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Last Friday was a low point. We were all so heartbroken, and were whisked away to the magic land of central New Hampshire for revitalization. This week has been by far the best week we’ve had yet. I’ve been enjoying the heck out of all three kids, really getting into hanging out with them.

I called Jill’s school today. She’s going to an alternative high school where they work half days in the classroom and then can work independently at home using an online curriculum. I have to say, I’m kind of impressed. The staff person I talked to today said all the right things. They have a high graduation rate, a caring staff, and are used to working with kids who are emotional and have issues with authority. Apparently all the staff really like Jill. She mentioned today that staff that she’s never talked to have stopped her in the halls to ask how she’s doing. It’s encouraging to me to hear her talk about wanting to be a studious person again. Before things went sour for them, she was a straight-A student and loved school. I’m starting to see that come about again. We’ve been talking about trying to set up some college visits in the Spring.

And she told me with great pride that she got 100% on the history test she took the other day. Apparently my hour-long synopsis of the Civil War was a great help to her in taking that test.

Grace’s school is also giving me reason to be optimistic. In a school district beleaguered by massive budget cuts and endless stories about how horrible the outlook is for everyone, they seem to have a Special Education director who is earning her paycheck (and a few other people’s paychecks, truth be told). Tonight Grace sat down and actually did her homework. She complained the whole time, but it’s done and ready to be handed in.

Grace’s story from last school year is especially bad. She has an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) that calls for emotional support in the classroom as well as remedial work in core subjects. She’s clearly intelligent enough, but she’s been moved so many times that her special education services have been severely disrupted. Her reading level is at least 4 grade levels behind right now. Last year, when going to The School From Hell (TSFH for short), she was inexplicably placed in a classroom that is designed for students who are not likely to ever be able to be gainfully employed because of their mental and emotional disabilities.

This has only added to her already pretty significant trauma around school and institutions. She is convinced that she’s stupid, and that she’s good for  nothing but getting on welfare and SSI. Though her school is being supportive, they were not able to count any credits from last year since her classes consisted of things like “wear clean clothes”. She basically spent a year languishing in this crappy classroom. Now she’s re-entering school as a freshman, which is always demoralizing.

At TSFH, the staff often provoked or otherwise exacerbated her attitude. There was a lot of yelling and belligerency, but it seems that is not the culture at her new school. TSFH was also over an hour away, and the new one is all of 4 blocks. These things all add up to a significant improvement.

This week has been awesome, but I am sort of bracing myself for the inevitable blow up. Eventually they will both be fed up, too tired to get up, pissed about some element of the program or otherwise unwilling to go to school/do homework, etc. I hope that Leonard and I can keep our cool and weather the storm.

The other thing causing me some cautious optimism is the renewed buy-in that they seem to have with us. After court on Friday I was worried that they would explode on us, but it seems the road trip did some great therapeutic work there. I can’t wait for us to be able to buy a car so we can take these road trips whenever we need to. There are so many places we want to take them, and so man places they want to go.

All of us are pretty excited about the home improvement projects that are finally underway. To get the bikes out of the house and improve the counter space/layout of the kitchen will be like dreams come true. And next summer- bbq on the deck!

Right now we’re on an upswing. I hope and pray and want it to last as long as possible.

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