January 5, 2013

Resolution #1 Spend more time with Family & Friends

Every Monday and Friday at 8:45 John or I drop Alex off at the Treehouse. The Treehouse is the child care facility at Snowmass Mountain where Alex has worked for the last few winters. After we drop Alex off we take her ski stuff and lunch to Challenge Aspen, where we pick her up at 4:00.

From 9 AM- 12 PM Alex works with the 2 - 3 year olds at the Treehouse. They make crafts, play in the snow and have snacks. Alex is the pied piper and has always loved little kids and it is reciprocated. She is a valued member of the childcare team and comes home with stories of the kids. Hayden is her current favorite, although "there are five kids who followed me around all day".

At noon Alex takes the skittles (sky cab) to another area on the mountain to meet her skiing "buddy" from Challenge Aspen for the afternoon. She is working on stamina and safety techniques after we received feedback from the Lake Placid training about her shaky performance. We have been told there may be some changes in South Korea. 

To fill in the gaps....the conditions at Lake Placid were very icy and Alex has never skied on ice before. I am sure this may sound strange, but we rarely have ice in Colorado. This freaked out Alex  and she would not keep up with her team. She feigned injuries, which everyone here knows is how she communicates. Somehow, somewhere there were communication breaks and her coach did not know how to work with her.

I received a call nine days after her return with this information. I had sensed something was up with Alex, her temper had been short and when asked about Lake Placid she acted strange. Here is an excerpt of the email I sent to Alex's coach a few days after our conversation (I practiced the 72 hour rule)

I have had a few days to think over what you said as well as follow-up with Alex. Needless to say, she is quite upset and sincerely sorry for not acting like a team member. I have enclosed her letter of apology. She is also upset about Level 1 - this makes her feel like a failure and could possibly dis-incent her - is there anyway we could re-visit this decision? She worked hard to get to the intermediate level and can certainly ski at that level. 

As far as Alex, she was nervous about the ice, having never really skied on the East Coast before. When I followed up with local coach after our conversation she shared that her strategy with Alex is to make sure she has a great first day - or she can shut-down. Injuries are her way of communicating discomfort - it is the only way she knows how to get attention. Once she has that confidence under her belt she is great! 

Sometimes (often) I forget Alex has Down syndrome and treat her like her siblings. She is so capable  and responsible that I forget she is successful when she is prepared for new experiences and understands her responsibilities. I am guilty of not properly preparing Alex for Lake Placid. I should have checked the skiing conditions and asked you more  questions about what her day would look like, as well as your expectations for her. We will start preparing for Korea three weeks before hand and set her expectations, research weather conditions and look over maps of the resort. Anything you can provide would be great!

And what does this have to do with Resolution #1 Spend more time with Family & Friends? A lot and everything!

Every day something happens in my life, or the lives of my children that I want to share. I want someone to tell me I am doing the right thing, or not. I want assurances and push-back and I want support.

Everyday something happens in the lives of my Mom, my siblings and my many nieces and nephews. I do not know about these things, and they do not know that Alex can work, then commute to skiing. My family does not know Alex, they can not share in her successes and brainstorm about her needs. We are all missing the opportunity to learn and grow through Alex.

I long ago discovered my closest and dearest friends are those from high school and college. Almost all of these friends live on the east coast and our visits are sporadic and short. I can not have coffee, lunch or dinner with any of these friends to ask for advice or support. I can not confidentially share my shortcomings and have someone listen.

Does this sound selfish? I hope not, but I do hope that resolution #1 will be mastered and by the end of the year I can answer my own question...Where is the right place for us to live?


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