It hasn’t even been two weeks since the last day of school, so maybe it is too soon to be making statements about how summer break is going, but I am just going to go ahead and say it…
Summer break with Corrigan is going great.
I won’t lie, I was a little nervous. Of my own kid? I know. I know. But you have to understand, someone else has my child from 8:02 am until 4:11pm five days a week now. Five long consecutive days, 180 days a year. (plus a month in the middle of the summer) Other people raise my children and then they come home, eat dinner and a few hours later it is bedtime. Sure, I knew how Corrigan acted on weekends, and that wasn’t always (read:never) awesome because he was struggling through 48-hours of routine change, and it was hard to set up any home routines because Corrigan needed lots of time and consecutive days for that to happen and then boom! Monday reappeared and back on the yellow tin box to the “other important adults” in his life.
I really need to work on writing in a single tense, sheesh.
What I am trying to say is that most of Corrigan’s routines are established at school and we here at home try to continue those things that the teachers work so hard to set up in school while he is here, to achieve success there. I have felt like, for a long time, that I am no longer Corrigan’s primary influence and my job now is a support to someone else’s authority. Honestly, I don’t like it. With Connor, I never really though much about it because there were no underlying issues that needed obvious work. We were not needing to reinforce things that he was learning in school, he was completely fluid in regards to the “how they do things in school” and “how we do things at home” and there was no conflict. The teachers did their thing and he listened and learned and I did my thing and he listened and learned. The end.
Now, with Corrigan, I struggle to make sure that whatever I do here at the house compliments the things he might be doing in school. I can never be sure though, I only have a few sentences written in a communication binder or some hasty email conversations back and forth with the teacher in the evenings to go on, but I know that angry faces and time outs and sharply yelled “WE DO NOT DO THAT’s” aren’t the M.O. in special education, but blowing bubbles when he gets upset (gag) and brushing his arms is. So when he is being openly defiant and throwing things on the floor while making spookily clear “I hate you” eye-contact, I can’t react the way *I* want to react. Parent the way that *I* want to parent, I have to think “How is this handled in school?” and then grit my teeth and grab some soapy solution and cheerily count to ten while blowing the most bitter-filled bubbles you have ever seen.
What is my point? I don’t know. Honestly, I don’t. My head hurts, the kind that bending over feels excruciating and leaves me feeling breathless and slightly pukey, but I had a few minutes while the little man was preoccupied (playing happily and quietly by himself, booyah!) and I realized that, even with this monster headache, I was still looking forward to today. To a long, complicated, noisy day with my youngest. Parenting him my way. Teaching him my way. Spending some time observing him for long, long periods and then really sitting down and thinking about how I want to tackle a specific behavior. Or help him through something he is struggling to learn. It feels amazing to actually be the authority in his life these last two weeks. He has responded so well to the change, after receiving notes for months and months and months about behaviors like angrily climbing on furniture, ripping things from the walls, hitting himself or hitting out at the teachers and screaming…well, let’s just say that I wasn’t looking forward to all of that but I know myself and that crap wasn’t going to fly in Casa de Mooney this verano. (How can I remember the seasons in Spanish but not my sister’s phone number?)
And its been…awesome. I am shocked. They’ve done amazing things with his this past school year. With all of this time that we have together now, I am slowly seeing the fruits of their labor. He can write! He is learning to type! He is doing basic addition! and he isn’t exactly the slave to routine that I thought he was. Turns out, given a little bit of space to feel his emotions, he is kind of…flexible? I mean, not really- we aren’t heading to any restaurants or museums or anything, but the other day he and I hit the school to grab some things, the county building to pay a bill, a store to return something and then the grocery store for a large order. I took the risk because I didn’t have a choice, not because I was feeling particularly brave, and I tell you what, he was spot-on. Not a single tantrum. No fuss. He was compliant and agreeable. That, of course, is because his team at school have spent three years working on “transitioning” with him, and I am reaping the rewards of that work.
It’s been nice.
And when he does act out, as all children do, he knows that I am going to handle it differently than at school, and I don’t know, but my way is working too. Who knew? Which is great, because I was really getting grumpy about those bottles of bitter bubbles I had to carry around in my purse.