Everyday is an Adventure. Embrace it

Posts tagged ‘parenting’

Apples to Apples

She called me the other day to tell me that she had gone to her first cousin’s nursery.  As I mentioned in a previous article she loves flowers. It’s something that gives her peace, tranquility, and gives her a productive way to pass time. She was really excited about the availability of herbs there. She exclaimed happily, “there’s Rosemary, mint of all kinds, cooking herbs like basil and Sage – bushes and trees. Your heart will be happy when you see everything.”  Before I realized it we had been talking over the phone for over 20 minutes! The best part was that she could hear me. It was a two-way conversation. 🙂 She and I have not had very many two-way conversations in the last couple years. Her hearing has been slowly leaving her for the last 15 years. And over the last couple years it’s been so bad when she calls, she just tells me something, can’t hear my response, then she’ll just hang up when she’s finished talking. 

She’s in her eighties now.  She and I had a very rocky relationship for the first 20-25 years of my life. On my side it was a love/but-don’t-want-to-be-near-you thing from time to time & on her’s it was a love/frustration thing.  I’m quickly approaching my 40th birthday in a few days & maybe this is why I’ve chosen to write about her.  It’s therapy for me. It’s an understanding of who I was as well as who I am now.  I don’t think that 40 is old, but I’ve always thought of it as a halfway point in life. Now that I’m here, I realize how awesome she is and I was never able to see that before.

Edna Hensley

Mom, me and my brother – around 1980

By age 40 she had already lived a very eventful, energetic, entertaining and absolutely amazing life.  She taught herself to play guitar when she was about 10 years old by watching the older gentleman in town play. She was fiercely independent and generally self-taught in just about everything. She had worked on the farm, went out with her sisters, was a waitress at Blue Circle, and sewed at Standard Knitting Mill. She had a couple of short-lived marriages, experienced living independently, and enjoyed attention as an entertainer. She met Dad in a club (he was the entertaining musician of the night) & joined up with his talent to hit the road as an entertainer. She recorded in Nashville and was courted there by some big-time small names.  She used her resources & connections to boost & mold Dad’s career. When she realized some of the contractual deals he had made in the music industry, she took over and became his manager of sorts. She started negotiating his deals.  With her resources, resilience, and intellect they made a lucrative living.

She married  for the rest of her life, for better or for worse, in 1968. She was 33 years old. She had always wanted children but for some reason biologically could not bear any herself. She prayed and she had almost the entire city praying with her – that she would have children. And one day, in 1976, her prayers were answered.

There was a phone call from a lady that they knew on the south side of town. This lady said if you still want a child you can have my youngest, but you have to come and get him right now.  Dad went to pick up the ugliest baby boy in the world, who would become my brother. (If you ever read this dude, you know I love your ugly face.) They had him for several weeks when they received another phone call from another lady. This lady said to them, I’ve heard that you wanted a baby and I’m on my way to the XXX Home for Children with both of mine. To make a long story short, this is where I come into the picture.  There’s an argument over whether I was two-and-a-half or three months old at the time, regardless I was a baby. I was a pretty sick baby, so she leaned toward my experienced Aunt Evlou to help for the first few nights.

At 40 years old she adopted my brother and I. At a point in her life when other people would be considering retirement, taking it easy, trying to finalize how they want to enjoy the empty nest years, she became a parent. I never gave it much thought in previous years, but now that I am approaching that very same age I realize what a heroic feat that was!

At this point in my life, I am very close to the empty nest years. I cannot image chasing a little one around and changing diapers at this age! Most of mine have moved away and I only have one teenager left at home (on a daily basis) – who will leave me soon I’m sure. I am considering the future, and how I would love to retire one day. I’m dreaming about buying an RV and traveling, or purchasing the boat my husband wants and sailing up & down the coast for a few years. I’m considering how I want to rearrange the rooms in the house and could create an office and workout/hobby room in those empty spaces. My Mom was considering how to convert a music studio into a nursery and buying formula, diapers, while seeking parental advice. I wake up in the middle of the night to text messages asking me for gas money; she woke up in the middle of the night to check on two infants breathing.

To be continued…

 

Bad Dog Park Etiquette

We have a 50 pound Labrador-Shar Pei mix pooch that we rescued almost 2 years ago from a local shelter. Since she’s a house dog we feel often times like she needs more exercise then what we are able to give her daily, so we frequently take her to a dog park or on outtings with us. Why do we go to such lengths? Because we love her, like a child… as one of the family.

IMAG5222 (Here she has new fallen show on her back.)

We were driving almost thirty miles or so to take her to a dog park on the opposite end of town until we discovered back in the fall that there is a good-sized well kept dog park that’s only about 5 minutes from home. We have frequented several times a month now and each time we go, the experience is a little different.

When we first started going to dog parks we had to learn some of the rules of etiquette. Just like any beginner would. We learned about picking up our dog’s poop, maintaining her composure and control, and appropriate social interactions. And I have to say that most dog owners on the opposite side of town were very welcoming, understanding, and congenial. We also learned that taking your dog’s personality and how they react in different situations into consideration is a must. I mean, this should be obvious to the average person with common sense, right?

Alright, that’s enough history for you. As with any other place there are regulars that come daily or weekly. Their dogs know each other and have developed some sort of friendship or acquaintance. Since the pet owners are regulars, I recognize them from time to time. We may not be on a first name basis but there is a familiar between all of us. It’s a beautiful Park, well kept and maintained. There are waste receptacles and poop bags readily available on every section of the park. It’s fenced in and there’s an awesome swimming pond on one section. Teeny tiny dogs have a lot to run in, medium sized dogs have a lot and really large dogs do as well. Medium and large dogs tend to mingle with each other and get along pretty well.

Occasionally you have that owner of a tiny dog who will try to bring their itty bitty dog into the big dog arena. It’s generally peaceful for the first five minutes. Then suddenly the teeny tiny dog will try to attack a huge dog and the owner of that small dog will get upset that the large dog defended itself. This is a pretty common thing. People who own small dogs know this but for some reason fall into the belief that their tiny dog will be well behaved around a huge dog. It is what it is. That’s not what this story is about.

Yesterday while at the dog park our 50 pound fixed female Labrador / Shar-Pei mix dog was attacked. Not by a tiny dog but by three dogs her size and a little bit larger. They were intact males. They were all curious about her one at a time and played with her one on one for a while. It was when they were all interested in her at the same time that things became volatile. One of these dogs was a pit, the other was a boxer, the other I have no idea.

The owners of these aggressive dogs were female. They stayed huddled around on the other side of the park, hands on hips, laughing and conversating with one another. Their dogs had been pooping everywhere and none of them bothered to stop their conversation to clean up. Their conversation continued completely uninterrupted as their dogs were beginning to growl and get aggressive with our dog. They couldn’t be bothered with something so trivial when their conversations were so important!

Now, just to be clear, this was happening literally at my feet. My dog came to me for comfort and protection because she was fearful. We were probably 25 to 30 feet away from the owners of the other dogs. They were looking in our direction but did not intervene. My husband, who had cleaned up after our dog, was walking back to the area where we were to intervene. Needless to say he was pretty angry. I had already been attempting voice commands to intervene but those aggressive dogs were not heeding my voice.

My husband tends to bring with him some amazing energy and it was obvious that he was not happy. The largest of the three ladies decided to waddle in our general direction to get her dog. She did not help or intervene though. She just stood there watching. My husband took control of our dog’s harness and led her to the gate to take her to another section of the park. Basically we were removing ourselves from the situation peacefully to protect ours. The boxer & the pit became increasingly agitated and the largest of the dogs that belonged to the largest of the women got on top of ours. Still this lady did not intervene or attempt to help. Bad etiquette indeed.

The owner of the two most aggressive dogs was smaller in stature and thought she could control them. Through verbal commands she attempted but failed. Her dogs made it through the fence with my husband and our dog. She was yelling and cussing & was obviously mad at us.

Now understand that we know it’s bad etiquette to allow another owner’s dog through the gate. We also could not control the situation and she wasn’t helping, so it was more an accident than anything. I even apologized to her when she should have been the one apologizing to me for neglecting her animals and allowing the situation to escalate.

My husband said some not-so-nice things to her as she was retrieving her dog. As she passed by me she gave me a hard stare eye to eye. The three ladies were obviously upset that their conversation had been so rudely interrupted and we continued to be the topic of their loud conversation as they pointed at us on the other side of the fence. More people with even larger dogs converged around them and began talking. While all these dog owners were conversing about how horrible we were, the original three aggressive dogs broke out in a dogfight with the other people’s dogs. I’ll admit, I had to snicker a bit.

The craziest thing was that I recognized the smaller, more petite lady who was trying to control the two most aggressive dogs. I know her. She dated my brother. I went to school with her. We are friends on Facebook. She didn’t recognize me. I didn’t care. I did not have a high opinion of her when we were young. Obviously I do not have a high opinion of her now. Isn’t it funny how the world goes around?  I’ve always thought people could change, but the more I consider it, I am second guessing this idea now. And on the off-chance she may ever read this article, here is a link about Dog Park Etiquette. Oh, and this is a great article too!

 

When “Good Enough” Just Has To Do

When the kids were in school, I thought keeping the house in order and clean was pretty easy since we’ve moved back home. Then summer vacation rolled around and each of the three boys were seemingly always running in three different directions. They were not home much, thus the house keeping part of life remained pretty simple. I missed them. I wished they’d hang out at home at least a little so I could see them. The cat even missed them…until they came home & fashioned him a skirt!
image

In the last couple of weeks the boys have not been running as much though, so they have been home a lot. Although I’ve been happy to share time with them, the house is a terrible mess. I continue my regimen though, trying to clean each room once a day. Not every room actually gets touched though due to the driving around errands that they, my husband, or my parents send me on.

A few days ago, I took an observatory look around to assess the status of the house and determined that something had to give.

  • The laundry room was surprisingly “good enough” but the cleaned clothes had not been folded and put away, still hanging out in club Fold Me (a basket) and the un-mated socks were laying on the folding table mocking me.
  • The living room had become the Music Den.
    image

Two electric guitars were propped against the big picture window, an acoustic guitar was propped by the couch (as though it was watching TV), and an amplifier had become a new type of coffee table holding a drink, book, and several picks. Head phones were strung out on the couch and the TV and DVR remotes were missing. The wah-wah pedal was strategically placed so that any unsuspecting visitor would break their neck.

  • My bathrooms shower/tub needed a super good scrubbing 😦 The toilet paper roll was missing and in its place a card board roller stared back at me as if to say “the boys have been here…drip dry lady!”
  • The boys’ bathroom had a rather large yellow puddle in the floor near the toilet and their sink was covered in toothpaste. (At least they are brushing their teeth…sigh*)
  • The kitchen…was a casualty of war. It being the most consistently frequented room had suffered the most damage. The trash can was over flowing, the floor had tea, sugar, and other unidentifiable droplets of liquid on the floor. Bread crumbs and jelly covered the table, the toaster was plugged in sitting on the table, and a phone charger dangled from the wall. The counter and both sides of the sink were full of dirty dishes and several cooking pots had a strange crusted substance clinging to them. Upon opening the microwave, I discovered splattered dry goo. Every coffee cup was dirty and the 2 loaves of bread I had bought the evening before were reduced to simply 2 end pieces that only starving people eat.
  • The front porch had become the new home of the long forgotten dirty shoes that no one wanted to clean off and the dog was strangely clinging to the door step rug.

I took a deep breath, got wound up, fussed some, yelled a bit, and scattered the kids to their room. (Their rooms are another story all together. I won’t even describe those.)

I’ve decided summer is officially canceled at this point.

Let the cleaning begin!

Stuff Dad Said

Father’s Day is right around the corner literally and I actual went to visit my Dad yesterday. We live very close to each other, but I guess I just am busy with my life and he with his, so we don’t get to visit with each other much. Anyway, while on this trip to see Mom and Dad, I started thinking about things he use to say to my brother and I when we were young.

He has a great sense of humor and loves to laugh, although he isn’t the best at joke telling himself. He has a very outgoing personality and at times my mother has hidden from everyone in embarrassment at his very open and comfortable presence. (Check out this video to see how impulsively fun he is in public.) I love that about him though!!

Dad never was one much for profanity. He is a baby boomer born in 1945. He had a few different careers early in life even though he only had a 4th grade education, was drafted to Vietnam, married my mother when he returned home, became an entrepreneur, was and still is a talented musician, writer, vocal artist, and adopted my brother and I in the 70’s. In 1991 he dove into pastoring the church and has served the ministry since full-time. Rarely did a curse word ever leave his lips, but he did incorporate some slang into his vocabulary from time to time. He would also throw in a few words he thought were “hip” or “cool” from time to time.

Dad, although I know you are not on the internet and will probably never be – here is a tribute to you and the nutty stuff you use to say (and still do).

Got cotton in your ears? That wind’ll fool ya!

There’s a fine line between faith and foolishness sister…and we’re on the line here!

Know what I’m say’n? Do ya dig me?

Sis, stop that! You’re a girl!

Trust me, it’ll taste good…

Fetch your brother for me.

This here’s a little trick I learnt in ‘Nam.

Flip!!!!!! (This word would follow his hammer hitting his thumb.)

Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doin’.

I get the gist of it.

Would you like for me to help you clean your plate? (said with a big hopeful grin)

Now, put this in your spirit… (Insert Advice Here)

Chris, do you ever get tired of talking?

Are you gonna eat that?

Truth in the house! (Always said in church instead of Amen.)

Come to church sometime (said to everyone he ever ran into…ever)

I’m pick’n… (this was followed by an awkward pause until you say “And I’m a grin’n”)

Always keep your foot on the rock and your mind made up (This was code for I hid some money for you under a rock that your mom doesn’t know about.)

Got everything covered? (Code for do you need any money.)

Now get this, …(Insert random comment)

Are you reading me?

If you ever hit your sister, you’ll have to deal with me.

Jesus never asked someone to take a shower or put on deodorant before he saved ’em.

Your mom said go to bed on time, so could you be quiet enough that she thinks you’re asleep?

I did it, it was me. (Proudly proclaimed every time mom found something us kids broke, to save us from the wrath of mom.)

You gotta love people where they’re at.

Maybe my dad was 1 in a million? I think so and I thank God for sending me and my  brother to him. I know his life changed after we entered the picture and I appreciate the sacrifices he and mom made for us.

Happy Father’s Day Daddy. I love you!!

Mom & Dad - Before Kids

Mom & Dad – Before Kids

1 year check-in O.D.D

This is the final article (part 12) of a series. If you have not read part 1, part2, part 3,  part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8, part 9 , part 10 , and part 11– I urge you to do so if you are searching for help on this subject. If you’ve read along with me already, I want to welcome you into the 1 year mark of our journey and Knight’s recovery.

The last article I wrote about Oppositional Defiance Disorder brought us up to the end of week 34 (7 months) after working with Knight on his O.D.D issues. I would like to skip ahead to the 1 year mark and share with you the things that we tried that were successful and the things that failed.

Things Not To Do (Ineffective):

  • Reasoning: A child with oppositional traits will not deal well with reasoning. Although this has become a very popular parenting tool for the latest generation, this does not work well with a child with defiance issues. If a child has produced unacceptable behaviors and actions, reasoning with them to stop those actions and behaviors can back-fire. They certainly back-fired on us. Even when you are exhausted and totally worn out, you can’t give in to the idea of reasoning. (Example: “Why are you doing this? Would you please just not argue anymore if you get to go to your friend’s house? I can’t take it anymore!”  Bad idea. The child will sense vulnerability and will go in for the win. I’d rather not give examples of this. Instead, I’d prefer to advise against falling into this common trap. I fell into it once…and only once!)
  • Relinquishing decision-making to the child: Again, this is easy to fall into if you are very tired or physically worn down. When a parent or authority figure gives the decision-making over to the child, at first the child is happy and excited. Shortly afterwards, they become bewildered and insecure. A large part of their desire to be oppositional and defiant is due to a personal feeling of abandonment in their minds. Whether this be true (and often times is not), it is how most of these children feel. This feeling accompanies feelings of insecurities, low self-worth or value, and a feeling of being invisible in the world. In their minds, if they are making decisions, who loves them enough to make their decisions for them? (Example: After a particularly difficult event, the child could ask, “Do you want me to just leave for a while so I’m not bothering you?” Giving decision-making to the child, parent may answer, “Would you like to spend the night with a friend or stay home tonight? It’s your decision.”)
  • Waffling: Setting your foot down on a negative behavior is one thing, but then going back on the punishing result is another. This is waffling indecisiveness. If you are serious about your goal to change these behaviors, there is no room for waffling – even when you feel like you’re punishing yourself by the decision you made during the moment of heat. (Example: Very upset about some undesirable behavior at school, I “ground” Knight for 1 week. This made travel difficult, cut off the TV for me, I had to watch him while he mowed the lawn and did other work, and I had to hear him wonder aimlessly through the house making random noises to entertain himself. I was tempted to lift his grounding so I could maintain sanity…but I knew that would be my undoing, so I did not.)
  • Never reward a child with money: Where the thought of paying our children to be good came from… I will never know! It doesn’t work and Thank God that thought only lasted about 15 minutes! I think it was out of desperation maybe, but anyway, it did not work.

Things To Do (Effective):

  • Maintain consistency at all times: If the result of good behavior is a specific reward, be ready to give that reward often during the good behavior. The same is true for the negative behavior.
  • Stand your ground: If you’ve decided that a particular behavior will not be tolerated, don’t allow minor events of that behavior to slip past you in the presence of others. No one likes to correct their children in front of others. We are afraid we will be judged as a failing parent or people will see that things are not a bed of roses in our homes. Regardless of this, all non-tolerable behavior must be stopped at the moment it occurs. It should be brought to the attention of the child and immediately remind the child what the recourse is for that negative event or behavior. (Example: Cursing was an issue for a bit and Knight thought he could get away with it in front of other people. He tested me. His correction was the same however. I would quickly say, “That is inappropriate.” and remind him what the consequences were. “You just lost your phone for 2 days when we get home.”
  • Be firm not only in correction, but in love also: The same as you need to catch the negative behaviors immediately, the same is true for catching the positive behaviors also. It’s very important in the O.D.D. child’s mind to hear when they’ve done something good. This doesn’t mean constant praise and pats on the back though. A verbal acknowledgement like, “I’m so happy today. You haven’t had an outburst. You’re doing so well. I love you.” Or “I’m proud of you this week. You’re doing great!” “I am looking forward to your progress next week! You really impressed me this week!”  Hearing things like this go a long way in changing defiant behavior. The otherwise invisible child begins to realize that he is not actually invisible at all.
  • Create and support an open dialog: If a child feels like everything they tell you will get you all riled up, they will stop telling you things. Maintaining a reliable open dialog will allow the child to feel as though they can safely share things with you without judgment. If you’ve maintained consistency, they will already know what type of correction you may use, but they will be more willing to share with you what is going on in their universe.  Children like to share how they feel and what is going on in their daily lives. If they are not sharing with you, they will share with someone else.
  • Evaluate your home’s structure: Do you really have routines? Are those routines healthy? Do most of your family habits emphasis togetherness or individuality? A unique balance of both contribute to a successful family life. Sometimes it helps to have someone from the outside of the family to take a peek at your home life to get an honest observatory opinion if you need help evaluating.
  • Don’t let the small stuff go: By allowing the lesser bad behaviors to be overlooked, the defiance in a child with O.D.D will grow into a large outburst. Handle each issue as it arises (while at the same time, picking your battles wisely).
  • Don’t overwhelm: In the beginning, it’s easy to want all negative behaviors corrected at the same time, but this can overwhelm the child and cause further defiance. Pick your battles wisely. As you triumph over each hurdle, celebrate and then move on to the next as you continue to re-enforce the previous.

Knight now bears no resemblance to the child he use to be. I am proud of him. The behavior modification plan we put it in place – worked! 🙂 I wish you all luck if you are tackling this problem with your child too. It’s an ongoing process. May God give us continued strength!

Holidays, ODD & family visits

This article is part 11 of a series. If you have not read part 1, part2, part 3, and part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8, part 9 , part 10 – I urge you to do so if you are searching for help on this subject. If you’ve read along with me already, I want to welcome you into the next weeks of our journey and Knight’s recovery.

In the last article I shared Knight’s journey up to week 26. He was not doing the best with authority figures (especially in school) but I didn’t mention his grades yet. Before he came to live with us, he was a low C to high F student. He had failed many of his classes in the other schools he’d attended. Now, he was doing better. The average grades he was bringing in were high B’s. Occasionally his grades would slip to low C’s or high D’s if he got lazy about turning in his work. We would issue reminders about his grades, offered him weekly updates on his progress and coax him into catching-up. By the end of his courses though, he would finish with a low A or high B. He really was doing better in this new environment.

Jumping forward to weeks 28 & 29, Knight completed 2 weeks without getting into trouble at school. I was extremely happy for him and attempted to shower him in praise. He was continuing his attempt to join the football team, but we didn’t have his paperwork complete at that point. He was pretty much benched to the side lines. His coach carried continued discipline into each practice and game if he’d been disciplined at school.  Football was good for him and in a few more weeks,  he would be cleared to officially join the team.

Knight was still hanging out with his friends and going to church regularly. He had attended Church camps, outings, retreats, and other special events  (which were all incredibly expensive). He would often speak about the Lord after these events and about how God was touching his heart. His friends were also encouraging him to stop cursing and doing the vulgar things which he had grown accustomed to in his previous life. Let’s face it, our kids will act one way around us and then another way around their friends. It happens. It’s just the way teenagers are. I was not blind to this. I was happy however that the friends he had picked were good enough to also issue him gentle reminders when he got out of hand in these areas.

Skipping ahead to week 32, this was the last week of the first semester for him in his new school. He had made it 4 weeks without acting out at school, but continued to tell me everyday that 2 of his teachers “hated him” and “had it out for him”. He was doing well in those classes though. On the last day of school, we all received a surprise visit from his mother. She drove in from out-of-state and said she wanted to take him for the Christmas break. He wasn’t ready to go just yet. She was traveling to another state also to pick up her daughter and agreed to swing by in a few days and pick him up on her way back through.

Knight left with her 2 days later, early in week 33. We allowed him to open some of his Christmas presents early since he would not be with us until after the New Year. We were all sad to see him go. Both of my boys kind of moped around while he was gone. They really did miss him. It was a realization for me that they truly had accepted him as part of our family now. Maybe they had done so much earlier than I realized? I don’t know. I couldn’t tell through all the arguments, disagreements, complaints from one boy to the next about each other. I was seeing obvious evidence of this now though.

Knight called often while he was away. He would give me an update on how he was doing (if he was being good to his mother and sister), and would tell me if he successfully avoided an outburst of anger. He also called to say that he missed us. By the end of the first week, he called to ask when he could come “home”. I reassured him he was not being punished and that his mother would be bringing him back soon – because school would start back soon. He said he wanted to be home by New Year’s Day so he could celebrate with us. I cried after our conversation. I’m not sure why I cried though. Maybe because I missed him too?

On the last day in week 34, Knight returned home. It was New Year’s Eve! He would get to be with us for New Year’s Day after all 🙂 A few days after Knight came home, Knight’s father received a call from Knight’s grandmother. Knight stayed at her house while he spent time with his mother and family. She remarked about the significant change in Knight. Actually, she was amazed that he was not the same boy at all! She said, “I’m not sure what you are doing with him, but keep it up. He was the most respectful child! He was a pleasure to have and he’s practically unrecognizable. You’re doing a good job. I’m proud of that boy!”

Even though this was not told to me, I found encouragement in her words. We were doing something right if others could identify a significant difference in him. I was happy for Knight and especially happy to have our family all back together again. 🙂

School Trouble – Oppositional Defiance Disorder

This article is part 10 of a series. If you have not read part 1, part2, part 3, and part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7 , part 8 , and part 9 – I urge you to do so if you are searching for help on this subject. If you’ve read along with me already, I want to welcome you into the next weeks of our journey and Knight’s recovery.

As I mentioned in the previous article, Knight just started a new public school and had been warned about the zero tolerance policies related to defiance and discipline. Unfortunately, in week 22 he began to have issues. He came home complaining about some of his teachers. They were the bad guys because they fussed at him for distracting others in the classroom, talking, or being loud while the teacher attempted to teach the day’s lesson. Here’s how things went.

In week 16, Knight was continuing to make friends and had plans to spend the night over at some friend’s houses. He behaved well in other’s homes we were told.

In week 17, Knight developed interest in a church where his friends were members and begged us to go there. I had not been to this church in many years, but I knew what they believed, so we allowed him to go. He was in teenager heaven 🙂

In week 18, Knight began to share his total excitement with us and tell us how happy he was to live with us and happy about his “new” life. We continued to encourage Knight and reminded him daily (and our other boys) to complete their homework!

In week 19, I had noticed a significant difference in our overall family life and noticing the difference in each boy individually also.

In week 20, Knight was still attending church and visiting with his friends pretty regularly. Most of his behavior issues had disappeared and our only real problem was his occasional back-talk.

Ups and Downs

We experienced a slight set back in week 21 when Knight had a slight blow up. He blamed his behavior on being tired. He found himself grounded for a few days. His behavior changed and his punishment was lifted a day early.

Early in week 22 Knight called me from school and told me he was in trouble. I asked him what was going on. He told me he had been suspended for 4 days out of school. He also mentioned that, “He didn’t do anything” and that it “was not his fault, it was someone else“.  Sound familiar? We were literally about to ride this same coaster again! It seemed as though only a few short weeks had passed since we had begun to work on taking ownership and responsibility for actions with him. He had done great – until this.

This left me puzzled. 😦 He seemed to do better with authority figures that he got to know personally. Life cannot be lived this way though. It would be impossible for Knight to get to know every single authority figure in his life personally.

I spoke with him about the importance of doing as the teachers ask while in their classes. We talked about respect and if he was to receive respect he had to give it first.  He said everyone hated him and that all his teachers were out to get him. Everyone else was causing disturbances in class too according to him. He simply was the loudest and the one called out for it. He neglected to tell us he was the leader of the disturbances though. (This we discovered through speaking with his teachers that “hated him”.)

Knight’s father was very upset that he’d been suspended. I haven’t told you all the details of the suspension, but let’s just say that the things coming out of his mouth were directed toward a female and were totally not tolerable (again – here is that zero tolerance policy). Knight and his father were told that there could not be a next time in this offense category. A next time would take him completely out of all public schools.

Knight went back to school in week 23. Knight was warned again about the zero tolerance policies (both at home and at school). Knight said he understood. Weeks 23 & 24 seemed to be getting back on track, until week 25. Knight came home from school with an in-school suspension slip. He had made noises in class (distractions) and when called down, he back-talked the teacher. He served out his sentence at school and was grounded at home from all electronics. (I took all power cords and chargers instead of the actual devices. He got to slowly watch the batteries drain knowing he could not reconnect or charge anything.)

Week 26 produced more issues. After that first horrendous event that resulted in out of school suspension, the school had agreed to evaluate him for an IEP. Knight was placed through a series of tests. He spoke with a psychologist and so did his father. All of Knight’s teachers were interviewed and all of his previous school records were being reviewed. The 2 previous schools he attended had him in *special* classes for learning disabled children because of his inability to control his anger and outbursts. Knight was not learning challenged or disabled though. That was obvious to this new school, but not his father and mother. Outsiders looking in can see things differently because they are disconnected from emotions surrounding circumstances. Basically, Knight had been given a free ride for many school years and this school was simply not into free rides.

I asked Knight if he remembered me telling him that this school would not treat him any differently than any other student. He said he remembered. I explained to Knight that he had no choice now but to begin accepting responsibilities for his actions and needed to put self-restraint he was learning into practice at school. I don’t think he liked the idea, but knew what I was telling him was true. He spoke of how much he loved the friends he’d made here and how much he wanted to stay. I told him only he was in control of the outcome. He understood he had to change his defiant personality and learn how to be compliant at school just as he had done at home.

It was tough for him. It was in the nature that he had developed over time to be defiant of everyone and everything in every situation. Showing him examples of how he had been able to do it at home allowed him to see how it was possible to do it at school too. I asked him if he was defiant at church. He said he was not. I asked him if he defied his football coach. He said he did not. So, he’d mastered 3 settings and saw that it really was up to him to master the 4th one – school!

Birthday & A New School – ODD

This article is part 9 of a series. If you have not read part 1, part2, part 3, and part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7 , and part 8 – I urge you to do so if you are searching for help on this subject. If you’ve read along with me already, I want to welcome you into the next weeks of our journey and Knight’s recovery.

In Part 9 we enter into weeks 14 & 15. Knight had a birthday, turned 15 years old,  and started a new school. He enjoyed his birthday and was super happy to get more clothes. [I’ve never known a boy to love clothes & shoes as much as he does. Hahahahaha!  🙂 ] He received gifts from his mother, aunts, grandmother, father and the boys & I. He picked his cake at the store and we had a little party for him. He liked it as far as I could tell.

Starting a new school was nerve-racking, yet exciting for Knight. He had been granted an opportunity to re-invent himself. Unfortunately, old habits are hard to break. Even though his home life behavior was improving, he soon fell into the same ole’ troublesome issues at his new school. I warned him again that their was a zero tolerance policy bad or defiant behaviors at the school we enrolled him in. He did well. He chose his classes wisely, made up some missed credits, and immediately began making friends. He also wanted to play football. I took him for his physical and he passed with flying colors.

He was the first one up each mornings. He would get dressed & then make himself breakfast. Then he would wake up his brothers. As his brothers were getting ready for school, Knight would be finishing his cereal and putting his bowl in the sink.

He was the first one in the car to go to school and he was the first out of the car when we arrived. He was excited. He was flourishing! I was so proud of him 🙂

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