This week, we’ve had to help Max get some additional help in school. He is doing ok academically but had a straight up panic attack before a day full of assessments. His teacher seems to test them more often than not and it has been a constant battle of helping him deal with the stress of it. During one of my parent-teacher conferences, I realized that a lot of the issues Max struggles with are some of the same issues I have. It’s hard for me to multi-task if it involves words. I can paint and listen to a book or a show. Fold laundry and watch a show, etc. But if I am texting or reading and someone is trying to talk to me, it’s as if I don’t even hear their voice. In fact, this weekend, while dealing with a massive migraine, I took an adult dose of excedrin and discovered that instead of amping me up with all of that caffeine, I just felt incredibly relaxed. I texted my dear friend, “Is this what it feels like to be normal?” I don’t really know what it feels like to be relaxed on a normal basis, so this excedrin dosage made me feel “high.” Though as Andy reminded me, I’ve never really felt high before in my life, so how would I know what that feels like. Maybe “normal” just feels so good! Anyway, after many texts between the teacher and I, two Parent-teacher conferences, and these panic attacks, I realized I needed to get Max help. It isn’t ok for a fourth grader to be struggling emotionally this early on in their academic path. I talked to the teacher about some accommodations we might make to help him and she explained, either by choice or maybe it’s school policy, that she can’t make accommodations until he gets a 504. I find this very sad. When I was a teacher, I was also working on my masters and one of my favorite classes was called “Differentiation in the Classroom.” Which essentially is adjusting how you teach and offering different opportunities for each type of learner. Because I taught ESL (English as a second language) and many of my students had never been to school before, I had to learn to adapt and teach according to their understanding. I had students varying from never hearing the alphabet before to reading on a sixth grade level at the beginning of the year. Some students made tremendous growth based on their determination and their parents’ involvement, but others did not. It didn’t matter to me what their abilities were, I did my best to adjust how I taught if I could see they were struggling.
The good news is, we were able to get Max some help within a week of starting the process. From my experience as a teacher, this was incredibly fast. Usually it took months for anything to get going. I printed out some forms for the teacher to fill out, not even sure if they were the right forms, but it turned out they were! I filled out some from the parent’s perspective too and when I handed them to the doctor, he was ready to help us out instantly. I am so grateful and have no doubt the Lord had his hand in getting Max help as quickly as we did. I just hope that the teacher’s accommodation portion is just as quick. I really think that with this added help, Max will really be able to reach his greatest potential academically. I feel bad that Max has inherited this trait of mine, but I learned to navigate it without even knowing I had it, and I think Max can too with help, love and guidance like I got.
With all of that going on, plus I was in charge of “Great to be baptized,” we took our kids to the zoo on Monday, I hosted book club on Thursday (more on that in a bit), I felt totally spent by the time the weekend arrived. Book club was a lot of fun, but a bit of work to get ready for. Admittedly, I was busy listening to a book by Brandon Sanderson, called “Way of Kings” (the fourth book which is called “Rhythm of War”) and I was really into this book so it was hard to put it down to read, “Beneath a Scarlet Sky.” But once “Beneath a Scarlet Sky” got going, it was hard to put down too! Needless to say, I spent a lot of time in books when I wasn’t juggling the other things I mentioned above. “Beneath a Scarlet Sky” is a World War II era novel. It is kind of based on a true story, but very loosely as I learned after reading it, that being said, it was an incredible story of a man from Italy named, “Pino Lella.” He was a teenager when the war started and joined the Nazi army to avoid being essentially sacrificed by the draft. Hitler was using the Italian Fascists to go to the front lines, while using his Nazi army to do the other essentials of war– like building machinery etc. Pino did not want to join the Nazi’s but his mother insisted in order to save his life. Very shortly after joining he was involved in a bombing and nearly lost some fingers. He was sent to convalesce at home where he ran into a Nazi General Leyers. He helped Leyers’s driver fix the engine and consequently got Leyers’s Driver’s job. Because of his position, he was asked by his uncle to be a spy for the Italian resistance. In his position he saw the absolute horrors of WWII and couldn’t do anything about it, except report back. His intel saved lives and helped end the war more quickly. I learned a lot about WWII during this book, but also what dreadful things fear can make us do. It can lead to hate, destruction, genocide, and more. At the end of the war, those who hated the Nazi’s executed Nazi officials and others accused of sympathizing or helping the Nazi party. Some of that is understandable, but they rushed it and I’m sure some innocents died due to their need for vengeance and blood. After the executions, their bodies were defiled and desecrated. It is quite sad to see that it wasn’t just the Nazi’s who stooped to the level of the inhumane, and also reminds us to pause and reflect before we start lumping an entire people into one category or the next.