The Sonia Show

Writer. Mocker. Beer drinker. Old movie watcher. Mother. Goober.


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I Do What I Want

Yeah, so, on Sunday Calvin’s soon-to-be new elementary school had a little welcome picnic.

We didn’t dress up as a polyamorous furry family as originally planned. Instead, we went as ourselves – a cool, social-able father, a vegan pain in the ass mother who can’t eat any of the food, and an awesome autistic boy who would rather explore the park than join in the other kids’ games.

I need to get this shirt for Calvin.

Calvin was running up and down a hill, and I was standing in a shady spot making sure that he didn’t make a run for the picnic table and steal an egg-filled treat since he’s allergic. Hives and vomiting don’t make for a great first impression. All of the kids were playing some organized activities, but Calvin — unsurprisingly — was not interested.

Me: “Calvin, do you want to play with the other kids?”

Calvin: “No, thank you. I want to play here.”

Me: “Cool. Enjoy!”

Calvin couldn’t have gotten any farther away from where the kids where playing.

We weren’t stressing about it, though. He was so happy running around that hill. Occasionally, he would join up with another group of kids on the hill, and then head off on his own adventure. He had an awesome time.

Meanwhile, my mighty, mighty good man David really shines in social situations like these. He can talk to anyone, and he had an informative conversation with the principal, and got all the flyers we need. Good thing he’s good at that stuff. I didn’t even know where to start at this event. I was thisclose to running up and down the hill with Calvin. I got a little excited at one point because I thought I saw wine bottles on the picnic table, but alas, it was some weird ginger drink.

There are two communities with this school: a Japanese Bilingual Bicultural Program and something called Second Community, which is everything but the Japanese program, I guess. Most kids are in one or the other, but kids like Calvin in the Special Day Class get to kinda pick and choose what they want from the two communities. There is a lot of fundraising that goes on, and the principal let us know that we can do fundraising for the school, but we can also do specific fundraising for Calvin’s classroom. We’re not expected to do fundraising for programs that Calvin can’t or won’t participate in.

It’s going to be really sad to leave the preschool in August, but I’m feeling confident that this school is going to be a good fit for Calvin, and once he gets used to it, he’s going to be really happy there.


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You Never Get a Second Chance To Make a First Impression

Yeah, so, my mighty, mighty good boy Calvin hasn’t even started elementary school, and already we’re being invited to school functions.

We’ve been invited to welcome potluck in the park later this month. Of course, we’re going to go, because we want to scope it out and meet everyone. All parents need to advocate for their children, but I feel like special needs parents really need to advocate for their children to make sure they are getting everything they need. This means we’re going to have to start participating in things, even though I hate participating in the things.

When I told my mighty, mighty good man David about the potluck, he definitely had a good idea of how we could make an impression.

“Let’s show up dressed up as furries,” he said. “We’re a poly-amorous furry family, and we want to be very active in the school community. VERY ACTIVE.”

I love David so much. SO MUCH.


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Spaceball

Yeah, so, my mighty, mighty good man David and I love to watch baseball. We want to go to more games together, and we want to bring our my mighty, mighty good boy Calvin.

He hasn’t been to a baseball game since he was a baby.

Gaaah! Was he ever that small?

A crowded and loud baseball game isn’t necessarily Calvin’s favorite place to be, but we want to try. Unfortunately, San Francisco Giants tickets are kinda expensive. We’re not sure we want to spend $50+ on a ticket for Calvin, if he demands we leave after 10 minutes.

Luckily, we’re a two-team household, so we can go to Oakland A’s games, which are waaaay more affordable.

Just a few days after talking about it with David, I got an email from Easter Seals Bay Area, offering us free tickets to the A’s game. They were hosting a “A Home Run For Autism” event at the game: free tickets, free sodas and free food. We had to buy our own beer, because duh – we’re not going to drink soda at a baseball game.

This turned out to be the perfect opportunity to reintroduce Calvin to baseball. We had an awesome time. He got a giant bag of popcorn, and he was as happy as can be. Plus, there were a lot of airplanes and helicopters flying overhead, and he loved that. He got a little nervous with the giant head mascots showed up, but that had more to do with all the people running over to get photos than with the mascots themselves.

We made it until the ninth inning, and then Calvin was kinda ready to go. Unfortunately, the A’s lost the game, but we still felt like winners because we got spend a beautiful day in the ballpark with our boy. We asked him if he liked going to the baseball game and he said, “Yes. I like spaceball.”


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You Drive Me Crazy

Yeah, so, I was driving to work and thinking about all the things I need to do once I get there.

“I need to send that email. I need to work on the video script. I need to fix our Google Plus page.” You know, a bunch of silly to-do list things.

Right as I was getting on the freeway, I noticed I was listening to the “Cars” soundtrack.

“Why am I listening to this crap?” I thought. “OH SHIT!”

And sitting the back seat was Calvin.

I forgot to drop him off at school! I was completely on autopilot and was driving to work without even thinking.

“I’m not going to school,” he said.

“You’re going to school. I went the wrong way,” I told him.

Every morning I drop Calvin off at preschool and then drive to work. Why today I skipped the preschool I have no idea. I’m so glad I didn’t get all the way to the office with him.

Actual footage of me driving.

Have you ever drive somewhere on autopilot? I’d love to read your stories in the comments.


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My Boo

Yeah, so, on Friday night, we dropped mighty, mighty good boy Calvin off at the Peek-A-Boo Factory in West Portal for their monthly date night.

Actual footage of David and I after we drop off Calvin at Peek-A-Boo Factory for date night.

Basically, we pay $35, drop Calvin off, and he runs around on their play structure for three hours. They serve pizza that he won’t eat, and they do crafts that he doesn’t really care about. He just wants to go down the long, red slide for three hours.

Anyway, we dropped him off as usual and walked to a nearby restaurant for dinner. After dinner, we went to a bar across the street from Peek-A-Boo to grab a drink. We ran into another set of parents from Calvin’s preschool. They dropped their son off at Peek-A-Boo as well, and they were a little nervous because they had never done it before.

“Calvin loves it,” we told them. “It’s awesome.”

We chatted for a bit, and then they left because they wanted to pick their son up a little early, since it was his first time. I laughed and said, “Well, we’re going to wait until the very last second to pick up Calvin.”

And right then, mighty, mighty good man David noticed that Peek-A-Boo had called. Calvin was crying and upset, and they didn’t know why. D’oh!

We went across the street, and we could see him through the locked glass doors. He was crying. When they let us in, he ran into my arms sobbing. One of the employees, who always gives Calvin special attention at these date nights, had no idea what was wrong.

“He’s always so happy,” she told us.

While we were heading home, Calvin said, “I got locked in the trailer,” which is something that happened at my parents’ house the week before. My dad has a trailer on the side of the house, and Calvin was playing in it, and he accidentally locked himself in it for about a minute.

I thought maybe he got locked in the restroom at Peek-A-Boo, and this is his way of telling us.

“Did you get locked in the bathroom at the red slide, Calvin,” I asked. “Red slide” is what he calls Peek-A-Boo Factory.

“No,” he replied. “I got locked in the trailer at Grandma’s.”

“I know,” I said. “That’s scary.”

“There’s a ghost in the trailer,” he said.

WTF?!?!?

“There’s a ghost in the trailer?” I repeated.

“Yes.”

 

I texted my mom. “Your trailer is haunted. FYI.”

My dad loves to kill things, so I’m not sure how he will deal with something that is already dead living in his trailer, but I’m sure he’ll figure it out.

It turned out that Calvin wasn’t feeling very well. He had a fever by the time we got home, and he was off and on feverish all day Saturday. Poor little guy.


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Too Cool For School

Yeah, so, the San Francisco public school system is notoriously difficult to navigate.

In San Francisco, your kid doesn’t just go to your neighborhood school, even though that’s what most parents in San Francisco seem to want. There is a very involved school assignment process, which ratchets up parental anxiety. You are required to rank your school choices and submit them by the deadline, and you may or may not get any of your choices. A lot of families leave San Francisco when their children are getting ready to start school rather than deal with the enrollment process.

We have been touring schools and researching schools since November, and by “we” I mean my mighty, mighty good man David. He did most of the leg work on this, and I did stuff like drop off the forms at the school district and get laughed by a school district employee, which is a real thing that happened.

We submitted a list of about 35 schools, but it turned out none of those schools were going to work out for Calvin.

Photo by my mighty, mighty good man David.

Since Calvin is autistic, he needs an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) with the school district. He already had one, but it was a little out of date, so we had to get him reassessed by the district. However, we couldn’t make it happen until after the enrollment deadline. So, we just did our best guess what would be right for Calvin. We assumed that Calvin would be in a “regular” classroom, and then pulled out for special services, such as speech or occupational therapy.

The school district team visited Calvin at his preschool, and we brought him into their offices for more observation. Their recommendations were unexpected. They recommended Calvin attend a mild/moderate special day class. He would receive a lot of support and services with the hope of transitioning him to the “regular” class. We were kinda surprised, but the truth is, this is the best option for Calvin. It’s better to start with a lot of services and scale back then to start with less and ask for more services.

So, there are 11 elementary schools out of 85 elementary schools in the SF Unified School District that offer mild/moderate special day classes, and — of course — none of those schools were on our original list. We had to submit another list, and it was just a few weeks before the school assignment letters were going out.

Sigh.

The school district employees were so kind to us. They handed us a list of the schools, and David did some quick research. One of the schools on the list was Clarendon Elementary, which is really difficult to get into. We’ve read the stories about how it’s more difficult to get into than Harvard blah blah blah. David spoke with a school district employee on the phone, and she suggested we put it as our first choice, so we did, but with no expectation that Calvin would be assigned to that school.

Narrator’s voice: They were wrong. He was assigned to that school.

We couldn’t believe our dumb luck. Calvin was assigned to what many people believe is one of the best schools in the district, and it’s less than 3 miles from our house. Finally! The MansTracy Family catches a break.

When I got the school assignment from the school district, I seriously couldn’t believe it. I called David immediately, and when I told him he replied, “Holy shit!” David never swears. It’s always “Jiminy Christmas” this and “Good grief” that.

So yeah, now that the school search is over we can focus on the important shit like the fact that our little boy is starting kindergarten in the fall.


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Naive Parenting Lesson #368

Yeah, so, my mighty, mighty good boy Calvin is such a good kid that sometimes I forget he’s a kid, and that kids gonna kid.

Last night we were eating dinner together. He was having chicken, and I was eating a big salad. I know, I know. I’m such a fuckin’ top chef. Anyway, Calvin wanted a cupcake for dinner, because he’s smart. But, being a somewhat responsible parent, I told him that if he ate all of his chicken he could have a cupcake.

I left the room to put my plate in the sink, and when I came back Calvin pointed out that his chicken was gone.

“Can I have a cupcake, please?” he asked, while holding up his empty plate.

“Oh! Yes! Of course. Good job eating all your chicken,” I told him.

I brought him a cupcake, and he happily ate it – as you can see.

After he was finished, I was wiping off the table, and I picked up his water glass. Guess what was in it? Yep. The chicken. The boy hid his chicken in a glass of water, and I totally didn’t notice. He 100% fooled me into giving him a cupcake.

“Calvin, what’s in your glass?” I asked.

“Oh no! The chicken is all wet! The chicken is in the water.” he replied.

“How did it get in there?” I asked.

He just shook his head and ran off. Sneaky little bastard.

I couldn’t even be mad. He tricked me, the same way that kids have been tricking their parents about eating food for years. I’m kinda proud of him.


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Gettin’ Schooled

Yeah, so, we enrolled our mighty, mighty good boy Calvin in kindergarten.

We submitted the enrollment forms. Now we just wait and see what school they assign him.

He's not a little spawn anymore.

He’s not a little spawn anymore.

Enrolling your child in the San Francisco Unified School District is a bit of an undertaking. When I was a kid, I went to the school that was closest to me. That’s how it worked. In SF, there’s a more involved process that involves touring elementary schools and filling out a form with a ranking of which schools you want your child to attend. The school district considers such factors as proximity and if you have a sibling that already attends that school. They also consider your special education needs, if you’re an English language learner, or if looking for a Spanish or Chinese immersion school.

Basically, it’s a lottery system. A lot of parents loathe the enrollment process in San Francisco. There are seminars to help parents navigate the process, and they offer tips and tricks to getting your kid in the school you want. It’s kinda ridiculous.

Through November and December, we toured some nearby elementary school. I did two, and my mighty, mighty good man David did a few more than that. With the help of a friend who is also navigating the system, David put together a massive spreadsheet with every elementary school on it, including proximity from our house, Great Schools ranking, you know – shit like that.

We narrowed down the list of 85 elementary schools to our top 10, and then attached an additional list with like 25 more schools on it, because we heard from another parent that your odds of getting your top choice improve the more schools you list. Luckily for us, our top choice is the elementary school closest to us, so we have a really good shot at getting it. We also had to attach Calvin’s IEP from the school district for his autism, and we are in the process of getting it updated.

I must give credit where credit is due: David did a lot of the leg work on this. Since the election, I’ve been channeling my frustration into angry Facebook rants, calling my representatives and donating money to organizations that fight for what’s right. David has been channeling his rage into researching the best schools for Calvin. David is rad!

So anyway, we got the forms all filled out, but you can’t just mail them in. You have to physically drop them off at the Education Placement Center. The deadline was last Friday, and David was traveling last week. I decided to go on the Monday before the deadline.

I drove downtown and parked at a meter. There was already 30 minutes on the meter, and I figured that was more than enough time. I was just dropping off these forms. But I wanted to make safe, so I added another 30 minutes. As I was walking to the Education Placement Center, it started pouring rain. Unprepared, I put the enrollment forms under my coat and made a run for it. I’d hate for all our work to get wet.

When I got into the placement center, there was a line out the door.

There was a line just to get a number to wait to drop off your forms. WTF?! It’s basically like waiting at the DMV. I waited in line for about 20 minutes before I got to the counter. The man behind the counter asked me a few questions about my form. “Do you have this?” “Do you have that?” Then he handed me a number.

“I’m so stupid and naive. I thought I was just going to be dropping these forms off in a tray or something, and then I’d walk right out here,” I said.

He laughed at me. He seriously laughed at me like I was the biggest idiot ever.

“Well, you could have done that if you dropped off your forms when we first started the process back in November, but instead you waited until the last minute, so you have to wait.”

He totally schooled me.

I deserved it, I guess. But really, how would I know? I’ve never enrolled a kid in school before.

I had to wait for about 45 minutes, and I finally met with someone who went through all the paperwork to make sure it was complete, and then she sent me on my way. I supposed to should be glad that the school district employees go through your paperwork with you to make sure everything is correct so there are not any problems or delays, but still, it’s kind of a cluster.

So, yeah, my little guy is going to be starting kindergarten in the fall. Gaaaaaahhhh!

penguin

 


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Business, Business, Business, Numbers

Yeah, so, before I get to the Friday cuteness, I’ve got a few random things to share.

The second episode of Dorking Out About Trailers is here. Smith, P Biddy and I talk about “Rings,” “Cars 3” and “CHiPs.” We’re having a lot of fun with this one, including writing our own fake trailers that play before our discussion. I think they are kinda funny, if I don’t say so myself. You should listen.

I don’t talk about work here that often, unless I’m talking about the infamous Office Busybody. But, I did get some good work-related news. I got a promotion, kinda. My title hasn’t changed. I’m still the Content and Social Media Marketing Manager, but I got a nice pay bump, more responsibilities and even my own budget to manage. Oh la la. I’m so fuckin’ professional and shit now.

I will be spending even more time on social media, and I will get to work on some fun marketing projects, including videos. I don’t have a lot of experience with that, but it will be a great thing to learn. Unfortunately, it also means I have to deal with things like “revenue forecasts” and crap like that.

unikitty2

So anyway, here’s your Friday cuteness.

sleepingdogs

Bed buddies.

Umm, fur is murder, Toby.

“It’s a cruelty-free fur wrap.” – good buddy Katie


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I’ll Give You Something To Cry About

Yeah, so, my mighty, mighty good boy Calvin is all about watching the “Toy Story” movies, which means I’ve been crying a lot lately.

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Calvin’s cousin Lucy gave him all her “Toy Story” dolls, including Woody, Jesse, Bullseye and Buzz.

Calvin is in love with these movies right now, and they are really terrific movies. I might even say they are practically perfect movies. They are funny, thoughtful and full of adventure. And I love how they are encouraging Calvin to do more imaginative play with his toys, which isn’t something many autistic children do.

Calvin refers to Woody as “Muddy.” We’re not sure why, but it’s kinda funny.

I can get through the first “Toy Story” without tears. “Toy Story 2” has that oh-so-sad sequence in the middle of the movie, in which Jessie’s owner ditches her in a donation pile. It completely wrecked me when I first saw the movie in theater. I cried so much during that scene that I had been afraid to see the movie again. I just watched it for the first time since 1999 last week, and I totally cried again. I’m not made of stone, people. But after the 20th time, the scene loses its power. I can get through “Toy Story 2” now and only feel a little sad for Jessie, because I know the movie has a happy ending.

Of course, “Toy Story 2” is mere child’s play compared to tear-inducing antics of “Toy Story 3,” which Calvin started watching the other day. “Toy Story 3” made me cry so hard in the theater that I was embarrassed. I hadn’t seen it since it came out in 2010.

It still makes me cry. Spoilers for “Toy Story 3” … But the scene when all the toys are headed toward the incinerator destroys me. All the toys are been pulled toward the fire where they will be melted down, and they are trying so hard to get out, but at a certain point they just accept their fate. They look at each other, and they start joining hands, and they face their impending death hand in hand. GAAAAAHHHHHH! Of course, they make it out completely intact, but still – I started bawling like a baby while Calvin watched it. I left the room sobbing.

Then at the end, when college-bound Andy gives his toys away to Bonnie to play with … *cries just thinking about it*

Damn you, Toy Story! Damn you!

Pixar has mastered making adults cry. You’d have to be a cold-hearted bastard to make it through “Up” without shedding a tear. For days after seeing “Up” I would cry when I was talking about it. Calvin got “Inside Out” for Christmas, and I know it’s going to make me cry … again.

So, what movies or TV shows do your kids watch that make you cry?