Saturday, July 21, 2007

Joshua Going Back to Public School

Two more weeks and Joshua will head back to East Cheatham Elementary School. I'm happy and sad at the same time about this fact. I know he has missed his friends and I know he's had a really hard time in private school -- with the kids. However, I am sad that we are loosing an "environment" where Jesus is the normal conversation topic and is integrated into learning.

I fully realize it is our job to teach Joshua about Jesus and help him develop his relationship with God. It was, however, nice to have that reinforced in a place where he spent 7 hours a day. It was nice, as well, to have smaller classrooms. That, however, is about where the "nice" ended. It seems, to me, that private schools are a breeding ground for intolerance of anything right or left of center and a place where children are a bit more, well, mean. Please don't jump on me for these statements. This has just been my experience (and, it is my blog *smile*) from my time in private schools and Joshua's time in private school.

Joshua is a good kid. He has friends that he has had since he was a little boy. He is not, however, without his "issues". Find me a child that is - I suppose. He is a fully active person. He was diagnosed this year, as was I, with ADHD. This does not mean he is a problem, because he is not. He just requires that you think of different ways of communicating with him or helping him learn techniques to deal with the way the "others" in the world are. He is not a "cookie cutter" child. Since his and my diagnosis, our family has been SO much better because we have learned the right way to handle the issues that come with having ADHD. I said to a friend a few days ago that I really wouldn't choose to have ADHD (who would?), but if God needed me to have this in order to help others who have it, to save marriages and people from themselves, I will gladly do it. I hope, one day, Joshua will be able to use this to help others he comes into contact with.

I know that we need to have more conversations about how to handle situations both before and after they arise. I know he needs short conversations and tips so that he doesn't "zone out" on me. I know that I need to have him repeat things and ask him questions about what we talked about to make sure he both heard and understood. I know that environments that are noisy and chaotic are harder for him than most children and overstimulate him. I know that limiting sugar and food dyes help him a lot. I know that giving him short, direct instructions helps better than rambling on. I know that he doesn't function well in environments where people (adults) yell at him, belittle him or make him feel inferior. His ADHD already makes him have self-esteem issues, so I have learned that he has to be complimented -- a lot -- for things that most parents might take for granted in their children. I have to take every opportunity to praise him that I can in order to booster a self-esteem that society has weakened by their constant attack on. I know that he is incredibly smart in ways that other children aren't. He has known, for years, how to re-direct water paths to keep areas from flooding. What child knows this so early???? He thinks of creative things that I never would think of -- he would be a great inventor! He can read peoples' personalities SO well. Ironically, he can't understand why the things he does (pestering or name calling) are so offensive to other kids.

I worry, a lot, about him in public school. I know that he can be easily influenced by others and that he is larger and louder than most kids his age so he immediately becomes a bit of target when trouble occurs. I want him to be happy back in public school, but I want him to be safe, well-behaved and liked. I continue to talk with him about how to be a leader for Christ, instead of a follower. I remind him that God called him early because He has big jobs for him. I can't help but think, that if he can put his headstrong abilities to good, instead of allowing others to lead him into bad, that he will be a powerhouse for God -- especially in public schools.

I can only continue to pray and look for every opportunity to talk with him, listen to him, and get him to talk to me. I know there is a day coming, really soon, when he won't want to talk to me. I feel like the days are limited in the amount of time and influence I have with him. I know I am his mother, but I know that soon -- really soon -- there will come a time when I am ultimately stupid about all things "Joshua". I pray that all I need to make sure he knows about good decision making sinks in before that time.

But, on a more positive note. I'm happy that he will be in a school where computers and art and music are routinely taught. I'm happy he will go back to a school that encourages reading through the use of A/R points. I'm happy that I don't have to find UNIFORM clothes to fit anymore. I'm happy that I don't have to pay TUITION anymore. :-) I'm happy that he will be back with my friends' children -- the kids he has grown up with. I'm happy that he will have a library and will do science projects. There are goods to balance all the bads, I know. I'm happy that when people ask him if he's ready to go back to school, he says, "Yes." This is more than he said about going to his other school. More than anything in life, I want him to be happy. He doesn't have to be a millionaire (although HE'D like to be!), or have a CEO's job or be the world's leading missionary. I want him to do God's will, find a woman who loves him as much (well, close, anyway) as I do -- for life, have children (who tear up his stuff and spend his money and don't pick up their clothes --oops, I digress!), lead a life serving others instead of himself, and, most of all, to be happy.

Parenting is really, really hard. *smile* But the rewards ... well, every day I'm reminded how much they are worth it.

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