Wednesday, January 5, 2011

In which our heroine frets about her son’s inability to behave.

IMG_0210I don’t talk about parenting very often because part I think it’s pretty boring for the most part, but sometimes there are days where I just don’t know what to do. The world expects parenthood to be natural and easy, but for me it’s never been either of these things. Even though I approach parenting with the same calm confidence I approach most things, at the end of the day I often feel like I must be missing something or making some huge glaring mistake. From what I’ve seen and heard from other parents these feelings are apparently natural, but some days there’s little comfort to be had from that fact.

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Holden is having a hard time in preschool since we got back from winter break. He’s had “meltdowns” at school all week and today they even called me to have me pick him up early (which didn’t happen since my phone didn’t ring for some reason, but that’s beside the point). The teacher went on and on about how he doesn’t seem to be able to cope when something doesn’t go his way and she even asked if he’s been tested by the special-ed department at any point. All I could do was shake my head and try not to cry. The issue here isn’t with Holden’s ability to learn, but with his ability to behave. The main problem seems to be whenever Holden feels like the teacher isn’t doing something the “correct” way (like if she starts on a different side of the room one day).

I’m going to go to school with him tomorrow, but I don’t really know what I’m supposed to do. For the most part Holden is a really easy kid. He eats well, sleeps well, and picks up his toys when we tell him. Besides this issue, there’s really nothing I can complain about (so I guess something was bound to happen). I’ve tried talking to him about his behavior and even taken away certain toys, but I don’t know what the next step is. When the teacher saw how much she was upsetting me she stepped it down a notch and made sure I knew Holden wasn’t the only kid with problems adjusting to school, but that doesn’t really help me. And as much as I feel like an ass for admitting it, the possibility of having a special needs child scares me in a way I wouldn’t expect.

Part of me wants to brush the teacher’s complaints off or minimize her concerns, but I have seen a difference in the way Holden behaves since we got back from California. Holden needs a lot of structure and that was shot to hell on vacation. Plus he got spoiled ridiculously and was carted around all over town every day. I’m going to send him to bed earlier today and see if that makes a difference, but I doubt it’ something so simple (I’m not that lucky). I just want Holden to be happy and healthy. Finding out how to make that happen is the problem.

Update: I went to Holden's class today and nothing happened. Nothing. The teacher also told me she talked to the Special Ed Department and they thought Holden's behavior is a normal adjustment period kids often go through. Both of these things lead me to believe the teacher was probably just frustrated and exaggerated a bit when she spoke to me. I am still focusing on making sure Holden isn't over stimulated, but the world doesn't seem so bleak today. The teachers have also focused on making sure the kids have plenty of warning when it's time to transition to another activity since Holden is a bit of a stickler when it comes to the schedule. I'm going to sit in Monday morning to see if the weekend causes any problems, but everything was fine today. Fingers crossed it stays that way.


  1. Okay, I'm not a parent, but I have worked with kids. So a few things I've found:

    First off, my parents tell me all the time that parenting was the HARDEST thing they ever did. Holden certainly doesn't have a how-to manual and so you can only do the very best you can and hope it's what works.

    Second, children are very routine-oriented. It sounds like maybe his recent adventure in California has affected him. I would think that with a little bit of time back in the routine of things, he'll settle back to his normal attitude.

    From what you say of him, I highly doubt that he is special needs in the sense that he needs a ton of testing and therapy and god-only-knows-what-else. Teachers, remember (and I am one, you know!) only see what they see at school. So his teacher sees a meltdown and thinks, "Oy! Special needs!" You see a meltdown and think, "Right, that's out of the ordinary."

    I completely understand how upset you must be, and I hope that his school will work WITH you to find out what is bothering him and causing the upsets--maybe someone said something that worried him in California? Its so hard to say, and we all know that four-year-olds just don't communicate as well as we'd like!

    At school, sit and watch him. Observe his reactions. It could be that he's just a very routine-oriented child and it really bothers him when the teacher does something differently than normal. But of course, I've never met Holden so all I can do is speculate.

    Anyway, my goal with this novel is to *hopefully* give you some encouragement and comfort. YOU know your child better than the school does, so while you're upset, know that you also need to tell them your suspicions and ask them to please help you find a way to work together to make it easier for Holden to be successful at school. I hope it works out soon!

  2. haha it wasn't a novel at all Meg. And your comment really did help. I wrote this when I first got home so I was freaking out and all emotional. I know how much you love teaching and I trust your opinion. So thanks. :)

    I also went poking around a few websites and that helped too. One problem that kept creeping up was over-stimulation so I'm focusing on making sure the tv is off and that Holden has to spend some time outside (it gets hard when it's so cold, but today isn't too bad). Like I said, the teacher took a step back when she saw me freaking out. I think she just wanted to make it clear that Holden is struggling. She also reminded me that the school's there to help with these issues and that helped a lot. I'm gonna keep track of what upsets him in the classroom tomorrow so I'm trying to focus on that being the first step.

  3. Oh my. Routine, routine, routine. The majority of kids his age have a super hard time adjusting to changes in their routine. Some of them get quiet and withdraw and some of them have outbursts because they just don't know how to cope. It sounds like you're doing the right thing with cutting out some of the stimulants (like tv) and making sure his routine gets back to normal. I wouldn't worry too much, at least not yet, about him being special needs.

    I got calls and letters every day from pre-k for Dylan, and I still get regular calls about him. He has issues with impulse control and routines. I finally wrote his pre-k teacher a letter last year and explained how we handled discipline at home, which was to remove him from the situation and talk to him. He is VERY easily distracted and you have got to make sure you've got his attention so you can be sure he hears what you are trying to tell him. After that, they had less trouble with him. It just takes a good teacher that is understanding of what is perfectly normal for kids in his age group and cooperation from the parent.

    I hope you guys get things back under control soon. I'm sure it's just as hard for him as it is for his teacher and you right now. =)

  4. My Jacob had these issues a couple of years later in his schooling. My ex was far more concerned about it than I was. You see, I have a brother that was/is, for want of a better word, the biggest asshole I've ever seen. Jacob was angelic in comparison.

    I did get a bit upset at the teacher that suggested we put him on ritalin. I wondered what her medical experience was that she could prescribe psychostimulants for a child. I would hate to subject my kid to drugs considering my own problems with booze and drugs.
    I hate to see behavior medicated. I don't believe true growth can occur if a child is stoned, prescription or not.

    Luckily, his doctor was sensible. He said, "Sure, he may be a little hyper, he IS a kid."

    Now, these issues he has as a teenager are something entirey different.
    What happened to my sweet, onery little boy?

  5. Thanks everyone. You guys are great.

    Sarahbear: Even though I know I'm not the only one who has to deal with this stuff, it's still nice to be reminded. This is the first time Holden has ever been in a school setting and I think it's natural that everything isn't perfect. I'm just relieved he doesn't hit (yet). There was one boy in his class that had serious problem when it came to hitting and understanding boundaries.

    Mac: Ha! And I totally agree teachers were way to quick to suggest ritalin. My brother had serious issues because of it. It reminds me of a Katt Williams bit about his son on ritalin. It's hilarious.

    Also, I can't even imagine Holden as a teenager so good luck!


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