Tode’s Weekly Assessment #57

I failed to fill out the mood tracker chart this week but I can say I’ve been in good spirits despite being busy and feeling like my sleep has been wonky.

Tuesday I went to court for the case management meeting where we stood before the family law magistrate to determine whether or not we would need mediation or not prior to a final hearing. My husband’s lawyer assured the magistrate that everything can be worked out mutually between us so we will have a status meeting in September. If everything has been agreed upon by then, she will finalize it. By Maine law you have to wait a minimum of 60 days from the time you initially file the paperwork to be officially divorced.

So everything is moving very quickly, but really the only thing that needs to be worked out is the wording of visitation and calculating child support according to state guidelines. The lawyer and I met in the courthouse in a private room to go over some things regarding potential wording for visitation and it appears that he heard us about not wanting to change how we are currently handling visitation. So he is going to word it according to distance apart and I told him that by phone and internet contact was restricted only by time of day. There doesn’t need to be a daily or weekly schedule for that. As long as Little Bear will tolerate it then I’m fine. And what I mean by that is I’m not going to let Little Bear shut him out either. That’s bullshit.

So this was when I found out that my husband didn’t tell the lawyer that any of us had diagnoses – like at all. I knew he hadn’t told him that he has dyslexia and I kept that to myself. That’s his can of worms, not mine. And I had discussed with the lawyer about Tuxedo Cat’s diagnosis over the phone prior when he asked me how much money my husband was sending me now. My husband had already filled out my income as $0 in the paperwork. So Tuxedo Cat’s diagnosis came up in front of the magistrate by the lawyer when my income was discussed for the child support calculation. I was asked if I had ever received SSI on his behalf – which I had right up until my husband had enlisted. I have no doubt that the paper trail will be or has been checked on that.

In any case, when the lawyer found out that Little Bear is currently diagnosed with DMDD and Conduct Disorder as well as under observation for Bipolar with ADHD hyperactive type, he asked me to get him a copy of Little Bear’s mental health records so that the visitation order can be written in such a way that is appropriate for his diagnoses. He said that I should have some power to say no (but not complete veto power) to ensure that Little Bear’s father isn’t put in an overwhelming situation and thus endangering Little Bear. Like when he took Little Bear to the aquarium in Southern Maine, I was fine with it as long as he brought the aunt along with him. Two sets of adult eyes on that child in a new place is super important.

I also told the lawyer about my concern and dilemma about how the husband wants overnights when he’s on leave but he stays at a hotel or a motel during those times and Conduct Disorder involves destruction of property and disturbing the peace – just to name a few – and Little Bear in particular is prone to be a runner when he is angry. So how do I resolve that? How do I allow him to have overnights while also making sure that they stay safe?

It’s at this point I recall how I wasn’t able to ask for my $500+ security deposit from my apartment back because Little Bear wrecked the walls: one big hole in the closet wall and markers/crayon/stickers everywhere else that we weren’t able to clean off – we did get most of it though. This isn’t even getting into what he has done to my furniture. He destroyed a $600 flat screen TV. He’s wrecked the solid wood comfy chair that my parents gave me that is older than me that I grew up with. You should see the knife marks in it – and my dad wonders why I locked up every knife I had in the home. Every single folding chair I have ever owned failed to survive. And he’s only 7-years-old right now. This is the kind of stuff you can’t have happening in a hotel or motel and expect things to end well.

And I did tell the lawyer that before treatment Little Bear has run in front of traffic with the intent of getting hit, tried to throw himself out of a moving car, and tried to jump out of the second floor window – all while either believing that he couldn’t be hurt or very pissed off at whatever. And this is one of the reasons why I had him get a neuropsych eval done. I wanted to be 100% this child did not have Schizophrenia. That and I was unwilling to accept the Conduct Disorder and I was hoping that they could determine whether or not he had Dyslexia.

So I need to contact the records office at the hospital to get that done as soon as possible.

That was Tuesday. I think it went well all things considered. And the lawyer really stressed to me that I need to take care of my dental work as much as possible before I lose my military coverage. According to him, my husband is very worried about that. Which for whatever reason, he is. My husband has been after me about it for some time now. It just seems like there is always something more important and more pressing to deal with.

Wednesday was the elementary open house and I got to meet Little Bear’s 1st grade teacher. She used to be a special ed teacher and watching how she interacted with my son I could tell right away that he’s been paired up with the right person. This is someone that knows how to roll with the punches and doesn’t take any bullshit. When she told him he could make a name tag for himself and decorate it, he said he didn’t want to. She told him that was fine, she would make one for him and it would be super plain and boring. He said fine. And that was the end of that. She told me it was no big deal, he will have a name tag either way. Alright then. lol

Thursday Little Bear had a dental appointment. He tried to be a jerk in the beginning but the hygienist shut it down real fast. Have I mentioned just how much I like Dr. Toolo’s office? I truly do not mind the drive to bring my children to this man. So after she told him that “we will not be having that here” he behaved himself. When we checked out I asked the front desk lady if they were networked with any adult dental offices and she said no, but there is one that Dr. Toolo speaks highly of. She gave me the contact info for a Dr. Fister in Brewer. I plan to call this coming week to make an appointment. All my molars need to be extracted. I don’t know whether or not my front teeth can still be saved, but I’m at a point where I’d rather they were all removed. I’m tired of teeth shattering.

Friday was the homeschool portfolio review. The diploma debate came back up again between my dad and I. So as usual, I did some digging and researched into this. In the state of Maine, it is the parent that decides upon the graduation requirements and awards the diploma for a homeschooler. This diploma is legally recognized. Both the military and colleges accept it. And for the record, that isn’t what my dad is arguing about or is even worried about. In fact, my dad says that colleges typically want homeschoolers more than they want the average public schooler. That surprised me to hear him say that. And him and I both acknowledge that the military doesn’t give a shit where you get your education from as long as you get one because when you enlist they slam you with a battery of tests anyway before they accept you. If you can pass their tests then you’re in. Period.

So what’s my dad worried about?

  • Scholar Owl is 4-F’ed from the military due to Bipolar so that path is closed to him.
  • Scholar Owl is currently saying he isn’t interested in going to college.
  • It’s currently an employers’ market right now and the stigma is real.
    • In Maine employment is “At Will Employment” meaning they can hire you or fire you for any reason outside of the anti-discrimination laws so long as your employment is not covered by a contract
    • Diplomas are NOT covered by the anti-discrimination laws
    • As those of us with disabilities and disorders, we are well aware that there are multiple ways around the anti-discrimination laws making discrimination (especially regarding employment) difficult to prove in court

What this all means – I think – is that my dad sees my son as being stuck behind the 8 ball here. Walmart, for example, is the #1 employer in the United States and will not hire someone with a homeschooled diploma – and they’re getting away with it even when here in the state of Maine that diploma is legal. If my son were to go to college – even if only to get an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts – then his high school diploma would be a moot point.

So how do I resolve this? I can’t force my son to go to college. BUT I have the power to declare what is required for graduation. So I sat down with Scholar Owl and shared with him this dilemma.

I told him one option is to require him to take a GED exam his final year of high school as part of his diploma requirements. This way if he applies for a job and they won’t accept his homeschooled diploma, he can just whip out the GED certificate. Pearson (one of the leading textbook companies and apparently the creators of the GED) has an online portal now for the GED exam and if you score within the 175-200 on that exam, you are not only deemed college ready but earn college credits. The GED exam covers Math, English, Science, and Social Studies. In Maine the HiSet exam is used now and it only covers Math and English far as I can tell. So if we were to go this route, I would prefer the GED instead since it covers more. The portal is set up for both students and teachers.

I also saw in the adult education booklet the diploma options section that there is help being offered to individuals to finish their diplomas. They list the credits required in each subject to earn a diploma. So that got me wondering if a homeschooler can work with them to transfer the homeschool credits into a public school diploma. Turns out that the state of Maine just so happens to have a legal statute for that right here. Points 2-B, 2-C, and 2-D are of interest here. And yes, my dad is completely right on this in saying that if I go to the principal in advance and ask if my son can earn a diploma through them as a homeschooler they could very well require me to teach their material instead of allowing me to whatever I want. But like I told him, I have the legal right to tell them at that point I’m not interested and just go the GED route. So my dad said it doesn’t hurt to meet with them, explain why you’re homeschooling him, and ask.

This is why I say it’s so important to do your homework and know the laws. Now that I know how this statute is worded, I will know if the principal is trying to feed me a line of shit or not when I meet with her just like I did during the IEP meeting for Little Bear. You can’t make the law work for you and cover your ass if you don’t know what the law says.

Everyone is worried about Scholar Owl’s functionality right now and it really looks like he’s just throwing his future away. I really did expect him to go to college in the beginning of this journey, but that’s not his current plan. The only thing I can do right now is build him the best safety net I possibly can. I can’t live his life for him, but I will be there to pick him up and brush him off when he’s ready.

If you enjoyed this post, or have some thoughts about it, please let me know!

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