October 01, 2006

Just shoot me. UPDATED

Things have not been going well - not at all.

The D-Man is having major problems in school. I never realized how much something like this could affect me, but it's just about all I can think about. I want so badly for him to succeed and be happy, and I just can't make it happen. The frustration is insurmountable.

Things really haven't gone too well since he started preschool there. He would be rowdy, running around, wouldn't sit down, bothering the other kids - nothing malicious or mean, just wanting attention I suppose. He showed a newfound delight in running away from the teachers which was obviously not well received.

Kindergarten started about a month ago and, honestly, it feels like it's been three months. I hoped that he would respond well to the more structured environment and that he would feel more challenged as boredom seemed to be an issue in preschool. Wrong. His behavior has only gotten worse. He won't stay in his seat, doesn't follow directions, clowns around, runs and runs, won't line up...just acts generally uncooperative. He KNOWS what's right and wrong and what he's supposed to be doing, he just doesn't do it. The teacher will ask him "what should you be doing/should you have done" and he always has the right answer. He's always sorry, but just can't seem to stop doing all this crap.

This completely blows me away, because D is usually a very well behaved kid. At home, at Grandma's, with the sitter, anywhere else he is polite, cooperative and relatively calm. I can't understand how being at school transforms him into a completely different kid. They've even said that they can see a huge difference in him when I'm there with him. How can I get him to behave for them the way he does for me???

D likes school and I want it to stay that way. I don't want him to be discouraged or have his self-confidence suffer, but this has got to stop! Yesterday, he ran out of the after-school room again, took off his shoes and threw them and then locked himself in a bathroom stall, laughing merrily. As a result, they suspended him from the after school program for a week. Now I have to skip my lunch every day to go pick him up at three, deliver him to his grandma or whoever will take him and come back to work until 5. It sucks eggs. I could write an entire post about my opinions and observations regarding the seemingly completely incompetent after-school care staff, but maybe another day.

So, with D's behavior, we've tried charts on which he gets stars for good behavior (or at this point, normal) in each activity. We've tried the same thing at home, and rewards are involved on both ends. I've sat and talked with his teacher for what seems like hours, sharing ideas and making sure we're consistent and on the same page, and nothing we have done seems to make any difference. I've talked and talked with D about it, and he promises to try to do better. He's even told me that he just can't help it. It just breaks my heart.

This whole situation has caused me a HUGE amount of stress and sometimes I start to feel like I just can't handle it any more. I don't know what to do, what to try next - I'm out of ideas. Every time my phone rings here at work I practically have a panic attack because it could be the school calling to complain about something else he's done. What the hell do they want me to tell them?!? I feel like one of those bad parents who doesn't bother to teach their kid to behave and then they're miserable because they're so bad. That's just not the case, though - at home he knows how to tow the line. I'm sure the school employees and teachers think I'm full of shit and completely incompetent. It's totally humiliating.

So, the only thing I could think of to do at this point is to seek professional help. Monday, we have an appointment to see a pediatric behavioral psychologist. Hopefully he can help us as I really can't take much more. I'm at the point now that if I think about it too much, I start crying. I'll never give up, but that doesn't mean that I don't just want to go find a huge rock to crawl under. Instead, I did what I must (dinner, bath, reading, all that), put D to bed and then drank myself to sleep last night. I dreamed about a huge tornado coming to get me. I feel like that would be easier to handle.

Oh, and due to the overwhelming response to my request for fun/weird things for WTFF this week *coughONEcough* (thanks, Vince)...aw, fuck it. Where's that rock?


I've received a lot of good feedback as a result of this post and I am grateful for it. One particular e-mail, however, mentioned that I seem powerless about the situation. I think it should be made clear that I am far from powerless. This post was written in a particularly dark time when I was feeling overwhelmed and discouraged. A lot of details were obviously left out as I was trying to work through my frustrations and, well, just generally complaining and venting.

We have tried and are trying many different constructive approaches to try to overcome this.

Some issues that were asked about:

He does have a very predictable routine.

He does have a set time for bed.

I try to always make nutritious meals and we always eat together at the table in the evening. Snacks are things such as fruit, granola bars, yogurt...there is VERY little junk food eating in our house. His lunches are made with sandwiches, cheeses, fruits and yogurt instead of sugary things like snack cakes. His sugar intake is very minimal. I also give him a good multivitamin and DHA

He is only in daycare for 1 - 2 hours per day, and after school only

We make sure that he is highly praised and rewarded for good behavior and accomplishments. He gets a lot of attention from us and is rarely excluded from any of our activities.

Although we do discuss things a lot, we also use things such as losing priveledges often as consequences - such as no TV, no movies, not getting to do something he really wants at the time. If a particular toy is being abused, it is taken away, for example, after a couple of warnings. On the other side of the coin, he is given special opportunities as rewards for good behavior such as going to see special movie or getting ice cream.

I know that I need to separate myself emotionally somewhat from the situation and be objective and rational - getting too emotional about it will only complicate matters.

This post was my emotional release, so please take it at that.

I'll be very interested to see what the behavioral psych can bring to the table to help us help him.
I realize that this will take a lot of work and dillegence, but he is so very worth it.

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