There'd be days like this my momma said...
And, judging by the title of this post, my day has not been as cute as the song!
When beginning our homeschool adventure a few years ago, I did not kid myself into thinking that every day would be the perfect combination of academic and character success. I knew there would be days when the kids just didn’t want to do school. I even knew there would be days when I didn’t want to do school.
*Have you ever noticed that public school kids “Go to School,” while homeschool kids AND moms “Do School?” When homeschooled, there’s no getting out of going to school. You are there whether you like it or not! And when it comes to doing school, your mom will most likely make you whether you like it or not. Today was one of those kinds of days!*
We had the typical *for homeschool at least* “Monday after a holiday weekend” delay. All the weekend’s chores were wrapped up last night so even after sleeping in we got going (aka “doing school”) by 9 a.m.. Not bad! That’s way better than having to have the kids ready for the bus at 6:40!
The reality of what this day could be like hit me hours before the 9:00 school bell. In the predawn semiconscious state I am in when my husband leaves for work it hit me! It’s the day after a 5 day weekend! (We took Wednesday off too.) One son usually has a less than stellar behavior the day after any weekend let alone a long one, and another son will not have his ADHD meds refilled for 2 more days! (Gotta love our insurance! NOT)
Have you watched “The Christmas Story” with Randy and Ralphie? Remember the part where Ralphie gets into a fight with the bully and a torrent of swear words comes out of his mouth before he realizes that his mom is there? His friend is trying to get his attention so that he won’t swear in front of his mom. When the friend realizes that it’s too late, he makes a face and says “Oooohhh!” That’s the face and sound I made upon realizing the kind of day we might have today! There was no turning back! The sun came up; the day had to go on! Even after a very pleasant Bible reading and prayer time this morning I knew what likely lay ahead despite my best efforts to lay my day at Jesus' feet!
Before I tell you about my day with ADHD and Asperger children (some on and some off meds) the day after a holiday weekend, let me tell you the good news! I do not have PMS this week and woke up with no neck pain today! (Pain from an old injury sprung up over the weekend and I had fire shooting through my neck and shoulders.) Really, this is a good thing! It’s harder to hide those every day reasons why some of us don’t want to go to work when you work at home with your own offspring than it is to hide it in an office or workplace with a tangible boss and paycheck. Today would NOT have been a good day for irritable mom to have been the teacher!
For those of you who send your ADHD kiddos off to school in the morning let me just say that if you ever have to send them without their meds, make sure you send chocolate along with them for their teacher. She may need it by 10 a.m.! My middle man was so off today that it even frustrated him to the point of tears. He knew he couldn’t focus. He knew he would misspell words and forget basic math facts all day. He knew from the get go that he would have an uphill climb all day. By the way, he did forget how to spell things he would have otherwise known. He did forget how to do long division (and cried over the pure frustration of it!) until I reminded him. But those were the EASY things to overcome for his teacher!
Unfortunately not only is he inattentive, he is VERY distractible and hyper. A soft noise in the kitchen kept him from focusing on math. His sister was simply sitting too near him and he couldn’t take his science test unless I reminded him to read and DO each problem. Often I had to ask him what he just read and make him re-read it. When we were trying to read his novel and history book he fidgeted so much I thought he must be burning 1000 calories a minute! During our Bible time which was on the floor he rocked (not completely untypical for our house) and he also poked his sister with pens and wrote sloppier than usual. I had to remind him over and over to just try to sit still and listen, just try to make all of your letters the right size, just try to put spaces in between your words.... And that was just the first subject of the day!
When he was getting a snack (about his 100th because the meds weren’t suppressing his appetite today) I was filling a load of laundry. He had to RUN to the utility room just to watch me pour the soap in! “Oh! You’re pouring the stuff in!” Seriously, that excited him! He is also used to his meds (stimulant like) waking him up the rest of the way in the morning. So even though he was like the road runner all afternoon, he was a sloth this morning! About 10:00 he decided he needed a shower to wake up! He couldn’t wake up enough to do spelling but at the same time he was on his knees in his chair, falling out of his chair and letting his every thought slip out of his mouth. Needless to say, it took him 2 extra hours to do school today!
*I asked my husband to bring a Pepsi home to me after work today! We have to limit how much we keep in the house, not because of the kids but because of me! If I’m going to self medicate on food and drink, apples and water would be better but are by far not as tempting on a day like today!*
One aspect of typical school I was hoping to eliminate (at least partly anyway) was bullying. Today, I overheard one of my kids tell the other, “Would you just stop bullying me!” It was the above mentioned son that was bullied, not the bully! He may have been hyper and inattentive today but he was not the bully. His brother was.
Another aspect of parenting or teaching a kiddo with Asperger’s is knowing that after his routine has been changed for 5 days, after he has eaten foods not regularly part of his diet for 5 days, has not had his regular bedtime for 5 days etc. etc…. He will likely be easily agitated, more anxious and more emotional in the aftermath. As I look back on this day however, I at least have to cheer for the baby steps he’s making! He did get loose with his negative comments, blamed his sister somehow for his problems with spelling??? And in general was just plain cranky, but in spite of all that, THERE WERE NO MELTDOWNS today! Woo Hoo!
He even took his punishment after teasing his brother for taking sooooo long to do school today without having a fit! He took losing the privilege of TV, the computer or laptop like a man! Not having the Weather Channel on the TV or laptop for this Aspie is like denying him of oxygen, so having them taken away without getting physical was a HUGE milestone! He even came in and apologized ON HIS OWN! Wow! The bully repented! How cool is that!?
So, to the rest of you parents out there with hyper, easily agitated, overly emotional kiddos, take heart, again, you are not alone!
The moral for today’s story is twofold: When teaching ADHD and Aspie kiddos, especially after a long weekend when one or more is un-medicated, in a school or in your home, always have chocolate and Pepsi on hand! Don’t wait on your husband to bring it home from work!
Secondly, make sure you always have a quiet place to retreat or pray throughout the day! The bathroom or a closet works nicely! And even better than that, make sure you start your morning totally giving your day and YOUR children over to your Heavenly Father! Remember you are never alone in your parenting! He is always there as a listening ear and for a hug!
p.s. My husband was late coming home from work today! He did bring a Pepsi but it is too late to savor it or I will be up all night! Ugh! Last Moral of the story, don't rely on Pepsi to meet your emotional needs! Jesus is the real emotional filler of my soul!