Julia put a new roll of toilet paper in the holder on Friday. A small gesture but one of the “one small step . . .” kind of things. I know that for any 13 year old to actually notice that some household chore needs to be done and to do it without being asked is pretty incredible. For Julia, the noticing of the world around her in that way and to reach out to contribute to it is a “giant leap.”
Is the the vision therapy and probiotics at work? Or is it just maturation? Certainly, it can’t just be being 13.
Brunch yesterday with friends and talk about middle school and their coming sabbatical. The middle school talk was interesting. I got to vent which I seem to need to do with ever increasing frequency these days. My friend talked of how much she likes the school that I decided not to send Julia to. I cannot say that Julia would have been better served there. The change of principal seems to work in that school’s favor but it was big and crowded and at least last year there was no possibility of asking for an art class each semester. But my friend talked of the near magical teachers, welcoming community and her son absolutely beamed talked about HIS school. Oy!
My friend and her family also love to travel and we traded stories for a long, long time. Which of course, got me to dreaming of that year when I take Julia out of school and we go live somewhere foreign. Venice is my dream but in truth, there are so many places that I want to go and see and experience. I can’t even name them without flights of the imagination that will have me distracted all day. All week. Some of this dreaming is escape. Pure and simple. What if I could find that place where I could find an art and cello teacher for Julia, some terrifically innovative social skills therapy, and something inspiring for me. The last is not hard.
Living in Indy, we had this dream but the idea of leaving jobs and a mortgage and bills made the idea impossible. Madison is a place where people, especially academics, come and stay for single years, and my house, according to those I talk to, is pretty rentable. There is the cat and the garden. There are commitments and other dreams. And there are questions as well. Could I home school for a year? Could I live without the community that I’ve built? Would they take me in again when I got back? And again, what could I find for Julia?
Good distraction for a few minutes. Away from my workshop prep for tomorrow and the challenges of middle school.
Sitting in meditation this morning with Julia, I fell into an idea for studying for the social studies test on early hominids. Her teacher, Bob, let me know last Friday of the coming test on Thursday, as we had planned. (Thank all the gods in their heavens!!) Julia and I sat with the review sheet, which was not modified for her, on Saturday and defined all of terms and then looked up and listed the capabilities of the five early hominids that they were studying. I scribed but Julia was able to pick out the important details. We went over class notes and re-read the appropriate chapter. We came up with a page and a half of notes to study for Thursday. She knows all of the terms and now it is only remembering the differences between the various hominids. I think we will try a drawing and matching game after therapy tonight. She can draw each of the five hominids, hopefully some of their differences will be easy to see. Then, we’ll write/draw their capabilities on sticky notes under the drawings. Then, we’ll remove all of the sticky notes and she can try to match them to the pictures. I’m looking forward to trying this one.
I finally started Dr. Z’s drawing/comprehension exercise. A simple sentence for Julia to read to herself and draw what she reads. We began with ‘The red ball sat on a chair.’ Julia’s art teacher added, ‘The cello was played by a dinosaur.’ (Too hard, said Julia), ‘The shoes sat by the door (I would rather draw skates, said Julia) and ‘The cat chased the spider’ (I want to draw just the cat, said Julia). There is a double edged sword in using drawing for this exercise. Julia will draw anytime you ask; however, she has an opinion. The drawing, once begun, gets to be about the drawing, not the sentence. And it is hard to explain that I am not looking for great art. I am thinking that simple sentences about non-beloved things and people will work best, at least to start, but we’ll see.
On a more sobering note, at brunch we saw a old classmate /friend of Julia’s. Julia was excited to see her but her greeting lacked the excitement that she told me about. They tried to chat. Q asked about school. Julia told Q about the Star Wars movies. I think that Q had seen them but did not remember the details that Julia was bringing up. No fault of Q’s. I hardly remember those details, except for the fact that Julia is obsessing about them and I hear of them multiple time throughout a day. Julia asked no questions. Well, not quite true at least in her mind, I am almost sure. Julia asked things like, “Was Luke scared of Dark Vader?” “Did Leah love Solo?” Questions that she answered quickly, not allowing for Q’s opinion, or even short answer.
Julia and Q both filled out the activities on the kids’ menu and for a few moments were look for the same word in the word search and talked about it. Julia showed Q the video game she was playing on her iPad — I did try to keep the iPad away but after the menu activities were finished it was obvious that there needed to be something to do. She showed it and then went back to doing it, without offering mush to see or for Q to have a turn. Q retired to her mom’s cell phone games. Sort of advanced parallel play. Q tried to ask a few questions which Julia did not answer, preferring to talk about her American Girl doll in a way that Q was unable to follow. I am thankful for this child who will ask questions and show interest in what Julia is trying to communicate. I hope and pray that this child and others will continue to try, will not totally give up trying to communicate with Julia. God, I hope that eventually, Julia will figure out a way to friendship.