2006-04-26 - 1:53 p.m.
I am not sure if I wrote of this yet- but Raitlin decided one day to walk the walk to the bus stop to meet her sister. THE PROBLEM IS that it was 3pm , not 3:45, and typical of precocious and independent three year old RAITLIN, she went BY HERSELF!
I had JUST put on a video and mistakenly ASSUMED that she would be engaged while I was loading dishes in the kitchen !(Much as I am ABOUT TO DO NOW! BABY EINSTEIN'S Noah animal video is on as we just finished playing SORRY and then doing a NOAH puzzle which is so cool as its a bunch of blocks that make up the story and pictures when assembled correctly for each page!) We had recently stopped having the alarm company service so there was no longer a chime on each of the doors! So on the day of Raitlin's walk a few weeks ago- I ALSO SCREWED UP AS IT WAS THE FIRST BEAUTIFUL WARM DAY OUTSIDE AND I OPENED THE DOORS TO GET FRESH AIR! (WE CAN'T open the windows at all due to lead paint!)
I first was straightening my desk and filing papers today before doing dishes and came across came across the letter from THE SCHOOL district about their REAL POLICY regarding bus transportation that they REALLY FINALLY MAILED ME!
THE POLICY REALLY DOES READ "Students may be required to walk to a pick up point however no student may be required to walk more than one-half mile to the pick up point."
I AM STILL SKEPTICAL how someone could have read that and MISTAKENLY translated it on the district transportation policy on the web site to read "no more that .05 tenths of a mile"
I AM GLAD I CLEANED MY DESK AS FINDING THE LETTER REMINDED ME THAT I NEED TO FOLLOW UP AND NOT DROP THIS ISSUE!
However it likely that on an appeal the NY COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION would ONLY DECLARE that the BOARD ERRED IF AND ONLY IF IT WERE AN UNREASONABLE DECISION THEY MAKE THAT REALLY CAUSES HARM AND VIOLATES CIVIL LIBERTIES OF US IN SOME WAY.
The following case basically set a precendent the I would be hard pressed to win this on the claim it not safe for kids to walk the route to the bus unattended. HECK IN NYC it was held that the police felt it safe for kids to walk:
The above case ALSO demonstrates a precedent that would mean I couldn't argue that (as its been done! ITS A LOSTING ARGUMENT!)
That leaves the final argument that I made- which is that it is unreasonable to have the stop so far FOR US PERSONALLY BECAUSE OF THE FACT OF THE YOUNGER SIBLINGS AND THE FACT OF THE UNIQUE INCLEMENT WEATHER IN SYRACUSE WHICH HAS INDEED RESULTED IN ADVERSE HEALTH EFFECTS TO MY CHILDREN!
I AM REALLY UPSET ABOUT THIS.
THE PEDIATRICIAN DID ASK AT THE LAST APPT "Are her hands always this blue?"
I said "YES She definately has trouble getting them warmed up" but in that moment when supervising the kids during the appointment I was a bit distracted and IT DIDN'T REEALLY CONNECT IN MY BRAIN THAT IT COULD ACTUALLY REALLY BE A PROBLEM AND IN FACT COULD ACTUALLY HAVE BEEN CAUSED BY THE EXPOSURE ON OUR DAILY WALKS.
I ALSO HAVE HAD AN ONSET THIS YEAR OF WHAT APPEARS TO BE RAYNAUDS SYNDROME with excessively cold extremeties, circulation problems with tingling in my hands and feet. I THOUGHT this was likely due to FATIGUE due to working nights. HOWEVER THE CAUSE COULD SIMPLY HAVE BEEN THE EXCESSIVE EXPOSURE TO COLD DUE TO WALKING TO THE BUS STOP TWICE DAILY
I did take a video of the girls AFTER one of the walks so I could SHOW the school board the extent of them being upset at having to be outside in the extreme cold, and their purple freezing hands that I then had to warm up in a tepid bath to avoid long term damage from frost bite. It indeed clearly shows how this is not just a small issue for our family!
NOW THAT THE WEATHER IS BEAUTIFUL I really had just kind of let go of my fight -- I guess it just was out of my mind and after I got the letter with the policy I had thought I just was not going to get anywhere as I really WAS MISTAKED about the district policy of how far kids can walk.
Additionally, WE ALL LOVE THE WALKS EACH DAY WHEN ITS LOVELY WEATHER! WE IN FACT CHOSE TO LIVE HERE SO WE COULD WALK EVERYWHERE AND WE LOVE TO DO SO! WE ALL in fact EVEN ENJOYED WALKING SADIE ALL THE WAY TO SCHOOL ONE DAY LAST WEEK WHEN SHE DID MISS THE BUS AS WE ALL WERE LATE GETTING OUT THE DOOR!
But I DID notice on THAT WALK JUST LAST WEEK, that ALTHOUGH IT WAS IN THE 70s that day, that as I held RAITLIN'S HAND-- IT WAS ICE COLD!!
SINCE RAITLIN RECENTLY TOOK HER WALK TO THE STOP ON HER OWN, resulting in a neighbor CALLING THE POLICE and now being under SCRUTINY OF CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES to determine if she left as she was not supervised-- (As she was only gone a few minutes AND I HADN'T EVEN KNOWN SHE HAD LEFT!) it made me think that THE DAILY WALK WHICH IS SO FAMILIAR would be SAFER FOR US ALL if it didn't have to be done daily! Then the little ones wouldn't HAVE SUCH COMFORT LEVELS with taking it and might not have the inclination to venture out ALONE. TWICE A DAY MAKES IT SEEM SO FAMILIAR and COMFORTABLE FOR THEM! AND NEXT YEAR IT WILL BE THREE TIMES A DAY.
(THe CPS Worker visted us already, saw our home, took note of the fact I DID ACKNOWLEDGE I SCREWED UP IN LEAVING THE FRONT DOOR OPEN AS I THOUGHT RAITLIN OUTGREW HER TENDENCY TO WANDER AND I THOUGHT SHE HAD ADJUSTED TO THE DIFFERENCES OF LIVING HERE IN SUBURBIA RATHER THAN THE COUNTRY WHERE SHE WAS ALLOWED TO GO IN AND OUT WHENEVER- since there I WOULD SEE HER OUTSIDE and NEVER got far before I was with her! HERE if she goes out in just seconds she can be in danger A VAST CHANGE THAT REQUIRED A LIMITING OF FREEDOM FOR THE KIDS they USED TO ENJOY IN VA! THE CPS worker indicated it should be a quick process of her getting info from our pediatrician and the school as confirmation that we indeed provide CARE of kids and they have no other concerns ! I AM GRATEFUL that WAY BACK IN JAN When I WROTE A LETTER TO SADIE's TEACHER about our FAMILY ISSUES THAT SHE WAS OUT AND THERE WAS A SUBSTITUTE AND THE LETTER CAME BACK HOME! I DECIDED TO INSTEAD JUST TALK TO HER!! THAT's good as SOMETHING IN WRITING COULD NOW BE MORE OF A PROBLEM THAN A HELP IN RELATION TO THIS ISSUE!!! THE WORKER ALREADY HAD INFO ON KAterina and SOREN which is of concern because I WONDERED WHERE SHE GOT THAT FROM AND HOW SHE EVEN KNEW I HAD OTHER CHILDREN than the ones she met BEFORE I mentioned them! So I asked and she told me there was a "file" which I found of interest as no one in NY EVER CONTACTED WESTELY AND I REGARDING THAT. She asked about the older kids and Westely and I were honest and FRANK about telling her of it. SHE SAID THAT WHAT THE "FILE" said was VERY DIFFERENT and that it claimed WESTELY ACTUALLY HAD BEEN CONVICTED of ASSAULT of KATERINA! it was INCORRECT-- so that's another issue for me to deal with. IT ALSO EXPLAINS ALOT ABOUT THE NY CUSTODY BATTLE AND WHY THEY ASSUMED I WAS LYING IN THE COURT! THEY ALL READ THIS CPS REPORT WHICH HAD WESTELY CONVICTED AND THEREFORE WHEN HE NEVER SHOWED UP FOR COURT THEY ASSUMED IT WAS BECAUSE HE WAS IN JAIL AND THEY ASSUMED THAT ALL THE LIES IN THE PETITION OF MY EX IN WHICH HE ALSO CLAIMED THAT THERE WAS A CONVICTION IN VA FOR ASSAULT AND BATTERY WERE TRUE! SO IRONICALLY IT IS IN THE END A BLESSING THAT RAITLIN DECIDED TO GO FOR THAT WALK! )
As for what this means for us here at home- WE CAN NEVER HAVE RAITLIN OUT OF SIGHT to the extent that is possible! LAST YEAR I WAS GOING TO THE BATHROOM WHEN SHE TOOK HER WALK!
I still at times have to do things LIKE PEE or CHANGE A DIAPER and LET HER NAP AND PUT HER IN HER BED and then do leave her out of my site! Hopefully she has REALLY LEARNED from the recent experience with the POLICE and them TELLING ME THAT IF IT HAPPENS AGAIN THEY COULD ARREST ME!
Westely's response to this is interest in looking at real estate in the surrounding area to perhaps find a home which is NOT ON THE MAIN ROAD!
It would be foolish to NOT CONSIDRE moving into a different house because we like this one IF IT IS NOT SAFE FOR RAITLIN AND IF IT POSES THE RISK OF HER TAKING OFF AND ME GETTING ARRESTED ! (Although I think as the CPS worker said, "Not much goes on in this community so they have to yield their power and authority when given the opportunity!)
So I highly DOUBT THAT WOULD EVER BE A POSSIBILITY!! (UNLESS I HAD AN ADHD DIAGNOSIS FROM A PHYSICIAN FOR RAITLIN AND A RECOMMENDATION FOR MEDICATION AND I REFUSED TO DO THAT! ) AT AGE THREE it would be difficult to say I NEGLECT her if she goes outside when I am IN THE BATHROOM for a moment! The REAL PROBLEM is indeed THAT SHE IS SO SMART AND SO CONFIDENT AND HAPPY AND JUST SO INDEPENDENT AND UNAFRAID OF ANYTHING IN THE WORLD! Basically the social worker talked to her to see if she WANTED to go away from home or if she was just a happy and free spirited independent child who hasn't yet learned boundarys!
TODAY I AM IN THE ROOM As they watch TV and have taken to doing laundry folding IN THE ROOM WITH THEM rather than in the laundry room. I now just leave the DISHES to be done only when she is in the room with me. I do not EVER take a nap EXCEPT when WESTLEY is home OR IF RAITLIN is LAYING DOWN WITH ME (which she loves!)
We HAD INSTALLED AN ALARM LAST YEAR when she did this after we had recentlyu moved here. HOWEVER Westley got a benefit from work of the free alarm service and they recently told him they are now going to charge for it so he nixed it as he said we can't afford the expense!
IF WE DO STAY IN THIS HOUSE which in the long run in likely the better FINANCIAL move, I think he will agree it is an ESSENTIAL expense that we reinstall the alarm service! (even though it wouldn't have helped as the problem was REALLY ME LEAVING THAT DOOR OPEN!)
And the walk initiated me thinking again about BOTH LEGAL ISSUES of transportation and the custody battle.
I wrote a letter to NYS child and family services requesting a COPY of MY FILE.
While I HOPE to not have to have any further litigation, I am concerned that AFTER the settlement PERIOD MY EX MAY IN FACT NOT BE REASONABLE IN ALLOWING VISITATION IN MY HOME WITH MY WHOLE FAMILY- INCLUDING WESTELY!
The settlement period in which I agreed the kids wouldn't be in WESTELY'S PRESENCE ends this JUNE. I HOPE THAT THE KIDS DAD allows them to spend time with us either here or in VA. I haven't yet asked him for them to come with us for the summer but need to .
I put if off UNTIL AFTER KATERINA's MEETING WITH HER DAD WHERE THEY FOUND OUT ABOUT THE GIFTED MATH PROGRAM. I want to wait until THEY WORK OUT THAT ISSUE and she FINDS OUT IF SHE CAN PARTICIPATE IN BOTH THAT AND BUFFALO PREP! So far they found out all about the Gifted Math program and haven't yet even heard if Katerina is being offered a spot in the Buffalo Prep program. (She was in their summer only program last year. At THIS JUNCTURE they take kids her age FOR THE REMAINDER OF ELEMENTARY AND THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL! BASICALLY THE KIDS ADMITTED GET SCHOLARSHIPS TO THE PARTICIPATING PRIVATE SCHOOLS AND IT IS ONLY A QUESTION OF WHICH KID IS THE BEST FIT FOR EACH OF THE PARTICIPATING SCHOOLS!)
THERE MAY IN FACT BE A CONFLICT and KAterina may have to choose one program over the other. I want her to do so BASED ON THEIR MERITS AND WHAT THEY OFFER HER
However I WOULD have standing to open a case reviewing VISITATION rights should their father NOT ALLOW them to come spend time with me IN OUR HOME. THE SETTLEMENT indicates that after the 9 month period in which the kids can't be in the presence of my husband that visitation is then left UP TO MY EX AND I TO AGREE UPON.
The limitations SHOULD THEN BE LIFTED and the visitation should THEN MIRROR what he was allowed and offered when I had physical custody. That would mean the kids are to be with me in the summer and alternating holidays. (ONe year with him on Christmas and then next with us)
If he is NOT reasonable with this then I WOULD have to persue ANOTHER legal case over the issue which I SERIOUSLY HOPE TO AVOID!
BUT for now I am just WAITING until KAterina herself DECIDES about the programs of BUFFALO PREP and THE GIFTED MATH PROGRAM with the guidance of BOTH OF HER PARENTS NOT MOTIVATED BY ANYTHING OTHER THAN WHAT WE TRULY BELIEVE IS IN HER BEST INTEREST!
I think TO HAVE PATIENCE AND WAIT TO EVEN INTRODUCE THE TOPIC OF CONVERSATION JUST MIGHT ENCOURAGE DECISIONS BASED ON REASON RATHER THAN EMOTIONS! I THINK THIS THE APPROPRIATE THING TO DO CONCERNING THE CHILDREN'S EDUCATION!
I don't want to say or do anything and even INITIATE A CONVERSATION ABOUT SUMMER VISITS UNTIL SHE DECIDES as I am afraid to DO SO would INVITE the meddling of GRANDMA! I JUST DON't WANT HER TO BE DISCOURAGED TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE OPPORTUNITY SHE HAS AT THE UNIVERSITY and I AM REALLY AFRAID THAT WOULD HAPPEN!
WHEW... so I am basically walking on eggshells nervous about this issue! I CAN'T WAIT TO HEAR if she got into BUFFALO PREP. I WAS SO EXCITED SHE GOT INTO THE GIFTED MATH PROGRAM! SHE And her DAD seem to be excited about that as well!
Off to the bus now! I have basically been writing in between doing other things with the girls all day.
*** UPDATE! I Just called and talked to Katerina to ask if she HEARD back regarding BUFFALO PREP yet. I told her I was thinking about it and wondering if they found out as I wondered whether she could possibly do BOTH programs of have to choose between them. She told me she CAN'T DO BUFFALO PREP as they are meeting THE SAME EXACT TIMES and that to do BUFFALO PREP during the year the kids HAVE TO PARTICIPATE IN THEIR SUMMER PROGRAM, and that SHE CAN't as she will be taking FOUR MATH CLASSES AT UB THIS SUMMER to GET UP TO PAR WITH HER OTHER CLASSMATES WHO ALREADY STARTED THE GIFTED MATH PROGRAM THIS PAST YEAR AS SEVENTH GRADERS! THey test 5th, 6th and 7th graders for the program BUT MOST KIDS START it when they enter 7th grade. They apparently accepted FOUR 7th graders this year who will be going into 8th grade and those four students will take SUMMER CLASSES to CATCH UP AND THEN JOIN THEIR CLASSMATES NEXT YEAR IN THE 2nd YEAR CURRICULUM OF THE PROGRAM. There were two students in Katerina's class at her school that attended the gifted math program (that's out of ALL THOSE WHO TESTED FOR IT WHO WERE ALREADY TRACKED AND IN ACCELLERATED CLASSES STUDYING MATH ONE OR TWO YEARS AHEAD ALREADY. THE TEACHER OF THE ACCELLERATED CLASSES AT HER SCHOOL WHICH IS A SCHOOL FOR GENERALLY GIFTED AND TALENTED KIDS TO BEGIN WITH MAKES ALL THE STUDENTS IN THOSE ADVANCED CLASSES TEST FOR THE PROGRAM!) One of those two just HAPPENS TO BE THE FRIEND KATERINA SITS WITH AT LUNCH EVERY DAY! SO THEY ARE BOTH JUST THRILLED SHE WAS ADMITTED! One of the four new students to the program is also a student at her school. So she will also be in the summer classes with a girl from her school. It will be nice for them that they have a group of peers from their school (even if small!) who will be going through the program together! I asked Katerina if she had talked to her Dad about all this and she had and they both CLEARLY decided that the GIFTED MATH PROGRAM is the better opportunity as she wants to go to City Honors anyway. I told her that she could STILL look into the private schools as they WILL ALSO likely offer OTHER scholarship opportunities in addition to BUFFALO PREP as people have likely set up scholarship programs at EACH of those schools and if she should decide there is a private school that offers a better opportunity for her than City Honors she very likely STILL COULD GET A SCHOLARSHIP. Grandma must also be very happy as well! Even her agenda of Katerina REALLY NEEDING to stay in BUFFALO this summer has been met! And I am not so worried about this as what I was MOST WORRIED about was not whether I can see Katerina all summer or not- I am SECURE in our relationship although I WOULD LIKE TO SEE HER MORE! WHat I MOST WORRIED ABOUT WAS HER OPPORTUNITIES FOR EDUCATION and I didn't want to see her NOT PARTICIPATE in what I see as the right thing for her! WHEW! I AM SO RELIEVED! I was so worried that the negative discouraging of this amazing opportunity would continue! I can breathe easier now! I really think the kids EACH need to be nurtured IN THEIR UNIQUE TALENTS AMD NEEDS TO THE BEST OF EVERYONE'S ABILITY REGARDLESS OF OUR OWN SELFISH DESIRES! I was WORRIED as I WAS AFRAID of Katerina being manipulated and HER NEEDS being pushed aside for ANOTHER AGENDA OTHER THAN WHAT IS TRULY BEST FOR HER! I am GLAD THAT DESPITE SOME EFFORTS, THAT DID NOT HAPPEN! WHEW!!! A HUGE SIGH OF RELIEF!!!