Tuesday, June 30, 2009

My Nervous Little (Not so Little) Daughter

Ricki's graduation Party is today. So last night she was really nervous. How do I know? Because Miss Independent was asking me question after question.
It's understandable. I know whaT a girls eighth grade graduation party is like. I have been to two in the past. But this is Ricki's first.So she doesn't know what to expect.
As a result, yesterday evening she was badgering me with query after query. And since she didn't really understand all my answers, the questions kept coming. She kept bouncing out of bed, asking if I wasn't coming to work on the computer as she falls asleep (which is her perfered method of falling asleep. But to her bad luck, my computer is on the blink.....).
Finally she fell asleep. I hope the day goes well for her.

Monday, June 29, 2009

That’s AALLLL I Need!

Saturday evening I received a phone call from the principal of Ricki’s school. She is really an “educater” par excellance. (See HERE) I used to see her often; she would be on the way to school at 7:55 , as I was walking home after taking Ricki to school. But for the last two years Ricki has had a city-run taxi service taking her to school, so I have missed the daily nod of recognition as we passed each other in the street.
She told me that she had witnessed the girls practicing for their graduation*, and that Ricki had behaved so nicely, that she felt she just had to phone and tell me. Of course, I took the opportunity to thank her again for all that the school has invested in Ricki over the last three years.
But in reality, “Thanks” is MUCH too small a word to express what I owe Ricki’s school and classmates.

So what was the aftermath? On Sunday, Ricki suddenly decided to start “improvising” in the middle of practice. She was told repeatedly by her aid, and later at home by me, that any independent choreography on her part will have to wait.
G-d, please don’t let her mess up the school performance. Her classmates DON’T have that coming to them....

* Here, the graduation from eighth grade is marked by a graduation ceremony that also includes a “musical”presentation by the graduating classes. (play, songs, etc.)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Candies

Yesterday evening Ricki had managed, somehow, to widdle some seven or eight pieces of sucking candy from her brother-in-law. Now I know Ricki, and she won’t take more than a suck or two of each before deciding that the candy is “too sticky”, and toss it away.
But she had apparently had her heart set on taking the stash with her to school this morning, and was terribly frustrated when she realized that she could not remember where she had put it. So I offered her three dietetic candies instead, which she reluctantly agreed to accept as a temporary replacement.
Then she went to the cabnit, and took the bag of soup nuts. I decided not to make an issue of this, but DID insist on pouring the amount myself. But I did it in the only way anyone who knows child psychology would do:
I poured a bit (less than the small amount I intended to allow her), and asked “Do you want more?”
“Uhh, sure...”

She received a smidgen more and walked out happy with a fraction of what she would have taken on her own.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The “Magic” Age of Seven

The age of seven is not necessarily exact. However, most children at some point steal something. I remember slipping some M&M’s into the shopping bags at the local grocery. Stupidly, I ate them in front of my older brother, who correctly reported the offense to my parents. Even better than my memory of taking the M&M’s is my shame at being taken to the store to apologize, and to return the money owed. I was ashamed because I knew it was wrong.
Ricki also knows that stealing is wrong. Yet she is learning rather slowly that it doesn’t pay. On her way home last Tuesday she took a toy from an outside display. The next day she went to apologize and paid part of the debt with her allowance. Next week she will have to pay the balance. On Thursday she took three grapes from the vegetable store, despite my warning not to do so. Despite having successfully done a blood test that morning (for which she received a new song disk), her computer priledges where completely cancelled for the day. I feel strongly that the only way to put an end to this quickly is to be adamant about full and swift consequences of even the tiniest infractions. I just pray that she learns quickly.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Music “Concert”

I have written a lot lately about Ricki’s misbehavior. I feel I need to balance that all out. So let me tell you about Monday’s “concert”. Ricki’s student teacher of music told me that they were having an evening about the program that they were doing, and they wanted Ricki to come and play the piano.
So we went, and all went well. But really well.
Ricki was nice to people.
She played OK.
She behaved excellently. She put back the second serving of sweets when I insisted.

Even the mother of a very high functioning girl with Mosaic Down syndrome who was there was impressed.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

My Sons and the Army

Those of you who are regular readers of this blog know that I have a son in the Israeli army. Although he is attached to a combat unit (Oketz- the canine unit), he is not a combat soldier. That does not mean that his service does not incur danger. It does, daily. Just recently, as he was transporting a soldier and his dog to a place of deployment (so that they could capture a wanted terrorist alive, rather than killing him), a Palestinian driver tried very hard to cause my son to have a fatal traffic accident. [At first, my son didn’t realize what was going on. Now that he has experienced this, he hopes to be more aware and on the lookout.] I am grateful that my son had the ability and common sense (and benevolence of G-d) needed to survive the incident. His ascertations that his service is still safer than working as a pizza delivery man (on motorcycle) does little to calm my nerves.(I am not allowing his younger brother to deliver pizzas, either!)
Now his younger brother is contemplating his future, and has decided that he DEFINITELY wants to enter the services as a combat soldier. I queried him, not as discouragement, but from curiosity, “WHY?”
The answer I got was unclear. “I don’t want to have a desk job and be bored.” [My initial thought is I will supply him with anything he needs to not be bored.....] I think it has much more to do with a male psyche thing of needing to feel manly, important, and challenged. In the meantime, he has already started exercising with a group to prepare himself for the grueling hikes and runs that the combat soldiers need to do. He is growing leaner and taller, more athletic, and more self confident. That alone is probably as enticing as a drug to a seventeen-year old. That and the comradeship of his group. He is metamorphosing before my eyes into a confident, cocky, and self-assured fellow. He is beginning to remind me of his older brother Meir. Meir is a scholar, but also has this same self-assuredness (and athletic build as well). Frankly, I would rather my son be a scholar. But he isn’t, and at least in the meantime, he won’t be. Am I scared of his future army service? Yes. I am a mother. But I will have to learn to live with it. Maybe I will need to undergo some metamorphosis myself. But as much as it hurts, the heart of a mother will not change.

Gilad Shalit- LIMBO

I can not even imagine the pain of it. How can one even fathom the gehinom (h-ll) of three years in limbo?
Gilad Shalit was, as my son is today, a few months past his basic training, a wisp of a man, only 19, when he was captured by Hamas.That day was three years ago. Try to consider being a mother of that son, living 1096 twenty-four hour days not knowing if your son is alive or dead. If he is healthy or not? Sane or not? Being beaten and humiliated or not? With hope in his heart or fear that he has been forgotten or given up as dead? How can one survive such gut-wrenching uncertainty... not for one tense week, not a month, but three years? Those of us with special-needs children, who have undergone surgery, and been perhaps even at times in a state of danger, know that fear. That uncertainty. But I want you to take that dread, and stretch it out for three years. Imagine the apprehension felt when even the Red Cross is denied access to your son. Does that mean that he is dead? That he is in such a poor state that Hamas can not allow the world to see?
Unfortunately, I do not believe that Israel should release hundreds of terrorists in exchange for Gilad. I understand if his parents feel differently. I surely would too if it was my son. I spoke once with my son, and we both agreed that releasing Hamas operatives to do more of the same is lunacy.
But I feel for Gilad’s parents, and if Israel would stop allowing Red Cross (and family) access to our prisoners, until the Palestinians cough up Gilad Shalit, yes I think I could agree to that.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Special-Exposure Wednesday

Finally I have pictures from my daughter’s wedding last fall. Here is a picture of Ricki....
Now I wish I could claim that she always looks so good. But yesterday she insisted on wearing a hair band (a gift someone gave her), which looks atrocious on her. SIGH.....

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Grocer/Greengrocer: a Second Look

I would like today to add in two points loosely related to yesterday’s post.
1. The same day that she had done this, and I was hopping mad at her as a result, her half sister and her daughters, Ricki’s nieces, came to visit. At one point the older daughter, who is about Ricki’s age, was told by her mother to make a fried egg for her younger sister, who was hungry. As she came into the kitchen, I told her “You can go back to your reading. Ricki will make the egg. And she did.
2. Today I asked Ricki to write a “we didn’t forget you” letter to a former teacher of hers... in many ways her main teacher, who we had to drop due to the economic crunch. When she finished, I put it in an envelope, and prepared to send Ricki to the corner to mail it. PROBLEM: The mailbox is next to the grocer. The temptation to Ricki to enter and steal a boreka will be very big.
- “Ricki, you are going to mail the letter, and NOT go into the grocery. I will call and check later. “
Well, it took a while for her to return, and I was sure that she had succumbed. But a quick phone to the grocery ascertained that she hadn’t entered at all. Guess who got her allowance on the spot?!?

Monday, June 22, 2009

To The Greengrocer or the Grocer?

About a week and a half ago, Ricki was going through a few rough days. She had not been behaving her best (understatement), and I was keeping an “extra eye” on her, , trying to assure myself that she would not get away with atrocious behaviors.
I suddenly realized that we were out of tomatoes, and asked Ricki to pop over to the greengrocers and pick up a few. The greengrocers is only two buildings away.
I went to the window just to be sure that she would cross the street safely, but she didn’t arrive at the corner. I waited. And waited. Where was she???
Suddenly I realized what had surely happened. I called the grocery store (which is about five buildings away, in the opposite direction) and as the owner lifted the receiver, I heard him commenting: “that is enough “borekas”!*
“Is Ricki stealing borekas again?” I queried the owner, feeling like the cavalry ready to ride in and save the situation. “Tell her Mommy knows just what she is doing and she must come home RIGHT AWAY!”
A shame-faced Ricki arrived home a few minutes later. She was greeted with a lecture on stealing, lying, and not listening to Mommy. In addition, she received a very large “she’ll-think-twice-next-time” punishment, and got resent to the greengrocer.
And if Ricki, or anyone else, wonders how I knew she was at the grocery store... well, if you know your child well enough, “it is elementary, my dear Watson”! Just as anyone seeing lack of money in my purse during “book week” would know I succumbed to purchasing books, or that at a disability conference, I will surely spend money at fair displays, so Ricki disappearing in the “second” direction was obviously on a trip to her borekas paradise.

*borekas are a salty pastry filled with mashed potatos, and is Ricki’s favorite dish/prize.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

"Maggie Mae" over at Take a Walk on the Happy Side has tried to award me with the "Honest Scrap" award, and I thank her very much. It is heartening to know that the time invested in blogging is making a difference in peoples lives, views, and feelings (I HOPE!)!!

Previously someone awarded me with this award (which I didn't but up on my cluttered-enough-as-it-is-sidebourd). And I replied HERE
I really don't haver tome to do uit all again, so sorry Maggie, you will have to be satisfied with the old entry. I am trying to limit my time online.....and besides, as I said before, when we give out awards so often, it looses a bit... seven is a lot for me to nominate....
I would like to mention a blog which I have found nice, called "Iron Chicken", who is my choice this time around for the "award". [(Note to iron chicken, you'll have to go back to Maggie Mae (link above, at "Walk on the Happy Side") for the rules.]This is a blog dealing with special needs in Greece.


One fallout from having a sibling with Down syndrome is the knowledge that “IT” can happen to regular, ordinary people... that it is not only something that occurs only “to others”.
One of Ricki’s siblings is pregnant, and has considered carefully whether to have pre-natal testing done. Over the last several years, we have discussed abortion and Down syndrome many times, and as a single sibling, she said that there was “NO WAY” she could condone giving birth to a child with a disability if she had a choice. However, now that she is married and actually expecting, things look different. That fetus inside is YOURS, and cherished. She and her husband finally decided not to do extra prenatal testing, as they would not abort anyway. Although she is much more “modern” than me, my daughter and her husband realized that they could not bear the idea of aborting a “defective” child, even if there are more modern Rabbis who sometimes allow. They realize that despite the hardships, a child with Down syndrome is a real person.
Last night we sat down and had a long talk about her fears with the pregnancy, not only the specter of a child who is “less than perfect”, but also maternal mortality, fear of labor, etc.
And while I showed her that the risks are really very small, it simply showed me the power of love. Consider it. A woman knowingly puts herself in a situation that is wrought with fear, potentially dangerous, and at best uncomfortable and with the promise of a tough labor at the end. And we moms do it for love. What an amazing thing!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Fruits of One’s Labor

I always tell Ricki’s teachers: “Her behavior is sometimes atrocious, but I promise you that if you do a good behavior modification plan, it will work. She is definitely smart enough to understand what is worth her while and what isn’t.”

And Ricki has proved it again. After her terrible scene last Sunday, Ricki has been better behaved in general. However, today was Ricki’s chance to prove that change. We had to go buy a pink blouse, as her school uniforms are all ruined or torn. The school suggested that I buy her a plain pink blouse, it being rather stupid to purchase a uniform for the remaining week and a half of school.
So we went, and she behaved almost all of the time. I only had to threaten to go straight home (“to jail, without passing ‘GO’”) twice. Even the saleslady noticed the difference and commented on it.

Yes, I know. I can hear you warning me: Don’t let your guard down; Keep it up. OK.

Up to Jerusalem

This week I traveled to Jerusalem twice. It always amazes me that I am an hour, hour and a half, from the city many of the ancients dubbed: “Eye of the World”. I consider it a privilege.
One of my forays to the holy city was towards evening. On the way I noticed something that had never caught my eye before: along a certain stretch of the highway, the fields are bordered with flower bushes, which enhances the view.
Yesterday morning as I exited the building to catch the Jerusalem-bound bus, I saw a boy, carrying a bird cage with some type of canary or bird. His face was alight with joy as he peered through the bars at the lovely bird. And while traveling, what caught my eye was the lush greenery of the fields, the silver-green of the olive tree leaves, and the stacks of bound grain, harvested and awaiting pick-up.

Sometimes we need that step back to reexamine the world from a fresh perspective. To enjoy the simple message of the intracities of life’s rhythms, and the complexity of even the smallest corn kernel.....

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Yesterday Ricki had swimming, and she was the best-behaved that she has ever been, even on the way home. She even didn’t wake me (till we nearly reached our stop) on the bus home, but let me half-dose. That is a first for her.
Before leaving for the pool, I explained what behavior I intended to see, and what she would earn if she complied. I only needed to remind her a few times during the 2 hours we were out of the house.

Also, the other day I told her that she could NOT cut up the newspaper. She ignored me, so I repeated myself, with a warning. And she stopped, listened, and complied.

Could it be that on Sunday, during that terrible scene that she made, it really registered that I mean my business? Maybe. Of course, I will need to stay consistant....

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

End of Era

This should have been posted last Friday, but I wanted to post the “current event” items that I did. However, Friday marked the end of an era.
For the last six years I have almost daily had to work preparing materials for Ricki’s Aide to use in her inclusion. The year before that, when she was homeschooled, a full day each week was spent making materials for the next week. And before that, I spent some 3 years making games, flash cards, word cards, etc. for Ricki’s reading program. But the most labor-intensive of these years were the last three, when she was in higher grades, and needed more adaptations than when she was younger, and the Hebrew texts were not that easy for me to read. (Hebrew is a second language for me.)
Suddenly, its over. Ricki finishes eighth* grade in 2 weeks, and these last two weeks are devoted entirely to graduation and end-of-the year-play rehearsals. Her studies in an inclusive class are finished; next year she will be in a special-education class. The teachers will have to do the preparing.**
Of course, it doesn’t mean that I won’t be preparing materials. (I’m probably addicted already.....) I will surely do stuff with Ricki in the afternoons. In fact, on that memorable “last day of studies” Friday last week, I drew a quick map of our neighborhood, and had Ricki join me on an errand, and practice finding the address/location of a place one is unfamiliar with.
The difference is that the pressure is off. No more “must do today” work. And I can choose to teach and spend time on topics of my choice. There need no longer be the scene of my staying awake to 2 AM to prepare a topic, only to discover that the teacher changed her mind at the last moment, and did something else entirely. I am glad I did what I did, but I am happy to be moving on.

(Pictured: a template designed to encourage writing sentences on family events for "writing sentences" instruction.)
[* The reason I prepared materials for six years rather than 8 is that Ricki was in first through third grades at one school, in a class of girls younger than her, and in fourth grade she switched schools, and they jumped her up to her age level, to sixth grade....]
[** I know, in America, the aid does the adaptations, but inclusion is still pretty much in its infancy here. Ricki was the firstchild fully INTEGRATED in grade school ( as opposed to mainstreamed) here in our town.]

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

“My WISH” (and an added blog piece under the Video)

Google Alert on “Down syndrome” yesterday included a blog by a woman who went to a “Rascal Flatts” concert. (I had never heard of this group, just shows how much this all interests me...) Anyway, for the song “Wish”, they sang it to a girl with Down syndrome.
So..... I looked up the song on You Tube to see what it was, and it fits so well! Just as it fits ANYONE, it fits so well my wishes for Ricki. So I have posted here one version from You Tube (ie, not my video, and not exactly as I would like it). I wish I had time to make my own (and the legal copyright to do so...).
Ricki, this is my wish for you....

And I would like to add the following, which I had been saving for a separate post, but it's related....

“Special needs are typical needs”
This is a quote from Dave Hinsburger, which I noted down several months ago.
Now obviously, people with special needs have the need for services that the “regular” population does not. So what is being said here?
The point here is that underneath it all, the person with the intellectual disability needs love, recognition, dignity, and a measure of independence no less than the rest of us.
Now this is easy to say, and sometimes hard to actually do. Those of us who are caregivers and parents, have expectations, desires, and feelings about how things need to be done. L-rd, I would change some of my “normal” teens if I could. So when we are in a state of clash with a special-needs person, the temptation to force our opinion on them is very easy to arrive at. Because of their dependence on us, it is oh so easy to pressure the special-needs person to conform to what we want. [Now when they are children, we need to do this at times, as we do with any child, but as a child gets older he will hopefully eventually feel confident enough to view himself as a separate entity from his parents.]
The challenge is to allow the “special-needs” teen/adult to grow, mature, and sometimes make mistakes, just like any other teen/adult. We can try and explain to them the choice they are making, as they may not understand the full implications. We need to give them the tools to make good choices. And that can only be done if we occasionally allow choices. And if we sometimes let them do their “own thing”, I suspect that they will be MORE receptive to our input If they see that we are not trying to control them constantly, our protestations that something is bad for them may be viewed as less of a challenge to their independence.
So to all you mothers with younger special-needs children (and even “normal” ones), give your child choices. Which books does he want to take out at the library, which of two shirts to wear, do you want to take a bath now or in 15 minutes, etc., etc. And to those of us with older kids... hold tight to your desires and dreams. You’d be surprised how much your kids agree with you if you let them try their wings out. As my mom used to say’ “When the little birds fly from the nest, they don’t fall so far away....”

Monday, June 15, 2009

Taming of the Shrew

You may remember that I mentioned on Thursday, that I was going to take Ricki “shopping” on Sunday, with the express purpose of working on her behavior. Well, I did that yesterday, and the experience was about what I had expected. We were near some stores, at a doctor’s office, at 4PM. Ricki had eated lunch at 3pm, and had a bottle of drink with her. Nevertheless, as we exited the doctor’s office, she started screaming that she was hungry. (She had seen some sweets). I told her “No”, and she started pushing me, trying to convince me to buy her a treat. I warned her that if she continued, she would receive nothing, she would not go shopping with me, and we would go straight home. Well, she started REALLY pushing me, crying, etc. At least I was calm!After 5 minutes of this I had managed to reach the bus stop, and we caught the bus to home.
The lesson is that I can not put off ANY shopping to the last minute; I can try once or twice with Ricki, and if it doesn’t go, to go on my own. Often in the past I have given in when shopping, because of not wanting to postpone making purchases, and the result is that she is horrendous when we go shopping (and really usually only then.) This is going to stop FAST as I will no longer tolerate it. I allowed these bad habits to develop; it is time to change both my and her behavior.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Adventures in the Mainstream

In two earlier blogs (September 13th, 2008 and March 6th 2009), I mentioned this gem of a book by Greg Palmer. At that time I wrote:
“A second good look at life of a young adult (older teen) is Adventures in the Mainstream by Grg Palmer.(Woodbine House -2005 – ISBN 1-890627-305) First, this book is interesting just by itself. In addition, in its pages you see how even a high functioning teen like the author’s son, Ned , have their own quirks that the parent really is not able to control. And how this child can be helped to succeed and prosper.”
“On the topic of Snow White: Greg Palmer, in his book Adventures in the Mainstream makes a very interesting evaluation of Snow White and the seven dwarves. (I know that sounds weird, but see below, and you’ll se that it is not so strange.) His book is published by Woodbine House, but is already out of print, unfortunately.* This book is very worth getting on an inter-library loan, even if you don’t have a child with special needs. It is a very fascinating look at two years in the life of his son, who has Down syndrome. I promise you, it’s interesting.On Mr. Palmer’s web site ( http://www.gregpalmer.com/ ) I found that he has noted this about the alternate version (of Snow White) that he has authored:‘SNOW WHITE was written in response to extreme dissatisfaction with the Disney version, which reinforces the idea with young people that what you look like is very important - it is, after all, why the Dwarfs save Snow White, why they don’t bury her, why she eventually defeats the Queen; because she is indeed the fairest in the land. And then, after the Dwarfs have taken such care of her, she rides off with the first handsome prince who comes along, even though she has never exchanged a single spoken word with him. There is also the Dopey problem; the Disney character being an obvious developmentally disabled adult who is continually abused physically and verbally by his "loving" brothers. My Snow White makes an intelligent decision about who she loves, and why (it’s the Grumpy equivalent) and the youngest Dwarf is named Peg. She is a developmentally disabled adult as well, but is treated by her siblings with love and respect.’ “

Over the last few days I have been rereading this (Adventures in the Mainstream”) book. Four years ago, when I first read it, Ricki was all of ten-eleven years old, and was still in her previous school. (Which had a very imperfect inclusion, and a lot of people who thought I was crazy.) The view of this teen who can carry a tune, play guitar, and recite poetry seemed like a dream to me.
In some ways it still is. Ned Palmer has been given many opportunities Ricki has never had, and his parents can rightly be proud of his progress.
And yet, as I read this book, I am suddenly noticing a lot of things I am doing right. A lot of points that Greg Palmer makes about things his son needed, or needs, are things that I am doing already. Maybe I subconsciously remembered the ideas from 2005, but I don’t think so. I think that it has a lot more to do with picking up the attitude that your child is an individual, that he needs independence, that he deserves respect. If you believe these things, you are apt to make different choices than you would otherwise.
I also noticed that I am more able to deal with the reality of the “quirks” that show up in Ned’s life, than I was 4 years ago. However, when I see these types of things in Ricki, like talking to imaginary friends, I still try to limit them... although INTERNALLY I am less bothered than I once was. The point that is striking me the most this reading is the need to make a “community” of (non-disabled) friends. Ricki, as Ned was years ago, is leaving inclusion. Her possible exclusion from all “normal” friendships bother me as much as it did Ned’s father a few years ago. Ricki, however, has the advantage of a big family with many siblings. But the re-reading of this book is a wake-up call to me that her family connections may not be enough.

As I finished this post, I decided to go to the Palmer website and see if there was anything interesting there. It turns out that Greg Palmer died about a month ago. All I can say is that I am gratefull for the material he wrote, and saddened for the advocacy lost.

* PS On the website, this is written:
Though Adventures in the Mainstream (Woodbine House 2005) is currently out-of print, a limited number of copies are available for purchase at the reduced price of $10 from: Island Books: 3014 78th Ave SE, Mercer Island, WA 98040; (206) 232-6920
* Adventures in the Mainstream, under the title Ned & Me, has just been published in Hebrew by Yessod Press of Jerusalem. For more information, contact Yesod at www.yesod.co.il

I urge those of you with children with Down syndrome to grap it up while you can.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Spouses and Parents: Giving us Wings

I don't think that the need for our partner to be proud of us and our accomplishments ever goes away. It is price-less. If our spouses (those who are near us) don't approve/ are not proud of us, it tends to reflect negatively. Perhaps that is also one of the reasons a parents death hits home so hard. Parents are usually our best cheering squad.
The approval and respect of our spouses (and parents) is like nutrition for the spirit. I think that this is one of the reasons women from abusive marriages stay there: they are still trying to get some recognition, approval, etc. Only when they realize that the spouse is the one unable to give, do they have a chance of moving on.
However, if parents/spouse are handicapped by their own emotional problems, we have to recognize that G-d YES appreciates us (if we believe in Him), and we have to appreciate ourselves, understanding that the spouse can not. We have to recognize it as THEIR problem.
One of the greatest gifts parents can give a child is the knowledge that they are loved and valued. [We can disagree with their actions at times, but this must NEVER become a condemnation of their intrinsic self. (The opposite is true ; “You are too good to do something like that....”)] This is not a one-time thing. It is drilled in by daily reactions over twenty years and more. And the self-confidence that these feelings give a child are the WINGS he will fly on. If his parents gave him that support, the child will be able to sustain his flight in life forward, successfully.
I think it bears mentioning that two groups of children are at risk to not get this support:
1 special-needs children
2. children who disagree with us

1. When a child has special needs, we as parents push them, prod them, and challenge them. We do it for their own benefit. Yet we must be extremely careful to let the child feel our approval of them, our valuing of them, no matter how they “do” in therapy/school, etc..
2. When a child chooses a different path in life from his parents, whether religiously, politically, job-wise, etc., we have to continue to let them know we are their parents and we love them and cherish them. This does not mean condoning what you believe is wrong, but noticing what they are doing right.

So let us try and give a bit extra to our children today, to our spouses, and other family members. And to my Mom, who gave me wings to fly on, I can only say “thank-you”!


Ricki had a good day today. She woke up smiling, and in a gregarious mood, as if yesterday’s escapades had not occurred at all. Kids forget things quickly. Adults not so quickly. She was especially excited as her favorite aide was to be working today, her regular aide being ill. She went downstairs on time for her ride, and since her aide joins her in the taxi, I glanced out the window to see if the aide was on time. She was, and the two of them were sitting on the low wall in front of the house, while Ricki, gesturing with her hands, made some point in her conversation with the aide. It was heartening to see her so “normal”, and personable. We’ll get there eventually with the behavior modification. It just takes time....

Thursday, June 11, 2009


It was one of those incidents you really wish hadn’t happened. Do you REALLY want to blog about this and freak out all those nice parents with cute babies with Down syndrome???? So for all you new parents, let me remind you that Ricki also has ADHD, the “aggressively belligerent” type.
Yesterday was one of those days that I have planned out from early AM to PM, trying to get the most done in the least amount of time. And despite the fact that Ricki was home from school (her aide’s son was sick), the morning went pretty good. She spent a good part of the morning goofing off, no big pressure or anything. After lunch we ran over to Ricki’s swimming lesson, and from there to a doctor’s appointment, for a check-up. The office was near a big shopping mal, so I had planned to go there and look for an item not available locally. So we walked from the office to the mal (getting in as bit of exercise...). Before entering, I mentioned to Ricki that we were not there to buy everything in sight. I would consider purchasing something for her, but she had to ask, and accept my ruling.
I don’t know what happened. But she went crazy. Every store I entered, and in many we passed, she tried to grab merchandise. I was determined that I would be calm, and not raise my voice. In one store the clerk was really helpful, by insisting on decent behavior. THERE I was able to get her out, sit her down, calm her down, and even return to apologize. But in one candy store, the owner was ready to give her half the store, just to get us out. Within a few minutes of entering the complex, I was ready to call it quits, but it took me over an hour to get Ricki outside. Needless to say, she had SEVERAL punishments applied tonight, but her behavior really threw me. Sher hasn’t acted so horrendously in a long time. But now she is too big to just pull away from a situation, which makes things all the harder.
* * * *
I have already marked on my calendar to take her to a store on Sunday, when we will next be near a big center, with the EXPRESS purpose of giving her a chance to redo today’s incident differently. She will be promised a prize to be bought as we exit. I have NO PLANS to get any items that I need, I am going to the store with the intention to shadow Ricki closely, ready to walk out the second she first starts up. She will need to see that bad behavior will not be tolerated for even a moment.
* * * *
A Happy Postscript: On the bus home she was royally entertained by some high school girls who asked her questions, talked to her, etc. She was great.
I just hope a few forays into stores, followed by quick exits if she misbehaves, will do the trick, and show her that bad behavior doesn’t pay.....

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Behind My Back, When I Wasn’t Looking

I’ve noticed lately that Ricki’s reading has improved. How? When she reads to her dolls, playing teacher, she reads with the right inflection...you can HEAR that she understands. I had also noticed that she was READING more, as opposed to just looking at the pictures in books.
But I hadn’t realized just how much better her reading had become, somehow. Behind my back, when I wasn’t looking....her reading has improved tremendously.
Saturday morning I picked up a book Ricki and I had last looked at about a year ago. At that time Ricki had mainly done “avoidance” techniques. She insisted that I read half; she opted for very short sessions. And the whole process had been slow and difficult. It was no surprise that we only finished half of the book. And it has been waiting on the shelf ever since, as school-related texts took precedence. [It isn’t that I haven’t been reading with her. ..but almost all of our reading together has involved texts connected to her schoolwork, texts which needed explanations of new material, texts with words that she was seeing for the first time.] Since school is finishing soon, homework assignments have become less frequent, and we decided to read that book together yesterday. Actually, I could have guessed what was coming, because Ricki had requested that I get the book down.
As I pointed to the first word of the text, I half-expected Ricki to attempt to get me to read. It didn’t happen like that however. She flew. She read page after page, quickly, clearly, and with understanding. She was reading better than me at certain parts. (Keep in mind that we are reading Hebrew here, a second language for me.) And she was enjoying herself.
When did this happen? Was it due to the numerous small books I had sent to school this year, for the aide to read with her, replete with comprehension sheets? Was it a product of her playing “teacher” nearly every day? Probably it was a lot of both.
And to new parents of children with Down syndrome, I want to tell you that this happens a lot. Sometimes you work ages on something and don’t seem to be gaining any ground. You wonder if the child is gaining ANYTHING from your input. Then, for whatever reason, your center of focus shifts a bit, you take a small vacation, you center on something else. But inside your child that “coffee” is “percolating”, and suddenly, oh so suddenly, it is done.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Mrs Sherlock Holmes

Yes, yes, if I remember correctly, Sherlock Holmes was NOT married. But I felt like a sleuth yesterday afternoon when confronting Ricki’s behavior, and finally figuring it out. (And of course, once I saw it, the facts where “elementary, my dear Watson!”) I feel that this is a very important post, as we often assume we understand why our children are doing things, and often we are totally wrong. [This is true of “normal” children as well, but it is even more pronounced and more important in the special-needs population, whether child or adult. They may be acting out terribly, and until you find the “trigger”, the behavior is likely to continue. Which is why the start of any good behavior plan is to take a good hard look at what is going on, and the dynamics involved.]
Ricki, after a slightly rough start to the day, had been well behaved. In the afternoon we had a check up to make at her eye surgeon, and afterwards would go to her Monday clubs if we had time. Knowing it would be a long afternoon, I not only gave Ricki a bottle of drink to take along, but also a few crackers. I knew she would be hungry before our return, and I didn’t want to end up buying something more expensive and more calorie-packed on “the way”.
The eye doctor took some time, and as we left, we realized that we had missed the time for her clubs, but I was pleased that on the whole Ricki had been well behaved. Then as we exited the building complex that the office is in, Ricki started acting really bad. She was moaning that she was HUNGRY, and asking what was for supper. She was pushing me, and talking almost in a scream.
I was committed not to raise my voice, soI sat down on the nearest bench and informed Ricki that we were not budging from there until she started talking civilly. I gave her most of the crackers I had packed for myself, and she grudgingly ate them, but still was sulking and trying her best to pick a fight. She was almost screaming “WHAT is for supper?”, and my answer was not being listened to, never mind any dream of it being accepted. Finally she quieted down a bit, and we started walking in the direction of the bus stop, about a ten minute’s distance away. As we walked, she kept mumbling about how heavy her bag was. I finally said, “Look Ricki, I’ve told you not to take trinkets to club; your bus card and a bottle of drink are enough!”
“Drink!” Ricki exclaimed with an “eureka” tone, and she dug into her bag to extract the bottle of ice water we had packed. She had been thirsty, and as people are wont to do, she had misread the body’s cry for fluids as hunger. After that she was fine, and she even shared the music on my MP3 player with me (one earphone for each of us...) as she sat next to me most of the bus ride home.
Unfortunately what can not be undone was the terrible impression she made on passersby for her 15 minute tantrum. (I noticed a LOT of scowls....). She wasn’t a very good advertisement for “Down syndrome”, to say the least.......

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Stay-at-Home-Day

This morning Ricki’s aid called in to say that her child was sick and she would not be coming to school. That means no school for Ricki. Never mind that she had a final in geography today, a vaccination (which I hope she can still get tomorrow), and other various things. Never mind that I had other plans for the morning than being a baby-sitter for Ricki. I DID tell her to look for alternate care of her child for tomorrow, in case the child would still be under the weather.
So later today I will have to call the geography teacher to ask if I can give her the exam (and if not, what?), and phone a classmate to see if there are any announcements. It could be that today is the last (unofficially) day of formal studies. Tomorrow they will probably start rehearsals for the play/graduation ceremony that should be about three weeks from now.
Earlier, Ricki was being a real pest, but now she seems to have calmed down and is listening to music. Maybe her belligerence was due to the change in schedule, but I suspect her change in mood has more to do with her CONCERTA (ADHD med) kicking in. Until it begins to work she can be a rather ornery creature. That is no excuse, of course (and I reprove her), but it is also a rather consistent state of affairs in the early morning

The “Livid Purple” Postscript:

I went to the grocery yesterday, and they saw Ricki choosing things that morning, but it is not sure if they saw everything. Ricki did not march up to the counter and ask to put the items on our bill. The store owner and I “argued” who will foot the cost of questionably taken items, each of us wanting to take the blame.
It also turns out that Ricki mentioned in school that she had taken the things in the grocery without my permission, and didn’t want me to know. That shows that intellectually she knows that it is wrong. Yet, despite that knowledge, she did it, and this was undoubtedly not the first time. Telling her that she was wrong is not going to help.
After analyzing the situation, I decided that Ricki needs an allowance, so that SHE can occasionally CHOOSE to buy (and PAY for) a treat. She needs to be able to make some purchases on her own. That may sound like I am rewarding her, but again my goal is correction, not punishment. But in addition she has been warned that any future purchases on MY account, without permission, will be taken from HER money, and an amount LARGER than the purchase price will be impounded. Now I have to be on my toes to enforce this. Wish me luck!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Three Steps Forward, Three Steps Back

-Ricki is getting tremendously better about not wetting her bed.
-Ricki is going downstairs on time most mornings.
-Ricki is able to leave after giving me one hug instead of thirteen.

-This morning after going downstairs early, Ricki went to the grocery store. And she bought herself some type of goodies without permission. (stealing). [No, she wasn’t hungry; she had eaten breakfast....]
-This morning she almost missed her ride as her very patient driver waited for her.
-The smart-_ss even had the audacity to wave “goodbye” to me from downstairs as she climbed into the taxi.

I heard the driver honking, and wondered how could it be that Ricki wasn’t downstairs already? Suddenly I suspected what must have happened, and a quick phone call to the store confirmed it.

Color me livid. Purple vivid. My G-d, for a mentally impaired kid, she manages quite well, doesn’t she? Now I have to think how I am going to tackle this when she returns home at noon. [At least I have a few hours....] I have to think how to EDUCATE her, the goal being education, not punishment. [Pure “consequences” would be easier, but it is not enough to change Ricki.] Education means I have to think.....

Saturday, June 6, 2009

An Interesting Point

The following is from the blog "Israel Matzav", which is probably more right wing than most of my readers would like. But I think that the following point is a very valid one.He is quoting, actually, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer

The entire "natural growth" issue is a concoction. Is the peace process moribund because a teacher in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem is making an addition to her house to accommodate new grandchildren? It is perverse to make this the center point of the peace process at a time when Gaza is run by Hamas terrorists dedicated to permanent war with Israel and when Mahmoud Abbas, having turned down every one of Ehud Olmert's peace offers, brazenly declares that he is in a waiting mode -- waiting for Hamas to become moderate and for Israel to cave -- before he'll do anything to advance peace.

In his much-heralded "Muslim world" address in Cairo yesterday, Obama declared that the Palestinian people's "situation" is "intolerable." Indeed it is, the result of 60 years of Palestinian leadership that gave its people corruption, tyranny, religious intolerance and forced militarization; leadership that for three generations rejected every offer of independence and dignity, choosing destitution and despair rather than accept any settlement not accompanied by the extinction of Israel.

That's why Haj Amin al-Husseini chose war rather than a two-state solution in 1947. Why Yasser Arafat turned down a Palestinian state in 2000. And why Abbas rejected Olmert's even more generous December 2008 offer.

In the 16 years since the Oslo accords turned the West Bank and Gaza over to the Palestinians, their leaders built no roads, no courthouses, no hospitals, none of the fundamental state institutions that would relieve their people's suffering. Instead they poured everything into an infrastructure of war and terror, all the while depositing billions (from gullible Western donors) into their Swiss bank accounts.

Obama says he came to Cairo to tell the truth. But he uttered not a word of that. Instead, among all the bromides and lofty sentiments, he issued but one concrete declaration of new American policy: "The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements," thus reinforcing the myth that Palestinian misery and statelessness are the fault of Israel and the settlements.

Blaming Israel and picking a fight over "natural growth" may curry favor with the Muslim "street." But it will only induce the Arab states to do like Abbas: sit and wait for America to deliver Israel on a platter. Which makes the Obama strategy not just dishonorable but self-defeating.

The Egg and the Trashcan

The other day as Ricki was rushing to get ready for school, I went to make her a fried egg, her general favorite for breakfast. She was running late and I wanted to help her.(Sometimes she makes the egg; I just light the fire and "check" the egg for bloodspots.) On her entrance to the kitchen, she took one look at the frying pan and said “I don’t want a fried egg this morning.”
OK. I mean, she can make that choice. I hadn’t ASKED her what she wanted, had only assumed. She did want me to “whip up” a batch of pancakes, and I explained that I had neither the time nor will to do so.
“If you don’t want an egg, there is fresh bread, and cheese in the fridge.” So she fiddled around and found herself something for breakfast. (Cake, but I decided not to “notice”.)
Later I found the egg in the garbage. (I covered it up fast, so her father wouldn’t see......) On her return home she got the lecture kids traditionally get about wasting food. I mean, her father would have been quite happy to consume an egg. You can make food choices, but please don’t waste. (And Mommy, check with Her Highness before assuming anything next time.....)

Friday, June 5, 2009

PS What I Mean by Peace

I mentioned in my previous post that most Israelis would bwe willing to give up part of the West bank for TRUE peace. I would like to clarify.

To give up part of the West Bank without TRUE peace is national suicide.

And what is true peace?

Certainly not Yitzchak Rabin's "peace", where victums of suicide bombings were called "victums of pesce". Peace and suicide bombings are opposites. Suicide bombings are like this (in a parable):
(picture: Klu Klux Klan members arrested for attempted murder of an entire family.)

THIS is also NOT peace:

(picture: "colored" drinking fountain.)

But don't say I am being unreasonable. With proper education, in a few generations, we can reach THIS:

Mr, President,THIS is the type of peace we need if you want us to give up some of our few remaining buffer zones.....

Pesident Obama's speech

You know, President Obama's speech sounded real nice. And I think that there is what to say for America trying to make dialogue with the muslim people. HOWEVER, Talk/ dialogue is NOT ENOUGH.
I have one question for President Obama. He mentionerd the 30000 Americans who lost their lives on 9/11. Did talking about peace make any changes for him with the Taliban? NO. So why in the world does he think telling Hamas that it isn't nice to blow up Grandmothers on buses will help? Israel has accepted and implemented cease-fires numerous times, only to have Hamas ignore them. If the US wants us to make an ACTION like a settlement freeze, I would like to see ACTION on the part of Hamas:
12 No terrorist attacks . NONE .
2. Stoppage of indoctrinating youth and KIDS to violence. (If you don't know what I am talking about, see this example).

West bank Mama said it pretty well.
And Israel would probably give up even a lot of the settlements, for a real peace.
But not for a "promise" of Peace.

The Non-Working Internet

(This post was prompted by the non-functioning of my internet service for a good hunk of time yesterday morning, an internet service I pay MORE than enough for....)

We’ve all had it happen:
-You sit down to work at the computer, and for some reason your server just isn’t working.
-You go to make a cup of coffee, and your water-boiler just isn’t working. Or the washing machine conks out on you. Or whatever.

There are minor disappointments in life, some are easy to shrug off, others are less easy, we may have a deadline that needs meeting, etc.
The question is, what do we do with the situation? Can we be humble enough not to rant and rage, knowing that we are NOT G-d, and we are limited in our powers to force the world to run as we would wish it to?
And sometimes we have even bigger disappointments in life: A spouse who is not supportive, medical problems, a child that does not want to stay religious, a “special needs” child, financial concerns, etc
And again, the question is, what do we do with the situation? Can we be humble enough not to rant and rage, knowing that we are NOT G-d, and we are limited in our powers to force the world to run as we would wish it to?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Vaadat HaSamah (Placement Committee)

This week we had the rescheduled Vaadat HaSamah, to establish Ricki’s legal right to a special educational placement. They were actually very nice, and the chairman of the vaadah (who is a guy who I have always felt tried to do what he could within the limitations of the system) complimented me on having been the facilitator of the inclusion we DO have in our city today. They heard my few comments, suggestions, and complaints with interest and tact.
Gee, these meetings are easy when you aren’t trying to fight tooth and nail for something being denied you!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Normal syndrome

I think you"ll enjoy the following. (It shows how negatively we can sound about things....)
(Regular post for today below.)

Gosh, He is Growing!

Today is the 17th birthday of my youngest son, the child who is just “above” Ricki. He recently obtained a motorcycle license. (I signed two months ago that he could study and get a license before his seventeenth birthday—since he would soon be able to do so without my permission—but in return was able to extract from him a promise not to work as a delivery boy.) I figured that anyway it would take him some time to save up money for the cycle.
What I hadn’t counted on was that he would share his next-older brother’s cycle with him.
Anyway, as he backed the motorcycle out of the driveway, I glanced from our window above and saw him. Suddenly he looked so much taller; he is growing up. Gosh, the years are flying by and soon they will all be gone and living on their own....

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Comments on Inclusion

By way of the Jewish Blogosphere “Magazine” Carnival, Hevel Havalim, a very sad post at “Open Minded Torah” about a father’s inability to get a chareidi cheder (school) to accept his young son who has Down syndrome, as a student.
One person who commented on the post, among others, a Mr.Havlei, said the following:
“The concept of mainstreaming is in general a selfish parental endeavor designed to avoid stigmatized special education while ignoring a. the current educational ability and needs of the childb. the extra burden placed on his mainsteam teacher, presumably ill equipped to deal with physical disabilitiesc. the school which as as a private institution can only survive financially by attracting the best students.Mainstreaming was a government ideal in the UK when they created comprehensive schools. It was a miserable failure. “
He also wrote:
“If Rickismom would google “downs uk mainstreaming” she would find that while the few mainstream schools that are forced to accept Downs, they have to offer a form of special ed by bringing in specialized staff that can overlap that of the mainstream teachers.As if it’s just charedi schools that have a problem, here in the heart of England, normal government schools find themselves fighting the wishes of the individual with those of the majority: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2009/may/19/downs-syndrome-school
I would like to answer these accusations here in the public forum.
My daughter Ricki, who has Down syndrome plus ADHD, has been integrated in a regular classroom from earliest pre-school through eighth grade in Israel. (Next year we are putting her in special ed, not due to her inability, but due to the inability of schools to be a bit flexible in important things like giving us the material to be studied in advance. We, like many of the parents in the”Guardian” article Mr. Havlei mentions, have decided to go special ed not due to our child’s inability to be included, but due to the inflexibility of educators.) I have several points:
1. Mr. Havlei, I don't know where you heard that England gave up on inclusion. It is false as can be. While some schools are often reluctant to make the switch to inclusion, and parents can get disheartened, the experts on education for children with Down syndrome, and most parents, are still opting for inclusion. Down'sEd of England has studies that show consistantly the benefit of inclusion for children with Down syndrome.
It is important to note that this "inclusion" is not taking the kid and dropping him into the regular classroom, period. We are talking about a child with an intellecdtual disability. OF COURSE, as you write, “they have to offer a form of special ed by bringing in specialized staff that can overlap that of the mainstream teachers.”. This child needs the SERVICE of special education”. He DOES have an intellectual impairment, and a serious one at that. But special education is a service, not a PLACE. It can be delivered in the regular classroom, and if done correctly—with guidance to the staff- it is MUCH more effective (STUDY proven) than special ed delivered in a separate classroom. And studies have shown this option to have no effect on the scholastic level of the other students, and it also costs less to implement.
2. Inclusion means taking the material to be studied, deciding what part of it this student needs to learn, and what other things we want him to get from the class. For example, when Ricki studied "Italy" in 6th grade, she did not need to learn as much as her classmates. But she learned a few pertinent facts, AND she did adapted school work, in which she worked on the following:-writing sentences to label pictures of Italy. (for a picture of a vineyard: "In Italy there are vineyards.")-learning to use a dictionary (looking up the definition of "Gondola")-handwriting skills (copying the definition to her booklet-increasing vocabulary: (matching words to definitions) gondola, valley, port, export, import-reading comprehension (reading the textbook text: either highlighted parts, or re-written easier version of original pasted into her copy of the text)This year as she learned about telescopes, cameras, and microscopes, we did much of the same, but also did a whole work on using the yellow pages to find a camera store. And we did a similar "yellow-pages" task when studying "Shatnez" in chumash vayikra (mixture of linen and wool, Leviticus).
3. Mr. Havlei, your statement that parents only send their children to inclusion "selfish parental endeavor designed to avoid stigmatized special education while ignoring" is INSULTING!!! As is the statement:"ignoring the current educational ability and needs of the child".This goes along with the canard always thrown at parents who expect their children with DS to read, etc, that we are "not accepting the reality of my child's retardation". EXCUSE ME!???!! I LIVE with my child. And I am the one who will have to deal with my child as an adult. I know EXACTLY what my child is-and isn't. But when an educator who has never ONCE read any up-to-date information on Down syndrome, has read NO studies, has gone to NO INTERNATIONAL conferences, tells me that "Children with Down syndrome can not learn to read", and expert educators in England have proven not only that they CAN, but HOW to reach that goal, am I ignoring my child's needs by insisting that she be placed in a school with a siyat (aid) who will help her obtain this vital skill? I would also point out that in the special ed classroom, the teacher and one aid are able to give each of the four pupils about a half-hour of one-on-one daily. My daughter in inclusion gets about two hours of one-on -one daily, plus the language and behavior benefits of the normal classroom. And it costs the government LESS.
4. The problem of a bigger work load for the teacher.
If the school system, instead of taking the funds this student would have received in a special-ed setting, gets refused services, and the teachers refuse training, yes, it will be a burden. But if we stop trying to save money on the backs of special ed students (which will backfire eventually, as the disabled adults they become will be lower functioning, and a greater burden on society), and provide the teachers with the help they need, the workload does not fall on the teacher. There may be the initial trial of the “switch in service thinking”, but the end result will be teachers that are more aware of ALL their student’s needs, and a society that is more receptive of individuals who are different.
Ricki's teachers main jobs this year was to:
a. Give me the material to be studied a day or two in advance
b. Be willing to ask Ricki an easy question.

If they had been more willing to be a part of our planning, and had had the support to do so, they could have done more, and have been paid for that effort. The major work of adapting can be done by an aid, the teacher, or a “special education” teacher working as support. In ANY case the work should be paid for.
I will add that much of the material used to support the child with Down syndrome will and can be used to aid students who are weak in their studies.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Magic Marker Monday

(Don't miss my regular post, below)

Ricki's art work as of late has been of the "decorating workbook pages" style. After all, in eighth grade, that is what they do! (In her school they encourage the children to do their own artwork, and not by computer.)

The New School Principal

A week ago (May 25th) I mentioned that I would have to go register Ricki at the special education school I am planning to send her to next year. And one day early last week we did that. This was the first time I had met the principal (I had been there once to scout-out the school, but she had been absent that day). And despite my prejudices against special education, I must admit I was impressed.
First, she spoke to Ricki, not to me. She treated her like a real person, and there was not even a hint of condescending tone in her voice. She explained some points to her, and then took her alone to see some classes, while I did the job of filling in the paperwork.
However, as nice as she was with Ricki, when she was talking to me at the end of the meeting, Ricki interrupted. When Ricki ignored my request to wait her turn the principal nicely, yet firmly, told Ricki that “manners comes first”. She was not wishy-washy at all in discipline.
As we were leaving she asked if I surely didn’t find it hard to switch Ricki from integration to special education. I explained that per se, that was NOT the case, that I have no need for the “medal” as “mother that her daughter is integrated”. “However,” I said, “I am concerned and determined that her new placement should be a quality one.” And she even handled that gracefully...saying she hopes that the school will meet her needs. I just hope that she will be as committed as she sounds, and not that she is non-chalant because she realizes that I have no where else to send her...

PS After I wrote this post, Ricki was talking to me about the visit to the semianry (new school), and mentioned that the principal had told her that there were "lots of prizes and candy". I hope Ricki read into a "prizes" statement about the candy, or misunderstood, or......