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!!

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