Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Me.......with a rainbow-colored afro and a "kick me" sign on my back...

Tonight was the notorious, annual "Back-to-School-Night" at our elementary school. Please......let me contain my excitement. Its really not all that bad, if you don't mind a large crowd of parents and students crammed into a cracker-box gymnasium that is too small for this purpose, and then surviving the crush of this same crowd as they file in a not-so-orderly fashion down the hallways to find the classrooms, visit with teachers, blah blah blah. Wow! I sound like a real grouch, don't I?

Have I mentioned that highly-advertised Book Fair is also part of this event? And thats where the trouble started.

I got up this morning with a plan. That was probably my first mistake, but planning everything is a natural outcome to always trying to avoid "those scenes" with a special needs child. Seriously........I was admittedly probably a borderline "control freak" prior to Jennica and now I plan endlessly. plan was to take the girls to school this morning, and "shop" the Book Fair with them before school started, which would allow us to avoid the over-crowded elementary library tonight. Tiersten flatly refused to join in this plan, and insisted on riding the school bus. Fine. It sort of hurt my feelings, as I was looking forward to picking out books with her, but whatever. I understand that first graders still think the school bus is cool, and she considers her bus ride to be a social adventure. So......Jennica and I hit the Book Fair with about 10-15 other early birds. Wahoo.........right?

To put it mildly, Jennica and I ended up in a battle. I set her limit at two books. She said five books. I said two. She said five. I held my ground. She threw a fit. A big fit. A HUGE fit. A fit so HUGE that it resulted in one of her rare tantrums that involves her losing all sense of self-control. I finally ended up carrying her out of the school and out to the Durango, flailing wildly the entire way, where I was able to simply sit quietly with her until she could regain control of her rage. There is no point to doing anything else in these types of tantrums. Don't give in.........but its useless to try to "talk" her out of it. It's better just to hold your ground and let it run its course. Eventually, the "real" Jennica began to re-emerge, and then she was sobbing in remorse for kicking and hitting me. We got through that wave also, and she finally went to school and joined her class (now in session) for the rest of the day with no other major problems.

As for me, I wish it were as easy to shake it off. Instead, I have been frazzled for the rest of the day. The witnesses to the whole event were numerous, as I packed her through the entire arriving school population out to the car. Even my high schoolers across the street informed me after football practice that word of their little sister's fit had reached them. Just grand. The school staff that witnessed it were stunned, as this was probably the most explosive they have ever seen her. (Yeah............I know. But its typical for kids with this type of neuro-developmental disorder to save their most "special" fits for Moms.) They all congratulated me on how calmly I had handled the situation, but their kind words don't make it all go away, or make me stop second-guessing myself as a parent.

And then, back to the school tonight. I'm sure that the majority of the people there had no clue as to what had taken place this morning. So why did I feel like I was wearing a rainbow-colored afro and a "kick me" sign on my back? Most parents have dealt with a public show of bad behavior at one time or another, but the level of rage that Jennica exhibited this morning? Uh.......not so much. Still, I know that I handled it in the best way possible for my daughter. Why do I still care what they are thinking and saying?

I guess that I'm having to come to terms with the fact that I have always been one of those people considered to be an "over-achiever" (I hate that term, by the way), and I don't know how to merge the fact that I feel like I am a darn good parent, with the fact that this little brown-eyed girl that I love so much is challenging me beyond any challenge I've ever faced in my life. I've never faced a challenge that I couldn't overcome with hard work, common sense, and a logical approach. But this.........its not entirely my journey. Jennica also has to step up and take some ownership in her choices and decisions. I can provide the discipline, guidance, tools, therapies, and most of all love. But, in the end, its still her journey.

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