Thursday, May 31, 2007

Nicely played

Yesterday was a red-letter day for us. For the first time, last night, my son ... sat through ... an entire school concert. Yes!

If that doesn't sound like such an accomplishment for a 14-year-old, then you don't have a scoodgy boy like mine.

It was his sister's high-school band concert, and I'd lured him there with the promise that he could leave after a couple of songs -- I just wanted to include him, a little bit. But he sat through a couple of songs, and a couple more, and pretty soon an hour and a concert and a nice little milestone were passed. Sure, he squeaked in his seat some, and he flung his arm around my neck a few times in a way that I thought might alter my spine, and at the end he screamed out his sisters name and opined that she "Rocked The House!"

All in all, though, it was a good experience. The band played nicely. And the boy listened nicely, too.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Meddling mom

I've been doing the "how much do I interfere?" dance with my daughter all year.

It's her first year in high school, and she's handled things really well. And so, I've let go a bit, not hanging over her homework or constantly touching base with her teachers. High school makes it harder to do those things anyway, so I was happy to fade back. That's what you do with supports, right? Fade them back when they're not needed?

I've had a few teacher conversations, and one situation where I orchestrated a class change. I've also had one bad contact, when I questioned something a teacher was doing and got a cold shoulder for it. Beyond that, though, I've held my peace.

Now, the end of the year is at hand, and her latest progress report indicated continuing struggles in two subjects. I'm pretty sure she won't fail. I'm pretty sure she can do better. And I'm pretty sure that I need to know what's up before next year's schedule is set in stone.

So today, I sent notes to the teachers with my kinda uncomfortable daughter, just asking them to call and chat. In the big time here, in high school, you're supposed to go through the counselor to contact teachers ... but this isn't a big-time problem, and it's so late in the year. A few teachers have OK'd informal conversations, I hope these two will too.

Or maybe they'll just do the "overinvolved parent!" eyeroll and try stonewalling me for the next four weeks. Or maybe my girl will accidentally forget to give them the notes until it's too late anyway.

Sometimes, don't you just envy those parents who are blissfully uninvolved? I tried, man ... can't do it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

TV takes on special-needs parenting ... maybe

I've been watching and blogging about the ABC show Brothers & Sisters for most of the season, and it's made a nice transition from being an intrigue-filled look at a family and a family business in the wake of the patriarch/founder's death to a gentler, sillier examination of the ties that bind families together, whether you really feel like being bound to that person or not. The repartee and rapport between the siblings is golden, well-written and well-acted by the likes of Sally Field, Calista Flockhart, Rachel Griffith and Ron Rifkin. I started the season watching it because I need something to space out to at the end of the weekend (it's on Sundays at 10 p.m.), and ended the season with it as my most anticipated show of the week.

One couple who has gotten less plot than usual in the family saga is Tommy, one of the brothers of the title, and his wife, Julia. There was a little plot flurry early on over Tommy's infertility (his brothers donated sperm), and a little flurry about Julia being pregnant with twins, and then a big episode in which the twins were born premature and one of them died. The other was still hospitalized as of Sunday's season finale, and her parents were dealing with that in different ways -- mom depressed and taking sedatives, dad spending time away from home and acting like nothing was wrong.

The writers of this show have a lot of pots on the stove, so to speak, and I don't know whether Tommy and Julia and their baby, Elizabeth, will ever get put on the front burner. But I'm hoping for it, because there's real potential for dealing with issues of special-needs parenting. While Elizabeth survived her birth in better health than her brother, she could well have significant problems related to her prematurity. Watching parents and extended family deal with that could be therapeutic to those of us who've experienced that in real life. The different dynamics of moms and dads in special-needs families could also make for good TV -- I recommend Married With Special-Needs Children to the producers as a textbook.

The show's already dipped its toe into the subject with one sister's daughter having diabetes; let's hope that next season, they dive on in. If you haven't seen the show and are interested in it, you can view all the past episodes online at, and read recaps on my B&S blog.