Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Choosing Surgery

I've spent the day on the verge of tears. We--I--decided last week to get the beloved puppy spayed. Honestly, I didn't want to. But it's the law in Santa Cruz, and I felt surprisingly uncomfortable about knowingly violating the law. (Back before I knew it was the law, I didn't care at all.)

It wasn't that I truly believed we'd want Zelda to have puppies. Even though she's an incredibly perfect dog who should certainly be passing her genes along...well, there are plenty of dogs in the world. I do resent the law, though: it seems like such a Republican effort, to make puppies either criminal or for profit, with nothing in between.

But more than that, it's major surgery. We have to keep her quiet for two weeks. WEEKS! Zelda! Quiet!! No jumping, no running. These phrases are oxymorons--things that simply do not belong together. As I told the vet last year when we cancelled our first appointment to get her spayed, asking this dog not to jump would be like asking her not to breathe. It's not an option.

But I did it anyway. I took her in this morning and left her at the vet's. It's the safer choice, it's the legal choice, the world doesn't need more puppies. But I just want to cry.

Monday, August 7, 2006

Dyslexics Have More Fnu

I ran into an old friend in the grocery store today. Well, I'd guess I'd call her more of an acquaintance, really. We met through mutual friends, had dinner once, and talked about getting together, but never quite made it past our mutual inertia to become friends.

But when she commented on the bumper sticker on my car, I realized how long it had really been. It feels like a lifetime since that first meeting at DLS when John said "I can't truly diagnose after thirty minutes, but he's presenting to me as classically severely dyslexic: you need to have him tested." Really, a lifetime. So long ago that it feels like I've always known. But it was less than two years ago, and K didn't know.

And it was strange telling someone new. Eighteen months ago, I went through the telling again and again, and I hardly ever managed without having to fight back tears and look away in order to not cry. I spent six months in turmoil where it felt like the most important thing in my life was this "special needs" label that had dropped on us out of the blue.

And I grew so sick of the people who said, "Oh, my brother was dyslexic; he didn't get diagnosed until he was sixteen but he's doing great now." Right. Like that's the same thing as someone who's five standard deviations off the norm, and reading on a pre-K level in 3rd grade. It felt to me a lot like saying to someone who's blind, "oh, I know someone with glasses." There are shades of experience, and the assumption of commonality made me grit my teeth and want to scream.

But honestly, it was a long time ago. And it doesn't feel that bad anymore. I named this blog after that moment--that stunned numb minute where the words clicked into place in my head and I realized that everything was different and that nothing was what I thought it was. But I also named it Learning Shock because learning about learning has been revelatory. I wouldn't say I was happy about everything I've had to learn in the past eighteen months, but it's definitely been interesting!

The bumper sticker is, of course, "Dyslexics have more fnu." You might think it's inappropriate, whether or not you are dyslexic or know someone who is. But Rory thinks it's funny, and I think that it is a wonderful thing that we can celebrate something that was so painful such a brief time ago.

Life with a Mac

I love my Mac, I really do. But it doesn't make blogging fun. I started out using Safari. But on Safari, you get no tools--no bold, no italic--although I do think there's a button that would let me attach an image if I ever wanted to try it.

So I decided to switch browsers. And I painfully switched to Firefox. It took a while, but when the switch was complete, I returned to the blog. And discovered that on Firefox on the Mac, the text entry box is a mess. You can't backspace to delete, you can't see what you're typing. (Incidentally, it works the same way on comments on other people's blogs. Yes, I look illiterate when I comment, so I don't comment much!)

I tried that for a while, and gave up. Then I tried this two-browser method. I write in Safari, where I can edit. Then I close Safari and switch to Firefox where I can format. Yeah, it works. But it's not what one would call fun.

However, I have to blog for work now, and it's leading me to all sorts of discoveries. Like this, and that. Someday soon, I'll discover how to add color and I will be content.

Sunday, August 6, 2006

Summer reading program

I debated this summer about sending Rory to a summer school/reading program. He really didn't want to go, but I (of course) wanted him to keep working on those skills.

At his resource teacher's suggestion, we went the cheap route. I pay him $1 for every fifteen minutes of reading, up to $3 if he reads 45 minutes in a day. Last week, I had to pay him $3 for the first time all summer. I played it really cool, although I threw in a $2 bonus. But inside I was jumping up and down, because he did it for exactly the reason I dreamed of--because he really wanted to know what happened next. At least I think that's why he did it. He might tell me that it was for the money. But either way, he did it!

Yesterday we concluded he hadn't done his reading (an okay choice on Saturday and Sunday, although the first fifteen minutes is required on the weekdays). But when I woke up this morning, I remembered seeing him read yesterday, a different book than the one he's been working on. I think maybe he thought that didn't count. But to me, it counts even more--he was reading for pleasure! Woo-hoo!!!

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Summer stupidity

So I thought I'd send Rory to summer camp. And then I thought I wouldn't. Because my kid and summer camp, not so likely to mix well.

But then the camp called and had a space available, and we're reaching the stage where all day long togetherness, while I try to work and he tries to amuse himself, is not always going so smoothly. So I signed him up and took him off.

I should have known.

I did know, really. I'm annoyed that I wasted the money. He was never going to like it.

But I'm also kicking myself. When I first talked to the camp, I specifically asked about reading and writing. (I know, for summer camp? But you'd be so surprised how often it comes up.) The woman reassured me, oh, no, of course not, no reading necessary. This is outdoor camp. This is wilderness camp. Swimming, animal searches, hikes in the woods.

So what did they do the first day? A group story-writing project. And as one of the oldest kids, who got put in charge of the writing? Oh, of course.

When I walked out the door after dropping him off, I really thought about pulling the counselor aside and just mentioning his disability. And then I decided against it. I figured it was unnecessary. I was just being the over-protective mom, right?

Sometimes it feels like the space between being over-protective and being an effective advocate is just too small.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The blandest looking blog on the Web

Without formatting, this blog is going to be the blandest thing ever. I want bold. I want italic. I want color, dang it. But I'm attached to Safari. I've got so many bookmarks and they are organized just the way I want them.

So Friday is a school conference day: come 1:30 I will get to hear my kiddo and his teacher talk about the year so far and I am surprisingly anxious about it. My sense is that he's doing really well. I would say that he is making enormous strides, compared to what my expectations were. I feel like that sets the bar too high, though, and I should be prepared for worse news!!

In the beginning of the year, his resource teacher said that sometimes kids were just not developmentally ready to read at the same time as everyone else. Two years ago, I would have totally agreed. Since then I have been so convinced about the verdict of processing disorder/dyslexia that it was almost hard for me to hear that, but now...well, he's really making progress.

There's a part of me that wants to believe that he's not dyslexic at all.

On the other hand, there is a speech dysfluency that goes along with the diagnosis--these delays that I hear in his speech when he's trying to retrieve information, even simple information. It's not a stutter; it's a slowness. He speaks much less fluidly (albeit with an enormous vocabulary) then do other kids his age. And that's the processing disorder. That's the information being filed in the right side of his brain, and so taking longer to retrieve. That thing is the same thing that has made reading so challenging.

I think maybe it's natural to waver, to wonder whether it's real, to think maybe, maybe...The idea that he just needed to do it in his own time is so appealing. But I don't really think that's true. Reading came so easily to me, so hard to him. Even if there was something developmental there, I do believe he's dyslexic, and that he always will be. I'm also beginning to believe, though, that he's going to be able to read someday. Really read, not just painfully piece together the words.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

I'm so lame...

Why can't I figure out how to format this???

Got the answer...Safari on a Mac, of course. I don't get the formatting editor, and the keyboard commands appear not to work.

My Dog Can Climb Trees

I'll make Rory go out with the camera later and take a picture, but yes, the dog is willing to climb trees. I'd already suspected that she'd be willing to climb most anything if the temptation was strong enough: last night, I was up in the bunk bed, trying to make the bed, and she actually climbed most of the way up the ladder to get to me. A ladder is not easy for a dog, and she got stuck about one step from the top. She just couldn't get a solid enough footing to make the last push.

Today, Rory took her to the park and climbed a tree and up she jumped, scrabbling and clawing at the bark until she was safely lodged in the crook of the branches.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Conference Bliss

The great thing about conferences is getting totally jazzed about all of the cool things going on in the world of *insert conference focus here*. This year, I've been to Macworld, FlashForward, South by Southwest, and a small branding conference, and every time I come home totally excited to do all sorts of great new things. Then reality sets in and I start answering my email and going to meetings and taking my kiddo to school and walking the dog and generally living real life again.

It feels like a disconnect, a sad disconnect. In reality, though, it's an opportunity. Conferences expose me to all sorts on new ideas, new technologies--I just need to savor them for what they are and what they bring to my life, but then still appreciate the day-to-day and its virtues. I know for sure that if I had a conference every week my brain would explode!

I should also look into going to some conferences that relate to my personal obsessions. IDA has a conference in November, in Indiana of all places. Not that I want to visit Indiana (in November, I'd happily go there in June) but I can only imagine how excited I would be coming out of three days spent with people whose life is about my son's experience. That would be cool. And it might be pretty darn cool for him, too.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

South by Southwest

The question is: how can an editor and technophile have reached March 2006 without starting a blog?

The answer was easy? Busy with other things? Not sure what I'd write about?? Oh, I can always fall back on the standard: I'm a single working mom, you've got to be kidding. That's the answer to any question that revolves around why I haven't done something that would take time.

However, I'm now at South by Southwest, in Austin, Texas (Texas! I love my job) and Gary-Paul, my delightful co-worker, has started a blog for me. If you've stumbled across this blog, in some inadvertent way, chances are it will be filled with worshipful notes about my exceedingly charming and wonderful 10-year-old son. Also, potentially, the things I stumble across about dyslexia, positive parenting, alternative education, and the other things that obsess me (whether I'm glad about the obsession or not.)