This week, we finally got back into the swing of school after having two weeks of other activities that impacted our ability to have “regular days” at school. Ryan had his EEG two weeks ago (and we should be getting the results soon) and then we had Lenae Crandall of HEED RPM in town for 8 families in the DFW area and she helped Ryan really practice having the letter board flat on the table for RPM lessons. After that, I went to the HALO RPM Conference, The Diversity of RPM, in Austin, TX last weekend where I met up with some of my friends and other like minded moms to learn more ways to help Ryan and other kids like him.
So we were back at it this week. One of the big take aways I got from the conference was that we needed to work on handwriting more. Ryan cannot make any legible letters at this point, even after years and years of practicing his name in school. He is very motivated to handwrite now. Some of Ryan’s friends have been practicing handwriting and are improving with practice. I feel like this is kind of like our experience with bike riding. If you remember, Ryan could not even pedal forward on his own without someone pushing his feet. Now he can ride independently on a two wheeler. I believe that if we practice 10 minutes everyday, he will get there with handwriting.
I had called the North Richland Hills Library earlier this week to see if we could get a behind the scenes tour of the library and speak to someone who works at the library. I spoke with Liz and she helped set up a time to meet her yesterday (Thursday) morning at 9:30 am. As I was running around trying to get Ryan and Freckles out the door, I missed a phone call from a woman named Alicia at the Mayor’s office. I had also called the Mayor’s office with the hope of Ryan being able to interview Mayor Oscar Trevino of North Richland Hills, Texas (where we live). Alicia had called me Wednesday to ensure that I knew that she had received my message and that she would get back to me regarding the mayor’s calendar. Her message this morning asked if we were available at 11:30 today (Thursday) to meet with Mayor Trevino. I was both excited and nervous about this as I wasn’t sure if Ryan would have the stamina to do both of these in one day. When we got to the Library, I asked Ryan in the parking lot if he wanted to meet with the mayor today. He replied YES, so we decided to go for it. (Meanwhile I am in a ponytail and converse thinking that I am not dressed for meeting the mayor, but this is not about me.)
We got to the library and we were met by Monica, who informed us that Liz was out sick and that Liz asked if she could show us around. Monica was very kind to us and introduced herself and asked Ryan what kind of books he liked. I can’t quite remember exactly what Ryan said but it was something like, GOOD TO SAY ALWAYS LIKE BOOKS BY MY FAVORITE AUTHORS. I then mentioned to Monica that Ryan’s favorite authors are J.K. Rowling, Rick Riordan, Suzanne Collins, and Lynn Tarshis. She brought us back to the Harry Potter books and she and Ryan conversed a bit about Harry Potter and that certainly won Ryan over.
Ryan interviewed Monica after that and we learned that you needed a Master’s Degree to be a librarian. Monica knew all of the authors that Ryan mentioned (and the books that they wrote) and she even gave us a new series suggestion, Artemis Fowl. One thing that really stuck with me is that she said that “If you don’t like reading, you just haven’t found the right book!” I completely agree with her! Ryan really enjoyed talking books with her and at one point said BOOKS ARE MY LIFE.
We walked around the rest of the library and she gave us a tour of the Maker Spot, which is a room upstairs that is “An all ages makerspace where those with a library card can use tools, equipment, and software for free in a safe, clean, collaborative environment.” They had all sorts of things in there like sewing machines, K’nex toys, robotics, and a 3D printer. She introduced us to Dan and he explained a bit about 3D printing. If any of our readers have experience with 3D printing, we would love to hear from you!
I mentioned to Monica about our meeting with the mayor and how I was a bit nervous and she told me not to worry as he will put us at ease within the first few minutes. I made the mistake of saying this within earshot of Ryan and he started to get upset. He spelled BOUND TO BE NERVOUS MEETING THE MAYOR. I reiterated what Monica said and tried to help him calm down.
We headed for City Hall to meet Mayor Oscar Trevino. We arrived and I couldn’t catch Ryan fast enough before he got a squirt of hand sanitizer and licked it. We sat down to wait and Mayor Trevino came out to greet us and as soon as I went to shake his hand, Ryan got the hand sanitizer again. Mayor Trevino did not even bat an eye and he showed us to his office.
He began talking to us and engaging Ryan right away by asking him what he was carrying around (lanyards) and he asked us a little about Freckles. Once we sat down in his office, Ryan was able to point to the letters on his board to reply to Mayor Trevino’s questions. Mayor Trevino was genuinely interested in RPM and how Ryan learned to communicate and how long it took him. We gave him the background on RPM and then Ryan reached out to smell Mayor Trevino’s hand. Mayor Trevino said that his hand might smell of oil due to some work that he was doing on his bike (I then mentioned to him about Ryan’s bike riding) and then I explained why Ryan smelled people. Mayor Trevino asked Ryan, “Do I smell good? I hope so.” Ryan replied NOT SURE YET. I WILL FIGURE IT OUT IF WE KEEP TALKING. We both chuckled at that response. Ryan definitely tells it like it is.
I mentioned to the mayor that Ryan loves to interview people and that he interviewed Officer Hodges (who Mayor Trevino knew personally) and Officer Morgan (who again Mayor Trevino knew personally. Ryan interviewed Mayor Trevino for about 30 minutes and we learned that he has been mayor of North Richland Hills for 15 years and he has run unopposed for the last 11 years. We learned that his position was part-time and that he has an almost non-existent salary as mayor. We learned that his favorite part of his job is talking to all of the 2nd grade classrooms in North Richland Hills schools.
Ryan was enthralled. So was I. I have met plenty of people in my lifetime and I truly believe that Mayor Trevino is one of the most candid, genuine people I have ever encountered. We finished up the interview and Ryan spelled TOO GOOD TO THANK YOU AND SAY THAT THIS IS THE MOST INTERESTING INTERVIEW I HAVE HAD TO DATE. I mentioned to Ryan and Mayor Trevino that I am not sure how Dad and the other people Ryan has interviewed would feel about it but that that was a huge compliment! Before leaving, I asked him if we could take a picture. He insisted that I be in the picture as well (remember ponytail and converse oh and did I mention I forgot to remove the sunglasses off of my head?) and he asked if it was okay if we took it by this sign that he worked hard to get in a municipal building. I thought that it was perfect.
He then told Ryan that he had one more room that he wanted him to see.
If you can’t tell how Ryan felt about Mayor Trevino by the end of the visit, then I don’t know what to say. The smile on his face says it all. He grinned the whole way home.
Once we got home, it was lunch time and I asked Ryan what he wanted to eat. His reply: TOO HARD TO SAY THAT I AM HAPPY TO HAVE INTERVIEWED THE TOO KIND MAYOR.
I told him that I wanted to sit down to talk about our day for the blog and he spelled: CAN WE DO HANDWRITING FIRST? Of course I agreed to that (buy in and motivation from him!)
When we sat down, we talked about our experience at the library.
MONICA IS SINCERE IN HER APPROACH. SHE LIKES BOOKS AS MUCH AS I DO.
I asked him about the 3D printer. 3D PRINTING SOUNDS COOL BUT I DON’T TOTALLY GET IT. (This is where we could use help from anyone who has used one!)
We then talked about Ryan’s experience meeting the mayor.
MIGHT BE THE NICEST MAN I’VE MET.
I asked him if he thought that being nice was a good quality for a mayor to have.
BECAUSE CITIES ARE WHERE PEOPLE CALL HOME. CAN WE GO TO THE MAYOR’S WALK?
Yes. I will sign us up today (the walk is Saturday, April 1st). Just so you know, Mayor Trevino may not have an opportunity to talk to you as it is his walk and there will be plenty of people who will want to speak to him. Are you okay with this?
So what did you think of your day overall today?
WE REALLY HAD A PACKED DAY. TOO REALLY BOUND TO LOVE IT.