I don’t know where to start, so I’m going to start with today and then write flashbacks sharing how we got here…
It’s a Wednesday morning. J. is starting the day in a hypersilly mood and not able to follow directions very well. J. can’t seem to coordinate dressing himself, so Daddy is trying to help him. Clothes were picked out the night before, so we can avoid the morning tantrum over what is clean, what is dirty, what matches, what doesn’t, what’s comfortable, what’s not, what we “never let him” do….you get the idea. We let J. pick out his own clothes, but if something he expects to wear is not waiting for him in his dresser he has a hard time letting go of that expectation (which is a nice way of saying he has a fit about it). Dressed first, then headphones and cd pack strapped around the waist for listening therapy. THIS morning, J. gets grumpy and resists having the equipment on. We’ve been up for 15 minutes and those 15 minutes have taken a lot of effort. Two little brothers are also running around from room to room upstairs making lots of silly noise, which adds to the tension. Finally J. is dressed and the time is noted for when the headphones can come off.
Now J. transitions to downstairs for eating breakfast. He has an expectation for being able to do some art on the computer, which Daddy tries to accommodate even though we need to get moving on breakfast. A computer issue throws us a kink. I arrive downstairs to get breakfast started and tell J. he can do computer time AFTER he eats, if there is still time before we need to leave for school drop-off. This is changing the plan for him from what he thought he was going to do. A stomping, yelling tantrum ensues. One little brother who is nearby gets pushed. The headphones and cd pack get pulled off and thrown on the floor as J. yells that he hates them and is not doing it. He screams that his teeth hurt, yells that he doesn’t want to go to school and is now stomping around crying.
I put the headphones and cd pack back on him and walk away from his attitude to get busy in the kitchen. The tantrum continues. I have a bowl of cereal waiting for J. on the kitchen table and know that if he takes too long getting there we will have another problem over it being too soggy. But I’m not pushing it. I get little brothers started on breakfast and head upstairs to finish getting ready while Daddy tries to get J. redirected.
I can hear J. screaming from upstairs. The cereal IS too soggy, so Daddy makes him a new bowl. J. wants to eat but his teeth hurt. He takes one bite, turns and spits everything out on the floor, then shoves the full bowl roughly across the table. Lots more yelling. When I return from getting dressed, we move to Plan B. It has been 30 minutes so the headphones can come off. I give him some tylenol for his teeth (because he does have 6 year molars coming in) and I offer to make him some toast. Thankfully he agrees and we make some progress getting him fed. Now the tantrum moves from teeth/headphones/breakfast to not wanting to go to school. Daddy has cleaned up the cereal mess and now 2 year old L. is following him from room to room crying to be held. 4 1/2 year old B. has finished eating and is running around being silly. Lots going on at once.
Daddy tries to distract J. by showing him how we can scan a drawing he made and put it into the computer, which is now in working order again. Little brothers are interested in this, but J. is caught up on thinking his drawing isn’t good enough. I’m trying to gather up school things and get three little people prepped for getting in the van – pack school snack for J., which causes another brief outburst over selection, collect everyone’s shoes and sweatshirts, choice of which brings another strong reaction from J., the dreaded teeth brushing, which bring yet another near tantrum. We choose to not push the teeth brushing and instead offer apple slices, but only AFTER everyone is in the van and buckled.
Somehow we accomplish this. Everyone is fed and dressed, shoes and sweatshirts on, in their correct car seats in the van and buckled, with needed school items. Daddy delivers apple slices to all three boys and round one of drop-off proceeds smoothly. Once the van is in motion, all grumpies and sillies miraculously cease. We all ride calmly, talking every now and then at normal volume. When we get to the elementary school, J. has no problem jumping out at the curb in the car-rider lane and heading in to his class on his own.
I breathe a big sigh – a sigh of both relief to be through the first part of the morning and apprehension as to what lays ahead. I watch my big boy walk into school and hope that he can have a good day. I know he’s anxious about the rule of having to be quiet in the hallway, which he sometimes has trouble with, and that he’s worried about making mistakes on his work….but he SEEMS ok as he’s walking along the sidewalk. He seems ok, right? We drive off and head home to regroup before taking B. to preschool.