How are the Kids? Ethan Edition

Ethan. My baby boy. My sweet, sweet pumpkin.

He’s struggling. Not necessarily at home, but definitely away from home. Not with us, but with just about everyone else. And by all reports, it’s becoming an issue.

At home, he’s (usually) polite, very helpful, extremely loving. Away from home (by accounts of teachers and others, as well as limited personal observation when he didn’t know I was around), he can be rude and angry, disrespectful and uncompromising. It doesn’t matter if it’s another kid or an adult. It’s not all the time, but he’s just not someone you’d want to be around sometimes.

He’s overly bossy. He gets very angry, occasionally becoming physical. He will argue and yell at anyone, showing no fear or anxiety if he’s sent to the principal or another authority figure. He argues when he perceives someone is cheating – whether it’s a kid taking an “extra” turn or not following the rules.

He doesn’t sit still – that’s something we DO deal with at home. He’s constantly moving, wiggling, unable to remain motionless. Some of that might be “being seven” or it might be more.

Ethan was dealing with issues before Mike died. He was seeing a counselor in St. Louis, before we moved, to deal with the death of my dad (his beloved grandpa) in 2010 and our separation in August.

Ethan saw some very tough things over the last few years. Once I drove home in the middle of the night from a trip because I knew something wasn’t right. I found Ethan sitting up in bed, next to Mike, who was passed out. Ethan told me he was worried his dad would die, so he wanted to be by his side. Ethan was five years old. It was 2 a.m. After slapping him awake, I convinced Mike to go to the ER. He was four times the legal limit.

Stuff like that is hard for a kid (or an adult) to process.

He talks, quite openly, about his dad’s drinking and what happened when Mike drank. He talks about seeing Mike try to hide the liquor in the ceiling tiles or under the couch.He talks about how mean Mike was to me when he drank and how he yelled at me for no reason. Ethan also talks about how he’s the only kid at school without a dad. It all breaks my heart.

School administrators and counselors are worried about him, especially going into second grade. Apparently, second grad is a critical year for kids socially, and Ethan is at risk. His school has been fantastic, really creating an accepting environment and wanting to make sure Ethan is successful, happy, well-developed and well-loved.

Ethan has a really good counselor here. They’ve really bonded. If Ethan is struggling, he’ll tell me that he wants to talk to Mr. Robb.

Ethan’s well-being and happiness definitely played into my recent decision to step away from my career. I can’t be involved, I can’t be a mom, by only spending 15 minutes with the kids each day. I want to be a regular fixture in his classroom. His teacher and I are going to be working closely all year. Ethan is going to get involved in several social and sports activities.

It’s going to take a while. It’ll be a long, hard road (for both of us), but I just KNOW that Ethan will be okay.

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