stevenpiziks: (Keep Off)
Aran uses a laptop at school. It's the only way he can keep up with note-taking and writing, since he writes so slowly by hand.  On Saturday, I overheard him say to someone else that he had dropped his laptop at school and the screen was broken.

I was furious.  Not only had he broken it, he hadn't told me about it.  After the inevitable . . . difficulties that followed, I assessed the damage.  The computer itself was all right.  Only the screen was cracked.

I got on-line and surfed around until I uncovered the part number for a new one and ordered it.  It arrived today.  I sat Aran down with me and made him help me tear the computer apart.  First we had to pry the screw covers off with an Exacto knife, unscrew them, and carefully unsnap the plastic cover.  Then there were more screws, many teeny tiny ones, to unscrew.  We carefully extracted the screen, undid the tape holding the connector to the back, and spent considerable time trying to connect the new screen.  Finally got it, set the new screen into place, tested it to make sure it worked (it did) and screwed it back together.  At which point, the new screen refused to work. So we had to tear it all apart again to find the problem.  The connector had come loose.  We fixed it and put everything back together again.  This time it worked.

It was delicate, frustrating work, and since Aran was forced to go through it, I'm hoping he'll take extra care with his computer.


May. 11th, 2011 08:30 pm
stevenpiziks: (WTF?)
Am I a bad father for letting Sasha watch AMERICAN PIE after Mackie goes to bed?
stevenpiziks: (Signs)
A big part of Maksim's personality is an unflagging persistence.  When he wants something, he never gives up.  This doesn't apply to a toy or other treat, though it can.  It applies to his whole life.

When he decided he wanted to play the violin, he asked about taking lessons.  I told him I'd think about it--Mackie showed no musical interest or particular musical talent.  He didn't try to play around on the piano or on my harp or on any of wind instruments in the house.  Sometimes he'd pound on the drums, but that was it.  I didn't want to invest in a passing fancy, so I gave vague answers about the future, figuring he'd forget about it.  He didn't.  Every week or so, he'd bring it up again.  Finally, he did drop it for almost two months.  Then he started agitating for piano lessons.  I was surprised.  Maybe he really did want music lessons.  I said I could talk to Aran's piano teacher.

"How long do you have to play piano before you can learn violin?" he asked.

The whole thing had been orchestrated to get violin lessons.  Okay, then--he was clearly dedicated enough, so we got him started on violin.

He does sort of thing all the time.  The kids who live behind us are a little older than he is, and they rebuffed letting him play with them.  Countless times he climbed the fence to their yard and returned in tears because they wouldn't let him play with them.  Each time I hugged him and told him there wasn't anything I could do about it.  And he kept going back there.  And at last  they started letting him play with them.  Now he goes over there all the time.

When his school started a reading contest, Mackie was determined to hit his class goal and beyond.  He made sure to read every day and demanded that we write down the amount of time he read.

More recently, he took it into his head that he wanted to wear a tie.  He asked me how to tie one and where he could buy one.  Sometimes he would ask me directly if I would buy him a tie, and sometimes he would just talk about it.  ("When I get a tie, I'll look really good.")  Finally today, I needed to run some errands and I said we could get him a tie (though this included getting him a shirt to go with--fortunately, kid shirts are inexpensive).  He insisted on a real one, not a clip-on, and practiced tying it several times.

He sets his sights on what he wants and comes at it from different angles until he gets it.  He's very driven and goal-oriented for an eight-year-old who can barely read.  He simply doesn't give up on what he wants.
stevenpiziks: (Thunderstorm)
Last week, Sasha was playing basketball in gym class.  He bumped into another boy, and the other boy pitched a shit fit  He told Sasha he was going to "get" him.  The next day, Sasha avoided the kid in class.  In the end, however, the kid tracked Sasha down and threw a punch at him.  Sasha ducked, and the punch grazed his ear.  Then Sasha pushed the other kid's arm aside and he strode away.

A crowd of kids had gathered by then, which alerted the gym teacher.  She sent both Sasha and the other kid to the office.  The discipline officer said, "I could write you up for fighting, but I'll just put you down for horseplay with a warning. Is that okay with you?"  Sasha nodded.  When he got home, he showed me the referral sheet. 

I went through the roof.
Read more... )
stevenpiziks: (Which Way?)
Mackie was so badly behaved in school on Thursday that we kept him home on Friday.  The report from his teacher read like one of those children's books about a monstrous child.  He threw a chair, he rolled on the floor, he kicked walls, he wailed in class, he tried to sneak outside.  I was surprised they didn't formally suspend him for a day after the chair throwing.
I put him to work around the house all day and also made an appointment with the doctor for an ADHD evaluation.  We're also going to meet with the school social worker and his teachers to figure out what to do.
stevenpiziks: (Fountain)
Sasha became heavily involved in homecoming activities.  On Thursday he went to the house of his math teacher (who is the freshman advisor) to work on the freshman float for the parade and donated a Superman cape from an old Halloween costume for someone to wear.  On Friday he went to the homecoming football game.  He left a little early because, he said, he wanted to avoid any fights that might break out. Tonight is the homecoming dance.  Sasha is going stag--he's planning to just go and hang out with friends. 

"I'm not dancing!" he maintained stoutly.  "I don't know how to dance."

"Neither does anyone else," I told him.

"Don't care. I'm not dancing, and I'm not asking a girl to dance."

At the moment, he's out with Kala shopping for something to wear, since his dressier clothes are either too small or too worn.  He says he wants black pants and a purple shirt.

When I was in high school, I didn't care about this kind of stuff.  I never went to any games or dances.  I didn't miss it, either. Sasha's getting heavily involved in everything, though, and I'm glad. He's been rather isolated in the last couple years, and his friends have all been much younger than he is, and they often lived far away. He needs to be with students and friends his own age, but he steadfastly refused to make friends with any teenagers in the neighborhood.  I think he's been a little afraid to.

Now he's been thrown into a school system and forced to interact with older teenagers, and he's finding he likes it.
stevenpiziks: (Outdoors)
On Wednesday I went down to Willow Run High School to get a login ID for the school's on-line grade program. I also did a quick round of his teachers to see if any were around and managed to talk to his biology teacher. Sasha had turned in all of his work, but his teacher had asked that he re-do a fair amount of it, which he hadn't mentioned to me.

I also found out that some kids still remembered Sasha from the single year he spent at WR Middle School four years ago, and one of the little shits started right in calling Sasha the same name he'd been bullied with back then. Sasha exploded, but the teacher caught it and wrote up the offending kid instead of Sasha.  The office saw from the kid's file that he'd done this before--and, I assume, saw that we had raised a stink and eventually pulled Sasha out of school because of the bullying--and told the kid, "Apologize to Aleksandr or you get in-school suspension."

The kid chose in-school suspension. I was glad to hear that the school was quick to act.

Later that evening, we went over Sasha's English work. Two grammar worksheets and a bunch of stuff for "The Most Dangerous Game." Here we're lucky--I teach that story, along with almost everything on his reading list, so when the worksheet asks things like, "What is the theme of the story?" I don't have to dig up the answer.

The trouble is that I refuse to give Sasha the answers.  I take him through finding the answers himself, which means I'm often re-teaching.  This takes up enormous amounts of time, and I end up telling Sasha he needs to take more notes and PAY MORE ATTENTION in class if he wants to avoid two hours of homework.

"But I don't understand in class," he says.

"Then you need to say so," I tell him.  "Ask the teacher for help. That's her job."

"She won't help me."

"Have you tried it?"


It's an endless cycle and will be a long year...
stevenpiziks: (WTF?)
At 9:30 last night, Sasha hadn't gotten home, and I was seriously wondering what was going on.  Then Sasha called.  He said he hadn't been able to leave the game because of the police.

Sasha went to the tailgating and to the football game.  Things went well, and he had fun.  And then a fight broke out. 

Between two girls.  They were fighting over a guy.  One of the girls was pregnant.

A huge crowd gathered.  The police closed off the gates so any potential guilty parties woudln't be able to escape.  It took considerable time to sort everything out.

Sasha was a little freaked by the whole thing.  I was mad.  Sasha was nervous enough about the whole thing.  He goes to his first football game at his new high school and has a good time, and then it's destroyed by these little shitheads.

I hope he isn't put off more games by this.
stevenpiziks: (Bear)
ARAN: Get out.

ME: Aran! That's not very nice. What do you say?

ARAN: Please get out.
stevenpiziks: (Default)
Sasha starts ninth grade in two days.

It was a difficult decision.  He was in seventh grade last year, and he didn't do all that well in his classes.  However, he's sixteen now, and he's just too old for middle school.

I enrolled him at Willow Run High School over the summer.  I also started the process of getting him classified as special education.  He'll =need= the help, absolutely.  He has Algebra I, for example, and there's no way he'll get through it.  None.  He just doesn't have the ability.  (As a parent you're supposed to say, "I know he can do it."  But we have to be realistic.  I know he can't.)

WRHS has a tech/voc ed program.  It's usually for juniors and seniors, but Sasha is sixteen.  We'll see if we can get him into it faster.  Once he's classed spec ed, it'll be easier to do so, I hope.

Already I've run into a roadblock, an administrator.  Because Sasha has no track record at Willow Run, they don't have the usual teacher recommendations for special ed evaluation.  All they have is me--and the IQ test we got a psychologist to administer to him over the summer.  (Sasha's scores said he definitely needs special services.)  But the administrator still didn't leap to agree to test Sasha.

"Let's see how he does first," he said.

No.  Let's not.  According to federal law, when a parent informs the school they want a special ed evaluation, the school has 30 school days to comply.  If we "wait and see," that means it could be as long as 30 days AFTER the "wait and see" period before Sasha got tested, another week or so before the results were fully evaluated, and another few days before his schedule was changed.  And it would add up to Sasha failing his first marking period.  Not allowing that, thanks.

I gave written notice to the school immediately, and the 30-day deadline falls on October 19.  Hopefully they'll have it done earlier than that.

Sasha is extremely nervous.  He's nervous about having six classes.  He's nervous about being in a new, huge school.  He's nervous about not having a home room.  He's nervous that he won't be able to do the work.  To try to alleviate some of his nervousness, I got a copy of his schedule and we went around the building one day to find his classrooms.

I've avoided telling Sasha that I'm getting him tested for special ed and have instead taken the "I know you'll do well and we'll get you any help you need" route.

I still have to go in and meet with his teachers, too.  The first couple weeks of school are always so very busy . . .
stevenpiziks: (Ireland)
So there's this company that puts on cruises for families that have been touched by autism:

The cruises are geared toward children with autism.  The crew are trained in how to deal with autists, they have activities for autists, they've altered the emergency drills so autists can handle them, they've altered the meal system with autists in mind, and more.  They also have sitting services so parents of autistic children can have some down time, and they have activities and support group meetings for non-autistic siblings so they can talk to other kids who understand what they're going through.  They don't charge extra, either--their prices are the same as a "regular" cruise.

Wow.  A whole vacation without worrying about whether the people around you would understand what was going on when your kid freaked out over the choice of restaurant or whether the workers would be understanding or whether the autistic child might melt down at the idea of doing something everyone else wants to do, requiring a last-second rearrangement of plans.

I was telling Kala about all this, and I found my throat getting thick.  Just the idea that there's a company that understands the problem and is taking steps to help--without charging extra for it.  They volunteered this.  No fighting, no forcing anyone to make arrangements, no making do.  This would be a place where you could just go and everyone would understand.  I couldn't finish what I wanted to say and had to leave the room.

We can't go.  The money just isn't there.  But I'm glad they exist.  And Aran's condition still strikes me from unexpected directions, even when I think I've dealt with it.


Jun. 18th, 2009 09:57 am
stevenpiziks: (Default)
MACKIE: Daddy, in the summer, you should get a job."

ME: I do have a job in the summer.  I write, remember?

MACKIE: That's not a real job.


Apr. 28th, 2009 10:31 am
stevenpiziks: (Default)
Today I'm home with one and a half sick kids.  Mackie's home because he threw up at school yesterday, but today he seems perfectly fine.  No sign of fever, not even a hint of illness now.  He probably could have gone to school today.  Sigh.

Sasha, on the other hand, woke up with a fever of 102.  He's worse than he was yesterday.

After Kala took Aran to work, I got the other two breakfast and banished Sasha to the couch.  He's forbidden to use the computer when he has a fever because, as I've said before, he won't rest.  He'll stupidly drive himself into the ground with PC games because he figures if he's home and supposed to be sitting down, it means lots of game time.  Then he complains bitterly when I force him to rest.  I swear he spends more energy complaining than anything else.

I put bean soup into the crock pot and cleaned the kitchen after that.  It's raining and yucky out.  Good day for soup.
stevenpiziks: (WTF?)
In the morning part of our water park adventure, Kala took the boys down to the water area while I took the luggage and stuff out to the van.  I was transferring everything from the cart to the vehicle when I smelled pot smoke.  It was seriously strong.  Bro-ther.  I glanced around, but didn't see anyone.  Obviously someone was lighting up in a car or something.  Whatever.

I rolled the cart back toward the hotel doors just as a couple I'd seen before emerged from their car.  They were the people staying in the room across the hall from us, and they had two girls a bit older than Mackie.  They caught up with me at the hotel doorway, and they both reeked of pot.

I shoved the cart into the cart storage area and into the elevator.  Unfortunately, Pot Dad and Pot Mom joined me.  Oh, yay.

"Boy," Pot Dad said, a little too loudly, "being around all those kids . . . must've picked something up.  Making me cough."

It was so close.  The words were in my mouth.  I almost, ALMOST turned to him and said, "You think you're fooling anyone?  Just what've you been smoking?  Oh, right!  Pot!"  But I didn't.  I just ignored both of them, exited the elevator on our floor, and went into our room for a final check.

These two were a real piece of work.  They send their small children down to the waterpark and leave them there with no parental supervision, then sneak out to their car to get illegally high (and, I might add, they clearly planned to do this, since they brought the shit with them and had it in the hotel room with their little girls).  Not only that, did they think their kids WOULDN'T NOTICE?  They sat inside their car and smoked at least one joint.  Little Girl 1 and Little Girl 2 are going to smell it for days afterward.

People who smoke anything--pot, tobacco, you name it--always think that as long as they don't actually have smoke streaming from an orifice, no one notices.  They've grown so used to the smell, it doesn't register, so they figure no one else smells it.  I've got news for them--we notice.  I noticed from fifteen feet away that these two were smoking something more than Camels.

I don't actually have a major problem with pot.  I put it on the same level as alcohol--you want to do something that stupid and damaging to your body, that's up to you.  Just don't get behind the wheel of a car, or use the stuff around me.  I don't want to be with people who are drunk or high because they're always full of shit, and I don't want to get spattered.  But these people put their pothead thing ahead of their kids.  And one day, they'll catch Little Girl 1 or Little Girl 2 with dime bags of their own and wonder how the hell =that happened.
stevenpiziks: (Which Way?)
We've been trying to find another counselor for Sasha for a while.  He saw one for about a year quite a while ago, but she went on maternity leave and never came back.  Over the last few months, he's been showing more and more signs of stress and difficulty, and we decided he had to see someone again.

We found one guy who didn't work out.  His version of counseling was to give lectures in psychology.  Some of what he said was useful, but it wasn't what Sasha needed, especially since he spent only about 10% of the time letting Sasha talk.  The other 90% of the time he talked to me or Kala.  He never saw Sasha alone.  So we ended it with him.

Wednesday Kala took him to another counselor, who seemed to work out rather better.  Kala said he responded well to her.

"Was he ever diagnosed with PTSD?" she asked at one point.

"Not formally," Kala said.  "But we kind of suspected, and so did his other counselor."

"Huh," she said.  I'll diagnose him right now.  He has PTSD."

I knew that insomnia, sleepwalking, audio hallucinations, and difficulty concentrating are symptoms of PTSD, and Sasha experiences all of these.   But Sasha has another habit, has since I've met him: he asks me to speak for him. 

One of the most common things I hear from him is, "Dad, tell Mom about that thing that happened," or "Ask Mom if I can use her computer," when Kala is sitting right there.  He'll ask me to tell his teachers things for him as well, usually when they're standing next to us.  I put this down to a strange version of shyness or low self-esteem, but it turns out this is a common symptom of PTSD in young people.

So now we have to see how best to treat it.
stevenpiziks: (Which Way?)
This article exactly describes Sasha's position:

(Requires free registration, but I've never been spammed because of them.)

New York City classrooms have long been filled with children from all over the world, and the education challenges they bring with them. But hidden among the nearly 150,000 students across the city still struggling to learn English are an estimated 15,100 who, like Fanta, have had little or no formal schooling and are often illiterate in their native languages.

More than half of these arrive as older teenagers and land in the city’s high schools, where they must learn how to learn even as their peers prepare for state subject exams required for a diploma.

“They don’t always have a notion of what it means to be a student,” said Stephanie Grasso, an English teacher at Ellis Prep, which opened this fall and is New York’s first school devoted to this hard-to-educate population. “Certain ideas are completely foreign to them. They have to learn how to ask questions and understand things for themselves.”

Sasha will graduate high school at age 21, though in my more scared moments, I wonder if he'll graduate at all.  There's so much he doesn't know that other seventh-graders take for granted.  Sasha came to us not knowing that the earth revolves around the sun instead of the other way around.  He still can't add or subtract in his head.  He can't tell time and doesn't know how long a month is.

In high school, he'll be expected to complete four years of English, three years of math, and three years of science, among other requirements.  I don't know how he's going to do it.  It frightens me quite a lot.

stevenpiziks: (Default)
My children love some seriously bad cartoons.  Right now as I post this, Aran is watching SONIC X.  Who can be in any way upset by a villain called Eggman?  I also want to grab that whiny little hovering bluebird and crush it in an iron grip.  The characters and world make no sense whatsoever, even making allowances for the Japanese origin.

POKEMON is awful, too.  BAKUGAN--gah!

The animation in all of these is painfully cheap.  Half the time, the only thing that moves is the character's mouth.  The dialogue is embarrassingly bad.  The use of newscasters as narrators shows up as a really stupid trope over and over again, as does the trope of characters talking to themselves.  ("I have to cut the red wire, then green one.  No wait!  I have to cut the green one first.  Whew!  The bomb would have gone off if I had done it wrong.")  It's supposed to build suspense, but it only comes across as clunky and stupid exposition.  The plots alternate between incomprehensible and stupidly predictable.

They're awful.  But at least they're harmless, as far as I can tell.

One show, however, I've forbidden the boys to watch outright.  JOHNNY TEST is an American show that's jerky, loud, and gets them all worked up.  The humor is crude (they've done several episodes based on farting as just one example), the animation is dreadful, and the characters shout all the time.  Every so often, one of the kids sneaks it into the "record" section of the DVR, and I delete it.


Oct. 3rd, 2008 01:23 pm
stevenpiziks: (Default)
This morning Sasha had a fever =again.=  I decided that today I would stay home with him because I have the feeling the reason his illness isn't going away is that while he was home unsupervised, he wasn't =resting.=  I'm sure he was on the computer all freaking day playing video games, and that isn't good for recovery.  For PC games, you're sitting up, you have to concentrate, you get worked up (or Sasha does), and you don't take breaks (or Sasha doesn't.)

So I called in.  I dropped the other kids off at school, returned home, and banished Sasha to the couch.  He has three choices today: 1) watch TV; 2) read; 3) sleep.  He's only allowed off the couch to go to the bathroom or go to bed.

I also made sure he's eating decent food, since he runs to junk when left on his own, and I'm forcing a whole lot of fluids on him.

In between that, I put up more applesauce, got laundry done, gave a bath to Sam the Dog (who rolled in something awful and was smelling up the whole damn house), bleached stains out of the bathtub, mopped the floors, and planned out supper.
stevenpiziks: (Default)
Aran somewhere got it into his head that he needs to make muffins, specifically chocolate chip muffins.  He's been asking about it for a couple of days now.  Today, after Kala finished grocery shopping, we made them.

We used a standard recipe for muffins from a cookbook, and I asked Aran if we should make regular chocolate chip muffins or chocolate chocolate chip muffins.  He immediately voted for the chocolate chocolate chip ones.  We added cocoa and chips to the batter, spooned it into paper-lined muffin tins, and baked.  They came out perfectly, and now the whole house smells wonderful.


Sep. 7th, 2008 11:15 am
stevenpiziks: (Eek)
Last night, Mackie came into our room.  He said he'd had a bad dream and wanted to sleep with us.

He climbed into bed and immediately snuggled up to me.  It was very cute.  It also made for a restless night.  Poke poke.  Shift shift.  Rustle rustle.  Kick kick.  At about five o'clock, sandy-eyed and very tired, I picked him up and carried him to his own bed.

"Thank you, Daddy," he said, and went back to sleep.

Children survive to adulthood by being cute.


stevenpiziks: (Default)

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