Tag Archives: first day

Pre-planning for behavioral analysis

Sam and Noah

I should probably admit, I suppose, that I dreaded today.  I knew I had to meet with the school about Noah’s behavior and the school year beckons.  It’s not that the school or the principal or anyone was being mean or obstinate about it, they wanted to talk about what the school year was bringing and what my observations over the summer might be.  The reality is, I base much of my observations on those of my kids themselves and of my parents who filled me in quite often to how they were doing.

But the day was about as I expected.  After finding out the appointment was at 1pm and I work 40 odd miles away . . . and the fact that the school dismisses at noon on the first day with no Extended Day Program (EDP) I was ready to carry a fire extinguisher because I knew my hair would be on fire.  Add to this having to deal with the fact that my son has his behavioral challenges and the school’s want of trying to help him through those and I could literally hear the Tums fizzing as they hit the excess acid in my stomach.

I don’t want you to get the impression that the school itself has relegated Noah to some sort of emotional brig, either.  He’s been through the ringer himself and they’re very cognizant of everything that’s happened in our lives.  Still, the one saving grace I was able to tell them all is that we’re stable.  I have a job, and a contract, and a new boss who I’ve worked with before.  I have a 2-year lease on the home now and so we’re stable there for that amount of time at least.  The inspection the owner wanted seemed to pass with little issue so I’m happy there.  Where I spent so much time trying to get a routine together, the necessities – home, job, food, life – they’re all in place now.

That was a piece of comfort for the principal as we’re finally able to breathe a little.  No worries the house is being sold or leased to another.  No worry that I’m losing my job, unless I totally screw up. (don’t say anything, it’s still possible)  I have a year before Abbi goes to college, and they’ll worry about that, but it’s on the horizon, not facing us.

The interesting thing is that the people around me at the school marvel at how I prepped for the day.  I had made a triple batch of pancakes over the weekend, so I had those in the toaster and ready for breakfast.  Last night I’d browned meat and put the fixings all in a crock for the slow cooker to have stew when we got home.  Knowing full well I’d not be home to make dinner I told the kids they could eat when they were hungry.

I also try, when I’m home, to make sure we eat together, at the table.  I’ve said this before, I know, but it’s  a necessity.  Time isn’t a luxury I have all the time.  I utilize what I have.  I know what the kids’ school day was like.  I learn about Abbi’s tryout for the play.  I hear what the teacher told the kids they still need for school supplies.  This is an hour or so that would be spent wiling away the hours independently otherwise.  It’s my sneaky way of getting them to tell me things.

The meeting, I have to say, went very well.  Sure, I’m trying to get Noah into counselling, but it’s not because of his Mom. It’s because, just like his Mom – my late wife, Andrea – he has the ability to go from super sweet to insane in the beat of a heart.  He will act on his impulses without thinking.  Andrea had figured out how, much of the time, the stop that.  The problem is, she never told me how she did it.  Now poor Noah has to suffer through the both of us trying to understand how to fix his issues alone.

That’s where the loss hits us most.  It’s not missing her or not having her around.  It’s in the things we needed help because she understood them.  Noah suffers because she left, and it’s not necessarily her fault, but the genetics that are hers swimming around in the nuclei of his cells are affecting him and the only person who could tell us how to deal with it is gone now.

But I’m around.  I’ve managed, through a bout of depression and funk over the summer and a year of struggle, to give us a bedrock to build upon.  I still can’t see past the next few days as I work, but I can at least show them I’m looking forward, not back.

Noah has a parent volunteer who I’ve known since we moved here that is taking him under her wing.  He has me to stand for him when he needs it.  It’s not his fault all the time, the kid’s just 9.  His brother, Sam, has his own issues that get relegated to the back because of Noah’s behavior.

It’s that pre-planning again.  When Noah needs attention, you give it to Sam, too, whether he asks or not.  It makes me laugh occasionally when others marvel at the pre-planning.  No, I’ve never been good at it.

But it’s necessary for us to survive.

Juggling . . . again!

Thought I’d add the picture of them for the first day…
I sit here tonight knowing full well that my day tomorrow is going to be crazy.  Why, you might ask?  Simply put, I have to juggle the home/school/work life all over again.

Every year, since we’ve moved to California, I have been at the school and walked my kids into the first day of school.  I question, every year (even my wife used to get mad at my persnickety nature during these days) the wisdom of having the kids come to school, sit with their parents in the church for an assembly and then have them go to their classrooms at 8:45 or 9 only to be dismissed at noon.  Three hours of classroom work.

Now, I understand.  Teachers want to ease them into school.  The school is celebrating the first day, whatever you want to say about it.  I’m it, though.  I take care of the kids and get them there and have to pick them up.  Abbi, my oldest, started school a couple weeks ago so she can’t pick them up at noon.  She also got a job this year after school and she’s trying out for the school’s big play this year.  She’s got a crazy schedule, too.  On top of that, her tendency to procrastinate (which she unfortunately got from both parents) is getting the better of her.  Add to that her ability to act just like her mother when things are stressed out and she’s scowling a lot.

This comes with the added fun of having to meet about Noah’s behavior problems from last year again.  He’s done nothing, it’s the first day of school.

Now, understand, I had a change in insurance.  I had them all in Nebraska over the summer.  It’s not a choice I made lightly.  I have to work to pay the bills.  I don’t have a full-time babysitter because, frankly, I can’t afford that and so my parents are a blessing every single summer.  Add to that the fact I have to find a therapist for Noah that is going to actually work with him, not medicate him.  He’s not bipolar.  He’s not violent.  He’s got problems controlling his impulses and he always wants to be the center of attention.  I get that he’s acting out when he doesn’t get his way, but I don’t think others get him like I do.  I don’t enable the behavior nor do I stand up for him when he acts out.

However . . . I do feel sometimes that the only advocate the poor kid gets is me.  There were at least a couple occasions toward the end of the year that his brother, Sam, told me that Noah got in trouble and wasn’t part of whatever debacle was occurring in the school.  Noah should have one person in his corner and that person should be me.

There’s a big push to make it seem like these kids are having troubles and issues just because their Mom died.  I get that, it’s an easy path and a simple explanation.  I, however, know that it’s not the right one.  Sure, I would be there’s a bit of it contributing, but Noah has his issues.  That’s why I get him help.  I don’t want to have the poor guy saddled with a bad reputation without knowing I did everything I could to help him.

It’s too easy to say the world we live in is a mess because of Andrea’s passing.  Yes, it’s true, I miss her, the kids miss her, and our world is still a bit empty and horribly bleak at times because I miss that presence.  But each day is a little different; each day is a bit less frayed around the edges.  We weave the story a little more each day.  My kids know that sometimes we don’t have all the school supplies on the first day because we have to wait until Wednesday, when the next check comes in.  They’re OK with that.

My pre-planning comes into play here.  I put the fixings for a stew into the crock pot.  May not be Martha Stewart’s preferred method, but I used my own recipe and the kids will like it.  Screw anyone who thinks less of it for cooking all day.  But we’re together, and unlike years past, when I’d tell Andrea she needed to deal with this, I see the things they need and the things they want.

I’ve been to every first day of school.  Sometimes, to be their advocate, you have to know what they need and not just what they want.  I have to make it back up to pick them up from school at noon, get them home and cared for, meet with the school, then go back to work.

Even when you see the look of disappointment on their faces.