Just Keep Swimming


So as I was going through Facebook the other day a friend of mine posted her status “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!  Dory had it right”.  I have to say after the past few weeks I would have to agree with her (both my friend and Dory).  It has certainly been a challenging few weeks both in the media and on a personal side but as our lovely Finding Nemo friend reminds us “Just Keep Swimming”.

 

First off in the news the past few weeks we have been shocked and saddened by a few stories such as the events that unfolded last night in New York when a mother came home to find that her Nanny had killed her two kids and herself.  A fellow blogger I know wrote a post about it this evening and I felt that instead of me writing about it you should read her take by copying and pasting this link:

http://loulousviews.blogspot.ca/2012/10/unspeakable-horror.html?spref=tw

 

On a more personal note I have been dealing with a few issues with my son and myself (I am currently in a cast for the next 4 to 6 weeks with a fractured bone and sprained ankle and really not too happy about it) recently.  My son has been having some issues at school and it got serious enough that I had to go and get him from school on Wednesday and his mom had to go and get him on Thursday.  The challenge with trying to get to the root of the problem with my son is that he really doesn’t tell you much and I say sometimes that getting information out of him is like pulling teeth.  I certainly worry about this because as he gets older he is going to face tougher challenges and how he learns and adapts are going to determine the person he is going to become as he gets older.  Both his mom and I work very hard with him and we of course will continue to do so, fortunately we are working with the school and his EAs and they really do seem to care for him and want him to be a success.

 

He will have his good days and bad days and we are getting pretty good and knowing when the bad days are going to happen.  For example on Thursday I knew it was going to be a bad day, I dropped the kids off at the school for the before school club and everything was fine.  As I was heading towards work I looked and saw that my daughter left her princess water bottle in the car, so I headed back to the school.  When I got there I see my daughter crying and discover that my son and her were playing a game and she knocked over his cups and he retaliated by knocking over her’s and happened to hit her at the same time.

 

I took my son for a walk outside the school to talk to him about what happened and kind of give him a restart to the day.  That worked perfectly!!  He was happy and ready to go back in and play with his Lego, then tragedy struck.  He ran towards his Lego and banged his hip right off of a desk and hit the floor, again I ran in and brought him out to the school kitchen and put an ice pack on his hip and tried to calm him down.  Again he was calm and ready to face the day, but I knew full well with so much chaos starting off his day something was bound to happen at school.  I called their mom and gave her the heads up and sure enough he had a melt down halfway through the day.

 

So today was a bit of a better day but overall it has been a very rough week for him, so keeping in the theme of my title I am going to take this weekend and have a reset with my son and daughter.  I decided to treat the kids to Ray’s Reptile Zoo tomorrow and go shopping for birthday gifts.  I am figuring that will be a fun filled day and should give my son the much needed reset he needs so that he can keep swimming next week at school.

 

There are always going to be challenges to face with both my son and daughter over the years and that is what parents sign up for and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  The secret to surviving it is to enjoy the good and get through the bad and learn from it.  Each challenge we face makes us stronger if we let the negative get us down we will never be able to enjoy the positives we see in life.  So Dory may not have realized it but those simple words “Just Keep Swimming” are actually really good advice!!  Keep the positives in your mind, work through the negatives, and always know if you just keep swimming you will get to that happy destination you are looking for!!

 

All the best!!

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The Importance of Co-Parenting


For a lot of families out there in this day and age life is a lot different than when we were kids.  There are more and more separations, divorces, and single parent families out there than years ago.  This has lead to parents being pushed into parenting their children with their former spouses, now of course this means that these former spouses have to set aside their differences, get along, and be on the same page when it comes to the kids.

I have heard stories of people that could not get past their own relationship issues to be able to be successful at co-parenting their kids and to be quite frank that is not acceptable.  I feel so fortunate that my ex and I have always and will always put our kids first, sure we have disagreements about each other but the bottom line is that when it comes to the kids we are a co-parenting unit.  If she says no to them for something and they come to me thinking they will get a yes out of dad the answer is still going to be no.

A funny story comes to mind about this.  I was on vacation with the kids and my daughter was acting up a bit (being a little on the bratty side which I do not tolerate), so I sent her to her room and told her she could come out once she was ready to start being nice again.  She would try to come out and I would send her back in, she cried, said she hates me, and then started to say in a sobbing voice “Mommy, mommy”.  I opened the door and gave her my phone and said “go ahead call mommy, do you think she would appreciate the way you are acting??”  She went back into the room and eventually came back out ready to be nice again.

So once I get back home and their mom comes to pick the kids up I tell her the story.  To my surprise my ex tells me that when our daughter gets in trouble with her and goes to her room she does the same thing except she says “Daddy, daddy”.  We both cracked up and came to the realization that these kids of ours are testing us constantly and we have to show a united front as parents.  I am so happy to have such a great co-parenting relationship with their mother, we may not have been the right people for each other but we sure to make a great team when it comes to our kids.

I really think that for the good of everyone parents that separate really need to make sure that they can work together as parents.  It is a shared responsibility and your children are going to need the both of you on their journey to adulthood, so no matter how many issues you may have with your former spouse people need to check their issues and egos at the door when it comes to being an effective co-parenting team!!

My Favorite Day


I have to admit it has been a busy and fun summer and I haven’t had much time to spare to write.  The summer has been fantastic for both myself and the kids, the hot weather here in Ottawa certainly helped for sure and the cool breeze we had on our trip in Newfoundland was certainly bit of relief from that heat.

Today is Wednesday and to most that is called hump day, the middle of the week, and so on.  To me it is truly my favorite day of the week, reason being is that it is the day I get to pick up the kids from their mom and spend time with them.  Being in a co-parenting relationship certainly has its perks, you have additional freedom when the kids are with the other parent and of course you have that quality time with the kids when it is your turn.  I have my two with me 50% of the time and love every single second of it.  I am the type of dad that doesn’t want to miss a thing and when my kids are with me there is no event that will tear me away from them (hence I don’t get babysitters).  As far as I am concerned this is our time together, the rest of the world can wait.

I was actually having a conversation with a friend of mine about this today.  While we were chatting she mentioned that not all dad’s have the same attitude as me.  I was quite surprised and a little saddened to hear that, she mentioned that there are dad’s that don’t share my attitude about their kids.  My response to her was quite simple “Those dads are the ones that haven’t yet realized how important the time you have with your kids are”.  There are people out there that manage to find other priorities out there instead of their kids and unfortunately for them in the long run you are only hurting yourself.  You see I have a niece back home in Newfoundland, she is the same age as my son and her mother (my sister) passed away after a long battle with cancer when my niece was just little more than three years old.  She was an amazing person and mom to that little girl (and still is wherever her spirit is), she dedicated herself to her daughter and as I see my kids go through things (first day of school, losing a tooth, etc) as happy as I am to see these things as a dad, as a brother I am sad knowing that my sister who loved her daughter more than anything in the world isn’t there to see her daughter have these experiences.  So for me to hear that there are truly parents out there that take these things for granted, whether for careers, stress, or just plain not having an interest in their child or children I really had to take a step back.  How can that even be possible?  Do they not realize that this could all be taken away from them in an instant??

I guess my reason for sharing this today is the hope that maybe some people read it, some share it, and maybe just maybe it will reach a person that needs to hear it.  You need to hold on to every single special moment you have with those you love especially your children because someday it could be taken away.  So to all the fathers out there, I know most who read this blog have the same attitude as mine, and to those who don’t I hope you can change yours before it is too late, go upstairs right now and hug that son or daughter of yours.  Tell them that their dad loves them more than anything in the world and remember to make everyday your favorite day.

The School System Needs to Grow a Set


What is Going on with Today’s School System

As many parents know, school is not what is used to be.  Back when I was kid the teachers, principals, and school board were authority figures.  If you did something wrong you got in trouble, if you failed a test you failed, if you didn’t pass in an assignment you got a 0%.  The children that were in school back then from what I can see have become mature and responsible adults.  Now fast forward to the present time, what has become of our education system?  It seems like kids are getting worse not better, test scores are dropping, more and more kids are dropping out of school, and bullying and school violence is at its worst.  What could be causing this??

As a parent I actually fear for the future of our children and after having plenty of experience meeting with teachers, principals, and talking with the school board I have come to a conclusion that I believe could be the problem.  The education system has become too soft!!  Kids (and young adults) can do whatever they want in school and get away with it.  Teachers have lost the ability to discipline their students, if a teacher yells at a student now they risk being sued by overbearing and “not my kid” type parents.  Teachers and Principals have been handcuffed by the overprotective education system and the results are scary, kids are doing things now that would have never happened years ago.

Of the people that may read this that are over 30 years old, how many of you ever heard of a kid in your school showing up with a knife or gun?  How many of you ever saw a kid completely trash a classroom and have nothing said to them??  My guess is not too many of you.  Next I would like to ask why didn’t that happen back then?  The answer to that is quite simple, there are a few reasons:

  1. If you did something wrong or were a disruption in class the teacher would have no problem yelling at you, kicking you out of the classroom, or sending you to the office.
  2. Kids actually respected their teachers because they knew full well if they were out of line there would be consequences.
  3. If somebody did something that warranted a suspension they were suspended instantly.

There are other answers as well but they all boil down to the same theme when we were kids the teacher was someone we respected and the principal’s office was a place we were afraid to be sent to.  In today’s society this is certainly not the case, when things like this happen today kids are handled with warm and fuzzy statements while the parents of these children are left wondering why kids are getting worse.

Now many people will read through this and simply state “It is not the school’s job to raise someone’s child.”  While I agree with that statement to a point, there is certainly a counterpoint to this.  How a child is raised and disciplined at home is the parent’s job for sure.  The school has to maintain that consistent discipline while the child is in their care.  If a child is well behaved at home but constantly in trouble at school what is a parent supposed to do?

I spoke recently to someone at the school board about my son, he has been getting into trouble at school and both his mom and I have been trying to figure out why this is happening at school and not at home.  While speaking with the person from the school board, I made a simple suggestion that the staff should not hesitate in raising their voice to my son if he is acting out of line.  The response I got shocked me, I was told that they can’t do that??  They can’t raise their voice to a child??  They can’t raise their voice and say “Stop doing that!!”  I was at a loss for words.

Kids are becoming worse and worse these days, and the soft handed tactics employed by our new and improved education system is a major part of the problem.  As parents his mother and I are doing our part to maintain core values, respect for adults, and respect for authority through the way we discipline our kids at our respective homes and due to a number of different factors the school system seems to be dropping the ball.  The soft and warm “no kid left behind” approach is doing more harm than good for the kids of today; this is a major problem that is going to have negative implications now and for future generations.  If things are this bad now, what is it going to be like for the next generation??

It is high time that the education system grew a set and start putting more focus on discipline as opposed to this nanny like treatment they are giving kids now.  Make if being sent to the principal’s office is something a child would be afraid of and maybe just maybe these children will find the respect for authority that has seemed to disappear over the past decade.  I am not saying it is time to go back to the strap or anything crazy like that, but a teacher or principal should have the ability to raise their voice and be firm with a child without fear of negative consequences.  If we as a society want to stop going down the path of school violence, kids turning to gangs, guns coming to school maybe we as a society have to stop coddling children and start disciplining them both at home and school.  That takes co-operation from the parents, teachers, principals, and school boards.  If this doesn’t happen soon I fear for the future of our children and their children as well.

Letting Kids Float Through

Another very scary trend that seems to be happening in today’s school system is the tendency to just let a child float through the system.  Instead of working with the child specifically it seems that the system will just give a child a pass and send them to the next grade.  Is this doing any good to the children of today?  One personal example of this is my son; he is currently in grade two and from what I can see as a parent the school system is dropping the ball with him.  There are some discipline issues which I believe I have addressed those issues in the previous paragraphs but here are some issues about his education.

On his latest report card he was given a low rating on his reading skills.  The normal reaction to that is to focus on improving these skills so that he can start catching up on his reading skills.  That is what should be happening but it is not, he has had the same two books in his backpack for his homework reading every night since school came back in session in January, both his mother and I have asked on his reading log for the school to put different books in his backpack for reading and it hasn’t happened.  My son has read “My Ponies” and “The Old Truck” so many times now that he could recite it back to me without looking!!!

My son has good and bad days at school which is unfortunate but at home there are never issues.  I have struggled to find out why he can be such a good boy at home (never hits, puts his plates away after meals, and does what he is told, etc) and such a problem at school (runs out of the classroom, says things like “I hate school”, etc).  His mom asked the principal to video tape him so we could see what was going on and we were shocked to see the images.  He would run out of class and instead of bringing him back into the class they simply let him go to another room on his own (supervised by his EA).  So while class is going on and students are learning my son is in another room by himself missing out on the lessons being learned.  Is this helping him??

The more I reflect on this and search for answers the more I find myself coming to the conclusion that no matter what happens at home and no matter how hard parents try the school system is starting to become more of a problem than a helping hand to the children of today.   It seems like instead of working with parents to help a child with disabilities to make sure that child can be the best they can be the schools of today are just content to simply let the child float to the next grade.  That way the child becomes another teacher’s problem and not their problem anymore.  To me that is unacceptable, and part of me thinks that it is not the teacher’s fault but the system’s fault.  I know a few teachers and they have told me that in most cases their hands are tied and there is not much they can do.  They want to help but they can’t for fear of negative ramifications from the school board.  Is this the right way to educate our children??  I certainly hope not because if it is just imagine what our world will be like when the next generation of students become the next generation of our work force, our community leaders, or our politicians.

Good Times and Bad


My apologies for not writing something sooner, it has been a very hectic couple of weeks and I am just now managing to have a few minutes to sit down and write. As I have mentioned in the past life is always filled with good times and bad and in order to survive you have to be able to take the bad with the good.

I have spent a lot of my time focusing on the good aspects in my journey and will always do so but to be fair I have to share some of the bad as well. My partner and I have been together for 8 years or so and a few months back made the decision to separate, the reasons for this are varied and I have been dealing with it in my own way. The challenge with this of course is we have 2 children together and for the past few years my now ex has been a stay at home mom to care for our kids. She is in the process now of opening up a daycare and is slowly but surely getting it running, but due to the financial circumstances we are going to be stuck in the same house for a while. This is not the best situation to be in but right now it is the only option.

This living arrangement has been going on for a few months now and there have been some challenges associated with it. Neither one of us can really move on to the next stage of our lives until there is final closure on this part and when kids are involved you have to be able to deal with things without impacting the kids. I remember hearing a statistic when our son was diagnosed that the divorce/separation rate for parents with a child on the spectrum was 89% and thought to myself “no way would that happen to us”. Apparently I was wrong, not to say that having a child on the spectrum directly caused our relationship to crash and burn because it that is certainly not the case. My thoughts on what brought us to this point were due to a lot of circumstances that were out of our control. We never really had an opportunity to get over the bad and focus on the good, if things were bad we would have to put our own feelings on the back burner to take care of our kids, deal with a family tragedy, or move to different part of the country. As soon as the opportunity came for us to work on us another roadblock would get in the way, so after so many roadblocks I guess my partner reached a point where she felt it was impossible to go back and repair the damage our relationship had taken.

At first I was angry about the whole thing but that eventually changed to worried about the future. How will the kids react to the new living arrangements? What will it be like not having two parents in the same house? What about birthdays, Christmas, school, beavers, etc? These are questions that I can’t really get the answers to until the day that these changes come into effect. Also I have to think of myself, I am 34 years old and about to start over from scratch and that is a really frightening thought. If it is anything like the past few months I am really worried due to the fact that although I have many people around me for some reason I feel alone. Fortunately I have two amazing kids that love their dad and have the amazing ability to brighten up the darkest days.

Birthdays and Halloween!!


The next few weeks will present some very fun times and some frustration. First off the fun times, Halloween and birthdays!! Of course this Sunday will be trick or treating with the kids which is always a blast but also a challenge. With my son’s strict diet most of the candy he gets he won’t be able to eat which is kind of sad. To combat this I try to pick up some candy and chips that he can eat and just switch it out from his treat bag which seems to work well. Both kids are very excited for Halloween and have been putting on their costumes already.

Food is always a challenge when it comes to things like Halloween, birthday parties, school events, and so on. Whenever there is a birthday party my son doesn’t get to eat the cake (has his own brownies or cupcakes brought from home). When he was younger this wasn’t much of an issue but now you can tell that he wants the cake or ice cream that everyone else is eating. Even with school pizza days and hot-dog days this challenge comes up. A note came from school a little while ago and stated that he was the only kid in the class that wasn’t signed up for pizza day. Of course this would make him stand out with his peers and that can be very tough for a kid his age because we all know other kids can be cruel when someone is different. Again though there is a happy ending to this story, his teacher contacted us about this and wanted to help and we worked with them for a solution. For Pizza day the Boston Pizza near the school was nice enough to give us a deal on a package of their Gluten Free pizza crusts that we can leave at the school along with some sauce. So now on Pizza Day he gets to have pizza with all the other kids, which is fantastic. Thanks to this Boston Pizza will be getting my business from now on!!

On the Birthday side of things the kids are very excited and can’t wait to pick out their presents. I think they are both going to have a blast and these is going to be the best Birthdays yet for them. My son was also invited to a classmate’s party next weekend which is a movie party. This should prove to be very interesting as my son has never been to a movie theater before (not sure if he could actually sit still for that long). So to prepare for this I am going to take him to a movie on Sunday to see how he does. I am hoping that he will be able to handle being in the theater and can make it through the whole movie so we will see what happens I guess.

On a side note, from my branch entry.  The branch was finally taken away, so I was overjoyed to see it gone however I came home the other day from work to see a new branch sitting on the front lawn!!!

Branch


Just a quick note (or update) about an earlier post. I had written the other day about how my son brought this massive tree branch onto my front yard. Well I have been taking the branch putting it on the other side of the road and each day when I come home from work it is on the lawn again!!! He really likes this branch I guess!!

So on Tuesday night I decided enough is enough so I took the branch and put it out to be picked up by the garbage collectors (down the road a little from the house). I figured there is no way he will find it before it gets picked up. Boy was I wrong!! Sure enough, I get home from work walk towards the house and guess what greets me on the front lawn, the tree branch!! As much as I was fuming that this 6 foot long by about 4 foot wide branch was sitting right in the middle of the lawn again I had to have a quick laugh and admire my son’s determination!! I walked into the house and sure enough there he was with a big grin on his face, overjoyed that he got his tree branch back. I gave him a big hug and am now trying to figure out how to outsmart him and get this eyesore off my front lawn. Something tells me I may be stuck with this branch for a while!!