A Very “Special” Night Before School Starts…

25 Aug

I have referred to my daughter’s “special needs” here and there in the course of this blog journey, but I intentionally haven’t published a list of her diagnoses.  For some reason I feel that the depth of her issues should be kept private.  And also, some of her issues are very hard to describe and even harder to understand, which makes it almost impossible to write about.  BUT…

Last night we had a typical example of her issues.  I had been away from the house for a couple of hours, and came home in a good mood, excited to help her get ready for the first day.  I knew I had my work cut out for me…she has been extremely defiant lately, and the last thing I wanted was a big meltdown on the night before school starts.  I came up with the BRILLIANT idea of a scavenger hunt to get her through the evening ritual.  Fun, right?  I had little clues hidden all over the house with riddles that she had to solve to get to the next one.  I spread out the tasks (put on PJs, brush teeth, etc.) amongst the clues so she would be having fun while getting the goals accomplished.  One of the clues even suggested that she choose any dessert she wanted!!  I mean, I was ready to win the Mother of the Year award for this one!

As usual, though, she had other ideas.  For whatever reason, and I have no earthly idea why, this whole thing seemed a TERRIBLE idea to her.  Nevermind the fact that EVERY OTHER TIME we’ve done a scavenger hunt she’s loved it.  Nevermind the fact that instead of a big list of tasks, she gets to play a game.  Nevermind that she gets to CHOOSE HER OWN DESSERT for Pete’s sake.  No, none of that was satisfactory last night.  Instead, she crawls down into the space between the wall and her bed and claims I was a horrible mother because I didn’t make the clues hard enough.  Or that was her excuse.  I used all my psychobabble to try to get her to admit what was really bothering her (“Honey, are you sure you’re not just worried about starting school tomorrow?  Do you want to talk about it?”  No and no.)  She finally told me she’d rather have a list.  So I made the stinkin’ list and handed it to her, all the while trying to remain calmer than calm (a significant challenge for me.)  What it really boiled down to was she didn’t want to do what I wanted her to do, no matter how fun.  Good grief.  And what a hard way to live life. 

We muddled through and two hours later she finally fell asleep.  (Only an hour past my original goal, so not too bad.)  This morning wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t awful.  I gave us PLENTY of time, and I made cinnamon rolls, so there were lots of gooey incentives to get out of bed.  We asked her if she wanted both of us to accompany her to school, or if she just wanted Dad to drop her off, and she actually wanted us both to come.  I was surprised.  We took her in, past all the parents taking pictures, past the crying kindergarteners and their crying mommies and I said a little “Praise Ye the Lord” for another year of freedom.  Sacrelig?  Maybe.  But I need the respite. 

I came straight home and went back to bed.  I woke up feeling rested and peaceful.  I’ve been on facebook and gmail and the blogs…happy as a clam.  (I always say that, but are clams really happy?  I digress.)  My neighbor just brought me a Sonic Diet Coke as a first day of school gift.  I love that.  I’ve got my calendar and goals and menus and I’m ready for another year.  September is as good as January when it comes to resolutions, and mine is “Dinner”.  That’s it.  I’m going to fix dinner, and we’re going to sit down together at least three nights a week and eat and chat for a few minutes.  Seems simple, but beyond challenging to this non-chef.  However I’m undaunted and resolved.  So there.

Here’s to 4th grade, with all it’s spelling words and times tables and cursive practice and long division and book reports and fractions.  Here’s to our family, and the strides we’ll make this year.  And here’s to Sweet Pea, a kid who knows what she wants, and isn’t going to let ANYTHING get in her way.  You go, girl.

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7 Responses to “A Very “Special” Night Before School Starts…”

  1. Jenny August 25, 2008 at 2:01 pm #

    Kudos to you for keeping calm during what was surely a very frustrating sitaution! That’s one of my new goals – to try to keep my emotions in check when dealing with the kids. A daunting task to say the least.

    Hope Sweet Pea enjoys her first day of school! BTW, she’s beautiful!

  2. anymommy August 25, 2008 at 6:01 pm #

    Oh, I know those undescribable issues so well. I’ve cried when one more person than I could take in one day said to me ‘he’s just delightful here, I can’t imagine why you struggle.’ You’re an amazing mom. She looks beautiful. Hope it was a really good day for her too!

  3. meg August 25, 2008 at 8:51 pm #

    You could so easily be describing my eldest! How frustrating for you to put so much love and thought into making something you thought would be special only have it blow up and trigger unpleasantness. I’ve been there. Thank you for blogging about it and letting others know they are not alone in the struggle. (And kuddos for not having your own tempertantrum, although a bottle of rum sounds good right about now….) Hugs and HAPPY SCHOOL YEAR!

  4. jane August 25, 2008 at 10:00 pm #

    “No good deed goes unpunished” is our favorite saying around here!

  5. The Introvert August 27, 2008 at 12:35 am #

    And that is why God put you in her life.

  6. T. August 27, 2008 at 10:12 am #

    I can only echo what The Introvert said. You are a saint. A bona fide, honest-to-goodness saint, and my impatient, imperfect self looks up to you!

  7. Julie August 27, 2008 at 10:17 am #

    Abigail looks so grown up!! I hope you gave yourself a big pat on the back (or maybe a margarita??) for keeping calm and helping Abigail through her anxiety!! Good for you!

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