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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Parent/Teacher Conference

Another one of those strangely emotional nights for me.  Last quarter Emma had her worst quarter ever scholastically  Basically cratered.  I had decided at the beginning of this school year to approach this year with a "Your grade, your responsibility" philosophy with her.  Basically pulling back from helicoptering about and emailing teachers for missed assignments or requests for makeup work or retests or whatever in efforts to get Emma back to the grades that I...that WE (because Leslie and I both worked with her in the past) knew she could get.

Well...the fruits of that philosophy were...worst quarter ever.  EVER.  So of course I felt like a bit of a failure as a dad because this great experiment...this...take charge of your own work thing...which I really believe is ultimately the lesson she needs to learn...failed.  And it left Emma upset about her grades, and me pissed and frustrated about them too.

And the school called to arrange a conference...and I was like...well, fuck.  And I talked to Emma about it.  And as I talked, my voice did that thing that it sometimes does when I'm really angry or frustrated, and I heard my volume rising, and then Emma was crying and I was not letting my foot off the gas and...promises were made and hugs were given ultimately ended on a bit of a good note despite my lack of self control.

And I watched as the first two weeks of this quarter went by and her grades came in.  Up.  Across the board.  And I felt like she was trying.  And I felt like...shit...maybe this come to Jesus is something that should have been done months ago.

I didn't know what the conference's tone would be like.  It was scheduled a week after her grades for the second quarter were turned in.  The worst grades any of those teachers have ever seen Emma get.  So I was nervous about it.  I imagined the worst.  New friends.  Lower grades.  Have you considered that these might be signs of something else?  Mr. Walter, have you talked to your daughter about drugs? idea what I was walking into.

I had a prepared message.  Watch her.  She's already showing an upturn.  She wants this now.  It matters to

Instead I sat in a roomful of her teachers as they took turns telling me things about my daughter...

"She is lit from within"
"She gives so much to everyone"
"She advocates for herself"
"She understands how to talk to adults and explain when something is wrong"
"She is naturally talented"
"People are drawn to her and want to be with her."
"We can tell she's making a real effort"
"She's a hard worker"
"She's great.  We love Emma."

Those are things they said.  And more.  All the worries about whether she was taking her grades seriously...

"She asked to be moved to the front of the class so she could focus more."
"She emailed me an apology for not doing her best last nine weeks."
"When she falls she gets right back up"
"She's full speed ahead"

I always tell the people who care about me enough to listen that my worries about Emma are no less than my worries for Lily.  Just different.  And it is SUCH an irony to have to tell something like that to autism parents who adopt "different not less" as a battle cry.  Because many autism parents get...offended by neurotypical kids' parent's concerns about their kids.  "Oh wah...your daughter didn't get head cheerleader...MY kid can't eat without help!" As if having a special needs child means that our stress silences anyone else's stress or worry.  It's so stupid.  And I do get it at times...but man.  I've been worried about my little Emma.  And I get a free pass because I'm "in the club" but when I read the sentiment expressed...I cringe.  I can't relate.

And the teachers had concerns.  Of course they had concerns.  "When Emma turns in her homework, she shows that she understands the material.  But sometimes...she doesn't turn it in." And they shared that "almost there" frustration that I've been feeling.  That knowledge that she's got it.  She's smart.  She owns the material...but we can't grade her on it if she doesn't turn it in.

But I left feeling so...blessed.  So proud of her.  I make sure I tell her that especially after I've gotten done reaming her about something...that I'm proud of her.  That she makes me proud every day.  Certainly today was a noteworthy example of that.

I almost cried a dozen times during that half hour conference.  Tears of relief.  It's been so bottled up.  And when I walked out of the school into the parking lot to my car...I did cry a little.  Bittersweet tears.  Proud of Emma.  "You've done a great job with her," they said.  Leslie should have been here to take her bows too.  And that was the sad part.  The triumphs seem to cause me more grief than the stress does.  You did good, mommy.  She's going to be okay.

I told Emma when I got home.  She was relieved too.  I told her not to relax now that she knows the news is good.  She said she wouldn't.  I'm more engaged.  Still her grade her responsibility.  But I'm making myself more available for her.  Less treadmill...more study help.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016


I'm antsy.  Matrix is on in the background.  Lily is asleep.  Emma is showering.  I'm on the treadmill wondering what I should write about.  If anything.  This.  This is what I came up with.

My car sucks in the snow.  I slid around a little bit in it last week.  Every time that happens I think, "my car sucks in the snow.  I really need something better."  I have the minivan, but never drive it.  I don't want two cars.  I just want one.  But it needs room so that I can take kids to the beach or camping or whatever.  It needs AWD or 4WD or something...but I somehow also need it to be a commuter.  What's out there?

I thought maybe a smaller SUV/Crossover.  Maybe a Subaru or something, and i could always just add a Big Mac or whatever to the roof.  Still thinking about it though.  Not sure.

Tank is loading the training for the B212 helicopter into Trinity, and it occurs to me that the flimsy little keyboard shelves he's using for his multiple keyboards is probably akin to the technology I'm using to support my laptop on this treadmill.

That probably sounds like I mean to make my treadmill matrix-like, but mostly it's just a realization that the Matrix operators had shitty keyboard support.

As previously stated, writing more means that sometimes I'll write about ...less.  Just getting back in the habit.'s something.  I find myself putting off autism-friendly things.  They seem overwhelming to me.  Sensory friendly Peter Pan is coming soon.  And I keep looking at the flyer and then putting it in the stack with the other "to be addressed later" stuff.  And I know that part of it is because this was Leslie's strength...pushing me past the inconvenience of staying at home and comfortable.  Pushing Lily's experiences.  I know that I have to pick up that flyer.

"Do you hear that, Mr. Anderson?  That is the sound of inevitability."


"My name is Neo."

Tonight I think.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Boss! Boss! The Plane! The Plane!

Places everyone, places!

Tattoo (see what I did there?  no?  so so young).  I'm here to talk to you about the tattoo.  I don't have tattoos.  By the time I decided there was something I was passionate enough about in order to justify using permanent ink on my delicate skin, I was a dad.  And I had other shit to deal with.  And it seemed...self indulgent.  And Leslie wasn't a fan.  It was something I didn't NEED.  So I didn't do it.  But, as previously mentioned, now I'm doing it.

Today I met with an artist to talk about designing something.  I gave him a deposit.  And February 26th I have my first sitting.  He said 5 hours.  Then two more sittings.  That's a lot of sitting.  And hours.  And ink.  All in.

I mentioned before that I was looking now at an owl.  And that's all I'll say for now.  From now until February 26th he's going to work on the design and when I go sit down for five hours...I hope to have a design that I'm happy with and that means something to me.

I was excited to go to the consult.  We spent an hour talking about it.  He wrapped a page around my arm and marked it off so he had the design dimensions.  And then we looked at pictures and I told him what my vision was.  And he quickly sketched up some things and asked questions and took notes.  And then I left, $100 poorer, but excited.


On my way to pick up my weekly Pad Thai, I stopped by the jeweler to check on my ring re-sizing.  "You have your envelope?"
"Well, do you know your order number?"
"No.  But...I DO know my name."

They hadn't called me, but it seemed like long enough to resize a ring 1/2 a ring size to ME.  And apparently it was.  Because my ring was ready.  Good to have it back.