Wednesday, July 29, 2009

There Was a Little Girl, Part II

So, we changed schools and everything got better. Or so we thought. Oh sure, the afternoon teacher would occasionally report about some misbehavior, but we thought it was more about the type of teacher that she was than it was about Punkin. She seemed to relish telling us all the sordid details of Punkin's misbehavior. One day, she launched into her litany without even saying hello to Mr. Daddy (who now does the pickups and the drop offs! Woot!). Mr. Daddy fired back "Well, what did she do that was good today?" I was so proud of him.

And then that Friday, our house of cards came crashing down. I went to the class luau where I found out that Punkin's behavior had not improved at all. In fact, it sounded as though it had gotten worse! Not only was she still having tantrums on a regular basis, but she rarely participated in group activities. One day she got so upset at being asked to join in that she actually crawled under a table and cried until she almost threw up (she does that, if you remember.)

This behavior coupled with the fact that Punkin often came home and said that nobody would play with her broke my heart. Mr. Daddy and I talked it over until we were blue in the face, going round and round in circles about what we should do. I began to wonder if she suffered from some sort of social anxiety. Or maybe some kind of sensory disorder and the noise of group activities was too overwhelming for her. Or maybe it was low blood sugar? Or maybe she's just a bad kid? The last one was the one I couldn't really let myself think. It had to be one of the other ones, right? Something fixable? Or diagnosable? Maybe she just needed a good snack?

In my mind, this problem became gigantic. It took over everything else in my mind. See, the problem is that even though I like to think of myself as an optimistic person, when something goes wrong I tend to imagine the worst possible outcomes. I kept imagining her getting kicked out of her preschool, or ending up hating school because her days were so miserable. And I worried about the lack of participation. When she gets to pre-k she won't have the option to not participate. And if she doesn't participate in kindergarten she'll be labeled a problem child. If she's labeled a problem child she'll end up a juvenile delinquent. If she's a juvenile delinquent she'll be pregnant at sixteen with a drug addicted boyfriend. You see how my mind works. And no, it's not easy being me.

Eventually Mr. Daddy and I decided that we needed to see a child psychologist because I just felt like there was something wrong. It just seemed like a huge problem and I didn't know what to do anymore. Bubba was SO not this way. He is an easy child. She is not. So we made an appointment, but you know how those things go -- or maybe you don't. First you have to have an intake appointment where you tell them why you're seeking help and they ask lots of questions and you fill out some forms. It just so happened that my intake appointment was the week before July 4th, so a good bit of time passed before we heard from our psychologist.

In the meantime, Punkin's teacher made a suggestion. Although she gave out weekly rewards from the prize box, she suggested that Punkin get her very own prize box to pick from if she participated in group activities. What the heck, it was worth a shot, right? So, Punkin and I went to Party City and loaded up on all kinds of trinkets, girly and otherwise. Then we went to Michael's and picked out a hot pink and zebra striped box (seriously, y'all, she a girl after my own heart -- the wilder the better!). And on the following Monday we implemented The Plan. Upon entering the classroom she gets to pick her prize, and if she meets her participation goal then she gets to keep the prize.

Y'all. You wouldn't believe the turnaround. She immediately started participating. She even played Drop It, a game where they play music and everybody has to drop to the floor when the music stops(aka Drop It Like It's Hot, a name that amuses me more than it probably should). It was like a freakin' miracle. Who knew a bunch of plastic crap could make such a difference?

However, it began to seem that her participation was inversely proportional to her behavior. Her tantrums and her acting out actually got worse as her participation improved. And then one morning at work, my phone rang. It was the Assistant Director of the School calling to tell me that they had had to remove Punkin from the classroom because she was getting physical with her friends. If she wasn't getting her way, she was pushing and hitting.

The AD and I talked for a while about what our plan of action was going to be and then she made me talk to Punkin on the phone. When I heard her little voice on the other end, my heart just cracked right in two. I held it together until we hung up but then I just cried. I wanted nothing more than to run over there and pick her up and hold her. I wanted to take her home and hide away with her, just the two of us. I knew she was sad and confused. But I also knew that that wouldn't solve the problem.

I hate to cut this into another part, but this is seeming really long to me, so I'll finish up tomorrow. I promise there's a happy ending!


calicobebop said...

Poor little Punkin! It must have been an awful time for you both. I'm glad there is a happy ending!

ImpostorMom said...

i got all teary there at the end. :(

el-e-e said...

Oh my gosh, my heart. You poor thing. I am dying to read the end and know that Punkin's all better.

Hang in there, Mama. I SO know how you are feeling in this post. Haven't written one thing about it on my blog, but we've been going through a somewhat similar process. Minor. But still.

Katie in MA said...

Thank goodness you said there was a happy ending, because *my* heart is breaking for you and Punkin!