Warning: This is a long assed post. Its not boring to me because I lived it but if you want to skip it I understand.
Ah friends. Never was I so glad to see a friday. This means not only did I make it through this hellacious week (cross your fingers that I dont get knifed today) but also today is the day of our cinqo de mayo party in class. The excitement is probably an empty dream as realistically, we will probably end up in time out during the party as is typical for most party days. Apparently the excitement in the room is too much and….well…lets just describe yesterday for you.
-I was very proud of myself for getting there by 9. My pride was short-lived as we had a substitute who didnt give a crap. (She is a behavioral nightmare. We shall call her cheeseburger)
-When I arrived, the perfect storm was playing uno with a different nurse/aide from the emotional support unit. Didnt know it at the time but turns out this nurse has a bit of a disclosure problem and I spent a great part of the day trying to keep PS away from her.
-Everything started so good for us friends. Mrs. S was back and set us up for immediate early work success. Unfortunately, as we were earning the success, the pete/repeat guy who didnt get into the fist fight the first day with hannibal, got into one with Charlie as we were trying to work. It was at that point the red flags should have gone up. Yeah. They didnt.
-We finished reading by earning bonus points, free time, and lots of positive primary reinforcement (that would be tiny pieces of candy, in non-clinical terms).At that point again, should have seen red flags. The weird thing is friends? Tuesday night I was actually in the midst of some bad weather and we did experience calm before the storm. Eerie calm. Like from Hitchcock’s the birds? Trees were completely still. I was totally creeped out. So in retrospect I asked myself, why did I not recognize the calm before the storm in the room? The only thing I can come up with is that it actually wasnt calm in the room at all so I missed the cues.
-It started badly when we were playing uno again. (I got dealt in) Uno is great for impulse control, in case you are wondering. Thats when PS and I found out about the nurse/aide’s disclosure problem. Now, Im no developmental specialist (oh wait yes I am) but does it take two degrees to realize that it is probably not the greatest idea to tell random stories about working at the jail to other adults within earshot of TWELVE KIDS WITH BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS???? Now Im not a huge proponent of “scared straight?” but I can understand the reasoning. Not the case here. This was a discussion of how GOOD THE INMATES HAVE IT!!!! It was at this point that the first drops of rain started to fall.
-First there was the cheating and lying about the game. Thats kind of typical and easily addressed but I bring it up because initially she was not cheating. Around jailtime confessions the cheating began.
-A few minutes later, she saw jailtime buddy eating crackers and asked for a cracker. Now as a parent, I do forbid my kids to beg for food from other people. The routine is if we are somewhere and you are hungry, come talk to me and we will address it together. At the same time, I have nieces, nephews, and friends’ kids who I avidly encourage/force to ask when they want something in my house or (preferably considering I am lazy) get it themselves. And again, at home norm and turnip help themselves or ask/demand what they want. Im telling you this because its not a snippety mom thing, but a therapeutic thing. For PS, its a symptom of boundary violation and she knows its inappropriate. Basically, the consequence is just that she is denied and she is reminded that the behavior is inappropriate. When jailtime buddy went to give her the cracker i intervened. AND SHE FOUGHT ME. No not PS, THE ADULT FOUGHT ME. Finally, she gave over the cracker and told PS she could have it when I said. Which of course was not going to happen but i did not elaborate on that at the time and just stuck it into my pocket when PS wasnt looking (where of course it crumbled into tiny pieces to annoy gill later when he is doing laundry).
-At that point, I needed to prompt her to get ready for music. She does hate music. I was prepared not to argue but to simply give her the option of going or losing the time she’d be in music off recess and the afternoon movie. No problem for me either way. Her choice. Until Jailtime buddy started cajoling her to go. HELLO WE DONT DO THAT HERE! (Please bear in mind, Ted and repeat were screaming at each other about computer expectations throughout the entire uno game). And the wind started blowing.
-She climbed up on a desk and wedged herself between the partitions while laying flat calling out “polly want a cracker” combined with “IM NOT GOING”. And I heard the train whistle of the oncoming tornado.
-Now friends, let me tell you. There is a plan for this behavior. We get her out of the room quickly before she ends up in a fist fight. We do not attempt to bribe her, tell her we are disappointed in her, take away her entire movie and recess in a fit of rage (that would be cheeseburger’s contribution). Thank god for Mrs N and Mrs S who just cut things off and helped me get her out.
-Here is weirdly hopeful part. When we had to take her out, my stomach sunk because I was sure there would be struggling that would require serious intervention (and worse, the serious need to fill out a bunch of forms about what happened later in the day). Instead, she threw her arms around me and let us lead her to the time out room. I think of this as the eye of the storm.
– Now friends, time out has been a bone of contention with the team. Everyone has different ideas about how to proceed. I do have a plan that everyone has reviewed and has supposedly agreed to. When they first immediately deferred to me in the time out room, i was flattered and thought “this is great! they really want to see how ID do the plan!” (It was about 11pm last night when it occurred to me. Holy shit! Maybe they arent following the plan! Maybe they just didnt want me to realize that they are living la vida loca in that time out room) One of the directives is that only the behavior person remains inside with patient unless she becomes too aggressive. They certainly remembered that part and went to stand outside.
-At first we had fifteen minutes of pushing and kicking, paper tearing (Safety warnings in the empty room) and general attention seeking antics. The plan is then that when she decides she is ready to regain control, she goes to the back of the room and remains calm for three minutes, thus proving she is in control.
-She went to the back of the room but did not remain calm for three minutes. She cried hysterically about being ready to go back. Then she would cry about missing her dead pony (she would be the source of the “dont talk about the dead pony” line). She continued to sob for forty five minutes until we got kicked out of time out because hannibal was being dragged in kicking and screaming.
– We went for a walk and processed what happened. We talked about what we could have done differently to avoid the situation. We made a plan for earning back all the lost privileges. We returned to the room and politely but firmly explained to the Cheeseburger that we were going to turn the day around and earn back some of the privileges. Cheeseburger just sniffed disdainfully.
-Friends, after that? PS was a fricking ANGEL. The rest of the class? not so much. The next hour was defined by the speech therapist (who is scared of all of us) trying to give a lesson. PS and I played uno during this lesson mostly because the posse of dysfunction that are her classmates spent the entire lesson screaming obscenities and insults at each other. We played a game called “earplugs” where she would get a piece of candy for every two minutes she went without reacting to the environment AND SHE DID IT.
– As a reward (or more accurately because we are the dirty little secret of the school building, and there was a concert going on where parents would be around so the principal wanted us far away and outside) we were given an entire hour of recess. Sounds like a good thing yes? The aides laughed when I said this and took bets on how long it would be before I started counting the minutes til we went in. I made it seventeen minutes before it became a “how much longer” situation.
And then it was all over. Our girl went off and I went to my next appointment (at the russian gulag).
PS: (this time post script) THANK YOU ALL for the encouraging and validating words yesterday. Its really reinforcing. (of course if you sent me candy that would be more reinforcing…) And note to WSB- I didnt forget about you! (or any bloggy buddies) Ive just had a lot of trouble thinking about things after the most recent bad dreams. Dont worry, Ill come back!