Friday, June 29, 2012

Living the Dream

I always dreamed of spending my summers at the beach.  I would always feel a touch of envy towards those classmates that were fortunate to have a home at the beach as the school year came to a close.  They would leave the city the day after school ended and come back on Labor Day. 

I don’t know where my love for the beach came from.  While we live less than an hour from the RI coast which is littered with gorgeous beaches, my parents really didn’t take me there very often at all.  Maybe the books I read during the summer fed my desire to be at the beach, in particular a mystery series about five pre-teen friends who met up at the beach every summer.  I read every one of their adventures, desperately wishing to be a part of them. 

Ultimately, my dream to spend summers at the beach never materialized.  In my early 40’s, I never got to the beach at all.  My sons had sensory issues related to their autism and didn’t like the sand.  In addition, my youngest son Michael was extremely difficult to handle in the early years and it was nearly impossible to take both kids out alone.  And, my husband hates the beach. 

Last year I had the opportunity to rent a house in Narragansett and I took it.  My husband was not happy about my decision, but I really didn’t care.  My sons and I were here for a month while my husband stayed in the city.  My daughter came down for a couple of weeks too and several of my closest friends have homes at the beach.  We went to the beach everyday with old friends and made new friends.  My sons thrived.  They bonded with a two boys that also come to the beach for a month from Connecticut and the four of them boogie boarded together every day.   Time just flew.  When my husband saw how much the boys enjoyed the beach and how it positively affected their behavior, he agreed that we should do it again next year.

Boogie Boarding All Alone

So here we are, at the beach again for the month, although, a week is already behind us.  The boys from Connecticut are coming down in a couple of days.  This last week of June has been nice and the beaches are not too crowded yet.  Next week, the first week in July is when things really get hectic here.  I actually like the quiet. 

Fishing Boat Coming In ~ In Point Judith

It’s funny how my perspective changes here.  It feels like another world, the stresses are left behind.  We don’t really DO too much.  Beach, home, dinner, bed.  When my husband finally came down last year at the end of our month, he was shocked to hear that we had never gone out at night.  This year we’ll try and change that! 

The Dock at Night ~ in Galilee

I love the smell of the ocean, watching the seagulls fly, listening to the waves crash onto the shore.  To me this is heaven.  And even as I approach 50, I still feel that twinge of envy for those that are fortunate to have property here in Narragansett, and I pray that someday soon, I will too.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Slow Down & Watch the Fireflies

Sometimes, we all should take a step back and just relax.

In our 20 years together, my husband and I have never taken a vacation where we just hung around and relaxed.  Vacations are hard to come by, and were even non-existent for the first seven years of our sons’ lives.  When we do go away, it is a mad dash to cram as many activities and places as we can in each and every day.  We wind up even more exhausted by the time we get home.

However, this June, on our semi-annual weekend visit to upstate NY, we broke tradition and we relaxed.  The inn we stay at has a baseball diamond on the property and David and the boys played baseball.  I grilled burgers and hotdogs in the backyard picnic area.

Baseball at the Inn

View of the Picnic Area from our Room

The boys played chess in the lobby, my husband read the paper, and I loaded pictures on my computer.  We went out to dinner every night.

Chess in the Lobby

On two of the nights, the innkeepers, George and Tina with whom we’ve become friends, joined us for dinner.  And on the last afternoon of our stay, they took us out on their pontoon boat and Michael went swimming with George in Lake Otsego. 

Swimming in the Lake

Lake Otsego

David, the boys and I went out to dinner after we all cleaned up and it was dark by the time we got back to our room.  But as we approached the door to our room, we were welcomed by hundreds of little flashing specs of light.

FIREFLIES!!  Hundreds of them!

I had not seen fireflies in at least 35 years! When I was a kid, my neighborhood in the city still had a small area of woods and I did occasionally see a firefly, but by the time I was 15, the land had all become developed and they were gone.  Mikey and David, Jr. were mesmerized by the tiny flecks of lights flashing all around them.   We all just stood at the back door reveling in the magical scene unfolding all around us.  I went to bed that night feeling so refreshed and happy. 

Life can be crazy, but sometimes you just have to slow down and watch the fireflies.

Monday, June 11, 2012

First Impressions

First impressions can be very deceiving.  My husband I were having dinner at this newly opened little bistro when an older couple sat down at the table next to us. The boys were playing their video games as they never eat out due to their food allergies.  After the couple finished their meal, the woman commented on what beautiful sons we had and they didn’t ‘know’ boys, they only had daughters and granddaughters, four daughters to be exact and even a few great-granddaughers.

In conversation we learned the gentleman was 84 years old and he and his wife had been married for 62 years.  They had just returned to upstate NY after spending the winter in Florida.  He has an office in Florida and in NY.  He works everyday and had spent 6 hours in his garden before going out to dinner on the evening we met.

They led an accomplished life.  His company completed many major corporate construction jobs and he is also an options trader.   His wife was a founder of a charitable organization for disabled children.  He was an avid baseball fan and told David and David, Jr. about the baseball players he had met and the autographs he had accumulated over the years.  His wife remarked that we had a nice family and David, Jr. had beautiful eyes.  She was grateful that she and her husband were blessed with their family and good health.  They still play tennis everyday!

They got up to leave and I noticed them hobbling off.  Nice, sweet people, but the tennis thing didn’t really hold up.  They both had a little trouble walking and the only tennis I could see them playing was table tennis.  I chuckled to myself.

Jim, the bistro owner/waiter presented our check and David commented to him that these were the kind of people that he would want to frequent his establishment.  They said they eat out 4 or 5 times a week.  The owner laughed.  “But you don’ t know the back story,” he said.  And he then proceeded to tell us how that sweet, lovely, elderly couple has managed to get thrown out of nearly all the restaurants around the area.

Are you serious? 

He was laughing as he told us they were fine at first.  They come in and have dinner, but they drink too much and then yell and swear at the servers.  The food is too cold, the food is too hot.  The food is taking too long.  The food arrived too soon.  They don’t like the table.  They don’t like the waitress.  

But they go to the restaurant up the street which is obscenely expensive once a week.  “Oh no,” he said.  “They were thrown out of there last week!”  He said as soon as they walked in he knew who they were and said to the chef, “It’s our turn”. 

We were incredulous.  They seemed so sweet.  They were very wealthy.  They had it all, a successful marriage, family, homes, businesses, charities.  Yet, apparently, they were not the sweet little old couple we thought them to be.  It was hard for us to imagine these two getting drunk and swearing at people in the restaurant to the point that they would be asked to leave and never come back! 

While sometimes first impressions can be correct, you can learn more about a person by the way they treat a waiter or waitress.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Revoking The IEP

I had a meeting  with the Special Education team today to review David’s IEP (Individualized Education Program).  I was informed that since he has met all his academic goals and even exceeded some, he would no longer have an IEP and not be eligible to receive Special Education services any longer.  The school counselor heartily congratulated me, saying it shows wonderful guidance on the part of us parents.  We should be so proud of him.  

                                 And we are.   However…

I am not sure I am happy with this decision.  Both my husband and I knew that academically, David was making huge strides.   He is at the top of the class.  His NECAP score for writing was 477 out of 480.  His NECAP math score was also in the high 400’s.   His classwork is always submitted on time.  But his social areas are where the autism manifests.  He is a perfectionist, to the point he cries if his test score is not 100%.  If he can’t find a notebook, or a paper, it will cause him to suffer a meltdown.  If the entire class collectively is punished for bad behavior, David takes it personally and gets upset because he NEVER misbehaves.   Since we do not get outside services at home for him, my husband and I were content to have the IEP in place in case he needed the extra support.  It was a crutch.  And now that crutch is gone.

Middle school is looming in the very near future, and in any area, middle school is tough.  But here, in Providence, it is a nightmare.   I would never allow either of my sons to attend the neighborhood school in our district.  My daughter attended it over 10 years ago, and it was horrible back then.  The final straw for me there was when some girls jumped another girl and slashed her face with a knife in front of dozens of other students.   Next year David will begin 5th grade, the last year of elementary school.   I am not overly concerned about next year, but I really worry about David in middle school once 5th grade is completed. 

I am so proud of my son.  He has a thirst for knowledge.  He loves to read.  He is a captive audience in all of his classes.  He would rather go to a museum than an amusement park.   His teachers choose him to help other peers when they are struggling.  His progress reports and test scores could not be higher, and his teachers spoke so positively about his accomplishments.  So why am I still so conflicted with this decision to revoke his IEP?