Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Little Excited About Thanksgiving

My Peter, a food lover, regards Thanksgiving Day as heaven on earth. To say he's a bit excited is an understatement; the boy can't get it off his mind. Yesterday he wrote two recipes and handed them to me with great pride. Today he made construction paper leaves as a centerpiece for the table, topping them with a small pumpkin in the center.

Something to make you smile below--especially his measurings.

Peter's homemade Thanksgiving gravy


4 tespons peper
1 tespon garlik sat
1 cup water
4 tespoons meat dropings


In small pot mix in ingredents. Ster till done.

Serve imedinley. Duble for mor than 4 pepol.

Peter's Green Bens

4 cups fresh gren bens
1 cup butter
1/2 tespon sallt

Chop bens, put in stemer, mix with butter and salt.


When Peter first brought his recipes to me, I was delighted by his enthusiasm, but appalled by his spelling--which in first drafts, is easily 2+ years behind. It's hard to witness his first drafts and not despair.

I remember several months back when he began showering instead of bathing. No longer interested in tub toys, he wanted to get in there, get the job done, and get out. He loved the hot water and the time alone to relax.

Not having any supervision, however, meant that at first he found the washing process confusing. I explained the process as a top-down regimen. Hair, then face and ears, then neck and armpits, etc.

He began having fits every night. Horrible fits. I couldn't understand how these steps could be so overwhelming to him. It seemed so easy to me, to think of it as top down, washing everything.

Finally, after a couple weeks, I posted a list high on the bathroom wall, next to the shower. The fits stopped. About six weeks later the list fell down, from too much moisture on the tape. I replaced it, but he told me he no longer needed it.

Lately, when we tackle the misspelled words from his writing, he tells me, "I'm sorry, I knew that wasn't the right spelling."

Remembering the shower incidents, I had an epiphany, of sorts. The problem wasn't that he couldn't spell. He just couldn't spell and write at the same time. He had to focus his brain on one or the other, because of the ADHD.

Now that I have a second special-needs child, I'm learning new lessons.

Each Sunday morning, watching my arthritic daughter walk down the school hall where our church rents space, I ache for the time, not so long ago, when she scurried down a hallway like any other toddler or preschooler. Now she looks....well, handicapped--especially since it's morning and her gait is at its worst.

This morning I saw something new in her gait and had a moment of panic. Was her right ankle now affected? Why was she swinging her leg around like that, before planting it?

Everyone who looked at her was smiling. Yes, they noticed her unusual gait, but they didn't focus on it. Instead, they focused on her gorgeous smile, and the fact that she looked insanely happy.

Her smile, the Holy Spirit said to me. Focus on her smile. It was as if he was telling me, she's not suffering like you think. She's taking this in stride because of my grace. Believe in my ability to provide her with divine grace, beyond your understanding. I love her mightily, and I will care for her. The situation is never as it seems to you, on the outside looking in.

Beth, it is true, is the best candidate (of all my children) to have a chronic pain disorder. She has a lovely, shining, sweet spirit. She seeks happiness and laughter always.

Our task as mothers--whether our kids are special needs or not--is to focus on what makes our children shine. What makes them beautiful? What gifts do they have, instilled in them by a loving God, who made them fearfully and wonderfully?

We always have a choice: focus on their weaknesses, or focus on what makes them special in the eyes of their Father, at the work of His hands. Addressing weaknesses and focusing on weaknesses are two different things.

If I didn't have two special-needs children, I don't know that I would have this clarity, this often. would occur to me on occasion, sure, but not like this. There are many gifts in disability, and I think I'm just brushing the surface.

photo credit


Terri H said...

OK, I love those recipes. I will gladly eat the green beans, not so sure about the gravy. ;)

Wonderful epiphanies, both of them! Thinking about his spelling, have you used a word bank with him? It could be just a notebook with common words that he uses written on pages by their first letter. I know you work on spelling as a regular subject, but maybe he could use this tool when he's doing other writing?

I always found it difficult to teach spelling when I was in the classroom. Students who got 100% on spelling tests were poor spellers in daily writing. As I consider how I will teach my son, I am almost positive that I will order All About Spelling to use with him. I wish I would have had something as good in the classroom!

Christine said...

Hi Terri,

I used wordbanks in the classroom and tried them with Peter, both in a notebook next to him, and on the wall. They caused fits, because he can only do one step at a time. First, the thoughts on paper. Then take a break. Then the punctuation, then some spelling correction. It has been a long process with a lot of hard lessons, but now I know to break everything up into separate steps.

I think I have that book, All About Spelling. Is it yellow and softback?

Terri H said...

All About Spelling is a whole curriculum: It's hands-on, multi-sensory, etc.

Well I figured you'd tried it, but it was the first thing that came to mind. Good for you for finding the way that writing works for him!

Christine said...

Terri, I checked the link the other day and thought it sounded good. I didn't realized it was a whole curriculum. I have a book that might be similar called Words Their Way, and a few others by Pat Cunningham. It also sounds similar to what I am using now--no spelling tests, systematic instruction of phonics chunks, multi-sensory. No money to change now, but if he doesn't make progress on what I'm using, I'll look into this for next year. Thank you!