I want to give a little credit to the primary school Lily attends, and a little more to Lily's special needs (SN) Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Ingrams (name changed). If you're unfamiliar with the appellation "primary" school, then you're not alone. Until a couple years ago, the elementary schools in our area taught children from K - 4. After 4th grade, the kids went to a middle school from 5 - 7, then an intermediate school from 8 - 9, and finally high school, 10 - 12. I don't know why I'm drilling into these details (some of which I may actually have slightly wrong) but I just wanted to explain what I meant by "primary" school. They changed that breakdown to something I personally like more, adding "primary schools" to the mix:
Primary School: K - 3
Elementary School: 4 - 6
Middle School: 7 - 8
High School: 9 - 12
I like it better because it keeps the little kids with the little kids and the bigger kids with the bigger kids.
Anyway. . . I want to give a little credit to the school, but more to the teacher.
First of all, it is more or less acknowledged locally that if you have a child with special needs, specifically autism, this primary school, our primary school is the place to be. How did we end up there? Clever management? String pulling? No. Blind luck. What's the old saying? "It's better to be lucky than good." I've never understood that saying, but let's go with it because it applies here.
Since we started Lily in this primary school we've really had no problems. The IEP process, while not flawless, essentially provided us with everything thought might be necessary for Lily, and the school in general seems to genuinely care about Lily and her learning. And for the most part, when we ask about things that might be added to help Lily at school, they are provided, without our having to reconvene over a table, haggle, threaten or sign documents.
Lily's Kindergarten teacher is Mrs. Ingrams. Lily calls her simply, "Ingrams." I've mentioned Mrs. Ingrams before in a blog post about parent/teacher conferences >>Here<<, and mentioned in another blog how Lily once included her in her nightly prayers.
In the midst of a series of bad days for us with Lily, and a mounting feeling of overwhelming stress and cumulative gloom (excessive potty accidents with Lily, lots of spitting, a couple sleepless nights, planning a birthday party, attending an orchestra recital, doctor's appointments, illnesses, and an ominous email from the daycare implying impending expulsion for Lily. . . overall just a lot of shit to deal with simultaneously), my wife mentioned Lily's daycare troubles to Mrs. Ingrams during a morning dropoff, and how freaked out it was making us, and how, "We were always worried that Lily's school was going to be the problem. Everyone always seems to have issues dealing with their school and their IEP, and you guys have been the easiest to work with."
And Mrs. Ingrams said, "We love Lily. As long as Lily is in our building, you won't need to worry about her," and that story, even told to me by my wife after the fact, even written down a week later, gets me right here *thumps chest* and makes me misty-eyed just to type out. And I know Leslie feels the same. We love us some Mrs. Ingrams.
Leslie and I. . . that feels wrong. Leslie (I did nothing) set up an after-the-fact birthday party for Lily. We invited a few of the girls from her typically developing classroom and one boy from her SN classroom. Lily is the only girl in her SN classroom, but this particular little boy is also in her typically developing classroom with her, and is the same age as Lily, and it hurt our hearts not to extend the invitation to him. We chose "Jump Zone" because it had a proven track record of giving Lily joy, and really, what kid doesn't like to bounce?
I'd provide more details as to the party itself (though that's not why I bring it up) but I. . . didn't go. Yeah, I know. . . to my own kid's birthday party. I was sooooo sick that day. While Leslie handled Lily, Lily's friends, Emma, Emma's friends, our family, and the families of the guests. . . I was in bed with my head under a pillow praying to the God, Immodium. Let us speak nor more of it, except to say that Leslie deserved a lot of credit for handling that (the party, not my issues) "on her own" (our parents helped, of course, as did our friends, but it's not really the same thing as having your spouse there to help do something as little as pay the bill while the other watches Lily).
At this party, all guests were informed that they were not to bring presents. A couple of the parents I talked to directly, explaining that Lily had already gotten her birthday presents in December, and that this was just to give her a chance to have a party. This was universally ignored and Lily came home with a bunch of presents.
Recently Lily started playing with some of her presents. This is, in and of itself, reason to celebrate, since she's not much of a "playa" (the "yo" is implied). Whether she's shaking music makers or examining dolls, she's probably taken more to presents over this birthday/holiday season then she ever has previously.
This is new. This is positive.
This will all come together, I swear. . .
Kids actually do say the darnedest things, and Lily's speech has always been one area that both Leslie and I never seem to be able to capture and appropriately share after the fact. She'll say some adorable thing, and I'll think, "I have to remember to tell Leslie that when she gets home." And when Leslie gets home I'll say, "Oh! Lily said the cutest thing and it was totally appropriate. She said. . . um. . . she said. . . " and I'll trail off in silence, the anecdote lost to my dotage. She does the same thing.
But the other day Leslie came to me and said, "Lily said the cutest thing!" And shared. . .
|The resemblance *is* uncanny|
Lily was in the bath, playing with one of her presents from the holiday/birthday extravaganza above-referenced. It was a mermaid doll. Lily does seem to latch onto mermaids for whatever reason, and this mermaid (given to her last month) had not yet gotten much of her attention.
Leslie was in the room with her.
"Mommy, what her name be," she asked?
Lily's naming conventions are typically related to the description or identity of the toy in question. In the case of a recognizable doll, (e.g. a Disney Princess (TM)) she will give the doll her appropriate name. . . Belle, Ariel, Cinderella, etc. In the case of her dog, "Poopers" it's because she mangled "puppy" into "poopy" and then "pooper" and he sort of devolved himself into Poopers. Having said that, she has never brought up the process of "naming" something. It's just something that sort of happens over time. Most of the time we reference it, and she accepts our label and adopts it. This was something new; something positive.
"Mommy, what her name be," she asked? And Leslie thought about it. Lily is fascinated by colors, and will describe "red" balloon, or "purple" iCarly DVD, and she wondered whether a name that described all the pretty colors in the mermaid's hair (it changes when it's wet) would be something appropriate for the doll, but she temporized instead.
"What do you want to name her?" She didn't expect an answer.
"Ingrams," she said.
"You want to name your mermaid, Ingrams," she asked, amused.
"Alright baby, I think that's a good name."
"Yeah," she replied happily and played with her mermaid.