Gathering Loose Ends

I spent the weekend in my hometown of Livermore California so I could attend my Grandma’s funeral. I have thoughts about that experience that I’d like to write, but I have been too busy to find the words for them. All last week was about triaging my tasks. I took care of the critical things, canceled some appointments, and let many things slide while I attempted to make space for me to leave and grieve. Unfortunately the world did not pause out of respect for my emotional event.

We had a DNS issue with the main schlock site that Howard and I had to figure out via phone call. This caused many many people to email us, and buried the schlock mailbox. I’ve still got to get in there and find out what emails I have to answer and which I can just file. There are business critical emails mixed in there, people waiting for answers since the middle of last week. I believe that I’ve caught the truly urgent ones, but I won’t know for certain until I clear the mailbox.

Last Friday was the final day of term one for the schools. This means it was the day that grades were finalized. The end of a term always means a flurry of communication and last minute assignments. This is particularly true when a child’s grades are low, as Patch’s have been. His grades reflect the panic attacks and general malaise that he’s been experiencing since school started. Several of his teachers reached out to me with willingness to help bring his grades up before that Friday deadline arrived. I finally answered them late Monday night after I arrived back home. There have been a multitude of emails since then as we hammer out plans for how to proceed.

Yes Patch has real anxiety and panic attacks, but at least half of what we’re seeing is him using those to get out of work that he doesn’t like. Much credit goes to Howard who had a really unpleasant school morning while I was gone. Howard’s approach differed from mine in ways that showed Patch has more control over his panic attacks than he’d been leading us to believe. That unpleasant morning gave me a framework around which I’m building a new plan. So I have to step up my parenting game. I have to pay more attention and be more strict about play time and homework time. I have to make sure there are consequences at home if he’s failing to try at school. All of this has an ongoing impact on my daily schedule during a period when I’d really like to double down and clear away accumulated work things.

Naturally last week was also when I finally got the phone call from the UofU psych clinic to schedule an evaluation. I’d originally put us on that waiting list last January when I was seeking guidance for Link. At this point I feel like Link has all the diagnosis he needs. Fortunately they were happy to switch the appointment over to Patch, for whom I DO need diagnosis. The first appointment for that will happen tomorrow and full assessment next week. At the same time I’ve been communicating with Patch’s school counselor to put in place a 504 plan for him at school. We’ve made some adjustments to his schedule for term 2, and have plans for the school psychologist to observe Patch in the classroom. It is all pretty complicated, but necessary at this time. I need additional opinions and observations to inform my plan for how to proceed.

I’ve also spent time talking with Patch himself. In the wake of the unpleasant school morning, he is much more willing to admit that he’s been using panic as a crutch. He’s on board with the new structure we intend and the diagnostics we plan to do. His head is full of swirling thoughts and emotions. We’ve agreed to have a talking time each day during which he speaks whatever comes to mind and we find out what is in there. Of course what Patch is willing to do when he is calm is different than what happens when he’s under stress. I hope that he continues to work with us and tries to be a partner in quelling anxiety rather than diving into it as a shield against things he wants to avoid.

And then there are the more usual parenting tasks. Gleek needed to go swimming on the day I came back because her mermaid tail (which she saved money all summer to buy) arrived the day that I left. Patch needed to be taken to the archery range to practice because I’m glad for him to be doing an activity that isn’t attached to an electronic screen. Link needed an adjustment to his schedule for term 2, so I had to contact his school counselor. I went to the bank to deposit some money in Kiki’s account so she has funds to pay for an upcoming trip. I also checked in with Kiki via phone to see if she’s doing better. She seems to be. The medicine is making depression back off. And then there is the ever-present guilt that I should be enforcing better eating habits on my kids as they forage the kitchen.

Later today I plan to call my parents and check in on them. I expect this week to be harder on them than last week was. Last week they had a huge list of overwhelming chores related to Grandma’s funeral. This week everyone has gone home and they are left with daily, hourly reminders of the fact that Grandma no longer needs their regular care. This is a huge shift in their patterns of living. They’ve been tending Grandma extensively for the last decade. My daily life is not impacted by her absence, and I can’t let that make me forget that theirs is.

And then there are the business tasks. I spent my work hours yesterday doing the accounting. I had two week’s worth to do since I didn’t have brain for it last week. I also had to prep for the tax appointment I have scheduled tomorrow. I’ll be meeting with our accountant and discussing the impact of Kickstarter funds carried across the end of the calendar year. I’ve got a couple of contracts to read and sign, one for book printing, another for renewing the lease on our warehouse space. I’m also mid negotiations for hiring an editor for the Planet Mercenary project. We’ve found someone with the expertise we need, now we just have to hammer out schedule and work methods. There are packages to ship, writing to do, and layout work that is necessary.

Next week I travel again. We have tickets and reservations for me to attend the World Fantasy Convention in Saratoga Springs, New York. There is part of me that is very tired and willing to consider cancelling that trip. There are lots of solid reasons for sending me, but I’m still scrambling to catch up after my trip last weekend.

For now, it is time for me to go do some work and save the rest of the thinking for later.