Thursday, September 15, 2011

How Many More Years of School???

I realize today is only Wednesday, but it already feels like it's been a long week. Yesterday afternoon I got my first "could you please come get him?" call of the year from the school. Mind you, it took til week three for that phone call to come, which is an improvement over last year. Last year he only made it to week two, although that was an improvement over the year before. (Fingers crossed that next year he makes it through a whole month before being sent home!)

But back to yesterday. In the school's defence, it was more of a "Bear's hiding under a counter and won't come out and we're not sure what to do now" phone call than a "come get your crazy child before someone gets hurt" phone call. (Trust me, I've had the latter as well.) The teacher said this was the first time that she hadn't been able to find a way to get him to do what he was supposed to do, which was why she was calling. Normally a promise of being able to play with Lego for a bit will do the trick, but not this time. But you have to hand it to's a pretty gutsy six-year-old who flat out refuses to do what his teacher and the vice-principal are telling him to do. Most kids would cave at some point, especially when the teacher gets the parent on the phone. But Bear? Nope, not my Bear. Instead he crawled out from under the counter and joined in the conference call! What a kid.

Given the fact that Bear was flat out refusing to go back to class and that there was only about an hour left of school, it was decided that he would come home and do some work. That should have been a fairly simple arrangement to enforce, but this is Bear we're talking about. Homework, as we're finding out, is not something he does willingly.

What followed was about four hours of torture, both for him and for me, but extremely enlightening torture. As it turned out, there was a math test in class that afternoon, which was why Bear was refusing to go to class. You see, if he took the test, he might fail, and that wasn't an option for him. Children with ADHD are very often perfectionists with a very low tolerance for frustration, which is a dangerous combination. How do you do something perfectly when you don't have the patience to learn to do it properly in the first place? Answer? You don't do it at all. What if you're having problems with the work you're doing in class? You leave your desk and hide in the coatroom, of course. What if there's a test? You find a reason to leave the class and then you hide under a counter and refuse to go back. And if well-intentioned teachers tell you the work is easy? Well, if you find it hard when others find it easy, you internalize the message that you're stupid and a loser (his words, not mine) and then you come home and refuse to do any work because you can't do it perfectly.

In the end, no work got done, a lot of tears were shed (mine hidden, of course), but a lot of information was gleaned. That information was then shared with his class teacher and his resource teacher and by morning they were already working on a plan. (I love that school!!!)

That was yesterday. Then came today.

Today Bear's anxiety reared its ugly head again and he refused to get out of the van when we got to school. Instead, he climbed into the back seat (Before you all start emailing me, by "back seat" I mean the third row. No, he wasn't in the front at six years old, and yes, he was in a booster seat. Can I continue now?), pulled a blanket over himself, and claimed he was too tired to go to school. After a few minutes of trying to negotiate with him I headed into the school to look for reinforcements, taking baby Stitch with me. (I hate to admit it, but Bear can't be trusted around Stitch if he goes into a rage, and I wasn't sure how he was going to react when forced to go to school.) When further negotiations didn't work, I handed Stitch to the teacher who had joined me, climbed into the back of the van, and proceded to start to physically remove him from the van. Fear of his friends seeing him won the day, and he went into school on his own steam. And in typical ADHD/ODD fashion, which means the fastest mood swings you've ever seen, the boy who just minutes before had been crying and yelling at me now went happily trotting into school to play Lego, with hugs and kisses all around. Go figure.

His test, for the record, went well. So well, in fact, that he didn't even know he had written it. Alternating five-minute-periods of work and play had made his first test ever a painless experience. His teacher had already filled me in, but I decided to play dumb with him to see what he said. (Some days that's easier than others.) "So, how did your test go today," I asked on our way home from school. "Test?" he repeated, sounding a little confused. "I don't think I wrote it." "Well, you did, because your teacher told me you did and said you did really well on it," I explained. "OH!" he exclaimed, completely surprised. "Then it went well."

It's going to be a long 12 years for everyone involved.


  1. Bless him! You got one smart kiddo on your hands my friend. Cross ADHD/ODD with a some keen awareness, a smattering of insight, and a possible a sprinkling of smartass (if it's not intentional now, wait, it will be) and you got one challenging/funny/awesome kid. We often say with J, that it ain't always easy being his parent but it's never boring.

  2. You said it, C! He's a challenging little monkey to raise and he changes the rules on us at every turn, but the rewards are great. As the school has told us from the very first week of JK, he's extremely bright and has amazing potential, but school is going to be a rough road for him. Thankfully everyone involved is committed to seeing that he rises to the challenge, which also forces all of us to rise to the challenge. And for the record, the smartass started to appear about as soon as he could talk. (You know us all well enough to recognize that it's a family trait.) But he's an endearing smartass, so it makes people laugh.

    Thank God we don't have boring kids, C. It would just be so...well...boring. ;-)

  3. My ADHD/OCD/Anxiety kid has her first dictation test today. We worked on the 5 words all week. She could spell them. She could write them. She could recognize the word if I spelled them. We were good to go.
    Until she forget her "favorite hairband in the whole world" at her friend's yesterday.Little things throw her off. I called the friend's and she was supposed to bring it this morning. We practically ran to school so she could get her hairband back...and the little girl wasn't there.
    It might not seem like a big deal-it's only a hairband-but to my kid it's enough to throw her off for the day. I have to meet the teacher after school, so it will be a perfect learning opportunity, but it's tough on my kid.

  4. That's so hard, Lisa. I find one of the most challenging things with Bear's anxiety is that it normally makes no sense and there's no reasoning with him. He has an argument for every reassuring thing I say. We're on the list for some anxiety help through our local children's mental health agency. If you're familiar with cognitive behavioural therapy, it's similar to that except that it's geared to children. Might help your daughter as well.