End-of-Summer Reality Check

A mother looks back over what she has learned over Summer Break.

Sonia Billadeau April 15, 2014
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back to schoolWe live in a delightfully old-fashioned area that ends summer vacation the day after Labor Day. That means we have one more day to tie up any loose ends before school begins on Tuesday. I confess I am ready for my kids to be back in school. This has been hands-down the hardest summer of my life, and has included the hardest day, night, and week of my life as well. As it thankfully comes to a close, I’ve been thinking back on what we’ve accomplished.

At the beginning of the summer, we had just discovered that we have RAD kids, and we started using somewhat controversial techniques for addressing their problems. We found a great therapist and started riding horses to help our kids heal some of their dysfunctional brain patterns.

My sixteen-year-old son went from yucky to be around at least half the time to occasional bursts of yuckiness. He has had so much practice writing essays (often with the help of bathroom boredom therapy) that he actually has real insight into why he does what he does. He still can’t intervene on his own behalf before the yuckiness starts, but he can quickly shift if we point it out to him and then have a great rest of his day.

My sweet, infuriating fourteen-year-old daughter went from stealing my husband’s childhood coin collection and spending a month in her room rather than follow our rules to being able to have moments of being respectful, responsible, and fun to be with. That may not sound like a lot, but she has been so fake for eight plus years that to have even moments of her being her genuine self is delightful. She has earned privileges like going camping with the young women from church and being able to do chores to earn money.

We have had some real breakthroughs in therapy with Kaylyn. Last week she confessed that she’s afraid I’m going to give her back and she’s been afraid of this the whole time she’s been with us. That was a great moment of tears on both our parts, and loving eyes and feelings and hugging and reassuring. Of course it didn’t last, but like I said, even moments like that are a brand-new happening. The therapist assures me that the moments will lengthen and over time turn into days, then weeks, and so on.

When school let out for the summer, I had a nine-year-old that was cute as a button and ruled the roost with his tantrums. I didn’t even know he was so spoiled, just hadn’t had the time to focus on him as much as the older two with the louder problems. But thanks to our terrific new therapist who kindly pointed out his entitled state of mind to me, Justin’s charmed little life came to an abrupt end. Thus ensued the worst day, night, and week of my life as I endured his ratcheted-up tantrums designed to restore his little world to its rightful entitled balance. I hung tough. I might have asked Heavenly Father to take me with an aneurysm NOW one night when it was very bad, but no matter now. The tantrums are over and I have an amazingly obedient and well-behaved little boy. He still tries the typical nine-year-old shenanigans, but when he’s caught hiding dirty clothes under his bed or lying, he accepts the consequences like a boy who knows who the boss is. He was always so cute but now he’s also so fun with be with (most of the time anyway).

It’s good for me to step back and see how much progress the kids have made, because as they get closer to starting school, they get more anxious, and I see a lot of their old maladaptive behaviors re-emerge. School is a lot of pressure for kids, especially my kids who will be a junior, a freshman, and a fourth-grader. I’m trying to steel myself for the reality of homework without having to resort to asking for an aneurysm. I think I can do it. We’ll all come a long way, baby.

Photo credit: rachelray.com/iStock_000009967340xsmall.jpg

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Sonia Billadeau


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