In Praise of Small Victories

A classic Black pair of Converse All-Stars res...
A classic Black pair of Converse All-Stars resting on the Black & White Ed. Shoebox (1998-2002) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It has been, to put it mildly, a hectic and stressful week.

The school bus saga is ongoing. Yesterday’s update: a new driver, a supervisor ride-along, on-time pickup and drop off. Hooray. The director of transportation, apparently spurred to action by a friendly email from the mayor’s office, continues to call me with updates.

I wasn’t sure she would call this morning, as the bus was 10 minutes late. Since Ryan’s is the first stop, this is unacceptable. So I called her just to, you know, keep her in the loop. I’m sure she has my picture on a dart board at this point, but I don’t care. She and I are going to be speaking daily until there are consistent, on-time pickups and drop offs.

Despite all this, Ryan is adjusting well to his new school and routine. Organization remains a huge challenge. This is the first time he has switched classrooms for every subject and had a locker. He’s not quite grasping the concept of using the locker to store his personal belongings. He has worn a coat to school three times and returned home without it all three times.

We have a meeting with the child study team on Monday which we requested as a get-to-know-you session. We will emphasize that he needs help with organization. We need this to be his responsibility, but we also need the aide to prompt him to make sure he has the correct materials for each class and returns home with the things he brings to school. Besides, we’re out of jackets and as today is the first day of fall, that’s a bit of a problem.

Meanwhile, Veronica has been having some medical issues that have been difficult to diagnose. She has been to many doctors looking for answers to a problem that causes her migraine-like symptoms. She may finally have found an answer yesterday, but it’s one that needs confirmation with additional testing, as well as treatment with medication that contains a scary list of possible side effects.

I should be gearing up for the start of the NHL season, but the league and its players are in a labor dispute that has resulted in a lockout. When your carer is tied to an industry that is shut down, well let’s just say it is not the most secure feeling. But the worst part of it is Ryan. He knows there may not be any hockey when the season is supposed to start in a few weeks and he is not happy. We promised to take him to minor, college, and high school games to fill the void. Plus, his own hockey season begins with evaluations tomorrow and he’s very excited about that, so hopefully it will be a distraction.

So in the middle of all this chaos I want to pause to appreciate a small victory.

Ryan has always had problems with shoes. He struggles with manual dexterity and fine motor skills and only learned to tie shoes around age 10. Buttons remain a challenge. Also, he tends to drag his toes when he walks, quickly destroying new pairs of shoes. He has a closet full of shoes with holes on top, right at the big toe. In the summer, when he wears only sandals and flip flops, the poor child’s toenails look like an animal has been gnawing on them.

I can’t for the life of me remember where I read the suggestion, but it was on one of the many autism blogs I read, perhaps in the comments. That’s a shame, because I would love to give the person who made the suggestion the credit they are due.

This brilliant person suggest Converse All-Stars, aka Chuck Taylors, for kids who drag their feet, since they have rubber caps on the toes. We got Ryan a pair for the start of school. He struggled to pull the high tops on, since he is used to sliding his feet into low tops without using his hands. The weakness in his fingers makes pulling the shoes on difficult. (And ice skates? Forget it.)

But we were determined to try, and also determined to get him a pair of shoes that wouldn’t be torn in two weeks. That was three weeks ago. I watched Ryan put his shoes on yesterday. He struggled a bit with the task, taking longer than might be expected. But he didn’t complain and he did it himself, tying them in neat double-knots. I inspected those same shoes when he took them off at night. No sign of holes in the toe.

Not only that, but his black “Chucks” are the height of hipster style. Certainly more fashionable than the Velcro shoes he would prefer if given the choice.

So, thank you, anonymous blogger or commenter who made that suggestion. You have made my child more fashionable, helped with his manual dexterity, and cut our shoe budget. You have even put him on the path to learning to tie his own skates.

It’s a veritable hat trick of win in what has been a trying week, so that’s where I’m going to leave the blog today. Tomorrow I’ll watch my son at hockey tryouts with a much smaller pit in my stomach than I had last year. Tomorrow night, I get to watch my beloved Michigan Wolverines, with a quarterback who leaves his shoes untied (I better not tell Ryan), take on Notre Dame, in search of a fourth straight dramatic win.

See? Things are looking up already.

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10 thoughts on “In Praise of Small Victories

  1. My son had trouble with tying his shoes too. I found these cool bungee type shoestrings called Yanks (lots of colors to choose from). They look like the laces that you see many hiking and climbing shoes. We used those for years, until middle school, when my son announced that he could in fact tie his own shoes and would not need to use Yanks any longer.

    We also had issues with toe dragging and purchased shoes with “toe protection” for years. My boy still scuffs his feet sometimes when he walks, but he’s not dragging his toes any longer. Maybe his coordination caught up with him? Who knows. Now we deal with the problem of finding size 15 shoes for him. LOL 🙂

    I enjoy reading your blog. Have a great weekend!

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  2. I don’t know, man. I mean, I wrote about Lily and foot dragging, and how we buy her Chucks because of the rubber toe piece. . . I think on the Target post a few weeks ago, but I’m certainly not the only one who ever thought of it.

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    1. That’s definitely where I read it, then. I remember reading that and thinking, we have a toe-dragger, I need to try Chucks. Your idea or not, you were the one I got it from, so thanks for that!

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  3. Chuck are definately the in shoe which makes them a bit $$$. But averaging that and buying multiple shoes it make it a deal. Plus it will help support his ankles. By the way I love, love—LOVE that the Mayor is now involved. Worried, but hopeful about the medical issues. Hang in there and call when you need back-up!

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