Saturday, December 26, 2015

Too Attached to Material Things is BAD, or is it?

I worry a lot about James and his attachment to material things instead of spending his time forging friendships around experiences that are not his obsessions.  He would much rather spend all of his awake hours at the computer playing Minecraft or playing on his tablet or Game Boy. Sometimes it is like pulling teeth to get him to come out of his sanctum to have supper with the family.  We do insist most nights a week but as soon as he is finished, hand goes up and he is asking to "please be excused." He is my little wannabe capitalist.  He LOVES stuff.  So much stuff, he can't keep track of it.  Every year, I pledge to limit how much comes in to the house during the holidays.
This year I decided to make memory pillows for both of the kids out of shirts that were my father-in-law's.  Their beloved Papa passed away on 9/18/15 and it hasn't been easy for them.  My daughter understands the finality of it but James, well, being so black and white, he has a different take on it.  The shirt I chose for him was worn by Papa for the first picture of him holding a very tiny James. It is completely faded from wear but still recognizable. When James got it on Christmas morning, he looked at it and then me and simply said, "I love it."  Praise indeed!  In the pocket of the shirt I had a card with the above picture on one side and on the other, I had written,

The brightness of this shirt may have faded, but Papa’s love for you never will. When you hold this pillow remember all of the wonderful time you two shared.
Christmas 2015

James got many other gifts for Christmas and he had a wonderful day.  We did the usual prompting on how to graciously receive a gift as there have been many mishaps in past years.  He did great and the day went off without one single sign of a tantrum!  This morning, the day after Christmas, James came into my room with the pillow in his arms.  He is such a sensitive soul and with a slight grin, asked me to kiss the pillow.  I did and he did and away he went with this the simplest gift made of faded, well loved material.  I guess sometimes material objects can be the best gift ever.

Happiest of Holidays, Merry Everything, Peace Everywhere, and to all, the joy of loved ones with us and gone before us, from the Laughter House. 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

What is Your Definition of Responsibility?

James is in the 6th grade this year.  He is without an aide.  He made the high honor roll first term.  He has a very strong team.  We all know that the hidden team behind our kids are the heroes that often go unrewarded. As James succeeds, he gets public recognition for a job well done and those of us who are in the rafters negotiating the infinite strings get the satisfaction. He often doesn't know how much is being done around him to make it possible to do as well as he is doing in the mainstream.  The school that James is going to is a charter school and the motto is, "A personalized education where success is the ONLY option."  Every student gets the education they need to succeed.  What a beautiful thing!
Well, yesterday I was able to witness it again.  James was up for another award.  This time a character award for one of the school's pillars of character.  November's pillar was "Responsibility".  His teacher had let us know, and I was thrilled, because the last time I remember him getting a character award was in Kindergarten. All kids in Kindergarten get a character award. He finally got his in the last month of the year. He had finally stopped throwing chairs so I guess they felt he was ready.  Anyway... back to yesterday. When I think of responsibility, I think of the classic definition: "the state of fact of being responsible, answerable, or accountable for something within one's power, control or management." ( When I think of James, I don't necessarily see those traits in the forefront of his actions. This is a kid who forgets to bring things home, doesn't write things down so they get forgotten when asked about, forgets to pass in work, ... As his mum, I could certainly go on.  He is an amazing kid but I'm the one at home worrying about the three missed assignments in Science and one in English.
His 6th grade teacher had the wisdom to see through all of the muck to find the glimmer of James that shines every day in her class.  She doesn't need him to be like all the other kids. Let's face it, he isn't, but that is why I searched for a school that allows the kids to get a "personalized education where success is the ONLY option."  James succeeded at being responsible to the best of his personal ability!  Here is what she had to say on the occasion, "and this last student, really, really, really wanted to get the responsibility award. He has been working hard every day. Sometimes I have to remind him a few times but he's improving and this is a day to day activity for James..."