It’s only Wednesday and I feel like this has been such a long week! Tonight I’m feeling a bit down, tired and a little overwhelmed. Ben’s fifth birthday is next Monday, so the festivities begin this Friday with a little party on the last day of school. This is really Ben’s first day of school in a while, because we decided to stop sending him a few weeks ago. Things have been complicated with his behavior in and out of school and his new dietary restrictions. His teachers have always assured us that he is an exemplary student, kind to the other kids, helpful, and a great listener. What had been happening at home after a day at school was the exact opposite. We knew he was eating white bread and ketchup sandwiches for lunch every day, in addition to candy and other snacks. As we began to send him to school fewer and fewer days each week, it became clear that it took him about three days to detox from the food and whatever else was causing his behavior. I’m most specifically referring to things like teeth grinding, aggression, and nonsense talk (seemingly uncontrollable). Our last effort to keep him in school involved asking his teachers to adopt the dietary guidelines we had begun at home: no grains, sugars, even fruits. It was obviously difficult for them to ensure that he didn’t get these things, and after one last bout of ketchup for lunch we decided that we’d had enough of the up and down and stopped sending him. Our party Friday is a way to have some closure with the school year, say thank you to his teachers, and goodbye to his friends.
Now that Ben is home he is doing really well with the dietary changes! I notice major shifts in certain aspects of his behavior, and without the impact of whatever was going on with his reaction to sugars and starches, his overall picture is becoming much clearer. Underneath the food reactions, some things are normal and age appropriate, some are just his personality, and some are based in our parenting (for better or worse!). I guess now is as good a time as any to announce that we are also planning to homeschool Ben next year, so this feels like sort of an experimental prelude to that. I will share more details about this decision and the process of discovering what works and doesn’t work as time goes along. For now I’m just trying to get through the day with both kids, lots of preparation heavy cooking, and upcoming birthday festivities!
We actually had a special day today, after a morning filled with a lot of frustration and hurt feelings. We finally got out of the house around two and headed down to the science museum where Ben will be going to summer camp. It is all the way downtown so the drive can be tough with my little car-phobe Ella, but we really needed to get out of the house and we were all glad we went. We recently explored the museum for the first time, so Ben was really excited to return to some of his favorite exhibits and check out a few he hadn’t seen yet.
The highlight was the marine exploration lab in an annex outside. There was a huge coral reef inside a tank! We could see all the anemones, fish, coral, everything. It was amazing. There were also several mini reefs with local animals including seahorses! I love seahorses, especially since I watched some BBC nature documentaries where I saw them in action. Their delicate features and almost silly bobbing motions make me smile. Something about them inspires a feeling of gentle happiness for me.
We also got to see and pet a bearded dragon and an albino boa constrictor! It was awesome to see them up close in a relaxed atmosphere, with caring staff members who patiently let the kids spend as much time with the animals as they wanted, and thoughtfully answered all of their questions.
I think Ben’s favorite part was the coral reef where he was able to hold the sea stars. He was so brave about picking them up and letting them bend around his hand. Ben seemed to feel very in his element as he chatted with the attendant who was kind and knowledgeable about the reef animals. Ella stared into the tanks looking like she would really like to get ahold of some of those busy bright blue fish darting around.
By the time we left we were tired out and our imaginations were swimming with all the cool animals we had interacted with. We took the scenic route to avoid traffic, because I always prefer to move, especially if there is a chance of my girl having a melt down. Ella made it home without freaking out so I took it as a gift at the end of a long day.
I hope to be more present on the blog in the coming months, recording our journey with dietary changes and toward homeschooling. If any of you homeschool or have any resources you can recommend, I would really appreciate it if you could share in the comments! I need some moral support 🙂