Work with me, please.



TGIF! I’m so grateful this week is over and ending with a holiday on top. And, I’m grateful to all veterans of the U.S. Armed Services not only for this day off, but also for their service and sacrifices.

Even with only four days of work and school, the week was long and trying. Mae started Monday morning with a meltdown in early care followed by episodes of arguing with her teacher and classmates during the day. Her teacher emailed me in the afternoon to tell me about the arguing, which ultimately resulted in a shortened recess for Mae. She’s been arguing a lot more at home in the past few weeks too. I’d noticed it and had been trying to figure out how to address it. It’s beyond her trying to be persuasive or pressing her point. It’s a quick response of “no” as soon as she hears an instruction or anything that she finds objectionable, which is a lot of stuff. It’s “no” in an automatic, toddler way. This is frustrating and annoying beyond measure. I didn’t realize until Monday’s email that it had been happening at school too. Poor teacher. As I talked to Mae about it during the week in a moment of calm — when she is oh so rational — she said with a smile that sometimes she says “no” as a joke or a test. That’s good to know. Did it make me feel better? No!

I emailed Mae’s therapist to schedule a phone call early next week and put this high on our list of things to talk about at the next visit.

Tuesday was a mixed day at school for Mae, though better than Monday. Wednesday started poorly with Mae throwing a toy at a classmate after a disagreement. Later in the day, she knocked a ball from another classmate’s hands because she didn’t like that he wanted her to stop squeezing a toy that she knows makes an annoying sound. I also learned on Wednesday that Mae had been issued an after-school suspension for an incident the previous Friday where she had attempted to pull a friend from a seat that she felt belonged to her. As we discussed all of this Wednesday evening, Mae told me that she “had to” pull K from the chair because she had been sitting there first. I was stunned. I asked Mae if she tried anything else, and she said that she had asked K to move and that didn’t work. I asked if there was anything else she could have done, and she said very quietly, “Tell the teacher.”

So, her emotions have been getting the best of her lately and she’s been more strong-willed than we’ve seen her in a while. I think this is a hump that she’ll get over and then get back to some of the growth and maturity that we had been seeing until recently. She had drop-in aftercare at the school on Monday, and the aftercare teacher, who had not seen Mae in a while, said to me at pick-up, with eyes stretched, “She’s growing up. She’s more mature.” So, I know she’s capable. I need to dust off some of my parenting books and give myself some refresher lessons to help her get back on track.

Jay has been doing well. His reading has been coming along nicely. The best part is his enthusiasm about learning to read. You can see the pride on his face and hear the excitement in his voice when he figures out how to say what he sees on the paper. Mae learned how to read without much help and gained fluency so fast that we didn’t get to experience the learning process in this way. It’s amazing how they are each giving us gifts in their own way.

My highlight of the week was my very first real mediation as a mediator, not the person in the room trying to keep management from doing or saying something crazy. I was nervous beforehand and it helped to have a cool co-mediator and non-hostile parties. So, it went better than I expected and I’m relieved.

I’m on my way now to visit a dear friend in Brooklyn, reclaiming the mini-momcation that I postponed in July. Our weekend itinerary includes only restaurant visits and one one-mile run, to which I reluctantly agreed. The run may well turn into a walk for me. If I can’t talk my way out of it, I might just go Mae on my friend and say “no!”

And, on a final note, I cannot end without commending the Penn State Board of Trustees for saying no to their school president and head football coach. May the affected children and their families soon find peace and may their suffering quickly end.

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