Monday, December 31, 2018

A Look Back At Kai's First Semester of High School, and New Year's Mochi

This time of year is a great time to reflect back while also looking ahead.

2018 was a significant year for Kai as he graduated from middle school and began high school. After eight and a half years at a therapeutic school, his return to a regular school for high school has been mostly successful. He seems to be doing well in his classes - it looks like he will earn A's in English, reading, science, and history plus a B in algebra for his first semester. Though his classes are considered to be "fundamentals" and seem to be very basic. We worry that these classes won't offer him the opportunity to attend college, but that will be a discussion we need to have with his school.

Besides grades, though, our biggest concern going in was whether or not Kai would be able to handle the environment of a much larger school. In that regard, his transition has been relatively successful. His classes are all within a self-contained special ed program so he is getting a lot of support. While Kai is making gains in many areas, he still struggles when his environment becomes ambiguous and unpredictable. He especially struggles with socialization, preferring to exercise control over things and not wanting to have direct collaboration with peers. We were hoping that attending a regular school would expose him to more socialization opportunities but he has little desire to socialize with others, and while we encouraged him to join extracurricular clubs to expand his high school experiences, the few he tried haven't gone particularly well.

The best 'extra' experiences have been those we enjoyed together with him, such as at a couple of his school's football games.

Kai's cousins are part of the marching band and Kai enjoyed seeing them in the halftime performances.

Most kids go to the games with their friends, not their parents. Not sure if that is something that Kai will want to do in the coming few years.

I have a feeling that in terms of socialization, progress will be slower than we had hoped. But as Kai goes into his second semester of high school, let's see if can be more comfortable in ambiguous situations.

* * * * * *

A Japanese tradition is to make mochi for New Year's. As Santa brought us a mochi maker this Christmas, we made our mochi for the first time.

My wife used the mochi machine to cook the sweet rice and then knead and pound it. (In the old days, pounding the rice was a manual process and part of the ritual of making mochi.) My wife took the mochi out of the machine.

She then showed me and Kai how to shape the mochi into individual pieces.

And then it was our turn to try.

With our own machine, we can make mochi whenever we want to and don't have to make too much at one time.

We had some for lunch today and will have more tomorrow with our ozoni, the Japanese soup containing mochi rice cakes that is part of the Japanese New Year tradition.

Happy New Year!
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