Thursday, October 19, 2006

Ups & downs...

B is continuing his pattern of having pretty good mornings at school & then the afternoons becoming more stressful as it gets closer to the time to go home. Some days he's ok by the time I come to get him & some days he's ticcing like mad & runs out the door ahead of me. Sometimes all it takes is a mis-communication & he's completely out of sorts, like yesterday afternoon when he'd negotiated an alternate activity to gym (he's been having a lot of trouble getting into the fitness stuff like running in place & then taking their pulse that they've been doing lately) & then another teacher forgot & asked him to do something else. He was so upset he couldn't even talk about it on the way home (his consultant teacher, Cherie, told me about it this morning). The gym thing is a worry to us, since we want him to be as physically active as possible, but B is the sort of person who doesn't like to participate in things that he doesn't see the point of. I think that it's part developmental (in that he hasn't moved into the stage where he "gets" altrusim) & partly who B is. The bottom line is that, these days, if something gives B anxiety there's no way around it. We can't have him melting down every half hour from anxiety- particularly at school. We have been trying to come up with alternatives to gym that everyone is happy with. We'd arranged to substitute fencing for gym, but then B had 2 fencing lessons that had to be cancelled due to his being in such a state after school he couldn't cope. Yesterday he called me mid-morning from school... "Mom, do I have a fencing lesson today?" I explained that he didn't because he hadn't been able to go to the last 2, & if we keep making appointments & breaking them his teacher wouldn't want to make appointments any more. B was bummed & I asked him if he was worried about gym that afternoon. He sighed a breathy "yes". I reminded him that if he could commit to swimming every weekend he might be able to parlay that into gym credit. He said that he & dad had talked about it on the way to school. So I told him that he could try to work something out with Cherie & Ryan (the gym teacher) & that I was sure they'd be reasonable. He hung up & I crossed my fingers... And, he did work something out but then it went a bit haywire (as mentioned above). C & I added this to the list of things we wanted to discuss with B's psychologist yesterday afternoon at our meeting with him.

There was a lot to talk about- B's recent zoloft crisis, the tough transition to school this year, the heightened anxiety that has him needing almost constant companionship when he's at home (not all the time, but a lot of it), school's request for advice from the psychologist about how to better help B deal with school anxiety. This was the first time in Dr. M's nearly 5 years of working with B that he's had a request for help from school & we were delighted by his positive response to this. He just told us to have his teacher call him & he'd arrange to meet with them at school. I knew that his teachers would be delighted, too. Dr. M's been pleased with how responsive B's school has been over the years, so I think they'll get a lot out of the visit- & B will be the ultimate winner :) As we met with Dr. M I became aware that we were going over familiar ground in some ways. How to cope with B in severe anxiety mode, how to choose our battles... but there were newer overtones, too. How to deal with oppositional behaviours at home & at school. B has mostly been free of surliness in his dealing with us & others, but some snarkiness is becoming more common, which I see as a developmental thing. We'd had a run-in a couple afternoons ago when I called B out for lashing out at me while I was helping clean up a mess he'd made (ramune accident), & B ended-up in a heap on the floor because he felt bad about what he'd done. Dr. M said that it's important to call B out when he does this sort of thing, since he needs to learn that it's not appropriate, but it also important to find ways to do it that actually teach B something, rather than his going directly into "I'm a shithead" mode. I have been trying an empathy approach- that this is normal behaviour & that all kids need to learn to think before they speak, since it's not innate (I likened it to potty-training :) & B seemed to respond well to that. See, this is why I get the shivvers when people try to tell me that B is already a pre-teen. He's only 10, for goodness sake... but he is starting to show the teen behaviours & I just have to be ready. We also realised that, when it comes to B's ability to cope with stress, a lot is still to come as he continues to develop. So a lot of what we're doing (& need to do) is keeping him together while he grows. Whew!

All in all it was a good meeting with Dr. M & C & I felt that we came away with some solid new ideas & support for strategies we're already trying, plus the promise of a school visit. As I mentioned above, B was upset on the way home from school & really looking forward to playing bionicles with dad when he got home from school (Wednesdays are special because dad is home so early). I've come to see the "bionicles with dad" as a big stress-reliever for B these days. I think that it fills the need B has to play socially with his action figures, but that dad is much safer to play with than another kid would be. C finds it wearing, as I know I would, but he does it. He's a great dad :) When C had to go out for a while B & I watched a few episodes of "Fruits Basket" in japanese & did our usual shout-out of words & phrases we recognise. B is recognising verbs, too- yay! Then he sat forlornly on the kitchen floor for 10 minutes till dad came home. They played, C ordered pizza for dinner (it's hard to cook with a cling-on :) & during dinner we talked about how soon Halloween will be here. B has decided that he wants to be a spy for Halloween. This is literally the first year since B was 6 months old that I will not have to make his costume, which is both a relief & slightly disappointing :) He had decided that he wants to dress all in black & festoon himself with his spy gear, so I've made sure he has black pants & turtleneck on hand. Sooo... as we were talking about Halloween at school (the kids will dress-up for half the day & have a party) B said "I'd like to wear a white tux jacket"... C & I looked at each other in puzzlement, then we remembered that B has been rediscovering his Spy Fox computer games & that Spy Fox wears a white tux... I grinned & explained to B that we don't have a white tux for him to wear, but that he will have the black clothes we'd talked about. He kind of back-pedalled mentally & then decided that that would be ok. Dad added that he could wear another colour suit-jacket but B had reconfigured already & was happy.

This morning when I dropped B off at school I gave Cherie Dr. M's card & told her he wanted her to call & set up a visit. She was really excited :) C was doing well so I went to greet at the door (my official parent-volunteer job these days) as the busses unloaded & parents were bringing their kids in. Paula joined me after she'd got the bus kids & we chatted for a bit. It was such a lovely day she said she might call a fire drill. Knowing how B dislikes the disruption, I asked if I could warn his teachers & she said of course... so when I went up to finally kiss B good-by & exchange "itterasshai" & "ittekimasu" with B, I whispered the news to Cherie. B was observing a friend's unique technique for separating eggs (they were baking a cake for a hedgehog wedding that morning- stuffie hedgehogs :) which was to catch the yolk in his hand without squishing it. B was totally grossed-out & enjoying it very much :) I headed off to grocery-shop with a happy feeling that my kid was, for the moment, in a very good place.


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