Edvard Munch’s The Scream

A mother struggles when a new school year starts.

Sonia Billadeau April 15, 2014
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the screamThis picture depicts my status perfectly: wordless, soundless, screaming. All the other moms couldn’t wait for their kids to go back to school, but I knew, I just knew that things were going to get really bad really quickly at our house. All three of my kids are in free-fall since school started, and in their scrabbling and scratching for purpose, they are lashing out in every direction.

The social skills of a RAD teenage girl are not unlike those of a toddler chasing a puppy. The puppy wants to run and hide from the toddler, and the girls at school seem to be running from my daughter. When Kaylyn asked one girl if she wanted to walk together to their next class, the girl said no, that she was focusing on schoolwork this year instead of friends. My daughter feels SO rejected by the girls at school that it’s triggering all of her sadness and rage. She has informed me that she does NOT wish to do chores, would rather do boredom therapy in the bathroom than follow our rules and actually flushed the peanut butter sandwich I lovingly made her down the toilet.

My 4th grade son who was doing so well, almost completely out of his spoiled, entitled defiance has slipped back into really sneaky, dishonest behavior. And what happens when he’s caught and punished? Oh my goodness, batten down the hatches, he blows his stack! No acquiescence there. He was getting so much worse and more out of control every day that I finally put him back on “The Program” where he has to earn yummy meals and privileges and if he chooses not to, he is welcome to eat peanut butter sandwiches in his room.

He was so mad at me about having to go back on The Program that he deliberately hurt my new puppy yesterday. She’s sixteen weeks, two and a half pounds, maybe five inches tall, as delicate as a bunny and he deliberately stepped on her. I’m an idiot for letting him “babysit” her while I drove my other son back to school to get his missing homework. I had no idea my nine-year-old was capable of such rage. Again, I’m the idiot. My puppy can’t put any weight on her paw and the vet suspected her toes were broken, but fortunately the xray showed no obvious fracture.

When my son was having his melt-down today, he uttered those infamous words that every adoptive mom longs to hear: “You’re not my real mom.” He said it twice, like he was trying to jab me with it. Most of me understands how he feels and I simply agreed with him. “You’re right, I’m not your birthmom. I’m really sorry you couldn’t stay with her.” But those words always find their mark, don’t they? I feel bad for him that he doesn’t have a “real mom” (as he sees it) in his life. I feel bad for myself that I’m not the mom I thought I was to him. He turns ten in a couple of months and it only makes sense that his problems would escalate as he ages.

And then we come to my sixteen-almost-seventeen-year-old Mr. Hyde (as in Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde). Eight years in a row now, he lies about having homework, hides it, “loses it” and then suffers the consequences. He just cannot or will not ask for help and cannot or will not incorporate the lesson that he ALWAYS gets caught and then it’s miserable for him.

So…already in the first week of school, he was lying about having Chemistry homework, pretended he didn’t even know what it was when I pointed the missing assignment out to him on the school’s website, then lied that it was an in-class lab and that he had lost the paper because the teacher wouldn’t let him turn it in the day they completed the lab but expected him to keep it in his backpack until the next class period. (My son isn’t even a good liar but it never slows him down). So yet another school year is poisoned with this baloney, yet another teacher now knows my son is shady, yet another weekday morning saw me traipsing in to talk to the teacher at 7am with my son in tow- mute and checked out.

In Finding Nemo, Dory advises, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.” I am waterlogged at this point but I recognize the wisdom in her advice. After all, what’s the alternative?

Photo credit: www.guardian.co.uk/The-only-privately-owned–oo8.jpg

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Sonia Billadeau


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