Thursday, December 16, 2010

What to do

My husband and I visited another school today. Once again, I am left struggling with what to do. Mary is very happy at her current school, we have been happy with her current school. Our reasons for looking into another school for Mary have little to do with academics, and more to do with socialization, and the influence other children have on Mary. We are starting to see some things that have made us feel we may need a more "controlled" environment. One that stresses and teaches social skills. This has led us to a small Catholic run school for children with special needs. I knew this school existed, but thought they only accepted children with Down Syndrome. I have since found out that is not the case, however, 50% of the school is populated with Downs children. When we talked to the principal, we both knew immediately that the description of the curriculum as well as other activities at the school were perfect for Mary. Then we took a tour of the school and visited classrooms.

Well, what we saw was wonderful, kids making gingerbread houses, quiet, peaceful surroundings, Virgin Mary statues in the garden, etc... But... these kids were mostly Down Syndrome, some with obvious severe developmental disabilities. I am ashamed to admit this, but it kind of made me uncomfortable, almost fearful. Then, I guess I had a realization that maybe this is how some people react to Mary. Only with Mary, to look at her and even to sometimes talk to her, you wouldn't know, until she starts getting weird on you. I do believe that it is mostly kids that feel this way, and this is why kids at her school react to her the way they do sometimes. Hence, the reason for looking at another school. Mary has got more going on than just learning disabilities. Mary is considered "mentally educable", her IQ is in the extremely low range. Most of your learning disabled kids can have an average IQ and still not be able to read. So how does an average IQ'd child from a questionable home with mild learning disabilities react when Mary tries to strike up a conversation? Let's see, one little boy in her class threatened to bring a knife to school and stab her to death. Apparently he plays too many violent video games. Not an excuse if you ask me! Trust me, we, and the school, are dealing with this. So what does Mary do when she feels unaccepted by her peers? Well, the teenagers are nice to Mary, they think she's cute, and this is why she gravitates towards them.

So, what do we do? I wish somebody would just tell me what is the right thing to do for her. We tried play therapy, but her mental challenges made it difficult for the therapist to "play" with her. I am going to bring Mary to the school, and just let her look around and get a read on how she feels. In the mean time, we will pray, pray, pray. Hopefully an answer will come. Either way, we have the rest of the year to think about it. There is no room for Mary this year, and maybe by next school year, something else will come up.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Do we ever really grow up?

Since Mary's school goes up to 12th grade, I have been concerned with certain friendships she has made with older kids. I, as you know am not happy with her pre-occupation with the teenage boys. I have talked to the teachers at school and they keep a close eye on her, and encourage her to hang out with kids, especially girls, her own age. The other day while I was picking Mary up from school, one of her teachers came out to talk to me about a boy Mary has bonded with. This particular boy is a teenager, but has the mentality of a 9 year old. The teacher has been keeping an eye out and wanted to know if I wanted the friendship to continue. This I found was a tough one to answer. I do not want to discourage Mary from being friendly, especially when that friendship is to someone who does not fit in with kids his own age. After all, this is the exact problem Mary has! So, I told Mary she can say hi, chat a bit, but not hang out. He may have the mentality of a 9 year old, but I still need to discourage her from hanging with big kids. Mary cannot tell the difference between a teenager with a teenage mentality or a teenager with a child's mentality. So, I gotta do what I gotta do....

Between this, Mary's belief in Santa, and some other issues with my other children, I have been pondering some things.
Do we ever really grow up? I know at my age, I have quiet a few hang ups that stem directly from my childhood. I am totally aware of these things and know I am an adult now, but I still can't seem to shake them. I know it affects my relationships with my children as well as my husband. I know my husband so well, that I know that there are things he does and says that come from his childhood. I know it, but it doesn't stop me from getting angry with him. I know how I deal with the problems my children may be having will directly affect them as adults. So, the child in me worries that I am going to do it all wrong, but the adult in me knows better. This to me seems like a viscous cycle of which none of us ever truly grows up or out of. Surely there is a way of parenting that ensures our children can actually be adults without all the childhood hang ups? Do I feel like researching this to make sure my kids become normal functioning adults? No, not really. I am sure some of these hang ups have kept me from getting into a lot of trouble as an adult. So, I will keep this viscous cycle going.