Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Learn Your Own Way
It's no secret that we have struggled along with Ethan over the years. My first sign that we were in for...something, was when he was about nine months old. We were out with some friends. Ethan was in a stroller and my girlfriend told us she would watch him while we went to order our food. He should have been well distracted, there were many other children, including his sister, playing on the playground right in front of him. We were in line no more than five minutes or so and I turned around to find my friend standing behind us with Ethan. "I'm sorry. He is so upset and I don't know what to do with him." She was right. He was clearly not happy. I remember thinking, 'YOU don't know what to do with him?? YOU could soothe any child...and yet...you are returning him to us??' Oh boy. This friend of mine was great with children. She and I have very similar parenting styles. She doesn't give up...or in. And here she was, unable to console my child who was upset only because we weren't right there. It was clear, this wasn't a phase. No sir, the next seven years would prove it definitely wasn't just a phase.
Poor Ethan. And honestly, poor me as well. I was never in a position to swap children with friends or neighbors to enjoy some time to run errands or get some housework done. I had to be present with him, at all times. The only time I thought I was safe was when my father-in-law was babysitting him. I later found out that Ethan would stand at the door or window and just cry and cry. It makes me so sad to think of him like that. We would try the 10 minute thing, where you leave him for ten minutes at a time and return to show him that you will return. It never worked. Pre-school...well..he did OK. But it was rough. He didn't cry the whole time, but he would barely participate.
Ethan would turn 5 on August 10th. So he was a young five...and a boy. He was a really young five. We made the decision to send him to kindergarten thinking it would be the push he needed to get him through this anxiety. That backfired and we had him repeat kindergarten again. Any issues the school had seen at that point had to do with immaturity, not behavioral. That all changed in fist grade. All of the sudden they wanted to classify him as Special Ed. We weren't clear on exactly why so we decided to hold off (at this point, we were in April) get through the summer and rethink it come September. The classification discussion has come up again. Again, it hasn't been clear to us why. He is doing far better this year. The papers he brings home aren't all that terrible. Not perfect, but not consistent C's that would cause us to be concerned. He does get it. What we understand is that he doesn't always put forth his best effort. After much discussion, consulting and worrying it was suggested to us that we seek an evaluation outside the district. It was a great idea. As we aren't sure we exactly trust what is happening any longer.
So today it begins. Answers. Peace of mind is coming. Knowing exactly what is happening with that kid. We will be right there for him. OMG! To know what makes him tick! What his thought process is. To learn how to best work with him. Just to better understand him. Can you imagine how ecstatic I will be?? I will have A PLAN!! I know how to work with Ethan, I just want to know that we are working with him the best way we can be. And at the same time, showing him how to work to his fullest potential. Whatever he needs, tools, techniques, we want him to learn and embrace them. Not everybody learns the same way. I know this. I live this. I am a hands-on learner. My husband is a book learner. There are those who are both. This kid is brilliant. His memory is unremarkable, always has been. He was speaking FULL sentences at 15 months old. Potty trained himself at 13 months (I went through hell with his older sister and was not AT ALL on board when he announced he wanted to go potty like a big boy!). He is one of the most considerate, compassionate and loving boys I have ever known. He also has a great sense of humour. I love this kid. When he was little and blowing us away with his advanced skills, we worried that he would be bored with school...the class clown who distracted others because he wasn't stimulated enough.
My children are special for different reasons. I also believe that they have and continue to teach me so much. In Ethan, I have gained confidence, in my ability to be a good and adaptable parent. I am proud to know that no matter how difficult he can be, I can (for the most part!) keep my cool with him. Break it down and figure out what is really going on. Then help him to work through it. His natural born level of compassion has taught me to be more compassionate. I have found a level of patience in myself that I didn't know before him.
I cannot wait. In five weeks, we will have a plan, our plan. A trusted plan. It will be a plan that will be, without a doubt, what is best for Ethan.