Red Balloons and a Happy ‘Co-lation’

The red balloons are all over town today. The red balloons that DC loves to much….

It must be close to ‘Co-lation’ (Graduation) Day at the high school….

From June 2015:

We may never pass this way again – Happy ‘Co-lation’


IMG_0382
It’s that time of year when the red balloons decorate mailboxes all over town, indicating a member of that family is ‘Co-lating’ (DC-speak = Graduating) from the high school this week. Every year when I start to see these balloons, I remember DC’s ‘co-lation’ and his balloons.

DC always noticed these balloons around town and I always told him that when it was time for him to graduate, he would find balloons of his own on our mailbox. I think this was one of the big things he was looking forward to when ‘Co-lation’ came around for him.

Somewhere close to the end of the school year, among all of the other “senior-specific” notices that came home was the balloon order. We order them ahead of time, in any amount we wish. Knowing how much DC was looking forward to these balloons, I tried not to get carried away (because that is what I do) with an order of 12 – I decided to go with the norm – 3 or 4. DC’s friend *Candi had been moved up a year so that she could walk at ‘Co-lation’ with the friends she had gone to school with all of her life and move on to the transition program at the college with them. Due to the crack record-keeping skills at the High School, Candi’s mother *Coach, never received any of these senior notices including the balloon order form.

(I continued to receive a report card at the end of every semester for a full two years after DC left the high school. Yes, the transition program was part of the public school system but these report cards came complete with glowing reports from teachers he no longer had, about subjects he hadn’t taken since he left the high school. Not to worry, *Coach did receive all of the “senior” notices, including the balloon order form the following year when *Candi was also no longer at the high school.)

The delivery of said balloons took place during the school day so that the balloons were there on the mailboxes when the students arrived home. *Coach actually found one of the balloon delivery people on the road and stopped her to ask if they had even one extra that she could purchase for *Candi. The woman making the deliveries told her that due to the high winds that day, many of the balloons had popped or deflated and she barely had enough to make her deliveries.

I do not remember why I was home early from work that day, I am guessing it was for a dental appointment because I seem to spend my life at the dentist, but I came home to a bunch of deflated balloons on the mailbox. Fortunately I had a little bit of time before DC arrived home so I ran around town trying to find a few replacement balloons so there would at least be something on the mailbox when he came home. There was no way he would miss seeing all of the other balloons on his way home and if he did, there were some in perfect condition right down the street that he definitely would not miss.

Red balloons were not to be found anywhere in town and graduation balloons in any color were in short supply. I didn’t have enough time to leave town and search elsewhere, so I had to settle for two blue graduation balloons. *Coach being out on the same hunt, also had to settle for blue.

I got them home in time and he had his balloons when he got off the bus. They were blue and I told him that he received a better color because he is just that special. He was happy. His friend *Candi had the same color, of course…….. because they are both very special people.

********************

Just an added throwback; this song was THE Graduation and/or Prom song when I was a kid. Although it did come out right around the time of my 8th grade graduation, it wasn’t mine but it always comes to mind when I think about a graduation:

******

Update: 6/20/15 – After reading this post, my friend *Coach reminded me how the rest of Graduation Day went….

My car broke down bringing DC to rehearsal in the morning (my car also broke down the morning of his middle school graduation and I had a flat tire the day of his elementary school graduation) – *Coach lost her front tooth, so she was determined to go the remainder of the day – rehearsal, the ceremony and the after party without talking or smiling. That made for great Graduation pics!

Advertisements

#TBT We may never pass this way again – Happy ‘Co-lation’

IMG_0382 It’s that time of year when the red balloons decorate mailboxes all over town, indicating a member of that family is ‘Co-lating’ (DC-speak = Graduating) from the high school this week. Every year when I start to see these balloons, I remember DC’s ‘co-lation’ and his balloons.

DC always noticed these balloons around town and I always told him that when it was time for him to graduate, he would find balloons of his own on our mailbox. I think this was one of the big things he was looking forward to when ‘Co-lation’ came around for him.

Somewhere close to the end of the school year, among all of the other “senior-specific” notices that came home was the balloon order. We order them ahead of time, in any amount we wish. Knowing how much DC was looking forward to these balloons, I tried not to get carried away (because that is what I do) with an order of 12 – I decided to go with the norm – 3 or 4. DC’s friend *Candi had been moved up a year so that she could walk at ‘Co-lation’ with the friends she had gone to school with all of her life and move on to the transition program at the college with them. Due to the crack record-keeping skills at the High School, Candi’s mother *Coach, never received any of these senior notices including the balloon order form.

(I continued to receive a report card at the end of every semester for a full two years after DC left the high school. Yes, the transition program was part of the public school system but these report cards came complete with glowing reports from teachers he no longer had, about subjects he hadn’t taken since he left the high school. Not to worry, *Coach did receive all of the “senior” notices, including the balloon order form the following year when *Candi was also no longer at the high school.)

The delivery of said balloons took place during the school day so that the balloons were there on the mailboxes when the students arrived home. *Coach actually found one of the balloon delivery people on the road and stopped her to ask if they had even one extra that she could purchase for *Candi. The woman making the deliveries told her that due to the high winds that day, many of the balloons had popped or deflated and she barely had enough to make her deliveries.

I do not remember why I was home early from work that day, I am guessing it was for a dental appointment because I seem to spend my life at the dentist, but I came home to a bunch of deflated balloons on the mailbox. Fortunately I had a little bit of time before DC arrived home so I ran around town trying to find a few replacement balloons so there would at least be something on the mailbox when he came home. There was no way he would miss seeing all of the other balloons on his way home and if he did, there were some in perfect condition right down the street that he definitely would not miss.

Red balloons were not to be found anywhere in town and graduation balloons in any color were in short supply. I didn’t have enough time to leave town and search elsewhere, so I had to settle for two blue graduation balloons. *Coach being out on the same hunt, also had to settle for blue.

I got them home in time and he had his balloons when he got off the bus. They were blue and I told him that he received a better color because he is just that special. He was happy. His friend *Candi had the same color, of course…….. because they are both very special people.

********************

Just an added throwback; this song was THE Graduation and/or Prom song when I was a kid. Although it did come out right around the time of my 8th grade graduation, it wasn’t mine but it always comes to mind when I think about a graduation:

******

Update: 6/20/15 – After reading this post, my friend *Coach reminded me how the rest of Graduation Day went….

My car broke down bringing DC to rehearsal in the morning (my car also broke down the morning of his middle school graduation and I had a flat tire the day of his elementary school graduation) – *Coach lost her front tooth, so she was determined to go the remainder of the day – rehearsal, the ceremony and the after party without talking or smiling. That made for great Graduation pics!

Everything is related – Toy Story

The second in a series of “Everything is Related” entries:

Everything is related; from an earlier post – Everything is related – Mary Poppins to New York City:

– Everything being related, many times, is the ability to relate one movie or actor to another. This has helped him to be more open to watching something that may not be Disney-based. This was not always the case, but now he can go and enjoy a movie with his friends or at an ARC activity without issue……..

Everything being related, oftentimes just explains his love for a particular city, game, song or some of the many other things that he does or says.

Everything being related,  has, many times been used as a learning tool. “

This post is about just that…

ts

DC as Woody and Candy as Jessie from Toy Story – Halloween

 

EVERYTHING IS RELATED – TOY STORY…..

Again we start at Disney. Disney, Disney, Disney anything Disney. When the first Toy Story came out way back when, I wasn’t sure DC would really go for it at all. Yes, it was Disney, but it was not the Disney he was used to. There were no princesses, no castles, no Haley Mills and most of all, no music. Of course I know that there was music, but not the “Hollywood musical” type of music – characters would not be belting out a song at the drop of a hat. DC was never a “toy” kind of kid. He never really liked or played with toys, so the toys in the movie were nothing that he would be familiar with. But, to my surprise, he loved it AND the two that came after. This boy who does not like toys actually owned a Woody, Buzz, Mr. Potato Head and a Jessie. No, he did not want to play with them, he just wanted to own them.

Tom Hanks brought him to “The Polar Express” and of course “Saving Mr. Banks” (also related to Mary Poppins).

Tim Allen…..Tim Allen….. he loves Tim Allen. That love brought him to “Jungle to Jungle”, all of the Santa Clause movies, “Christmas with the Kranks” and “Home Improvement” (yes, woo hoo, an actual TV show)…. but there is more…..

When DC was younger, transitioning into a new school was never easy, but it did seem to be easier on him than some of his other friends (and me).  “School age” for Special Education here is 3-21 years of age. So there were many moves and many transitions during his time in the school system – kindergarten building to elementary, to middle school, to high school. The school handled these transitions very well. They started early with many tours of the new school, picture books with photos of the classroom and other areas of the school and a few visits (orientations) with parents. DC was always anxious about these moves but he always did rather well due to all of the work the school system and I put in to make the transitions go as smoothly as possible.

The number of children in SPED in DC’s age group seemed to be much larger that the kids moving up in previous years. This meant that the schools they were moving up to had a lot more students to accommodate at one time than ever before. We always joked that our kids always seemed to be the “test subjects” for these new or expanded programs. At times this did not go well.

When DC was in his junior year, I started looking at alternate programs for him to attend for his last two years of school. DC would walk with his class at graduation at the end of his senior year (at 18) and then either spend two more years in the high school or I could have him out-placed into a different program that focused more on getting him ready for the next phase – a work/day program and life. I already knew I did not want him in the high school for another two years and I was already leaning towards another program the next town over. Mid-senior year, the high school announced that they were creating a transition program of their own in conjunction with a local university. It would be up and running in time for our kids to start that September. The program they came up with sounded wonderful but, our kids would be the first ones through and again the “test subjects”. This worried me.

On the other hand, I was torn because it had only been over the previous couple of years that DC recognized “friends”. He had real friends. Not just the children of my adult friends, but real friends. People that HE considered friends. Friends that he did things with and wanted to do things with. DC had always gravitated more towards adults and with the exception of his friend of many years, BB, did not pay much attention to kids his age at all. I didn’t want him to lose that connection. I rationalized that “social skills” were one of his major issues and if I tried this program and really did not like it, I could always move him to the other program I was looking at earlier.

Putting this program together was a long process. Obviously there are many legal issues to address when creating this type of program. By mid-summer the other parents and I were beginning to panic that this program was not going to be up and running by September. Fortunately by August it was a go, but they had lost all of that transition time they would have had during the school year. We did get to visit a few times before the school year started and I did talk to him about it all summer. Some of my friends children have siblings that went off to college so in turn their children expected to go off to college too. DC doesn’t think like that. He doesn’t have any expectation of what should come next. He lives in the ‘now’ until the ‘now’ changes to a new ‘now’, but we were calling it ‘college’ for everyone’s benefit. “College, College, College” he was going to college. I was still worried, having missed all of that transition time.

Toy Story 3 had come out right around this time. We bought the DVD and watched it at some point during that summer. It didn’t even occur to me while we were watching it or even up to the point when DC was standing at the front door waiting for the bus on the first day of school, that he made a connection in his head with the movie…..

He turned to me and said “Mom, I am going to college, just like Andy in Toy Story”

….. and he was.

With that, everything was just fine.

I can see clearly now….

DC has worn glasses since he was 4 or 5 years old. Originally only for distance but he quickly took to wearing them all of the time.

I was a little bit apprehensive when it occurred to me that it was time to start taking him to have his eyes examined. He was not verbal at all and was not very cooperative with doctors. His pediatrician would strategically place wastepaper pails around the examining room when DC was due to come in for an appointment because he would work himself up to vomiting – everywhere –  every time.

Even now, though so much more agreeable, I do still have to bring reinforcements – his Dad and Doug, when he has to have a shot The 4 of us go marching into the examination room along with a nurse and the doctor. As hard as we try, we can not hold onto this boy.  The doctor really just ends up chasing him around the room in the hopes of getting a lucky shot.

I will always remember a little girl that was in DC’s Birth to 3 class. She was just a tiny little thing, with the strongest, thickest glasses I have ever seen. She, like DC was non-verbal. Even with those thick, thick glasses, the teachers had to get right up in her face so she could see them. I remember one day, walking into DC’s classroom to visit (I worked 5 minutes away and visited often) and there she was without the glasses! Her mother explained that she had changed eye doctors just recently and the new doctor had determined that she did not need glasses at all, she never did! So needless to say, I really wasn’t looking forward to having DC’s eyes examined.

Yes, he could sign the letters on the eye chart but if he was not in the mood to cooperate that day – how would we know if what he was signing was actually what he was seeing? Before we even get to that point, how could I explain to him that we wanted him to sign the letters he was being shown?

I finally thought I found a doctor that understood the situation and brought DC to his first appointment. The doctor did say that his vision was not 20/20 and he would probably need glasses eventually. It would be helpful but not 100% necessary at this time. He did suggest that I may want to do it now so he had the chance to get used to them. That is what I did.

dcglasses

It really did not take that long for him to get used to the glasses and his teacher reported that he was much more focused in the classroom. I must say, he is and has always been very good with his glasses. He has not lost or broken any pair he’s had over the years (knocking wood).

After a couple of years and after a few screw-ups, we switched to another doctor in the practice.
This worked out well for awhile, but eventually, after so many issues that you might think were a work of fiction if I wrote them down- we left that practice altogether and not very quietly.

The last few times DC needed a new prescription and while we were still going to the doctor mentioned above, I opted to just change the lenses in his frames. Some changes are not all that difficult for him , but when it comes to glasses, shoes or switching seasonal coats and jackets, he has a hard time. It was becoming apparent that these frames were not going to last very much longer, so it was time to find a new doctor and get new frames, whether he needed a new prescription or not.

We found a new eye doctor that came highly recommended by my brother and sister-in-law. It was just amazing how smoothly this appointment went. I did not even have to explain to the doctor that given the choice of two options, he will almost always choose the last one, just because it is the last thing he heard. We were in and out in less than an hour, where as if we had gone to his previous doctor, this exam would have taken two very long visits and then the follow up visits to correct what they had done incorrectly.

Our previous doctor had an optical shop on site. This new doctor did not, so off we went to a department store where plenty of other people I knew bought their glasses. We started the process of trying on different frames.  As expected, DC was anxious.  He yelled “No!” to each and every pair that he tried on. Now it is never really clear if he just does not like the frames or if he is saying “no” because  the sample frames just have regular glass in them and he can’t see. I have tried to explain this to him many times, but I am really not sure that he understands.

I do not know if he was just tired of trying on frames or if he actually liked the pair that he had on his face at that moment, but he finally said “Yes”! The girl who was helping us was so very excited – “He said ‘yes’!” . Once she said that out loud, he went back to “No”.  I had a “yes” for a minute, I wasn’t going to let it go that easily. I asked him to look in the mirror. He did. A customer that must have been listening to this whole exchange (how could one miss it?) told him that he looked very handsome in those glasses. He was sold.

We sat down to place our order. At this point DC had enough and it was time for a panicked sprint to the restroom with me running behind yelling for him to slow down, as he raced to the other end of the store. He does this when he becomes overwhelmed. It is also his way of trying to get out of doing something he doesn’t want to do. I assumed I was in for the long haul as much of my life is spent standing outside the men’s room or yelling into the men’s room. To my surprise, he calmed down relatively quickly for him, but I am certain the girl waiting to finish our order was probably thinking we had skipped out on her. We finally made it back to complete the order and were told his glasses would be ready in less than a week.

I got the call 4 days later that his glasses were ready to be picked up. I didn’t want to wait until the weekend to go as his glasses were on their last legs, so I asked Mrs. H to take him after he got home from his program.

I was home from work by the time they arrived home. DC walked in wearing his old glasses carrying the new glasses in the case. He didn’t realize that now that he had the new glasses, he was actually supposed to wear them. I don’t really know what he thought he was supposed to do with them, but wearing them was not on the list.

Old wire frames

Old wire frames

I asked to see them. I asked him to put them on and explained to him that his old glasses were ready to fall apart and he should start wearing the new ones. He put them on and I put his old glasses in the case and stored them away just in case we ever needed a temporary pair. He was fine for a little while, but later came into the kitchen looking around very determined to find something. I asked what he was looking for and he replied “Glasses”. He was looking for his old glasses. He still did not understand that he was supposed to be wearing the new ones.

I really was beginning to think that this was going to be more difficult than I originally thought. I explained again that his old glasses were going to fall apart and this is why I bought him new glasses. He has to wear the new ones. He should be able to see much better wearing the new pair too.

Just like that, he left the kitchen and never asked for the old glasses again. I was impressed. This had to be the easiest transition to anything we’ve ever experienced.

First he chose frames that were dramatically different from the old frames and then after only an hour or two, let the old pair go and never looked back.

New Black Frames

New Black Frames

 

 

 

 

We can’t have it both ways…. but it’s still a little bit sad.

Today was my son’s first day attending day camp this summer. He has attended this camp since he was 5 – he’s 22 now.

Every summer he was able to attend camp all summer long, even staying after until 8pm for a special after camp program they hold twice a week. He loves it there.

Now that he’s 22 and aged out of the school system, he is in a work program, year round. When I started looking at programs for him I was shocked that they didn’t get the summers off!

Of course they don’t, they are adults and have to do their job every day, just like we do. But it was a rude awakening for me at the time.

Everything changes after “school-age”. He’s aged out of Challengers baseball. Seventeen years of baseball….over. No more February vacations, Spring Vacations or Summer vacations. He’s “working” now, with 3 weeks’ vacation, holidays and some sick days, just like everyone else. This was probably the hardest transition for me so far. I have to think to call “work”, “work” and not “school”. It takes a minute, when I panic that I haven’t set up anything for February vacation – to realize that there is no February vacation any more. Becoming an Adult may actually be harder on me that it is on him. It’s just such a huge change.

Yes, I know we are moving into adulthood and working toward independence; as much independence as his capabilities will allow.  Yes, I know this was the goal all along, but on the other hand, he’s still so much a child. He’s still watching “Barney” (22 years of Barney! That’s a Support Group I need to form, anybody?), he’s still reading and watching Disney and is not embarrassed to hug and kiss his Mom.  On some level, for me, as much as I always work and hope for more progress, I love it,  it’s nice.

This should be a happy time, and of course it is. He is an adult. He is in a program that he loves, but when summer comes around and it’s time for Camp to start, it’s a little bit sad that he doesn’t get to spend a fun filled, happy-go-lucky summer at camp as he used to. He only gets his two weeks.

Because…..he’s an adult now………