Last Friday, I had to take Sam into Newton, to drop him at the bus at Hebrew College. He was headed up to Camp Yavneh in NH for the Prozdor 9th grade Shabbaton.
So my neighbor picked up Sofia from school, and our new babysitter, R, took her to ballet class. I got home around the same time they did, and Sofia just about collapsed in my lap. She and Micah spent 20 minutes fighting over the real estate of my lap (really, kids, there's plenty of room for both of you!).
And then Sofia popped a fever.
So I missed my synagogue choir concert, for which I had been practicing for a few weeks. Kinda bummed, although it was nice to be home with my two little ones (David was still away, and now Sam was, too.).
I got Micah a ride to soccer - I thought his game was at 9am, but it was really at 2:30 - and Sofia and I just relaxed at home. She did not get a fever again; in fact, she was quite bubbly and bouncy. So when Micah left for his game, I took her over to the mall (I had to pick up my laptop, which was at Apple being repaired), to get her makeup done.
Sofia LOVES getting her makeup done. And Mama, being a total non-makeup person, is not much help. So she dressed up in her fancy outfit (purple leggings, purple dress that is too short to be a dress, silver sparkly shoes, purple headband, and puppy-dog pocketbook) and off we went. When we go to the mall, she marches over to the makeup ladies, who go totally gaga over Miss Cutie. We started at Nordstroms, and then went over to the MAC store (not the Apple store; it's makeup!).
And the MAC lady notices that one of Sofia's eyes is all goopy.
Ugh. Her nose had been stuffy all day, but now her tear ducts are clogged, which means allergic conjunctivitis.
The lady made up lips, cheeks, and one eye. I debated getting Sofia an emergency eye appointment, but really, I already knew what we needed to do, and already had the drops ready at home.
So we go home, and I wrestle her to get the drops into her eyes. NOT fun. We settle in for a quiet evening; Micah is exhausted from his game, too.
And then I get a call - from Camp Yavneh. Sam has had an Allergic Reaction to ... something. We have no idea what it was. Closest guess is something on the grass (they were rolling around on the field). His eye is all puffed up , and he has hives all over his body.
They gave him Benadryl, and asked that I pick him up at 9:30 am at Hebrew College the next morning, but when I spoke to him, he really wasn't feeling well.
So off I went to New Hampshire.
Got up there in about 2 hours. He was feeling a little better, but still looked horrible. We stayed for Havdalah and a quick bite of dinner, and then raced home. Stopped in Haverhill to get another EpiPen, since I had forgotten to bring Micah's and was sufficiently nervous without it.
Sunday morning, took Sam to pediatrician, who said to stay on the Benadryl for 48 hours. Which he did. Lots of sleeping; missed school on Monday. But by Monday evening he was fine. Whew.
Tuesday was normal (except that by now, I also had to use my eye drops, since she's shared the conjunctivitis with me.). Wednesday started out fine...
...until Sofia's school called to tell me her eyes were all goopy and watery and she was very "droopy". So I left work and picked her up. Assured the nurses that she had been on the eye drops since Saturday, but she really did look droopy. So we came home. She got right into pajamas (and tried to get me into pjs; I had to put them on over my dress). I gave her Benadryl, which helped. I napped, and Sam napped when he got home. Sofia never napped, but she relaxed.
I had a party that I was co-hosting that night (my dear friend V left MWJDS a few weeks ago to work in the real world again, and this was her going away party), so I left the boys in charge. They did fine.
Thursday, back to normal.
Friday...I have a day off from work, so I relax a bit in the morning (having gotten Micah a ride to school), and then go off to the gym. And when I get out of the gym, there is a message from Sofia's school nurse...
Sofia has eaten berries from a bush by the playground.
I rush to school. The custodian has brought in a sprig, and Mrs. B and I go online to figure out what Sofia has decided to snack on.
Which can be poisonous in sufficient quantity.
Which fortunately she did NOT eat. She only had one or two berries before Mr. C., the principal, caught up to her (he had been chasing her; I taught him "Red Light", too!).
Nurse and I spoke to Poison Control, who confirmed what we were reading online. Gave Sofia a glass of milk, and they kept having her drink water the rest of the day. She had a little tummy ache, but otherwise was fine.
The boys came home from school, and I went back to get Sofia. When I got home, Micah had injured his finger while they were playing football. At this point (Saturday) we think it's a sprain, but it does hurt a lot.
And while I was taking care of Micah's finger, I also had to help Sam, who had an infected finger that needed lancing.
CALGON, TAKE ME AWAY!!!
I've been mulling over this part of the post for a few days. Bringing Sofia back to her classroom on Friday helped contribute to the post, too.
At the public school, Sofia is mostly in the "sub-separate" class. What this means is that she is assigned to the Inclusion Class for second grade, and goes with them for Music and Art and PE and lunch. But all her Learning is done in the SubSep room, in individual or small group work.
When we first considered putting her in SubSep, I was scared. There was a little boy, D, with Autism, and he has a hard time making eye contact. His behaviors are different from normal.
I was assured by our wonderful SpEd team that they worked hard with all the kids on not picking up each others' less appropriate behaviors. And so far, it's been fabulous. Sofia continues to be her own person - which is pretty significant already, so who needs to copy someone else's behaviors.
But what I am noticing now is about me.
Now, when I go into the public school, most of the kids fade into the background. They are a large herd, a mass of brightly colored clothing and bland personalities.
What I see, very clearly and sharply, are the handful of kids from SubSep. I see them as they walk down the center hallway together. Some can walk independently - Sofia and her buddy H like to skip. One girl is in a wheelchair, and it might take her a while to respond to a "hi" or "bye". D still needs to have one of the aides hold onto his arm, or he tends to wander quickly away. Sofia has speech with N, and the speech teacher (who is my friend) says the two of them use so much sign language together, she is fearful of what they might be plotting against her.
But I see these beautiful children so crisply compared to the rest of the school. They each have their own personalities, their own behaviors. They smile in their own way and in their own time.
I see them coming down the hall, individually with an aide or in a small group. Most of them get dismissed from the front of the school, rather than from "walkers" dismissal, since they are likely not to stay put without watching. It works for me (especially because I have to grab Sofia and race to get Micah twice a week).
I feel that Small Group learning is best, not just for students with special learning needs, but for ALL students. On Friday, when Sofia and I finished in the nurses' office, I took her back to class. She wanted to go to her Inclusion classroom, so we popped our heads in.
There had to be more than 20 kids, all sitting at desks in straight lines, all learning in the ONE way the teacher was teaching.
That's not true learning. That's parroting.
When I took Sofia into the SubSep room, they were playing Simon Says. They each have their own way of ... being. RL, the girl in the wheelchair, was standing, but needed to be supported by the teacher. H was bouncing around next to them. The boys were all rolling on the floor - Sofia joined them. They were all having fun, and all responding to the other teacher's "Simon Says" commands in their own ways. They each got their own commands, too; a customized version of the game.
It was just so much more appealing than the regular classroom.
So I am grateful for the ability to have my children in smaller classes. Sofia in SubSep. Micah at the day school (so far; he wants to go to a bigger school next year because he wants to be with more friends. That's a whole different post...). Sam is in the supported classes at the High School, and doing great. He has a 98 average in History, and nearly as high in English; the two topics he needed the most support for last year! And he's in the Learning Center, which means that even when he is in the bigger class for Honors Geometry, there is still someone looking out specifically for him. He still gets his testing accommodations, which make all the difference in the world for him.
I am just so glad it's going well, and I wish all children could have the opportunities my own kids have.