Well, the whole weekend got away from me. Sorry about that.

This telling is taking so long.

Carter had a rotten fourth grade year. I don't think we realized what we were asking of him, when we moved. He had spent every bit of his life that he remembered in Tallahassee. He's gone to the same school since pre-kindergarten. He was best friends with his cousin who lived fewer than three miles away. He was happy and comfortable and thriving.

When we moved I think he expected to some day go back. He didn't fit in right away, and these kids hadn't known him since he was four. They weren't used to his odd little ways. So they excluded him. And he felt bad. And they teased him. And he felt miserable. And then the only kid in his class who would actively protect him and his feelings... moved away. So he was on his own against all these kids who he felt were threats...

And he imploded. He would come home crying. We would have awful discussions where he would wonder what was wrong with him that nobody liked him. I would cry with him and want to throttle some children, which is unfair - I know. He started counseling. We reached out to kids we thought he might connect with. I spent hours on the phone with the school counselor and his teacher. Nothing really seemed to really truly help him.

So fourth grade was rough. And there was almost nothing good about it except that it finally ended.

This year is better. Near the end of the year Carter started to befriend a kid in our neighborhood, and bonded with another boy who goes to a different school. The three of them really seemed to hit it off in the spring, and the fall has been mostly one sleepover after another.

Carter's still not quite back to normal though. Something happens to him at school and he gets caught up in his head. His math grade has plummeted, and it's confused his teacher because every other grade is a high A. She knows this is not what he is capable of. We need to find him a new therapist, and I suppose the next step is medication. I don't really want it, but I really don't want Carter to struggle along.

So I guess we'll see.


This Week Last Year

At this time last year we were on our way to Florida. We had planned a Disney vacation with two other families months before we had even considered moving to Texas, and there was no way we were going to miss it. We just had a longer drive, that's all.

That vacation was amazing, and I remember it as one of the most fun weeks of my adult life. Everybody was happy. We all had so much fun. The weather was a little crazy, but we worked it out. We swam. We ate. We saw Mickey and Cinderella. It was like living in this happy little bubble.

I wonder a little bit if my memory of this week is coloured by the tragedy that began a few weeks later, when our friend's baby died just before she was born. If the week at Disney seems just that much happier because of the contrast. The only things I used my phone for that week were to post quick pictures to Facebook, and to check on my friend as she approached and then passed her due date.

I wish I could go back to that week and change something. Anything. Anything, big or small, that would bring Bella safely to her mom and dad and sister. I know there is no way to do that. Obviously. I'm not completely crazy. But it's what I wish. It's a daydream that plays out in my head, often. More often now, as we come further into November.

I wish I could go back.

I wish I could change it.



I didn't give a lot of consideration to how I was going to tell this year before I started writing. I know it's coming out flat and logistical. I want to tell you in the order things happened, but it's hard for me to delve into things I can't immediately resolve. It's easier for me to talk about the house and the area than it is for me to talk about Carter needing to start therapy, or Joe's frustration at his job. 

But I will. I will tell you that stuff. 


In Florida, kids can start public school at four. It's a voluntary pre-kindergarten program that is state funded, and it includes fifteen hours of instruction per week. Kara waited and waited to go. Her little friends did early preschool, but we kept her home. It seemed a silly expense to us. I was home, so she could be home. Until August of 2013, when she was four and not five, and she could finally go.

And she LOVED it. Loved, loved, loved it. The elementary school we were zoned for didn't offer the fifteen hours a week option - they wanted us to pay for full day care, so we took her down the street to a day care that was offering a morning class. Weird, right? But again. She loved it. Adorable little U-shaped building with lots of windows, and a big playground including a water feature in the courtyard. Trikes and scooters galore. And puppets and blocks and friends and snacks and just the most fun she ever had. Proclaimed herself to be the Queen of Pre-K. She was delighted.

So of course we moved three weeks in to the school year.

Texas doesn't offer pre-kindergarten to kids unless there is a need. Military families, kids who need help with English fluency, or kids with developmental delays. Otherwise, it's private pay. And though it still seemed ridiculous to pay for school when I was home all the time,  it also seemed unfair to take something she loved so much away from her.

Thankfully, Joe was easily sold on the idea - and I spent a few long nights looking at and pricing out schools in our area. In the end I only visited one. A visual and performing arts pre-k, at a community theater less than two miles from our apartment - on the rounds of an equestrian center. The whole thing is surrounded by a white, three rail fence. The kids nap on a stage. They learn about Picasso and Matisse and da Vinci. They recreate their works and make their own art portfolios. They sing and play instruments. They learn mime and improv. It looked like it was right up Kara's alley - so I paid the registration fee before we had even finished the tour.

And she was so happy there, Tuesdays and Thursdays. The pre-kindergarten "transition" class. She adored her teacher, and her teacher adored her. I think it was the best thing about all of that first school year - finding Kara such an amazing pre-kindergarten. I'm so happy that is where we sent her, and I'm told that this year registration just exploded. They may have to add another building. I'm so glad it'll still be around when Cole is ready for pre-kindergarten, because he's definitely going there.

Performing Arts Pre-K. Who knew?


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