School has been a roller coaster. I think I may invest in some torn jeans and temporary tattoos for Stella. On Monday when I picked her up from school, I was told that she had been removed from class due to tantrums and brought into the office to sit a while. The school wasn’t sure she “got” that this was not a desirable thing. Probably not. She’s not even 3. They also reported lots of random shouting, refusal to eat lunch that day, and even some “head banging.” Excuse me? Other than dancing around the living room to the Ramones, my kid has never “banged her head” on any occasion, even during the most obnoxious tantrum.
Yesterday, I was called to see if I could come in early to speak with the director about Stella. Sigh.
The lady was nice enough. They wanted to know if we see the same “problem behaviors” at home that they’re seeing at school. Yes, Stella bellows. We do time out at home. She sits on a stool to eat her meals and will sit still. She has recently started slapping at us if we tell her no, but is cowed easily thereafter. She is deliberately challenging authority. Yes, SHE LOOKS US IN THE EYE. Yes, SHE HAS CONVERSATIONS WITH US, albeit not as well as other children. No, SHE DOES NOT BANG HER HEAD.
I oscillated between being angry, defensive, anxious. I don’t want to seem as if I’m making excuses for my child, nor do I want to think the worst. I don’t want to be in denial if there is a problem, nor do I want to Stella to become some kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. I was forthcoming about our experience with Early Steps, the language delay, and speech therapy although I really really never wanted that to come out. Yes, there had been some early concerns about being on the autism spectrum. No, we didn’t have any/many of those same concerns at this point. She speaks now. She makes eye contact. She points. She’s emoting properly. Blah, blah, blah. We came up with some items to all focus on. I do believe the school wants to help us work with Stella. But being called or called in 3 times in under 2 weeks?? Shit.
Shit. Shit. Shit.
Felix had to come with me. He sat in his carrier, grinned, and farted loudly through the whole conference. I love my little boy.
I’m not an expert on this stuff, but I’ve read a whole whole lot at this point. I don’t think there’s anything majorly of fundamentally “wrong” with my daughter. Yes, she can be a handful. Candidly, Will and I don’t seem to be the best disciplinarians in the world, although to be fair, we are doing everything we’re “supposed” to be doing: time outs, being consistent with boundaries, ignoring whining, giving her warnings before transitioning from one activity to another, making her look us in the eye when we’re communicating something important, keeping instructions succinct.
I love this school and want her to go there. Same with Felix when there’s a slot. It’s expensive but it’s so cool. They sent a cute book home yesterday, laminated with pics of all the kids in her class, her teachers, the lunch room, napping, etc… Tomorrow is water day, and Stella gets to go to school in her bathing suit for sprinkler play outside. She is going to go bonkers with happiness when that happens.
I was afraid to tell Will about any of this, as he worries more than I do. That’s not right. He worries differently than I do. He tends to spiral in his own head and get depressed whereas I get pissed and want to research and do something. It is hard to go back to the same place with the same worries that we had a year and a half ago. I get angry at the lack of answers. If something is wrong, I want to name it and address it. But in our case, it’s so damn nebulous. Stella can be a pain in the ass. There. I said it. She does seem to be more difficult than many other children. But I’ve also seen behavioral brilliance from her, when she goes places with us, walks calmly, holds our hands, enjoys the activity. She can do it. So this must be a matter of her choosing not to behave rather than being unable to do so.
I do think all of this is OK but we clearly need some new strategies. I wish I could find some expert to take her to, but I wouldn’t even know what or who that might be.
But lest you think it’s all doom and gloom in the land of Stella, we had an amazing breakthrough this morning.
Wait for it.
Stella successfully crapped in the potty. At long last, a deposit was made. It was so random and unexpected, but man, we needed a positive event. Between me getting called into the principal’s office yesterday and Stella waking up and running though the house hollering at least 4 times randomly in the middle of the night, I was in a bad way this morning: not feeling good, being worn out, worrying about Stella and school. It was a good morning to be shitty!