yins and yangs

JuliaWith the cold snap last week, I was out morning and evening attempting to salvage my vegetable foolishness with a few buckets upside down on basil plants and an old thick flannel sheet.  After a few days, three little tomato plants began to flag.  Two of the three basil plants limped along.  Leaving me feel like a bad (and crazy) mother.  The lettuce, parsley and arugula were none the worse for wear.  Last night, with the promise of the high 30’s I didn’t cover anything.

Ah, the work we make for ourselves.  What is the work I am making that I don’t see?

Tonight, we’ll eat tomato basil bisque made from the roasted tomatoes that have been frozen since the late fall.  I have been emptying the freezer of its treasures and have found unexpected and not unpleasant surprises.  I have a few more containers of pumpkin to work into something and then the freezer will be almost empty.  It feels like a good spring position but I know that I will not be able to dip into freezer food for supper when the cooking impulse doesn’t strike.  No soup, sauce or chili, but I am tired of winter food and long for salads, crunchy vegetables and berries.

These cravings plus my foolish plantings lead me to believe that I should be living in gardening zone 7, not zone 5.

Last week was hard on Julia, full of bad choices.  On Wednesday at the beginning of the day, she hit a classmate and later grabbed the same boy’s arm.  She explained later to me that she did it because he wasn’t paying attention to her.  She continued to bother him for the morning, staring at him and possibility calling out his name at inappropriate times.  She wants attention, friends and someone to talk to.

Why are social skills so hard???  And then there is puberty?

Towards the end of the day, she was disruptive in health class in many, many ways.  She laughed loud in her forced, fake laugh and did not stop when asked to.  She sat on the floor and banged her heels and did not stop when asked to.  She sat under her desk.  Her teacher gave her “one more chance” and she left the classroom without permission to get a drink of water. She pushed her aid’s hand away because “she didn’t want him in her space.” Later, the teacher gave me his description which was pretty spot on except that he did give her permission to get water.

When she came home, we went through her schedule for the day and I asked her to describe each class.  I dragged the bad choices out of her, and she was able to tell me quite a bit more than had been reported by her teachers.  And here is the ray of light in this circumstance: Even last fall, it would have been difficult for her to provide any detail of her day.

Is this the good news of a desperate mother?

Julia wrote notes of apology to the student she hit and three teachers.  Does this help anything?  I don’t know but it was all that I could think of doing. She gave out the notes in school and reported that it gave her a stomach ache to do that.  When her teacher asked her about her stomach, she said, “my behavior is going to kill me.”

Oh, my girl.

On Friday, at social skills therapy, transitions were very rocky and she had a very hard time listening to her therapist and following the day’s planned activities.  Transitions especially moving on from preferred activities has always been difficult.  At one time, transitioning from activity to activity was the major focus of therapy sessions.  For the most part now, transitioning is not a big deal.  A little deal, at times.  Friday it was a big deal again.

My first questions are always looking for the reason for the behavior.  Where did it come from?  Why now?  How many times has it seemed that the behavior came out of the blue?  I go over the number of good days and even great days at school.  At home, we’ve sailed along evenings and last weekend went very smoothly.  And so, why?  Sometimes such inappropriate behavior presages some developmental jump forward.  Sometimes it take months of therapeutic reprogramming to change unwanted behavior.  Sometimes it is just a blip in our lives.

On Saturday, Julia went to her acting class this morning.  (special class taught by the local kids theater and sponsored by the Autism Society).  She has a hard time not volunteering more information than is asked of her.  She has a hard time not shouting out especially when the class gets exciting.  She wants me to sit outside the class even though most of the kids have a parent or caregiver with them.  She so wants to do well.  When the teacher asks her if she wants to be “villager 2,” her immediate “yes” is so utterly appropriate that it catches my ear.  I am aware that it took heaps of control and attention to make such a simple affirmation.

Today, her art teacher emailed to ask me if I would sign a permission slip to allow Julia’s latest project—the pelican watercolor—to be brought “downtown” to the district office for display.  They will keep it for almost 2 years and Julia was not crazy about the idea.  I told her it was an honor and then tried to explain why that was so.  Honor is so not-concrete, but I told her that people would come into the office and love looking at the picture and that her teacher would be proud that one of her students had a picture on display.  She relented and agreed to let me sign the permission slip.

On Sunday, her religious education class did some community service work.  They met at the “tiny house” village and were taken on a tour of houses, workshops and facilities.  Then the kids were asked to paint bird houses and lawn decorations for the upcoming fund raiser.  Julia settled down on the ground next to two girls who have been in her classes for years and the three of them chatted and painted.  These are very sweet girls who are very understanding as Julia chatted away about Ponies and Equestrian Girls and kid pop that they are probably done with.  Taking a few steps back, Julia looked like any other kid in the class.  She worked on her decoration and divided her attention between painting and talking.  I don’t know if she listened to what her two friends were saying to each other.  I hope so.  I so hope so.

I have had three utterly frustrating days trying to build a website for my Mindful Circle workshops using the wordpress theme that I bought.  I want to figure it out!  There are directions and samples.  Why can’t I understand them?  I cling stubbornly to the idea that I can do this myself.  I’ve been blogging for years and have always figured out how to format and change my blogs.  I know this is not quite the same thing and I also know that there are many, many people out there making money designing website and perhaps I should just surrender to the experts.

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