Every Thursday I wake up to the same moans and groans from Sarah Hazel because she does not want to go to school. She whines and whimpers about how she’s too tired, her tummy hurts, her knees hurt, she just wants to stay home and play with Mommy and her toys. Usually I ignore the excuses and tell her that she has to go and it will be fun. We talk about all the fun things she is going to do and talk about what friends will be there. Typically I do not drop her off, but if I do, she continues to whine about it until she gets to the door.
A couple weeks ago she started in with her usual excuses. I assured her that her knees were fine, she would feel better after her food settled, yada, yada. After a few minutes of silence she burst into tears. Uncontrollable sobs actually. It reminded me of the criminals on CSI or Law and Order who break down as they confess to a murder. That kind of no holds, real true from the gut sobbing. Anyhow…as she’s crying her little eyes out she tells me “I already do that stuff they do. It’s for babies”. More tears. Then “Nobody wants to sit with me at the table”. Then more tears. Aha! The truth comes forth! She’s bored and having a hard time with friends.
Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s a lot I can do about that. It’s preschool. The main reason we send her is to learn how to interact with other kids and adults and to get some playtime away from home.
I did not tell the teachers about her little breakdown. Instead I chose to ask them if she was doing OK and seemed to be enjoying herself. They replied that she was fine, other than her typical monotone hum and a little three year old fit here and there.
Our schedule works out so that grandparents take her and pick her up from school on Tuesdays. John takes her on Thursdays, then I pick her up. Nana and G-Daddy say she is happy when they pick her up. Daddy says she is happy when he drops her off. When I pick her up she is usually happy to see me but as soon as we get in the car she becomes grumpy and argumentative with me for much of the remainder of the day and it’s getting worse.
Last week, she started screaming and crying when I walked into the classroom. She rolled around on a rug in the back of the room mumbling something about she did not get to finish coloring the letter of the week. The thing is, she never even started coloring. I’m wondering if by the end of the preschool day her transitioning issues have kicked in full gear and she’s not yet been able to get herself to the coloring table. I walk in and the sequence in her mind just got all whacked and discombobulated. Cause you know…she’s got to have a pattern and sequence to whatever she sets her mind too. (excuse me while I rip my hair out). I leave the room and she quickly scribbles all over the picture just so it’s complete. The teacher did tell me that they accidentally forgot to let her share her show and tell item and that she had gotten upset about it.
We begin to leave and she flips out that I picked up her bags. She runs away from me and for a couple minutes I panic as I walk around the halls looking for my hysterical three year old. By the way, I’m carrying Cameron on my hip during this whole thing so I’m already one arm short. Finally I hear sobs behind a door in a stairwell. There she is shaking, with snot running down her sweaty pink face. “I can’t get the door to stay open!” she yells at me. I help her get the door fixed and tell her lets go back and start over with her getting her own bags. We make it almost all the way before she collapses in the floor because she is upset that she cannot control the hallway. She tells me the people need to walk on the right sides and stop being so loud. My sweet friend who teaches there, comes out and tries to distract my kids with stickers which works for a couple minutes. I try once more to get my kids out- by this time my arm is shaking and burning from the weight of Cameron. We go down the quiet back staircase but she has yet one more meltdown because I did not hold the handrail. We get outside and she lays in the grass and flails wildly. I put Cameron in the car then come back to her and hold her tightly and stroke her hair. Finally….she relaxes and lets me carry her to the car.
Surely you didn’t think it was over did you? As we drive off, the wail from the backseat starts again because I’m not driving in the direction she wants. She yells “go back” over and over. I don’t. Instead I got to Chik-Fil-A and get myself a drink. She flips out because she doesn’t want a drink and even though I tell her it’s for me and not her, she refuses to believe me and keeps telling me not to get her a drink. I guess it should come as no surprise that the second we pull away from the drive thru she starts crying “I wanted a treat”. No I didn’t turn around. I drove and I cried my own tears. We pass the big water fountain in the pond but the timing was off so for the next hour all I hear is “water fountain…I have to go back”.
Yesterday, was an odd Tuesday that I picked her up. I took my mom with me because I just knew if she saw Grammy, there would be no tears but only joy. I’m sad to report that it was pretty much the same. Last week the teacher told me about show and tell which I suspected was the trigger but did not know for sure until later than night when Sarah Hazel was calm and I asked her what made her so upset. She can tell you what upsets her but sometimes it takes hours or days before she can talk about it. Yesterday the teachers told me that she had held water in her mouth at the water fountain and it dribbled on her shirt. To her a tiny drop of water on her shirt feels like she just jumped into a pool with her clothes on. It’s a sure way to trigger an SPD meltdown. Also someone sat on the letter F on the alphabet rug and she thought only she could sit on the letter F because she had just sat on it. No, she should not get to have the letter F all for herself but clearly a transitional issue occurred. When we walked in to get her, she was wallowing alone on the back rug while the other kids colored their letter of the week. She flipped out because once again, she had not colored hers. My mom had to go in and pick her up to get her out of the room. One of the teachers keeps repeatedly telling me that “it’s all you”. Funny since she goes to numerous activities in the same building and has never freaked out on me at those when I pick her up. Let’s just say, it rubbed me the wrong way. Even if I am the reason she cries, why is she doing it?
The thing is with these meltdowns is that once her world gets out of sequence, she really feels it. That has been something that’s been hard for others to understand about her. It’s not being bratty. She truly cannot help it. If you ever take the moment to look at her face during these moments you will see fear in her eyes. She’s not herself and she has no control. The ability to calm herself is gone. Whoever she is with needs to help her get back in sequence. She has a SPD diagnosis and is in therapy for possible auditory processing issues and/or hyperacusis. If the sight of her mama is setting her off, my radar goes off. Something is wrong. Something has put her in that fragile state of mind and she needs assistance and fast.
Tomorrow, Daddy will drop her off and I’ll pick her up. I dread it but at the same time, I’m anxious to see what happens. I just don’t know what I’m going to do if another meltdown happens. I feel like one of the teacher’s is already defensive about it. I don’t blame her for my child melting down, but I do need to know what started it so we can put some plans in action in how to help her the next time it occurs. I’m trying so hard to keep her experience as “normal” as possible but I have to remember neither of my kids are “normal” and it’s ok. I can’t always fit the circle in the square hole.
I’m sure this story is to be continued. I have a feeling our preschool woes are far from done.