get a little fussy. She asked for her book (she has a sequence in which she reads the Touchy-Feely books, which are firmly in rotation. I asked, “Do you want Mommy to read That’s Not My Dragon?” And she answered, “I want Baguette That’s Not My Dragon.”
  • She’s been playing with the apps for The Monster at the End of This Book and Another Monster at the End of this Book. On Saturday she made up her own chant based on phrases from the apps: “Grover is furry, Grover is furry, YOU! Elmo is cute, Elmo is cute, YOU!”
  • As usual, we went to the zoo. Elephants are her favorite animal, and the demonstration enclosure is always one of our first stops at the L.A. Zoo. But the male elephant sometimes trumpets loudly and scares her. Yesterday the females were doing the demonstration, and she sat on my lap. Almost immediately, she said, “Time to say bye-bye elephants.” I said, “Are you sure? Don’t you want to watch them eat carrots?” She looked at me and said, “I want to go see giraffes please.”
  • When we reached the carousel, toward the end of our visit, I asked if she wanted to ride on one of the animals (she never does–we only ride on the bench seat). She answered with “I want to ride peacock, please.”
  • Last night, she handed Mr. Sandwich one of her stuffed animals and unilaterally changed one of her common Baguette-focused phrases (“I want Daddy take elephant”) to a straightforward instruction: “Daddy, take elephant.”
  • “Frozen” is also back in rotation, and she’s memorized even more of the dialogue. She’s also tailoring it to her own preferences, as in last night’s pronouncement: “It was an accident. She was scared. She didn’t mean it. She didn’t mean any of this. Tonight was my fault–I should be the one to go after her. Bring me my elephant.”

She’s been in school for three days. It hasn’t been easy, and it hasn’t always felt good. But it is good.

Little girl with a big stack of books

Milestone

For the past several months, we’ve been working to get Baguette into a certain school with a certain autism program. It’s been an exhausting, nerve-wracking process. After refusing our requests in the spring and seemingly lying dormant during the summer, the school district managed to make and rescind several offers over the past week.

“Emotional rollercoaster” may be a cliche, but wow, is it also true.

So yesterday we finally got the offer, which was signed by all parties. It placed Baguette in the school we want with the help we want, and it arrived just before we needed to leave the house to pick her up and take her over for enrollment.

She is enrolled. She’s in a Transitional Kindergarten class, which is a two-year program designed for students who are a little young for kindergarten. I have no idea how it’s different from Pre-K followed by K, but it is a thing that exists in the world, and it is the thing we are doing.

We’re not done–there are aides to identify and work schedules to coordinate–but one big piece of this educational puzzle is in place.

whiteboard with date and "First Day of TK" written on it

Oh, and in Los Angeles, school started on August 18. So it’s her first day of school, but it’s everyone else’s third week.

Thoughts on Measles

I have been vaccinated against measles four times.

FOUR!

The first time, I was one year minus three days.

The second time, I was going into the third or fourth grade, and my school required that I get the vaccination again because they required that you get it on or after your first birthday, and as I mentioned above, I got it three days shy of my first birthday.

The third time, there was a measles outbreak at colleges in the Midwest, and my mother decided that this put me in danger in California, and insisted that I get the measles vaccination again. The student health clinic asked me if I wanted the MMR, and I said, “No, just measles, please.” (The outbreak did spread. This in no way prevented me from being irritated with my mother.)

(Then, when I applied to grad school, they required that I also be vaccinated against mumps and rubella, but I couldn’t get the MMR because I’d gotten the measles vaccine that fall, so I had to get two more shots separately, which I also found irritating.)

(I am easily irritated.)

The fourth time was in 2011, when I got the MMR.

So that’s four measles vaccinations, which seems like plenty.

If I get the measles, I am going to be so pissed.

toy syringe from child's doctor kit

Performance Anxiety

I’ve always been conflicted about children and performances. Growing up, I performed in piano and ballet recitals, and was in the occasional play. The stage wasn’t my natural habitat, but I never had any real qualms.

But when I was in junior high, I went to see my friend’s sister perform in her dance recital. She did just fine–but there was a class of tiny girls who went on stage with teddy bears, and one of them should not have been there. This girl just stared out into the darkened theater and sobbed, and none of the teachers went to help her.

Ever since, I’ve had misgivings about the idea of very small children performing on stage. Enter Baguette.

December 2010: Baguette’s first school Holiday Performance

Her class was all infants, and they were propped up in bench seats. Baguette was mesmerized by the stage lights and had no idea there was an audience, so that went well.

By the way, if there is anything more ridiculous than putting infants who can’t stand on a stage and calling it a performance, I don’t know what it is. (Although Bestie stole the show that year, I do have to admit.)

May 2011: Baguette’s first school Spring Performance

Each class sang and danced a little to a song. The infants got wheeled around in a cart and looked bewildered. It was fine.

December 2011: Baguette’s second school Holiday Performance

She was starting to get a cold, and couldn’t spot us in the audience. One of her teachers kept her from actually sobbing, but we could see the tears.

May 2012: Baguette’s second school Spring Performance

She had just moved to a new classroom and didn’t know the song. She knew she didn’t know it and she couldn’t spot us in the crowd, so she started crying quietly.

December 2012: Baguette’s third school Holiday Performance

I took her backstage to drop her off with her class, and she started sobbing and screaming. I left her, in the hope that she would settle down when she realized she was with her teachers (who she didn’t much like) and friends. After a few minutes, I asked the school director to check on Baguette. A minute later, she was back, holding Baguette and saying, “She’s not 100%.” We watched most of the show from the audience and then went outside and ran around in the patio.

May 2013: Baguette’s third school Spring Performance

Mr. Sandwich picked her up early and brought her home.

December 2013: Baguette’s fourth school Holiday Performance

We checked with her teacher (who she adores), who shook her head and said, “I think it’s going to be too loud for her.” We stayed home.

May 2014: Baguette’s fourth school Spring Performance

Again, we checked with her teacher, saying, “We don’t want her to feel left out, but we don’t want to put her in a situation that makes her unhappy.” The teacher said, “You know what? I think she’s going to like it this time. She’s really into practicing the song. She sings it all the time.”

So with trepidation, we showed up at school and hid. Because we know from past experience that if she sees us, she’s going to come to us. And what did we see? A girl who knew all the moves and nearly all the words, who followed her teacher’s lead, and who was beaming as she performed with her class.

little girl on stage with class

She would not have done that a year ago, or two years ago, and we know that because she didn’t. But she’s learned so many skills in the past six months, and she’s become so confident. This is huge.

This is huge.

Performance Anxiety: Outcome

Maybe you read my guest post over at Life With a Baby last Thursday. If you didn’t, you can now!

Can’t be bothered? I wrote about Baguette and school performances. I have such mixed feelings about the performances–while some kids may love them, I really think they’re for the parents and not the children–but if Baguette wants to sing and dance with her class, I’m certainly not going to stand in her way.

Except she didn’t. When I dropped her off with her teacher, she screamed and cried and held her arms out for me. And in the hope that she would calm down and have fun with her friends, I steeled myself and walked away.

But a few minutes later–and before the performance started–I intercepted the school director and asked her to see how Baguette was doing. And within moments, she was back with Baguette in her arms, saying, “She’s not 100 percent.”

So my little girl sat on my lap for most of the performance, cuddling Ernie and Bert and eating a cereal bar. And when she’d had enough of sitting still (which she did for much longer than I would have expected), I took her outside and she ran around.

And that was 100 percent.

Transitions

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Baguette is moving from her day care’s toddler room to a 2-year-old room. I’d say that I don’t know if it’s harder on her or me, but I’m pretty sure that would just be ego; it’s clearly harder on her.

But it’s hard enough on me. I don’t need it to be harder than this. And we have a lot of confidence in the school and her teachers–I’m not worried about where she is, just how she feels about it.

I’m also not ready for her to be drinking 2% milk. How can she be old enough to be done with whole milk?

Photo by buba69, via Flickr.