Monday, August 18, 2008

This is gonna be hard...

Okay....I have a warning for you...this is going to be long and painful for both of us. This is a lesson in "what NOT to do." Be prepared to call me a horrible mom.

I have something to let go of. I don't like to let go of anything. I am a pit bull. Tenacity is my middle name. It is one of my biggest attributes and also one of my greatest defects of character. I always grab something by the jugular and won't turn loose until "it" works out the way I want it to or else. It's not working for me on this one and I am waving the white flag over my head. I GIVE UP! There... I said it. *heavy sigh* I am sure the world is about to stop turning.

As most of you know, J has had a chronic problem of being extremely irritating, ODD (emphasis on defiant), hateful, disrespectful, biting, scratching, spitting on, hitting and in general hard to get along with in the relationship with her homeschool teacher. You also know she does EMDR, tapping, energy work, consequences, therapy, teacher re-direction, LOTS of mini-tramp jumping, rewards, respite, lordy...the list just goes on and on. IT. DOESN'T. WORK.

She tends to have one good day at school and the others suck. Around 1 PM I get phone calls from Jessi to see how the day went. So four days out of five it's a long diatribe of J being disagreeable. Please know right now I am NOT faulting Jessi here. She is doing EVERYTHING the AT & I recommend over and over and over. Most people, by that I mean 99.9 %, would have quit by now. I certainly would have and I am by no means a quitter.

This is from the AT:
I just want to say that it seems to me like Jessi is doing everything right and I'm very proud of how much she has learned about teaching RAD kids! I hope J is better today after last night's session with Chris and post-Chris. If not, I think Jessi needs to continue just like she is....J is stubborn, but Jessi will win if she doesn't give up and takes pride in her approach and doesn't get frustrated or burned out.

So after the phone calls I get crabby because I am at work and I can do nothing to make this situation better. I have tried going home to get things re-directed. IT. DOESN'T. WORK. So anyway, Miss Cranky Pants (me) goes home and proceeds to bring more cranky to the table.

Friday night I had an epiphany. I have put way too much emphasis on education with J because I want her to have a great education. It is stressing me out and her as well. She has got to want to have a good education and I am D.O.N.E. caring about it because no matter what I want, it is her life. I can give her all the tools to get a good education but she is the one that has to do the work.

Sidebar: A few weeks ago, my dear friend, Texas Mary sent us a ton of books. You know...chapter books for 2nd - 3rd graders. I put them all in her room (big mistake). She loves books! So it was several sleepness nights for her as she was trying to read all of them and was totally overwhelmed. I let her pick 25 of her favorite, I want to keep forever, books and keep them in her room. We've always affectionately called them her "baby books" because they were her "starting to read" books.

Saturday morning, after coffee and meditation, I ventured into her room to let her in on the epiphany. First of all, I explained to her that I had made a mistake and I wanted to apologize. I told her that I had put too much emphasis on education and too much pressure on her and that it was unfair of me to do that. I let her know that from now on that I wasn't going to ask her how her day went with Jessi or Chrissi and I was just going to focus on being the best mom that I could be and on our mother/daughter relationship. However, since I wasn't worried about her education anymore I was going to "give" her new books to Mrs. Kacak and her teacher could do with them whatever she wanted but that J could keep all of her "baby" books in her room. She is free to buy more books with the money she has earned from chores. I also told her we weren't even going to talk about school at all anymore that all the units of concern were now hers. She helped me move the books to a bookshelf downstairs outside her classroom. She wailed some....crocodile tears. You tears, just the 2 year old wailing. But she helped me move them and proceeded to have a great day.

Sunday AM, in the car, she said, "Daddy G did you know I can write in cursive?" I tapped Daddy G's hand and he said, "J, we're not going to talk about school anymore." Go G! She said, "oh" and dropped the subject.

I called Jessi and explained the new plan to her and why I didn't want to hear anything about J's day for a while. She totally gets it. She's going to bring a good book and read Monday & Tuesday telling J she is taking some time off that she doesn't want to teach right now.

An email conversation with the AT bolstered my ego some:
I think that is a great way to handle it. She has been controlling your mood by being bad at school. Even healthy kids do better at school and in life when school is their deal to succeed or fail. (me: did you read that statement?) It is a hard one for parents to let go of. Let's see how she does.

If Jessie needs support when J has a bad day, she is welcome to call or email me. It won't bother me in the least and it will take you out of the loop and give Jessie someone to lean on. Also, I can make judgement calls about when or if to intervene.

I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

This is me. Giving up.

We survived the picnic. I decided to get a great attitude about it. I was up at 6 AM cooking for 10 people. 9lb pork shoulder (carnitas), pico de gallo, guacamole, salsa, jalepeno poppers. It is required to bring your family to this event. The coordinator was 45 minutes late. The other family of 6 only brought 2 and didn't bring any food (they were going to bring a dish and so was the coordinator). Can you say lots of leftovers?!? How Cindy Bodie does it is beyond me. How do you feed 22 people, 3 meals a day, every day? Out of her 39 children at least some of them are out on their own now. The logistics of that are beyond my comprehension. Just a FYI, Chrissi, J & I had great attitudes at the picnic.

Remember....This is me... giving up. I Am Giving Up. See... if I keep repeating this maybe I can actually do it. It's not about me. Priscilla...maybe I need to write this 100 times too.

Does anybody feel the earth slowing down a bit??????? I swear I felt a little pause....


Alyssa's Mom said...

Amen sista!

I backed off of school last year and that is when Alyssa really started to flourish! School is 100% Alyssa's responsibility. If she needs help, she has to ask for it.

Stay strong! You can do it. Put the school book down and back away slowly.......

I got the book on Saturday! THANKS!

Get a wooden ruler and everytime you get the urge to involve yourself, wack yourself on the knuckles! OMG, I just had a flashback of Catholic School and Sister Clara!!! The HORROR!!!

Tudu said...

I think this is your best idea, yet. I had to back off b/c it sent my kids into a frenzy. I told them I would love them if they could read or not. Most of mine are hard workers at school and act like turds with homework. Their teachers make them do it during recess when they refuse at home. I now allow them one chance to ask for help from me, I will gladly do it if they make the effort. If they don't I tell them I understand they chose to do it at school and walk away.

Brenda said...

Awesome post!

Torina said...

We did this with Tara for last school year. It was the hardest thing **I** had to do with her cause I felt like a failure. But it removed that element of control that she had over us. She knew how much we wanted her to succeed and she did her best to make every school day a living hell for those around her. Once we said, you go girl, do what you will, all was well. Shocking to me. It isn't like she was a superstar in school but she wasn't knocking down kids and kicking them in the gut, running away, or sitting on her hands all day. Made my sanity a million times better.

You are not a bad mom. Much the opposite, supermom raising a superdaughter.

Lauri said...

sounds like a good plan

Perspective RAD said...

OMG! FINALLY! REAL PEOPLE -- WHO Know my PAIN -- I have struggled with this exact thing. We pulled my son last Feb from public school. I TO have come to the very un-natural place of being flexible about my child's education. I had to give him some time to just chill and detox. That was really hard. I was very scared. But, this summer he's been able to do all of the mastery things I beat my head against a wall trying to get him to do in the school year. Thank you for sharing.. There have so many days I have wanted to give up. Don't give up.

Perspective RAD said...

I'm new to the whole blogger world.. I replied to your post, but this it showed up on mine.. anyway.. Let me know if you are able to read it.

marythemom said...

I attended a Beyond Consequences training Saturday, focused on getting kids ready for school, for special needs adoptive parents. I didn't agree with everything they said, but one thing they pointed out was, "What happens at school, stays at school." Meaning if a kid gets into trouble at school then you have to let the school deal with the discipline. At home you are the supportive, loving parent building a relationship with your child (which is just as important if not more so).

I learned the hard way, and now deliberately stay out of the homework battle - beyond offering help as long as they are polite and willing to work. This Summer though they had school work assigned and it has become a battle. They hate every caregiver who makes them do school work (and chores). The ultimate "punishment" is exactly what the AT recommends. Going to work with Mom and sitting at my desk where they work on their assignments.

My kids know that I know EVERYthing about what happens at school (and school often knows what's happening at home). I will even give helpful advice to a child with a problem involving school, if asked, but I do NOT give consequences for what happens at school.

I think this is one of the best decisions you can make for your relationship with J. Besides, she is still young, there is plenty of time (for her) to worry about academics.

Texas Mary

Unspeakable Joy said...

i had to back off from my daughter's schooling too and it helped tremendously! so much that i'm homeschooling her (in a VERY low key way) this year. much more for attachment than education. with her, it wasn't control (tho it felt like it), it was fear. once we really got that, it made it easier for us to let go. i hope it works with j.

Anonymous said...

What was that 1st step again? Something about being powerless and the
resulting unmanageability that comes into my life when I think I have power
over someone/something else?

We have to surrender to win!!

How true that we can "practice these principles in all our affairs."