Monday, June 29, 2015

The Start of Middle School, and Strawberry Picking

Kai has been in middle school for two weeks now. Well, the summer school version of middle school anyway.

In the summer, they have light academics in the morning, followed by fun activities in the afternoon. These activities have included going to the pool twice, a cooking lesson, a visit to a video arcade, and trips to Little India, Little Village (Mexican), and today, to Little China.

So it's been fun for him. And so far he's torn up only one shirt, and has yet to say too many mean things about the staff. Considering he's had to transition to a new routine, building, staff, and mostly different students, we'll take it.

Though the bigger test will come in the fall when more demands are placed on him.

This weekend we made our annual visit to Thompson's Strawberry Farm just over the border in Wisconsin. Every year it seems harder for me and my wife as our backs ache more and more while bending over to pick the strawberries. We wonder how many more years we'll be able to do this.

But Kai seemed to enjoy it. While my wife and I went hunched over, up and down the long rows of strawberry plants, Kai mostly settled down in one spot.

This year, he actually picked some berries that didn't just go straight into his mouth and we ended up with three boxes altogether.

As long as Kai keep enjoying coming up here, we'll probably keep our tradition going.

We topped up our visit to the cheese state with another tradition -- lunch at The Brat Stop. We had brats with kraut and brown mustard, along with fried cheese curds. That tradition is a little easier on the back, and a treat for the taste buds. That may be incentive enough to come back up here next year.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

End of Elementary School

Kai finished up elementary school this past week and will start at the middle school for summer school tomorrow.

He was all smiles at his graduation ceremony, which was held three days before the actual end of school.

But on the last day of school, a day intended to be full of fun activities, Kai got upset. My understanding is that he got mad when his team lost in some sports competition.

As has happened so many times before, he took his anger out on the shirt he was wearing, ripping it completely in half.

That he did this during his last moments at the school seems fitting, as it was typical of the challenges we've endured the past 5 1/2 years.

In many ways, Kai has made a lot of progress and is a completely different child than when he first started at the school. But I think the end result of all of the ups and downs for me is that I am less optimistic now than ever before that Kai will be capable of leading any semblance of a "normal" life. The anger issues don't seem to go away. Academically, he seems to have made almost no progress in math in the past three years, going from a second grader who held his own in the 5th grade classroom for math to a 5th grader who struggles with math problems that are the least bit challenging.

The goal has always been that he go to college, get some type of job, and be able to live independently. I think I've started to lose hope of that over the past year especially.

So now he is on to middle school. His teacher and therapist there say that they've seen kids make remarkable progress when they go through middle school. I can only hope that Kai will be one of those kids.

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