Friday, January 30, 2015

Today Was a Good Day

I see that I'm posting this after midnight, so the day was really already yesterday, Jan. 29. Where did January go?

I spent some time with My Firefighter this afternoon. It was so very needed! It refreshed my soul and filled my heart.

I also returned home to loving daughters who actually greeted me with enthusiastic hugs, who all looked me in the eye, who made me feel loved and accepted my love for them. Tonight, just before bed, I asked them what changed? Did they have a sisterly conference?

They did not have a conference. They each decided they were "sick and tired" of being in trouble and decided to obey and do well. This is an answer to my prayers! Blossom also decided she wanted to earn more Barbie clothes with good behavior. I don't know if it will last, but it showed me that they have it within themselves to choose the right and pull it out when it really needed to happen. If they can do it once, they can do it again.

Sissy also took care to speak well ALL DAY LONG! Jie Jie even told me that Sissy spoke well to them when I wasn't around. This is such a huge relief!

There is a reward for this behavior. Besides getting the pizza I brought home from my outing with My Firefighter, I WANTED to spend time with them and I did. I even read to Sissy and the others were included, too. This may sound strange. What? She read to her kids? But you need to understand that trying to read to my kids is pure torture for me. Even though the books are very basic, and they understand some individual words and meanings, the way the words are put together is very incomprehensible to them and many words have more than one meaning so I need to stop and explain nearly every single sentence! Today, I tried reading Flash from the Puppy Place series. The back has RL2, which I thought meant Reading Level 2nd grade, but when I look it up online, the reading level is 2.5 to 4, which means up to fourth grade. If that's true, it's no wonder they can't understand it! So, I think we might be back to reading "baby books" but perhaps start with the Golden Books.

Good examples of problems I encountered today are as follows:

The characters went to visit cousins who lived in the country. Not a different country like China vs. USA, but country vs. city, so I had to explain that.

There were two cousins. One loved living in the country and one missed living in the city. The one who missed living in the city was "having a hard time with the move." This doesn't mean that she can't lift the boxes or had any trouble physically with moving their belongings to the new house, but that she wished she still lived in the city and was having a hard time adjusting to and liking her new home in the country.

There were many others and as I type this, I can see how basic and obvious these issues are, but to encounter them in so many books that, otherwise, my kids would really enjoy, is frustrating. How many 16 yr. olds do you know who really enjoy listening to the Poky Little Puppy or So and So Goes to Kindergarten or Baby's Bedtime? Yet these are books they at least can understand.

I also went to a book club meeting tonight, even though I didn't read the book and wasn't the only one who didn't read it. It was with women from my church and I was invited for the social aspect and enjoyed myself. I can really see fitting in with these moms in the future. There are two brothers and a sister and their parents and they were all able to purchase four homes beside each other in a development. After moving into their respective homes, they took down the fences dividing the back yards, all chipped in and had a pool installed, had trampolines, play structures, etc... for all the kids from each family to enjoy. So, I left my girls at one house and walked through the backyard to the other house. Jie Jie visited a friend (yes, she remembered and knew two of the kids from her Sunday school class!!!) in the house in between for a short time, then joined the other kids in the first house.

These families are made up of teachers and principals. They firmly believe my girls would do better in public school. I tried describing the ridiculous IEP proposals and even the principal had to agree that putting one of my kids in the Special Day Class was grossly inappropriate, but still figured there should be a place for her in the middle school. I'd love to believe him. Truly, I would. I almost did, actually. But then I remembered how many blogs I've read about how many of these older kids flounder in public schools, and I remembered the size of the classes and all the other things I went through recently and I dug my heels in. Could my girls and I benefit from more socialization? Yes. Is public school the place to get it? Not with the options outlined at the IEP meetings. He then offered to look at the IEPs. I admit, it's tempting. I am going to pray about it. But I also know what I went through, what I saw in the schools and classrooms, what the teachers (who I really liked) suggested, and what I've learned from the adoption books and adoption professionals and from families whose blogs I've read, and I know I need to trust myself and what I just went through, and give my decision a chance before trying to work with the public schools again. I also know that, despite how many kids he's seen come from whatever country with their parents from whatever situation, it's still way different from the life my girls endured in their orphanages and they ARE different. Very different. I just don't have the time and energy to do it again. I do not want to take the real risk of introducing other behaviors right now that would complicate what we are already working on. I'm just weeks shy of starting work again and that needs to be my main focus so I can keep food on the table and a roof over our heads.

I need to think of me, too. How many more changes can I go through right now? How many more changes can my girls go through right now? We've got a new diagnosis to learn about, increased therapy because of it on top of the therapy we are already doing, and I'm going to start work. No. No changes right now. I need to be in top form to get my business started again, to be strong and energetic and refreshed so I can attract clients, do my work well, and be a good mom.

Clearly, after today, I can see that the new things I'm trying with my girls paid off. Will it continue? Who knows. But today they made the good decision to put their best foot forward. My new methods are alleviating a lot of tension and anger my girls try to illicit in me. By not allowing it, without yelling, without threats, simply by removing them by sending them into their rooms (they do go without hassle almost every time I send them) they see that their bad behavior is not rewarded by any attention, but the results and honest praise they get with good behavior is catching their notice.

I recently spoke to a special ed teacher and she told me that she pays her students for everything in fake money. Then, they can buy things. Not only is there motivation and a reward system, but they learn about money. I will be doing this with my girls, too. Sometimes, though, the money will be real, a sort of allowance, and the shopping list they will have will also be real, as I begin to teach them the value of money, budgeting, planning and shopping. The amount of money I give them will be enough to cover the personal items they use regularly as well as some clothes. A little left over for something fun will also be built in, but in a reasonable way.

I'm getting more creative as I go through this and I'm feeling more and more confident in my decisions, especially when I return home to loving, happy girls.


Melanie said...

Have you tried to have your daughters labelled(I hate that word) as FMD(fundamentally mentally disabled). I teach at a high school and my classroom is across the hall from the FMD classroom. Those students are taught basic life skills as well as money skills, basic math, and how to read. Those students who are capable are mainstreamed into regular classrooms for elective classes like ROTC and Art. I think one of the most beneficial effects of your girls going to school is to give you a break during the day. You could focus on your business, focus on you, and be somewhat refreshed when the girls returned home from school. It's just a thought.

Anonymous said...

I think the previous commenter has a good point about you getting a break while the girls are in school. Everything is a tradeoff, and there are no perfect choices. But I know from my 3 girls who are extremely similar to yours in many ways, having them go to school is helpful for several reasons that have nothing to do with academics.

First, I truly do need a healthy break from the intensity of their needs. It is unintentional on everyone's part, but it is very draining for me to be needed 24/7. And when I get tired and drained I am definitely not at my best in working with them.

Secondly, my girls need to be separated from each other on a regular basis for their own growth. When they are together for long periods they reduce to the least common denominator. In other words, rather than trying to emulate the behavior of the highest functioning and best behaved one, they cave and function at the lowest level one. Their speech as well as their thinking processes simply regress when they spend s good deal of time together. And they become very lazy in their attempts to function better. They develop their own institutional type of communication system where making sense is not important. They honestly just don't know any better.

Third, even though I do worry about them learning undesirable behaviors from other kids at school, I feel it's worth the risk for the emotional health of all of us. I firmly believe that at least 2 of my girls will always need to be in some type of supervised living, and that alone will give some opportunity to control unwanted behaviors over the long term. I would rather put some effort into quickly nipping newly learned bad behaviors in the bud, than to let us all get pulled down in the draining and all consuming effort to keep them home and shielded from the behaviors they might observe at school.

I feel for you, K. I fully empathize with your dilemma. I think I know how difficult all of this is to weigh out. As more time passes I think you might find that staying emotionally strong while also running your own business requires accepting both the good and the potentially difficult aspects of letting others teach your girls for some hours of the day. They would still be together with you every afternoon and evening, all weekends as well as during the summer and other school breaks. You would still be that supportive tight knit family unit you love outside of the school hours.

Truthfully, I'm not sure I would be recommending that you even consider this if it weren't for the fact that your girls, like mine, are so deeply affected by their destructive backgrounds. Their non-stop needs will not be going away any time soon, and you may well wear out in ways you never imagined if you keep trying to meet them mostly within your home. You are a VERY good and compassionate mom. You love them and they each know that at some level. You will always be their safe place. And they will need you to be balanced, healthy, energetic and happily involved with them for a very long time. Please take care of yourself by considering letting the professionals at school work with them too. And give yourself the breather you need and deserve. You have my admiration.

K said...

I am still open to looking at schooling choices, but what we've been presented with so far is definitely not an option. I will not sacrifice my girls to a system I know would harm rather than help them. Once I have money flowing in again, a whole new world of options opens up to me again, including private school and tutors.

Anonymous said...

Another idea to possibly explore is to "outsource" the home school. I know several families that do. The family is in charge of the child's education,they choose the curriculum, schedule, etc. But someone else does the teaching, not mom or dad. Some parents have told me this is most effective when this type of "home school" does not actually even happen at home! Sometimes it's at the community room of the library/park or in the home of other kids working with the same teacher. Just wondering - are there any charter schools in your area? They are often much more accommodating and open to meeting your child's actual needs. You are obviously thinking through all of this as thoroughly as you can and exploring all your options. If you need to be able to run your business from your home, then your home needs to be a haven, for both you and your clients. You are doing your best which is amazing.

Anonymous said...

K, I've been reading your blog since before you brought home Jie Jie. (When you were in the NSN line.) You were set on homeschooling before you were even a mom. Now that you are a mom of 4, I really thinks it's a matter of pride on why you won't try outside schooling.

You do what we all do, we read books, websites and blogs that reinforce your own beliefs. There are MANY families who have also adopted older children with SN, who put their kids in public school.

There are many wise commenters who have experience in both and who have walked in your shoes already (and it seems folks at your church) who believe that public school would be better for your girls.

Despite what you think, you don't KNOW it will harm them. And what if it doesn't? What if they actually improve and do better in a classroom with a professional teacher, then that is a scary scenario. It would blow out your preconceived notions of the school system, and your own abilities to teach your girls.

Please, listen to reason to other AP moms who have BTDT. They have the benefit of hindsight. You don't, because you got your girls so close together.

Just consider it, for your own sake and for the sake of your girls who are struggling. Anonymous #1 has some great points about her girls. She's tried both ways- you haven't. Listen to her advice.

amom2three said...
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amom2three said...
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