Friday, September 14, 2012

The good fight

This has been a post in the making since the start of school three weeks ago, Appropriately this week has unfolded in some ways that has me thinking outloud.

In some kind of silver lining on the cloud of dealing daily with Ben's ADHD,I've become a better teacher.I have spent an enormous amount of time contacting parents with a focus on the large number of students repeating as well as with special education needs in my fall classes. 

Is this to say in the other 12 years of school starts that I didn't reach out early on?  Honestly due to the sheer amount of work especially as a new year starts with close to 100 students the immediacy to make welcome calls gets relegated to the bottom of a long list.

Now having a child in public school, especially one that can be a difficult kid, it's a new filter to see my responsibility to make the time to personally contact parents early. Your child's classroom teacher sees them more awake hours of the day than you do. It is a sobering thought that you want a good match as well as someone you think genuinely has your child's best interest at heart. I want my parents to think of me in that way.

But back to Ben. 

We are three weeks into school with 1 red, 2 yellow and the rest green days.  Good.  Beyond good, amazing and proof that the 12 hour medication he tried over the summer is working.  When he needs to be focused, attentive, cooperative for the bulk of his day it is happening.  Reports from his classroom teacher as well as the afterschool teachers is that he is a different child. 

There is a trade off for improved school behavior. Ben has lost a fair amount of weight due to limited appetite and when he cycles off the medication around the dinnertime/bedtime it often is like jumping off a cliff. 

Bill and I have worked to put some specific behavior interventions in place when a meltdown is especially bad, those that escalate into the hitting, kicking, throwing kind.  The ones where making sure Ian is in a safe place and Ben has room to burn off and regroup also in a safe place. 

Last week Ben fell badly and we are still having to bandage his arm each night to prevent a scar. He was unfazed, didn't get upset at all.  Instead later in the week getting the wrong color cup at dinner set him off.  

What seems so very hard, so very tiring is the unpredictability. Even when I try to anticipate situations and set him up for success, it's still a crapshoot based on if he cycling off that day in a hard way.

Earlier this week he dented his bedroom wall in the throws of a meltdown, first by throwing a book, then punching the wall repeatedly.  All this after he hit me repeatedly after I told him I would not talk to him until he calmed down in his room alone.    

As a parent I cannot tell you how hard it is to watch a meltdown in process, knowing that what coping skills he is learning now will shape and impact him later.  I see kids during their last years in school. I hope that what we are doing now will prevent Ben from developing into a hardened, bitter, angry teenager with a host of issues. 

Bill and I are back to looking into counseling just for Ben with a focus on anger management skills.  As insane as this sounds for a 6 year old we are out of our league with his meltdowns.  I fear that someone is going to be hurt as Ben becomes older and stronger.  Bill and I agreed early on that physical punishment will not be part of our parenting nor accepted in our home by anyone.

This weekend we meeting for annual family pictures at a local park.  As much as I want a great family shot for a Christmas card, more importantly I want something of each son and a parent.  This year, while so good in so many ways, has also tested everything we have as parents.

We will see where all this goes.  Just like so many other issues, you parent through the hard with everything you have in hopes in the long run you were right.


Goddess in Progress said...

I haven't been commenting as often as I've been reading, but I'm still around. Isn't it amazing, when you think you've been doing your job well, and then life comes along and teaches you a whole new way to see things?

I'm so sorry to hear you're struggling so much with Ben's meltdowns. It sounds so stressful and scary and overwhelming. Though at least the meds are helping when they're in his system, that's a plus, right?

Anyways, thinking of you...

Ms Mae said...

Just a quick note to say I think you are doing a fantastic job. I am a therapist at an acute psychiatric hosptial. I too often see the parents who give up or unwilling to work with their kids to find out how to help prepare them for the "real" world. Keep fighting the good fight :)

Beth said...

Thank you for your raw honesty here. I am glad that most of the time, he is succeeding. I know your journey is tough, but Ben is very fortunate. Seriously--thanks for sharing your journey here. Parenting is hard, but so is being a kid.