dancin’ dino

IMG_2749Our dancin’ dinosaur tee shirts arrived by mail yesterday. Julia was tickled and couldn’t wait to wear one of hers today to school. Lots of friends have ordered shirts and are posting pictures on Facebook. Every picture puts tears in my eyes. Three teachers from Randall posted a picture, all three of them with dino shirts and “I love Julia” scrawled on the board behind them. There are no thank you’s enough. And I pray that this is a beginning, not the highlight. I hope that this incredible talent is yet to be developed and will carry her far.

Who knows what can come, there is no way to capture a moment and keep it close. I ride this small happiness, Julia’s small accomplishment and hold on to hoping that her life will unfold gracefully and with much happiness and independence. I know, I know, it is the same with all kids but it is different when it is not assured that your kid will grow and mature and come into their own. It is different. And hard. And joyful.

This being a mother of a kid on the autism spectrum is not for weaklings and scaredy cats.

Some notes on the first day beginning of middle school that I began last week:

Day one is over and day two begun. Actually today, day seven is almost over.

Julia liked her first day. In her assignment notebook she wrote on the first page that she loved Wright Middle School. This morning she remembered the names of her homeroom teachers (one is her special ed teacher) and her SEA (aide). She ate chicken nuggets and french fries for lunch and also loved them. There was perhaps also an apple that she ate. There is no sign that she is interested in bringing healthy lunches and at least at this point it is not worth any fight on this one.

She continues to like her school and the experience. The first set of challenges are about listening to bells and whistles that start or end classes and activities, and also at moving independently from room to room. At Wright, the sixth graders only move among a very few rooms but it is still very confusing for Julia. I think that part of the confusion is about the new sounds — noise — and stimuli that distract her terribly. If she continues to be confused and unable to move from room to room, I’ll ask for some help there. Although I want her to be independent, I want to her to learn content as well as independence. And I think content should come first.

Julia willingly is willing to get up and dressed in the morning. We have not laid out clothes each night like we did it all last year. This year she wants to pick out her own clothes and pending my approval, she does a pretty good job. Have school begin an hour later than at her elementary school is really golden! I am so much happier to get up at 6:45, than 5:45. At 5:45 I can hardly drag myself out of bed, and I am not effective at dragging someone else.

This morning I dropped her off — a bit later than planned but that was more due to my own confusion about when bells ring than to our morning routine — by the gate of one of the playgrounds. It is probably not called a playground in middle school. Other students were already walking into the building. She very cheerfully hopped out of the car and joined in the throng walking in. She immediately struck up a conversation — perhaps started talking is a better way of saying it — with two girls who were probably not sixth graders. I watched them look at her and then say something that I couldn’t hear. Oh god, I hope there are kind kids in this school! Julia has developed into a very friendly/talkative kid but so much of what she says is border line inappropriate or unintelligible. She needs more listeners who make sense of what she says.

Last week, Julia took the tapes off her cello. Yikes! She was jubilant; I was/am terrified. Her teacher do not really believe in taping cellos. The tapes I’m talking about are very narrow bands of sticky tape on the finger board of the instrument that mark where the first three or four notes are. It is a guide for beginning students and it seems to be quite a security blanket for me. Instead of using the tapes to figure out where the fingers go, Julia (and I) will need to use our ears. At lesson, she took the tapes off and played two tunes better than she ever has played them. Ok, I get it. But I hope it works at home. I am skeptical. I can’t help it. I am not a musician. Her teacher says she has a good ear. I don’t think I do.

While her cello teacher was giving me the rational for removing the tapes, Julia was figuring out the next tune in the Suzuki book, “Go Tell Aunt Roady.” So her teacher assigned the song as long as she memorized the one she has been working on by next week. Julia said, “sure.”

We also may be renting a cello from her teacher instead of from the school. That means that her practice instrument will be a lot better than what she has now. I think she would appreciate that.

I am starting something new on the iPad. Julia wants to play games on it and she also wants to get back to playing with her wii. It dawned on me that game time needs to be reward time. And also limited. I decided to link game to to writing prompts in her iPad journal. I’ve been giving her three: three things she did in school, what she ate for lunch and how she felt after a day at school. I began by sitting with her as she wrote and then correcting grammar and spelling (mostly capitals) when she was finished. This week, it was best when she did it in the car on our way to her therapies. Best because it is close to the end of the school day and she can remember better what she did than if we wait until she gets home close to dinner time. I’m also not looking for a lot of writing. She really can’t do that well and stay on topic. And some of what she is writing is funny. I am sure that her social studies teacher did not mean to emphasize the importance of using shampoo to clean hair. I’m not doubting that he said that, just the importance he put on it. I put her picture from the first day of school on the first page. I want pictures to be a part of the journal, (We used pictures alone last year. ) but I don’t want to burden her teachers with another task until everyone is more settled. For writing, she gets 20 minutes of game time to be used as she likes. Right now, she plays the HP lego game on her iPad.

My notes:

Fall is always the beginning of a new year for me. Another go at improvement and reinvention. Or at least a refinement of ideas, processes and goals. This year is no different.

Towards the end of the summer, my meditation practice really fell off. Too much Julia time or rather my perception that I had to spend time on addition instead of meditation. Probably a mistake. Immediately correcting that one.

The garden needs attending and I want to seed the lawn. The next few weeks are crucial. The compost needs emptying. I found some great perennial bargains at Builders Square. Also, I have perennials and corms to dig up and divide, as well as an over abundance of hollyhock plants to move from the front to the back.

Interesting thing about my hollyhocks. I love them! And I’ve managed to get quite a good backdrop of them in the front terraced garden bed. But this year for the first time since I planted seeds, I’ve only gotten plants and not flowers. Since hollyhocks are biennials that bloom only in the second year, I usually have some flowers and some plants every year. I am not sure what happened to my flowing two year olds this year. Was it the awful winter? I need to thin the plants and dig up some that are in inappropriate places. Hopefully, next year, I will have flowers in the front AND back gardens.

Contacts have been made and interest pursued. It looks like I may be leading a mindfulness group for caregivers – parents, grandparents, sitters — at IDS. It would be my toe in the waters I want to wade waist deep in. I’ve sent a mock up of a flyer to my contact at IDS and I await the PTB’s approval. Even if I get it, I know that there is a decent chance that no one will sign up for the circle. It happened last year with the Special Ed PEG group. I hope this is different. It would be a lovely way to begin.

Julia and I are moving on with our knitting. She is making a red and yellow scarf. Yes, Gryfindor colors. I am ready to make a hat. It is rather amazing to me that one of my newish friends is a master knitter who is very willing to teach, advise and answer questions. Perhaps others will not see this as amazing but the saying “the teacher appears when the student is ready” keeps running through my mind. I’ve believed in this idea before I ever recognized that it was happening to me. These days, it seems to be happening all the time. Often at least. And I am deeply grateful. I am also struck that I have done so little to merit or deserve or warrant such attention. When another friend called me to urge me to come to a newly formed book club, I felt the same way. How did she know that I really wanted to join a book club even though I had done nothing about looking for one? I have the feelings of being cradled in community.

This feels like a long, overdue letter to a friend who needs to be caught up on every part of life. It needs to be put in its envelope and sent on its way. I’ve promised myself to write every day — just 200 words but write. I am hoping for rebirth.

music camp

Yesterday was our busiest day of summer. Julia’s schedule was: dentist, cello lesson, swimming lesson, strings camp, IDS clinic. Swim lesson and strings camp were new. I was anxious. Julia was fine at swim lesson. She seemed to be listening and doing as told. There were three kids in her class which is perfect for her to handle the class without additional help.

At least I hope so. The instructor looked a bit anxious when I let him know that Julia is on the spectrum but he took the initiative and did not let her drift.

Kati asked about what happened with strings experience, aka music camp.  The beginning of the story is here (https://myyearofchasingjoy.wordpress.com/2014/05/13/music-camp/).  An update is here (https://myyearofchasingjoy.wordpress.com/2014/05/20/alls-well/). [I haven’t figured out how to use the link button.]

The further update is that at the graduation party, Victoria, who went to strings class all year with Julia as well as the district strings concert at West High, told me that she was going to be Julia’s aide during strings camp. (All but the first day) I didn’t think this would happen. I suggested Victoria to my district contact but I didn’t push for her, mainly because the district does not seem to like to support their special ed students for summer enrichment classes. I am aware that just getting Julia into the class/camp/experience could be a small loss of face for those who told me it couldn’t be done. I wanted Julia’s entry into this experience to be smooth because I intend to make use of enrichment classes for other summers.

But I am overjoyed that Julia will be with Victoria who she has known for four years, who did strings class with her and who taught her to knit this year. Victoria was still on vacation on Monday, so Julia’s reading teacher for the past two years stepped in for the day. From what I heard, there were a few bumps — Julia talked at times when the teacher was talking and some of the music was challenging — but none of this sounded out of the ordinary. Considering that Julia has been studying for less than a year and many of the kids at the camp are more experienced, she is right on track.

I could not be more grateful for these extraordinary women who work so hard during the school year and are willing to give up part of their summer to be with Julia and help her through this new experience.

And just to say this very clearly: There is no summer school exception to the IDEA. If a special ed student needs to do summer academic work or enrichment classes and those resources are run by the school district, a student’s needs must be accommodated under federal law. This does not mean that a student’s entire IEP will be implemented — so, no speech therapy or PT or OT, but a student must be accommodated in the class they are in. In Julia’s case, this means that she needs an aide to be with her during strings camp. She does not need a special curriculum or any other accommodation and I don’t know whether they could refuse a student with those needs. I want to encourage other families with special ed students to use the resources that their school districts have. I admit to feeling the legal passions rise — issues like this could put me back in an advocate’s role.

We are still in bed this morning. Julia beginning to awaken. She was rightfully exhausted last night. Today’s swim lesson and music camp looks like a piece of cake by comparison. I was pretty exhausted too — added to the taxi chores and a bit of anxiety about Julia’s new experiences, I spent my free time yesterday finding a eye glasses service who would put Julia’s therapy lens into new frames. A few days ago, she broke her “first” frames. Because they are costume frames — Harry Potter glasses — it was a challenge finding a replacement. Five dollar frames don’t come with a lot of markings. I was successful in finding some of the same size to accommodate lens but of course, the lens had to be popped out of the old and into the new frames. Two places refused to do it. I was trying to avoid sending the frames to Milwaukee where it is usually done. The third accepted the challenge, warned me that the lens could chip or break and did it. It worked, the glasses fit and we are back in business.

I ended the day with somewhat of a hangover. Anxiety over new adventures? Anxiety over the glasses? Exhausted from my choice of joy this weekend? Coming down from a very social weekend? Feeling another death anniversary pass? Whatever the reason, I felt the dip in spirits. I was tired enough to wet my feet in deeper water of despair and depression and felt drawn to embrace the sad waters, but . . . but recognized where I could go and knew that if I just got to bed and closed my eyes, I would recover some equilibrium. I don’t mean that I was running away from sadness or anxiety. The weekend, the anniversary, the new experiences, the busy day’s schedule, anxiety over Julia’s ability to meet the challenges, even fixing the glasses were real causes for what I felt, but I did not need to globalize it and imagine that days would always be overfilled or Julia’s days would always be challenging or that she would be breaking her glasses again very soon or that I needed to be thrown into the aftermath of great loss again soon. Silly, I know, in part, where where my mind can turn to especially when I am tired.

So, I went to bed. Early. Thunder storms at midnight brought Julia into my bed and we needed a long guided meditation to get us back to sleep. I had a weird dream which I may describe if I can remember enough of it that stirred up feelings of abandonment and loss but this morning, in the cool, sunny morning, what upset my spirit only informs me.

ah-ha

Yesterday, Julia rode the school bus home after a splendid day at a field trip — civil war reenactment camp.  I chaperoned and got to spend the day with kids and teachers and parents.  All rather blissful even including the canon firings which are extremely tough on Julia, but she watched the “soldiers” load the cannon with arms around me, one ear pressed to my chest and my hands firmly over her other ear.  The sound was still painful for her but she recovered . . . well, like a resilient kid, which is a description that could be called a miracle.

Then, on the school bus home there was more bullying.  It was not an isolated event.  Julia’s has gotten good at ignoring it and her allies — especially two boys from her class — are good at standing up for her; however, the behavior seems to be escalating.  The perpetrators laughed at Julia, called her names (stupid, I think) and said that she is never going to graduate. (An aside here — Some of the remembered damage done to Julia in China was being called ugly and stupid which she was told were the reasons that she was not sent to school with her bunk mate.)

At the bus stop, Julia got off with the two boys who are classmates.  The boys pointed the perpetrators out to me.  The kids they pointed out laughed and gave us all the finger.  I don’t know these bad kids (yes, to me at this instant these are evil, bad kids with NO redeeming qualities) although they do not seem to fear that I might report them.  When my sitter reported this same thing to me last Friday, I didn’t want to pursue it.  It is so close to the end of school and Julia doesn’t ride the bus home much.  I was going to let it slide.  Perhaps it would get better, perhaps it would go away if we all just ignored it, but perhaps it is time to ask for some consequences.

Julia  tells me that it isn’t so bad in the morning but in the afternoon (and she is only taking the bus home once or twice a week) they are really mean.  Julia would rather have me drive her to and from school.  Listening to one of Julia’s friends talk about the bad kids, I could see that he felt helpless to do anything to help Julia.

I struggle to be compassionate.  I want to punch out those kids!

And then today, I spent the day at the first of a two-day seminar given by members of PACE Place (http://www.paceplace.org).  They talked about what I’ve been talking about with out attachment therapist for years.  The relationship between attachment and autism.  Of course, I see the relationship because Julia was so deprived of relationship in China and to work on her neurological differences labeled as autism, we all had to address her lack of attachment, but these people talked about the inability to form age appropriate, healthy attachments in ALL people on the spectrum.  It is very exciting.  I think I sat nodding my head the entire day!

This team was also able to use workshop games with the group of 60 IDS employees (therapist, psychologists and other helping professionals) and parents as effectively as some of the best theater workshops I’ve been part of.  The day was one ah-ha moment after another — lots of learning physically through metaphor and reflection. I was only going to go to one day because I didn’t want to leave Julia with a sitter for two days, but what I am learning is worth the missed weekend for both of us and thank goodness, her sitter is free tomorrow.

Finally, close to the end of the day, I had my huge ah-ha moment.  I can’t connect the dots as to how I got there, but something was said that set off a chain of thoughts and I realized that Julia is learning to play her cello at the same rate as her peers (more or less) because somehow she started at the beginning of learning music at the same time as her peers.  This is the first time that she is starting from zero with the kids around her.  (Oy, I’m not being articulate here.  Damn.)  All the other things we taught her — English, numbers, reading, writing, APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR — her peers were getting lessons in all those things years and years before her.  No one gave her any of the basics — no one counted her toes, cheered her first steps, or ran to her crib when she cried.  No one read books to her, looked at her when they gave her a bottle or taught her the tools of sharing.  Or gave her enough to eat, for that matter.  Julia has been playing a game of catch up since I met her when she was five and a half.

But most of the kids in her class were not handed a violin or cello any sooner than she was.   She still needs to run to catch up with attention and focus even learning music, and she has not paid attention to music like most of her peers, but somehow she is not the same five and a half years behind in music that she was with almost everything else except for her art.

And so, what does this mean?  I am having trouble bringing the lines together in my head.  I don’t mean to overstate what I see.  She and I, and her aide in strings class and her cello teacher, work very, very hard to make cello possible.  But the fact remains that she is learning more like her typically developing peers than ever before.

I have struggled with the question of Julia’s ‘prognosis.’  Julia has not been considered high functioning but she is not just lower functioning.  No one has felt comfortable labeling her because her development has been so interestingly inconsistent and her gains so surprising. I am not the only one who has noticed the spark in her soul.  I still don’t know how to make up for, catch her up for those years with me that she missed, but through her cello we are experiencing her starting from a beginning and learning and staying abreast of the running herd.

Ah-ha.

music camp

Today, someone from the school district called in answer to my email.  I enrolled Julia is a 2- week summer music experience/camp run by the district.  I had heard about the camp but hadn’t imagined that Julia could do it.  Her strings teacher, her music aide and her special ed teacher thought it was a wonderful idea, and buoyed by their enthusiasm, I did the online enrollment.

The rather cheery woman who called first made sure that I was enrolling a special ed student. Yes, I was.  She then explained that my daughter could only take the music camp if she had participated in the strings program in fifth grade.  Yes, she had.  The woman was silent for a moment.  Was she surprised about music and special ed? I am not sure.  Then went on to tell me that Julia’s IEP would not be implemented during summer enrichment programs because the programs could not afford services like PT and OT and Speech.  She said that Julia could not get all the services that she got during the school year and that they only offered “reasonable accommodation” for summer school.  I asked what the accommodation was and she put some words together that explained nothing.  Then she asked if I understood.

To back up some, I have been through this a few weeks ago about summer school.  There are “reasonable accommodations” for summer school but when it was explained to me it sounded like “reasonable accommodations” were absolutely no accommodations.  Well, perhaps a seat in the front of the room, although the summer school person was not sure about that.  I decided that summer school would not work for us — for fifth grade math, they planned to work on math facts and Julia has those down cold — and so did not push them on accommodation.

For music camp, however, I couldn’t let her off so easily.  Did I understand “reasonable accommodation”?  No.  Again, I stopped her.  “Can’t implement . . “ she started up again and I said that I wasn’t looking for her IEP services just support enough for Julia to participate.  In other words, she would need an aide.  “We don’t have money for an aide” and suggested that the needs of special ed students could ruin the program.  Guilt flooded my senses for a very quick moment.  For a split second, I saw the stampede of IEP carrying string players killing the MMSD summer music enrichment experience.

Yeah, right.

On reflection, I could have asked her just how many special ed students try to enroll in the camp each year?  In our school’s case, Julia is the only special ed student in strings this year at her school.  When I asked about strings last year for Julia, I was told that there was another special ed student at one time, and as it turned out, I knew the family.  So, that is two kids with IEPs in the strings class in four or five years at Randall.

Julia was also the only person who brought an aide to the Strings Festival at West High  during which all the kids who feed into West High School from fifth to eighth grade play together.  I think that there are just two of these concerts — east and west, although there may be one or two more.  Even if there were five concerts — one for each high school — at one special ed student a concert, there might potentially five special ed strings players who would want to join the camp and need some meaningful accommodation.  Even imagining that all five enrolled in the camp, it would not necessarily mean that the program would be burdened with paying for five aides or some other expensive accommodation.  In Julia’s case, she could easily share an aide with another student.  Any kid who made it through fifth grade strings and wanted to play in the summer would probably be motivated to be as independent as possible.

But back to our conversation — I said that I didn’t think — in a very hesitant voice — that they could offer this a camp to the entire district and not offer Julia support.  Wasn’t she protected by the IDEA?  At the mention of law, the conversation shifted.  The nice woman told me that she didn’t think they were required to offer anything in the summer but that instead of telling me that they “couldn’t” she “would check” — with whom she did not say — “and get back to” me.

I had caught her out.  I googled “summer school exception” and IDEA, and other terms to find some language and found nothing.  I called an old friend and she called an expert and sure enough there is language that was inserted in to the IDEA from Section 504 of the ADA that Julia should have an equal opportunity to participate in school sponsored activities.

So, now I wait to see if and when the very nice lady gets back to me.  I am hoping that the mere suggestion that I have some knowledge spurs the PTB to do the right thing, although I am armed and ready to move on and insist if it comes to that.  I grieve for the child who is denied this and other opportunities because their parents are not strong advocates.  Thank goodness, that Julia is not one of them.

And on another note — Spring thunder storms have begun and this is the first year that the first crack of thunder did not send Julia into my bed.  It was not fierce tonight, and I expect that really bad storms will wake her and speed her into my bed, but not tonight.  The trauma that so controlled her life is easing, or possibly it is safer in a Gryffindor bedroom than in my bedroom.

strings

I ran jogged around most of the block yesterday morning — .75 of the block to be exact.  I need to get my body moving and nothing that I have done before is appealing right now.  Perhaps yoga or more tai chi but spring is coming and I yearn — yearn is a bit too strong to put the impulse — to be moving outside.  Gardening is out of the question right now.  Mud, mud, mud.  And there is still little bits of snow all over the yard.  And I’ve never tried a run.  The fact that Cheshire and Lisa have done it and are trying to make a Thanksgiving run part of our holiday celebration make me curious.

Julia is performing in the Spring Strings Festival today.  She passed — could play the song by memory — three tunes.  That puts her at level 2.  There are a lot of fifth grade kids at level 2.  She probably worked harder than most of those kids to learn and memorize those tunes.  And she is the only kid out of hundreds who has an aide sitting next to her, but she is there and playing.  Watching the rehearsal yesterday afternoon, I almost burst into tears.  I am so proud of her.  So happy for her.  Of course, when I told her, she was polite and happy to be doing the concert, but it was no big deal to her.  And isn’t that wonderful too?

There is a new sadness in the collage.  I am so proud of Julia and her playing.  Especially proud because music was such an important part of our family when Cheshire was growing up.  The sadness comes from not having anyone to share this pride and happiness with.  No one who knows the day-to-day struggles and can bask in the sunshine of rewards.  I guess I’ve felt this before, since David died, but when I did it was mixed with so much grieving that the feeling did not stand out.  And there were so many more days of struggle than of triumph so the achievements were not quite there to stand out.  Living away from family during Cheshire’s growing up, there were never grandparents or aunt and uncles to enjoy successes, but just us and our friends were enough.  Today, I text Cheshire and post of Facebook and send an email to Julia’s teacher.  Right now,  I want to scream that that is not enough!

I sit drinking tea, my head aching from being so close to tears.  I am grateful for every “like” and comment on Facebook.  Cheshire will write and be happy for us, and Julia’s teacher will be thrilled.  Would I have felt this alone had I chosen to be a single mother?  Certainly, life would have been full of circumstances like today.  Of course, I might have dealt with this sorrow when baby first walked.

The other truly incredible things about yesterday’s rehearsal was that Julia saw lots of kids she knew from both school and church school.  She said hello to all of them and called them by name.  Her therapy and school teams have been working on greetings and having her recognize individual kids for this entire school year.  At the beginning of the year, she did not know the names of many of the kids in her class, and I don’t think that it mattered to her.  They were “the kids” or “guys” to her.  I think they were a blur of noise and movement in her consciousness.  In the Fall, she and I sat with the composite class pictures for her class and the class that is paired with hers.  We reviewed names almost every night for a few months.  She learned the names but I did not see much generalization for what seemed like a long time.  Recently, when she tells me the three things she did during the day, names of different kids have surfaced.  Her observations are not deep but she calls one or the other her friend or her best friend.  There are still many times when she does not “hear” greetings said to her, but last night she had something to offer to everyone that she knew.

And math word problems, of which we do three every night, are getting ever so slightly easier.

Julia is on a roll!

Cheshire and Linde were due to come for the weekend Thursday evening but because of a big snow storm headed for NYC, Cheshire changed her flight to Wednesday.  What a gift!  This visit is my birthday gift from these young women and nothing could be better.   It is wonderful to have their spirits in the house.

Julia’s first cello concert was last week.  It was a class performance and only for other classes — not even the entire school — and parents who could make it during the day.  They played about eight tunes — some a line long.  I still think that the strings program strives to quantity over quality, but it was great to see about 30 kids playing together.  Julia did a very good job.  Her aide sat beside her but Victoria did not need to do much queing at all.  Julia payed attention to the music and the teacher as she conducted.  Divided attention!  Something that her therapists and I longed for for a very long time.  Her playing was not perfect but when she got behind I could see her skip a few notes to catch up.  She did not rush ahead and she did not play during any rest.

Yahoo!  I do not think that she is at the bottom of her strings class.  She is playing with peers!  I am sure that we do a lot more work at home, plus her private lesson, than many of the other kids in her class, but I am so encouraged that she can keep up.  And very encouraged that she is interested and enthusiastic about continuing.

The middle school search continues.  Conflicting reports from different parents and educators reflecting their own experiences and some of what they’ve heard.  Right now, I don’t see any school as being a perfect match and sorting through strengths and weaknesses has not produced a winner.

Patience.

Last week of the Fundamentals course at Mindfulschools.org.   I will skip the next round of the curriculum course and pick that up later in the spring.  I need time to digest what I’ve been practicing and also to spend time with the material that I’ve gotten from the woman who I will be doing my final LEND internship with.  As that opportunity becomes more defined, I’ll write some of it.  Right now, we’ve had two meetings a few months apart, the last one last week with a list of possible tasks for me and a pile of books to read and sort out.

More patience.

“new” research findings

Power of Art: Can music help treat children with attention disorders? By Jane O’Brien

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21661689#!

“New research suggests playing a musical instrument improves the ability to focus attention.”

I know. I know. I know.  Do the research, publish the findings, and make music lessons an evidence therapy.  Sometimes I feel like we are in a very small box and we need to just kick our way out!