Lowering the Bar

I’m trying to lower the bar during this Pandemic. I’m trying to lower my expectations for my son, others, but mostly me. It runs counter-intuitive when it comes to myself. Don’t I have to step up my game to help my son and family? Yet, its might the most important lesson to learn.

Even my ten year old seems to grasp that we are in unique times. He feels the anxiety. He already has enough anxiety. The Pandemic worry wakes him up at night. So, his daily schedule reflects his feelings. We have lots of breaks between more challenging items. We go over the schedule at dinner the day before so he knows what to expect from the day. We make changes together if the day just blows up in our face. It has. It will again.

See my kiddo, doesn’t do independence yet. Its an unmet IEP goal. Thus, I’m his friend, mom, teacher, OT, sometimes therapist, and most importantly giver of snacks. So, if my husband is at work, I’m it. I’m on the kiddo clock. It can be exhausting.

This is why I need to lower my bar. I’m tired, and it’s OK to be tired. I don’t have the usual volunteer hours. I don’t have much personal time. I’m not binging television unless you count me watching episodes of Picard while I have free CBS All Access. There are only 10, so it won’t last.

It is hard watching friends on social media enjoy hobbies. Its harder knowing they’re getting naps during the day. I am missing meetings. I’m lowering my bar so I can shepherd my kid through this tough time. I’m lowering the bar so I can be mentally healthy.

If I’m having a tough time, I have to believe others are too. I am giving them the benefit of the doubt right now. I’m not expecting my kid’s teacher to have it all together either. My dining room table looks like home school vomited on it. I’m sure our teachers have it worse. There are those who are struggling with all sorts of virus/shelter at home issues. They need my patience.

I’m still paying attention, just not close attention. I might be a day late or so. I’m not giving up on fighting for our schools or our election, but I’m trying to just do the things that need to be done today. No need to worry about November, when our food bank could use more funds. I’m taking it slower. I’m going to miss online petitions and other advocacy events. I’m not going to try to keep pace with what I was doing before the Pandemic.

There is lots of chatter about distance learning. I’m lowering my expectations. I’m OK with pass/fail. I’m Ok as long as my kid gets some learning in when he is able. I realize he might not be able all the time. I hope to get enough content in his brain that he is ready for 5th grade.

In another lifetime, I was Lisa Simpson insisting, “Grade Me, Grade Me! I’m ever so smart.” Now it seems ridiculous. Letting go of getting As was the hardest life lesson for me to learn, yet I think in the end it made me a healthier person. Compared to getting sick, losing a job, or worse, giving up grades seems like a reasonable sacrifice for the times.

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Homeschool? Me? Probably not without help.

Hey friends. Our school officially closed it doors for the Covid-19 Virus on March 16th, but my journey actually began a few weeks before the calls for social distancing started.

My kid has the worst luck. We started with a new teacher in January only to learn that the teacher was not going to finish out the semester. Meanwhile, my kid and the principal were butting heads repeatedly. There were number of issues at play. There was my own kid’s escalating behavior, there was his anxiety and disability. There was a school with antiquated notions of discipline and ableism, and now turnover My team and I decide we couldn’t have my son stay. The trauma of a bad school setting was only solidifying the behaviors at play.

At a very long and taxing IEP meeting we made the decision to put my son on Home Hospital. The idea was to phase him into a new school with a really good teacher. We didn’t put a time table on things and this is when my own panic set in.

You see, Home Hospital is only 1 hour and 30 minutes. Basically we would have kiddo’s future teacher do small tutoring sessions after regular school hours. The biggest question I had was how do fill the rest of the time? What resources are available? Do I have to give up all my volunteer work that has become as serious to me as a career. Maybe this year was the year I figure out how to organize a campaign to end the special ed cap? I freaked out because the daily responsibility of keeping my kid on a steady stable schedule was all on me. All the outside resources I wanted came with a waitlist. My entire day became don’t overwhelm him, but don’t let him get too bored. One big effort just to keep meltdowns away.

Now, it seems silly. One week into our new IEP new plan, the calls for school shut down came. We’re all in this now. We’re all scrambling and sharing and sacrificing temporary career goals. It shouldn’t be left unsaid how difficult the sacrifice can be for some. It seems less daunting now that we’re all in it, but a few weeks ago, I felt overwhelmed and even angry. It was OK to feel that way. Its OK to feel that way now as we navigate difficult waters.

Look some kids are great at learning from home. Some kids are self motivated and like to learn. My kid isn’t. It takes a small army of expert public educators and private therapist to get my kid to do simple things. My army is down to a few online foot soldiers.

There are so many resources that it can make heads spin. Still, I can’t just sit my kid in front of DreamBox and expect him to complete math. His brain doesn’t work that way. Home or at school, assignments need to be accommodated for my kid’s unique needs. There is no computer program that does that. My army includes people specifically trained to figure out how to get the best from my son. So, I wait

I wait for further instruction. I do keep a schedule, but it is very flexible. It includes things like math flashcards. My son is 10. Reviewing simple multiplication tables and simple math is good for fluency, and as long as there are snacks my kiddo is compliant. We have now phased in some reading. Not timing it. Just getting what I can out of a kid who sees learning as hard.

Not every family feels equipped for the tough times ahead. My kid is too scared to go to Occupational Therapy even though they’re seeing clients. He fears the virus. We do some therapy online. I miss the hands on help for my son’s issues. Social distancing comes natural to my son. However, I fear we may go even further backwards in social skills. I am not an expert at designing curriculum for a complex case like my son.

All this and I’m financially stable. I don’t have to worry about mortgage payments or other bills. Special needs day care is a difficult challenge as it is. In these times, I’m sure it feels downright impossible. I have the privilege of being able to be home with my kid. Schools provide so much for special needs families, and sometimes even the food for most meals. We should never underestimate the power of those teacher student relationships, as a tool for special education learning.

I’ve had a few weeks to digest the problem. I know I’m going to need guidance. I’m going to need more than a google doc of resources. I’m going to need the help of our educators. I’m going to need my friends. I’m going to go slow. I’m going to be forgiving of myself and my kid.

I’m going to need the help of my new family member

Meet Barney Link Pope. We all need some cuddles from loved ones in these tough times.

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I thought I did everything right

I thought I did everything right. Not that I’m some perfect parent, but I tried to be the best I could be. I thought I did everything right, but my child still experiences regression.

We had early intervention. We had specialists, therapists, and the like. Our family showed up, took notes, and read everything we could on this mystifying condition known as Autism. I listened to #ActuallyAutistic videos. I read parent blogs. Still, I’m sitting at home dreading my son’s IEP meeting because my child has regressed on his progress.

You can do everything right, but when a neuro-diverse kid encounters a neuro-typical world there is very little you can do sometimes. For us, its school. In the beginning, it was difficult. Still my kiddo made incredible strides. He made friends, he tolerated noisy busy spaces sometimes. Most importantly, my kiddo learned new things.

Now, I have a child who gets anxious at the mere idea of learning. He visibly shakes at the mention of going back to school. In our quest, to find the best classroom for my son, we failed. He is more traumatized now in a self contained classroom designed for social emotional behavior issues than he ever was in general education. We’re still dealing with IEP issues. We’re still dealing with discipline issues. Last spring the new school promised that they would have a better understanding of disability, yet I’m back advocating against suspensions given because my son has meltdowns. Some meltdowns caused because of lack of compliance with the IEP. I’m back to saying repeatedly you can’t punish Autism out of a kid.

This all spills into my home life too. Once my kid liked books and begged for me to read to him, or would spontaneously read in his calm down corner. This isn’t my home anymore. Once my kid ate some meals with the family, and now he seems overly sensitive to any new smells in the kitchen. His diet is even more restrictive, as are his interests.

We can trace the start of this to events that occurred in school. The problem is, I’m at a loss on how to fix it. It feels frustrating to beg for more support when what we get is a hodgepodge of TAs with no one person my son can turn to for help. How do I trust a school that seems to have so little understanding of my son’s issues? How do I get my son back into a building he associates with fear? How do I send my son back into a building I associate with betrayal and mismanagement?

I will be in an IEP meeting on Friday at 11am. Its not the time or day I’d like. It was mandated. This date or much, much later. Not really a choice for a kid who is experiencing mental health issues. I had team members on my side I’d like to take with me, but I can’t, because they couldn’t accommodate timing. This means even the privileged resources I have, I can’t always use. It is a big system, and flexibility is a big issue. Yet flexibility is the thing my family needs the most.

Maybe I’ll get answers. Maybe not. We persist. We move forward from where we are now, hoping we get to a better place. There are no clear choices. Not all disability stories are inspiring. Sometimes we take too many steps backward and not enough forward.

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The Choice

      There are many ways to look at school choice.  Down here in the trenches the picture looks personal and frustrating.  I’m a white financially stable mom of an autistic child.  In many ways, my family is the poster family for school choice.  I have the resources and time to access the choice options in my area.  Yet time and time again, I stay and fight for public schools.

      In my opinion, one of the biggest challenges of the choice model is that it’s not interested in making public school better.  The choice model states, that if you’re not happy with your school, leave.  I’ve felt this way many times.  However, what about the problems that lead me to feel this way?  Are they still there for future generations to endure, when I leave?   What about the children who literally can’t afford to leave?  Are the problems so bad that they can never change?

      The problems with public school are not insurmountable.  Many of the problems stem from a very fixable solution.  We need to fully fund our public schools.  Our kids in North Carolina, can succeed with better resources and better allocation to our vulnerable students.  We’ve lost thousands of Teaching Assistants positions in the last decade.  More eyes and ears in the building could make a dramatic difference for students.  We don’t have support staff either, that could provide emotional support as well as medical assistance.  Money matters.  Even if you’re problem is training and awareness.  None of that happens without funding to provide the professional development.  

    As parents leave the public school system, frustrated that their IEP wasn’t handled, or that services were denied, it feels like I’ve lost one more voice.  No one in public school is giving an exit interview. They need to know what went wrong.  We need to do something productive with our anger at a system that fails us.  We need to advocate for change at every level of government. 

      Public school offers something that most private schools can’t guarantee, and that is my full legal federal rights.  Choosing a private school means those rights, certified special education teachers, and free services may not be available. I want my child integrated with his peers as much as possible in a diverse school.  Public school has the potential to provide that.  It is by no means living up to its promise, and that is why I fight.  

     It is hard to find a non profit these days for kids with disabilities fighting for better funding for public school.  Many, like the Autism Society for North Carolina, has joined the school choice bandwagon.  They’re not fighting.  I don’t hear our local and statewide non profits organizing when we have real school funding problems.  We need strong advocates for our kids who are interested in making public school work for all children.  I don’t need another seminar on knowing my individual rights.  I need to attack the under funding of a system, and organizers willing to put in the work.

    I’ve seen advocacy work first hand.  I was proudly part of a team of parents in North Carolina that secured funding for our specialist teachers.  Our voices carry weight if only we have the guts to use them.  So many of the problems disability parents deal with on a small scale, are part of the larger systemic issue of under funding.  I’m done fighting the small scale battle, and I’m ready to declare war on the national, state, and local level of under funding our public schools.

      School choice is tricky.  I will always understand when a child is harmed that they need to find a safe place. However, I believe public school is the best way to educate our children.  Public school is just that, it is public.  We the people have the power to shape it, and change it for the better.   No other choice option allows for the public to engage in direct action like public education.  Thus, it is time to lift our voices together and be advocates of change, and fully fund our our public schools, not just for our kids, but for every kid.




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Don’t Blink!

Policy changes are coming from NC DPI (Department of Public Instruction) in regards to Autism identification and qualification for services. If approved by the NC State Board of Education they could be put in place as soon as August.

If this is the first you’re hearing about it, you are not alone. Many parents and educators were not made aware until now. I happened on the announcement in a social media group by accident. If you’re looking for a major press release or announcement from your school district, it may not be there. Below are what I found circulating on a few social media sites.

On June 25th, I attended the parent forum in Raeford. In the meeting, the Exceptional Children’s Division explained the goal of the new policy changes is to clear up policy when identifying students with Autism. Ok, good so far. I agree we need better training and understanding of Autism in our public schools overall. There are some new sensory screenings which again sounds very positive. The ECD also laid out what the new policy for qualifying for special education services will look like.

Here is where my mommy senses began to tingle. So, the old qualifications for services for Autism were extremely vague. The new ones are more comprehensive and do provide a clearer guideline. However, is it a good guideline? Will it result in fewer students qualifying for services and thus not be provided an appropriate education? These are the important questions to keep asking.

I encourage every stakeholder to take a deep look at the proposed policy found here:




When I read the policy, a few red flags went off in my head when I read the policy and of course I checked in with a few school psychologist friends. The first red flag was the communication piece. Under the new requirements for a child to be classified with Autism they must meet three criteria for communication. The other red flag might be that the symptoms must be present in early development, but could have been masked with coping skills. I have significant fears that the new criteria will have less students qualifying for services. As a side note, no need to panic just yet if your child already qualifies. This shouldn’t impact students already receiving services unless a full reassessment is requested. Reassessments are common, but full reassessments are rare.

I mentioned my fears at the parent meeting, but was assured that they were unfounded. I remain skeptical. I don’t mind change and updating Autism policies can be beneficial, if the goal is make sure we aren’t denying services to those who are in need. I’m not sure that is the goal.

I hope every parent or educator who wants to learn more about these policies do so from DPI and get a chance to ask them difficult questions face to face. However, that will not be the case. These meetings are being held at only eight locations around the state. Very few are in urban centers. The most significant problem is that these meetings are held at 5:30PM. Getting to a meeting across Wake County at 5:30 is a challenge, let alone trying to get to Butner.

I brought this issue up at the meeting I attended in Raeford. I was told that they wanted to include the rural folks. That is fantastic. However, it shouldn’t be an either or proposition. Have a meeting in Butner and Raeford, but have one in Wake and Charlotte too. By only having meetings in these eight locations DPI is excluding large numbers of stakeholders, and absolutely they must have them later in the day so working families can attend.

In North Carolina, parents have a right to be skeptical. By not qualifying students for special education services, the state and district save money. There is already an arbitrary cap on the amount of students that the state funds. Each district is capped for special education services at 12.75% of its population. Districts who go over the cap must fund those students from local funds. One way to keep costs lower is to keep kids from qualifying from services. I sincerely hope this is never a strategy.

The policy for Autism, will go before the State Board of Education in August and roll out as soon as possible. For all I know, these will be positive changes for the Autism community in North Carolina. However, the public needs to be made aware of the changes, give input, and monitor the implementation. This isn’t approved policy yet and I encourage everyone who has serious concerns to contact the NC State Board of Education ahead of the August meeting. The link to State Board Member emails is down at this time. Here is the Home Page for the NC State Board of Ed.

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A New Hope…or is it just Star Wars?

After what felt like an epic battle, my son now attends a different public school. Switching schools meant for my family switching philosophies. In order to get out of our terrible situation, we had to compromise. I allowed my son to enter a regional program for emotional behavior support or EBS. It is a segregated class to start and it totally broke my heart.

My son needed a change. I recognize that. He needed emotional behavioral support too. When some at his old school failed to see his behavior as deeper frustrations with curriculum, and more importantly failed to act, my son’s behavior and emotional stability fell apart. We needed to give him a new start.

Still being in a segregated class feels isolating. I’ve always been a part of school life. Suddenly I’m completely on the outside. Not only that, but there are times my son feels it too. He has even asked me if he was being punished for what happened at his old school.

The new school and I just finished formalizing a brand new IEP. It took over 4 hours. We rewrote old goals, but for the first time added academic goals now armed with assessments. I feel good about the work and hopeful for the future, but I will forever be cautious.

You see the old school didn’t insist on assessments. I did. The old school wasn’t seeking help from county special education services, I was. Did I know how to do any of this? NO! I hired someone to help me. This felt like a battle to get my son safe. I’m a fighter, but I shouldn’t have to be.

There are a lot of talk in forums, non-profits, and even within the county of providing training to parents to know their rights. I agree this is important. However, I fear we are putting too much responsibility on the parents. Parents who have special needs children. Parents who work. Parents who don’t sit at home writing blog posts in their spare time. When do we start putting the responsibility back on our school systems? When do they stop being reactive and start being proactive with the tools they have?

Since when did I have to know assessments, or what accommodations to ask for with curriculum? The parent rights handbook is filled with procedure rights and responsibilities, but is it a parent’s responsibility to request a Functional Behavior Assessment, when things start going south? Shouldn’t the school be doing these type of things? One shouldn’t have to have a hired gun at an IEP meeting to get services, or be some guru of special education.

What all this means is that we have a special education process steeped in privilege. We have kids who get services not because they need it the most, but because they have parents or hired professionals navigating the system. The schools should be the ones doing the navigating to get every single one of their students the best education possible. I’m only seeing this when things come to crisis or worse a lawsuit.

My question is why is this happening? Are teachers and administrators at local schools just unaware of what services the county and state will provide? Do local schools only see discipline issues and not underlying problems associated with disability? Is it time and resources? Just as important is my final question, what can we do about it?

As our family learns to navigate our new school I’m hopeful things are getting better for my son. We know much more now about how he learns and perceives the world around him. I hope this will help his teachers address problems in the classroom. I hope the school will be proactive if my child starts to show warning signs of escalating anxiety behaviors. I have hope, but I know I’m dealing with system that is more prone to war than peace.

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A Crisis of Faith

While my personal faith remains steadfast, I have lost faith that my kid’s school can reliably educate my son. I no longer believe they care about him. So, what do you do when you no longer believe that your school can uphold an IEP?

I’m in the process of trying to figure out what to do. My problem is my son can’t wait much longer. He is getting more and more determined not to attend school. He will do anything to get out of working. It wasn’t always this bad, but school and my son never had a positive relationship. My son’s mind is in pain and I feel helpless. I’m not, but if feels that way.

I know the challenges that schools are facing. I know about the funding issues. Even at the federal level we haven’t seen changes to IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) in about 10 years. With inflation, rising diagnosis, and equipment cost we should view that as a cut. North Carolina isn’t funding it schools properly and it is showing. I believe to some extent I’m watching the consequences of underfunded school systems play out in my son’s school life. I see the lack of adults in the building. I met the school psychiatrist for the first time this year and my son is in third grade. I see the teacher and support staff shortage in the inability to keep so many special ed teachers and the revolving doors of OT (Occupational Therapist).

I was even told once that the school was using too much of its resources to handle my son and other kids weren’t getting services. I of course told this person that allocation of resources wasn’t my job, but his. It illustrates just how ignorant schools can be when it comes to mental illness and autism. The implication of the phone conversation wasn’t just lack of school resources, but also that I needed to discipline my son and get him to act right in school. That isn’t how autism and anxiety work. I can’t just take away his video games if he has a violent meltdown and expect different behavior. I tried it. It didn’t help. Please know that we, as special need parents, have all have tried. We’ve tried everything. We’ll probably continue to try everything.

There seems to be very little understanding of what autism is and even less about a child dealing with both autism and anxiety. Chart to the tops and current social emotional learning projects like Positivity Project aren’t helping. Social emotional help needs to be deeper and not on display to the rest of the class. My son needs an IEP that is supportive and followed not just by its literal accommodations, but by all things we as parents add to describe a child’s behaviors, triggers, and needs. Those paragraphs in the beginning of the document matter too.

The IEP process is filled with potholes and flaws that I’m only now beginning to understand. It is an agreement of services between the school and parents of a disabled child. My problem is how do I agree to things I am not really understanding. We don’t have textbooks, we don’t have a curriculum that is easy to understand not to mention the constant tweaks and changes. Often I don’t have any idea what my child does during the school day. I have to trust the school. After my son has more than a few meltdowns, the very thing an IEP is suppose to prevent, how do I trust the school? I have to trust that school isn’t motivated by funding. I have to trust that they care about my child’s education and not their own reputation. I have lost my trust.

The worst part is that I feel like there is very little accountability. I don’t want to sue, but I can see now why so many parents do go a legal route. It seems like one of the few ways to get action. In Wake County, we have the family and community connections program. It is a resource, but has no answers when you tell them “I’ve lost faith in my school’s ability to uphold my child’s IEP.” They urge you to work it out with the school. This isn’t helpful when a parent feels alienated.

Who is watching this process. Do red flags get triggered anywhere when a special needs child gets suspended in elementary school? Do our counties in North Carolina watch over anything but test scores? Do they have regular inspections and audits? I honestly have no idea. I’ve got time to write emails to school boards, attend meetings, and even write a blog post. I get accountability by my advocacy. How do others get it? I do know more and more parents like me are leaving public school.

In many of my public speeches, I warned others that the lack of funding in our schools here in North Carolina could lead to problems with IEPs and our most vulnerable kids in public schools. I really hate that I’m watching it play out in my own son’s educational life. I wanted to be wrong. I also know that I live in Wake County North Carolina. We are wealthy in comparison to others. What must other parents and children be going through? How many broken promises? My faith is shaken.

I write this on the eve of going in to a very tough meeting with the school tomorrow. I have a team to back me up, but we are facing uncertain changes. I left out names intentionally. I write this for myself, to voice my fears. Drop me a line, but know that I’m supported. Know that others may not be. This is what keeps me up at night. It what gets me back on podiums to speak. I believe in public education. I believe we need to strive to make it better for all children.

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I should have celebrated Festivus Instead

It is difficult to put into words how isolating the holidays can be for autism families.  Everything is out of whack.  My child is overstimulated one moment, and then asked to roll with the unexpected the next.  It is a season of meltdowns and friends are few.

On Christmas Day my son in the midst of a breakdown on a city sidewalk declared,” Christmas is making me crazy.”   To be fair, it was the sugar, lack of a clear schedule and different environment, but all that encapsulates a fairly typical holiday for most of us.  For my son it feels anything but typical.  It also can make one feel isolated.  Why am I not enjoying this?  Everyone else seems to want me to be happy.  I know my son feels this, and quite frankly so do I.

I spent my holiday break on a constant vigil.  I was trying to keep track of how many cookies and sweets my child ate.  I was trying to figure out what to do to keep him occupied away from home and in an environment fairly foreign to him.  I was basically on meltdown watch 2018.

There is also a sense of  my own isolation.  I know others are participating in holiday events.  Many are too crowded for my family to enjoy.  Others  events we are simply not invited to join.  My son doesn’t have a social group.  We don’t have swim team friends, or soccer team friends.  He isn’t really interested in being around large groups of children.  One or two is fine, but there is anxiety in numbers.   When many social interactions as adults revolve around our children, the more isolated the child, the more isolated the parent as well.

As for my faith during the holidays, I have always been inspired by the verse in Luke that says, “But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”  I don’t need a fancy church service or even nativity scenes to celebrate my faith.   Quite frankly the pageantry of church at this time of year can be dysregulating to my son.

Then end of school can be awful.  All my son can do is think about getting out of school.  The performances and the year end activities can send him into free fall.  Meanwhile, it can also make going back to school another day, or even returning after break that much harder.

Getting back to a routine never felt so good, as we enter a new year.  I’m not by any means recharged, but that’s OK.  I’m ready.  After tears and some self esteem help, so is my son.  Maybe next year I’ll just celebrate Festivus.


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Self Care and Oprah Quotes

Motivation: If a pretty poster and a cute saying are all it takes to motivate you, you probably have a very easy job.  The kind robots will be doing soon.

One thing that seems consistent in many Autism, or even just parent seminars and conferences, is a session on self care.  I have often left those sessions feeling more stressed than when I entered, and more than a little annoyed.  I come away thinking, if I see another motivational quote on a pretty picture, I’m going to blow.

I’m not against self care.  It can take the shape of getting fresh air, a diary, or daily exercise. As long as you do something you enjoy, you get something positive out of it.  However, most self care seminars also seem to insist that I also have a sunny attitude in my daily life.  They promote optimism as a way to deal with my struggles as a parent.  They put endless amounts of quotes up on slide show.  One speaker even suggested we could all take optimism training.  It completely stressed me out.  I mean I’m sitting there in desperate need of a haircut, hoping to learn how to carve more time out for myself, and now I need to fix my entire outlook on life. I have come away from so many of these conferences more stressed than when I went in.

What I need most days is just permission to have a bad day.  Permission to see the world as it sometimes is, a total piece of crap.  I don’t live everyday like this of course.  I just need to not feel bad about it when it happens.  I need to permission to have a bad attitude when things are just bad.  What gets me is the seminar speakers (who rarely have credentials in anything) that say live your feelings, and then in the next sentence promote how important to be optimistic.  They put cute pictures of how I don’t need to be Super Mom, but that was never my goal in the first place.

Long ago, watching the Daily Show (back in the Jon Stewart Days) an author by the name of Barbara Ehrenreich promoted a book named  BRIGHT-SIDED: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking has Undermined America  What I got out of the book was permission to be me.  I’m not a naturally positive thinker, yet for the most part I’m a fairly content person.  The relentless pursuit of happiness stresses me out.  I’ve been through chronic pain.  No, it doesn’t help to have a positive attitude.  Anyone who has suffered migraines knows that no amount of positive world view will take away very real pain.  Its ok to be mad, angry, and indeed feel pain.

So, yes to long walks, time away to get my haircut, and writing for my self care. No, to trying to make myself believe in the power of positive thinking.  That’s not say I see my child in a negative view.  I don’t.  He is wonderful and his mind is amazing.  I just also deal with his struggles in a very real way.  They affect me.  I’m not going to lie.  My child’s struggles are real and need real solutions, and not just a pretty picture with a quote.


Get To Work: You Aren’t Being Paid to Believe in the Power of Your Dreams.

These are hilarious especially if you worked in an office: https://despair.com/collections/posters


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Voting and Community Engagement

The first time I ever stepped into my son’s local public school was not to take a tour.  I didn’t even have a child yet.  The first time I walked into my son’s elementary school was to vote.  While using schools as polling places has met with resistance from parents and others recently, I consider it the perfect place to vote.

I’m not going to downplay parent’s fears.  I understand the world.  I’m not naive.  However, I think having schools as polling places is a positive thing.  Members at large who may not ever go to a public school, or have children get to interact with our space.  I wish I could label things purchased with PTA money, or donated by a teacher, but that might be going too far.  Still they might spot outdated laptops.  They might spot a leaky roof or a gym that is obviously too small to hold all the kids they see in the hallway.  Maybe if they spot a teacher they’ll remember a teacher’s march or article about low pay.

This year my PTA is having a bake sale.  It might sound ridiculously old fashioned, but I love the idea.  Voters will interact with school leaders.  Maybe they’ll make a connection. Maybe they’ll join our PTA and volunteer.  I hope they see vibrant and happy kids, because we have great public schools.  At the very least they might give just a little to our school and purchase a baked good.

So how do I address the real fear of school safety?  I believe that is done in the voting booth.  We don’t need to keep the public out of our school.  We just need to make a safer stronger society.  I believe we do that by electing officials that believe in gun sense legislation.  That entails stronger background checks.  That means the banning of military weapons in the hands of civilians.  Weapons like the AR-15.  I think we need to have a strong support staff, so we need legislators to step up and vote for better school funding.   We need more Teacher Assistants and better teacher ratios.  Most of all, we need counselors, school psychologist, and school nurses.

For those of you with kids attending a school that is also a polling place, embrace election day.  Talk about it with your kids.  If you haven’t voted yet, take your kids in to vote with you.  Most of all, think of the very building you stand in when you cast your ballot.



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