May 24, 2015: Howling at the Moon!

There’s a wolf in the house here!! That’s right—Theo has earned the rank of Wolf in Cub Scouts, so he is a Tiger no more! We went to a fun little ceremony at his school to commemorate this big transition, and all of the older Cub Scouts howled when the newly minted wolves walked in. Fun!

We also had Theo’s Open House at school this week, which was good fun as well. We got to see all of the work Theo’s been doing in school, which is a lot! Lots of science work and even a research project on sharks, which he dedicated to Sam “because he likes me,” which made my heart melt. Click here for a post about this. Theo also made sure to show me the work of another little girl in class and promptly announced very seriously, “I’m in love with her.” I could’ve guessed that, and as usual I approve of his taste—she’s a very sweet little girl. A bit of a tomboy, which I like. 🙂

Theo also had a piano recital on Sunday! It was very informal—his piano teacher just gathered up the interested students and had them come play at a local retirement home. They were to play “dessert,” which is her word for playing whatever they want—made-up songs. They were all surprisingly good—no one just smashing at the keys. And then they all got together and sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” I realize these video clips aren’t overly exciting, but I figured some people might get a kick out of them, so here ya go. 🙂

Theo wasn’t the only one with big events this week, though. I had Sam’s first preschool conference on Friday. According to his teachers, he is doing wonderfully! They remarked how quickly he picks up new material, and while he is behind the other students in terms of academics (no surprise—he is the only one with special needs in the class), he is making constant, steady progress, which is exactly what I wanted to see! Both teachers actually cried a little bit when they talked about him. His main teacher, Victoria, said, “He has changed my life! I didn’t know what to expect when Lori told me I’d have a student with Down syndrome. I’ve had students with autism, but never with Down syndrome, and I didn’t know much of anything about what that meant. I thought it would require a lot more work in helping him with his behavior. But it hasn’t. He follows directions better than any other student in the class, and he’s always helping out the other kids. He’s working so much on his words, but he doesn’t need words—he communicates with all of us even when he can’t say the words. He can do anything, I just know it!”

That made me so happy to hear, because you know that’s all I’ve wanted for him: people who realize that he has so much potential and who go with the flow and recognize and nurture that potential. They asked me what I wanted to see—whether there were specific things I wanted them to work on, and I said, “Not really. The school district always wants to create specific, measurable goals, and I understand why they do that—but honestly, I’m just most interested in him always continuing to make progress. So I’d like to see him keep working on all areas and keep making progress. There’s not one specific goal that I have for him; just to keep learning and keep being challenged.” I also told them that I was happy to have him kept in the Butterfly classroom for one more year, for two reasons: (1) The Butterfly classroom is actually for kids who are “older threes,” and he’s “younger threes” anyway. (2) We are planning to hold him out of kindergarten until he’s six, so there’s no reason to push him up into the next class already; he’ll have plenty of time to get to it. He still has plenty to learn in the Butterfly classroom (by virtue of being somewhat delayed), so I’m happy to have him keep working there for another year.

Our decision to have him start kindergarten at six actually has less to do with Down syndrome and more to do with him being a boy, by the way. Theo’s OT suggested I keep him out of kindergarten until age six because she felt he was academically ready but socially/emotionally a bit immature. I couldn’t disagree with that, but everyone else told me, “No, he’s too smart to be held back. He should start at five.” In hindsight, I wish I would’ve listened to the OT and started him at six. I don’t think it would’ve done him any harm, and I think he would’ve had a more successful kindergarten year if he’d had another year of maturity under his belt. And working in the classroom, I saw that most of the kindergarten boys were actually still rather immature for a classroom setting. And that’s not a knock on the boys—just a commentary by me that perhaps little boys are best left being little boys for an extra year before being expected to sit in a classroom for four hours a day.

And with Sam, he is, of course, delayed. So an extra year of pre-kindergarten or transitional kindergarten certainly won’t hurt him. We’d like to keep him in mainstream education for as long as possible, and I think the best way to do that is to not push him to start younger than he needs to.

Anyway, hindsight is 20/20, and Theo’s doing fine. I just think he would’ve been more successful if I had listened to his OT and started him later. Ah well…

But on to the weekend! We spent Saturday at Grandma Kathy and Papa’s house because it was Grandma Kathy’s birthday! Theo got to play with his cousin, which he always enjoys, and we spent a fair bit of the lovely afternoon at the park, which all the boys enjoyed!

On Sunday, one of Theo’s friends invited us over for an impromptu playdate, which was fun, but we had to cut it short for Theo’s piano recital. No problem, though, because the younger boys (Sam and Theo’s friend’s little brother) were both getting tired and needing a nap.

After the recital, Sam got his much-needed (three-hour!) nap, and the rest of us spent the time gardening. See my post The Yard Is Shaping Up for some before-and-after pictures. The yard is far from being done, but it’s come a long way!

And now, the boys (all three of ‘em) are watching Star Wars, and I intend to go join them. Theo has been dying to see it, and we figured he’s old enough now. So it’s a Sunday night geek fest in our household!

Happy Memorial Day, everyone!

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