Retracing Our Footprints

I spent last weekend filing documents that have piled up over five years.

Being a parent is a full time job on top of a job.

Being a special needs parent is like having an extra job on top of parenting – managing school and service appointments, taking your child to appointments, keeping track of reports and doing your best to follow up on recommendations.

So much paperwork has piled up from the last five years from school – e.g. IEPs, report cards, T’s lovely work – and medical and community services – e.g. therapy reports, T’s recent diagnosis.

I’m usually organized, but with the pandemic and the added job of managing Ma’s appointments, I’ve had no energy to organize the clutter.

Last Saturday, I hunkered down for an afternoon and sorted through the mess.

And this was the result:

T’s work from preschool and kindergarten were sorted into their own bags and binder. It was a joy seeing his artwork and scribbles/printing – reminding me that progress is steady.

I filed reports from elementary school – IEPs, safety plans, report cards – into one binder, in chronological order, because I’m anal retentive.

His most important documents – adoption papers, our wills, his therapy and diagnosis reports – were sorted into a filing accordion ($3 from the dollar store!) so they’re in one place.

And the most therapeutic part – I ended up with a pile of documents I could put in the shredder!

Celebrate and Remember Every Milestone and Hurdle

It was therapeutic to look back at the things that consumed our thoughts.

This was a goals document we prepared for a meeting with T’s developmental therapist, a service provided before he started pre-school.

It was humbling to see how our use of language has evolved. Our perspective of “bad” has changed into one that recognizes these are challenges.

This was a growth chart his developmental pediatrician provided during his first assessment that resulted in a prognosis of at risk FASD.

It’s funny to think back about how I obsessed over how his height and weight was compared to the average peer. At some point, I stopped worrying.

It’s like how we are now motivated to help T move up his reading levels – but also recognize he will do so at his own pace.

This “FASD: Strategies Not Solutions” booklet was provided during a parenting workshop hosted by the Children’s Aid Society.

I put it on my bedside table as something to re-read over the coming weeks.

The best part of the filing exercise was coming across so many wonderful photos from T’s toddler and preschool years in Montessori.

He was just starting his school experience. He was so small and innocent. Things seemed so much simpler back then.

Then I stumbled across the letter from the administrator of the Montessori telling us that T was not invited to apply for the Fall term – what would’ve been junior kindergarten – because of his challenging behaviour.

I didn’t feel the rage I felt when the incident first happened. I felt peace and gratitude.

His school life continues to have ups and downs – but that incident redirected T to public school and he is all the better because of it.

So I’m sticking my tongue out again at those stupid Montessori administrators. Shame on you.

It was very satisfying to get the filing work done.

That evening, the hubby, T and I enjoyed a long walk. On the way back home, we stopped by the local Vietnamese restaurant and picked up Pho and spring rolls as our weekend treat.

24 thoughts on “Retracing Our Footprints

  1. I used to teach a class titled “What to do with all the Stuff?” IEPs, notes, progress reports, Dr. info – UGH! But I am glad I saved everything, didn’t listen to my own training – because the result was a book about Jess and I had so much material to support our story – great post-

    1. Thanks Vickie. His Grade 1 teacher just sent home all the stuff from the last year. We whittled it down to a manageable pile – just storing a sample of each type of work to trace the progress and memories. I agree that it’s so important to keep all these things for memories! 😊

    1. Sounds like a storage closet may be in order! 😆 I am sure that she will appreciate all the wonderful memories when she gets older.

  2. It had to be so gratifying getting everything organized and seeing how far T has come. Of course a big part of that success is having two Dad’s that support him so much!

    1. Thanks Diane. It’s very gratifying for sure. Now there’s another pile that’s starting. I’ll deal with it in five years. 😂

  3. Celebrate and Remember Every Milestone and Hurdle. Love and truly enjoyed reading your post. Remembering our Kids childhood, not only bring good memories but give a sense of gratitude and pride of what we and our kids have accomplished. All the hard work , the love and patience had been very fruitful and productive. Oh, part of my family’s fav celebration food too are Vietnamese Soup and Fried Spring Rolls. It’s just so comforting and delicious.

    1. The memories – good and hardships – are truly what give us the fuel to move forward. 😊 I may just get another bowl of pho tonight as well! I remember enjoying a delicious bowl during my visit to San Fran. It was reputed to be famous chef Julia Child’s Favourite Vietnamese establishment.

  4. Sounds like you had a very productive weekend sorting, organizing and filing T’s paperwork from school. It must have been neat to see how much he’s evolved over the past few years. It’s also funny how our perspective change over time too. P.S. I love T’s “Papa Don’t Preach” shirt.

    1. Thanks Linda. I would’ve rather done a nature hike but it was a much needed task and I’m glad it’s done. 😆 The shirt was an adoption shower gift from a colleague who knows I love Madge. 😊

  5. Getting things organized does feel good, and looking at those different folders of yours feels somewhat therapeutic for me. You know, that policy at the Montessori makes me think there must be other kids apart from T who have been treated this way. This certainly is counterproductive to their development, and this is ironically contrary to what education is supposed to be. I hope they reevaluate this policy and make necessary adjustments to prevent this from happening again.

    1. Thanks Bama. I’m one of those people who gets therapy from organizing and I totally hear yah on the different folders. 😂 The policy is very contrary to the principles of Maria Montessori who founded the idea of these types of schools and learning. But alas, it all ended up working out for the best. 😊

  6. I love this post. Everyone has taken steps forward. Not just T. You and your hubby, educators, therapists…so awesome to see! I lovenTs hair in the one photo too!!!!

    1. Thanks you Rebecca! Taking steps forward, as you said, is what matters most at the end of the day. And it was crazy hair day at school that day. 😊

  7. Oh my goodness – I’m so pissed at that Montessori school! You might have recovered from your rage but mine is just starting. But I hear you that it’s great you landed where you are. Still – they are poorer for that decision.

    And I so need to do this – thank you for the inspiration! And the funny thing about those growth charts – I used to obsess over that too with my first but by the second, it’s all like “You’re fine!” 🙂

    1. Thanks Wynne! It was a very difficult few weeks processing that message especially when we still had a few more months to go in the program. A parent had complained to the board and this was how they handled it. Thankfully a public school has a different approach and perspective and not all driven by $$$.

      First born children do get it harder don’t they? 😆 Your son will appreciate the “You’re fine” approach!

  8. I can feel your sense of freedom, so to speak. At least that’s how I feel when things start to pile up. My mind tells me I want to keep “everything”, but then I get frustrated by the clutter even though I keep it neatly organized, especially when it came to the kid’s school stuff. So I held on to certain things that were milestones over the years & presented each of my children with scrapbooks on their 16th birthdays highlighting their accomplishments. They were in awe of the things I held & they’d forgotten about. Kudos to you my friend!

    1. Thanks Tammy. 😊 I love your scrapbook idea. I’m gonna do that cuz 16 is practically around the corner at the rate time is flying. I bet your kids really enjoyed that gift. I know I’ve hung onto my school work and it’s always a great revisiting them every few years. 😊

      1. With them preparing to enter into adulthood, my hope was that the scrapbook reminds them of how far they’ve come, good memories & lessons learned. A bit of everything, even a patch of hair from an incident my son had from not listening, lol. Now they share those books with their children.
        I love to revisit treasures too from time to time as a reminder to keep pushing forward.

      2. I love that they’re now sharing these memories with their own children too. How wonderful!

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