Thursday, November 8, 2012

Learned That Lesson

One thing I learned from our prior daycare debacle was when something isn't working for CJ, to move on. Not everyone can deal with him and the behaviors that SPD can bring on top of a highly spirited personality. We moved him from a situation that wasn't right and ended up very happy. He loved his preschool teacher.

In August, CJ started Kindergarten despite my reservations. For his after school care I enrolled him in a program at the school, he'd just go to the school gym at the end of school. His preschool also offered an after school program and picked up using a bus. I thought staying at school was the best choice,

Things went wrong the very first day of school. The director, Ms. M called me at 3:45 and said the Kindergarteners weren't supposed to start til a few days later and he was running wild and wouldn't listen and she didn't have enough staff. One, no one told me otherwise. Two, why wait for an hour and fifteen to call me? I was driving WC to his 4pm appointment. If I'd been contacted earlier, he would have been picked up.
From day one, they got off wrong. Ms. M would comment that CJ was nothing like WC. He made progress when he was under care of Ms. R. But she wasn't always there.
Then Ms. M began to tell me that "something had to be done with CJ." Translates to: You need to be a better mother." She would stare at me as if she couldn't grasp that I was also the mom to WC, a well-behaved, demure , quiet child that was in the program when he was 5.
One day CJ was playing with modeling clay, the one thing that would keep him busy. He told her he was making a "shittake mushroom." She looked at me like I was raising an alien.
The afternoon she said to me, "I'm glad he's your kid, not mine." I looked her right in the eye and told her that I was very glad he was mine.
How on earth would anyone think that's remotely okay to say to a parent about their kid? She really believes she wouldn't love her own child if the kid didn't behave perfectly? However she had no idea that I know how to handle him.

The next day I called his preschool and asked if they had room in the after care program and was told they'd love to have him back. All I had to do was let them know when to start picking him up. I needed to fill out the school age enrollment forms but I could turn them in and pay them when I picked him up!
I went in on Wed and told Ms. M that his last day would be Friday. I explained that I knew there was a 2 week notice and all but I didn't think I'd be a problem.
She had the nerve to tell me she was sorry to see him go. Yeah right.

In the car, I told WC that CJ was changing programs. He asked why and I explained that it wasn't working. That Ms. M didn't like CJ. Then I told him to not tell CJ I said that. He inquired why and when I told him that CJ didn't need to know. WC informed me that CJ said Ms. M didn't like him and he didn't like her.
Silly me for thinking CJ hadn't sensed it. Shame on her for letting a 5 yo child see her feelings. She works with kids!
Since moving to the new (old) place he's much happier. So am I.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

See The Good

In our school district at the end of the school year the children are subjected to standardized testing. These standardized tests are used to evaluate the teachers- they gain or lose money & reputation based on how their pupils perform. As you might guess this leads to teaching to the test. If it isn't on the test, they don't teach it. I'm not a fan of this situation. Some cases the teachers put enormous pressure on youngsters to make them look good.
In May I received a phone call at work around midday, WC had a breakdown during said achievement test. According to the school guidance counsellor, it was reported he began panicking, scratching his arms & in a move that would get him sent to the guidance counsellor he told his teacher we'd all be better off without him. The law stated she had to call mobile crisis.
I went to the ladies room and sobbed. I'd known for a while how unhappy with school he was but his grades were excellent. So I was blind to how badly he was hurting. And blind to what his teacher was doing. But that's a different post.
I'm not one to be proud. This was beyond my abilities. We needed help.
The previous year I'd contacted an LCSW when CJ first began to have issues. I'd spoken to her but decided to only see the OT. But I'd liked her. She was honest with me the year before & that stuck with me. I called her that very day.
The mobile crisis guy called me. After a discussion he concluded it wasn't necessary for them to respond that I was capable of handling it.
A few weeks later school was over. And we began seeing the therapist weekly throughout the summer and up to the present. Ms E is wonderful she connected with him & he trusts her. I'm grateful for the changes we've seen. It's a process and not going to be magically better instantly.
The first thing she had me do was every night at bedtime he has to name a good thing about the day or a good thing about himself. If he can't or won't then I tell him. I think it's a great thing to do with both kids. We're all so busy we forget to celebrate the good things about our kids.
I challenge you to start telling your kids when they are doing things RIGHT. Tell them that you see the good things they do!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Thumbs Up

For the longest time we’ve struggled with finding an effective method to discipline CJ. In the few months leading up to the discovery of his developmental delay and sensory issues, it became apparent that absolutely nothing was working.

Discipline seems to be hotly debated topic. In my opinion, the point of discipline is to train the child in the appropriate way to behave in any given situation. This, I’ve come to understand isn’t a simple one-size fits all task.

We’ve tried all sorts of things with CJ- time-outs, rewards, removing a toy, and in desperation even spanking. I was spanked as a child. I didn’t like it and it deterred me from doing the thing that resulted in being smacked on the butt. It did not faze CJ and did not serve as a deterrent against the behavior being repeated. Bottom line, it didn’t work- so what’s the point of doing it? It didn’t feel right to me and for a reason.

And CJ began to lash out at others- he hit, bit and kicked and screamed. At first we were befuddled at what the heck was going on with this kid. He’s been strong willed from birth and obviously bright, but a different creature had taken over. I’ve written prior about the horrible experience we had at the preschool he was attending at the time; I won’t go into it again.

Long story short, we discovered after an evaluation with an OT- setup through our Pediatrician- that he was delayed in grasp and visual motor. Also SPD- see my sidebar with links for more information. What he was doing was exhibiting frustrated behavior at his inability to hold crayons/pencils and draw/write. And he had a big traffic jam in his brain with sensory overload. He didn’t have the verbal ability or maturity to put into words what was happening to him. And he was labeled a behavioral problem by the former preschool.

You simply cannot spank a neurological disorder out. You can’t change the behavior exhibited by a neurology disorder by spanking. And since I wasn’t sure what behavior was resulting from the SPD and what was him being stubborn. I decided that it was simply not for us. The understanding of the developmental delays shed light on the frustrated behavior. And helping that simply involves therapy to increase the skills. As the skills have increased, the frustrated behaviors subside.

At our new care facility, his teacher has been wonderful. I was honest with her from the get-go at what we were dealing with. She didn’t bat an eyelash. He’s put her through her paces and she has never held any of his behavior against him. She doesn’t let him slide, by any means. But she was a huge blessing in our lives at the perfect time.

A couple months ago I was at the school, picking him up from the day. He looked at Ms. C and said, “Did I have a this day (holds his little thumb up) or a this day (little thumb down). She smiled and held her thumb up and he smiles and jumps up and down. I must have looked puzzled because she then explained that when he’s behaving well, she gives him a thumbs up and if he begins to slide into inappropriate behavior she gets his attention and holds her thumb out sideways and tells him he’s getting there and let’s bring it back up. We don’t want to get to here (holds her thumb out down) and CJ responds by shaking his head no.

Are you kidding me? That’s about as simple as it can get. And it works on him?

I decided then, that I would bring that tool back home with me. I’d see how it works for us at home or out in public. I’ve discovered it’s a nice thing to have in public. It can cut back on verbal scolding. As long as I can get his attention, it can be used from across a room. He doesn’t like getting a sideways thumb and will usually correct himself in order to get a thumbs up.

I don’t know why it works. Why does this speak to him when other things don’t?

I like that it’s immediate. I see him sliding and usually can catch him before it escalates.

Like everything it isn’t perfect and doesn’t always work. But we have had better results from a simple thumb than anything else.

*Please note that I am not making any commentary about the way anyone disciplines their child. I am simply writing about my personal experience with one of my children. I make no judgement of anyone. You discipline your child as you see fit and do what works for your family as long as it is legal. I am not debating disciplinary styles. If you would like to comment on what works for you or your experience without criticizing others then that is welcome. Openly critical, mean comments will not be posted.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Prayer and the Eight Year Old

Late Saturday evening WC burst through the backdoor into the kitchen screaming, “The Bible’s real, the Bible’s real.”

I turn from my dinner preparation and find him panting. When he catches his breath he continues. “I was outside with my car (holds up a green matchbook style automobile) and I dropped in the grass; couldn’t find it anywhere. So I prayed as hard as I could; asked God to let me find my car. And when I opened my eyes- there is was!” Then he begins another frantic run in a circle screaming. “God’s real.” Then heads back across the kitchen and out the backdoor screaming. “God’s real. Praying is fun.” The door slams behind him. From what I could gather from the sounds of the yelling, he and his little brother were running across the back yard screaming/chanting- “God’s real. Praying is fun.”

I find my husband on the couch, laughing hysterically. He finally says, “Do you think they know you blog about them?”

“They do appear to just hand me things me write about.”

At some point, probably soon, we will have to have the discussion with him that just because you pray, God doesn’t always just drop your request at your feet.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

It's 7:30 am; Do You Know Where Your Boobs Are?

Sometimes a young child’s take on the world and the things around them can be imaginative and inventive. Anything can happen. Elves can spend 364 days making toys for a fat guy to fly around the world and deliver in one night every child on the earth.

Reality is not concrete and the line with make believe can blur.

The confusion can sometimes be amusing for us adults.

One Saturday, I’d been doing laundry and wishing that a laundry fairy would appear and take care of this tedious, boring task. Later when I noticed that a bra had fallen into the kitchen floor, I quickly stuck it on a kitchen chair where it could hide under the table until I put it away later.

Having the memory of gnat, I forgot about the bra in the chair.

Sunday morning I was enjoying my cup of coffee curled up on the couch, while CJ ate his breakfast.

“Mommy?” CJ entered from the kitchen, his little forehead scrunched up in concern.

“Yes, baby.” I motioned him to come closer.

He hurried over and stood in front of me; leaned in close. His voice dropped to a whisper. “Your boobs are in the kitchen chair.”

Monday, April 2, 2012

Grandchildren- A Parents Revenge

“These people are not the same people I grew up with.” –Bill Cosby.

The other night on the way home, my kids were in the backseat of the car. They’d spent that day with my mom and were happily raiding the plastic bag of goodies between them in the seat. They retrieved a plastic object in the shape of a duck bill- they each had one. And they proceeded to repeatedly blow into it and a noise that was supposed to resemble a duck’s quack filled the car.

CJ had blown his spit into the noise maker and it sounded like a duck that needed to hock a loogie back there.

Why does my mother hate me?

I thought we’d put to rest the issues between us when I was in my early twenties. Then I had a child. The gleam in her eye and the maniacal laugh when I announced my pregnancy should have been a clue. She’d figured out that sweet revenge would finally be hers.

What could I have possibly done as a child to this woman? None of the stories I’ve been told seem that I was that bad. I was far better than my sister (tooting my own horn here). I’m the good one. Just because she doesn’t have kids, why do I have to pay the price for both of us?

After each visit they arrive home with bags of stuff (i.e. crap I’d never buy them). Usually the stuff is of a noisy nature- duck bill whistles (hello, they are boys...they come with their own built in noise makers), or millions of Legos that are scattered to the ends of the house and hurt like hell on the bottom of a bare foot. Or messy- the color bubble incident is by far the worse. I could stock a daycare with the amount of modeling dough that’s been sent home.

I’ve been told that I colored on her walls as a small child. I don’t remember it but will be paying for it until my kids destroy my house.

Then there’s the food- she once sent home a box of chocolate covered honey buns. I read the nutritional information (more calories and sugar than an adult should consume in a day). She introduced them to children’s chocolate breakfast cereal, chocolate pop tarts and pre-packaged snack cakes.

She wonders why they don’t sleep well when they spend the night.

Usually she loads them up and sends them home to me. And they crash and sleep like they’ve been on a three day bender.

I’ve learned that it doesn’t do any good to talk to her. She will nod along and then go and do whatever she wants anyway. Probably similar to me as a teenager.

My motto for the kids is “Whatever happens at Nana’s, stays at Nana’s.”

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Grant Me the Serenity to Not Destroy These Children

My sister moved out the other day. She’s lived with us on and off for years. But she’d been living with us now for about two years- her longest stretch. It wasn’t a surprise when she announced that she was leaving. I was expecting it.

For the past couple of years the kids have been used to her room in our house being off limits. I admonished them numerous times to stay out of her belongings.

She has a collection of gothic dolls. One in particular I consider creepy- A small fabric doll wearing a little black dress and a face with one solid black eye and one solid white eye. I’d noticed it while on the treadmill that also occupied her room. I kept glancing at it just to make sure it wasn’t getting any closer to me.

One evening WC had started up a video in their bedroom and when I reminded him that they didn’t have time to watch any before bed- he told me that they were trying to get their mind off of Aunt’s creepy little doll.

My sister stated that if they stayed out of her room then they wouldn’t have to worry about her creepy doll. I theorized that going into her room is the equivalent to a dare to stay in a haunted house. I bet you can’t stay in for three minutes. She wasn’t amused.

The boys were all a flutter while she boxed her things and packed her car. As her room emptied they continually checked the progress.

On Saturday morning I woke to discover the formerly emptied room had been filled with my things that were previously stored neatly in the closet- yoga mat, exercise ball, hand weights, the linoleum sample from our flooring, etc. They also had their small indoor play tent setup. They’d pulled the fan from their room. And to top it off, the little buggers had managed to unhook their tv and dvd player and move them into this room. Now this is a 12 inch tv but it’s an old school, foot and a half thick television, not a small flat screen.

Small bottles of paint that I’d kept on the bookshelf were scattered on end table left in the room. There was the cup CJ uses to rinse his mouth when he brushes his teeth, filled with paint infused water and soggy paint brush. Water puddles scattered the table top and seeped into the graph paper they’d found. Then top it off neither of them actually painted a picture.

I’m standing at the threshold to hell. The only room in the house that had not been cluttered is jammed full. Anything they could have pulled out is in the middle of room. In the middle of it all stand two slack jawed little boys who are wearing facial expressions similar to one I would have in a class on theoretical physics.

Meditation breathing comes in handy at moments like these. As well as a short prayer to ask that I have the restraint to not destroy these children.