Trying to Move Forward and Getting No Traction

I frantically searched for a new school to place my child in.  I found a Montessori school with a huge outdoor space and a low child to student ratio.  It looked like it could be a nice place so I decided we would give it a try.  I thought 17 students for 1 teacher was way too many so I specifically sought out a place with a lower student to teacher ratio.

I knew my son struggled with transitions so I warned the teachers and school personnel about it.  To say adjusting to the new school was a struggle is an understatement.  His first day was rough, but he survived. . . barely.  I got called on Tuesday to come get him because he had hit another child.  When I came to get him I was swarmed by the entire staff.  We talked about my son and his history.  I talked about how he was a head banger when he was little and how after a certain teacher had left his previous school he started to fall apart.  He struggled with transitions, and on and on.

They gave me some advice and I left feeling a little bit better.  I had known the first week was going to be a rough one.

It didn’t get any better.  The next day he continued to struggle.  He hit the teacher, he ran outside and then lost his outside privileges, he hid in the reading corner and tried to hide behind the bookshelf, he cursed.  They separated him from the other kids to calm down and he ate lunch with their behavioral specialist.  This behavior continued through the week.  He was not adjusting at all.

Then it came again… on the following Monday, this school told me that my child was too disruptive and that they thought I should look somewhere else.  They told me my child’s behavior was defiant and the fact that he couldn’t look the adults in the eye when they were trying to talk to him was atypical behavior.  They made me feel like a shitty parent with a deviant child who had behavioral issues.  I knew my child had some issues, but I didn’t believe they were behavioral.  As I slowly pulled pieces together from his experiences in school together, I began to believe my sons’ issues were sensory related.  I felt he became easily overwhelmed by all the transitions and switching of teachers and activities. I felt like he went easily into sensory overload.

In the week he had been at the school I had tried to make him a flip book of the different transitions to try to help him and I was surprised at how many there were.  Start off in the main room with all the children, move to the classroom, circle time, snack time, outside time, lunch time, nap time in a different room, snack time again, circle time again, move into the main room for pick up.  That is an awful lot of transitions for a child that doesn’t do well with transitions.  And honestly, I was just figuring out exactly what that phrase “struggles with transitions” meant.  Actually seeing how many transitions our children make at school kind of floored me, I could only imagine how all the transitions made my child feel.

I called my therapist friend.  We talked, she reassured me that most of his behavior was normal child behavior.  I recalled a conversation we had had previously about eye contact. and how we had talked about how some children don’t look at adults in the eyes because it can feel very threatening, but it’s not atypical behavior, she remembered and agreed.  Together we ruled out a diagnosis of Autism, even though using some techniques that work well with autistic children all worked well for him.  She agreed he probably fell into the category of Highly Sensitive Children and we talked about sensory overload. . . We decided a lot of his behaviors could be classified as normal, but you could definitely tell there were some issues there somewhere.  She didn’t feel like it was behavioral related, we kept coming back to sensory…I felt less like a shitty parent after our conversation, but my stress level was through the roof.  What was I going to do with my son?  I couldn’t quit my job because we need the income.

This was the second stumble of a step on a very long, very hard and tearful journey towards helping my child.

To be continued. . .

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Second Post in SPD Series
Read The First Post Here:  The Day My World Came Crashing Down

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The Day My World Came Crashing Down

As I sat in your office crying after you told me my son could no longer attend your school you had the gall to ask me “How are you feeling?”  It still bothers me to this day that you asked me this question.  Of all the things you could say, what possessed you to ask me “How are you feeling?” The question made me feel like I was in therapy.  I almost blurted out “What kind of fucking question is that?  How do you think I’m fucking feeling?” but instead I let the rage spiral around inside me and between the sobs and the tears I managed to say “Devastated”.

After I got that one word out I was able to continue some.  “Is there any way he could stay?” I asked because the maternal instinct said I should fight for my child even though somewhere in the dark corners of my heart I knew that he hadn’t liked it there in a long while.  She said No.  She said that they had tried to work with him, but that other parents had also raised concerns about my child.

WTF?  As if I wasn’t already angry “Why am I just now hearing that other parents are concerned about my child? Isn’t that something that I should have been told?” I asked and then I continued “I feel like I wasn’t communicated with honestly about my son’s behavior in school.  I feel like the teachers focused on the positive things instead of the negative so I wasn’t getting an accurate picture of what was going on. I feel like only one teacher (who wasn’t even his teacher but was with him here and there) actually had been telling me the truth about him.”

She agreed that the communication could have been better not that it made a difference at this point in time.  I had asked the teachers and the director on numerous occasions what they thought was going on, why my child seemed unhappy at their school.  The best I got was they thought he was just a very sensitive child and that when you tell him “No” it just cuts straight through to his little soul and brings him pain. I didn’t quite buy the explanation and felt there was more to the problem.

The director then told me a story about the only other child they had kicked out of their facility and how he had moved passed his early childhood issues especially when he became involved in sports.

She meant to tell the story to make me feel better.

It didn’t.

I was still devastated and I was still pissed off.

“Happy Early Fucking Birthday to me,” I thought.  My 3.5-year-old was kicked out of school for pushing and kicking another child because you know, kids don’t do things like that.. .

Months later it still bothers me that she asked me that question, but I no longer bear a grudge towards the school or the staff.  This was the first stumble of a step on a very long, very hard and tearful journey towards helping my child.

To be continued. . .

Lessons Learned from a Ladder

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When you have a handy husband, you have ladders.  Sometimes those ladders get used and left out and your toddler becomes fascinated with them.

When we arrived home the other day I noticed my husband had left a ladder out underneath the pergola.  The babe and I emerged from the car and headed to the yard for some outdoor play.  I scanned the yard looking for signs of foul play and oddities. I couldn’t figure out why the ladder was in that spot underneath the pergola and it took me a moment to deduce what was different.  “Oh,” I thought relieved to have found my answer.  My husband had moved a metal cow skull from the pergola to his workshop.

When my gaze turned back to the pergola and the ladder I realized my child had decided to take advantage of my 30-second distraction and was making his way to the top of the climbing apparatus.  My adrenaline kicked up a notch and my first maternal instinct was to rip him off the ladder and knock the equipment to the ground so he couldn’t climb to the top and fall off.  I pushed those thoughts aside and opted for method number two.  I took a picture to show my husband what mischief the child was making and followed him up the ladder to provide him a buffer between himself, the ground and the possibility of a fall. When we parent our primal protective instincts can overwhelm us to try to shield our children from any and all dangerous situations they may encounter.  While this is a good inclination to possess, I think more often than not we go overboard listening to our instincts and forget that our tiny humans were created to learn and explore.  I knew straight away that my determined child would not stop until he had climbed the ladder, so instead of fighting him on the issue I let him climb while remaining a short distance away in case he needed help at some point during his new adventure.  After he reached the peak of the ladder and had his fill of playing with the tiny lights that were now in his reach he decided he wanted to come down.  He more or less turned around and practically jumped on top of me.

When we parent our primal protective instincts can overwhelm us to try to shield our children from any and all dangerous situations they may encounter.  While this is a good inclination to possess, I think more often than not we go overboard listening to our instincts and forget that our tiny humans were created to learn and explore.  I knew straight away that my determined child would not stop until he had climbed the ladder, so instead of fighting him on the issue I let him climb while remaining a short distance away in case he needed help at some point during his new adventure.  After he reached the peak of the ladder and had his fill of playing with the tiny lights that were now in his reach he decided he wanted to come down.  He more or less turned around and practically jumped on top of me so I’m glad I had taken up position a few rungs behind him.  I turned him back around and taught him the proper way to come down the ladder, one rung at a time, slowly and carefully.

We need to remember in parenting that letting our children make mistakes  and fall down and get up are all integral parts of their learning process.  We have to let them try things so they might fail things so we may teach them how to cope when they fail at things.  Or we have to let them try things to succeed at things so that we can share in their triumph  and foster their independence that, yes, they can do things on their own.

Your challenge for this week is to allow your child do something that you find somewhat terrifying.  Stay close in case they need you but let them complete whatever task or adventure on their own. If you aren’t one to just stand around feel free to join in the fun, but remember you are playing beside them, not interrupting their independence.

Quote of the Day

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” Robert Brault

 

A week in Gratitude

I am thankful for my very bouncy, smart and energetic little boy who teaches me something new every day.  I am thankful for all the times he grabs my hand and leads me away from whatever chore I am engaged in and tells me “Play with me” so I can remember what is important and I am thankful that sometimes instead of asking me to play he instead helps me with my tasks, as I find encouragement that I am teaching him great skills for the future.

The Short End of The Stick

Oh, my dear stay at home moms. I’m glad society finally sees the value of the stay at home mom. You are an awesome bunch of ladies who sacrifice so much to make sure your children get what they need. I’ve seen a lot of writings about stay at home moms as of late and as a working mom I find them often a little disheartening. I feel a flicker of a connection in some areas but I also feel wildly disconnected. . . I feel a bit left out.

I didn’t realize until I became a working mother how considerable the differences are between stay at home moms and working mothers, and while I don’t believe that either choice is superior to the other I often feel like us working moms get the short end of the stick.

Just like you, as a working Mom I am the primary care giver to my child. The biggest difference is that I don’t stay at home during the day with my child. My child goes to school during the day while I work which means I am only allowed a small allotment of time to spend with my child in the mornings and evening during the week. Just like you stay at home moms I want to make the most out of my time with my child. Unfortunately I also have to squeeze in the same things you do laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, time with my husband, other family and friends and do you know what? It’s hard. It is so incredibly hard.

I love being a mom. I like working outside the home, but I have found that I often feel like a plate spinner. Just as it takes dedication and skill to keep those plates spinning,  I feel like my life is constantly spent trying to keep all the different areas of my life spinning so my world doesn’t come crashing down on me in an obliteration of glass and debris. I feel I am constantly being pulled in twenty different directions and when I finally get an unexpected moment to breathe I don’t know what to do with myself.

When I look for things to do with my child in the evenings and on the weekends I find that my choices are extremely limited. No story time at the library. No mommy and me yoga. No mommy and me anything. All the classes I can find are during the day. . . while I’m at work. Ok. Fine. I did manage to find a swim class we could take together, and it seems now my child is getting older my choices are finally increasing some.

Now, let’s talk playdates. Let’s try to get together with some of the wonderful moms from my online moms group. Every time I find someone posting for a playdate I take one look at the date and time and my heart sinks. It’s always during the day. . . when I’m at work. I’ve tried posting listings for weekend playdates a few times with not much luck. I did have one and it was awesome and I need to get together with her again, I just wish she lived closer. . .

Which brings me to one of the big complaints I see of stay at home moms. . . that they need friends.  Um, hello, us, working moms need friends too. We may get to leave the house on a daily basis and have adult interactions with people we work with, but in my line of work I work with mostly men, and the handful of women in my office are all a decade older than me so I don’t have much in common with them.  I want to be surrounded by other mothers who can tell me all the things my child does are normal. Friends who can make me laugh and remind me how to not get so wrapped up in caring for my child that I neglect myself.

I am jealous of you, sometimes, stay at home moms. I wish I had more time to spend with my child. I wish I didn’t feel guilty turning on a show for my child to watch while I whip up dinner, feeling like I’m neglecting him, but we have to eat. I wish I had a kitchen fairy so I could get a good night’s sleep instead of doing dishes in the late hours of the evening while the child sleeps. I wish I didn’t fall asleep with my child 2-3 times a week and feel like my husband gets neglected. I wish so many things, but then I come back to reality and just suck it up and keep going. I will continue to use my lunch break at work to run errands, plan meals, get my oil changed, anything I can squeeze in so I can spend more time being with my family while I’m with my family. And going forward I’m going to stop comparing my life as a working mom to life as a stay at home mom, because in the grander scheme of things we are just busy mothers trying to make the best of the hand we were dealt with.

The Battle for Bedtime

You have never been a good sleeper, my child.  Always afraid you might miss something, you would do your best to keep those pretty hazel eyes wide open as long as you possibly could. As a babe your naps were so short I was often overwhelmed at the lack of nap time I could use to try to accomplish tasks.  It seemed like as soon as I barely laid you down in your crib I would take a breath and start a task and you would be awake.  If you slept for forty-five minutes at a time, I was ecstatic and was unsure of what to do with myself.

As bedtime would roll around, I would be exhausted and you would be seemingly full of energy.  I tried every trick I could think of to help get you relax and fall asleep but the length of time until your eyes would close only seemed to grow longer.  We walked miles through the house while I patted and sang.  When I wouldn’t walk anymore I would place you in the swing and hope the rocking motion would lull you to sleep.  That worked a few weeks until you figured out if you kicked your feet and leaned forward you could stay awake.

I would nurse you until fell into slumber only to have you awaken when I would remove you from my body and place you in your crib.  We would then start the process again.  When you were older and my milk had dried up I would hold you while you had your bottle, then walk, then lay you down, then pat you, then walk some more and sing, and try the process again.  I would grow so frustrated at the process of putting you to bed.  It would take an hour, sometimes two and by the time you were finally asleep I would be so exhausted that I would fall asleep soon after, missing out on any evening adult time.

Your father in frustration asked why other people children would go to bed at seven while we were lucky for ours to even act remotely tired by nine.  I didn’t know how to answer him.  I was frustrated also, as I was the one in battle with you trying to make an unwearied boy fall asleep.  I cursed the mothers with the easy children and almost lost my cool when a friend, also a first time mother, dared to ask me how old you were when I first “let you sleep through the night.”  After texting her a horrible response with lots of cursing and accusatory tones, I deleted my frustrations and responded with “We still don’t sleep through the night.”  You must have been about 10 months old at the time.

It wasn’t until past your first birthday I stopped fighting and getting frustrated at the battle for bedtime. I finally realized you were just a high energy child who had to find a release for any pent up energy still stored in your body before your little eyes would close and your body would be still.  I would lay with you and let you wiggle next to me until you wiggled all the energy out and finally would fall asleep.  I learned to get rambunctious with you in play and to make sure you were allotted plenty of outdoor play or inside physical, rough and tumble, run around the house, screaming, bouncing, crazy play after dinner to make sure we could work out as much energy as possible to make those bedtime wiggles lessen ever so slightly.  The less I fought you and just resigned to the fact that you would never be an early to bed child, the easier it became and as you’ve grown the battle for bedtime has become easier.  You still have nights where the wiggles seem to never end and I fall asleep with you as I wait for your eyes to close and your body to still, but now it seems less like a battle and I even get in a few hours of adult time regularly in the evenings.