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Raising little Westies, and life as parent of a special needs son
Tonight I’m letting some photos of my three wonderful kids do all the talking. My lovely wife Bec over at WestyCentral arranged for our kids to be photographed by Stage Struck. Apparently people who take photos for a living can do a pretty good job.
Here we are in August and the mighty St Clair Crows under 10s have one round left. Since commencing our involvement with the Junior AFL, this has been our most arms-length season to date.
About this time last year, I was all but announced as a coach for 2012, when it beck clear that something unusual was going in at work. So it turned out that this year, whole Bec took on the task of getting kids to training mid week, I pretty much took on game-day and to no small extent, laundering of the guernseys (although that has been shared with Bec or the kids to some extent).
Football this year has been a massive undertaking. And that is without getting along to any pro games at all in the inaugural season of the GWS.
But it has been hugely worth it.
The kids football team has been a social link to the community I take myself away from, yet my wife and kids live in day in, day out. I have started to form a few fantastic friendships there, with the ring-in watergirl being at the top of the list.
They have managed to throw us Westies in a spin a few times, with their confused rosters, and giving me jobs to do when I should be spending every single moment watching and interacting with my little BTB Fan. But it’s been great and I’ll probably miss it.
About three weeks after I catch up on my sleep in weekends!
Here I am watching TV. I try not to too much but it happens.
On SBS Insight they are talking about “Forgiveness.” It’s an interesting topic to me, for quite a few reasons.
Many years ago now, my now sister-in-law’s brother was shot in an argument over what seemed to be a fairly casual relationship for both himself, and for the guy who killed him. Years later, I went on to work for over ten years in the gaol system in New South Wales. While there, I formed a great friendship with an Anglican prison chaplain, and discussed a wide range of topics over quite a few years. Including, forgiveness.
In the disabled community – forgiveness is a bit of an elephant in the room for a lot of people.
There is the disabled person. The person who is actively caring for the disabled person. Then there are all the rest of the people who share their life with the disabled person.
Everything we do, there is the burden that comes with making a choice – the more time I spend with my wife, the less I can spend with my children, but if I don’t spend enough with my wife where will my children and I be? At the same time, the more time I spend with my disabled son, hopefully, the more he will grow and develop, and become an independent, capable, “productive member of society” (the alternative of course being he will only be a burden on society).
Having made these choices, I then consider what my other children, my wife, and the rest of my family will make of the choices I have made. Some of these choices have been quite black and white: I have outright chosen to take my life in one direction at a direct cost to other parts of my life.
I hope that the example of forgiveness I set for those who are important to me is noticed, and taken on board, by the people my choices have an impact on – and in turn they can forgive me the consequence on them of the choices I have made. Regardless. Responsibility for the choices I have made rests with me, and I bear that cost.
Last night, we actually attended the dinner I wrote about.
It was a roaring success, with all our guests attending, the younger ones having a blast, and the parents of those guests of honour getting along fabulously. One great thing is that one of those guests we hadn’t seen for a littel while, because she has moved house recently.
A couple of great photos from the night: My daughter, caught by accident appearing to have American Indian headdress, and my son with me.
In an effort to not “waste the weekend” (right?) for some reason I got it into my head that yes, Bec, the kids and I were available today to toddle off to Sydney Olympic Park and meet up with both of my fathers sisters. One I am staying with each week, the other is visiting her at the moment, both came to Sydney for a spot of investigative work in the discovery of our families history. In short, they discovered that the house an ancestor lived in, has been demolished some time ago to make way for a motorway.
It was, though, a really pleasant day. Even if Bec and I spent far too much of it wondering where the hell one or more of our children were, or walking three kilometers or so (just kidding) to and from available parks (no I’m not). It just so happened that it took more time than my wife and I tend to have on any given weekend (and then to top everything off, when I came home at the end of it, I rushed off in the opposite direction to assist an aquatintance with a computer problem). Mainly, the kids all enjoyed climbing trees, my aunties, wife and myself, all enjoyed sitting in the sun, hearing the crowd enjoy the South Sydney Rabbitohs take on somebody-or-other at ANZ Stadium.
If I ever consider I’m not doing enough on a given weekend, please slap me. The people I’m talking to here, know who they are!
Feedback is an interesting activity.
People on the recieving end can feel very nervous about feedback.
This can make the people providing it very apprehensive.
And parents can often be quite defensive about the feedback given to their children, in the form of a report.
Having come to the end of a school term (or semester, or something), it is school report time. The first thing I will say is, my kids have done fantastic work, and the school is doing quite a good job of providing them with work that challenges my three kids at a pretty reasonable level.
They are also somewhat demanding about their expectations, in terms of tasks such as writing and mathmatics.
So if they are that demanding in their standards for written work. Why have they been so bad at providing feedback?
Where results range from “Outstanding” to “Limited“, for any child who is not “outstanding” then any comment should include “results could be improved by…” or “needs to work on…” Instead, we have three reports from three different teachers signed by two difference Assistant Principles, which say nothing except what our children can do. Sorry, I actually need to know what my kids can’t do but should be able to do, a lot more than I need to know what they can do.
This applies to all my children. To my daughter, to my middle son, and my son who has Autism. Although, with an ILP in place, the support teacher has the most concrete assessment of what our Autistic son is doing, and what still needs to be worked on.
To all the Westie kids. Good work so far this year. Here’s hoping you keep hard at it, and, when we go and talk to your teachers, they can actually tell us what you need to do to improve – rather than what you would have to stop doing to achieve a poorer report at the end of the year.
Some things happen, and we don’t notice till after the event.
While others are in our face and we see them happening and improving, bit by bit, day by day.
Reading and counting (or possibly even “all things numbers“) are pretty much in the second category around here. Shown by ever increasing ability and willingness to count all sorts of things, and read “anything and everything.”
More and more though, we are getting clear signals of “success” as the year progresses. We’re measuring it a bit differently to a lot of parents with Kindergarten aged kids.
When the other two were growing up, if anyone told me I would celebrate the word “No!” coming out of my childs mouth, I would have had to pick myself up off the floor. Yet this word is one clear symptom of “success” around here.
Another clear sign is our son recieving an award from school, “Worker of the Week“, for “Sitting longer during reading group.”
So to the number 1 Bob the Builder Fan in Westie Central. Well done, mate – Mum, Dad, Princess P and Magpie are all proud of you and so happy that all the hard work you are doing is showing through so much.
Our son seems to not really have the concept of sequence nailed down really all that well. While he might know that events happen in a sequence, telling him anything beyond the event that is happening next seems to make the day worse, not better. Talk about going to the shops – he will be off getting the shoes on to go. Don’t worry that it’s 10am and you were talking about going at 4pm. Yet he does know that to go to the shops, certain things happen in order: you have to have clothes on. You have to have socks and shoes on. HE has to get into the car, and put his seat-belt on (without any help at all thank you very much). “Someone (else)” has to opent the gate, and Mum or Dad have to be ready to drive the car. SOON dammit!
And so it is with bike-riding. If anyone mentions the word “bike” when he would rather be riding his bike than staying at home, well, they had better be ready to take him for a bike ride.
So that’s what happend just after lunch today. On the spur of the moment we went from chillin’ at home (because school is tomorrow) – to all of us having to go for a bike-ride.
At least the bees left me alone today.
While Princess P might be the only one to have really noticed the start of this life lesson – the boys are going to notice the next few weeks.
Guitar Hero Addict has shown himself to be very well behaved around kittens and other young life in the past, and it seems he is something of a “chook whisperer”.
So we are hoping that BTB Fan will find that the new lives coming into our home (briefly) to be a joyful experience.