Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Rhetta Poses for the Camera for the First Time and More!

I took an 8x8 print of this mosaic to our brainstorming meeting today and they loved it so much (her teachers) they are going to make a poster out of it to help teach emotions!  It turns out all the expressions are ones her speech therapist at school has been working on with her (which I knew of some) and they were floored when I told them how she was posing for the camera.  I mean, that is just not something a child like mine does.  She has literally only ever done it once - this past Halloween if you remember her half smile while carving her pumpkin?  Anyway, they were just as floored as I was but so proud.

Rhetta, it turns out, is doing wonderfully with her motor skills and I really need to let the hand grip go for awhile and wait.  Her printing is better than any of the other kids her age, her drawing is so elaborate they were a bit speechless.  She runs without tripping, she peddles bikes and trikes and shows a lot of interest in tying her shoes.  She uses scissors with either hand and the computer mouse with her right hand.  Draws with her left, leads with her left, is definately a lefty, not quite ambidextrious but almost.

She is doing the monkey bars at school with no spotter.

Her willingness to play with the other kids throughout the day now is at it's best - no more perseveration unless it's after an emotional meltdown which are few and far between.  She is doing some pretend play with the blocks, pretending they are people and making up different voices for them, acting out scenerios in mostly Rhettaspeak but pretending nonetheless.  I explained how she'd been doing that since birth - talking to herself in Rhetta speak in the middle of the night at 2 months old, and later to herself in every reflection she could find including my eyeballs!

She is checking herself when she starts to say the word "shit" and just gets the "sh.." out then stops.  LOL  Funny thing though, and I told them this today, she has learned a new one from Rob: "Oh dammit, this sucks."

We worked out a lot of what's been causing me some anxiety.  Not all but some.  I just hate not being there to see how she's really doing.  And I don't like that Michele, her aide, is so stern with her.  Tish seems to think that's what Rhetta needs but I don't much like it. I said so, too, but that won't change who Michele is.  She is just that way and I admit Rhetta responds to it.  I'm just not sure how it's forming in her mind whether that's how people learn to do things or not, does that make sense?

We talked about the one thing Rhetta still will not do.  I really want her to have to do all the things the other kids have to do to the best of her ability.  The one thing we discussed Tish broke in and said, "You'll just have to make her do it," and I flat out said No. No. No.  You will not make her do anything.   You will teach her how to do it the way she learns, through pictures.  What the fuck is wrong with them that they can't drill that into their heads? It is so weird because they are always trying to tell me these things as if I am the one who doesn't know.  I think really that Tish just slips into her role for typical kids and forgets sometimes.  I love Tish and don't like being mad at her - lol - but I stood my ground.

Rhetta is reading some cursive.  She stumbles on funky letters like f and capital G (again, cursive) and T's look like Js, but she read the little note Grandma wrote in her Easter card that came yesterday.

Devon made it to the meeting and was so so so awesome.  Had a two page report of ideas to help with a lot of what we've been working on in OT.  Had a lot to say but didn't ramble like she's prone to do.  We only had an hour, after all, so we had to cram a lot in there.

The best part was finally bringing together Devon (hospital ped. rehab OT) and Audrey (school district ST, new).  I just knew they'd hit it off, and they are equally fascinated and loving to my daugher.  I am blessed with these two, seriously.  In five minutes after everyone else had to leave they exchanged information about their training, their number, and decided a collaboration over the summer would have to happen with Rhetta and the two of them, at least, if not a whole group activity like swimming or a picnic or something, with no compensation to Audrey - she just wants to work together with Devon once with Rhetta for the fun of it - AND (this is a long sentence) ... and they talked about a part time position open at the rehab.  Not to steal her from the schools but Devon's dream (and mine too now) is to have the hospital and school work together instead of having such separate models but to mesh.  If Audrey worked for both somehow it could be a step toward that, you know?  It's all very exciting.

We're also working out how to get me into see the classroom she'll be in next year and let me sit in while class is in session.  Meet the teacher, take pictures, etc. Devon wants Rhetta to start with full days and from there we can determine what parts she benefits from the most socially and feeds her...can't think of a word here... what pleases her the most - has the most fun while not necessarily focussing on academics.  Just follow her lead.  We'll also find out if any of her classmates now will be in her class next year to help smooth the transition.  They joked about how she just might like it.  Ha ha.  We joke a lot about the half homeschooled, half public schooled aspect.  I confessed how I was secretly happy Rhetta hated the classroom last year but just as happy that she loves the one this year.

It really moved me that they were all at this meeting today.  It is so hard for everyone to schedule at the same time.  Devon, who is normally double booked and perpetually late came straight from another meeting and was right on time.  And it was not an IEP meeting like I had thought it would be.  It was a meeting of the minds.

So, Rhetta is flourishing.  She is still full of negativity when she doesn't get to direct the situation but more often verbally now instead of nonverbally (i.e. screaming, droping, banging her head, sobbing).  They'll work on leadership roles vs. running the show.

One final funny... Audrey was telling us how they're working on pretend play and emotions in ST with a baby doll.  Rhetta will put the baby to bed, tuck it in, kiss it night night, "But she will NOT feed the baby!" I asked, "You're using a bottle?" She said, "Yes! And she will not feed it." I said, "Give her a breast!" Devon reinforced that - lol - and we all had a good laugh. I said seriously, "Ask her if the baby wants nu-nu. Tell her to give the baby some nu-nu and see what she does. " I can't wait!

Gentle Breezes

I have met so many people in my half-lifetime. People from all over this country and some from other continents even. People of color, creative people... hundreds, really. I have gotten to know a great many of the people I meet, too. The ones that I have been thinking about lately are those of age. My dad has always said that if you want to learn anything about anything talk to old people. I inherited his facsination with listening to old people talk. Only lately has it occured to me that he is one of them now.

This got me thinking about my favorites. I am not ashamed. I play favorites.

Ma Gould was a gentlewoman of 83 when I first met her. The mother of a drama director I once worked with. A sweet Jewish woman from upstate New York transplanted to Northern California to be with her two children and her grandchildren. She was so prim and sweet she reminded me of a decorated cake. I asked her lots of questions about her younger years because it seemed to be her favorite thing to reminisce. She'd get that moist look in her eye like the memories carried her back in time and she'd be gone for a little while, lost in the past but enjoying it all over again as if she were there. She always thanked me and made me promise to be a good girl. Her birthday was on May Day, I remember.

Opal Berry at 88 was my landlord for 8 months during my college years. She spent her whole time either in the kitchen cooking for her sister-in-law Louise who lived with her (they were both widowed by that time) or in her chair on the screen porch looking out on the street and talking away to whomever would sit and listen. She and her husband were the last to deliver newspapers by wagon to the towns around the lake where they lived. Her mother taught her how to bake bread at such a young age she had to stand on a step stool to reach the counter to knead the dough. Her parents graves were flooded when they moved the town to make the lake. I used to clean out her cutters and trim her hedges in exchange for baked goods. Her sons and daughter were lazy folks and she was always grateful for the help. I was the only person Louise would allow to trim her townails.

Charles Crockett was my dearest friend's grandpa. I liked to think he was my grandpa from time to time. I learned to do so many things watching him. He'd give me the sweetest hugs. I can clean horses hooves and cut lambs and cast a line and track a wild animal all thanks to him. He never really said much to me but he always had this way about him that made me feel like crawling up in his lap and drifting off to sleep.

There are so many, I don't hardly remember them all. I never kept in touch. It occurs to me, though, that they are gone now. They live in my memories but sometime when I wasn't paying attention they slipped off like the hint of a scent on a gentle breeze.

I miss them, yet.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Bonnie Raitt ~ The Fundamental Things


Let's run naked through these city streets
We're all captives of captivity
Let's wear madness like a crucifix
Let's tattoo Bible quotes across both our hips

Let's get back to the fundamental things
Let's get back to the elements of style
Let's get back to simple skin on skin
Let's get back to the fundamental things

Let's dance barefoot over broken glass
Slither like a snake does through the wet, cold grass
Howl and tremble in a sleepless grind
Let's do the braindrain, leave it all behind


You can sit in your room and worry
You can contemplate the end
Or let your house burn down behind you
Run bare-ass through the streets again

You can hide out on your rooftop
Wishing you had never been
Or go down to Hal's bar and grill
Find your innocence again