Ah, Monday, glorious Monday. Monday is a four-letter word in the Madhouse and not the good kind like “good” or “kind”. No, no. The word Monday is liken to an Arabian curse in the Madhouse and today was no exception.
There was a thunderstorm in our area first thing this morning which caused me to suffer from a wicked headache. I chose to stay in bed and enjoy the percussion concert going on inside my cranium while my mom (God bless my dear mother) got the kids up and moving and ready for school. My daughter, whom I lovingly refer to as Princess Dawdle, was actually up and moving with nary a negative word out of her mouth. My son, on the other hand, “got his Irish Up”, as my grandfather used to say, dug in his heels and was adamant he was too sick to go to school. (My son plays the “I’m sick” card a lot. He could get a paper cut and he’d be too sick to go to school.)
Both my children are bussed to school but because of the downpour my mom offered to drive them so they wouldn’t get drenched while waiting for the bus. After dropping off Rian, she returned home with my son, Alexi, in tow. Alexi claimed he was far too ill to be in the classroom. He had a stomachache, a headache, diarrhea (he went to the bathroom once all morning) and a sore throat. There was no possible way he could attend classes. After all, he’d probably make everyone else sick and we wouldn’t want to cause an epidemic.
After giving him my most impressive “Mom look” (you know the one that says I-smell-a-whole-lot-of-poo-and-we’re-not-in-the-barnyard-and-I’m-not-wearing-hip-waders-so-let’s-get-down-to-the-nitty-gritty-right-now) and he finally admitted to feeling anxious. Mom later explained that he did, in fact, suffer a severe anxiety attack in the car. I checked to make sure he had taken his medications, one of which is for anxiety, and he had eaten a decent breakfast – yes to both. I then asked him the “feeling questions” – What do you think is causing the anxiety? How do you feel about going to school? Are you afraid you are going to be bullied? His answer to all of them – “I don’t know”. He’s only 11, I thought I had at least another year before the “I don’t knows” started. *sigh*
I explained to him that the best way to overcome feelings of anxiety was to do the thing that is causing the anxiety, in this case, go to school. I got up and got dressed, sent out a quick e-mail to the counselors to let them know what was happening and hustled him out to the car. Fortunately, one of the counselors called immediately, reassured me that getting him to the school was the best thing for him and offered to meet us there. YAY! I was going to have back-up. If you only take one word of advice from me take this one – never turn down back-up.
The entire 5-minute car ride to the school consisted of Alexi proclaiming his intention to go into the school to return a book to the teacher and then go straight home. He was not staying at school. He was not going to class. He was not. He crossed his arms over his chest, stuck out his chin and added a “Hummph” for emphasis. As far as my handsome, little boy was concerned the decision was final. I gave up trying to argue with him. Ever tried convincing a brick wall that it’s not a brick wall that instead it’s a feather? Yeah, that’s about how successful arguing with my children is. (I could say they come by the stubborn-streak honestly enough from their father’s side, which is true, but they hit the genetic jackpot and got it from me too.)
I pulled into the school parking lot around 11ish and met Alexi’s teacher at the front entrance to the school. (I don’t know how he knew we’d arrived, but thank God he was there.) So I convinced Alexi to go for a walk with his teacher while I went to the office to sign him in. OK, I shoved the kid out the office door and told him I’d be right there. Yup, I lied. I won’t be getting the Mother of the Year Award anytime soon anyway, what’s more one little deception?
The counselor hadn’t arrived yet so I took a seat in one of the rocking chairs outside the office and waited for her. She came about 5 minutes later and I told her what had happened. She assured me that I had done the right thing bringing Alexi to school and sending him off with the teacher. I heaved a sigh of relief. I’m always left with a Cruella-DeVil-I’ve-just-skinned-your-puppy type of feeling after pushing my kids in a direction they don’t want to go. So when someone else, especially a mental health professional, tells me I’ve done the right thing I feel a whole lot better.
The counselor and I sat in the office for about 15 minutes and discussed what could have caused the anxiety and what steps should be taken to prevent this kind of behaviour in the future. As the counselor pointed out, the anxiety is real but Alexi needs to learn to how to face it and work through it. He can’t stay home from life. She advised me to remove his screens privileges for the same amount of time he was late for school. This balanced consequence should help to discourage him from trying to stay home when it isn’t really necessary.
It’s after 3:00 pm and I haven’t had a call from the school so this is a good sign. It doesn’t mean he hasn’t tried, it just means he’s been waylaid by Mrs. S., the school secretary. When Alexi goes to the office to call home Mrs. S. tells him “Mom can’t pick you up and Grammie’s not available.” Mrs. S. also tells him that unless he vomits on the floor in front of her, he has to go back to class. She’s one tough cookie, but I know she has his best interest at heart and I’m grateful for her support.
Monday, Monday so good to me. Not this Monday, maybe next Monday. Maybe next Monday will be the best Monday ever. Oh, it’s Hallowe’en next Monday – free candy!!! Yup, next Monday’s promising to be a good Monday.