Very Upset

Thursday, August 30, 2007

You know when you get into a confrontational situation and afterwards, you're just shaking like a leaf?
When you're angry and upset and trying to keep your cool when really you could just throw something hard?

Last year around this time, I was enrolling Jairus in a special speech school in Burlington. After meeting with the director, who used to run a speech camp that my brother Ben went to years ago, I was really pleased and felt, after much searching for the right place for Jairus, that this was it. It was very expensive, but thanks to Mvelopes, I had been able to isolate the money we recieve for Jairus' special needs and put it completely towards this endeavour. It would be just enough.
A few days after the meeting and the directors verbal assent to Jairus enrolling, I happen to remember that the topic of his lack of toilet training hadn't come up. I thought I'd better cover my bases. I emailed and mentioned that Jairus was still in diapers.

To my dismay, I got a response shortly after that they have a policy of only working with toilet trained children.
At this point, Jairus was five. He had about 5 words that he could say and be recognized. He was psych-ed assessed shortly after and appeared to be functioning at a 2.5-3 year old level. Toilet training wasn't even on the horizon. The director told me that once he was trained, we could resume the process.
I began immediately, but saw no progress. I have to admit, I could have been more diligent, but inside, I felt he was not capable at that point. It seemed a pointless battle. I hoped he would have it together by the new year....but he didn't.
I recieved one more email from the director throughout the year asking how it was going. I appreciated that she remembered but I was a little frustrated by the school's stance. Children with the kind of speech difficulties that they apparently specialized in, often have more delays then just speech. I wasn't the only one who noticed this incongruity. Other therapists and health professionals throughout the year voiced the exact same sentiment when the topic was broached. But I didn't question the school.
As summer approached, I was inspired to try again. Summer is always said to be the best time to toilet train and an entire two months would surely do the trick. I dove in with gusto. I bought more training pants. I bought a kitchen timer. I bought M&M's.

And I've been pleased to see slow but steady progress. Here we are at the end of the summer, and yesterday Jairus was dry all day long. He's even started to tell me when he needs to go, using a verbal approximation that sounds like 'Gooo'. (Lovely...)

After a few weeks of training, when I had seen enough progress to realistically hope that he'd be ready for September, I sent off an email to the school. Reminded them who I was. Talked about Jairus' progress with toilet training. Asked what program he could enroll in and what the cost was.
I heard nothing back.
After a few weeks, maybe two, I called to find out why I hadn't heard. Their voicemail message said they were away until August 27th. I was extremely disappointed, but figured that I could wait. I couldn't understand how they could run a school and not be back until so late in August. It never dawned on me that this could pose a problem.

August 27th came and went and no phone call. August 28th. On the afternoon of August 29th, I decided to call again. This time, the director hurriedly answered and insisted on calling me back as she was in meetings all day. Before she got off though, she told me that they were not offering the kindergarten program from last year and the grade 1 program was already full. She would phone me back the next day, regardless.

I got off the phone and slowly walked up to my room, kicking a blow up water ring as I went and crying from my bellybutton. My last hope for Jairus withered and died, as the air leaked out of that water ring.

By the time James got home, I was angry. How early should I have been calling to be sure he'd have a position for the fall? Was he now going to be denied for a second year?

Today, the director called me back and stated exactly the same thing she had on the phone yesterday. I had harboured a small hope that because she thought we should talk more about the issue, that perhaps they had some other kind of program he could be in. She did not. I expressed, in fairly calm tones, my frustration with the entire situation: the toilet trained policy, the long wait for a response. I asked when the class had filled up (read: if you had answered my email in July, would there have been room then?) She couldn't tell me when. She had perfectly reasonable excuses--that they had been on holiday all summer and didn't check emails (always a good practice when you're running a business), they don't have someone in the office to take care of calls and emails (and who's choice is that? Are you saying your exorbitant prices aren't enough to hire a secretary?), their daughter had a baby so they didn't come in until the 28th (ok, fine) and it had only been one day after that when I called (a day and a half).
She offered to call if anything changed and Jairus could have a spot.

I told her not to bother.

Two Parter

Sunday, August 12, 2007

A little over a week week ago we came back from Camp Glenhuron, near Goderich on the shores of....indeed, Lake Huron. This year, we did music camp.

It was the first time I had been to music camp in about twenty years. Oh yes, I can say that. I was about 12 or 13 when I went to Camp Selkirk and attended the Salvation Army's Southern Ontario Divisional music camp. At least, I think that was the title....

I have some good memories of that. I did, of course, the vocal music track and sang in choirs, competed in the solo competitions. I've got a bunch of trophies and plaques sitting in a box somewhere. Honour discovered them recently and was quite proud of me. I was surprised she knew what they represented.

There's of course a few not-so-good memories of music camp. That age is so awkward and I was such a moron in alot of ways. Of course, I'm talking about boys. And that's as far as I'll go....

I was quite surprised actually to get the email a few months back asking me to be the guest vocal director for the week. It was a combined Junior and Senior music camp, which meant there would be kids from about 8 up to 18. And Selkirk was long ago sold so now it was to take place at Glenhuron. I'd never been there but the name had a vague familiarity.

I started preparations a number of weeks before the camp, gathering music from the HCC's library and scouting around for a few other pieces that would work. I was also in charge of finding and leading the 'camp chorus'---a nice song for everyone to sing as a big mass goodbye. What I didn't realize when I was looking for this song was that Glenhuron has also been sold (see the facebook group named something like "Those against camp closings" for more details). This would be the last music camp. The last camp chorus.

I was a little nervous heading into the week. I'd never been there, wouldn't know my way around. I knew a few people that would be on faculty with me, but figured there'd be alot I didn't know. And as always in the Salvation Army, I suspected there would be alot of people whom I had once known, maybe more than twenty years ago. People that I should remember, but probably wouldn't. I hate that feeling.

We left bright and early on Saturday the 28th. I had to be there for a 10am meeting and we figured it was at least a 3 hour drive. We had almost everything packed up the night before and loaded into the van. The drive was pleasantly about 1/2 an hour less, which was great because, of course we didn't leave on time.

I don't want to make a huge post here by detailing every moment of the week, so I'll skip around was an awesome week. I knew, or knew of alot of the faculty, and those I met soon felt like I'd always known them. A few acquaintences are now much closer to friend status. I reconnected with a few people I've known for years but just don't have the opportunities to see or talk with them.

I worked with a group of 13 young women and 3 faculty ladies who composed a quite satisfying womens choir. We tackled 6 pieces over the course of the week, one which we sang the morning after we got there after one rehearsal, two by midweek at an old fashioned open-air meeting and then the final three at the closing program. They were lovely and mature, talented and altogether a pleasure to work with. I invited them all to come join the HCC (!)

I ended up using a piece for the mass number by Chris Rice called Go Light Your World. I came to really love it, especially the version he himself recorded as opposed to the Kathy Troccoli version. It so happened (well, she was the one who suggested it) that my friend Sonia had many copies I could borrow. I really enjoyed teaching it---I had 30 minutes every day to work with all 120 campers and 50 someodd faculty. It was a simple enough piece and, not to be biased, but Salvation Army kids are generally superior musicians so they picked it up quickly. In four parts, no less.
It seemed a perfect ending song for camp and also for Glenhuron. But I was the outsider here. I was the newbie, the stranger in camp. And I came in bringing this was difficult to get a feel for how everyone was taking it. Did they all think it was as perfect a song as I did? They all did quite well at the final program. My husband said the audience was quite....emotional. I had my back to them, so I didn't know.
But then, we went to Mountain Citadel yesterday and I had a woman come up to me and tell me how beautiful the song was. Guess she was there. It was a nice feeling.

James had a great week with the kids as I ran around from rehearsals to theory to elective classes. Once they were into a predictable little routine (eat, trampoline, eat, swimming, eat----that was pretty much their days) they did just fine.

And it was You know that atmosphere? That different-world feeling? That how-will-I-ever-go-back-to-my-life-of-laundry-toilet-training (oh yes, still there)and-breaking-up-fights feeling? Well, I'm back.

It's not so bad.

Part II

After spending two and a half days at home, I packed the kids up and went to Fair Havens. Mom and dad and the kids were up and James had gone to Owen Sound to do a job for the rest of the week. While I was there, I read this book....

I've been interested in natural health stuff for a while. I think it started when I met a midwife in Chicago. That's when I first learned about homebirthing and then everything progressed from there. A while after Jairus was born, I started looking around for more that could help him. When I think about it, the Lord has really placed alot of people and resources in my life pointing towards natural health. It's too long to get into now however....

This book was by a doctor named De Haan and it's called "We Don't Die---We're killing ourselves". Now, I've read a fair bit about natural nutrition over the past few years. I've read all about the pesticides and hormones/chemicals in our food, the lack of vitamins and minerals in our soils leading to devitalized fruits and veggies, the dangers of sugars, dairy, white flour. I've heard about and considered a number of natural supplements, even tried some of them. For a while there in Brantford, I was visiting the natural health store and buying reverse-osmosis water by the jugful. This was why we splurged on a water softener and r/o system in our new house. I would also buy whole wheat and grind it myself, making bread in my breadmaker. It was good, if a little crunchy. I haven't done that since we moved, so that makes it over a year.

And then a few months ago I took Honour to the family doctor. She'd been complaining of stomach pains on and off for a long while. He couldn't find anything wrong, but we suspected lactose intolerance, so we took her off regular milk and bought lactose free for her. It's hard to say if it really helped. She doesn't complain much now....unless we're in the car. She complains almost everytime we get in the car, even after only 30 seconds---much too quickly for car sickness, in my opinion. But she also has had a number of skin issues over the past year, and along with the dark circles under her eyes that my mom has always pointed out, it seems suspicious of some kind of allergy.

So back to the book. This guy De Haan encourages a complete ban on dairy and grains, with a few exceptions. I've heard the milk issue before, but not ALL of dairy. And I've never heard the grains one. I thought when I was grinding up my own flour I was doing the best possible thing. He says that 75% of the population is allergic to dairy and gluten. His suggestion is to use spelt, which is fine, I can do that. And his suggestion for milk is to use goat milk. So I picked up a litre of it last week (at $2.99) (for a litre). Jairus and Verity didn't notice. Honour didn't like it. I didn't like it.

The funny thing is that I've been seeing a naturopath in Brantford for an issue he's known to deal with quite well. He gave me his 'nutrition 101' shpeil at my last appointment and he got talking about some of the very ideas regarding the acidity and alkalinity of food that Dr. De Haan did in his book. Before that I'd never heard about it.

Sigh. I know I'm not being real clear here, and kind of jumping around. There's just too much to get into in a single post, specially since this one is already SO long! The bottom line is I should make some changes but I'm not sure I have the courage, diligence or tenacity to do any of it.

And that's where I'll stop for now.