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   Monday, August 29, 2011  

End of Summer Wrap-up

First a couple of updates: The lowercase has had no further instances of temperature instability.  We've added extra blankets to his bed to help keep him warm at night and that's helped some.  It's also summer and less difficult to keep the house temperature consistent (not really a "problem" in our house in the winter, but here in the tundra, outside walls will be COLD and due to the size of his room, our choices for his bed location are along the outside wall of the house or under the window).  He also seems to have gained a bit of weight, though he's also gained a bit of height...

Now for the latest in our lives.  We've had a summer of highs and lows.  My stepdad, the man who did all the jobs of father from the time I was 5, the man who walked me down the aisle when I married Mr. W, the man whose name was given to the lowercase, was diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer.  The cancer is only in two spots in his body - one colorectal tumor, and several lesions on his liver.  He's got 6 months of extremely intense chemotherapy which will hopefully be followed by a liver resection and colostomy surgery.  We're all a little shellshocked.

My grandparents continue to struggle with grandma's Alzheimer's.  And of course my parents are their primary source of assistance - cooking for them, going with them to doctor's appointments, and just generally offering support.  My stepdad is also the only one of his siblings who lives within 20 minutes of his mother - and while she is living independently and in good health, there are still a lot of times she turns to my parents for help.  Like earlier this summer when she came home to find her house had been broken into.  Thankfully at the time, we were visiting and were able to help out with getting my grandma to and from the police department during the investigation (and the lowercase was allowed to help the crime scene investigators with lifting fingerprints - one of the highlights of his summer!)  My parents' ability to help out all of the grandparents has become much more difficult with my stepdad's diagnosis and treatment and the combination of the two caused them to make the decision to sell their restaurant.

Because my parents will need a lot of extra help and I'm the only non-employed family member (and don't have a financial need to change that status), we've decided that the lowercase will not be attending the local kindergarten as planned.  I've enrolled him in an accredited online private school instead.  This way we'll be able to travel as needed - all he needs is for me to remember his books and have an internet connection and he's good to go.

This decision also led us to one of the highest highs of the summer.  In order to set his curriculum and make sure his needs are met, the online school does a bit of testing to see where students are at academically.  At our local school, they simply test to see if the student has mastery of pre-kindergarten skills.  The online school tests what they know and because it is a computerized test, it keeps going until they can't answer the questions.  We then talked with a placement specialists to go over the results.  She started by telling me that he tested above grade level for kindergarten and asked if that was expected.  I told her that the possibility wasn't UNexpected.  My son tested into second grade.  Because I don't want him to be too frustrated, we decided to start the school year as a hybrid 1st/2nd grade and will adjust as needed.

I am just so proud of him.  But I got a shocking jolt when I posted about it on Facebook.  I had several friends tell me just how wrong I am to even consider letting him do advanced work!  I was completely shocked.  I'm an elementary teacher when I'm not a stay-at-home mom.  Several of the women that I taught with were among the people that told me not to do it.  The reasoning given by all of them: "He'll be so bored when he transfers to a regular school and being that far above grade level, the teachers won't know what to do with him."  I was floored.  Nobody would dare say that I shouldn't meet my child's educational needs if he were delayed, but because he's advanced there's an assumption that I shouldn't?  I...don't get it.  I have begun repeating to all of these people that I intend to do what it takes to meet his educational needs and that if, as they assume, the local public school can't meet those needs, we'll put him in a school that can.  It's just like any other special need - you do whatever it takes to get your child the educational services they need.

With all that has gone on with those situations, plus the ever-present family dramas... I think I'm really looking forward to the start of the school year and, hopefully, a more structured new "normal."

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