Wednesday, November 16, 2011

11/16/11 The Meeting

A familiar event for us...a meeting at the school today with all of Julian's former teachers (except kindergarten, since kinder teachers have conferences this week) -- and some of Gabriel's former teachers who were there are part of the "team."

This is an "SST" meeting (I forget what that stands for) in which we review the kids' strengths, weaknesses, areas of need, strategies, etc. This is almost harder with Julian than it was for Gabriel because there really isn't as much to say. Gabriel had such a long storied history of challenges as a toddler and young child; Julian really was about as normal a baby and toddler as they get. I think we were very aligned with his teacher that he's really just ... well, immature. Funny to say about a 7-year-old! They're 7, they're supposed to be immature!! But he's pretty immature and impulsive even for 7 (and pushing 8).

Anyway, we didn't have any great outcomes, though the principal had a good suggestion about giving Julian a big incentive for not getting sent to his office in a week. In general, Dave and I both resist the idea of rewarding a kid for expected behavior, and definitely wouldn't give him video-game time for that or anything (how unfair does that seem to siblings who don't get sent to the office?).

But I think I'm on to something with my "stair time" with Julian, in which I sit next to him alone in a place that has no distractions (the stairs), and just talk to him about how he feels. I have to resist telling him those dumb clueless things grownups always think will help and kids always think are stupid, like "just ignore a kid who's teasing you," and instead just talk to him about how he feels. I've done this a few times now, and he really seems to like it (even if he milks it at the end). So some special time alone with Mom or Dad will be the reward. Not incentive really, because I don't want to take that away if he doesn't meet it, but I think he needs more "stair time."

Then this afternoon I got a call from the school office that Julian was in the office, complaining of feeling "bad" and having a headache. I was skeptical and annoyed, but when I got him home, it turned out he had a temperature. I felt horrible today too, so I volunteered to stay home with him tomorrow. Good timing, because a day alone together will do us both some good.


Monday, November 14, 2011

11/14/2011 The Helper

This thing with Gabriel walking home after school is GREAT, in far more ways than I could have anticipated.

My original motivation was to give him more down/chill-time, and he's completely getting that. But unexpectedly, I think he's overall been acting more responsible too -- he puts his lunch away and washes his hands when he gets home without me having to repeat it 100 times, because I'm not even there! And, he's mostly getting his homework done on his own too, without being bugged (by me) or distracted (by siblings).

The really best thing is that I get so much more time with him now. After the other two have gone upstairs for bath, Gabriel hangs with me while I clean up the kitchen and make lunches. Tonight, he wanted to see if a movie for a book his class is reading ("Island of the Blue Dolphin") was available, so I told him we'd look it up after kitchen chores were done. So he loaded and started the dishwasher, wiped the table, and took out the garbage, while I made lunch and we chatted. Actually it was really Dave whose workload he was reducing, but I totally enjoyed being with him -- something I'd never get in the bad old days of the "you get 15 minutes to eat dinner, then you have to get back to your homework" struggle.

I don't mean it's all perfect, and Gabriel is still unmatched when it comes to digging his heels in (though he has a close rival in his sister, whose latest rude habit is to refuse to listen by putting her fingers in her hears and glaring at you while she wiggles her tongue back and forth taunting "biddle-biddle-biddle!" sounds)....but on the whole, I'm totally reaping the benefits of his extra time. And my initial objective has been met: he's quite a bit calmer, and, well, happier.

And bonus -- we save over $300 a month in childcare, tax-free! It's like someone's paying us for a happier child?!


Sunday, November 13, 2011