This week was our first week of school. This will be our third year homeschooling, and I feel like a pro now. Haha! NOT!
We settled in very nicely, considering our ages & stages right now. Efton is in 3rd grade. Eliza is in 2nd grade. Our spunky 5 year old Elias is starting Kindergarten. Then we're doing preschool with the ever-eager Miss Ester. Should be a great year, if we can get the 2 boys adjusted to a new routine! They're not real... Uh... Go-with-the-flow.
So yeah, a great year... Except, am I forgetting someone? Oh that's right! Ezrah is 20 months. Enough said. Just, enough said.
After day 1, I was not sure how we would be accomplishing anything. I have yet to homeschool with a toddler boy running around. Ess was a toddler when we started, but she's a girl. Anyone with both boys AND girls can tell you: THEY'RE DIFFERENT! She would color, or stack blocks, or let me feed her snacks for almost 2 hours in the mornings. Then, we would take a break and finish up the rest when she took her (very predictable) 3 hour nap. We would even have time to play a game or do a big kid craft before she woke up!
Well, let me tell ya it's not that way this year. My sweet Ezrah was my most peaceful, calm & content baby. He is obedient. He is sweet. He rarely cries or acts out of control. He's a very secure baby! Actually, that's the problem. He is no longer a baby. He is a busy toddler.
By the end of day four, he had COMPLETELY disapproved of every single plan I'd had:
Sensory tubs? HAHAHA! He had launched the rice with measuring spoons. He had thrown beans at his sister. He had popped water beads. He had dumped almost an entire bin of rice. And all while smiling, saying "mommy, watch dis!" Sensory tubs + busy toddler boy = a mess. So much mess!
Then we tried busy bags. He's 100% uninterested. Can't peel stickers. Can't match much yet. Doesn't really care.
I then pulled out toys from our garage shelves that I normally cycle in every few months. That was ok. Not great, but got us through about 30 minutes of math one day.
So, then I thought maybe the pack-n-play was the solution. "New" toys inside & essentially a prison so he couldn't trash the rest of the house while I was reading history books. Wanna guess how long that lasted? Yep. 10 minutes!
At one point he had colored on one child's worksheet as he stepped on another child's. They both yelled and he clapped. Then, I got very concerned a little while later. He had walked into the family room to get a train that rolled in there. He found a marker (like a dog who finds the bone he hid). By the time I found him, he looked like the toddler version of "LA Ink"!
Thursday afternoon I scoured the Internet. Surely some homeschooling mother somewhere in the world has figured this out. And guess what? They think they have... They haven't.
"Busy bags" they said.
"Bring out different toys" they said.
"Sensory tubs saved my life" they said.
You know what one mom said? I can't even believe this. She claims that she lays out a piece of fabric on the floor, puts a few books and toys out, and her 2 year old plays there. He might step to the edge, but he understands there is a line he cannot cross. Really? Really?! Your TWO YEAR OLD behaves better than most 6 year olds. Congratulations.
So, I'm calling it! I'm calling BS on this whole idea of perfect, scripture-quoting-homeschooling with toddlers who also apparently wear angel wings! Do these children nap til they're 5 too? Oh man...
Here's the real deal. Toddlers are a handful. Homeschooling FOUR different grades, with 2 children that have special needs is hard. I've been up at 5:30am for the past week so I can get some quiet time with & a shower in before the kiddos get up... because once they're up, there is ZERO chance of any of those things happening. Guys. I'm exhausted. So lets not all act like its perfect & we love every second.
I don't. I can't. There was a moment on Thursday when there was very little to enjoy about homeschooling. However, today was better.
So, my lovely friends... lets drop the fake stuff & get real. And of course:
Here's to Monday!
If you've been following my posts, you know we have been walking through a lot of hard stuff with our 5 year old.
We were told he has ADHD & is on the Autism Spectrum, both of which I have been frantically trying to learn about since that initial doctor visit in April.
We were already experiencing the external things related with these:
Fits & tantrums
Lack of focus
The thing I was not prepared for was how it would affect me in a mental and emotional way.
SOMETIMES YOU CAN'T DO IT ALL.
I like to go. I don't sit still. I can't just do nothing! (Ahem, momma has ADHD too, if you haven't noticed) I like to have fun- the park, the zoo, the pool, crafts, and games...
Most of all, I LOVE parties & events!
But when my little monkey is having a rough day, sometimes we can't make that t-ball picnic happen. He needs a day off every 2-3 days where we don't go anywhere. On those days he plays by himself, he eats his favorite snacks, he picks what movie to watch at rest time, etc. And if he hasn't had a day off yet this week? You can bet whatever event we are at will not be fun for anyone... Momma in particular. Is it sad? Yep. Especially when it's a cousin's birthday party or a family function, but we have to do what's best for him, no matter who it upsets.
PEOPLE DON'T ALWAYS GET IT.
Even the person you would expect to understand, sometimes won't.
*When your kids are playing and you mention a behavior issue you're dealing with, they're the one that responds with "oh, that's just his age!"
*When you talk about your child's severe separation anxiety, that family member says "you know, the more you leave them the easier it gets."
*Or when you tell this mom about your kiddo's social anxiety, she says "Oh... He's not on the spectrum. I think he's just shy!"
The fact of the matter is, I might just need you to listen. I'm most likely not asking for advice from a parent who's child does NOT have special needs. You only see a part of my child's life, and you certainly do not see the struggles I face each and every day. To say those things, paints me as an over-reactor or that I am imagining these behaviors in my child! Yes, these might seem like normal "kid problems" to you, except for they are EXTREME. They are your child's fits & quirks times ten! FOR EXAMPLE...
My kid doesn't just want to pick his clothes out to be independent. He wears certain clothes bc pants without elastic send him over the edge, bc tags in his shirts make him scratch until he bleeds. I mean, at this very moment my son has had the same shirt on for 3 days bc he is so attached to it that changing said shirt would evoke a monumental meltdown, ending in him not eating the rest of the day because he's gotten so worked up that his stomach hurts! I'm not going to choose that fight. The shirt doesn't smell yet... Maybe I'll attempt it after bath tonight. ;)
(I'm also learning that mom's often say these things because their child has similar behaviors, but they are TERRIFIED that there could be something "wrong" with their child.)
HE CAN'T "JUST LEARN".
When I first discussed some of Eli's struggles with someone in our life, their reaction was "I realize he's not normal, but he's going to have to just learn that he can't behave like this!"
First of all, I'd like to mention that I ignored the "not normal" comment. I will save that for another day. :)
However, this person was completely unaware of what ASD & ADHD truly are. These are not things you just "get over". Trust me, I've tried my entire life to ignore ADHD. It doesn't just go away without a lot of hard work, many tools, and a huge support system! So we have begun to learn what is appropriate & what is not, but it's going to be a long road. It takes dealing with meltdowns in the same way I do with our 18 month old- patience, positive reinforcement, persistence, and did I mention patience? I understand that not everyone has the grace to do what I'm doing right now. That's why I pray for this person, because in this situation the child in their life DOES have special needs, and punishment for undesired behavior is definitely not the answer. Kids with ASD, in particular, think literally.
Hitting = hitting. They see no difference in hitting & "spanking". Yelling = yelling. They see no difference in yelling & "raising your voice".
In addition, these children are very sensitive. They might not seem to be, but they definitely are. They carry hurts & pain just like everyone else, if not more (because they have an AMAZING memory). So, we should be lovingly guiding them, rewarding positive behavior, hugging them when they will allow it, and understanding that it might be 1 step forward- 5 steps back... But it's teaching them nonetheless.
So please give us grace just as you would want... in church, in the store, at the pool, and at the zoo.
Please don't be offended if we can't make your birthday party, even if I RSVPed 2 weeks ago. If I text you at the last minute, you probably don't want us there anyway. We're still figuring things out!
Please feel free to pray for our family, and know that sometimes an offer to pray for us is usually more important than unsolicited advice, especially if you've never been down this road before.
We're learning so much, and growing closer as a family through this journey! I know God has such an amazing plan for our little guy... just as he does for our other children. I can't wait to see how it all plays out!
I am a mommy of SEVEN (yes 7) beautiful kids! They are amazing, wonderful, hilarious & the greatest babies I could ask for! I am married to my best friend & high school sweetheart, Michael.
I love to craft. I love to decorate. I am passionate about natural living & natural birthing. Sometimes I write stuff. I plan parties like my life depended on it. My favorite color is pink. My house is definitely NOT taupe. I typically cannot keep plants alive. I am only allowed to have dogs as pets because all others tend to have the same end result as the plants. Luckily my track record with kids is pretty good! Also, I drink a lot of coffee. And I really like tacos.