A Rivet Runs Through It

Things are back to normal.  My children came home and promptly cluttered and disheveled my briefly uncluttered heveled house.  That’s ok.  It was too weird not having Stella’s art and shoes all over the floor and Felix’s bits of cardboard and smashed bottle caps on every other horizontal surface.  There was one thing, however, that was not better or even as good as it was when they left: the triops.  They died.

I don’t even think I told y’all about the triops.  They’re these awesome little “dinosaur shrimp” that you can hatch out of dried eggs.  They grow super fast and are the coolest things.  Being a good potential triops steward, I read lots about them before we began.  They first appeared in the fossil record way back in the Paleozoic, although many of the species they sell in kits are from the Jurassic.  Hence the dinosaur shrimp name – living fossils and all that.  They are crustaceans and can go from microscopic to about an inch long, living up to 90 days before laying eggs and dying.  From there you can dry out the sand/eggs and start all over.  Two things were mentioned as pitfalls: water pH and cannibalism.  The pH problem was resolved easily: by following the damn instructions.  The cannibalism – or threat thereof – is what got me.  Or them, I should say.

The instructions were quite clear on how many food pellets to add when, with such additions as “add 1/2 pellet for each triop.”  Y’all, I had probably 20 in this wee little tank.  And I knew that if there was not adequate food that they would start noshing on each other.  So, I basically Italian grandmothered my triops to death.  Felix was particularly upset.  It’s ok.  We’re trying again.  They send several batches of eggs, so obviously the success rate for these kits is pretty damn low.  Next time I’ll accept some self-nibbling rather than the mass fatality option.  We even had started a video, but as the new crop will be indistinguishable from the old crop, it should be fine.

Felix would watch this little tank for hours….

I was also seriously enjoying my  knitting project.  Understand, I have no skill.  I can make squares and rectangles.  I only do one stitch and I can’t even remember if it’s a knit or a purl stitch.  Regardless, I decided that by glob I was gonna knit a blanket.  So way back in December, I got some circular knitting needles.  When I finally tried them out during my children’s freakish absence last week (a mere 6 months later), they worked a treat!  Before I knew it, I had zoomed through an entire skein of yarn and tied on the second.  Hooray for me.  Until the damn needles broke last night.  They had one. Damn. Job.  To stay together.  They could not manage that job.

Fortunately, Will saved the day and managed to crimp it back together just enough to finish the row.  Now I’m waiting on Amazon to send me another set – steel this time, bitches – so I can transfer my project to the new needles, hopefully without dropping more than a few stitches. What am I supposed to do now?  Play on my phone?

My life is riveting, no?

There was a father/daughter dance Saturday night, with a Dynamic Duo theme.

They were even in our local newspaper.

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S.o.C. It To Me

This will be a stream of consciousness-type thing, hence the “S.o.C.”  See what I did there?

It’s been a strange strange week.  My children are gone.  Oui Oui surprised the living daylights out of me Sunday evening.  This was to be a “Camp Oui Oui” week, whereby the kids would go to her house Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and then stay with me Tuesday and Thursday while I telecommuted.  Turns out she had scheduled them for a farm camp out where they live and had forgotten it was this week.  As the camp runs from 8:00 to noon each day, it was obnoxious for them to drive to pick the kids up (about a 15 minute drive each way, but usually quite inflated due to our horrendous traffic) every morning.  As such, she figured they’d just stay.

I have to admit, and this is a pretty big deal: I was kind of disappointed.  I had some things I wanted to do with them this week.  I had dubbed it “the week of pizza.”  We were going to go to Chuck E. Cheese for lunch one day, and another day we were going to make cauliflower crust pizza (Stella has been fascinated by that idea for some reason).  We were going to sign up for summer reading.   We were going to stock up on fancy popsicles so they’d have plenty to nosh on while in the inflatable pool.  It was all silly stuff – no big deal at all.  But I recognized that I no longer dread these times when my kids are out of school like I used to.   And those of y’all that have been with me for a while can attest to how I used to moan and bitch about those times.  Now it’s fun.  Sure, they still irritate the stew out of me on a regular basis, but they’re so much more sophisticated and easy to manage.

See? He’s very self-contained.

It’s been so very strange with them not here.  I haven’t known what to do with myself. The quiet is kind of nice but I don’t think I like it.  It’s amazing how much of my daily energy and consciousness is taken up by my children.  I’ve been full of nervous energy.  I even started restlessly knitting just to have something to do.  I’ll be more than ready to see them tomorrow.  I’ve never been away from them for more than one night.  This has been a first.

I’ve even missed this.

Speaking of, I just saw a post on Instagram from one of my girl cousins.  She has a beautiful daughter named after a flower who just celebrated her first birthday.  She posted a series of videos of this sweet cherub eating her birthday cupcake and making the expected celebratory mess.  I noticed immediately that they were still buckling her in her highchair.  For some reason, that made me laugh.  I don’t think we buckled Stella for that long, and I know damn well by the time Felix came along we had cut them out of the chair.

Work has been extra special.  We had something called a drive array failure, which wiped out pretty much every one of our systems.  We couldn’t print, and our online database was down, meaning no one could access any information or data.  We were pretty much dead in the water for about 3 weeks, and we’re still experiencing aftershocks.  The fellow that sits on the opposite side of one of my cube walls is pretty excitable as a rule, and this has been inflaming him like you wouldn’t believe.  When he gets riled up, he curses – in a stage whisper.  At one point last year I provided him with a swear jar.  I’m not sure he was amused.  What I noticed yesterday was that his swearing usually comes in 3’s.  “Shit, shit, shit.”  “Fuck, fuck, fuck.”  He’s like a profane Rumplestiltskin.  If he were using it, the swear jar would be overflowing.

We’re still living boxes. I’m going with a Shawshank theme this month. The cursing man is on the other side.

That’s about it.  It’s hot.  We’ve been getting pounded by afternoon rain, which I don’t mind, but I think the owners of the 40 or so cars that got stranded and flooded on the highway Tuesday probably feel differently.  And I’m ready to see my kids.

This was Tuesday. Too much rain.

But my sunflowers are ❤️ing it!

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Of Thee I Swing

Remember me?  I’m still here.  I’m still busy.  Thing should start to calm down now.  I know.  I’ve said that before.

The day after what would have been my kids’ real last day of school, we went on a trip to Galveston with my in-laws: Oui Oui, Papaw, and Soup.  That is really what we (the kids) call them, but I figure their anonymity is protected enough for the purposes of this blog using those names.  Galveston was a wonderful place.  It’s strange how different beach towns can be, really.  The water wasn’t as pretty as Orange Beach, which is where we usually go, but it had that wide open Texas flair, and was laid-back while still having lots to do.  Candidly, when I usually think of Galveston I think “hurricane.”  I’m glad to know I’ve been incorrect.  In particular, they have a fabulous amusement park that is completely over a large pier sticking out over the Gulf of Mexico.  Stella is my ride girl.  We rode all the rides, including the Texas Star Flyer: a huge swing which stands 230′ high.  Damn, I love the internet for factish stuff.

On the ferry on the way there

You gotta have TexMex while in Texas. Fortunately for this restaurant, the mariachi was good.

Remember Donut? We got donut donuts!


It was HAWT, y’all.

Felix talked us and his uncle Soup into buying him a coconut and then opening it with a multitool. No stitches were required.

Coconuts are Felix-approved.

My children actually didn’t fight all of the time.

See those swings??? This picture was taken from the top of a tall ferris wheel. The swings are higher. Yes, Stella and I rode those.

Since then, it’s been a matter of getting them settled into camp.  I do love their camp.  It’s a nice departure from the past 2 years knowing that I don’t have to worry about that. Going into the 2nd week, there have been no incidents and no drama.  They are both ecstatic about this week’s field trip to a trampoline park.

Felix.  I’m still working on that.  I have taken him to a private psychologist who has 40 years experience with kids like my son, and comes highly recommended.  Best of all, he was able to get us in quickly.  Most shrinks in this area have a waiting list many months long because every parent is doing what I am now – trying to keep their kid out of public school genpop.  I’m waiting now on the results of his private IQ test.  That will determine what happens next.  The absolutely absurd part is that for pre-K and kindergarten kids, the state wants them to have their IQ score 3 standard deviations above the mean.  It gets a bit easier after that, I’m told.  I’m not even going to discuss that any further.  Dammit.  Just dammit and what are these people smoking?  Seriously.  Someone – not my son – has something seriously and fundamentally wrong with their own brain to come up with this one.  Or maybe they’re sadists?  Maybe this is also why my state is often near the bottom of all those education rankings by state, because we’re sabotaging kids right out of the gate?

Shaking that off.

Depending on how high he gets (and I unlike the people cited above, am not brain damaged or otherwise insane enough to believe that he’ll actually reach that threshold at 5 years old), he can have further testing done to qualify for something called “scholastic academy,” which is where they put “highly functional children” that aren’t quite smart enough for the label of “gifted.”  The good news is that these kids get to go into the gifted class.  The bad news is that within 2-3 years they must be retested.  If they don’t cut the mustard then, they’re in genpop. Period.  The honeymoon is over.  This is a pretty barbaric system for young children.

Cross your fingers for my son.  The Hail  Mary pass is in the air.  And I’m realizing that I may need some help.  I may need to talk to someone.  This just feels like a lot to take on on top of everything else.

And it’s hot, y’all.  Have you ever lived anywhere where the cold water comes out of the tap in the afternoon hot enough to scald you because the walls and pipes have been baking all day and absorbing all that heat?  Yep.  That’s us.  We try to  make the best of it.  We have our inflatable pool and pop-up tent.  We have popsicles.  We adore all those cool kits for kids: cooking, art, and especially science.  We’re settling in for a long – but not long enough for any of us – summer.

Science kits rock. Building our own stethoscope.

We made plushie organs.

I hope to be more regular.  Now that school stuff and travel stuff are behind me for a while, I should be back to my desk and reality.  I miss this and I  miss reading all of your stuff.

Random: My breakfast today of rambutan and lychee. I love them, but have decided they are the crawfish of fruits, requiring a whole lotta work for a little morsel of food. And now my office is all sticky.


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To Thine Own Self Be Truant

My kids are done with the school year.  Technically, they should be there today and tomorrow, with each day culminating in one of those working parents’ delight: the early dismissal.    The thing is, grades are already in and have been for about a week.  Stella’s class had their end of the year luau last week, so there was nothing particularly appealing to motivate her to want to stick around.  And the Dude…..

The pre-K group was to have their program tomorrow morning, followed by punch and cake.  Y’all, I just couldn’t.  The only punch I’m interested in involving my son and those people is one involving physical harm.  And that’s not adult behavior, now, is it?  And Felix?  He was downright pissed about it.  They were  making him sing songs.  And he hated those songs. I’m not even sure what they were.  He just ranted and raved – spitting mad – about them for over a week. So, suffice it to say there was no reason to send him back either.  It would not have been one of those warm fuzzy occasions for either one of us.

I did have a final rip-out-my-guts sad moment.  When I was at Stella’s luau helping, I noticed that other parents had their younger kids in tow, so I went to get the Dude.  I had even stashed a Hawaiian shirt for him to put on.  His class was practicing for the aforementioned program in the gym when I found him.  He was sitting by himself in a row of chairs with his teacher sitting several aisles back.  Everyone else was on stage.  His teacher said simply that he didn’t want to participate and she wasn’t going to make him.  Y’all, for some reason that tore me up.  When I told Will about it, he echoed the feeling.  Chances are no one made him participate in anything this year, which is why we’re staring down an awfully long barrel next year – a barrel in which now both my kids will have longer days, where my daughter will likely have to ride a bus in the morning, meaning she has to wake up earlier, take her meds earlier, and have those meds wear off earlier.  A barrel in which now my son will be in a strange place with strange people having to sign up for extended day care after school since I won’t be able to make it in time to pick him up at regular dismissal.

Stella was remarkably ok with sharing her luau with her little brother

So many feels in this one

I’m going to stop.  I need a break.  This is also why my kids aren’t there today.  We all need to be free from this shit, at least for a while.

We’re about to head out of town on vacation with Oui Oui for a few days.  We’re going to Galveston, which I’m looking forward to.  I’ve never been.  New sights to see, new air to breathe.  I still feel good about our summer plans.  This may be my only summer as a parent of young kids in which I’m truly grateful that school is out and truly believe that  camps will be less stressful than them being “safe” at school.

I’m still trying to chip away at that whole life-balance thing.  I just need to find a way to generate and maintain momentum, even just for small stuff, like making my house more liveable or finding things to occupy me other than my children and job.  I did go and see Deadpool 2 last night, which made me very happy.  We’ve decided we’re tired of missing stuff, so Will and I now divide and conquer.   He went with a friend Saturday night, and I went with a friend last night.  I felt like a “normal” person, out and about doing non-kid stuff.

Have a good week.  And go see Deadpool.  It’s somehow better than the first one.

I hope you enjoy your week as much as Felix enjoyed his deconstructed pho

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The Great Barrier Chief (a.k.a. A Real Pain In the Grass)

I’m going to have a normal post again.  No rage.  No tears.  Just typical stuff.

It’s winding down, y’all.  The school year.  Drama notwithstanding, I’m done.  Last week was homework-light for Stella, but that doesn’t mean we finished any faster each night.  That girl can kick up a fuss.  And it’s one of those things where you just want to facepalm her and yourself because dammit as smart as she is can’t she understand that she could have been done with her 15 minutes’ worth of homework an hour and a half ago if she had just done the damn work!  Sorry.  As I said, I’m done.  I’ll try to mind the overabundance of italicized typing.

It’s a good feeling, though.  Today in carpool I will drop off the final snack for the pre-K group.  This morning I sent the last teacher gifts and prizes for the 2nd grade luau later this week.  I have a white board in my kitchen where I stick all these school papers advising me of when to do or send stuff.  As of today, I’m down to ONE paper.  I can see the white of my whiteboard – the white at the end of the tunnel.

We’ve rolled right into summer mode, as the weather gods have flipped the “holy shit it’s hot” switch.  The inflatable pool has come out of hibernation, as has the foam machine.  We managed to squeeze in Farm Day on what was probably the last best day for it.  

Felix always loves the chicks the best. If I could find some genetically-modified creature that would stay tiny and fuzzy, I’d totally buy him one.

Summer also  means grass-cutting for Will.  For whatever reason, after 9 years in our house, we’re having yard wars with one of our neighbors.  I know I’ve mentioned Zsa Zsa and the Chief before.  She’s a crazy old lady who lives with her grown-ass son.  He’s a strange one.  He must have some sort of disability, because he has no job.    He has long, flowing thin scraggly hair that he keeps wrapped up in some kind of leather cord the way Native Americans often do, hence the nickname.  I think his real name is Rick or something but who cares.  He’s the Chief to us.  He just bums around, occasionally driving his mom places or riding his bike at peculiar hours of the night.

Last week, I was hauling both of our giant trash cans to the street for pickup the next morning.  Now let me ask y’all something: when you see someone schlepping some obviously heavy, bulky stuff, do you try to stop them for a conversation?  No?  Me neither.  But that’s obviously an ok thing to do in Chiefland.  The weirdo chased me halfway down my driveway mumbling something. (I forgot to mention he’s a low-talker.)  I finally had to drop my cans, since I couldn’t hear him over the roar of the garbage can wheels on the pavement.  He was muttering something about the grass.  There was a long narrow strip of grass in the area between our houses, which he had left uncut and he had just finished cutting the grass and it was hot and he has a push mower and Will has that nice riding mower and the property line was actually supposed to line up with the fence post and so Will should really be cutting that strip of grass.

This is a poor photo of the battlefield.

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately, and having this strange troglodyte getting into my face about a SIX-INCH-WIDE STRIP OF GRASS about sent me into my angry place.  I told him that Will probably hadn’t paid attention to or even noticed such a small area and promised I would mention it to him later when it became clear that the Chief wasn’t going to let it go.  Will was even less amused than I was when I mentioned it later.

I’m not sure what’s going to happen with that strip of grass.  Suggestions have included RoundUpping the whole damn thing, scalping the area with the lawnmower, letting the shit grow and grow, or salting the earth in that spot.  Je ne care pas.  That’s some irritating shit.  If I had my way, we’d plant a big-ass fence.

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Mess for Success

Do you ever think or even know that you’re pushing the envelope?  Doing stuff that is bordering on the ridiculous, irresponsible, or even obnoxious?  Do you ever get to the point where you’re not certain that you care?

I fought the best fight I could for my son and this school nonsense.  I used my gift for written gab (or whatever the hell this is) to try to change the outcome of what I knew was a losing battle.  I talked to a lot of people. I mean really.  I talked to a lot of people.   I tried logic and persuasion.  I lost.  My kid lost.  We’re regrouping.

We still have 12 more days of school.  Shit is winding down.  Thank goodness.  We’re all DONE.  My son has been plotting throwing the Evil Villain into a “fiery pit.”  Not sure where that vision came from, but alrighty then.

I guess I used that for inspiration.  Remember how last week I trashed Felix’s behavior chart?  Well, they sent a new one home Friday.  He got a yellow.  I got a lighter and my grill.  I torched that shit.  Then I put it on Instagram and Facebook.  At first I felt powerful and full of moxie.  Then I started to worry.  I was being messy.  I was airing dirty laundry.  I was being disrespectful to the school that is still my daughter’s school and will hopefully be my son’s again one day.  Maybe.

But you know what, y’all?  I don’t care.  The behavior chart is a step too damn far, especially at this point. It’s too much, particularly when real feedback all along might have actually been helpful. This is not  constructive.

I hope that some other mom out there that is feeling sad or angry or exhausted or full of despair finds this damn blog or my Facebook or Instagram post.  And I hope it gives them some courage or at least the knowledge that they are not alone and that they need to keep fighting.

I may be messy, but so is my life.  But my kid is worth it.  Flame on.

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Trashes to Trashes

Today I snapped. I picked up my kids after school, listened to them squabble and fight the whole way home, opened Felix’s folder and pulled out his behavior chart, at which point I saw that today’s square had originally been green and then been violently colored over in red. Like, the paper was dented she had colored so hard. And I said “fuck this” and I crumpled it up and threw it away.

Godspeed to the landfill

Seriously. Fuck this. Why should I give a shit what the Evil Villain thinks about my son’s performance at anything, really? Perhaps if she had spent less time keeping count of the times he “spoke out of turn” and actually helped him, I would have different feelings. But she didn’t and therefore I don’t.

So that behavior chart is nestled snugly in the trash where it belongs, and if she tries to send a new one home tomorrow, it will also be destroyed. And I hope that I can keep this feeling the next time I run into an Evil Villain in either of my kids’ lives, because one thing that has become really clear to me in the past couple of weeks is that I’m going to have to be aggressive with these people. I’m going to have to complain. I’m going to have to not only participate in confrontations, but initiate them. And that’s hard when your natural instinct is to keep peace and go with the flow, to trust that other people are truly doing what they’re supposed to do. I’m gonna have to be a bitch- a huge one. I only wish I had metamorphosed earlier.

My mom just sent me this fab mug which is currently full of wine. Even better, it came from one of my brother’s shops. Everyone here is a winner!

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Mad to the Bone

I’ve made a lot of calls.  I’ve sent a lot of emails.  I’ve talked to some lovely board members at both the state and local level.  Many of them used our phone calls as opportunities to tell me about their own troubles when their kids were in school.  I was given options that I have already exhausted, names to call that I’ve already called.  One said they’d pray for me.

That’s great.  It also doesn’t change a damn thing.  My son is still in limbo – without a school.  I live in a city where it is apparently acceptable to kick a 5 year old pre-K kid out of his school.  It’s not only acceptable, it’s supported by policy.

I’m so angry.  I’m also so worried.  I’ve called 3 different places about having Felix tested for gifted, but none have called back.  And they all have waiting lists.  At this point, I will be lucky if he gets seen before the new school year starts.

I just have no words.  I cannot understand how this is allowed to happen.  I also may unleash hell in the only way left to me.  I cannot promise that Felix won’t have sugar cubes with a side of Snickers for breakfast every morning.  Why the hell not? 

Go get ’em, son!

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Alive and Licking

This past week has been a huge lesson in how absolutely incapacitating Mom Guilt can be.  With Stella, I had Mom Guilt for her entire Kindergarten year, and that stayed with me for about 1/3rd of her first grade year.  I’ve only recently been able to let some of that go, the couldas, wouldas, and shouldas.  I should not have been afraid to cause a ruckus.  I could have medicated her earlier.  I should not have sent her to that first summer camp where she broke her arm and got bullied so badly she still talks about it today.

Now with Felix, I have a whole new host of couldas, wouldas, and shouldas, and an entire new 7 course meal of Mom Guilt to digest.  Yeah, these school people are completely unrealistic, inhumane assholes, but I should have made more noise with the guidance counselor to get a 504 plan earlier – not allowing it to get blown off because it was “only pre-K.”  I should have complained vigorously that my ADHD son was assigned a spot on the very back corner of the carpet, where his imagination was free to wander far and wide with no chance for easy redirection.  I could have asked for more direct “academic” feedback.  Sure, I didn’t know it was necessary; after the contentious first year at this school with Stella and the Harpy, this year felt very peaceful and kumbaya, Evil Villain notwithstanding.  But I let my damn guard down.  That is on me.

I’ve spent time and gone on outings with my kids and can’t remember them because I’ve been so distracted.  I’ve been on field trips since this happened and was so busy trying to come to grips with my situation that I was not truly present, and I’m pissed at myself for that.  I don’t think I even really got the full brunt of what it was like to be licked by a bison.  Maybe that’s a good thing.

Getting licked by a bison is gnarly. Don’t do it.

I’ve been able to take some action this week, although it’s sometimes hard to keep that momentum when I know it’s not going to give me the outcome I want: my son back in his school where he belongs.  I’ve gotten him on waiting lists for other programs and gifted testing.  I’ve been emailing and speaking with various board members, and they all agree this situation is not ok.  It may be too late for my kid, but maybe just maybe our story can be used to change this twisted system into something that makes sense and is truly the right thing for children.

I’m going to try to shake some of this shit off and enjoy my weekend.  Maybe I’ll  buy myself some flowers.  I’m going on my last  outing for this school year with our Brownie troop tomorrow and I want to enjoy my girls.  We have a party and crawfish boil to attend.  Maybe I can go through our budget and find money to get a pedicure or something.  I’m going to drink wine, and maybe it won’t even come out of a box.

I will say this: I pity the fool that would dare to say a negative thing about my son to me right now, up to and including his father.  I got a text this morning from Will, lamenting the irritating amount of chatter that Felix was producing.  I quickly began texting a rebuttal about how he should feel lucky to have a son full of so many ideas and interesting facts and that he is privileged to have a son that wants to even share this stuff with him and that if he didn’t like it he could move out into the shed in the backyard where it would be nice and quiet.  I deleted that because I thought maybe I was being a little sensitive.

Do y’all know about Aggretsuko? She’s a character we’ve watched a while now, but is now available for binging on Netflix. She’s a mild-mannered accountant hiding a raging death metal side. She’s my new spirit animal.

Keep sending positive thoughts our way.  And I still would love Mary Poppins’ number.

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House of Discards

I’ve been processing.  It’s a lot.  This whole past weekend is really a huge blur, and not just because I drank too much wine (that was only Friday night).  All I wanted to do was cry and sleep.  I slept a lot, or as much as my children would let me.  There wasn’t anything else I could do.  It was the weekend, so all offices were closed.  There wasn’t anyone I could talk to.

They are discarding my son – simply getting rid of him.  And for what?  A lower-than-“acceptable” “reading” score?  Isn’t that part of what kindergarten is for?  To teach kids how to read?   Aren’t most kids better at one subject than another?  Doesn’t the fact that he is part of that school’s community worth a thing?  Apparently not.

I’m so angry.  I’d rather be angry than sad, I suppose, although that sadness still hits me  out of the blue.   I know everyone at his current school isn’t mean and rotten, but it’s so hard NOT to take this personally, to believe that there wasn’t – isn’t – something that can be done.

So I’ve emailed our story to one school board member, and will likely contact others.  I’ve been searching high and low for plan B.  There aren’t many options, truth be told.  Any other non-traditional public school is full and has a waiting list.  They won’t let him stay where he is and retake pre-K (although I wasn’t fond of that idea to begin with).  My understanding is that even private options are pretty much full up at this point, and who has the money for that?  We will try gifted testing but, despite the fact that anyone that knows my kid believes that he fits that label, he may not test well enough. ADHD kids often don’t.   Even then, he’ll be at a new school.  We will have to start over.  New, unknown teachers, without the all-important “mom network” of war stories and recommendations.

My  kid – all kids – deserve better than this.

Yeah Dude, suit up. It’s going to be a battle.

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