Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Skinny

So, things have been just...well, busy around here. I got offered a new job at Germanna (yay!), which has a campus in Germany (might as well be; it's FAR), and one in Stafford, and one in Fredericksburg (both very close). Well, Fredericksburg is close to C's school and Stafford is halfway between the house and his school. I would not teach at the "Germany" campus (for argument's sake, it's in Locust Grove--doesn't mean much to really know, does it?). I was supposed to start in the fall, but they called last Friday, and asked if I could start on Tuesday. Tuesday. That's right, in three days. Ahhh, the life of the adjunct. At least I got three days to prep this time. And, at least I already had the books! 

That's the least of the busy. I've been studying anywhere between 4 and 9 hours a day for the GRE, which is NEXT Saturday. Ohmygod. The last (two--gasp) times I took it, I walked in without a care in the world, because I truly didn't value the test. Perhaps that's why I did so poorly. In fairness, I did study the second time, and I took it seriously-ish; but, I still skipped the whole math section. I know, I know, terrible, right? I have no one to blame but myself. I guess I couldn't wrap my brain around the fact that schools really used such a ridiculous thing as a true measure for viability of a candidate. Unfortunately, is an easy cut-off for them. Packages with a GRE score of X and below, they can just throw out and not even read. GRE scores with X and above, they get looked at and evaluated. Who cares how awesome your package is; if it's below that cutoff, from some arbitrary test, it's useless. So, I've got to do well, and not just well, knock it out of the park well. The last practice test I took, I scored in the 97th percentile in verbal (I was shooting for 99, so I'm  happy with that), and still in the 50th for math (I'm shooting for 60, but I'll take what I can get, considering where I started). I think I'm as prepared as I can get. 

Other than that, I'm working on getting some new papers at new, better, more prestigious conferences, so my CV looks like it wasn't dead in the water for a year. This means that in addition to studying, I'm writing and reading, and trying to research and write proposals. No biggie, right? It's exhausting. I feel like I'm in school again, only worse, because I'm the teacher too. I'm the grader, the assigner, the everything, but I'm overloaded with work at home too, all in hopes that I can be the student again. Every time a student comes to me and asks if they can turn in an assignment late because they ran out of ink, their printer didn't work, or they had to work late, not surprisingly, I've become a real hardass. Dude, get it done. I do. 

So, that's the update with me. Bryon is done with his basement rotation. Yay! Shockingly, we miss it. Collin said, the other day, I don't like Daddy's "new" job, which is really his old, regular job. When I asked him why, he said that it was because he's gone every day, and all day. He missed that he got four days off in a row, and that sometimes he was home in the afternoons. He still keeps asking if Daddy will be there when we get home from school. Poor kid. Change is hard. 

Collin is doing well. In three days, he will be a first grader. How that happened, I'm not sure. I was not consulted on this growing up thing. If I were, I wouldn't be allowing it. His reading is beyond what I could imagine. They keep sending home thicker and harder books. He reads chapter books on his own. He writes stories for us. Real ones. He illustrates them. He amazes me everyday. He comes up with complicated explanations for things, and raises real, interesting questions about the world around him. He is just, awesome. 

We are tirelessly working to figure out what to do regarding helping him now, and in the future. We have forayed into the world of mental health, and we are terrified by what we have found. Tricare gave us a list of child psychologists and child psychiatrists in the area (including Maryland and DC) and we had to call more than you could imagine, just to find one that both took Tricare and saw children Collin's age. Many refuse to see young children. Yet, everyone pats us on the back for intervening when he's young, rather than when he is fifteen and experiencing delinquency or school-related problems. Both fields (psychology and psychiatry) were equally difficult to find him care. When I went through the state clinic for help, I was told that the wait for an appointment for him there was 8-10 months! The same doctor that works there, has a private clinic, so I called there, and he has an appointment in 2 weeks. Amazing what insurance does, right? My heart breaks for families in the state system. It really does. I don't know what I would do without our insurance. I would be devastated not to be able to help my child. 

This whole process has opened my eyes to several things: the mental health world, how complex these issues can be, and how educated a parent must be in order to be an advocate for a child. Each phase does not give us answers, it gives us questions to go home, research, pore over, ponder, discuss until all hours of the night for days and weeks, and come back to the doctors with more questions to go home and repeat. No decision we make is done lightly. Nothing we do is done without reading, writing, thinking, talking, hoping, weighing. I will never, ever, in a million years judge or question another parent who has a child in a similar situation. I will assume that they've had these same conversations with themselves and with one another, and will know how hard these choices are and how difficult and overwhelming the information is, and furthermore, how complex and different each child's situation is. 

All we know now is that we have a couple of appointments coming up in the next few weeks that we hope will shed some more light because we have several more questions that we need answered, but those appointments will likely leave us with more questions, as they always do. We're looking forward to a fun summer vacation though, and Collin has already created a checklist of activities for his Mommy and Collin summer of fun (as he calls it) because I only work at night and don't have to study (I hope!--oh god, if I have to take it again!). 

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