Summer School Lessons

Today was Caden’s last day of summer school speech therapy! I was really dreading these three weeks of interrupted and inconvenienced days, but the month flew by. I’m so glad we signed up for it because it was a great experience for Caden. I’m often worried about his lack of peer interaction and how he’s going to be able to handle being in a school setting. We’ve tried to do classes at the YMCA before and they’ve always turned into a disaster. I figured this would be the same, but thankfully it wasn’t. Caden was excited about going every single day. When I’d pick him up afterward I’d ask if he had fun today and he’d yell, “I always have fun at summer school!” He didn’t really appreciate all the questions I had about class each day, but it was clear that he enjoyed being there.

I wish I could say that I’ve noticed a huge increase in his speech abilities the past few weeks, but it doesn’t appear that much has changed. It almost feels like it’s getting even harder to understand him. He talks constantly, which is great, but it’s so difficult to decipher what he’s saying. It’s easier for me since I’m used to him talking to me nonstop all day, but it’s nearly impossible for a stranger to know what he’s saying. It’s pretty hard for anyone that doesn’t see him on a daily basis. He still has a lot of challenges ahead of him and it’s going to continue to cause frustrations for everyone, but for him especially. It makes me so sad when I hear other kids his age, without speech delays, and realize how far behind he really is. We’re all missing so much in these precious years because our communication is so stunted.

On a happier note, I’m so proud of him for trying. He does talk all day. He used to just grunt and make different indecipherable sounds to communicate what he wanted or how he felt. Now he’s using words. They may not be pronounced properly, but they’re words. He’s learning how to put sentences together properly. And some of the words that he’s always had the most trouble with are beginning to come out clearly. It’s a long process, but he’s getting there. I wish it were easier for him, but he’ll get there eventually. At least he’s not giving up.

I’ve learned a few summer school lessons of my own while Caden was in class every day. Most days, unless it was unbearably hot, Shepard and I would walk all around for that hour. Shepard would usually fall asleep pretty quickly so I had a silent hour to myself with nothing to do but walk and think. It was good exercise, but not always so great to be alone with my thoughts!

One of the main thing I realized in this past month is that my make new friend skills are worse than ever. I’ve always had a hard time making friends. I’m not outgoing, I never know what to say to people I’ve just met, and I’m always worried about what other people think of me. I feel like I’m a pretty good friend once people know the real me, but I don’t have many friends to prove that to anymore. Making and keeping friends becomes a whole lot harder when you quit working and stay home with your children. It becomes even worse when you move to a new city and can’t seem to find any easy way to meet people. Even with the perfect opportunity – standing and waiting with the same set of parents before and after summer school fifteen days in a row – I wasn’t able to cross the line into friendship with any of them. I’m frustrated with myself. I so envy the people that can find things to talk about with anyone. I’m not one of those people and I never will be. Making new friends feels impossible right now.

I’ve also realized during my daily walks how badly I want my own house again. And how impossible that feels as well. We’re years away from owning a house again. For the most part I’m happy with our apartment. I love how cheap the rent is compared to our last mortgage. I love that Greg doesn’t have to waste so much time mowing and shoveling and taking care of so many jobs around the house. But I miss having a private yard. I miss being able to sit outside without a bunch of people in other apartments watching me. I miss being able to make changes to my home to make it more personal. I hate white walls and I hate how all crammed up all our closets are. When I took my daily walks I’d look at all those houses and think about lucky all those families are. Sometimes I wish we had never owned a house in the first place and then maybe I wouldn’t know what we were missing! I feel like we’re cheating Caden and Shepard out of so many memories because they don’t have that yard to play in. By the time we have a house they’ll be in school and it won’t really matter anymore. We’ll have more space, but they’ll barely be home to enjoy it the way they could now. Anyway, I’m starting to ramble, so I’ll stop. I know it’s not the space that makes the home, it’s the family. But that can’t fully stop me from being jealous of homeowners. I miss it.

I’ve really been in a funk the past few weeks. I’m not blaming it on summer school, just this month and the awful heat of summer, I guess. In June I was feeling like my life was really on track. I was getting really excited about photography and learning new things. I was making plans, having fun, and feeling hopeful about life. This month my back hurts a lot again, I’m so tired, and I can’t find much motivation for anything. I need to find my way out of this rut fast.

So anyway – that has been our month of summer school. Caden loved interacting with other kids and learning new sounds every day. I think his favorite days were the ones where he got to make art projects. It was good for all of us to practice following a more strict schedule rather than just doing whatever we wanted any time of day like before. I actually had a healthy meal on the table by 11:00 every day, which I don’t think has ever consistently happened before! Shepard now knows how to fall asleep after ten minutes of stroller walking and to go back to sleep without complaint right when we get back home at 1:00. I’ve learned that walking is a very pleasant exercise, though I’m not too fond of doing it at noon, in July, when the temperatures have been near 100 degrees every day! I’ve also learned that it’s okay to still have dreams of friendship and home ownership, but to try and be content with where I am right now. My kids need me the most now and I’m here. We may not have the ideal living situation, but at least we have each other. Life is full of struggles and we all have our own to deal with. You just have to keep on pushing through!

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