Monday, November 23, 2015

Small Steps

Last week was the first week of Jacob's new behavior chart at school, the one the teacher suggested after his second rough day in as many weeks.  He went home early on Monday due to his fever, but he had done well that morning.  And he did well every day for the remainder of the well that he hit the top of the chart ("Outstanding!") every single day for the rest of the week, and today, too!  He'd never done it before, and now he did it five days in a row!?

Obviously we were thrilled to hear the news each day, and we were quick to congratulate him and ask to see his army guys, which he got because those who end the day on "Outstanding" get to pick a prize from the teacher's prize box.  However, the quick turnaround definitely made me wonder.  Is he really just playing us?  Or are a few stickers and an army man really all it takes (for now) to get him to listen?  Part of me wonders if the extra attention from his teacher simply made him realize she cares just as much as his old teacher.  She took him aside at the end of the week prior to tell him he's doing a great job and to let him know about the new system, so maybe that just flipped a switch with him.  Who knows?  Like I said, it's great news, but it makes me wonder how long this can go on before everyone feels like he's taking advantage.  Honestly, this is why I stopped using a lot of rewards with Jacob over the years.  It always seemed like he had mastered a skill and we'd be killing ourselves to keep up with rewarding him.  He'd have a pile of toys or too many sweet treats if we kept up with it.  In my eyes, once you master it, the new skill just becomes something you're expected to do, and it shouldn't take any rewards to continue it.  Maybe that seems unfair to a kid brain, but we simply can't go on like that forever.  So now what?  I guess we'll hang in there for a bit, see if it wears off, and maybe wait for his teacher to call his bluff if she's uncomfortable with it?  In the meantime we'll all enjoy better behavior/reports of behavior, I guess.

We had a pretty decent weekend.  We had our moments as usual, but overall it was pretty good.  I had another busy Saturday morning, this time finally getting the house cleaned (mostly, anyway).  It was in desperate need and I was happy to get everything cleaned up before the Christmas decorations come out this weekend.  My parents came in for Jacob's lacrosse game (more on that in a minute) and dinner, which was fun, despite Carter taking his turn on the naughty list during the game.  Craig spent most of the day at the Knighthawks' training camp, which means his season is slowly approaching.  Sigh.  Sunday we went to church, did some grocery shopping, and had a pretty low-key day at home.  Oh, and this weekend I made a couple attempts at de-glutening a couple favorite recipes--my mom's crustless crumb apple pie and a chicken noodle casserole I had to stop making because one of the key ingredients was Stove Top stuffing.  The apple pie was a success, even though the crumb top didn't exactly crumb with gluten-free flour.  Instead it was dabs of dough scattered across the pie top, but it all tasted good and the consistency was fine.  The chicken noodle casserole got new life because my mom found me a couple boxes of Aldi's gluten-free boxed stuffing, which my store was sold out of.  Jacob used to love the casserole, but either his tastes have changed or the different stuffing didn't do it any favors because he put up a HUGE stink about it.  In his words, "It tastes like garbage."  Nice, huh?  So much for tact.  I guess it actually tasted fine (per Craig), just a little different from before.  Carter liked the noodles and ate most of his chicken, but didn't love the broccoli or stuffing components too much.  I'm enjoying it thoroughly in leftovers, though!

Anyway, the highlight of the weekend was probably Jacob's game.  His team started pretty slow again, though they seemed to see a little more action on the offensive end.  Jacob was out there playing hard, taking faceoffs, and trying to generate offense.  A little after halftime Craig had to leave to go back to work, and shortly thereafter Jacob assisted on his team's first goal!  A few minutes after that, he scored one of his own!  Craig missed both, and I only saw the tail-end of each play (I was half watching while catching up with a friend whose son was playing on the other team), but it was great to see him continue to contribute.  He was pretty happy after the game, even though they lost again (7-2 this time), but they're definitely getting better with moving the ball and making passes.  I must say, though, that it makes me so happy to see him out there because he's really doing well.  He's so mature out there.  I love watching him anticipate what's next because he knows the rules so well.  He'll dutifully walk to the faceoff circle right after a goal, a good 20 seconds before his opponent makes it there.  For all of the stuff he doesn't "get" in life, he sure gets it out on the field.  Not that he doesn't need direction still, but it's amazing watching him improve.  If only he could bring some of that discipline into his daily life.

Tonight we took another small step toward restoring some normalcy to our home by going for our first appointment at a family counseling center run by our school district.  We feel like this type of family counseling might help Jacob learn to respect us and like his brother a little more.  Tonight was our intake night, where we just told our story, answered a ton of questions, and got on the schedule.  So, every other week we'll be going there and working with a team of four people (two in the room, two watching through a window--yikes!) to work through some of the issues that have been plaguing us.  On one hand it scares me because it'll put my parenting skills under a magnifying glass.  I know I haven't done everything perfectly, and I know my temper does me no favors...but when your kid is totally defiant and no amount of recourse seems to do any good, what do you do?  But on the other side of things, hopefully this will give us some good techniques to try, and hopefully we can help Jacob learn the skills he needs to be a solid member of our society and household in general.  Sometimes I think he's simply oblivious.  For example, tonight while we were answering all of the boring questions, he was playing a game on Craig's phone.  When it came time to answer some questions himself, Jacob was hesitant to pause his game, and after a couple questions he tried unpausing it while continuing to answer questions.  Eventually we just had to take it away.  Back at home, I told him that next time we go back, he needs to be more respectful.  He asked how he was disrespectful, and I explained that he needed to keep his game paused.  He said that he could still focus on answering questions by playing, but I explained that when he does that, other people perceive that he's not focused.  So even though he may think he's focused and respectful, he's actually putting out a different vibe.  No matter how many times we explain that, he won't believe us, so hopefully someone else can make him see that.  He also has a hard time making eye contact and keeping his fingers away from his mouth when he's in shy mode.  He's so quirky and we definitely need to work through some of those quirks.  It's nice to feel like we're trying something, though, and at least we have some hope that this might get us somewhere.  One step at a time.

A busy week has begun and we're all looking forward to Thursday and our long weekend.  Hard to believe the Christmas season is just around the corner!

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