With a free mammogram from the New Zealand government.
– from my iPhone
With a free mammogram from the New Zealand government.
– from my iPhone
Mine is currently rolling around a problem in his head – he is hilarious, but his friends don’t yet get it. They ask him to stop being hilarious, but he is convinced that if he keeps being hilarious, eventually they will get the joke, and everyone will have a good laugh. In the meantime, they are throwing rocks at him. Actual rocks. And he keeps cracking jokes.
I put it to him that “most children are assholes”, and that expecting them to change will be an exercise in frustration, so he had better choose between sharing his gifts, and protecting his soft fleshy bits.
He is taking this under advisement, but thinks that hiding his light under a bushel won’t allow him to be true to himself. Ergo, children are weird.
Meanwhile, round three of “meetings with the school” starts tomorrow. Wish us luck!
I ask the question.
Squish: I want to go to that place. You know, the one I like but I can’t remember the name of?
Mama: Xi An Food Bar? (Our fave “rustic” Chinese noodle joint).
M: Hmmm. I’m getting a bit bored with that one.
S: I feel the opposite. Like I want to go there more and more.
S: But you respect my opinions, and I’m going to respect yours. We can go somewhere else if you like.
This time last year we were just settling in to Auckland, and visiting Hobbiton.
Not much has really changed. Squish is still (mostly) going to school happily enough, Mark seems to be enjoying arguing with data sets at work, and I am ticking along, mostly being a mum, and advocating for Squish at school, and also as the area delegate for Creative Fibre.
We all miss home. I miss watching my favourite little people growing up, miss watching Squish interact with his cousins and his grandparents. Mum and Dad have been here for a visit last month, and Bev & Ted are coming in a few weeks too, but it’s not the same as being able to see them every week. I guess homesickness has kicked in with the weather getting colder here.
Our little house in Westmere is a lot like the house in Denistone where Mark and I first lived together. It’s a draughty old council house that hasn’t had a kitchen renovation since it was built in (probably) the late 1930’s. But the location couldn’t be better, we see the sea every day as we drive down to our street, we are about 100m away from a gorgeous public reserve and a bit further to the community garden. The Countdown (Woolworths) is a 4 minute walk away, and the bus that goes from there goes right past Inigo’s school to Mark’s work.
I have met some wonderful new friends, and although uni doesn’t seem to be working out at the moment, life is good.
Squid has been riding his scooter since Grandma and Papa brought it over, and his balance has been getting better and better.
He’s been reluctant to transfer his skills over to a pedalled bike, but since his school now has a spiffy new bike track (and the gates are open on the weekends!), we decided to take the bike for a spin.
The bike was a Christmas present when he was 5, but it has hardly been ridden. Mark took the pedals off a few months ago so that he could use it as a balance bike, but it’s been hard to convince him to try.
Today, we had another go. And after 2 goes around without pedals, he was ready to try the pedals.
The playgrounds has been done up. And the camera only phone is working again.
We finally took the plunge and spent the money to have a full educational psych assessment for His Squishyness. $825 for two sessions over two days of 2 hours each. Except that he took so long, each session took three hours, and we were asked to come back for another hour the next day. On the third day, he answered more questions, and his fluid reasoning score increased – but he still left some of the questions unanswered.
He’s bright. Really bright. Like genius level clever.
But so fricking slow that it’s hard for a teacher to notice the clever. Like someone gave him a huge library of information to pack into his brain, but the librarian is senile. And maybe on psychoactive drugs.
He’s above the 99th percentile in general intelligence, but at the 27th percentile for cognitive efficiency. That is well into learning difficulty territory.
This “asynchrony” is referred to as being “Twice Exceptional”. Which means that we have a kid with a brain the size of a planet, who also has a significant learning difficulty. He’ll need extra time than most kids on lots of things, and less time on others. It’s going to mean he’ll need some really wonderful, creative, and patient teachers, and parents. There is also a very strong (99%) chance that he also has either Inattentive ADD, or something similar, but that is yet to be diagnosed fully.
It means we’ve been on the right track with how we have parented him, and how we have pursued the right educational opportunities, and not just let things slide. And now we have a lot of work to do, but at least we’ll have support, and guidance.
Location:Jervois Road,Herne Bay,New Zealand
Location:Hahei Beach Road,Hahei,New Zealand
“I’m cooking dinner tonight mama”.
“Oh. I think you might need some help?”.
“No. You Just do the boring stuff that I don’t want to do. I’ll do everything else.”
“Well, we might not have enough time for you to do it all.”
“But you see, it’s not just about dinner. I need to learn these skills for life.”
Squish’s classmates have discovered the “I’m not your friend any more” game. His two best friends from last year are in his class again this year, but seem to have found other things to do rather than play with Squish. As is normal for him, he welcomes all comers to “Planet Inigo”, but doesn’t really seem interested in visiting the “play spaces” of others.
Last week he was playing after school with some friends while I waited to chat with the teacher*. When I went to find him, he seemed upset. His friends had been throwing rocks and acorns at him, and hitting him. The young brother (pre-school age) of another kid was with them. The little one had been hitting him really hard, and E. said to Inigo, “you better run away, he might kill you”. Both comical, and deeply disturbing, as I have no doubt that this particular kid was giving it all he had.
So teachers and head teachers have been consulted, and we are trying to repair the relationship with the two others. I had a chat with him about popularity, and how things tend to work in schools.
“There will be the popular kids, the ones everyone likes and wants to be around. The ones who seem to always be happy and never have a problem. The ones who seem to pull invisible strings and make things happen. Then there are the ones with the invisible targets painted on them. The ones that always get picked on and harassed, who never seem to catch a break. And then there are the truly cool kids, the ones that (even if the other kids don’t get it) will be the artists and the rock starts and the ones who change the world. The ones who know themselves, and know what they like, and just get on with what they want to do, regardless of what anyone around them thinks, or does to try to stop them”.
“I think that sounds like me, mama”.
He’ll be ok.
(*issues with school are ongoing. Kid is still refusing to prove what he is capable of by doing any actual schoolwork, but complains endlessly about school being boring. Stay tuned for discussion of my efforts to navigate the system on his behalf)
Location:Dominion Road,Mount Eden,New Zealand
Up near Leigh, there is great snorkeling and diving. And Mark hasn’t been diving in ages, so I arranged for him to go out today on a charter boat.
But cyclone Pam is on her way, and the charter was cancelled. So we drove up to Leigh anyway, to check it out and have a picnic. The beach at Leigh was already under the influence of the cyclone, the water was way to rough for swimming, so we drove south a bit to Mathesons Bay.
A lovely picnic, a quick swim (Squish got dumped!), an ice cream, then we drove into the city to see Nano Girl, with free tickets we got through the school. A fab day all round!
Location:Webber Street,Westmere,New Zealand
The New Zealand government has a philosophy that all kids should be catered to in the school environment.
“The New Zealand School Trustees Association describes school policy as a framework that integrates culture and practice, values and actions. Inclusive schools ensure that the principles of inclusion are embedded in their policies, plans, and actions. They develop specific policies for the inclusion of students with special education needs…”
Which is great, right?
So Squish’s school has approached me to ask if I might consider helping out as a teachers aide for a few weeks while they get a more permanent person in to work with a new kid. I’ve started back at uni, so I don’t know if I’ll be able to juggle work and uni and family in the longer term.
The new kid has a global developmental delay, and he needs an aide with him the whole time while he is at school. I did my first shift today.
And it was fine. He’s a lovely kid, responsive and keen to try new things, and he has loads of energy and enthusiasm. It was hard work, but I can see that working with him has the potential to be quite rewarding in the long term.
But yesterday, a teacher in the same school told me that there simply wasn’t enough resources to be able to give my kid the differentiation and attention that he needs in order to be integrated into exactly the same school. That he would need to be home schooled if I wanted his learning to be tailored to his needs.
So much as I hate the whole “my kid is a precious snowflake” syndrome, it is rather a double standard to claim that the school can be all things to all kids – except the ones at the wrong end of the bell curve.
At the Mind Plus information session we went to last week, I asked about emerging research and best practice in the field of teaching gifted kids. Internationally, more countries are starting to have classes just for gifted kids, and that these classes give kids the best opportunity to develop their strengths and work on their weaknesses.
NZ policy is to cater to everyone, and giving extra support where it is required within the school setting – just not to kids like Squish, who struggle at the other end of the spectrum.