Monday, February 25, 2008

I Passed . . .

. . . the CBEST exam - at least according to my unofficial test scores emailed to me just today. I was rather concerned that my "scaled scores" indicated that I had barely passed by the skin of my teeth in the reading section. I HAD to check the CBEST website to figure out if that indeed was the case.

Well, after translating my three scores (reading, math, and writing) to percentage marks, I'm confused. I'm supposed to be working towards a math credential so that I can teach high school math. My scores are all over the place. My scores? A 76% in reading, an 86% in math and a 94% in writing. I suppose I can crank out an essay (or three*) but I can't read very well. And math?!?! . . . I'll be lucky if I qualify to teach elementary math. There was no calculus (or even linear algebra or geometry) so if that's the best I can do with very simple basic math, I think I have my work cut out for me.

Air Boss keeps asking me, "Are you sure you want to teach math?" This question combined with my adamant response that "a third of a third is a sixth" has proven to Air Boss that math is NOT my strongest subject. Oh dear. Did I tell you that I never even took college level math? I did take calculus freshman year but ended up dropping the class because I couldn't stay awake for the 8 AM class. I even woke up in class one day and found myself sitting with a completely different set of students - I had slept through the class exchange! Definitely not math teacher material.

I think I have some re-evaluating to do. In the meantime, in studying for the CBEST, I have figured out that a third of a third is two-thirds. Right?

* The CBEST writing section requires two written essays. I ended up writing THREE essays (yeah, right - one for extra credit) because my second essay had totally deviated from answering the question at hand. I erased 45 minutes of writing and started from scratch. I guess it was worth the mound of eraser dust, the four dull #2 pencils, and the cramped hand to rewrite it.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Working with 'Shroom

Good morning!
Originally uploaded by radioflyer007

Thank you so much all of you for your encouraging words after my last blog entry. It's been such a roller coaster ride with 'Shroom and ever since he has been diagnosed with developmental delays from the age of 15 months.

Yesterday I had a really bad day working with 'Shroom during homework time. It took TWO HOURS for him to finish his assignment. Before any of you freak out and wonder what kind of pressure these kinder kids are put under these days, the homework should have taken about 10 minutes. 'Shroom--well, he just takes longer. I was so frustrated with him, so angry. Like he was purposely trying to get a rile out of me. Then he started crying. It was awful. Despite having read parents "do not exasperate your children" (Ephesians 6:4) in small group just the day before and hearing how I'm to love my child the way he is (from many of you), I still lost it with him.

I shared about 'Shroom in my MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) small group. The women weren't all that fazed about my confession about losing my cool with my kid, but then the look of horror registered on their faces when I informed them that I don't know how to be a mother to a special needs child. Although I didn't feel judged by them in any way (they are a great bunch of moms and I know we all have our issues), I know that what I had said sounded awful. A mom getting aggravated with her special needs child. That's like picking on a poor defenseless child. Well, lately, 'Shroom is anything but defenseless now that Air Boss has equipped him (and Lolli) with two foot long foam swords (haha - a story for another time).

According to the Redondo Beach Unified School District, 'Shroom is classified as "mentally retarded." That was a really hard pill to swallow for Air Boss and me. We wanted this label removed and expunged from all school records the day it was assigned to him. The only reason why his records still stands with this label is that without it, he doesn't qualify for the services he's currently receiving.

I'm realizing that regardless of whatever label he has on his school records (paperwork which I will shred before it ever reaches his eyes), his meaning of self-worth and esteem comes from the people he cares about. I know that I have a big impact on 'Shroom's life and I'm trying my best to make my mark on his life a positive and encouraging one.

I feel so humbled and inadequate for this job. Had this been a paid position with quarterly or anual reviews, I would have been fired ages ago. Rest assured, I haven't received any awards or pay increases for my less than stellar moments.

Thank you everyone for your words of encouragement. I appreciate your care, your concern, and I definitely covet your prayers. Today's homework time was good. No yelling. No tears. And it didn't take two hours. Your prayers have definitely sustained this mom and her dear mushroom-head boy. =)

Friday, February 15, 2008

100th Day Celebration

Today marked the 100th day of school and I spent the day with 'Shroom and his class. Every kinder kid was required to bring one adult to school for the entire school day's 100th Day Celebration. I don't know if this 100th Day thing is a Californian thing or I've just been out of it since I've graduated from my public school days.

Regardless, it was an interesting day for me. I came home and told Air Boss I had a bad morning. Although the day wasn't about me, I felt torn between feeling sad for 'Shroom and angry at him. The parents accompanied the kids throughout five different stations in the classroom. From drawing pictures of themselves at age 100 to making Fruit Loop necklaces (with 100 Fruit Loops, of course!), I had to prod 'Shroom to get his work done. It was like pulling teeth. He would be last in finishing up his work and the fact that kids around him were zipping through their work made no difference to him. He was even last to finish up his pretzel stick and two doughnut holes (which conveniently make the number 100). And I had thought eating was something he could do quickly!

The Lima Beans
The first sad moment in the day came when the kids had to find 100 lima beans in the kindergarten playground. After each child was finished with his/her snack, s/he would get a plastic cup to start looking for the lima beans. The rule was that only 100 beans could be picked up otherwise there wouldn't be enough beans left for all the kids to collect 100. 'Shroom finished his snack so late that there were hardly any beans left. We had a hard time finding the first 20. We managed to make it up to 60 only because other kids had collected more than 100 and had to "throw" their beans back on the grass. 'Shroom got excited when he found the discarded beans. He didn't know that they were extras that were tossed by other kids. To me, it felt like we were picking up other people's discarded trash. It didn't help that 'Shroom spilled his cup of lima beans on a pile of discarded beans - we don't even know if we ever made it to 100. As usual, 'Shroom ran out of time.

The $100 Bills
The last event of the day was another sad moment for me as a mother of a slow child. A masked man (dressed as a hero figure) came to the playground and threw out fake $100 bills. Two kinder class (about 40 kids in all) ran outside screaming in excitement and picked up as many bills as they could find. The $100 bills were obviously photocopied (on green paper) and enlarged probably at least at 400% - they were not hard to find as proven by the many kids who had ARMFULS of bills. Other kids had thick wads of the reproduced play money. Guess how many 'Shroom collected?

NONE. As in not a single one. Zilch. Zippo.

I was watching with some other parents from the edge of the playground and my heart sank as I watched my first-born look around helplessly on the ground for money that had long been snatched up. In the brief moment that I had lost sight of him, someone (either another student or a compassionate parent) had handed him a bill. He came running to me proudly displaying the one bill that he hadn't even found.

Why couldn't 'Shroom simply be a normal five year old? How hard is it to gobble up a pretzel stick and two doughnut holes? How come when he counts, he always get stuck on the number 13 and then can't figure out what comes next? Why is it that he draws monochromatic stick figures (bug-eyed aliens is more like it) when all the other children are drawing multi-colored complex scenes? Why is it that he can't walk and count his steps at the same time? And why does it take him two to three times as long to complete anything? I know that we're not supposed to compare our kids to other children but believe me, if any of you have walked in my shoes, it's pretty darn hard to ignore the fact that your child is LAST in EVERYTHING.

This 100th Day Celebration - I don't know what to make of it. It didn't seem like such a great celebration to have to watch my child be last the whole day. I just don't know how to help him anymore.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Happy New Year

Happy New Year! It's been a long while since I've been able to blog (or rather, a long time I've been sitting on my bottom and trying to get motivated to write). I'm back from FL and Air Boss did an outstanding job taking care of 'Shroom and Lolli. For the ride back from the airport after picking me up, the kids were chanting, "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!" Once we got home, it was back to the routine of wanting Daddy to play with them. Daddy to give them a shower. Daddy to tuck them in bed. Yeah, it's tough to be the one to quit the career, do laundry, cook, clean, and serve these little people without any appreciation. Anyway, I had my time away from the kids and as much as I love my little ones, the time was great. I NEEDED to miss my kids.

Last week was a busy week where 'Shroom was Star of the Week in his kinder class. I had to quickly upload photos to Costco to print out so he would have photos to share with his class (our photo albums are still packed away somewhere). Air Boss, Lolli and I made a trip to 'Shroom's class at the end of the week and we got to share a bit about our family life as well as wish everyone a happy new year. The kids all got red envelopes but I'm so cheap, I didn't put money in them. They all got some "lucky candy" and a pair of chopsticks with a chopstick helper. The kids loved the plastic contraption that held the sticks together for easy use.

Haha - in my "spare" time, I took the CBEST exam (Californai Basic Examination Skills Test, or something like that). I had been studying for the past month or so and my fear was that I would fall asleep during the 4 hour exam. Falling asleep on two different practice exams was what cemented that fear in me. Anyway, I took the exam and I'm happy to report that I stayed awake for the entire time. Not sure about passing it though . . .

Well, we're looking forward to our first visit back to Boston. It will likely be the end of July or sometime in the beginning of August. This will be the longest I've been away from home. Although I miss home, I do feel guilty at times for enjoying the winter out here in LA. It's been a warm and sunny 76-78 degrees as of late. Air Boss had always said that extreme weather developes character. What does Southern California weather develop? . . .

Missing all you New Englanders. Hang in there. Spring will be here soon.