Walking on Thin Ice

My six-year-old recently asked me what the word “pressure” means?

Since we watched Disney’s “Encanto,” he’s been humming his favourite moment, when Luisa sings the song “Surface Pressure.”

We had the song on repeat while driving. I told T that when you feel pressure, you feel very worried you might not do a good job.

I thought about how the character Luisa feels the weight of keeping it together for her family.

School has been challenging this fall, with recurring reports of disruptive and negative seeking behaviour and refusal to complete work.

We always anticipated school would be a difficult journey, as it is for kids with FASD; in T’s case, suspected FASD.

Late last November, his CYW told the hubby and I that T told her he thinks he’s stupid and bad.

That comment has weighed on both the hubby and my mind since.

T is a bright kid but the world is often challenging for neurodiverse kids with learning challenges.

When kids – everyone, really, special needs or not – feel they are not able to meet expectations, that will manifest in behaviour, such as anxiety, avoidance (of work) or “bad behaviour.”

We returned to virtual schooling this week due to record high COVID cases.

Speaking of pressure, three days in and the hubby and I feel stressed. You’d think this being our fourth go at this, it’d be easier.

Expectations are higher in Grade 1. The school day is two hours longer, each session is an hour versus 30 minutes last year and the work volume is higher.

Most people will smirk and say it’s Grade 1, how hard can it be? I invite these skeptics to virtual school a child with learning challenges, while balancing a full time job and other familial care.

I burst into tears on Thursday, because I was having a very hard day.

The wonderful thing about life is – and it’s a lesson I hope T will learn – is that every day is a new chance to try again.

Today’s beautiful sunshine and a restful sleep last night have given me an opportunity to reflect on the last three days.

… About what’s working well:

T is mostly sitting down for the sessions and he seems to understand the concepts. He’s participating a little bit in class.

… About what’s challenging:

Getting him to do the work in real time is a struggle and results in tantrums or meltdowns.

I wish he could see that he knows the concepts. On Thursday, after a three hour battle, he finally sat down at 7 pm and let me catch him up on a lesson and work he missed because he was screaming in his room. He zipped through it.

That sounds dandy and all, but I don’t have the time or energy to do this every day if virtual school is inevitably extended!

… About how we’re accommodating him:

The hubby and I didn’t have time to properly prepare because of how sudden the switch to virtual learning happened.

But we’re making modifications. We cleaned up his space and put away a lot of toys during the school day to minimize his distractions – because T is so easily distracted.

We started using a token chart again as an incentive to get him to participate in class.

We asked T’s teacher if it’s all right if we opt out of virtual gym class after lunch and use the time to take him out for fresh air, burn his energy, and reduce his screen time.

We are fortunate to have an organized teacher. She gets how challenging the situation is and has made it easy for parents to catch up after class.

She and T’s CYW are implementing a plan next week for T to have one-on-one sessions with his CYW, if he is having challenges in the larger class.

On Friday, instead of going to virtual gym, T and I went for a walk after lunch.

It was a wonderful break and our first outdoor time since virtual learning resumed.

The puddles in the park from a few days ago had turned into ice because it was super cold.

T enjoyed brushing away the thin snow on top and then sliding on the ice.

There was a nice long stretch of ice on the path home that T enjoyed before we returned to class.

The afternoon session was better. There was still an initial reluctance from T to sit down and he had a tantrum when I stopped a video that he was watching so we could go to the final class.

But he calmed down, listened during class and earned four check marks for participating four times during the hour and two check marks for completing the Baby Yoda drawing during the art class that closed off the week.

The Force was strong with our Padawan that hour. I anticipate the new week will undoubtedly bring out the dark side again, but I savoured that positive light moment.

29 thoughts on “Walking on Thin Ice

    1. Thank you, Gary. It is so maddening and I’m so sick of virtual learning. 😆😂 We’ll all get through this together. Thanks for being an inspiration from the other side of the world too! 🙏

  1. Words of encouragement are always what I want to say but this time I am speechless. The school would not let my grandkids go back to school because of them having Covid, until Friday. Since their mom went back to work, guess where they stayed and they had to do remote. I am so afraid school will close and we will have to do more remote school with them. We love our grandkids so much but at our age this is so overwhelming. I am sending a big hug because I feel your pain!

    1. Oh no, Diane, I’m so sorry your grandkids are back in the hell of virtual learning too. It just feels neverending! But good for you and your husband for supporting them and your daughter. It is such a headache isn’t it? But glad to hear your daughter is well enough to return to work! Always a bright side in things.

      We will get through this. The hubby and I made ourselves a tall pitcher of “social punch” last night. We may used double or triple the amount of alcohol suggested but it was a great way to unwind from the week! 😆

      Good luck with the rest of your upcoming homeschooling!

  2. I admire your dedication to T. Ab. I also appreciate your sharing of the strengths and struggles of parenting a child with complex need. It is a difficult journey that cant be truly understood unless lived. So much goes into every moment (emotions, responding, advocating, so much more). I know I say it often, but I always see the incredible love, care, and determination you hold in parenting. I wish every child could have this.

    I am hopeful there are some moments when you get a chance to meet your needs too. It is a life long journey in parenting our children and, as you so eloquently share and document, children who hold a higher level of need require even more from their parents.

    My genuine care to you and your complex boy. I hope this Sunday morning is unfolding into a good day ahead.❤❤

    1. Thank you, LaDonna. I knew you’d understand both the highs and joys and the lows and challenging frustrations. The last thing we all need to add on top of this parenting journey is a freaking pandemic! 😆

      But we always find a way to get through it. This weekend was actually quite wonderfully restful. Lots of outdoor time, play time and laughter and fun. The hubby and I also made some “social punch” for ourselves. 😆 T asked for some and we’re like, only for grownups!

      Enjoy your weekend too!

  3. I feel so sorry for parents (and kids) who have to go back to remote learning for the first two weeks in January. And that they were given not a lot of advance notice to prepare. Fingers crossed it doesn’t get extended. Sorry to hear that the first few days have been challenging, but I like that you are taking it day-by-day and are trying to stay positive and reflect on what’s working and what isn’t and then try to adapt. Hopefully week two will go a lot smoother as you all get back into a rhythm. Good for you for getting outside this week when it’s been freezing! Enjoy the rest of your weekend. Linda

    1. Thanks Linda. It’s been a pretty challenging week and I’m dreading the one coming up – thankfully no school on Friday cuz of PA Day. I’m hoping kids go back as scheduled on Jan 17 but I don’t think that’s gonna realistically happen.

      All we can do is take it a day at a time. 🙂 The weekend has been great and relaxing actually. It was our goal to recharge for the week coming up.

      And yes, it is very cold!!! Hope you are having a good one too. 🙂

      1. Unfortunately it’s hard to tell whether these new restrictions are having any impact since the government has changed the rules around who is eligible for a free PCR test. This means case counts are essentially meaningless. Hospitalizations seem to keep creeping up though. That being said, there’s an election coming up and parents have had enough of remote learning. Hopefully it’s not another last minute decision, but based on past announcements, it probably will be. Glad to hear you had a relaxing weekend. I took down all my holiday decorations, which always makes me feel a bit sad. Our tree was looking a bit crispy and it was time to toss it to the curb though.

      2. Goodbye to the holiday decorations! Ours are still up but only cuz we’re so tired and can’t be bothered to take them down. Maybe when virtual learnings ends. 😆 Happy Monday!

  4. So sorry about the difficulties and challenges . You and your Hubby are amazing , very loving, patient, inspiring Parents. And T has been very brave and working hard. I remember grade 1 of my son. It was challenging. He wasn’t not use to sharing and he gets into fight with kids. It took a very kind and supportive teacher to ease everyone’s worry and anxiety. Learning and school is an on going milestone of success, and failures and some days can be overwhelming. It helps a lot to have strong , caring and very positive parents so a child can overcome the trials of life and school. I admire you both for being there always for your child and each other no matter what. That is true Family and Friendship is. Happy New Year Ab. It will be a year of light, joy and breath things. Take care always.

    1. Thank you!It is a very trying time right now at home. Never would I have thought back in March 2020 we’d still be in this mess almost two years later! 😆

      Our family booked a trip for Spring Break back when we thought things would return to normal. And it’s giving me hope to get through the next few weeks. Although that trip looks unlikely now.

      Thanks for sharing your son’s story (and also your uplifting posts and photos). A good teacher certainly makes all the difference! 😊

      We will get through this surely! 🙏👍

      1. Stay optimistic for the Spring Break. I requested both feb and April for a week of Family vacation, likely locally. It is important to keep going despite of the Omicron . We have the tools to be safe and we just have to believe it will work. Take care my friend. Life is short.

      2. That’s great. Feb and April will be here before you know it. It’s good to schedule these things to give you hope and something to look forward to! 🙏

      3. Thank you. I do hope your Spring Plan happens. What I miss the most is traveling to the Philippines but Looks like there’s new strict lockdowns and restrictions there. As for the U.S. , we can travel anywhere within our country however we want, so Omicron is having the most fun. It’s crazy how different countries take the virus seriously. 2022 should have been a clean slate but looks like a leftover gone bad of 2021. Take care my friend. We do our best to enjoy life despite of.

      4. Philippines sure would be nice right now but yes, it’s a bit of a mess there. Less than half of the population is vaccinated so far. One day maybe I’ll go back. But it’ll have to be much much later.

      5. I heard from my Wife, Balikbayans are getting sick with covid during their Philippines visit. Perhaps from change of climate and lowered immunity. I normally get sick, last was flu when I visit the Philippines. Getting covid there not knowing is it’s still omicron can be concerning.

      6. That is very true. Another reason why my mom is not going back given her compromised health. I do hope things can change in the near future but the pandemic in the PI is in a far worse state than ours.

      7. Yes. PI have no resources and freebies unlike rich countries. No one will see you in E.D. Without a deposit unless government hospitals but patients buy their own meds their. The poor just dies left and right. It’s how I remember it having to work their myself before U.S. migration.

  5. Ok my phone is giving me a hard time or maybe it’s because I’m in a bad cell area but here is my comment

    I am in awe of how you both juggle, your own work, schooling T, behavior management, writing amazing blogs and then everyday family life! I often comment to my husband about how hard and inconceivable it would have been if jess had no school or programs and we had no aides! It’s so daunting. Bravo to the the three of you!

    Sent from my iPhone Vickie Rubin VICKIE’S VIEWS BLOG


  6. I am in awe of how you both juggle, your own work, schooling T, behavior management, writing amazing blogs and then everyday family life! I often comment to my husband about how hard and inconceivable it would have been if jess had no school or programs and we had no aides! It’s so daunting. Bravo to the the three of you!

    1. Thanks Vickie! I went to the liquor store after to get some supplies for a “Social Punch.” That’s how we’re getting through this round. 😆

      I agree with you that we, too, are fortunate for school, programs and staff supports. I don’t know how we could do it without these resources.

      Hope you enjoy your weekend!

    1. Thank you, Tammy. It’s been a rough week. 😆 I’m so over this pandemic! I hope you have a nice weekend. We’re about to go out and play in the winter cold fun!

  7. Oh my goodness, that is so tough. First of all, trying to do your own work while parenting is so hard! Add virtual schooling on top of that and it is an impossible pressure cooker. Your metaphor is so apt!

    I’m sorry for the hard week. I love how you always use your experience to roll into a plan but that perpetual motion is not easy to come by and you have my full empathy and support! I love your walks outside inside of gym! Yes!!

    We haven’t seen Encanto yet – but now I’m really looking forward to it. Hoping you all have a great weekend!

    1. Thanks Wynne. It’s been a rough week. I hate virtual learning so much. It really tests my patience and will. 😆

      Encanto is a fantastic movie with such a fantastic message. I bet your daughter will enjoy it! I think your son may be too young to get the message but he will enjoy the lovely animation and lively music, I bet!

      Enjoy your weekend as well!

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