Parenting is hard…

I hate starting off the day by crying in front of people I don’t really know.

But that was the beginning of my Wednesday. I had a meeting with Ethan’s home room and reading teachers this morning. It’s been a rocky start to the second grade for E.

I’m blessed to know that Ethan goes to school at a place with very understanding teachers. Teachers who want to help him (and us). Teachers who “get” what he’s going through. (E’s second grade teacher was widowed herself 10 years ago.) Teachers who want to find a solution and help him grow in a positive direction.

I love hearing that he’s a smart kid. A funny kid. A kid who tells great stories. A kid who loves and respects his mom so much. Those were the highlights of the morning conference.

But…

Ethan is being extremely disruptive in class. He’s talking out of turn, humming and singing, chewing on whatever he can find (fingers, pencils, paper, shirt sleeves), getting out of his seat, arguing with the teachers… He’s being difficult.

He’s also starting to struggle with reading.

I’ve noticed within the last few weeks that he’s stumbling quite a bit when we do our reading homework. He’s tripping over words that were part of the previous sentence. He struggles with words that were part of his spelling test the previous week. His reading is really jerky, not fluid. It’s also negatively impacting his ability to write sentences (he can’t “sound out” the words in the same way as other kids).

The teachers think he may need some speech therapy. (He was in speech from 3 years old through kindergarten, then tested out of help in first grade, but they assessed he may need help in grade two and beyond. Apparently some sounds – like r – aren’t “helped” until certain grade levels.)

I’m on board for speech. But it still doesn’t answer why… Why is he now struggling so much, having trouble in class, being so disruptive?

I’m not entirely sure what’s going on with Ethan, but there’s obviously something troubling him. (Like the kid hasn’t had major life-changing things happening for the last few years… pick any number of things that could be causing the trouble. Seriously.)

I’m trying a few new things:

  • I enrolled Ethan in tae kwon do. I think the discipline and structure will be good for him. I know similar programs have helped other kids focus and gain self-confidence. I hope it works for Ethan. And E is SUPER stoked about it. (Plus, the physical activity won’t hurt a kid with a lot of energy.)
  • I found a local peer-focused program that helps kids deal with their grief. I’m meeting with the director tomorrow to discuss our situation and see if the program may be right for Ethan. I know he feels like he’s the “only kid without a dad,” so I hope seeing and interacting with other kids his age will help him sort through his anger and confusion and other emotions.
  • I’ll increase his visits to his therapist. We meet with him on Monday. I think E needs to see him more often. While I’m a little concerned that the therapist isn’t addressing the core issue (grief), he is providing the tools E needs to deal with anger issues. And Ethan really likes the guy. I’m also going to sign permission for the therapist to talk directly to Ethan’s teachers – since E’s behavior is different at home. (We still have some issues at home, but overall, he’s a super loving, attentive kid.)
  • We’ve stepped back on reading a bit. He still has his mandated 15 minutes during homework time, but I’ve also added another 10-15 minutes each night. Ethan is responsible for selecting a couple of books and reading them to Lauren each night. This helps him practice a bit more – and it gives him a reason to read “baby” books for now to practice the basics of reading (as opposed to reading the chapter books that he so desperately wants to read.)

This parenting-thing is hard sometimes…

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