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School hasn’t started yet, and it’s already not going the way that I planned.  Ms. J, who looked after Mae after school last, including making sure her homework was done, informed me last week that she hadn’t yet received commitments from any other families for her at-home after school program.

As her youngest child is a sixth-grader, she knows, and I agree, that he and a second-grader are not ideal playmates.  Ms. J shared with me that she thinks that Mae needs a smaller, more structured program than that offered by her school, where Ms. J works and has seen some of the trouble Mae has had in her interactions with other students and some teachers.  Ms. J remembered that I’d approached her originally about help with finding transportation to an aftercare program in our neighborhood, and offered to drive Mae there.  So, that was good news.  I also appreciated that Ms. J called me and asked to talk face-to-face.  She didn’t want to email me or talk in detail over the phone.

Fortunately, there is still space in the neighborhood program.  It costs about an additional $100 per month over Ms. J’s place, plus whatever we’ll pay Ms. J for transportation.  In total, we’ll pay per week what Mae’s school charges per month for aftercare.  All for a child who is quick to complain that we don’t take her enough fun places and all our vacations seem to be in SC.  Oh, I wish I had started adding from day one.

And, I’m wondering if we should be doing more for her social skills.  Playgroup sessions again?  An aide to be with her during recess at school?  At her last appointment with Dr. Laura two weeks ago, she had a meltdown right smack in the middle of the session.  Jay was with us because Hubby was out of town.  He was playing with a plastic truck on the rug, and put it down to pick up another toy.  Mae and Dr. Laura had been discussing how camp was going, and Mae left the conversation and went over to pick up the truck.  She did so quickly and then jumped to the other side of the room.  Jay began to protest, and Dr. Laura insisted that Mae hand over the truck.  Mae did so reluctantly, arguing that Jay wasn’t using it.  The doctor pointed out the cues that Jay wasn’t done — he’d put the truck down  near him and he sounded upset when Mae picked it up.  She asked Mae what else she could have done to get the truck.  Ask Jay if he was done with it?  Ask for a turn afterwards?  Then, the tears started.  Then, the arguing — she could play with it if she wanted to because he wasn’t using it.

Jay and I went to the reception area and left Mae and Dr. Laura behind the closed door to try to work it out.  I don’t think it worked at all.  The crying continued except for a short break until the session ended.  By that point, Mae had decided that Dr. Laura was mean and she never wanted to see her again.  Frankly, I was a little surprised and disappointed that the doctor couldn’t turn the situation around.  I’ve seen this behavior at home, and I can intervene without a meltdown ensuing.  Maybe Mae was more dug in because it was her first such encounter with Dr. Laura.  I’m not ready to break up with the doctor just yet, though I did have a moment when I thought, “$150 for this?  I can do better for free at home.”  I should avoid judging too quickly.

So, one and a half weeks until school starts.  New teacher, new after school program.  Maybe the same social skills, maybe not.  I expect the beginning will be rough for Mae.  Hopefully, she’ll adjust and find a rhythm before too long.

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