24 January 2013

Pour Your Heart Out - Finding What Works

Today was another rough day with Peter.  It started this morning when I told him it was time to get dressed.  He was watching a Pokemon video and didn't want to stop.  I warned him that if he didn't go pick out clothes and get dressed, I'd turn the video off.  He refused and the video went off.  And that's when the fit started.  Yelling. Screaming. Crying. Hitting.  Acting more like a two year old than a four and a half year old. I spanked him.  I chased him up the stairs.  I eventually picked out his clothes and told him that, because of his behavior, he wasn't having the video turned back on before going to school.  He still got angry and I had to forcibly dress him.  Of course, he still wanted his "movie" back on and got angrier when I didn't do it.
Finally, I calmed myself down and had him sit on my lap.  I reminded him that I could't understand him when he cried and talked.  No one can.  I got him calm.  Then I told him that we were leaving in 10 minutes and that, no, he wouldn't have his video on before that.  But if he was good at school today, I would let him watch it when he got home.  Finally, he agreed, got his shoes and became the happy boy that I know is in there.
On the way to school, we talked about vegetables.  He wants to plant some this spring.  I have a smaller planter and have been meaning, for several years now, to plant something so we can have fresh veggies at least part of the year without having to have the money to pay for them.  We talked about different vegetables that could go in salads and my son decided that he wanted all of them planted.  Not all, I assured him, but some.  Things were going really well when we walked in the door, still talking about vegetables and salads.
I don't know why things went wrong from there.  He had the sillies, maybe.  But when we got to his hook to put up his things, he started acting like a goof.  Hitting his head back into the handle of his backpack and saying "Ow."  Pretending he couldn't put things away.  His teacher came out to help and told him that she wasn't going to have the nonsense from him today.  Which just made him mad.  We finally got him to put his stuff up, and he crossed his arms and I knew, I just knew, it was going to be a rough day.  I sat down and had him look at me.  I reminded him that he needed to be good and listen to Miss Kim if he wanted to watch Pokemon when he got home.  I asked him if he understood, he said yes, but still walked into the room with his arms crossed.
I ran my (very brief) errand of going to the grocery store and was trying to decide if I had the energy to blog after all when my phone rang.  It was the name of the church that he has PDO at.  My heart sank. I knew what it was.  There was no other reason the director would be calling me.  And I was right.  Pete refused to pay attention to Miss Kim, having attitude when he was asked to do anything, or even flat out refusing to do so.  Laughing at her when she tried to discipline him.  So with tears in my eyes, I went to pick him up.
I walked in and told him that I was not happy with him.  That we were going home and he was not watching TV.  He was being punished because I had to pick him up for misbehavior.  I talked with his teacher and, once again, ended up in tears.  I can't blame her for being frustrated with him.  He's 4 1/2.  He shouldn't be acting like this.  None of her other students do.  Teddy never did.  So it came as no surprise when she told me that if we can't figure out what will get him to behave, that they may have to ask him to stop coming.  (Though the director assures me that we'll do everything in our power to find that.  She doesn't want to give up on him.  And for that, I'm grateful.)
Pete and I talked in the car.  He knew I was upset, and he knew why I was upset.  He knew that if he didn't stop misbehaving, he would be told he couldn't come back and be with his friends.  And he knew that neither of us wanted that.  I told him that we were going home.  I would not turn on the TV for him today.  When we got home, we would work on the worksheet he refused to do at school.  He would eat his lunch and then we would both lay down and take a nap.  He was very subdued as we drove home.

His pep came back as we pulled up in front of the apartment, though.  He started to try being silly as he got out of the van, but I reminded him that it was what got him in trouble earlier.  So a little of the silliness stayed, just enough to make him happy.  He put his jacket and bags up as soon as we got in the house, then came right to the kitchen table with me to work on his worksheet.  He listened to me and did what he was supposed to.  I got to help teach him.  Then lunch (which he ate all up) and finally, nap time.  No fighting, no screaming, no yelling.  And he napped for almost 3 1/2 hours.

He just woke up now, coming downstairs happy, no Plo in his hands, no thumb in his mouth, smiling.  He told me he had a good nap.  He sat on my lap and told me his truth for the day, "Sometimes monsters come out of closets and sometimes they don't."  He snuggled me for a few minutes before I sent him off to play with his toys.  "Teddy'll be home soon, right?" he asked, and walked away smiling when I assured him he would.

There are going to be some changes around here from now on.  Things that I'm hoping will work to make it easier here and easier at school.  No more TV on all the time.  (And no more tons-of-computer time for Teddy either.)  I'm going to pull out the Preschool workbook he has and make sure to work on it with him every day.  We're going to practice his letters, his numbers and everything else we can work on.  We're going to have Mommy and Peter play time every day.  If the weather cooperates, we're going to spend more time outside.  There's a play area here in the complex (though I don't care much for it) and plenty of playgrounds in the vicinity. We're going to have afternoon naps again, because it makes a difference for him. And we're contacting a group called RIP (Regional Intervention Program) that is set up for exactly these kinds of problems.

I'm afraid that so much of this is my fault.  That I haven't been doing the things with Teddy that I did with him and that I'm shorting him for it.  I know that it's not too late to have him learn how to behave.  I know that I'll be able, with help, to find the things that work for him.  He's not hopeless, and neither am I.  It's just a matter of finding what works to bring out the best in both of us.

My happy boy, playing with his toys