Things can and must change. This is the nature of things. Also the nature of boys.
Jake is a newly minted Sophomore this year, and he’s already off and running. The school has a new principal, and Jake has been talking about how much he wants to “respect Mr. Ring” for weeks. He has promised not to let the Superintendent Mr. Steeves down. Mr. Steeves maintains he has no idea what Jake is talking about!
He feels really successful at school and is a part of its community. I love that. He started school a day earlier than he had to (did you see our picture?) because he wanted to help prepare breakfast trays and make sandwiches for lunch. He takes pride in his cafeteria job and didn’t want to miss out. On his first day of classes, he proudly announced that even though he was unable to finish his Biology work in class, he managed to finish it in his study hall, which meant he didn’t have homework. He was so proud. I can’t seem to get him to dress up for school, and he feels more comfortable in basketball shorts and t-shirts. I suppose I can’t blame him. Most of us dress up to impress others anyway, right? He doesn’t care. He likes what he likes. I respect that.
Something we’re trying new this year is an externship for Jake. His education is taking on a life-skills approach vs. a college prep approach, and this means that he has to learn how to get and keep a job. He’s going to be continuing to work in the kitchen at school, only this time he’ll be paid some nominal amount he can use to purchase items from a “company store” we’re building for him, which will hold a combination of snacks and things he likes to eat, as well as experiential items as well. The plan is for private time with his band leader; extra gym time; things like that. On top of this, he’s also going to be helping out at Katahdin Kritters, a local kennel. I don’t know yet what his role will be there for a short time a few days a week, but I look forward to the opportunity.
Jake is taking Outdoor PE. This looks like a great class, but Jake has decided it’s not for him. Normally I’d press for him to continue with the new thing, and not quit just because it’s not immediately to his liking, but this seems like a wonderful opportunity for self-advocacy. He came to his mother and I and told us that he’d rather take Indoor PE like every other year. We told him we’d make an appointment to speak with the guidance counselor and see what can be done. Maybe his schedule can be arranged to fit this change, and maybe it can’t. Either way, he’ll have gone through the process and spoken up for himself about something he’s passionate about. I’m so excited! Win or lose, I think it’ll be a great learning opportunity.
On the plus side, Jake says he was able to listen and pay attention for the whole time during US History. He brought home a 12 pound textbook that I covered with a paper bag from the store. Turns out I’ve still got skills.
On the negative side, Jake says he wants nothing to do with Winter Carnival (our prom). He said he’d happily wear “handsome clothes” and go to the party and watch the princesses, but that he wouldn’t be attending the dance or having a date. We told him he couldn’t rent a tux just for the Coronation. He shrugged and said he’d wear shorts then. No big deal.
In lighter news, Jake has promised to let me help him shave every Sunday. His mom hates it when he’s got stubble. He’ll probably be able to grow a much better beard than I can. Some kids have all the luck.
He also thinks he’d like to try out for the basketball team. Specifically, he wants to go to the tournaments in Bangor and be a hero. After this, he’ll be drafted into the NBA and be the greatest basketball player ever. It seems inevitable in his head. After all, he’s really good at basketball on Nintendo. I’ve tried to nudge him towards considering asking to be a manager for the team, so he can be part of it vs. actually trying to play. I hate to dampen his dreams, but I honestly don’t think he has what it takes. There’s some talk about a modified team in the Lincoln area, where kids like Jake get to play with a mix of neurotypical kids. This may be a better way to facilitate this sudden desire to play team sports. It’s less stress, and he’ll be given a greater opportunity to feel successful. This one’s still in the early stages, so we’ll keep you posted.