Friday, September 2, 2011

Never Count Your Tantrums before They Erupt

As much as I hate to admit that I have anything left to learn (Shouldn't I know everything by now? After all, next year is the big 4-0!), this week I learned a valuable lesson: Never count your tantrums before they erupt. I know, sounds stupid, but as any mom (or dad...can't leave them out!) with a child with mental health issues will tell you, you tend to indulge in worst-case-scenario thinking every now and then.

Case in point...I've been dreading back-to-school all summer. Now, if you know me at all you know I'm not one to worry about things before they happen. (Oh shut up, don't get to comment.) Fine, I tend to worry a lot. But in my defence, Bear provided me with a lot of very good reasons to worry.

I'm sure I can count on my fingers and my toes just how many times I got Bear to school on time last year. Just convincing him to get dressed could take hours, so the school was used to our showing up at 9 or 10 in the morning. Bless them, they'd look at me and say "Rough morning?" The only time any concern was expressed was around mid-year, when they explained that he was missing a lot of learning time (afternoon was play time) and they were worried he might fall behind. But even then, it was said out of genuine concern and with an eye to helping us. They even put together an incentive program for that school!

But I digress.

There were even days when he flat out refused to go to school, and there wasn't a damn thing I could do about it. Short of wrestling him to the ground to get his uniform on, carrying him out to the van, sitting on him to get his seat belt on, and then carrying him into the school, my hands were tied. And before you suggest that's what I should have done, let me add that this would have sent him into a violent rage where one or both of us would have ended up injured. No exaggeration.

Instead, I told him that he had to stay in his room from the moment school started until it ended (8 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.) and he could only come out for snack, lunch, and bathroom breaks. This is not a child whose room is equipped with TV, computer, and video games, so his entertainment consisted of Lego, puzzles, books, and colouring. His reaction the first day when he was finally released at 2:30? "Wow...that wasn't long at all!" (Insert Mommy's smothered primal scream here.)

When he started showing signs of anxiety a few weeks ago at the prospect of starting school and being in a classroom without any toys (grade 1...he's a big boy now), I figured I was in for a rough ride. I say "I" only because hubby leaves for work at 6:30 a.m., so he's not here to help. Trying to talk Bear through his anxiety only seemed to make it worse, so I just left it.

The result?

Today is day five and the fifth day in a row he's been on time for school. Not only that, but he hasn't uttered so much as a word of complaint about getting ready for school. And...are you ready for this...he's even been ready early enough to happily race down the street to take the school bus with his friends, with Mommy and Stitch (the baby, for the uninitiated) scurrying after him.

So this week's lesson, my friends, is never to count your tantrums before they erupt. I'm sure I'll have forgotten it by tomorrow, but today it feels good to be just a little bit smarter than I was yesterday.


  1. Way to go Bear! What a massive relief this must have been for you. I guess one thing you can always rely on is the "nothing stays the same", he will continue to develop and evolve and you'll just need to keep up; our kids will always surprise us.

  2. You're right, C...nothing stays the same. Some things seem to be getting better, and then other things pop up that need to be dealt with. I have to say, though, that it's incredibly rewarding to see him making progress.

  3. Love the way you handled the "I don't want to go to school" situation - Brilliant! Only, I would add one more thing. When Bear said "Wow! That wasn't long at all!" , that would have been a perfect time to say something like, "You're right! And just think, that is just how long school is - not long at all ! Well, I know it's a bit late now, but, it was just a thought. Bear sounds JUST like my "Boy", only Boy is now 12 with ODD - it gets really crazy sometimes! God bless you!