Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Manipulated by a 5-year-old.....and on the first day of school!

Okay.........I got drug through the mud this morning. By a very smart little girl. And on the first flippin' day of school. It was a very humbling experience, and I'm going to spend today taking some steps to ensure that it doesn't happen again tomorrow. UGH! Here's the story:

I have spent the last week making detailed preparations for Jennica to start kindergarten. (In actuality, this process started last Spring with the selection of her teacher, communication with the school, etc. Her kindergarten teacher even attended a 2-day class with us in May on SPD, and attended an OT session with us over the summer to enhance her already-strong understanding of the specific areas that Jen needs the strongest support. Bless her heart! We love our kindergarten teacher!!) I have baked diet-specific cupcakes to keep in the school's freezer so Jennica has "goodies" for birthday parties, I have provided the first two weeks of daily snacks that meet Jen's diet specifics and made arrangements to refill the snack basket on a regular basis, I took an emergency lunch to the school to keep in the freezer in case Jen should forget her backpack on the bus one day or some other unforeseen disaster regarding her lunch, I have provided the teacher with an "instruction manual" for aides and substitute teachers as needed, I have provided finger fidgets/wiggly seats/chewelry and all the other gadgets that help kids with SPD be successful in the classroom, I have visited the classroom with Jen to make sure she knew what to expect to ease the anxiety of the unknown.......ya da ya da ya da. I tell ya.......I was PREPARED. Or so I thought.

Jen got out of bed this morning on what, at first, appeared to be a very low engine. Slug-like, in fact. In actuality, I think she was very anxious and thought procrastinating was a good option. But, in any case, she ate breakfast at the speed of a snail. She refused to take her supplements. At all. She dilly-dallied, and then dilly-dallied some more. I tried to control my inner panic, keep my voice level, and work through it. I reminded her how excited she was to ride the bus, how much she loves her bus driver (which she does), and told her that she needed to eat and take her supplements so she could go get dressed and be ready when the bus came. It didn't help. At all. I tried a behavioral technique that has had GREAT success for us over the summer that puts her in charge of the choices and consequences. She decided to deal with the negative consequences rather than get motivated--which is exactly how it is NOT supposed to work.

So........the bus left with the older three kids. And Jen continued to fiddle. I switched to the visual schedule drawn on her white board, which we honestly haven't had to use much in the last couple of months. That helped get her breakfast finished and her supplements down, sloooooooowly. And then Round 2 started when she had to go brush her teeth. She told me lengthy stories about a movie she wants, told me things about our cat, and jabbered incessantly about a million other things. And still didn't brush her teeth. At my wit's end, I left her alone in the bathroom and told her to come out when her teeth were brushed. So then she cried. Great big huge sobs. And I sat on the couch in the living room and listened to her sobbing, put on my "OT hat", and tried to make sense of what was happening. I quickly came to the conclusion that you can't make a child with SPD comply by raising their anxiety level. So.......I went back to the bathroom, sat down on the floor with her, told her that I wanted her to have a great first day of Kindergarten, and asked her how I could help her do that. She told me that I "needed to be nice to her." I bit my tongue. Hard. I kept my voice very level, and somehow managed not to tell her to take that comment and shove it. After all, she doesn't get that I have spent the last week trying to get ready for this great event and preparing every detail. She doesn't realize how carefully her day was planned yesterday to spend the day at the beach, which is a sensory playground, how carefully her bedtime was planned to maximize her restfulness, and on and on and on. Ungrateful little..........beautiful daughter. :)

Somehow, we managed to get her teeth brushed. Together, we got her dressed. Eventually. After a change of outfit due to the fact that she griped because she didn't have a "pretty shirt covered with flowers" like Tiersten had worn today. (That is actually progress. Most days last year, she wouldn't have cared if she had worn a clown costume to preschool. She is becoming more aware of her own appearance, which is a very necessary life skill.)

And then I drove her to school, while listening to her extremely annoying CD in the car, which really DOES help organize her brain. Makes me crazy........but this point, I would have listened to 10 hours of Lawrence Welk if I could get her to school in a happy mood. Amazingly enough, we arrived before class started. She was clingy and resistant to me leaving, which is exactly why I wanted her to ride the bus, but I left and she was successfully sitting at circle with her classmates.

So..........I guess I accomplished what was needed for the morning. All four kids made it to school. But nowhere near the way I WANTED to accomplish it. I had big plans to take pictures of them at the bus stop, and be at my desk by 8:00. I wanted to be able to congratulate myself on what a healthy breakfast they had and feel good about the day ahead. Instead.......I'm going to spend part of the day making a picture schedule for tomorrow morning, so that I am more prepared to provide visual support. And I'm going to attempt to get my blood pressure back down and stop gritting my teeth. And I'm going to try not to feel guilty that there were Moms of other first-graders at the school with cameras lovingly hugging their first-graders and kissing them goodbye.....while Tiersten got pushed out the door to the school bus with a brief "have a great day," as I cajoled her sister into stepping up the pace. (The boys were actually laughing when I last looked at their faces. They know what it takes to remain calm when Jen decides to "buck the system".)

And I am humbled at how quickly the best-laid plans can go awry. Sensory Processing Disorder will not win! Tomorrow morning is a new day! Stay tuned!

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