My two older children have been in school for two weeks now, and it seemed that almost instantly, their father and I have received not-so-great reports about their behavior. It’s not as if they are not smart- Layla is reading at a second grade level, writes extremely well, and excels in her math while Noah is improving in his reading fluency and is very excited about learning more science and social studies this year. However, they both are displaying behaviors that are becoming a distraction within the classroom and I have simply accepted the fact that I am going to have “those kids”… you know the ones that were in every class you were in growing up. The kids who always were a disruption… the kids who were always getting in trouble… yep… it seems like The Davis’ kids have become those kids in their classrooms. And I’m going to admit it… I am totally and completely embarrassed.
My husband and I pride myself on being consistent with our children and setting realistic expectations for them as well. We are aware that there are some issues each child has that might be a factor in why they are behaving the way they are. Noah has an Autism diagnosis and as such, sometimes acts out in a way that he doesn’t seem to perceive as being disruptive. He currently has an IEP for his speech and diagnosis and is pulled out of class to address those issues. He also has various accommodations made for him in class to help him succeed. However, he seems to be having difficulty with following directions the first… second… third… time he is asked to do something and has begun showing some defiance in the classroom. He gets frustrated very easily and will straight up say “no” when his teacher has requested something of him that he does not want to do. We have met with the teacher already to discuss some ideas that might help him get along better in class and he has restarted therapy that will focus on a lot of the same goals that is on his IEP. We hope that once he begins to show improvement, we can finally put him in some extracurriculars that will help to strengthen his confidence.
As for Layla… sigh… she’s a totally different story. We have noticed that Layla acts rather impulsively at times, often not understanding why she made the choices she made. She is also very hard on herself, and like Noah, will get frustrated very easily. We have begun the process for getting her tested for ADHD which is the last thing I wanted to do but my entire attitude regarding my kids have been this: I’d rather know what’s going on and have a road map on how to deal with it then be in denial because I don’t want my kid being “labeled”. Hell, labels are a wonderful thing in this case because it gives me a reason as to why my children are behaving the way they do. It gives them the resources and support that they need to be successful.
Now for the real “mom” part: There are days where I come home from work and I get reports from teachers that aren’t all that great and I feel absolutely 100% defeated. I begin thinking things like “where did I go wrong?” “what did I not do?” “what signs did I miss?” “Am I doing everything I can to support my kids?” There isn’t a worse feeling than to feel as though your kids’ struggles and challenges are somehow your fault. And although rationally I know that they are not, I still cannot help but feel some kind of responsibility for their behavior. After all, they are my kids. I am their first teacher. It is my husband’s and my responsibility to train them at home to make good choices. We were raised to be respectful… to listen to the trusted adults around you and not to talk back. There were consequences if that were to happen. And in our home, our punishments fit the crime. My husband and I believe in disciplining our children in an effort to raise them as responsible young people. We teach our children that their choices will result in two possibilities: a reward, or a consequence, and we believe that it is never too young for that lesson to be taught. However, despite our best efforts, it seems as though we are just not doing a good job. And how embarrassing it is for me. I used to teach young children. I now operate a child care development center wherein I work with and train staff on how to appropriately recognize and respond to challenging behaviors. I was that caregiver that wondered why kids acted up so badly in class… I often prejudged parents who’s kids were acting up in class. And then I resigned from my position to be at home full time and I began experiencing the same difficulties with my kids. It was then when I began to understand that it’s not the parents all the time; that despite many of our best efforts, some kids struggle for one reason or another.
I don’t want this post to be a cry baby session for me and I’m going to end it before it turns into one. But I have begun taking each day at a time, slowly straying away from the norms I had as a child. Although it is difficult, my husband and I are trying to get used to the fact that we will probably be doing a lot of reminding and repeating with our children. We will have to put in a lot more time with them to ensure that they know how much they are supported and loved. I think that the unconditional love and support they receive mixed with the right kind of resources will help them better recognize their emotions and be better prepared to respond appropriately to them.
Someone said “mommin ain’t easy…” and there have never been truer words said in the history of mankind… NEVER!