Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hard news to hear

Sometimes being a mother can break your heart. Not long after my last post about Camden, I received a phone call from his preschool that shattered my world. His preschool teacher called me to pick him up because he was behaving in an awful way. I talked to Camden about it when I got home from work that day and could tell he felt terrible about it. Because she had mentioned that he had a bad day before, I called her to find out what was going on. As his mother, I want to be informed of what is going on so that I can deal with any behaviors or issues at home. What she told me left me stunned and broken hearted for my little boy. I learned the little boy I so love and adore at home is completely different in a larger group. More than that, he’s the kid all teachers dread and nobody wants in a classroom.

The preschool teacher told me Camden is very immature for his age. Although a very intelligent little boy, she said he is socially and behaviorally immature. I was told he takes toys from other kids, pushes, hits, kicks, and crowds in line. He knocks over towers that other kids build and bullies them. He throws fits when he doesn’t get his way or if he doesn’t get to go first at something. He doesn’t listen to instructions and won’t help clean up toys. When put in time out, he hits, screams, and kicks either the teacher or the wall. I was told he will do anything to have the attention on him and it’s usually in negative ways. He’ll get out of time out just to get a toy to throw it or he’ll hit the wall and laugh at her as she adds more time to the clock. The focus becomes on him and she can’t do her lessons or help the other children.

Needless to say, I broke down after I got off the phone. Sure we see bits and pieces of this behavior at home. He is three after all, and the first born in the house. But we know how to deal with him and rarely see him as out of control as was described to me. It broke my heart to hear the problems he is having and the problems he creates for others. In small groups and at home, he is well behaved, helpful, and fun. I’ve talked to my friends who watch my child occasionally and was told they rarely, if ever, see this side of him. Unfortunately, this was the final piece of a puzzle I’ve been trying to figure out for months. We’ve gotten similar reports from both the gym daycare and our church nursery (although not as extreme) and have wondered how Camden
really behaves and acts when we are not around.

I’m not sure what to think about it all. I feel like the worst parent in the world who is failing their child. I feel like I must not see him clearly or that there is a side to him that only comes out when a parent is not around. After talking to some friends, they gave me some perspective. Most feel it is related to the sensory issues I have mentioned before. Because of that, we’ve set up an appointment for him to be evaluated at our local preschool. A part of me has felt like I have needed to do this for him for a long time, but I have brushed it off because we can deal with his sensory issues at home and in small groups. Seeing how they appear in large groups, however, has made me realize there may be more going on with my son that I want to admit. I’m very hopeful that our evaluation will be able to help my son and help him learn critical social and behavioral skills he needs for school.

It’s a hard thing to accept that my son has some issues that need to be addressed. It’s even harder because I am an educator and know what it is like to have those students in a classroom. It breaks my heart for my little boy, that so many see him as a behavior problem, instead of seeing his sweet heart and spirit. It’s hard to watch him struggle so much as a three year old to deal with these sensory issues. I feel like I don't know how to teach or discipline my own child in a way that works for him and his issues. It’s hard to watch him be so smart, but yet so affected by so many noises, fears, anxieties, and situations out of mine or his control. He’s a beautiful boy with a good heart. He’s got so much to offer. I just wish that side of him could be seen more than the problems.


Anonymous said...

I'm sure it is such a shock to find out he acts one way at home and does a total 180 when in a different setting. I hope you have a great person doing the evaluation and you get answers you need to help him.

Jess said...

Oh Rachelle, that is such a heartbreaking thing to have to go through. I hope that thru evaluation whatever is behind this can be found so you can start on the path to getting his large group behavior in line with what you see at home. Sensory issues are so hard to deal with, and you guys have done such a good job with him. Hang in there, you are in my prayers.

Tara said...

Rachelle, It is hard as a parent to see your child struggle. We want nothing but the best for them. If we could we would give them only joy and peace. You know their talents and gifts are countless, yet in other situations they have other traits that come out creating challenges and struggles. You have been given Camden for a reason. You will learn so much from him as he will from you. My Keaton is my greatest challenge but also brings me so much joy. When he achieves success it truly is a great day. Celebrate all the positives. Most of all know that the guilt you feel is natural, but don't let it hold you back. You are not alone.

Maine Mom said...

I know you are a great mom, so please don't blame yourself. It does sound like Camden has some issues that need to be addressed to help him behave appropriately in large groups, but that doesn't make him a bad kid and it doesn't make you a bad mom.
I hope the evaluation is helpful.

Lynanne said...

First, you are not the worst parent and have not failed your child - that's Mommy Guilt talking. Being an educator is a blessing and a curse. You're highly educated and experienced and have seen the "worst." Take a step back, though. You have older kids in your classroom. How different would their lives have been if someone had intervened earlier? Your son is so young yet. He has wonderful, very dedicated and knowledgeable parents. He has a extremely bright future. Nothing is set in stone at this point.

Having said that, as a mom of two children with special needs (one with severe sensory integration disorder), I empathize greatly with having your world come crashing down on you. Whether it's something that has nagged you all along or something that has hit you out of the blue, it hurts.

I also know little I say can take away the ache. Try and stay focused on the positives. Your child is beautiful, bright, and wonderful. Remind yourself at every opportunity that he's not broken and you did not cause this.

As a teacher you know that some kids are good at certain subjects, while others struggle. Even kids who seem to be good at everything still have their weaknesses. Maybe they are a genius with textbooks but can't throw a ball straight. It's the same for you son. This is one of his weaknesses. The evaluation isn't a bad thing. Whatever it may reveal, it is meant to guide you on your journey.

Best of luck to you!

Meemer said...

oh rachelle! i could have written your post almost exactly. my ds has had most of those problems. and it has been a hard road. and the biggest thing is doubting myself as a mother. it breaks you down harder than you would think. all you know is that your kid isn't behaving, and it's your job to fix it. what i didn't realize is that some kids need extra help. and that isn't any of my fault. and it's totally okay. i had to tell myself that every day for 2 months. and i still tell myself that. and there are good days and bad days, i just have to go on.

use those resources, they are there to help you and to help your son. you will grow with each other and it will work out. my ds is proof of that.

when all else fails, you can give me a call and we can cry about it together.

Jennie said...

If you haven't already, pray for your son and for you to know what is best for him. The Lord knows your needs and he will bring you peace and understanding. Remember that every child has something that is harder for them and they just need extra help, love, and guidance. Camden is so lucky to have you as his mother. Things will work out. You will get through.