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Posts tagged ‘after care’

More Celebrating

Jay ate breakfast with his new books.

I don’t know how I forgot this:  Jay is starting to read on his own.  Not whole books or sentences, but words.  He’s decoding.  I was reading to him Monday night, and when I pointed to words that I thought he would recognize, he sounded them out instead of just saying them.  Yippee!  He’s proud of himself, too.  Yesterday, our Scholastic book order arrived, and it included a box set of Hot Wheels phonics books.  He left the house carrying it like a bookcase.  Sigh.  I remember the days when he just left with the Hot Wheels cars.  My baby is growing up.  Sniff, sniff.

And, there’s more.  Mae received her first progress report of the year:  all A+’s and 100’s on almost every assignment and test.  The teacher’s hand-written note on the report is all positive, except that she’s concerned that Mae “has a tendency to slip ‘off track’ during some class discussions.”  Yes, she talks a lot and she’ll begin to ramble after a while.  Or, it’s more like she starts talking about one thing, which reminds her of another thing, and that’s related to another thing altogether.  Frankly, I think she’s always going to have that tendency.  As she gets older, I’ll teach her about active listening.  Also, the teacher warns on the report that work will get more challenging later and grades may drop later.  I like that:  manage expectations.

At aftercare pickup, the director remarked that Mae is “getting better everyday” at playing and interacting with the other kids.  That’s also good news, although I expect that there will be good days and bad days (mostly good).

I’ll have to think of something fun and rewarding for the kids this weekend so that we can properly and officially recognize their progress.  Another excuse for cake?  You betcha.

My own crowning achievement of the day was booking tickets for me and the kids to visit my sister and her family in FL for Thanksgiving.   Year after year, I’ve said that we need to get done there because it has been several years (although we do see them at my mom’s in SC once or twice a year).  It’s bittersweet because the kids and I will be travelling without Hubby.  We will, however, return on November 26, which is his birthday and our wedding anniversary.  We’ll arrive home early enough for some type of celebration, to be determined (More cake? You betcha).

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Who Is This Kid?

I can't give her more than one instruction at once, yet she can read while she waits for the next game to upload.

There was this strange little person with me on Wednesday.  She had impeccable manners.  She offered her brother some water in such a loving voice, gave him comforting words when he complained about being hungry and thirsty, and said lots of thank you’s and excuse me’s.

I commented on how polite she was being and she said, “You told me to.”

Is that all it takes?  Why didn’t you tell me earlier?

Mae was referring to a conversation we’d had when I picked her up that day from aftercare.  When I arrived, the Director was helping resolve a dispute between her and another little girl, R, about R having picked up Mae’s book without permission.  R apologized, and Mae accepted the apology (after I prompted her three times) by saying coldly, “I accept, but don’t do it again.”  (I would not have insisted had R not been looking at Mae expectantly).  R and Mae walked away, Mae to retrieve their backpack.  Within seconds, R was back at me.  She tattled, “She was laughing at me.  She said,  ‘Haha, you forgot your jacket.'”  Mae tried to hide a grin and denied saying it.  Sigh.

Once we were outside, Mae admitted that she had teased R and didn’t want to get in trouble for it.  I told her to treat others as she wants to be treated and to be polite.  So, for the rest of the evening, Mae was super nice.  And, Jay followed her lead, returning the kindnesses.  They had their own little lovefest.  I gushed and praised and added mickeys to their banks.  At one point, Mae was telling me her ideas for how we could donate more toys and food to those in need.  Oh, if I could only have frozen her in that state.  And, her brother too, for that matter.  He has a new “best friend” at school, someone he describes as a new kid who is always being put on the yellow chair.  The yellow chair is where kids are sent to think after they have made a sad choice.  I hope Jay rubs off on him before he rubs off on Jay.

Monkey Business

My biggest accomplishment this weekend may have been making monkey bread for the first time.  It was one of my childhood favorites, and I was happy to share it with the kids.  Actually, Mae and Jay did most of the work.  They enjoyed cutting the canned biscuits and rolling the pieces into balls.  The good thing about this recipe is that, unlike most baking, it’s random.  The balls don’t have to be uniform in size or shape.  The kids could wildly throws the balls into the plastic bag that held the sugar-cinnamon combination and stuff the covered balls, raisins, and chopped pecans any which way into the bundt pan.  Jay was giving me instructions by the end.  When I put my fingers into the plastic bag to cover the dough balls evenly, Jay took the bag.”No, Mom.  You have to shake it like this.  See?”  Mae loved the finished product.  Jay, not so much.

We continue to live with late nights and early mornings on the weekends.  On Friday, we let Mae and Jay stay up until almost midnight even though they had a full day of school and aftercare, and then swim lessons.  They should have been tired enough to sleep late on Saturday morning.  Noooo.  Mae was up just before 7 a.m. and Jay at 7:25 a.m.  However, of course, when I needed them up at 8:00 this morning to get ready for Dharma, they were sound asleep and slept until 8:30.  No fair.

Yesterday, I went to the library without them and checked out books for both.  One is Don’t Wake Up Mama from the Five Little Monkeys series.  A clever choice, I thought, especially since it’s Mama Monkey’s birthday in the book and my birthday is coming up on October 7.  As Hubby was about to read to Jay at bedtime, I asked him to read Don’t Wake Up Mama.  Well, he didn’t.  After reading time, Hubby said that Jay didn’t select it when asked what he wanted to read and besides, it was “propaganda.”  It was worth a shot.  I had nothing to lose.

Taking (little) chances.  That’s what I’m trying to do these days, upon my seven-year old’s advice.  I’m almost 40, so I made baked ziti today for the first time in years.  I stopped making it (and a whole bunch of other stuff) because it’s the kind of dish Mae and Jay are unlikely to eat.   For one thing, it has tomatoes and they don’t like tomatoes.  I decided to make it anyway, put it on their plates, and just see.  Mae was interested enough to come into the kitchen at one point, and ask, in her supervisory voice, “How’s that ziti coming along?”  She tried it and actually liked it, or at least she liked some of it.  She pushed aside the tomato and sausage pieces and ate the ziti.  I’ll take that.  Jay started whining as soon as he saw it on his plate.  He asked about a dozen times, “Can I eat my broccoli and then get three M&Ms?”  He seemed to think that three M&Ms was a reasonable trade-off for eating broccoli, and that the least I could do for even putting ziti on his plate was give him three M&Ms.  I turned into my tape recorder self.  “You can eat your broccoli and then go to bed, or you can eat your broccoli and ziti and then get three M&Ms.”  Finally, he ate all of his broccoli and I fed him the ziti while reading books to him.  He finished it all and I gave him five M&Ms.  I’m a reasonable person.

They are tucked away in bed now, and it’s time to wind down and get ready to start the week.  Mae begins a new reading plan this week, including two days a week with the third grade class.  She continues to have mostly good days at school, a relief, and I hope the change in routine won’t throw her off too much.  Aftercare is another story and I’ll come back to that later.  For now, since I seem to be the only person here who cares about my sleep, I’m going to bed.

Back to Cruel

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School hasn’t started yet, and it’s already not going the way that I planned.  Ms. J, who looked after Mae after school last, including making sure her homework was done, informed me last week that she hadn’t yet received commitments from any other families for her at-home after school program.

As her youngest child is a sixth-grader, she knows, and I agree, that he and a second-grader are not ideal playmates.  Ms. J shared with me that she thinks that Mae needs a smaller, more structured program than that offered by her school, where Ms. J works and has seen some of the trouble Mae has had in her interactions with other students and some teachers.  Ms. J remembered that I’d approached her originally about help with finding transportation to an aftercare program in our neighborhood, and offered to drive Mae there.  So, that was good news.  I also appreciated that Ms. J called me and asked to talk face-to-face.  She didn’t want to email me or talk in detail over the phone.

Fortunately, there is still space in the neighborhood program.  It costs about an additional $100 per month over Ms. J’s place, plus whatever we’ll pay Ms. J for transportation.  In total, we’ll pay per week what Mae’s school charges per month for aftercare.  All for a child who is quick to complain that we don’t take her enough fun places and all our vacations seem to be in SC.  Oh, I wish I had started adding from day one.

And, I’m wondering if we should be doing more for her social skills.  Playgroup sessions again?  An aide to be with her during recess at school?  At her last appointment with Dr. Laura two weeks ago, she had a meltdown right smack in the middle of the session.  Jay was with us because Hubby was out of town.  He was playing with a plastic truck on the rug, and put it down to pick up another toy.  Mae and Dr. Laura had been discussing how camp was going, and Mae left the conversation and went over to pick up the truck.  She did so quickly and then jumped to the other side of the room.  Jay began to protest, and Dr. Laura insisted that Mae hand over the truck.  Mae did so reluctantly, arguing that Jay wasn’t using it.  The doctor pointed out the cues that Jay wasn’t done — he’d put the truck down  near him and he sounded upset when Mae picked it up.  She asked Mae what else she could have done to get the truck.  Ask Jay if he was done with it?  Ask for a turn afterwards?  Then, the tears started.  Then, the arguing — she could play with it if she wanted to because he wasn’t using it.

Jay and I went to the reception area and left Mae and Dr. Laura behind the closed door to try to work it out.  I don’t think it worked at all.  The crying continued except for a short break until the session ended.  By that point, Mae had decided that Dr. Laura was mean and she never wanted to see her again.  Frankly, I was a little surprised and disappointed that the doctor couldn’t turn the situation around.  I’ve seen this behavior at home, and I can intervene without a meltdown ensuing.  Maybe Mae was more dug in because it was her first such encounter with Dr. Laura.  I’m not ready to break up with the doctor just yet, though I did have a moment when I thought, “$150 for this?  I can do better for free at home.”  I should avoid judging too quickly.

So, one and a half weeks until school starts.  New teacher, new after school program.  Maybe the same social skills, maybe not.  I expect the beginning will be rough for Mae.  Hopefully, she’ll adjust and find a rhythm before too long.

Sick and Tired

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Mae is home sick today.  She came home from camp yesterday with a 100.3 degree fever and complaining of a sore throat and headache.  She said that she slept a lot at camp, and didn’t talk much.  This morning, she woke up at 4:40 am with a 101.5 degree fever.  The doctor says it’s probably just a summer virus that needs to run its course.  I suspect that the camp counselors are relieved to have a break from her intensity.  As I posted earlier this week, Tuesday was a rough day with her being emotional and defiant at camp.  Wednesday was even worse.  Some of her classmates accused her of shoving them while playing tag, and she accused them and the counselors of lying on her.  I spoke with the head counselor on Wednesday afternoon, and he said that Mae didn’t want to participate in the creative drawing activity and shoved kids out of the way to get to the water fountain.  He said it was a tough day from start to finish.  I asked him to please be stern with her, set boundaries, and enforce consequences, even if it means that she has to sit on the sideline and watch the other campers play.

Mae thinks the other kids are mean, and she’s complaining that she’s bored at the camp, particularly during before and after care, which appear to be less structured.  I asked if there are games she can play by herself or books she can read during those times.  She responded that she’s tired of the games, and she’s read the few books there that she found interesting.  Before she goes back to camp on Monday, I’ll put some books in her back pack to give her other options.  Boredom aside, I told her that she still has to make smart choices and take responsibility for her actions.

It’s too bad the counselors can’t see Mae now.  It’s amazing how she becomes so mature, reasonable, and cooperative when she’s sick.  When I told her yesterday that she should go to bed after dinner, she readily agreed.  She didn’t have much of an appetite, but she wanted to eat the broccoli and mac ‘n cheese because those are healthy.  She took the pain killer/fever reducer on first request.  I offered her Cinnamon Life cereal this morning, and she asked, “Raisin Bran is healthier, right?”  And, so, she had Raisin Bran instead.  The doctor kept laughing quietly this morning because Mae was so serious and articulate in describing her symptoms.   Usually, she snips if someone laughs when she’s being serious.  Not today.  Hopefully, she’ll be well enough to go to a friend’s birthday party tomorrow, and maybe just a little bit still under the weather to ensure that she is friendly and cooperative.  🙂

As for Jay, he hadn’t shown any symptoms as of when Hubby dropped him at camp this morning.  I hope he’ll be fine.  He’s invited to the birthday party tomorrow as well; it’s for a sister and brother, and the brother is in camp with Jay.  Then, Jay and Hubby have 7:30 pm tickets for Monster Jam in Baltimore.

Side note:  The funky spell Jay went through after returning from vacation at Nonny’s house seems to be over.  I’m getting smiles and hugs again when I pick him up from camp, and he’s back to his laid back, easygoing self.

(After)School Daze

Today was the first day of our new afterschool solution, and all indications are that it went well.  Yippee!

After Mae was suspended from her school’s after care program for two days in December for fighting in two separate incidents on consecutive days (although Mae insists that one incident involved poking a classmate, not punching as the teacher claimed), it became even more clear that she needs a more structured setting.  We searched for alternative after care programs over the winter break, and found a neighborhood program that seemed awesome — small groups, dedicated homework time, close adult supervision, and access to a master  teacher with a background in behavior modification.  We visited, and Hubby and I liked it.  Mae liked it too and wanted to start right away.  Alas, her school is too far off the program’s bus pick-up route.  I began searching for another transportation service.

Within a day or two of posting a flyer on the school’s community bulletin board seeking a person or service to provide transportation to the neighborhood program, I was approached by the school’s office manager, Mrs. J.  She informed me that she runs an after care program from her home.  When she finishes work at 3:15 pm, she takes her son and two other children to her home.  She was looking to expand.  The kids have 20 minutes of free time, then a snack, homework time, and more free time.  She takes them to the park when weather permits and to the library every other week.  Bingo!  Mrs. J knows Mae well (not least because of the many visits Mae has had to the office since she began school there at age 3), and Mae has a good rapport with her.  Mae also knows and likes the other children, although they are in different grades (kindergarten through 5th) — one of the many benefits of a small private school.  When I told her about the planned change, I was afraid that she would worry about missing her regular group of friends (even though she doesn’t always treat them as well as she should, she really does love her friends).  To the contrary — she was excited.

When Hubby picked Mae up today, he said she was happy, and Mrs. J reported that she did very well.  Her homework was complete (and initialed by Mrs. J to show that she had checked it).   Having homework completed before she comes through the door allows Mae to have more play time at home, which is really, really important to her.  One of her biggest gripes about our evening routine (homework, dinner, play, bath, bed) is that she doesn’t get enough play time, and that has led to many, many a meltdown at bath time.  Tonight was calm and peaceful (well, as much as possible for life with a 6 and 3-year-old).

Our hope is that this arrangement with Mrs. J will work out for the long-term.   I believe this type of setting is a much better fit for Mae, and that it will give us more and better quality family time in the evenings.

(P.S.  I submitted the application for Mae to be tested for the county’s talented and gifted (TAG) program — thanks to her awesome teacher for taking time out of her report card prep day to complete one of the forms on the same day she received it, which happened to be the application deadline.  If Mae tests successfully and gets into a TAG school, I’ll have to think long and hard about leaving her current school.  Sigh.)

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