Christian Taylor Buchanan

Christian Taylor Buchanan

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Yes, We Are Homeschooling

1st day of school! 
I'm sure many of you have already seen some social media posts about it, but I wanted to take some time to really dive in and address Christian's upcoming school year and what it's looking like so that you guys would all know what's going on. For all of our friends who keep up with Christian and his progress, I figured you would be interested and concerned to know, and I am happy to share. :)  I also wanted to answer some questions about it that I thought you guys might have, because it is something new to us and foreign to most people. The majority of folks do public school, so this isn't the traditional route.

Sooo....

YES! We are homeschooling!

So, the obvious first question is "Why?"

Well, there are a couple of reasons that I chose to homeschool Christian this year. Probably the most compelling reason was how bad Christian's last school year ended up being. We were driving 2 hours each way to get him to school, leaving home at 6am. That itself was exhausting, but we were hopeful that it would be worth the sacrifice.

1st day of school!
Nursing was completely unstable during this time as well. We started having issues where we didn't have nurses some days so Christian couldn't go to school when he was supposed to. He has to have someone who is able to feed him and use his gtube at school or he just can't go. He has to eat.  So because he was dependent on someone else to be able to attend with him, there were times when he just couldn't go. Some days I had to choose between sending Christian to school alone with a nurse I was uncomfortable sending him alone with, or someone who was brand new and didn't know how to care for him yet, or just not having him go to school at all. His school was not always thrilled that I chose not to send him when I wasn't comfortable with who he'd be with, and understandably so, because he was missing instruction time; but I simply couldn't send him if I wasn't confident he as safe and would be well taken care of.

He also lost his kindergarten teacher mid school year and got a new one. Both were very good teachers, but emotionally, it was hard on Christian to suddenly and abruptly say goodbye to a teacher he had grown to trust and love and had already built a relationship with. Making such a huge switch in the middle of the year was really difficult for him. I was often encouraged to make Christian a resident student, which always felt a little abrasive and never sat right on my stomach. It just about wore a sore spot on me, because not many people seemed to realize my hesitation in sending my medically complex five year old off to live away from home with people I didn't know and him be unable to reach me if something went wrong or he needed me because he has no clue how to use a cell phone. What seemed so obvious to me was foreign and strange to others. I wasn't about to give up my child just so he could go to school there. Christian needs an education, but he also needs his family. Not to mention, I have suspicions that some folks (not school personnel) were not being very nice to Christian while he was at school, and he is simply unable to tell me whether or not it actually happened.

Christian didn't do well at school, his progress was minimal, and it simply ended up not being worth the time, effort, money, or stress it was costing us to get him to school. So, I decided that we wouldn't be trying that again in the near future. It isn't out of the realm of possibility that he attend there again in the future, but for now, it just isn't the best choice for him.

So, option number two was our local school system. Here we run into the issue of living in a poor county. Just calling a duck a duck. Our school system simply can't offer him all that he needs as a child with a visual impairment. It's not that they don't want to. The people we have worked with there in the past would have no problem getting every teacher and piece of equipment Christian would need...if they had the resources to get it. But reality is, they don't, and I fear that much of Christian's time, rather than being inclusive, would be spent with him not really understanding or knowing what was going on, because he would be in a classroom designed for kids who can see, and his teachers would be trained to teach kids who can see, with little to no experience about vision impairments or how to make the classroom accessible.

So, option number three, homeschool. It just makes practical sense. I have a graduate professional degree, I have been working with a blind child for six years, I am well equipped to teach Christian the things he needs to know at his age, and I can do this. If this was high school lessons I was having to teach, I might be more worried, but I can teach kindergarten and first grade level things to Christian. I know I can.

"But won't he need socialization? To be around other kids?" Yes! He sure will! We will have so many opportunities to  be around other kids, and not just kids who are blind. Every Sunday, Christian joins other kids at our church for Bible lessons, games, and worship. We have also joined The Honeybee Christian Co-op (https://honeybeechristiancoop.org/) where Christian and Chandler both will attend weekly classes with other kids, all taught by the moms! This semester Christian will be doing a creative writing class, a lego building class, and a United States geography class, just to name a few of the things he will get immersed in. The co-op takes field trips often as well.
The co-op is such an amazing opportunity to break up the monotony of  just doing home instruction, and offers the boys things that I might not think to teach them, or can't teach them. They will need to have some independence from me and be able to listen other adults who are instructing them. They will also need to learn to socialize with lots of other kids of different ages and backgrounds. It's a well organized group and the moms/teachers are fantastic at what they do!






First Day of  HoneyBee Christian Co-op! 



Homeschooling also frees up some time for us as opposed to the schedule we had last year driving four hours a day, so we have already been meeting up with some of Christian's friends! Really, Christian will get a more realistic socialization by being around lots of peers of different ages and abilities rather than a class room of only typical six year olds or only blind six year olds. I'm pretty excited about it!

So, what will homeschooing look like? For us, we will attend co-op every week, and we will continue Christian's private therapies at Special Kids. We will also be picking up therapies at our local school for drop in services. Christian will go in to do therapy and then leave. Finally, we will have instructional time at home, field trips that I plan, and as much intentional play time as I can squeeze in! I have several Braille curriculum to get Christian started on reading and literature. I have a Braille math curriculum as well. Other things that we do will be unit lessons that I adapt so that both boys can enjoy the lessons together.

I already have a science unit study planned out about outer space, and am working on one on bees and another on the human body. All things the boys have shown interest in and want to learn more about, so I am adapting lessons to things they want to learn about to spark their creativity and desire to learn.

Christian's creation from his lego class at co-op!
He was learning to follow instructions and listen! 
The reading lessons are Braille specific, so right now Christian is learning to read each letter of the alphabet and is honing in on his skills of "same and different" so that he can more easily and proficiently read once he starts reading more.

The math lessons are building on sorting, counting, and simple addition and subtraction right now. Christian really has a math oriented mind (which he did NOT get from me, by the way) and it's amazing to see how easily he understands the concepts and how quickly they make sense. He is a smart cookie and it's fun to watch him learn and grow!

So, we will spend our days filled with lots of activities, and hopefully, fun! I want this year to really ignite a passion for learning in the boys and to teach them to apply themselves and work hard. I also want them to enjoy it. I want them to have fun. I want the pursuit of knowledge to be enjoyable, invited, welcomed, longed for. I hope to establish that with them this year! I am optimistic that we can make it happen!




***Side note! I am still on my social media hiatus, so I won't be reading any comments or responding to questions about this blog until I return. I'm not sure when that will be, but when I return, I will try to get caught up! Thanks for your patience!

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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

I Won't Hide Christian's Face To Make You Comfortable

I've received a few comments recently on Facebook that are....thought provoking. One proclaimed, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" The commentor was referring to Christian's face and how I could be so bold as to post his photo for other people to see. She literally demanded that I explain to her why I hadn't had Christian's eyes sewed shut, and informed me, which is news to me, that I was exposing Christian to infection and putting him in danger. Then she accused me of withholding surgeries from Christian so as to create a "shock value" of his appearance. It's amazing how much strangers think they know about another stranger's medical condition and health, but it happens.


This isn't the first and only comment I've received along those lines, and I'm sure I'll hear it a few more times in my life.  Obviously people like this are uncomfortable with Christian's disability, or disabilities in general, or maybe just differences among the human race. Despite their discomfort, I refuse to hide Christian away like some quasimodo so they can feel more comfortable. It isn't Christian who needs to change, anyways. It's them.

Honestly, no matter how much I know in my head that the opinions of those people don't mean diddly, and no matter how much I know that they are wrong, I can't help but be insulted and hurt it. And it doesn't get any easier the more times I hear it. While I realize that I am choosing to post photos of Christian on social media and that opens us up to this type of thing, it doesn't make it less painful to deal with and it certainly doesn't make the people saying these things right by any stretch of the imagination I really think that my posting photos of Christian on Facebook doesn't give people freedom to be nasty or rude. It is exhausting to deal with random strangers using social media as an opportunity to say things that they would never say to a person if they were face to face.

This is why I fear so much for Christian. As he becomes more aware of what people say, it bothers me that adults could think such nasty thoughts about a child anyways, but it's even more shocking that they can't seem to hold their tongue, and so their nasty thoughts become nasty words. I also fear the day that Christian truly understands the nastiness, and knows that it's directed at him. I fear that he won't realize that their nastiness is a reflection of them and has nothing to do with him.

 I've just decided that it's useless to try to argue with people like this. They don't talk to discuss. They talk to be heard. They talk to make noise. They talk because they believe they are so right in their assertion that they can boldly, tastelessly, and loudly proclaim their rightness in such a manner than any challenge to it will be ignored. I would be happy to talk with people, to explain what's going on, that Christian is medically taken care of and that I post his photos on Facebook just like any doting mother would, but such people don't usually want to listen. They don't want to hear that they just might be wrong about that thing they have no experience with or knowledge or.

So, I just don't see a point in wasting my time trying to argue with people who want to argue. Now, debate, I am all about some debate. I'm an attorney. It's what I do! But arguing isn't for me. I debate to spread understanding and to learn some things, too.

So, instead of wasting my energy arguing, I decided to come over to my blog and blow off my steam by writing. Getting to just spill my thoughts and share my heart here is a therapy of sorts for me. So, here we are! Warning: The rest of this post is going to be dripping with sarcasm. You've been warned! haha!

This whole incident reminds me of something I hear often from people on social media who want to challenge me as a parent (why, though?) Every so often, I hear this argument come up against me. (I find it crazy, by the way, that folks who don't know anything about Christian or myself have an opinion and actually verbalize it on our lives, but I digress.) The argument goes something like "That kid (they never say his name, it's too personal when you are throwing insults at a little kid I suppose) will be bullied his whole life, and therefore you should have..." then they conclude with some crazy assertion that they say I should have done. It's always something crazy such as, I should have aborted him, literally ended his life, or I shouldn't post photos of him online, ya know, hide him away from the real world, or I shouldn't let him out in public. You know, all those things people usually say about a six year old child. Oh, wait... Kid you not guys. People actually have told me to 1. seclude my child or 2. kill my child because he will get bullied.

I would post that Kevin Hart photo again, but you get the idea.

So...let me get this straight. Christian will probably get bullied because of his disability. I can agree with that. They're right. He probably will. Because there are some real jerks (sorry to be blunt, but it's the truth) out there, and they somehow enjoy hurting others. Have we not all known people like this?


But here's where I can't agree. So, because Christian will probably get bullied, I should never let him out the front door of his home, or I should have killed him? I should punish Christian because other people are idiots? That is really what I've been told. The statistics are that one in four kids gets bullied. Chances are my other child, Chandler, will get bullied too, just for existing. I was bullied as a kid. Not because I have a disability, but because someone had issues that they dealt with my being mean to other people. So they found something about me to target and used it to bully me. Should I have been kept in my home or killed?

OOOOORRRRRRR!!!!!! What about this! This is revolutionary, so get ready. What if we deal with bullies by confronting them, calling their behavior unacceptable, teaching them to act better, and having consequences for when they don't. Novel, I know, but for some reason, the thought of punishing victims rather than perpetrators just doesn't sit right with me.

Someone who falls victim to a bully isn't the issue.  They are not at fault. A person who decides to treat another human being terribly is the issue. Let's just be clear on that. If and when Christian ever falls victim to a bully, it won't be because something is wrong with Christian. Anyone who could bully another person, and in my opinion, especially because they have a disability, needs some serious help.

I'm tired of hearing the same old song here. I have heard it well more than once or twice at this point. How could I? How could I give Christian life knowing he would get picked on? I think the real question is this:

How could you be someone or raise
 someone who would ever decide it was acceptable to mistreat or bully another human being?


What I have done for Christian and what I do for him, is give him a happy, high quality life where he is loved beyond a shadow of a doubt, where he has everything he could possible need and much of what he wants. I give him a life where he is doted on constantly, told how wonderful he is, and is given the opportunity to be the normal little boy he is. I give him a life where his medical issues are well managed by me so that he doesn't have to worry about them or let them interfere with his life. I give him a life where literally hundreds of thousands of people follow his progress and send encouragement and love to him from all over the world on a daily basis. There are perfectly healthy kids out there whose parents don't care if they live or die. Christian is not the one we should be taking pity on. What I do for Christian is more than what some parents do, unfortunately. Honestly, every child deserves to be loved the way Christian is loved. That's what I give him.

So, how could I?  How could I love my child so much? It's easy! Christian is easy to love. I am his mama and he is my world. That's what mama's do. They love their child beyond their looks, beyond their faults, beyond reason. How could I? It's easy because Christian is easy to love!