Monday, September 27, 2010

Making Way For Autumn.

It's fall. Did I mention that I love fall? Because I do. I love it. Goodbye heavy, humid air of summer; hello crisp, clear air of Autumn. There's something bright and wonderful about a day that smells like coloring leaves. See ya next year, Chlorophyll.

 Some have said that the Fall is a season of dying, followed by a winter-long look at death, but I don't see it that way. To me, Fall is a reminder of God's awesome ability to wipe the slate clean. Slowly. With style. There's nothing "sudden" about Fall. It's an entire season of false starts and stops. Yesterday is 65, today is 90. Oh, Fall; you fickle thing. Leaves that were verdant green yesterday are tinged with yellow today. What could be more profound that driving through a wooded lane guarded by blushing trees?

Each season has its own unique smell, and I think the scent belonging to Fall may be my favorite. Words to describe it? Crisp. Clear. Woodsmoke. Apple. Corn husk. Change. Golden. God chooses to light Autumn with the flare of an expert light-technician. Do you ever notice the perfect slant of the sunlight? It's just enough to brighten the foliage of the trees while still allowing them to glow all on their own. And is there anything more breathtaking that viewing a darkened sky spotlighted by a setting sun? Or the horizon awash with hues of melon, blush, aubergine, over top a picture-perfect treeline done in charcoal?

I love the way Autumn arrives just as Summer takes a final bow; working together they ease the changing scene. Perfect segue partners. The brutish Winter could take some lessons from this graceful pas de deux. Instead it cuts in quickly, knocking off days or even weeks from Autumn's full schedule; cutting short the last days of a beautiful season. A still frame; yellow leaves frozen to branches; piles of colorful foliage gone brown under an early snow. Suddenly Winter.

I love this season. The bright days. The gray ones. The crisp air. The damp air. The way everything just declares itself; Fall. It may be too short for my liking, but I'm enjoying every day we have of it. Windows open. Sweatshirt on. In the woods or in a meadow. Hello, Autumn. Good to see you again, friend.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A day at a time....

Every day when I go to pick the girls up from school, I find myself holding my breath, waiting for what may come. Will it be a good day with two shining, smiling faces racing to the door to greet me? Or will there be tears of disappointment and negative notes in the folder? I know they are trying so hard to be good students, but the process of adjusting to this new role has been an arduous one for them. Some days are good. Some days are bad.

Today was a good day.

Actually, today was a really good day. First off came the smiling faces, eager to tell me that they'd had a good day. A good start. Second, when we got into the car and I checked the folders, there were no negative notes. No misbehavior noted, mis-focus reported. We were on a roll. We got home and the girls set to work on completing their homework: cutting out square pictures and gluing the ones that held a picture of something that started with 'S' to a Seal; and cutting out letters of the alphabet that will be used in class to make an alphabet snake. When I saw the amount of cutting involved, I inwardly groaned and readied myself for a long afternoon. Generally, the girls are not coordinated with scissors, holding them awkwardly and without much success. It takes them forever to get through even a small amount of cutting, and the end results are tenuous at best.

Imagine my surprise, then, when they were finished with all their cutting work in 15 minutes. Moreover, the items they cut were actually nicely done, albeit it a bit misshapen in places. Still, I was impressed. I was further amazed when they asked to practice writing the letter S. On their own. I got them our lined paper and they set to work. I was prepared to help them out, as I always do, but today they grabbed the pencil and got to work on their own. Pencils held in a far more confident grasp, making the motions on the paper. The result was some pretty great looking letters done by two girls who just months ago could barely even hold a pencil, let alone form a letter legibly. Color me impressed to the nth degree.

They've got a long way to go. I know that. But the excitement for me is in seeing the success they're having with the initial steps were making now. I can only imagine how much greater their strides will be with the tutoring they'll be getting. There is comfort in seeing them overcome some of this on their own though. It makes me realize that these struggles will not hinder them for long. They'll come through this and emerge on the other side as two kick ass students ready to blow expectations out of the water. I'm ready for that day. They're already starting to do it now. :)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Kindergarten Woes

No parent wants to hear that there is something "wrong" with their child. No one wants to think that anything about that precious gift could be amiss in any way. You find yourself looking at them, wondering how you could have "missed" it. Since it's been so terribly off for such a long time, apparently.

Today I received a call to set up our first meeting with the teacher, OT & Speech Pathologist, and principal. We'll be discussing what test results have been gathered and what these results show for the girls. My job during this meeting will be to sit and listen, and try very hard not to take what they're saying as anything other than helpful advice to get the girls on track for success in school. Currently, my brain is torn between being grateful for early detection, and wondering how much of their "issues" stem from being in school for only 2 short weeks and still being unsure about it.

I wasn't surprised when they told me the girls would need to be evaluated for fine motor skills. They made it clear at a very early age that they do not like doing anything that involves those skills. They always hated coloring. Painting. Drawing. Playing board games. All of it. I realized that this would be a problem, so I began using every trick in my teacher's brain to get them interested. To make it fun. Shaving cream. Pudding Paint! Water works. Chalkboards. Dry erase boards. PlayDoh. All of it. And none of it established any sort of real interest. Everyday I declared a "Mommy's Choice" activity time, in hopes of getting them to focus and practice at the same time. My choices were usually worksheets, or cutting and gluing activities. The girls would respond by crying. "Mommy, I don't want to color!" or "It hurts my hand!". We pushed through the tears, and I think we made a lot of progress. Both girls were writing their names by this past May (something they'd never been able to do), and even began writing words and drawing a lot more on the chalkboards without being asked to. But pencil/paper work still makes them struggle.
I'm glad for the extra help they'll be getting with this, and hoping their OT will have better luck getting them to strengthen their hand muscles and make writing easier.

The speech therapy came out of the blue for me. I didn't know there was any concern until their teacher asked if I'd spoken to the Speech Pathologist yet. I wasn't sure what the issue could be, and was hoping it wasn't some aspect of their speech that is a holdover from their years of speaking Twinese. (I'm very protective of their twin language. They don't speak it much anymore, but vestiges of it still remain, and I'd like to keep it that way for as long as possible. Call me crazy. But that's just the way it is.)The issue, it would seem, lies in their reluctance to make eye contact or have a conversation. At home, they do both and they do it well. Ashlyn in particular has become quite the chatter-bug, talking up a storm and constantly looking at us to make sure she's got our full attention. Caedance, our quiet "Observer" has even gotten more talkative. Both have shown a lot of improvement since they've started school. But that's at home. I do know that they are not likely to speak with someone they don't know, even in the "safety zone" of school. I know that they are very used to having strangers come up to them, but are reluctant to speak to them, let alone hold a conversation. A big part of me doesn't see this as a particularly fair assessment of their abilities. I mean, I'm really glad the school is getting on the ball and picking out needs to get the kids up to speed, but in the first few weeks of school, isn't it a bit normal for a student (in a very new environment) to need a little time to sort out her surroundings and work out her place in it? It makes me sad that the expectations of Kindergarten have changed so much that children must be quickly guided into the proper channels rather than giving them any sort of time to independently sort through things on their own. This is the new system though.

So our meeting will be set up and a plan will be created. The fact that the girls need some extra help doesn't bother me. Not at all. I guess my only "issue" is the timing. Seeing so much improvement on our side gives me a feeling that they are heading in the right direction. But I don't want them to struggle. They are both smart and able. And can be quick learners when the mood strikes them. I want them to succeed, so I guess this will be the first step towards that.

We'll see.