Friday, November 13, 2015

Reality Bites

Monday was not a good day.  We got both a call and an email home from two of Jacob's teachers for the second time in a few weeks.  He made a number of bad decisions throughout the course of the day, and ended up on "red" for the day.  It was not good.  Then he gave us a heck of a tough time with his evening reading.  That's a struggle almost every day, in fact.  He does not find reading fun in the least, and no matter how many times we tell him that reading is one of the most important things he can do for his future, he insists we're wrong.  It's such a struggle, and it makes me wonder how we're ever going to survive book reports or other major school projects that take focus and effort. 

Monday was so rotten that it sucked me right back to our everyday reality two years ago, panicked about how we can function with such an uncooperative, opinionated, cranky child.  I was feeling the same feelings of hopelessness that dragged me down for months when Jacob was five.  When you have a child that pushes back on everything, gets easily discouraged, and complains constantly about situations they must face, it is exhausting.  Overwhelming, in fact.  I just wasn't sure what to do.

I spent the evening composing a rather long email to Jacob's teacher, finally letting her in on his history.  I held off earlier in the year from spilling his whole story because I wanted to give her time to get to know him without clouding her mind ahead of time.  But after his second really bad day, I wanted her to understand where we've been, what we've done, and suggest a couple things we could try moving forward.  I told her about his evaluations, about his work with the school counselor and psychologist, about how much he loved his teacher last year, and how he's feeling like his current teacher doesn't help him like the other kids and that he doesn't have any friends.  I explained my theory that sometimes he just doesn't listen because he's so wrapped up in his own agenda that he literally doesn't comprehend that what he's doing is wrong.  He convinces himself that his reasons for disobeying are more valid than whatever our reason is for him to do what we're asking.  I didn't want to give excuses, but hopefully give her a different perspective so she understood he wasn't just being a jerk.  I basically did a giant brain dump and put it all out there.

She called me Tuesday afternoon and we had a pretty good talk.  We discussed how he'd had a better day thanks to a Veterans' Day assembly he helped out with.  She reminded me that he's part of this "friendship group" with the school counselor that practices politeness techniques and other tips for being a good school citizen.  She mentioned one other tool she utilizes for some kids that helps them to see how their good choices build up over the course of the day.  She also mentioned that she could talk to his old teacher to see if there were techniques she used with him that seemed to work better.  She also mentioned that she doesn't see the "no friends" thing happening at all.  He's got a couple close friends, and he's social in general.  She theorized (and I agree, as I often feel this way myself) that he's just not feeling a true connection with those kids.  Or, I suppose, he may just be looking for sympathy or an excuse for his troubles.  It was all pretty positive and I'm hopeful that he will see some small changes working toward a better feeling in his classroom.

I did also do a little more research on an outside therapist.  We're currently trying to get a call back from the free family therapy offered through the school district, as we think that might be good for all of us.  But I still think Jacob needs a one-on-one therapist to work through some other issues--perhaps the friend stuff, a tendency to absentmindedly put things in his mouth (clothes, zippers, the Wii strap or cord), and more of the family stuff--primarily listening to us and his relationship with Carter.  His first two have not been good matches, and when I didn't find anything ideal while poking around online, I checked the site of the practice we've been at, and sure enough there was one male therapist that seems to do a lot of work with kids--in fact, for some of the exact issues we're facing.  So, that's another call that needs to be made.  I fear that he won't be accepting patients, or that his schedule won't be conducive to Jacob's or ours, but it's worth a shot.

I've said before that all of the issues we're facing really make me fearful for the future.  Sometimes when I think about how a certain tendency or trait might translate five or ten years from now when he's a hormonal teenager, I get worried.  When I think of how defiant he can be right now and how he makes bad behavior choices with friends, the high school version of that looks terrifying.  I know that the help we're trying to get him should help reroute that uncertain future, but sometimes even the best therapy doesn't work.  Sometimes the demons are too strong.  I can only hope and pray that we find what he needs and get it for him.  While I do pray often that he will start to listen, I also pray that I can be the mother he needs right now.  So far I feel like I'm failing miserably, given the fact he doesn't want me anywhere near him, but hopefully in this case persistence pays off and someday he will realize how hard we tried to get him on the right track.  Our love for him never wavers, but some days remembering why we need to keep trying can be very difficult.  Monday was bad, but other days have been better as the week has gone on.  Baby steps for our big kid.

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