Monday, September 26, 2011


Today was a good day for the Lion at school. I was able to run around the block without stopping and we have 17 days till our cruise.
For the moment, life is good and I am happy.
This is the layout of the ship. Our room is on deck 2 room 2246.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


So today we got to the school playground at 8am. That gave the boys a full half an hour to zoom around and for Lion to be happy and set him up for a good day.

Yesterday was a very bad day. In fact it was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. The school therapist had suggested that I should try bringing Lion to his classroom 10 mins late so that he can avoid the insane chaos that is drop off.

I honestly wish I could videotape it so you can see what it's like but people are hinky about videotaping their kids so I cannot.
It's overwhelming to a "normal" kid but it's got to be really awful for Lion. So today Lion and I stayed for that extra 10 minutes and before I could come and get him to tell him it was time, he came to me and said
"Okay mommy. I'm ready to go to class now"

Tell me that wouldn't make your heart soar and get your hopes up for the day. It sure did mine. I left him in his classroom and went to Boot Camp and I even felt so confident that he would have a good day that I went ahead and made lunch/shopping plans with my friend.

I did my back to back classes (my ass is officially kicked) and stood around yapping with Coach Linda, Coach David and a fellow student.

I went to check my phone to see if my lunch date had called and one missed call. When I saw the number my heart sank and that knot showed up in my stomach again.

Brian was once again with the school psychologist (who I think might be the most patient woman in the entire universe) because he had hit some classmates.  She felt that he did it so that he could leave school early and come home so she wasn't going to send him home today but would keep him in her office till he calmed down.

I called my lunch date and cancled because I thought I should be here in case they call me again to come and get him.

When I got home I emailed her to ask how he was doing.

This is the reply I got:

"Brian refused to apologize, continued name calling and hit me on the arm/hand. This all occurred after hitting several students in gym unprovoked. As I said on the phone Brian made it clear that he is associating hitting with going home which is why today we are not sending him home but rather making up his missed educational time during free times. He ate lunch with our VP Ms. Morales. I believe he is still with her and you may call Ms. Morales to verify at 201-xxx-xxx as I am heading out until 12:45pm."

I'm not sure the English language has enough words to tell you how stressed out I am about all of this.

The rest of my morning was spent leaving messages for Child Psycholigists, Developemental Peditiricians and the most absurd of all The Hoboken Mental Health Clinic to get information on Anger Management Sessions for him.

I am exhausted and frazzled.

I keep telling myself tomorrow is another day but each day seems to be the same as the one before.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


I knew today was going to be a bad day when I left Lion this morning.  His time on the playground was short and he was not happy with me.

While on line he called one of his classmates an idiot and stupid and told the poor kid to shut up. He then kicked another innocent student.

I warned his teacher it wasn't going to be a good day. As I left him, I thought about just coming home to sit by the phone but decided I cannot live like that and so I went and did the 9am and 10am Boot Camps.

At the end of the 10am I checked my phone to see an unfamiliar number on it and my heart sank. I listened to the message and got a knot in my stomach.

Lion had been removed from the classroom for creating an unsafe environment. He apparently kicked two students and three teachers. One teacher he kicked hard enough that she had to go to the nurse and fill out an incident report.

I needed to come and get him and take him home.

The school psychologist Dr. Allgaier met me in the office as I was waiting for them to get him.

She gave me a little more detail as to what had happened. She told me that the principal agreed to not count this as a suspension but that it would be in his record as a removal.

She also suggested that perhaps I look into enrolling him in an anger management course that she knows about here in Hoboken.

The next time this happens it will be counted as a suspension.

As an added bonus, the parents of the two kids he kicked are getting phone calls about the incidents letting them know what happened.

Did I mention that tonight is back to school night and both those parents will be there?

Total icing on the shit cake.

They suggested that perhaps if I bring him to school 10 minutes late tomorrow and bring him right to the classroom he won't be so overwhelmed by all the noise.

The fact that the words suspension and anger management classes have been used in a conversation about my 6 1/2 year old child is so absurd I'm finding it hard to wrap my head around.

I'm truly at a total loss and feeling very overwhelmed right now.

This cannot continue. The school wants to keep trying to find ways to make it work for him but I know him and I know that we can try standing on our heads and dancing the chacha with a hippo but without Lion as a willing participant nothing we try is going to work.

Positive reinforcement doesn't work. Classroom removal doesn't work. 

In my meeting with his team on Monday we discussed the possibility of returning him to a special needs classroom. His case manager isn't crazy about that idea because she's afraid of behavior regression and him not being challenged enough.

That's what's so frustrating about this whole thing. He's totally got all the smarts to be in the classroom he's in now. Academically he's right where he should be. Socially and for behavior he isn't. If we put him back in a special needs classroom and have him on the schedule for a few mainstream classes we are all concerned that he's going to be completely overwhelmed with all the changes and the moving from class to class that it's going to take us back even further and his behavior will deteriorate more.

I am so afraid that the bag of tricks and ideas to make this all work for Brian is going to run dry and then what? What if he doesn't change? What if this behavior continues?
I don't want to spend this whole school year sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring. I don't want to have to continue to apologize to other parents. I don't want him labeled as a bad kid or a bully.

I need to remember to breathe and take one day at a time. We will get through this as a family and as long as the school is willing to work with him and try to solve this, I am too.

I just honestly wish I wasn't going through this with him.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A continuation of yesterday

Apparently thanks to me Brian is having a duplicate day of yesterday.

He is pissed for the second day that we didn't go to the playground in the morning. For the second day in a row, I had NO idea he wanted to go till it was too late to go. For the second day in a row he turned into evil child.

He's totally fine getting ready for school, fine on the walk to school, even fine the first few moments waiting for his teacher.
We were horsing around, laughing, playing with each other and he told me he was going to have a good day and we talked about what we were going to do after school and then something in him clicked and he got angry.

It was the quickest mood change I've ever seen. He went from happy and playful to grumpy and mean.
School was stupid, his fellow classmates were dumb. He hated it there and wanted to go home.
I reminded him of his after school rewards if he was good and he told me he didn't care about them.
(It was during this exchange with him where I reminded him about going to get whatever snack he wanted and going to whatever park he wanted that I felt a little like the parents of Pierre from the Maurice Sedak story "Really Rosie")
I tried every trick in my book to lighten his mood but to no avail. (and it was at this point that I wished for a Lion to come and eat my little boy)
 He was going to remain angry and not only was he going to be angry, he was going to take it out on his fellow students.

It was time to lineup with his class and rather than just get in line he walked over and he punched two of his classmates.
I asked his teacher if she wanted me to bring him home and she told me no that we should see how he does in the classroom. I told her to please email or call me and let me know how it was going.

I'm actually skipping Boot Camp today and I canceled plans with my father so I could be home by the phone waiting for it to ring.

To add to the stress of my morning while we were waiting for the teacher (and I was busy trying to convince Brian that he wanted to have a good day) I was next to a set of parents who's daughter decided right then at that moment to tell them that yesterday one of her classmates hit her.

The mother flipped out and started to rant on and on about their being a bully in the classroom and how it was completely unacceptable and she wasn't going to allow it and blah blah blah.
The second the teacher came out she was on top of her demanding details and accountability.

I of course knew exactly who hit her daughter and I wanted to crawl into a hole and hide for a thousand years.
Thankfully their teacher kept her composure, didn't rat on my Lion and told the mother she would handle it immediately.

I left school with a knot in my stomach and a lump in my throat. I actually wondered aloud why on earth I had bred and who in their infinite wisdom thought it was wise to give me children.

It's 11am and so far, no phone calls.

Tomorrow is Friday. Tomorrow morning, we will leave our apartment earlier than usual and we will go to the school playground before school.  I am hoping this is the magical elixir that soothes my savage Lion and paves the way for a happy day at school.

If it does not prove to be the cure all and he is still angry at the start of school tomorrow, I'm going to call the school and set up a meeting with his case manager and the school psychologist.

It's 11:20 and so far, no phone calls...

I just got an email from his teacher:

"Hi Diana,
Brian had difficulty this morning during morning routine and Language Arts. He was telling me and other students we are "stupid" and "shut-up." He also tried kicking a student while we were on the carpet. He refused to do any activities and said school is "lame." 
Ms. Gina, the Occupational Therapist, took him today bc/ he has OT Thursdays and Fridays. When Brian came back from Ms. Gina, he was in a better mood and did some work. Brian told me was will try to turn his day around. There is a communication in Brian's homework folder from Ms. PraSisto. This is Brian's case manager.

We'll talk more afterschool about how the rest of Brian's day went."

Not great but I'm glad he was able to turn himself around and has agreed to try to do the best he can do today.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

“Let the wild rumpus start!”

Just got off the phone with Brian's teacher. Apparently he had one of his evil mornings again.
I was afraid we were in for one of these days when I left him this morning.
He was dark as dark could be.
Mad at me because he wanted to play on the playground before school.

Normally we would have time for this but this morning Patrick had a serious toothache thanks to a loose tooth and I had to run to CVS to get some painkillers for him.
That unexpected sidetrack put our morning behind schedule and we had no extra time.

I tried to explain to Bri that we would go AFTER school, but that wasn't his plan and I was now screwing with his day and that is always an unacceptable thing with less than desirable results.
I saw his jaw tighten, his shoulders hunched up and his eyes pierced my very soul.

"Mommy, you said we would go to the playground. I want to play NOW!"

"Lion, I'm sorry. We simply don't have time now. I promise, we can go wherever you want after school if you behave during the day"

He simply balled up his fists, snarled & growled at me.(I'm really not exaggerating. He does growl when angry.)
I watched the anger at the clear injustice being foisted on him boil up inside his little body and I knew it was going to be one of those mornings.
When his teacher showed up he wouldn't look at her, wouldn't talk to her, he kept his head buried in my stomach and his fists clenched.
I knew he was seriously pissed off.  I knew the chaos and the noise going on around him at drop off was pushing him over the edge.

I squatted down and whispered that he should try to have a good day and if he did we would go for special snacks (Dunkin Donuts) and we would stay at the park twice as long today than usual.
He would not be swayed by my bribes today. He was feeling cheated and the world (or at least his class) was going to pay for it.

I sighed knowing there was absolutely nothing more I could do, detached him from my side, kissed him and went to Boot Camp.
I came home from a GREAT class to find a message on my machine from Bri's teacher wanting to discuss his morning.

He apparently didn't want to take direction from anyone, didn't want to listen to anyone, and wanted everyone to be quiet. He told his teacher and the classroom Aide to shut up.
(I didn't tell his teacher but I'm so thankful and relieved that he told her to simply "shut up" and not to "shut the fuck up" as he was doing over the summer)
The principal came on over the loudspeaker and Brian screamed at him to shut up.

One of his fellow students must have said something to him because apparently he threw a water bottle (full) at the kid and then went after him like a crazed bull.
Thankfully his teacher caught him and the only thing he did was he hit the kid in the leg.
When Brian is in an agitated state like this you look at him funny and he's going to dislocate your jaw.
He's strong as a bull moose and when he's mad he wants destruction and wants to spread his angry and misery and frustration to as many as he can.

The Aide took Brian outside for a walk to cool down and he apparently tried to run away from her, told her school was evil and he hated it. She got him to calm down & was able to take him back to the classroom.
His teacher said after the walk he came back and was better and she's hoping the rest of the day continues in that vein.

I told her that unfortunately all the behaviors she saw today are typical of Brian when he's mad. I told her that taking him out of the classroom to calm down and refocus is the best move and will get him back to a good place much faster than anything else.

I will explain to her when I see her at pickup that this behavior will be part of the school year with him. I wish that it wasn't. I wish he didn't lash out and have these tantrums but he does and until he's ready to figure out another way to handle his anger we aren't going to change him.

Brian is stubborn and wants things his way all the time. He's not going to do things when you want him to. He will do things when HE is ready and if that's not on your schedule or your timetable, tough luck Jack.
I think for him, it's not so much about being a control freak or about having everything according to his rules and his laws. I think it's his way of making sense of the world and being comfortable in it.

He's not going to do a damn thing that he isn't okay with or that he's not ready for or doesn't understand. To push him to do things before he's ready will only cause frustration and defiance and anger. The more you ask, the more he will resist you.

When he's agitated and angry I think he's in such a place of overload with his feelings that the slightest outside stimulus freaks him out and sends him over the edge to his breaking point and he comes out swinging. 
He simply cannot process anything more than his feelings and he wants the rest of it to just go away and shut down.

That's why taking him out of the situation to someplace quiet where he can just sit and chill and process it all is the very best course of action.  I'm guessing the Aide tried to engage him in conversation and that's why he lashed out at her and tried to run away. It's best to just sit with him and have no words for a little while.

If you watch him, you will see his body language change when he's ready to talk or is feeling better.

Most folks would try to just redirect him or refocus him while leaving him in the environment that's got him spinning in the first place.
I'm really glad his teacher knew that wasn't the answer.

Transitioning to a mainstream classroom is proving not quite as seamless as I'd hoped it would be.
It's truly a fine line to have to balance on. I want my child to flourish and thrive and be challenged to do the best that he can. I know he's smart, that's not the issue in question. I know he will do well academically.
I know that for where he is in the smarts department he needs to be mainstream. For the social side, and the dealing with other people and making friends and getting along with classmates and teachers, I feel like he should still be in a special needs classroom.

That's not an entirely true statement either. He was diagnosed with the PDD-NOS at age 2 1/2 and though he wasn't verbal till he was a little over 3 when he turned 3 we put him into a mainstream pre-k class.
It was by no means a bed of roses but we all felt we had made the right decision and mainstream was best for him.
He did Pre-K 4 in a mainstream classroom as well.
Both years were made better and easier because he had stellar teachers who "got" him and his behavior.

The school & I as a team decided that he wasn't quite ready to do mainstream Kindergarten and put him in the special needs class.
At  the end of the year it was clear to all of us that he would do best and would be best served if we attempted a mainstream classroom for 1st grade.

I didn't think at the time that we might have transition issues but now I'm sort of kicking myself.
He went from a classroom with 5 kids and less expectations from the school and his teachers to a much more structured, more demanding environment with 15 or 20 classmates.

The changes from Kindergarten to 1st for a kid who isn't on the spectrum are jarring. Homework every night, you are responsible for your books and getting them to and from school, you get a desk assigned to you and there are expectations to be met that didn't exist in Kindergarten.

It's the first full week of school in this new classroom with these new demands and he's working it all out for himself.
The sensible mother in me knows that his being a in a "regular" classroom is good.
I want him to reach his maximum potential and want him to learn to adapt to the increased demands of a typical classroom.

I need him to get comfortable with the world and to get used to being treated like just another kid and eventually learn to find ways to cope with his PDD-NOS that don't involve getting violent.
I know he is exactly where he should be and in time he will be fine. I know his teacher will get to know him and will understand who he is and how he ticks.

I know all these things and yet, the over protective mother bear in me wants him to be in a safe, soft, nurturing place where they "get" him and accept and understand his quirks and the PDD-NOS.

Of course, when it rains, it pours and the eldest son isn't drama free in his first week of school either.

He had told me that there was a bigger kid on the playground that had punched him in the face the other day.
When I demanded details he couldn't give me any other than it's a
"much bigger kid, like a football player".

Patrick has never seen him before and can't even describe him to me.  I told Pats that he needs to not wait till we are walking home to tell me when this stuff happens but he needs to come to me the second it happens so I can deal with it.

Last night he told my husband that the kid has attacked him before, that the incident he told me about wasn't the first time.
Of course when my husband hears that someone is picking on his kid, all hell breaks loose and he's now on a rampage to protect his offspring by any means necessary.

I told him to let me handle phase one which is to identify the kid and see WHY he's picking on Patrick. Is he a true blue bully just picking on Pats because Pats won't fight back and won't tattle or are they playing and the play gets too violent?

If it's a true blue bully issue and the kid turns out to just be a jackass, I'll let the very large daddy bear step in and handle it. If not, the ball will remain in mommy's court to deal with.

His teacher who was also his teacher last year has told me that he's not as outgoing or as social as he was last year. He's been grumpy and withdrawn. Not at all himself.  Neither of us could figure out why he wasn't his usual perky loving the world self.

I'm thinking the apparent playground issues have GOT to be the root of his behavior.

Pats doesn't hit back, and doesn't want to tell on the offender because he really just wants everyone to like him and be his friend. If you get someone in trouble, odds are you will wind up on their shit list.

Lovely theory but this makes you a big old target for more aggressive kids.

So, now I've got one child that I need to teach a less violent path to, to help him understand that his words are the way to go and another one that needs to learn to stick up for himself and not allow folks to ever think that they can get away with hitting him.

Today at pickup I'll be talking to Lion's teacher about understanding him and the root of his behaviors and the best course of action with him and then in almost the same breath will be watching Pats on the playground like a hawk watching for anyone who attempts to hurt him or push him around.

If this is only the first week I'm concerned what the rest of the year will be dumping on my plate!!