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Thursday, February 2, 2012

You Gotta Give Her Credit

Part 1:

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.  

Part 2:

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. . . 

Part 3:

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.

"Yeah."

"Alright baby, I think that's a good name."

"Yeah," she replied happily and played with her mermaid.

46 comments:

  1. Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. I am so, so happy that Lily is having such a positive experience at school. Will Mrs. Ingrams be let in that the new mermaid is named for her? :D

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    1. my wife promised to tell her the story.

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  2. Aw, teacher stories are the best. As are Lily stories. Also, that Barbie is awesome. There were no awesome Barbies like that when I was young. Boo.

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    1. i know. . . they've come along way with kickass toys since we were kids. And by we, I mean me, since I think in my twenties I was saying the same about YOUR toys.

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  3. I gotta start being careful when I click on your links. I always end up crying.

    I am bad with naming things too.

    Again. Thank you for "sharing" all of these things with us. Lilly is the da bomb.

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    1. and I didn't even have to push you down to do it!!

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  4. K loves mermaids, too. There is some random show on Netflix that is about mermaids...H2O or something...she sometimes watches that. We also have about every dang barbie movie ever made. And that mermaid barbie. K doesn't play with the doll, but she does like the movies. Naming dolls is not something she does, either. It comes with a name,like MERMAID BARBIE, and that is what she calls it. It's great Lily asked, that!

    And, yeah, it doesn't matter if you say no presents. People always bring presents. I find it is better to give them a specific item to bring...like a book for a book swap among the kids or something. People balk at no presents. They are passionate about it (I have read many a mommy board thread)..ha. Remember that ;)

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    1. I would have too. But after the lecture I gave one parent, I was bummed to find out that several definitely WERE bringing presents and I was panicked that the one guy would show up and be like. . . "you ass, you said no present!! Now I'm the asshole!"

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    2. "WHY? Did you only tell ME not to bring one? Am I bad at buying presents? TELL ME NOW."

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  5. That is awesome...love her mermaid's name!

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    1. it's unconventional. . . mermaid-wise.

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  6. My son did this too only a short while ago... I still have that warm feeling... lovely

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  7. That teacher is going to be soooooo happy! :) What a compliment.

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    1. she will be. She LOVES teaching kids.

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  8. That's awesome! I taught for five years before being home with the kids, but never got to the point of having a mermaid named after me. Sounds like you ended up with an amazing teacher. And wife- she is my new hero for doing that birthday party alone, I can't imagine!

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    1. You never know. . . kids might STILL be naming mermaids after you. . .

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  9. i think mrs. ingrams should be honored :)

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    1. I think when she finds out, she probably will be.

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  10. Look who is sucking up their teacher/school now.. but seriously, love this story.. you are lucky to have such great educators!

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    1. Wait til my next post about the vice principle. . .

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  11. Love it. Katie names all her stuff after flowers. We have multiple Lilys. She tends to name her favorite things Lily. Just thought you'd like to know that.

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    1. SWEET! One of my favorite "things" is named Lily TOO! Katie and I have a lot in common. She seems like good people!

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  12. Those early teacher influences will stay with her - so awesome that "Ingrams" is beloved! And the thought and language, all self-initiated?! Soooo cool!! Around birthday time, I always notice differences from the "before" and see the progress. It's a beautiful thing. :)

    And PS- Leslie deserves a metal for doing that party on her own!

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    1. and STILL she says "I no want kindergarten" ever day.

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  13. What a wonderful story for what sounds like an absolutely wonderful teacher! I think EVERYONE should have a special doll named Ingrams!

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  14. First lets send you here:
    http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/46703/what-is-the-exact-meaning-of-its-better-to-be-lucky-than-good-how-popular-is

    Second.. I call my dogs poopies too!! Because thats what they do most. POOP. My cat was named doc. He was my cat. My kitty. Babytalk turned into titty. And he was mama's titty. Long story short.. he died being called Titty Mama.

    Ingrams. I love it. Good Job Lily! :)
    What a sweetie :)

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    1. yeah. . . that's an unfortunate naming issue.

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  15. I love it! I've been a teacher for years. One of my favorite interactions happened this year. One of my students with autism looked up at my face (which happens to be freckled) and said, "Ms. M, I love your sprinkles." So adorable.

    I'm sure Ms. Ingrams will love this story.

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  16. Perfect...thank you, Jim. Go go, Lily.

    -Jon

    P.s. I too am a magnificent pool playa after a couple of beerz. Before that, so-so.

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    1. I am optimized at three beers. At three beers I am a good pool player. At four beers I am, once more, abysmal.

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  17. Um, Love this post. I never knew the evolution of Poopers name, which still make me laugh like a little girl. And just Part 1 got me all teared up as well.

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  18. AWESOME!!! Hooray for Mrs. Ingrams, and hooray for Lily. :-) (And hooray to Leslie for remembering to tell you hahahahah.)

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    1. She's a good rememberer. Usually when it's something I've said that contradicts something about which we're currently fighting.

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  19. If our kids have a good teacher then it's a good day. My son loves his teacher right now and if only they knew the power they hold. I think she does and respects and honors it but man, it's awesome when our kids show love like that. She's a wonderful kid indeed.

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    1. We had some toys to give to the SN kindergarten, so she drove over and picked them up on Friday evening. She got down on the carpet with Lily and gave her hugs and played and left maybe 45 minutes later. It was sweet. We told her the story and she said she was honored.

      Lily played with Ingrams all weekend and this morning before school.

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  20. Jim: This whole post gave me the chest-thumps, not just the part about Lily's school. You are so lucky to have "Ingrams" and that school environment - what she said about Lily said a lot about her too and the school.
    PS: Love that L. latches onto mermaids. My littlest had "a collection" of 3 little mermaids - loves 'em. (-:
    PSPS: My oldest - her middle name is Lily, named after a hot air balloon (also named Lily) that my father tried unsuccessfully to fly across the English Channel. Love that name.

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    1. I am still too jaded to accept that the school in general (or perhaps the school district) has Lily's best interests first. . . there have been a few run-ins with the staffing director for the entire district that left a bad taste in my mouth. . . but the principal, and her teachers all seem to be on board.

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