Monday, March 13, 2006

In Which Ben Gives the Doctor an Easter Egg

First, the educational portion of our blog post today--from Wikipedia . . .

Easter Egg (virtual):
A virtual Easter egg is a hidden message or feature in an object such as a movie, book, CD, DVD, or computer program. The term draws a parallel with the custom of the Easter egg hunt observed in many western nations. The term may falsely be believed to originate in the movie Return of the Living Dead, where a military officer uses it as a code word for lost U.S. government containers of zombies created by a chemical spill, or from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, in which actual Easter eggs are visible in certain shots (under Frank N. Furter's throne, for example). Return of the Living Dead was not released until 1985, and Atari's Adventure, released in 1980, contained what is thought to be the first video game easter egg (the programmer, Warren Robinett's name).

In computer programming, the underlying motivation is probably to put an individual, almost artistic touch on an intellectual product which is by its nature standardised and functional, although Warren Robinett's motivation was more likely to gain recognition, since video game programmers were routinely uncredited then. It is analogous to signature motifs such as Diego Rivera including himself in his murals or Alfred Hitchcock including himself in the opening scenes of his movies (the latter known as a cameo). For example, Most DVD releases of George Lucas' films include blooper reels or hidden videos that can only be accessed by entering "1138" on the DVD remote when the "THX" logo has been highlighted. This is an in-joke referring to his first film, THX 1138.

We started the day by taking the kids to preschool. None of us could breathe, but otherwise we felt fine, so we went. It was my goal to watch the whole morning since rumor had it that one of the new kids to the preschool was creating, um, disorder, and the preschool wasn't handling it as well as might be hoped. After fifteen minutes I was staring in astonishment as this kid was really something else. I've met his Mom--I don't get the feeling that this is a discipline issue. This is a wired-a-little-different issue or a not-yet-ready-for-peer-groups issue. It was an hour before the kid calmed down enough to stop launching himself at the other kids or their projects.

For the next 90 minutes he was slightly better. Although he still couldn't participate with the rest of the class for more than five mintues at a time--at least he'd stopped assaulting the other kids.

Unable to breathe and feeling sleep deprived, I really didn't care what the school decided to do. It was clear to me that the school wasn't providing the environment I liked anymore and I sat there sort of slowly turning over the alternate options in my mind. Regular playdates with other kids, a different preschool, what? I wasn't upset, just not in the mood to "work this out." Y'all go work it out. We put in lots and lots of "work it out" hours with Max and I never got one minute of satisfaction from it. I got excuse after excuse after excuse. So sue me if I just don't care to hear the excuse this time around.

Chris can breathe and seems to think we ought to give them a chance to turn things around. Fine. Party pooper. However, he agrees that we really don't play the "let's help you be a better school" game anymore. There needs to be rapid response and improvement. It's not about the kid--let me be clear there. There are only three solutions here. 1) Remove the kids he's attacking. 2) Decide he's not ready for preschool and remove him. 3) Modify the way you're interacting with the child when there is physical contact involved. I'm not really complaining about the first time he launches himself at another kid. 4-yr-olds are unpredictable people and he did demonstrate that it's possible for him to go 90-minutes without launching himself at another kid. What upset me was that he was given the opportunity to do it again, and again, and again with the only consequence being a somewhat rewarding walk down the hall at random intervals.

Chris was saying, "Well, if we move them, there will just be another kid like this at the new place" and my thought was that once again, I'm reminded that things were BETTER for my son when I brought him back home when he was very young. I am simply not sold on the idea that it's important for preschool-aged kids to be in hours-long peer groups.

I'm going to be totally upfront here--we're seriously considering enrolling Max in a charter school next year. One of the reasons I'm okay with considering this is that we're going into it with the assumption that we're taking this one year at a time. Charter school for fifth could still be followed by a complete return to homeschooling in 6th. Another is that he's doing so well in everything except writing that he can afford to "lose" a year if the academic side ends up being pathetic. In writing he's at grade level but would probably benefit from the competition of classmates. Finally--I'm really happy with the PERSON Max has become. Homeschool research supports me with statistics showing that children who do not enter public school until third grade are, as a group, far more resistent to peer pressure. They are also, even in cases where an academic deficiency exists, very likely to ultimately succeed well in institutionalized school. They get what that book is for. Plus, so far, I like this charter school. Small classes, excited teachers, new desks. (Hey, I was a public school teacher--new desks is nothing to sneer at! Ooh! And pretty new whiteboards! And carpeting--which is too bad as carpeting in a classroom is just a glitter debacle waiting to happen.)

Ben and Milo are often complimented on their ability to get along with other kids. They are happy people who enjoy the company of other kids their age. They won't miss out on anything if I remove them from the company of a bully as long as I take steps to provide them with the supervised company of non-bullies. I really don't think I owe anyone at this school a chance to "get it right." I've seen this kid chuck large plastic objects at (and hit) the head of his classmates twice--AFTER having launched himself at the same kid just moments before. No, it's not my responsibility to tell the preschool they need to fix things or we'll leave.

We may still give them that chance, but I want to make it clear that we don't owe the school anything. They charge us a fee and we pay it. (It's a really reasonable fee, but hey . . .) I signed them up for speech therapy, not "how to live through a physical assualt" therapy.

:::hair flip:::

But they do get a second chance, so this is still To be continued . . .

Right, so we left there and drove home and I made appointments for Milo and I to go see the doctor about the whole lack of oxygen issue. I decided to bring Ben, too--as he's not as sick as us, but I wanted the visual evidence when I explained how it was that I was running through Milo's albuterol at twice the rate I should.

I did some work, then the twins and I headed over to the medical center. We didn't have to wait long. We all got weighed, except Ben because he wasn't on the schedule. We got into the waiting room and filled the nurse in on the situation. She went out and spoke to the doctor and got Ben added to the schedule. We'd already been squeezed in, so my apologies to the people who had to wait unusually long there this afternoon because of us.

At this point the doctor came in and began debriefing us on the situation. He looked in Milo's ears and made him say Ah, and listened to Milo's musical breathing. Milo won a refill of his albuterol prescription and a bottle of prednisone. I got my ears looked at and I said Ah and I wheezed for the doctor and I got more albuterol, prednisone, and some coditussin. The nurse came back in and said she needed to weigh Ben now that he was on the schedule. I said she could of course, or I could save her the trouble and tell her that Ben is 1/2 lb greater than Milo and a 1/4 inch taller. She looked like she wanted to write that down so I added that I really had no idea (and she needed the real number if they were going to go writing doses) since I'm not in the habit of weighing them, but that is their usual difference. She trotted Ben down the hall and I heard her announce a moment later that Ben was 43.5 lbs--1/2 lb heavier than Milo to the ounce. Milo high-fived me (at my request).

So now it was Ben's turn. Doctor looked in Ben's ears, paused, looked in his ears again, asked if Ben had anything . . . in . . . his ears. Like, maybe tubes or something? I said, that the kid tended to have a lot of ear wax but there shouldn't be anything manmade in there. Doctor looked again and looked puzzled. He shrugged and moved on. After confirming that Ben needed some drugs, too, he said his eyes were getting old and he would just be right back . . .

He returned with the young pretty doctor with the bright red hair and she looked in Ben's ear. "Toothpaste!" toothpaste? "Nothing else could be that shade of blue!" How . . . we didn't know. Ben started to offer a story about the toothpaste and the doctors were listening intently. Recognizing the look on Ben's face I shook my head. "That's his Lend me your ear and I'll tell you a tale face," I said. The doctors looked bummed. It was a good story. Personally, I think the aliens should have tipped them off, but maybe they thought he meant unnationalized citizens.

By now the waiting room was probably forcing people to sit on each other's laps, so the doctors went away and the nurse came back and she and I proceeded to spend 40 minutes trying to flush this thing out of Ben's ears. It wasn't toothpaste. It was blue paper. Maybe a sticker. I thought it looked suspiciously like blue painter's tape--it had that textured look. It came out in teeny tiny pieces, occasionally bringing with it a large gob of earwax that had become stuck to the paper. We have to go back in a week as his ear got to the point where it was very irritated, but we think the adhesive "backing" is still in there. Something is still in there--although a LOT came out of there and at least there's a clear path to the ear drum. "He can hear clearly now, the blue is gone . . ."

Anyway, we left there with a wad of scripts in hand and went to the grocery store where we picked up frozen convenience items layered in fat for dinner and basically killed time drinking chocolate milk and chatting up complete strangers. Eventually the prescriptions were ready and we went home. Food was cooked, medicine consumed--I feel a little less violent (boy I get testy when my saturation levels are low) although it would be stretching it to say that I'm 100% again.

Tomorrow Max and I have a full day together and then I have some catching up to do with work.

And that is all I have to say about that.


Kim said...

Blue paper, huh? I've seen raisins, corn and broken crayon* bits - but never ripped up paper. What goes through a child's mind at any given moment?

*The crayon found an ear home after a quick explanation of crayon wax and ear wax. I have since learned to temper my explanations, depending on the child.

Feel better soon!

Eliza said...

Now you can run after him saying "I know you can hear me now!"?

Blue something in the ear, huh? I hope it wasn't a Blue's Clue.

Dy said...

Oh. Alaska. I'm sorry I'm laughing, but I can't stop. Only parents and family doctors can appreciate this stuff! I'm glad he can hear, and hopefully the wax will keep the adhesive from sticking too much longer.

Good luck on figuring out what to do next. There's always some decision that needs to be made when you're the grown-up. It took me a long while to quit thinking, "OK, this one LAST choice and then we're set! Auto Pilot, here we come!" Well, I still dream of that, but I've accepted that it's not gonna happen.

I've looked and looked and looked, and I cannot find your email addy. Where is it hiding?! Anyhow, I haven't been ignoring you, I've just become completely incompetent as of late. *sigh* So, here's mine: tbowmommy at yahoo dot com. :-)


Tammy said...

It sounds to me like you had a full day at the preschool. I feel for you!!
For all the answers to the questions you have about preschool visit The Powerful Preschool Handbook