Thursday, August 14, 2014

Karate Gus

Gus has been going to karate for a while now. It'll be a month tomorrow. We've had a few ups and downs along the way and went so far as to be totally unsure if karate was the right choice for him.

The first couple of classes were hit or miss. However, the one constant thing was Mr. Burns. A few weeks ago, we decided to take Gus to the Saturday class since we had a Build and Grow clinic that same morning, we figured, we'd do karate from 9-9:30 and just head over to Lowe's after for the 10am clinic. The class was a huge mistake.

Not only was Gus not cooperating, but the instructors did not know how to deal with him. Mr. Burns was not there, and Mr. Yu and Mr. Park were the two that ran the class. Their style is so different from Mr. Burns. We left the class feeling unsure if karate was going to work for Gus, and embarrassed by Gus's behavior. They were working on stranger-danger and it was clear that neither instructor wanted to work with Gus one-on-one. :-(

That next Tuesday, we came to class with Gus and Mr. Yu asked to speak to Steve to find out if we had decided to sign him up or not. We had discussed it over the weekend and said we were not comfortable with paying a lot of money for something that we weren't sure was a good fit. Steve told Mr. Yu that we needed more time to decide if Karate Atlanta was the right place for Gus.

After class, Mr. Burns approached us and asked us if he could speak to us in his office. I immediately felt a sense of dread... like he was going to say, "thanks, but no thanks." He had us sit down and asked how we felt Gus was doing in karate. He then said that he liked having Gus in the program and felt that he could handle Gus's needs. We openly discussed how we felt that weekend and like no one wanted to work with Gus. He said that not everyone is capable of dealing with preschoolers, much less preschoolers like Gus. He was saying without saying it, to not bring him when he couldn't be there to teach the class.

He then asked about how we felt about things. We were very honest and said that we think it'd be a great thing for Gus, but it takes time and a lot of patience for them to work with him. We said we felt embarrassed and sad for Gus on Saturday when no one wanted to work with him. Mr. Burns said to never feel embarrassed by what Gus does-- they can handle him and the last thing we should worry about is being embarrassed by who Gus is. He said that he hopes we'll keep Gus coming because he's learning from Gus and Gus is making him a better instructor. Made me like him even more than I already did.

So we decided to sign him up for classes. The week before school started he was having some issues. Last Tuesday (not this past Tuesday) he decided he didn't want to go at all. He threw a fit and then at karate he refused to wear his belt and was crawling under the chairs. It was horrible. Mr. Burns took away Gus's belt. He didn't participate at all and sat out the entire class. Then last Thursday, he crawled around under the chairs for a bit, but eventually came out and participated.

This past week, he started school and I told Steve that we might have to miss this week. He gets up at 5:45am and by 4pm, he's exhausted. Thankfully, on Tuesday he had an okay class. He started off not wanting to take his shoes or socks off, but was able to turn it around and go out and participate. He earned a black stripe for his belt for completing his turtle picture, and he turned in five "High Five Awards" and got another black stripe. However, he didn't have his belt, so couldn't put it on anything. He asked Mr. Burns for his belt back and Mr. Burns said no. Not until a full class was completed.

Then today, I was fully expecting the worse. It's Thursday of the first week back, and the "fun" of going back to school has worn off. I thought for sure that today would be difficult and he'd refuse to go to karate. Hugh had just fallen asleep at 3pm and when Gus came in from school, I asked him about karate. He wanted to go.

So at 3:30 I got Hugh up and we headed to karate. Gus didn't fight at all, went out and sat and waited for the class to begin, and had the best class ever. He was doing such a great job that he got to break a board... TWICE!!

And of course, I have two videos of the boards being broken. (Email subscribers-- there are videos on this post on the actual blog)

I was so happy for Gus today. Not only did he have a great class with full participation, but he earned his belt back, AND got a green stripe for his belt!!! Totally unexpected! He also earned a high-five award!! It was a fantastic class and I hope we've reached the turning point where he'll be enjoying it and wanting to go from now on! He certainly felt good after class and was very proud of himself.

The kids will be testing for their next belts coming up this month. I don't think Gus is ready for his yet. No one has informed us about him testing, so I think he'll be staying right where he is for a bit. I'm okay with going slow... as long as he's having fun and learning each week, we're happy. :-)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Back to School!

The summer really seemed to go by so quickly. The days of sleeping in and doing whatever we felt like doing were so fun, but toward the end of last week, we were all starting to feel like it was time to get back into a routine. I know for some people, not having a set schedule and just going about your day however it comes, works. For us, we need a schedule and we need structure. Gus thrives on being able to predict what'll happen next, and when he doesn't have a set routine, things can get very chaotic and frustrating for everyone.

We had his "Sneak Peek" last Thursday and up until the time we left for this event, we did not know who his teacher was. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. For the K-5 kiddos that attend that school as their base or home school, sure, I get the thrill of posting the teacher assignments on the windows and letting the kids find out at the same time which teacher they'll have for the year.

As a parent of a special needs preschooler at that school, it did not sit well with me that I had no idea who our teacher was before going to the school. It would have been VERY nice and VERY helpful to be able to work with Gus on who his teachers are, and to practice their names. I know his teachers have known who was in their class for at least a week, so they could have sent an email to introduce themselves. They chose not to and it's quite disappointing.

Steve's always said it, but being a former teacher is going to be the worst thing ever for my kids. I guess my expectations are higher than most parents because I know what I used to do as a teacher. I know that it takes less than five minutes to send out a welcome email, or to send a postcard to my students (back when I had over 25 kids and no assistant) to share how excited I was to have them in my class. I know how easy it was to create a website where I could share our class schedule for the parents.

None of those things have happened, and Gus is in GA PreK. I have higher hopes for when he starts kindergarten at Abbotts next year.

So anyway, we got to the Sneak Peek and had to do this treasure hunt of sorts... go to the media center and fill out a bus card. Did anyone know if I needed a bus card since Gus was in GA PreK and not going to be attending MBES as his base school? Of course not. No one had a clue and there were no instructions anywhere about out of zone families and if they needed their "golden ticket" to leave the media center or not.

We then had to go to the cafeteria and there were a lot of things to do... sign up for a "runapalooza" shirt for Gus, sign up for the PTA, get his spirit wear, and then stand in a long line to turn in his residency affidavit, that we already did when we registered in July. No one knew if I needed to resumit or not, but I decided to do it again just in case they lost it. 

Then we got to attempt to find his class. None of the halls were labeled for PreK... there was 5th and 4th, 3rd and 2nd, and 1st and Kindergarten, but nothing for the GAPreK classrooms (there are two). After wandering up and down halls, we finally found his room and went inside. We were the only ones there and when I signed in, there were 19 other names filled in and we were last. 

Gus enjoyed seeing his new classroom and liked meeting his teachers. He has two teachers this year, one is a regular education teacher (Ms. F) and the other is a special education teacher (Ms. B). They were both eager to meet him and enjoyed talking to him.

Then the OT came by and we got to meet her. Gus will be having OT services each Friday with her and we're excited for these to begin!!

We said our goodbyes and headed out. On the way I decided to take a picture of Gus with the giant mural that they've got in front of their library.

On Monday, we woke Gus up at 5:45am (yes... that's his new wake-up time) and he was excited to go to school. His bus driver is the same one that he had at LWES, so he was eager to see Mr. S. 

Over the weekend, Steve helped me make a "First/Last Day of School" frame that we can use each year until the boys are seniors in high school. It was pretty inexpensive and easy to make. 

Here are the "First Day of School GAPreK" pictures that I took of Gus:

The "first" part is on chalkboard, so I can erase and write "Last" in May and we'll see the growth over the year. I also took a picture of him in front of the door so we'll be able to see how much taller he grew over the course of the school year.

It is SO DARK at 6:15am (his bus pick-up time)

Gus and Mr. S

Big boy off to school!!
It was sad to see him off, but he was excited and didn't cry, so we didn't cry. I had a MOMS Club® chapter meeting to attend at 10, so Hugh and I did that while Steve worked from home. After our meeting, we came back and picked up Steve and the three of us went on a nice little lunch date. We've never been out just the three of us (without Gus), so it was a nice treat. 

We got home and put Hugh down for a nap and before we knew it, it was time to go out and get Gus from the bus. 

He was all smiles and said he had a great first day of school! Here's to a wonderful year full of success and fun!!