Tag Archive: boy-child


Last night Hubs asked me if I thought Chi would ever change. I turn and observe the following:

Chi is “walking” on the balls of his feet squatted down so that his butt is mere inches from the floor and his miles of leg are folded up so that his knees are pressed into his chest. He is wearing a long sleeve shirt and has pulled his hands up into the sleeves and spread them out to make a kind of oval shape in the fabric.  He is pressing these fabric covered hands into the floor in front of him as he zooms around as fast as he can, making but one of his deep and vast repertoire of noises. He notices me watching him and says, “I’m a level 2 vacuum cleaner.”

Hubs taking all this in right along with me, says, “You might need upgrades.”

I turn back to Hubs, amused, and say, “No. No, I don’t think he’ll ever change.”

Chi in motion.

Ten years ago, I birthed a baby boy. He was a difficult baby, if exceptionally cute. He seemed very unhappy with his lot. He cried a lot. When he wasn’t crying he was staring out at the world through giant blue eyes that grabbed your attention and held it. At about three weeks old, he started crying every evening for hours on end. Most people told me this was colic or gas, but I didn’t buy that then and I don’t buy it now. I discovered, by sheer force of intuition, that his crying was less severe and lasted for a shorter period of time if I turned out almost all the lights, and made my apartment as silent as possible after the dinner-time feeding. I also learned that keeping his day dim and quiet helped with the nighttime crying jags.

As he got older and he developed far beyond his age, for the most part, (commando crawling by 4.5 months, pulling up by 5 months, cruising by 6 and walking by 9), he got happier. The more he was able to move the more smiles wreathed his face. When he started cruising, he would circle the room over and over and over again. Once he started walking, he always walked on his toes and would run as fast as he could. This began the day after he took his first steps out into the room. When he became more proficient at both walking and running, he would slam into things on purpose and spin and spin and spin without getting dizzy.

As he began his tactile and oral explorations, I noticed that he never touched anything with his hands first. He always touched things with his feet, played with things with his feet. I have record of this phenomenon as early as 10 weeks old.

As he got older, instead of falling less, he fell more. He would fall right out of chair at the dinner table even when sitting directly on his behind. His movement grew more, not less, awkward with time and maturation.

Whenever we would go out, he would fall into screaming fits for no reason that I could see. He wasn’t worried about not getting something he wanted, he just seemed extremely distressed. If the schedule was off by the barest fraction of a minute, he would fall apart. If something was a surprise, if plans changed last minute, if a playground wasn’t exactly as he’d expected, he would melt into a limp little ball of Chi. (This still happens today, by the way.) He isn’t a spoiled brat. He knows that no means no and I don’t do negotiations. Still, these things happen.

**note: If you see one of those parents with the screaming kid who seems much to old to be throwing a temper tantrum, consider for a moment that they may have an autistic child, or simply a child with SPD or ADhD that cannot process the sheer sensory overload that occurs at places like grocery stores and the mall**

Once he started public school things seemed to progress in a backward sort of direction almost immediately. He became uncontrollable and completely over-stimulated at all times. I had not had him assessed before public school, because I had, somehow, always figured out how to best deal with him without professional help, but school introduced a whole lot of outside influences that I had no way to control.

Fast-forward to this year. (You can read about our struggles through public school elsewhere on this blog just look under Educational Experiences in the Categories section. I’ve pretty well documented things since he was in the second grade (when things when from awful to untenable).) We started homeschooling and we’ve had our bumps along the way, but one thing stands out as a bright shiny beacon of AWESOME. Chi is better.

Chi is flourishing. He’s not cured, if there is such a thing, if I would even seek it out if there were, but he loves homeschool. He looks forward to it. He pays attention, in his way, and does the work and cooperates. We’ve been slowly working toward him doing more and more of the work himself without me having to walk him through everything, and he hasn’t balked at being asked to write more and more of the answers himself.

He is calmer. He can still meltdown unexpectedly, but it is very far between right now. We keep a schedule still and we stick to it. He knows what to expect and can even deal with things he’s not that excited about without much issue. The only time in the last few months that we’ve had major issues has been when I’ve taken him to the grocery store (or Target or mall). I’ve learned that avoiding those places unless absolutely necessary when Chi is with me is really the best course of action. It makes everyone’s lives a little bit easier.

I can’t tell you how awesome it feels to know that I made a good decision so far as Chi is concerned. I’m so glad that the investment we’ve put  into homeschool  is paying off in such big dividends. It’s priceless, really.

Dear Chi;

Happy #10, Chi!

At 3:11am on this day ten years ago, you were born. You were plump and healthy. You did  not cry. Your eyes were wide and alert and the doctor had to put a knuckle to your chest to get a peep out of you. The minute she removed that knuckle, though, you stopped crying again. What got you going, finally, was being wiped down under those bright lights. All the poking and prodding finally got to you, I guess.

You slept a lot during that first week, and I didn’t have to fight you to get you on a schedule. Turns out, that was going to be the mantra to live by with you. Schedule. Schedule. Schedule. But that’s alright because I like schedules, too. Also, it turns out, that the poking and prodding and bright lights would make you cry for years to come. Sensory processing disorders are like that, and yours manifested very early on.

I’ve always been so happy with you no matter how difficult the little things have gotten. I love that you are your own person. I love that you don’t do whatever everyone else around you is doing. I love that fads pass right by our house with nary a pause. I love that you are so fabulously odd and so wildly unique that I’ve yet to meet a kid that reminds me of you. I love that your imagination is larger than the universe and that you can slip into that world so effortlessly. I love your perspective on things and the comments you make about what is going on around you. I love that sarcasm makes no sense to you. I love that you will explain sarcastic comments and figures of speech to those around you, namely your brother and sister.

I love what a great big brother you are. I love that you would be content to have 10 younger siblings. I love how snuggly and loving you are. I love your soft heart.

Things will be difficult for us: namely navigating a world designed for the neuro-typical. But we will always be there for each other and you will always have me.

I can’t believe you are ten, and yet somehow, that’s just right. Happy Birthday, Chi. I love you more than I can ever express and beyond.

~~Mom

Lamp Post Academy

We just wrapped up our second week of homeschool at Lamp Post Academy and I’ve learned a few things.

    1. Mornings are the best time for school because the kids are more alert and their attention spans seem longer.
    2. Chi has some sort of mental block with doing math problems when they are presented to him in 10 rows of 10.
    3. Pynni is much more advanced in mathematics than Saxon starts out in the First Grade year. Today was day 8 of school and Pynni completed Lesson 26 today. I think she is still beyond a lot of what we’re doing, but Saxon gradually introduces new concepts and spends a lot of time reviewing previous concepts, so when the book started in with addition, I stopped jumping ahead.
    4. Pynni is too far advanced in reading to be taught side by side with Pieces, so I have Pieces stay upstairs, which he hates when Pynni is downstairs with me. I have been able to move Pynni forward by 30 lessons because she knows all her letters and their sounds.
    5. I cannot effectively teach Chi and Pynni math, writing, grammar, and reading simultaneously. For example: I was trying to teach them math at the same time by giving Chi his warm-up worksheet and then doing the lesson of the day with Pynni. Then, while Pynni works on her daily worksheet, I do the daily lesson with Chi. Problem: Chi can’t pay attention when there is too much going on in the room and his noise canceling headphones do not help. With writing and grammar and reading, Chi is too advanced and answering questions based on a narrated passage is something Pynni is just learning to do while Chi can answer those questions with detail and extrapolation in complete sentences.
    6. Pynni was taught to memorize sight words in Kindergarten and is struggling with phonics, but she is actually able to read some Dr. Seuss books only 8 days into school that she couldn’t have read before.
    7. I have come up against the “I-don’t-knows” from Pynni that her subs last year must have encountered. She seems to think it’s cute to get the answers wrong a couple of times before getting the right answer. The REALLY irritating thing is that she KNOWS the right answer. I know this because I hear her mutter the correct answer under her breath before she deliberately, and with a coy little smile, answers incorrectly. INFURIATING.
    8. I’ve instituted a positive reinforcement strategy and award them stickers for completing a subject with no-fuss. They turn their sheets of stickers, which they can potentially fill in a week, for prizes. I’ve had to increase the cost of the prizes, otherwise we’ll go broke.
    9. Right now, due to having to teach each child individually to meet Chi’s needs, I teach Pynni math, grammar, writing and reading before bringing the boys downstairs for joint penmanship. Then Pynni and Pieces go upstairs while I do the same with Chi. I may have to alternate kids every other subject because Pynni gets done with the sitting after math. I’ve tried jumping-jacks after each subject to get her more alert, but it is short lived. I’ve tried giving her gum to stimulate her, but she just smacks it and blows bubbles while planning how to incorrectly answer questions. I just don’t know how Chi will tolerate that.
    10. School time with Pynni can be as short as 45 minutes or as long as 2 hours depending on her cooperation and attitude. This fluid time does not suit Chi at all. I’m planning to start with Chi next week and then transition to Pynni. I let you know how it goes.

      Silly to the MAX

    11. I’m having to take deep breaths and practice “raw spaghetti, cooked spaghetti” to be okay with Chi hopping all over the room during school. He IS learning and paying attention. He IS. (“Have patience, have patience, don’t be in such a hurry…” etc. It’s my constant mantra)
    12. Using white boards, and chalkboards makes Chi much happier than having to put pencil to paper.
    13. Pynni has some sort of visual sensitivity. I’ve noticed some signs of this before, but it hasn’t seemed to effect her in broad terms. These past two weeks she has complained of her eyes hurting and she rubs them during school almost constantly. She rarely looks directly at anything that is in writing. She told me it hurts to look at things so I like it sideways. I’m going to talk to her pediatrician about it and she may not be severe enough to need an OT, but I’m going to need to do some reading on it and see if there is anything I can do to help her. Chi’s OT said that visual and auditory sensitivities are the hardest to address with visual being even harder than auditory so there may not be anything except help her learn to cope.
    14. I really can do the school part of the day at any time if I need to.

Well, it’s been fun and frustrating, eye-opening and challenging. We will add the two new language arts next week and after our break in mid-September we will be adding Biology and History. Should be entertaining at the very least.

Chi Cure

Cousins

DJ and Mae are with us for the summer. They are the son and daughter of one of my two brothers, Doodle, and near in age to Chi with DJ and Chi being a year older than Mae. They come to stay with their dad during the summers and I’m lucky enough to get to keep them during the days while Doodle works.

Chi on the left

DJ is five weeks chronologically older than Chi, but he is decades older in maturation. DJ is one of those kids that was born middle-aged, and that is not to say that he can’t be silly and have fun because, lordy, that child has a wicked sense of humor. It just means that he is mind-bogglingly responsible and has insight that blows my socks off.

COOOOOKEEEEEES

This may not come as a surprise, but Chi has difficulties with daily things that most folks find just ho-hum. Most kids find his inability to cope and/or function to be strange at best and his little quirks that indicate that he is dealing and/or stimming flat out weird. He never really seemed to care until some time during the second half of second grade and even that was more acknowledgement that he was different without any real understanding as to why he was ostracized or what he was supposed to feel or do about it.

Mae, Abby, Chi and DJ

The one shining exception to this rule about other kids is DJ. DJ and Chi have always been close and DJ has never judged Chi as weird or strange. He seems to understand that Chi is Chi and will even say, “Aunt Beonin, he’s just being Chi” or “He’s just doing Chi things” when Chi has some sort of out of proportion reaction to something.

SUPER DJ!

DJ never loses his temper with Chi. When Chi loses his cool, DJ is there to talk him down. When Chi has a complete shutdown, DJ is able to get Chi out of where ever it is he goes. I have learned to ignore Chi’s reactions, when applicable, and DJ will take over and smooth things out.

On the stool at Grammie’s house

EXAMPLE: Chi and DJ were playing Starcraft 2 on the computers upstairs when it was time to go to the grocery store. I told those who were playing games to turn off their systems and told everyone to get their shoes on and go potty. Chi became floppy. He does not like the grocery store much and he really doesn’t like the store when he’s doing something he enjoys as much as video games with DJ. He REALLY doesn’t like the store when I spring it on him with no prior warning. (Yay, me!)

Fun on the water

So he’s the last one out the door and he practically lays in the seat instead of sitting. DJ just carries on a conversation with Chi as if there is nothing going on. As if Chi isn’t flopping and moaning and squeaking and twitching. When we get to the store, DJ grabs Pieces’ hand and Mae grabs Pynni’s and I forcibly push Chi into the store. I get the big cart that’s shaped like a car for Pynni and Pieces (two less to keep up with, right?) and admonish the older kids to keep up. Chi trails behind. Far behind.

(I’ve come to a point in this journey (the whole entire childhood one with Chi) that I don’t even react to the lagging behind. He never lets me get too far away.)

Goofiness

DJ says, “Aunt Beo, I’ll walk back here with Chi to make sure he doesn’t get lost.” I smile at him and

Best Buds

thank him. We get through the produce and past the deli. As we round the corner into the meat section, I hear a peal of laughter. I look behind me and there is DJ with his arm around Chi, cracking Chi up. There was no issue after that.

No, it’s not that Chi’s issues cease to be when DJ is here, but I am ever amazed at what DJ is able to accomplish with Chi. They are complements of one another and DJ loves Chi, Chi-isms and all.

So, summer has started and things have been cranking right along. There’s swimming, and playing, and crafts, and heat, and cousins, and company, and more company, and trips, and having five kids instead of three. It’s pretty crazy around here these days. Then, in July, after that family trip? We start school. I have to figure out how to work around having two extra kids; include them, I guess, but I’m intimidated enough at the prospect of teaching my own kids much less weave in two kids for all of three weeks. Well, I’ll figure it out.

The last weeks of school were really quite pointless. After the EOG’s were administered, the kids basically went to school for structured day care. There was no homework outside of daily reading, and no school work, apparently. Lots of drawing and reading and movie watching. So, the third grade did this thing where they counted down to the end of the year using the alphabet. Each day they had a theme that began with that letter. Things went anywhere from simply wearing a hat or bringing your favorite book, to ice cream or popcorn parties.

One of the days was “Kindness Day” during, which, the kids were to say kind things about their classmates. Mizz Eff took it a step further and gave each kid a piece of paper with their name on it and then the kids went around the room and wrote the kind things on each others’ paper. Chi brought his home.

Kindness

Mizz Eff wrote “creative with new ideas,” which just makes me beam, but my most favorite one, because I think it is so perfect, is right under his name: “You know all the rules =)”. And isn’t that the truth.

Well, we are in the home stretch. School for my elementary kids ends on June 10. (Pieces’ last day of school was last Thursday) We’ve successfully navigated this year and it was a hard row to hoe, but every obstacle brings a learning experience and I can only hope that I’ve learned…something. Patience? One can hope.

Chi finished the EOG’s and was none the worse for wear. AND HE PASSED!  He got 3 out of a possible 4 on the reading and combined math tests with 2 requiring a retest and 1 meaning “sorry there is no hope for you”. So, yay! He has, since, struggled with the changes in his daily schedule because, well, it’s the end of the year and there’s retesting for those who got a 2 which puts all the kids who passed in different classrooms where they have to be quiet. (and in case you forgot? Chi is almost NEVER quite, during sleep included.) Still. It’s close to the end and I can’t help but breathe a giant sigh of relief.

Both of my kids have moved on to the next level. I will be teaching it to them. I’ve discovered that it’s possible to be so excited about something you can’t sit still and paralyzed with a sick fear of making the wrong decision all at the same time.

EVIL END OF GRADE

Chi took the dreaded EOG this week: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. He was as prepared as possible. His attitude was positive and he seemed unfazed all of a sudden. So okay, I’m thinking, maybe all will be well.

When Chi got home Monday afternoon, I asked how it went. We had talked about what he was expected to do a bunch and I reiterated all the salient points on the way to school that morning. He was excited and said that it went, “GREAT!” and that, “IT WAS WAY EASY!” (I can’t make those letters any bigger, but I could add extra exclamation points and it still wouldn’t impart the level of excitement this kid was vibrating with when he walked in the door.)

I asked him if he wore his headphones (yes) and if he finished all the questions (YESSSS! With much sighing and irritation. How could I even need to ASK this question, his tone of voice seemed to say.) I asked if he had any meltdowns or if he was able to work diligently (OH-MAH-GAWD-YES! IT WAS ALL FINE AND NO FITS AND ALL GOOD! If he were a teen there would have been eye rolling involved. I think if he cursed, now would be the point when those would be added.). So I asked if it took him the whole three hours. He just looked at me. “Well, did it?” He huffed and said, “We got breaks, Mom. Every twenty minutes.” As if I hadn’t planned it that way. As if I hadn’t had meeting after meeting about what would be the best way to present this testing situation to Chi.

But I was curious. How did these scheduled breaks factor into his test completion. So I asked the question differently, “How much time did you have to finish the test, bud?” He plunked his hands on his hips and then flopped into a heap on the couch (His favorite position is with his head jacked at a ninety degree angle to his body, up on the back cushions with his back along the seat cushions and his legs folded up near his ears. I’m not sure why, but there you are. OH, and he almost ALWAYS achieves this position by slamming himself onto the couch.). “The test ended at 12:30 (pm), Mom, ” he deigned to reply. “We started at 9:30, but I finished in 40 minutes.”

“…y-you. You did whaaaaaaat?!?” I’m a little in shock. I was told to expect this part of the test to be the most grueling. It may have the fewest questions, but it takes the longest to complete.

“I finished the test before the second break. We had a break every 20 minutes.” He seems completely unphased by this, like somehow it was to be expected.

“You were supposed to be taking your time.”

“I DID, Mom. I answered all the questions.”

“Well what did you do for the rest of the time?” I’m still stunned. Unable to wrap my brain around this.

“I just sat there.”

OOOOKAY…

So on Tuesday we talked about the Math part (there are two days of Math testing) and he seemed ready. His math test was going to be read to him, not because he can’t comprehend reading math problems, but to help pace him and keep him from getting overwhelmed by the sheer number of math problems. Plus, his class practiced these tests with the teacher reading the questions to the students. Wednesday morning we were going over, one last time, the expectations.

I said, “You listen to the teacher and take your time. She’ll help you stay focused.”

He pauses for a moment and then says, “Oh, I just finish all the problems on that page and sit and wait until we can turn pages.”

Me, deep breathing, “So you don’t wait on the teacher?”

“MOOOOOOOM, she’s sooooo slooooooow! I can finish all the problems on the page before she gets finished reading the second question.”

Me, almost afraid to ask, “So what do you do while you wait?”

“Oh, I just sit there.”

Sheesh, well, I guess, at least he didn’t shut down and not finish his test, but I don’t know how to feel about this. Did he rush too quickly and make a bunch of stupid mistakes? Did taking the test with all these buffers help him stay focused and that’s why he finished so quickly? Would he have fared perfectly well with the rest of his class? Jeez, I guess I’ll find out when we get his test results.

You can bring the EOG to the kid, but you can’t predict how he will handle it. No matter how prepared he is.

**Disclaimer**  I didn’t sleep much last night so I expect major leeway in what actually gets put into this post.

**side note**  Other than minimal brain function, that has absolutely nothing to do with what I have to say.

Dimple

I had an email from Chi’s teacher Wednesday morning, early. (I don’t usually check my email before I take the kids to school because that can take more time than I have to give and we might end up being late. You know how it is.) I checked my email for reasons unknown and came across one from Mrs. Eff requesting an emergency conference and an immediate call back, which I did. We scheduled the conference for later in the day and I did a short scramble to find childcare for Pieces.

I get to the school and the conference isn’t just with Miz Eff, but also, with the PrinciPAL, Ms. A and a woman I know but have no clue what her job title is. We’ll call her EOG Admin (EOGA for short), as that seemed to be her duties in this meeting. (Ms. A is the 504 coordinator). There were some concerns that there was no way to meet all of Chi’s requirements for testing as laid out in his 504. I had talked a little about some of this with Miz Eff in March but I thought things were settled.

Here’s the score:

Chi’s 504 has some pretty specific requirements for him while taking the EOG. Things to help him cope better with a process that is likely to be very difficult for him to adjust to because it changes everything he knows to expect in school for three days only, but three crucial days. These things are (and I’m gonna use bullet points, YAY!) (in no particular order):

  • He is able to write in his test book. Meaning that he doesn’t have to fill in little circles. For a kid who hates writing and coloring, that would be tedious at best. Also, he couldn’t stay in the lines to save his own life. And that’s a fact.
  • He is to be in a group of kids of no more than 10 and no fewer than three (including himself). He does not do well at all when he is the center of any kind of attention. He does not perform. He will shut down. That is a fact. Also, if there are too many kids things get too busy and too distracting. Not good. Additionally, Chi is noisy. He is almost constantly making noise. When he is in a good mood and doing his work, they are little and quiet: hums and chirps and little squeaks, but when he is shutting down and having a bad day, they escalate in decibel level and intensity/frequency, etc. This is not a quiet kid. If he were to be too much of a distraction for the class, a mistest could be called and the whole class would have to be retested. Yeah. So not good. (oh, by the way? These noises are not something he does consciously. Yes, sometimes they are, but for the most part he has no control over them. For the record? Bringing them to his attention to makes matters worse.)
  • He is to get as many breaks as he needs, whenever he needs. Chi is remarkable at focus. When he is enjoying himself. When he is uninterested he can take a task that should take 5 minutes and stretch into hours and hours of flopping and moaning or just diving into his inner world. Plus, he has movement needs.
  • He is to wear his headphones. He has noise canceling headphones. They eliminate white noise, and most extraneous ambient and distracting noises and allow him to hear the teacher or those talking directly to him. It is like a miracle drug for his ability to cope.
  • He is to be allowed as much extra time to complete the tests as he needs. Because his focus can wander and he can have shutdowns and he may need breaks as often as every 15 or 20 minutes, he will need extra time to complete his exams.

Well, I found out in March that there was no group that met all of his requirements, which meant that he would be alone with two teachers (the proctor and the administrator)(talk about center of attention, sheesh). There was one, however, that met most if Chi could have the test read to him (just the Math portions, not the Reading portions). Since the kids have been practicing taking the EOG in class and those practice exams have been read to them problem by problem, Miz Eff thought this might be a good fit for him. After some discussion, I agreed.

Yesterday they tell me that the group that meets all the other requirements has only one other kid in it. This is a problem if that kid is sick because that would leave Chi all alone, which is why the 504 stipulates no fewer than three kids. I was told that, really, Chi could write in the test book and wear his headphones in any group, so those aren’t deal breakers, but there was no one group that fit all of the other stipulations. So we set about deciding what was most important.

There was a group that fit everything, but the breaks were scheduled every 20 minutes. Miz Eff worried that with Chi being such a proficient reader such a rigid schedule would interfere with any groove he may get into with reading and answering the subsequent questions. So I pointed out the most important parts: he will need breaks and he cannot be alone. I, then, pointed out that while I found Miz Eff’s concerns valid, that Chi does really well with a rigid schedule and that the best solution would be to tell him what that schedule was going to be and let him know what time the timer started and what time it was set to go off. I think he would do fine with that. If every thing else was met in that scenario, then things should be set to run a smooth as possible for him.

PrinciPAL was worried that if Chi was sick that he would have to make up that testing day in a one on two scenario and I assured her that, if that were to be the case, then we could deal with that when it happened. It would be hard, but I think with the right prep, he would be semi-okay. Miz Eff then asked if she could be the one to administer any make up testing and was assured that, indeed, she could. That’ll make a big difference if that is a necessary thing.

EOGA was concerned that Chi was going to be uncomfortable with his testing administrator and has been pairing him for the last couple of weeks with a woman, Ms. Title 1 to be exact, who sees Chi at no other point. Thus eliminating any stress of feeling like he’s being judged by any of his academic authority figures, but still putting him with someone familiar.

So now, I come to it. I sat in this conference room, with these Education Professionals and boggled at how thoughtful and caring they were about this one student. These women have fought for Chi along side me. There has been no fighting, no head butting, nothing but cooperation and compassion. They truly care. They see the exceptional kid before them and not his issues. They want to help him.

Things have been far from perfect this year for Pynni and Chi has had his struggles, too, but in the end these people are trying, and in the case of Miz Eff going so far beyond that it takes my breath away. I sat in this room with these people, strangers really, who were fighting for Chi, and found myself, not questioning whether or not I should homeschool, but lamenting that they wouldn’t be in my children’s lives anymore. Homeschooling still solves so many problems that we will face in the future.

But I can’t say that I’m unhappy with the adults they’ve had in their lives thus far. I can say that I’m grateful. I can say that I appreciate what they’ve done; what they do.

When I left, they, each one, told me how amazed they were with my quick response and willingness to come in to meet with them so last minute. That still, flabbergasts me. Who wouldn’t, I think, this is for my son, how could I not?

Tornado Over Raleigh 04/16/2011

On April 16th, our neighborhood was spared the devastation of some 62 tornadoes that touched down in our area. We live in a place were tornadoes are few and far between (although I come from a state that is used to such things) and this is the first time in the 9 years we’ve lived here that we’ve had to duck and cover (hurricanes? Yes, we’ve had those, but no tornadoes).

Cloudy with a chance of FREAKING OUT!

Digression: On March 4 2010, we watched a movie that has become infamous in our household: “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.” This was at the very beginning of what became an epic regression for Chi and a complete shutdown at school that resulted in him missing a bunch of school so he could get his work done at home. This also marks the beginning of Chi’s anxiety with the weather. And the news.

We cannot watch the weather or the news with Chi in the house. He seems to have some sort of sixth sense (although with him it might be an eighth sense) when it comes to informational TV that may, or may not, contain questionable material. He can’t seem to file this type of information away. It eats at his sense of security and erodes his self-control to the point of anxiety attacks and fetal positions.

We cannot even talk about the weather. Yeah. It’s that bad. (end digression)

SO

A half mile from our neighborhood.

We do not have cable or satellite TV (couldn’t keep track of the weather that way anyhow, now could we?) so we get our weather information from the internet. We knew that the weather that Saturday was supposed to be sketchy at best so we maintained “constant vigilance” (think Mad-eye Moody).

It was grey and overcast all day with the temperature dropping and the wind whipping to and fro all day. Those grey clouds spit rain on occasion, but other than the clouds tracking across the sky at a fast pace, there seemed no real cause for concern. There were tornado watches all day (which normally means nothing around here), but at

No one was hurt.

around 330p things started getting a little hairy with warnings popping up southwest of the city.

As the warnings moved closer, we heard that the system was moving through the area at an astonishing 75 mph. Trying to be as nonchalant at possible I requested that my three kids and my niece, who had spent the night, gather their pillows and favorite stuffed friends and bring them downstairs “just in case.”

At around 355p a warning was issued for our area and I, again as calmly as possible, asked them to gather their items and head into the half bath off the kitchen. I gathered my phone and

This really doesn't do the extent of the damage justice.

laptop and a cat (Hubs gathered the other cat and Doodle’s “not a dog”) and headed into the bathroom with the kids. I shut the door and headed back into the kitchen to get a flashlight and urge my brother to come in off the porch “for godsake!” and then shut myself in with the kids.

The girls were singing and Pieces was having a grand ole time. Chi, on the other hand, was falling a part. He was vibrating so hard I thought he might come apart at the seams, and his eyes were gigantic. Not only that, but his pupils were obliterating any blue whatsoever. He was talking really loudly and just generally freaking out. It was starting to effect Abshie and Pynni (Pieces being oblivious and rather finding the camping in the bathroom to be a right jolly experience. Quite a fantastic idea, if he did say so himself).

Not actually Chi.


I knew I had to get Chi under control if I was to keep everyone else calm. So I pressed my hands down on his shoulders (a deep pressure technique to help calm him) and began talking to him in a very calm, very matter-of-fact voice. I started telling him all about tornadoes. I told him everything I had ever learned about how they form and why. I talked about the weather and how systems move across the state. I talked about watches and warnings and what the difference was and what they meant. I told him about why we were holing up in the bathroom.

And do you know what? He calmed down. He even told me afterward that he wanted to learn all there was to know about tornadoes and weather. He asked if we could learn about that when we start homeschooling. Of course. Of course, we can.

We have to drive through the areas that you see in the photos above to get to Pieces preschool and go to the grocery store. It is wrenching every time. A few days after this, I took Chi with me to pick up our CSA which takes us through this devastation. I could see that Chi was really having a hard time processing what he was seeing. We discussed that the houses were gone or broken because of the tornado. I told him, “You know what, though? No one was hurt. They were all able to get to the safest part of their houses like we did.” Chi just nodded.

We had to pass back through on our way home from the pick up location. When we got past the worst of it, Chi was still silent. Then he said, “You know, Mom? Those tornadoes sure do break a lot of things.” pause “…but they make every thing else really green!”