Back to School Chaos

back to school

I hate back to school time. My heart rate is up, my stomach does summersaults, and hands sweat as the first day of school approaches. You would think that I was the one returning to school after three months lounging in the summer sun, but no. It’s my children preparing for another year of education.

Jazz will be a senior this year. He is an excellent student and enjoys socializing and learning new things. He is comfortable in his high school and understands the routine rising in the morning, getting to school, and completing homework when he gets home. For Jazz, school is just something you do.

Sky will be in eighth grade this year. For Sky, school is a war zone.

I’ve already met with the vice principal of Sky’s school and we have another meeting next Monday with his teacher as well. We need to decide which classes Sky should be enrolled in, how to deal with his behavior at the end of the school year, and how we can start this new year off on a positive note.

Sky’s school experience has been very traumatizing including physical restraints, time out rooms, in school suspension, and out of school suspensions. Unfortunately, his experiences are not atypical for a child with his diagnosis (bipolar, anxiety, ADHD and learning disorders).

I read an article in June regarding a study done by the Department of Education stating that 267,000 students had been restrained or placed in seclusion over the 2013-2014 school year. Most of these students are special education students.  You can read the article here if you’re interested.

When I called Sky for the Monday meeting this week, he said, “I’m not going. You know I hate that place. I can’t be there.”

“I know it’s hard bud, but it’s important that everyone hears from you about what you want for your classes and what you would like to see happen this next school year to make things better. They need to hear your voice.”

“You be my voice mom.”

“Sky, I will be there, but it is more powerful if it comes from you.”

“Conference call me into the meeting.”

Sometimes I hate technology, I thought to myself.

I took the first week of school off work, so that I can deal with situations as they arise. Sky doesn’t know I am off work that week, of course. If he did, he would think he could just stay home. I actually work twenty-five miles from my house just so he can’t call and say come and get me mom. He calls anyway, but I can honestly tell him, I can’t because it’s too far for me to get him and then return to work.

As I tighten the laces on my running shoes, and step out my front door in the morning, I think of ways to make this year easier than last year. I am always looking for new ways to help other people understand my son.

It is a careful balance I strike between helping him and letting him fall. If I help too much, he will never learn to be his own voice and I’d rather him fall now when the damage he’ll do as he hits the ground will be less extensive than when he is older.

Are you dreading back to school for you or your children?

Falling into Place

Sometimes things just fall into place. At these times, I am thankful for whatever angels or supernatural beings are out there making my life just a little bit easier.

I started reading Outlining Your Novel, mapping your way to success by K.M. Weiland. I hit that 25,000 word wall in my fantasy fiction book, and it was very similar to hitting the wall in a marathon. I was stuck.  My mind was screaming stop, but my heart was saying go. I began reading the book and had a breakthrough and things are flowing nicely again. Yes, I’ve had to restructure things and rewrite major portions and characters, but honestly, this is good. Forward progress is good, and I’ve learned a ton.

Here’s my plug for K.M. Weiland for any of my writing friends out there as well. Her website is helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com she has a bunch of podcasts and youtube videos on the craft of writing, and they are wonderful and helpful. Each one is only 2-20 minutes long. She also has two books out on the craft, her outlining one and one on structuring your novel. Okay, I’m done now. Let’s move on.

This last Sunday I looked over my running schedule to see how far off I will be for my miles this coming weekend. Whenever I run a relay, I know I run less than my plan calls for (because my plan is set up for a 100 mile race not relays) but not this time. I will be right on schedule since I am taking two spots for the Wasatch Back Ragnar Relay this Friday and Saturday.

Another one of my runners has dropped from my relay team (two days before the race) due to illness, which has given me the opportunity to payback/giveback my friend who gave me her spot in the Utah Valley Marathon on June 14. I’ve offered her the spot on my team and with any luck she will be able to run it with us. Just has to get clearance from husband Jared.

Every sixty days I have to take my bipolar thirteen-year-old son in for a medication evaluation to make sure that his moods are stable and get newly written prescriptions. His moods have been stable if you call a total lack of wanting to do anything other than play his video games, play with friends, and watch Dr. Who stable. I took yesterday off work to take him in. His appointment was  for 11:00 am and at 10:15 he decided he didn’t want to go and that I would have to drag his 120 lbs out to the car if I wanted him to go (I weigh 115, and he knows I cannot do this). This situation would have been exceedingly frustrating if his doctor’s office had not called ten minutes before and cancelled because his doctor was sick. Major knock down drag out fight was avoided.

I smiled at him and said that’s fine I didn’t want to go either. I’ll just work on my book today.  He stared at me like I had grown tulips from my ears and sprouted asparagus for eyebrows. I sauntered into the kitchen poured another steaming cup of coffee and plopped down in front of my computer. He stood there for a while before stomping off to his room and slamming the door. Can’t pick a fight with when the enemy has decided to go for coffee and a brownie instead.

I have figured out how to add swimming and cycling to my training schedule without cutting my running back so that I won’t die during the triathlon on July 26. I haven’t been at the swimming pool since early March, but I went on Friday and Monday. It was awesome to be back in the water. From October 2013 through March 2014 I taught myself the Total Immersion swimming method and was pleasantly surprised that the new technique had stuck with me over my three month hiatus.

This morning I was listening to a podcast from the Creativepenn.com about branding and building a platform as a writer, and I may have figured out the one blog or two conundrum that has been rolling around in my head for a week or so.

Thus, the clothing dryer of my head has been cleaned out. Coincidentally, I also scrubbed the inside of my dryer that is not inside my head this weekend. Some innocent person, who will not be named, left a pack of  blue gum in his pants pocket

Thanks to all the powers that be who are looking out for me.

Good Morning KFKD Fans!

I submitted the first twenty-five pages of my memoir to a literary agent about six weeks ago. Their website says to give them eight weeks to respond. I haven’t heard anything, and my mental radio station dial began to play KFKD (KFucKeD) last night. You know the station. It’s the one that tells you that you should have worked on the memoir another year before submitting it. The one that tells you that you’re not quite good enough to be a published author, and spirals down from there to the depths of maybe you’re not good enough to be anything.

I mean, who wants to read a book about a thirteen year old girl who gets sucked into a vampire cult in Salt Lake City, Utah(Mormon capital of the world) only to escape her controlling adult boyfriend to join a band of hippies dealing drugs and hitchhiking up the coast of the western United States, right? Long sigh. I would, but I love memoirs about people who have fought back and overcome what appeared to be insurmountable odds. My friends who have read it, say it’s great and an amazing story, but they’re my friends what else are they going to say?

Out on my run this morning I remembered a quote I read recently in Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, she was quoting from the movie Cool Runnings, which is about an Olympic bobsled team.

Their coach says, “If you are not enough before the gold medal, you will not be enough after.”

This echoed inside my head while I ran through the drizzling rain. Slowly, it became louder than KFKD, and I realized, there are a hundreds of literary agents out there. If this one decides not to respond, I will just move on to the next one, and then the next. If no one wants to pick up my memoir after a year, I will self-publish it. There are tons of people self-publishing now, and there are contests for the best self-published book each year.

I think this quote speaks volumes and articulates a foundational problem we see in many teens. And adults for that matter.  We spend so much of our time and energy striving to be better than others, sometimes at things that don’t even matter to us personally.

My youngest son, Skyler (13), struggles with this in a profound way. Strapped with anxiety, bipolar disorder, ADHD, and multiple learning disorders, he constantly compares himself with “normal” kids and in his mind never measures up. He also compares himself to his honor roll socially adept older brother. I constantly reassure him that he is an intelligent, compassionate, and determined person and that he just needs to “run his own race” and stop competing with everyone around him. But that is easier said than done, because most of the world looks at him through those same lenses comparing him to those around him.

I can practically see KFKD playing in his mind, and it shatters my heart. This weekend I am secretly putting vinyl letter on his bedroom walls that say, Brave, Strong, Courageous, and Smart. I want these words to be his the moment he opens his eyes each morning, and the last thoughts in his mind each night.

The book I am working on now is called, Reaching for Sky. It’s about Skyler’s and my journey through his childhood, dealing with his explosive and wretched emotions, and struggles to make the world see the greatness that is in him. As I said, I love stories about people who have fought back and overcome insurmountable odds.