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I almost cried this morning before I walked into work, all because I forgot my security badge.

I remembered so very many things this morning, but not my badge, which I would need to get into my office building.  Now I would have to walk all the way around to the front door, carrying the flower I remembered to stop and buy for a friend who needed cheering up and the lunch that I remembered to pack for myself this morning because our team was scheduled for a lunch mtg with the company partners.

Oh, and there was the cat poop scooper and cat toys I remembered to stop at the store and buy this morning for Zoolander’s Animal Shelter social studies project and there were the lunches and snacks and water I remembered to pack for my twice exceptional girls.  (Although, Lily forgot and left the snacks & water in the car.)

There were the spelling words I remembered to tell Zoolander to bring to the car this morning, so I could quiz her on the way to drop her sister off and the package I remembered to stop and pick up at the post office after we dropped her sister off.  There was the math app, PopMath, I remembered to download so Zoolander can practice her math facts on my phone.  Then, there was the text that I remembered to write for the High School Helper I just hired, telling her the plan for the afternoon. And there was the email I sent to the ADHD coach, giving her a heads up about what Lily might need to discuss with her at their appointment after school… gas for my car, trash out to the curb, pick up CSA veggies….

But wait, there’s much, much more… but I won’t go into that.  It’s just a long list of things to remember when you’re functioning as the frontal lobe for 3 people, while your husband is on an island cruise… working.  No, really.  He worked on a cruise ship last week.  I know.  I hate him too.  Oh, wait… no, this the week he was working at Crater Lake Nat’l Park in Oregon.

So, when I sat in the office parking lot this morning, gathering up all the things I remembered and discovering that I forgot my badge, my eyes stung and I remembered that I wish I had someone to remember things for ME.


John and I came upstairs after watching TV the other night and found a note hanging at eye-level in the kitchen doorway.


I laughed out loud and called into the other room to see if John had seen it.  “Yes,” he replied, “but I didn’t read it.”  I noticed Lily’s clever engineering, dangling the notebook at just the right height from the balcony above using fishing line.  Fishing line?  I didn’t even know we owned any fishing line.  I imagined Lily scurrying around quietly, carrying out her plan, while we thought she was asleep.  
Lily is always hatching some kind of strange but clever plan.  Sometimes, I’m not sure she consciously knows she’s planning something.  It’s like something inside her compels her to carry out these creative missions without any forethought.  She never tells us when one of her plans is underway, so then she gets frustrated if we unknowingly interrupt her or if say, Dad throws away the special stick she was saving to carve into a native American fishing spear, or we’ve moved (aka put away) the tape, glue, paper, pipe cleaners, etc. that she had planned to use for some masterpiece.
Last summer, Lily kept complaining about growing pains.  One day, when I dropped her off at daycare, I noticed a flash of purple peeking out of her socks.  I called her back to the car and discovered that her ankles were wrapped with purple duct tape.  “It makes my legs feel better and makes me run faster,” she told me.  She probably kept that tape around her ankles for a week.
This summer, we went away for the weekend as a family.  The first night, when we laid down in the hotel room, I noticed that Lily had a little plastic makeup bag she kept opening and sniffing.  Weird. When I asked her what she was doing, her little sister told me that Lily was smelling what was inside the bag to remind her of home.  Lily wouldn’t tell me what was in the bag, but she said that it relaxed her.  OhhhKaaay.  Whatever it was, I knew that somehow she secretly scrambled around the house to prepare it before we left. The girl can barely remember to put on shoes before we leave the house, but she sure didn’t forget to mix up some homemade spices and put them in a makeup bag so she could sniff them in a hotel room.  I still don’t know exactly what was in the bag and I guess I don’t really want to know, but when we came home I did find an empty jar of mustard seed.
Many of Lily’s mysterious plans involve cinnamon, lemon and the kitchen. I had to put a ban on her concoctions for awhile because of the messes she left behind.  She’s definitely not a ‘by the book’ cook.  She dreams up crazy drinks and soups that are actually pretty delicious.  One night, she was especially excited to have us sample the dessert she had made. She coated Honey Bunches of Oats with melted chocolate chips, put the mixture inside a biscuit-cutter to form it, sprinkled it with kosher salt and put it in the freezer to set up.  It was really good!
I came home from work this week and was greeted by Lily wearing a suit jacket and skirt and carrying a notebook and pen.  She told me that she was a newspaper reporter and wanted to interview me about the recent rash of bear visits in our neighborhood.  Later that night, she presented us with her newspaper article, which for a twice exceptional kid who has difficulty with writing because of her fine motor issues and Executive Function problems, was amazing.
Back to the skinny jeans–we bought her a few pair for school.  Lily puts her outfits together like she cooks.  Crazy combos that work, usually involving a jaunty hat and a poncho flourish.  She definitely has a funky style, but I know her skinny jean note was prompted by the approach of middle school.  Argh.

Dreading the start of middle school

The countdown is on.  The day I’ve been dreading all summer is just around the corner… Lily starts middle school in a week and a half.  I’ve heard that there are other parents who actually look forward to sending their kids back to school.  I can’t imagine that, because for me, the school year is a lot of hard work and with Lily starting middle school, it’s going to be even more stressful.

This morning, I set up a special visit to her new school.  I know Lily needs extra time to learn her way around.  We walked around to all her classrooms and she was okay for awhile, but eventually she got overwhelmed and started to get upset.  She wanted to know exactly how things were going to happen, where they were going to happen, when they were going to happen… starting with getting off the bus–step by step.  I tried to do that and she seemed to calm down.

We still have 6th-grade orientation and back-to-school night before the first day of school, so I’m hoping that helps.  I mean, this is a twice exceptional kid who has months of adjustment every school year and this is at the same elementary school she’s been attending since Kindergarten.  A new school, plus all the added Executive Function demands of middle school… could be a rough transition.

That’s actually an understatement.  I’ve been trying to plan for her middle school transition for more than a year.  I shopped around for public schools, got Lily several evaluations, found her a psychiatrist, a psychologist, taught myself to advocate for her at school using and the book Wrightslaw:  From Emotions to Advocacy, shopped around for private schools, wrote demanding letters, attended many meetings, helped write a Behavior Support Plan and helped write a comprehensive IEP.  Thousands of hours and dollars later, I feel like we have good support in place for her, but the real test comes in a couple of weeks….

Don’t Cry Over Spilled Wine: The Return from Camp

“Lily”, she wants to be called.  That’s her code name, “Lily”, my oldest twice exceptional daughter.  She’s 10.  My youngest daughter, 8, requested the faux name, “Zoolander”.  So now you know.

Anyway, “Lily” has been away at summer camp.  2 weeks.  Sleepover.  We missed her terribly and worried every day.  Would we get a call from camp because Lily was having trouble?  Maybe she would get upset about something and be unable to recover… What if there’s a change in plans, like horseback riding instead of swimming time, and Lily gets frustrated with the unexpected change?  What if there are rowdy games that are too loud and chaotic and Lily gets too overwhelmed?  What if the girls in her cabin are more socially advanced than Lily and she doesn’t fit in?  Maybe they talk about boys and pedicures and don’t get Lily’s quirky sense of humor or her interest in Corvettes & herbal remedies?

I don’t know.  We have to be prepared for a phone call, because whenever we get comfortable and expect that Lily will go through life like everyone else, we’re caught off guard by a phone call about Lily.

I didn’t leave any special instructions or tips for Lily’s camp counselors.  I felt like it was either all or nothing.  Sometimes, I think I should just write a ‘Guide to Lily” that I hand out to everyone who comes in contact with her.  But I know an instruction manual isn’t the answer.  I’d like Lily to eventually know herself well enough to be able to advocate for herself, to ask for what she needs to be more comfortable in the world.

We did receive a postcard from one of Lily’s counselors while she was gone.  It said that Lily is ‘definitely an amazing free spirit who isn’t afraid to explore and step out of her box.  She has really been into participating in Wilderness Exploration and loves to learn about plants.’  That didn’t surprise us.  Earlier in the summer, she pored over a book about edible plants and said she wanted to grow up to be the kind of witch who heals people with plants.We were relieved by the postcard.  Sounds like her counselors really get her… Lily is definitely ‘an amazing free spirit.’

When Lily saw the three of us walking up the path to her cabin she bolted toward us and plowed right into her sister, grabbed her and they hugged each other for a long time.  Lily told Zoolander, “I love you!”  Then she dragged us to her cabin.  She immediately showed us the bracelet she’d been awarded in a special ceremony the night before.  On it was a wine glass, tipped over with wine spilling out.  It was supposed to represent a trait and strength that each girl had demonstrated at camp.  Lily excitedly told us that her bracelet represented ‘adjustability’.  My throat immediately tightened.  I blinked to stop my eyes from stinging.

Lily’s counselor pulled me to the side and asked, “Does she have a hard time with loud noises at home?”  “Yes”, I answered.  “Well, she was amazingly flexible this week and just really worked hard on being adjustable and going with the flow.”  She seemed to be referring to a specific incident, but my mind was stuck, wondering… how did they know that flexibility is one of things that she has a hard time with and was something that we’ve been working on–regulating her emotional response to changes, part of her struggle with her Executive Functioning.  It still freaks me out that her college-age counselors showed such insight.  Do they train them to do that?

As we left, I watched carefully as Lily said goodbye to her bunk mates.  They all seemed to like her and I didn’t see anything unusual in their interactions.  Lily was over the moon the rest of the day, full of stories and songs about camp.  I asked her if the overturned wine goblet on her bracelet meant that she shouldn’t cry over spilled wine and she laughed.  She told us that the girls in her cabin were full of ‘drama’, but she did meet another girl who will be going to her middle school this fall, in the same grade.  One more familiar face to help with the transition… I hope.

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