I am now the bus driver. Just for Chi. The kids at the bus stop have been really mean to Chi this year. I’ve taken several measures to help him out, but he doesn’t really seem to register just how mean they are. Occasionally, they aren’t mean and that’s all he seems to consciously remember. I really feel like at least some of his anxiety about going to school is rooted in the way these kids treat him.
The bus stop is on the corner which is basically in my front yard. Chi has enjoyed going outside and playing with the other kids that wait on the corner since Kindergarten. There have ALWAYS been issues, but this year seems exceptionally bad. I’ve tried waiting outside with him, but I can’t be out there for half and hour when I have little ones inside the house (and I don’t want my littlest around some of these kids!). I have tried just watching from the window, but can not hear what words are being said even with the window open. Chi’s day starts off bad if I try to make him sit on the porch with me and watch for the bus. So, I’ve taken to driving him to school.
This may actually help him. We chat the whole way there (about 7 minutes if we have to sit at the light). I’ve started talking about what I think of Chi and what I expect of him.
backstory: I started giving Chi a speech every morning before he walked out the door to motivate him and help focus him in Kindergarten. It was a rough year. We hadn’t taken him to be tested and his teacher seemed to think he was “just a boy,” but he hated all the coloring that his teacher insisted he practice; he lived inside his head most of the time with only his hands for company; he would shut down or melt down at any given moment; had severe headaches at the end of each day; paid absolutely no attention to his teachers; and was constantly in trouble, just to name a few issues. I had determined that he had some sort of sensory disorder when he was a baby, but had no idea that any such thing actually existed. I suspected that he had Asperger’s to some degree if not fully fledged since he was around 10 months old which is when he started talking (he would use words for a while then stop using them altogether and by 18 months had ceased using any English words at all. He spoke in Chi-nese). But my pediatrician didn’t seem concerned and I wasn’t in any hurry to label my son and potentially stagnate any chance of success he may have in school. So I started giving him pep talks in the mornings. Something like this (it has grown and morphed over the last couple of years, but has stayed essentially the same):
Have fun at school, Chi. Work hard and do your best. Follow the rules and listen to your teacher. Do what you are told and pay attention. Have a great day! I’ll see you this afternoon. I love you!
So now the little speech has grown into a talk we have on the way to school. I tell him that I know how very smart he is and that there isn’t any reason that he should be unable to do the work at school. I started out explaining to him what working hard and doing your best means. Working hard can mean trying and working slowly. It can mean taking your time and being neat. Doing his best doesn’t mean being the best in the class. It means that if the best he can do is come up with an idea and write that down, then he can bring it home and we can finish. Doing his best is not a competition with anyone else in the class. He may finish first on the math work but barely get started on the writing and that’s OK so long as he is trying. Just sitting and chirruping and grunting isn’t trying. On the first day I told him to try on the math work and listen during the writing part of class. Take deep breaths and request a water break if he needed it to refocus. We were building on that before the Ms. J/TA/Ms. W curfuffle that threw him into a tailspin. So I built on the “do your morning work for computer time” bit that the TA inadvertantly threw my way. I told Chi that Ms. F said if he did his morning work he would get computer time in the afternoon. He seemed hyped about computer time and I told him that all he had to do was work on that morning work when he gets to school. Yesterday afternoon he came home excited saying he did his morning work and got to work on the computer. He seemed jazzed to duplicate that today. I told him today that I would write to his teacher and give her a small list of accomplishments he needs to be rewarded for in the classroom that would earn him rewards at home, as well (we were doing this before, but had progressed to working on different organizational skills before his backslide began and the daily report card book was lost in the transition). He likes earning video game time and talking to him about how smart he is and how he doesn’t need to hang out with the kids who are mean to him and about how loved he is and how well he is doing and adding goals every so many days seems to be working for now.
Well, I won’t be holding my breath, but I will be continuing to find things to help him out.