Urine-Filled Water Guns and The Knowing that Keeps Me Grounded

Let’s start positive. So, Javan is doing so, so much better with school. He is earning Superstar cones nearly every day! He does all his work jobs and tries not to complain too much so he can get a treasure box toy. He is still somewhat intimidated with reading sentences. He sees all the words and gets overwhelmed. He still doesn’t really get that a sentence is made up of many words that work together to create meaning, so he ends up trying to join one word with the next. He does do really well reading word lists. Several single words meant to be read alone. His writing has improved drastically! Both his skill at writing and, more importantly I think, his anxiety level about writing. He wrote two words yesterday and two today, then decided on his own to write a third word today. Plus he wrote his name. That’s a ton for him! And he didn’t even complain! His drawing has also improved, along with his willingness to try. Fine motor and hand-eye coordination are finally on the uprise!

He will not be ready for outside school for a while though. He has little to no interest in social interaction with peers, and doesn’t have the necessary skills to make it work consistently anyway. He has gotten more involved in playing with the neighborhood kids and is excited when they get home from school. That is promising. But he can’t seem to navigate their world. He always ends up getting mad and I have to make him leave. We go home, we talk, and figure it all out, but they certainly know he’s “different,” if only for the reason that I have to shadow him everywhere. None of the other parents do that.

His friend, Junior, down the street got a trampoline for Christmas. When the school bus arrives, given that the weather is nice, you can count on a general neighborhood kid gathering on the trampoline within five minutes. Well, we’ve made some slow progress here, but sort of zig-zaggedly. So, the first time Javan joined the others at the trampoline, he stood silently outside of the trampoline netting and watched intently. Until they boys started playing rough, then he jumped on and started swinging. Ugly picture. We went home (after I dragged him off the trampoline) and talked about what set him off. He thought the other kids were hurting his friend, Junior. He didn’t understand “rough play.” I explained that he doesn’t like to play that way, but if they do, then it’s not mean, it’s playing.

Next time we went, he still stood outside and watched, but he at least laughed and didn’t get mad. The third time, he actually got on with them! And he refused to wear a shirt because he’s noticed the other boys take theirs off when they jump. That’s social awareness! He wasn’t prepared for the unstable feeling of having other kids on the trampoline with him. He asked them not to play rough with him, and they were fine with that. But he kept falling (intentionally) in the middle and bouncing around flamboyantly and acting like he couldn’t get up. Then someone accidentally stepped on his hair. He thought, of course, that they had done it on purpose and knew it hurt him. So he attacked. Back home for another discussion. And he’s been on one time since then and did pretty well with it. Showed some progress each time, so that’s great.

However, it is so very inconsistent. Today, we went to Chick-fil-A with my dad and he couldn’t play on the playground because the two 3 year old boys already playing there were playing tag. He doesn’t like tag. He finds it threatening. He refused to tell them he didn’t want to play that, so he just didn’t play. At all. He doesn’t have the social skills of a 3 year old! And yet his intellect is so advanced that I’ve been accused in the past of talking to him like a college student! Confound it!

Let me tell you about the most interesting part of my day. Really, you’ll love this. During our school “intermission,” he ate applesauce for breakfast. Then he went in the bathroom, came out with a squirt gun and started dousing me. In the house. We don’t do that. Then he began laughing maniacally and told me it was pee in the gun. It was. I was sufficiently shocked to speak calmly when I sent him to his room. I was, detached, shall we say. I told him he’d be in there for a very long time while I cleaned up. And he was. While I cleaned up. And ate breakfast. And just sat.

A few days ago, after I’d yelled at both my son and my husband and left the house unexpectedly with no destination in mind, I ended up at Books-a-Million and bought a book called, “The Explosive Child” by Ross Greene. So far, it is a promising read. I recommend it to anyone struggling with any child. Parents, teachers, family members, church leaders…anybody. And it doesn’t have to be an “explosive” child; this book could help with any sort of behavioral problem. I screamed and cried a lot in the car on the way there. I prayed. And then when I got there, I was puffy, but calm. And I tried to do something constructive to our situation, so I read.

After the urine spraying incident this morning, I tried implementing one of the key strategies from this new book. I’d already tried it once, I don’t remember over what, and it was a massive failure because it requires that my son be able to communicate his emotions. This try worked better, although it was still pretty slow and frustrating. By the end of the conversation, we’d come up with the theory that Javan wanted to spray me with urine because he was punishing me for giving him applesauce that gave him a tummy ache. I didn’t shoot the idea down to him, and maybe there’s some logic in it, but I kind of doubt it. I think he was just giving answers because I was asking questions.

People ask me how we’re doing. Sometimes, I genuinely reply that all is great. Sometimes, I genuinely reply that all is terrible. Sometimes, I just stare at them blankly until they change the subject. And lately, many, many people have said things like, “I just don’t know how you’ve made it this long.” Or, “I honestly don’t see how you deal with it.” I thank them and I am grateful for the praise, but then I ask, “What’s the alternative?” They don’t know. I guess suicide or abandonment. One friend asked, half-jokingly, “Honestly, what keeps you from tying that kid to a chair and just leaving the house?” My reply was “CPS.” Lol, well at leastsomeone’s got an alternative.

Here’s where I’m at right now. I miss teaching. I miss my students. I miss having a mission and a selfhood outside of my home. I know this is what my son needs. I know that. That knowing is the only thing keeping me grounded right now. But still I wonder: Will I ever be anything other than Javan’s Mom?

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