The Preemptive Tantrum Attack

This morning was emotionally rough, at least for me.  I did get up early and take care of myself first.  I went and got the clean laundry upstairs, so that everyone could get dressed without asking me where anything was.  Yay!

I presented it as fact that my oldest was going to school today.  He tried to tell me he’s sick like he did yesterday, and I simply gave him medicine for his cough and said he’s going to school.  I finally talked to his therapist last night, and she very nicely told me that I’m coddling him and to send him to school.

I do agree that he was avoiding the test, and avoiding the bullies at school, but I’m annoyed that he doesn’t have the tools to cope with them.  And basically, I feel like everyone’s telling me that all I can do is push him out into the world so he’ll learn how to cope.  I’ve been doing that for years now, and I end up with a sad, anxious kid to cope with.  Thanks y’all.

I really did try to prepare my oldest to go to school, try to review the coping strategies he can use to get through his test.  But he really didn’t want to listen.  When I finally got him to come and sit at the table and talk to me, his little brother decided that it was time to run around the table and play with the dog.  (He’s part tornado, did I mention that?)

Once I kicked the 8 year old upstairs to brush his teeth and finish getting ready, the 10 year old, whom I’m trying to help, is sitting at the table crinkling the wrapper of his snack.  Crunch, crinkle, crinkle, crunch, crunch.

Gone….too much…one crunch too many….I lost it.  And, while I didn’t scream, I did snatch the granola bar from him and make a noise that indicated pretty well, that Mom had a very loose grip on sanity.  I almost calmly said, “Talk over!  You don’t want to talk.  Go brush your teeth!  Go find your shoes!  Get. Out. Of. My. Kitchen.”

His brother helped him find his shoes, he went to school, and he didn’t throw even one tantrum.  He couldn’t, because I had one for him.  

There wasn’t enough room for TWO tantrums in that kitchen.  My tantrum was quiet and I tried not to cry on the turkey sandwich I was making for lunch.  But I think I was clear that I was the crazier of the two, and he backed down.  Standardized test is far less scary than crazy mama.

Interesting technique.  Preemptive tantrum used as tantrum prevention.  Yeah, I meant for that to happen, I planned it that way.

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Oh, Yeah, It’s Monday, All Right

Switching to Daylight Savings Time can feel really hard.  It affects my kids, especially.  I tried to get them to bed a bit early last night.  To no avail.  They mostly stayed up too late, trying to fall asleep.

This morning was a bit rough.

I woke up with a sinus headache that made my world spin sickeningly, but I’ve learned.  I took care of myself first, drank a bit of coffee to cure my spiritual woes (Ahhhh!) and ate some food to allow me to take some ibuprofen.

First, my son’s pants were too tight.  I made a point to be sure that everybody had clothes for today, I thought I put 3 pairs of pants in his dresser.  He wore one pair to a party yesterday, and this morning there was only 1 pair clean.  At least 5 pairs of jeans are clean, but talk about a meltdown trigger….let’s not talk about the jeans.  shhhh!

After he quit screaming, I told him that I had a bad headache and that if he screams I would not help him.  I discovered that these pants have the elastic sizers in them.  I unbuttoned them and he said they might be okay.

Then I went to the bathroom and took a moment to calm myself down.  I went downstairs to find that my while my youngest was fine and eating breakfast, my oldest was wheezing on the couch and holding his chest.  He had already had a hit from his rescue inhaler, and I got him to take his QVAR inhaler.  I also found him an Alavert because that seems to help.

Then I realized that we played at a park with all the kids at the end of the party yesterday, and though there was still snow on the ground, there were primroses blooming.  Joy!  Apparently spring allergy season has started.

I think the asthma attack is real, but then there’s also the TCAP issue.  This is a state mandated test, today is reading, one of his hardest subjects.  I’ve talked to the school, I’ve seen the work he can do, but he feels that he’s “too dumb to take the test.”  So now, I’m not sure if the asthma is anxiety, or if it’s allergies.

I talked to him about how to just get through the test.  I talked to him about if he just gets overwhelmed, he can go to the nurse’s office and they’ll call me.

Last night, I thought I had him convinced to go to school and at least try.  But then this morning he doesn’t want to go.  So, here he is at home with me.  Mostly happy, and coughing just a little bit.  I’ve called his therapist to see if she can talk to him and give me some tips in helping him cope.

I wish I knew the right answer.  I don’t want to teach him that it’s okay to quit.  I also don’t want to put him into situations where he feels overly anxious and stupid.  It’s not good for him either.

Bless you! Bless you! Bless you!

I love my kids’ elementary school, I deeply dislike the bureaucracy of a public school.  I’ve been there a lot, volunteering over the last five years, my face is known there.  The paraprofessional (a para is basically peon who is paid to do what needs to be done at the school, help the kids, make phone calls, do officey stuff) just called me to remind me that my son’s IEP is today.  She’s one of my favorites and we always chat.

She says, “I know you already know, but the IEP is today.”  Yep, yay!  With a new IEP, changes can be implemented.  But not until I sign the plan, so no changes for today.  Heck, not even any changes by next week.  I said, “T, does my kiddo have TCAP testing today?”  And she said, “Yes, I was working with him yesterday.”  And I said, “You are the absolutely perfect person to talk to then!” with joy in my voice.

He came home yesterday after dealing with this standardized test and said, “This was my worst day ever!  I want to DIE!”  This is unacceptable.  It was all because I signed off on an accommodation on his current IEP that says that he is allowed extra time on all testing.  Because of it, his class got cookies and recess and he stayed in the whole time feeling like a prisoner, doing this f*&$ng test that doesn’t help him at all.  Oh hell no!

She and I had an informal chat about the best ways to help him.  I told her that he has my permission to take a break from the test or or completely walk away.  She explained that if he doesn’t finish the test, he gets a zero and the school gets a zero.  It’s all about the funding.  And I smiled and said, “Well, he gets a zero if I keep him out of school, too.”

Luckily, she and I see eye to eye and we’re in complete agreement about the effectiveness of this testing model.  We’ll see how the principal and his teacher take it when I say the same thing.  😀  Joy!  T told me that getting an exemption from this state mandated test practically requires an act of god.  That doesn’t frighten me.

T is WONDERFUL and I am blessed that she’s the one who made the call!  She said she wasn’t working with my son today, but she’d go let the other paras know some of the coping techniques I shared with her.

UPDATE:  I just spoke with the doctor’s office.  If nothing else, she’ll write a note excusing him from school!