Last week was a tough week in our house. After six snow days, PP did not want to return to school. Third grade has been hard on him. First, there are increased academic expectations that increase his anxiety and decrease his flexibility. Additionally, with no sugar coating, he thinks his teacher hates him. Whether or not she actually does hate him is less important to me than the realization that he must be feeling pretty terrible right now. The combination leads to a perfect storm of “I can’t do its” and bad behavior. Which then leads to big questions. How do we support our kind, smart, funny little guy most effectively while also saying, “Hey, you know, it is never okay to throw chairs, there are going to have to be consequences for doing that”? Parenting is so much more difficult than I ever expected.
We had a big weekend. First, PP was scheduled for his Whittling Chip training in Cub Scouts. This means that he had to attend training to learn to use and care for a pocket knife safely. Sounds like a great plan for a child who has had executive functioning and anger management issues all week. I’ll cut to the chase on this one, PP did really well. He paid attention during the lesson, answered all the questions correctly, and patiently carved his bar of soap into a fish. He didn’t even freak out when I tried to demonstrate the “notch” method and cut half the tail off the fish. He simply said, “it’s okay cluquah, it was an accident, now please get out of my blood circle” and carved the remaining bit of tail into two fins.
Next we had a hockey game. This was PPs first game, he has been practicing with the Montgomery Cheetahs for a little over a year. He has made amazing progress and learned a lot, but honestly the practices have been hit or miss. He participates in his favorite drills, especially sharks and minnows, but he will wander off and play tag with his mentor if he is not so interested in the activity. Fortunately the Montgomery Cheetahs are part of American Special Hockey and their core values are amazing. While players learn about hockey, they also learn about their own capabilities and how to work as part of a team. Last year, he was too anxious to even go watch a Cheetah game forget about participate in one. This year, we had a relatively last minute game planned. It was at the rink where the Capitals practice and PP went there to skate last year. I think being able to visualize the situation really helped him to be calm. I had no idea how the game would go, sometimes getting kids with sensory issues into hockey gear is a bit like putting a cat on a leash. Ten minutes before the game his right pinky toe hurt and he was in tears putting on elbow guards. Usually, at practice, melting down before getting on the ice is not a good sign. I bit my lip as the players followed the coach out to the ice and the parents headed to the stands.
Here is the thing, too often I underestimate PP and his abilities. He was amazing! Somehow some instinct kicked in and he was stealing the puck from the other team, skating with it in the right direction, and passing to other players. In the middle of the game, shortly after a fairly good fall, he hit a wall and lost his focus for a bit, but then he pulled it together and finished strong. He made one goal and had a number of assists. I have absolutely no idea where he learned to play hockey, we don’t watch it, and they don’t really play it in the practice drills. At the end of the game he was on the ice under a player who was at least twice his size. There were a few minutes of worry, but he rallied and was up in time to perform the “good game” ritual.
Hopefully someday, we will learn how to take the confidence he gains from these experience and apply them to school.