Monday, October 20, 2014

October 20th Reconvening

Welp ... many of you have asked about Ellie and how our meeting with the school went today.

I reconvened with her teacher, principal, vice principal and school behavioral specialist today. (Thought it was gonna be the school psychologist but I misunderstood.)

Ellie's behavior has not improved. It has maintained in some aspects and in others only gotten worse. She is very inept and inappropriate; she talks about stuff that doesn't make sense, starts singing when the teacher is teaching, gets up from her chair and walks to the book nook when it's time for independent work (so class room work doesn't get done), refuses to talk/answer when being assessed for her monthly progress report (basically will not count to 20 or say ABCs for her teacher), is touchy-feely and just in others' personal space all the time, even though she is touchy-feely with the kids she would prefer to play by herself at play free time or recess, runs with scissors, has daily screaming fits, is easily angered or enraged, mentally "checks out" sometimes like she is thinking really hard then just interrupts to start talking about something off subject, etc., ... stuff like that. I think it's starting to spill over into home and church life. Ellie never used to behave as bad as she does at church now - at least if she did no one told me - but I'd say even her behavior in Sunday school and especially Wednesday night class has only gotten worse since she started school.

I requested an S-team meeting. The only time/day we can do it is 3 p.m. Nov. 11. That's a Tuesday so that will be a busy day for me, but I'll make it work. There is no temporary plan in place at this time and no other plan. This IS our only next step right now.

Reward systems are short-lived. Bribery doesn't work. Taking her toys away hasn't worked here at home. In fact, I have resorted to giving her old fashioned over my knee spankings when she comes home with bad reports. I know that may seem harsh or heavy-handed, but I really don't know what to do anymore. I am at my wit's end with this kid.

I knew at least a year or two ago that behavior issues may come up with her, but I never would've imagined this. I am overwhelmed. I don't know what else to do. Spanking her hurts me as much as it hurts her, but I am beginning to feel helpless and out of options.

Academically, I couldn't be prouder. If I understand her teacher right, there were 80 students in her school who, according to their report cards, scored higher than grade level. Ellie was number 79 (and I think she said Ellie was the only kindergartner who did)! And we have small progresses in other areas. Like going into school for example. Ellie walked herself into school all last week and today as well. So we have graduated to car-rider drop-off line! That's a major milestone. But again, it's one of those one-step-forward-two-steps-back kind of things.

So for now, this is where we're at. I'll update again in two weeks.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Ellie Update (Since Conferencing w/Teacher and Principal)

My last post was Thursday, Aug. 28. Ellie came home with a smiley face sticker that day and a green mark. She got Monk Monk back.

(Her school has a color system. Green is where all kids start out every day. Green means "ready to learn," and they can move up or down from there. Red, orange or yellow are colors that indicate you were very well behaved. Blue, light blue or purple are colors that indicate you behaved badly. If ever I say Ellie received bad marks I mean she got a blue, light blue or purple mark.) That Friday she got a blue mark. I don't even remember what for at this point. But honestly, I decided not to punish her with any usual method because I was not sure how effective it would've been over the weekend. I was out of inspiration as to new forms of discipline as well. I just left it as is and tried to enjoy my holiday weekend with her.

The following Monday was Labor Day so there was no school. The next day she came home with a green mark and earned back some dinosaurs. Wednesday she woke up throwing up, so she missed school and I missed work. Thursday and Friday she came home with smiley faces and green marks and got her Lincoln Logs back. And since technically by Friday she had earned an entire week's worth of smiley faces (granted a 3-day week), she got to pick a reward from the jar. She chose the movie Frozen, so we bought the movie and had a girls' night in. Monday and Tuesday continued smoothly, but then came Wednesday!

Wednesday, Sept. 10: At lunch time, Ellie decided to pour a carton of milk over another child's head for no reason - well, she says it was to be funny, but it was definitely not funny. Her teacher actually called me this time. I don't know if Ms. Glasgow was trying to call me to come get Ellie because maybe they were actually going send her home for that antic or if they just felt like this warranted a phone call. Luckily for Ellie, I was at work late that day for another training and could not answer my phone. So unfortunately for them, her teacher and the school were forced to keep her there and figure it out. The last thing I want is to see her get suspended, but I have no doubt they would do it if they felt like they had to.

I felt so defeated at this news. I had done all I knew to do and it was not working. I am losing my patience with this child! But all I can think to do is nothing. I mean, I talked to her about her day and encouraged her to talk out her feelings, but by this time I seriously didn't know what more to do. Then on top of that, by Friday, she came home with yet another note that read, "Ellie earned back to green today, but had some trouble with hair-pulling and hitting." I give! I mean I give up! Once again I just try to enjoy my weekend with her.

So this Monday came. The significance about Monday is that I had a conference with Ellie's teacher, principal and assistant principal to discuss what to do for her. We all just want to see her do well - to see her get it and succeed. We bounced behaviors and suggestions off each other and at the end of it all came away with a new rewards system that I am to try here at home (on top of out rewards systems already in place). It's one that Ms. Glasgow has initiated in the classroom and seems to be working. Basically, she drew a line on a clear disposable cup and every time Ellie does something she is asked to do the first time she is asked, Ms. Glasgow places a bear in the cup. When Ellie has earned enough bears to meet the line she gets to choose from a variety of activities. The idea of the "bear cup" is to help Ellie learn to follow directions by doing what she is told the first time. If we also implement the "bear cup" here at home, we will create consistency for Ellie and she will "get it" more quickly - we hope! :) We are also going to try "picture schedules" with her so that she understands transitions throughout the day better, because she seems to be having a hard time moving from activity to activity or from classroom time to lunch time. It is laminated pictures of each activity (i.e., rug time, story time, recess, lunch, etc.). Each picture has a small piece of Velcro on it's corner. There is a little man who starts out each day at the first activity of the morning. When it is time to move to another activity, Ellie gets to move the little man to the next picture. The hope is that Ellie will have less anxiety about transitioning and obviously to make the transition more fun and less of a struggle.

And to address the separation anxiety that has increased since Cockrill started Independent Week (the week parents stop walking kids to class) we decided that it is best for her in the long run if we keep doing what we are doing, which right now is I drop her off in the lobby, give her a quick kiss and hug with a "Have a great day! Mommy loves you!" and walk away. Someone else will take over from there and get her to class. I do have to walk her into the school because Ellie won't even cross the threshold of the building unless I do it with her. To start walking her to class again at this point would only be working backwards. So as hard as it seems to be on Ellie, we will just continue in this particular struggle until it is no longer a struggle. :-/

Here's where I really need your prayers: Ellie seems to be socially inept most of the day at school. It seems she doesn't want to play with other kids therefore she is not getting along with them. In her ineptness she is either mean to them to kids to get them to leave her alone, because she doesn't want to play with them - she just wants them to get away from her. :-/ Unfortunate but true. And it makes sense because she is an only child and has always had the company of adults. When she's not being mean but rather decides she does want to make friends, she apparently thinks that being a class clown is the way to gain friendship. Every time Ellie misbehaves with bully-like antics and gets what she deems as a positive response of other kids laughing, it sends the signal that this is how you have friends - this is how you act to have other kids like you. What's not clicking for her is how she is isolating another child and causing them social distress.

Please continue to pray that Ellie will keep her hands to herself and be loving and kind at all times. This is the area where the school is losing their patience with Ellie. This behavior is what can get her suspended. Following directions and learning to transition are skills that can continue to be worked on inside the classroom, but mean, bully-like behavior is not tolerated - understandably!

Will update further when I can.


Monday, September 1, 2014

Baby News ... ORIGINAL POST DATE 11-15-2008

Okay so, I thought if I'm gonna have a blog about being a mama then I will start from the beginning. I couldn't find a way to merge my old blog with this new one so I am copy pasting them. I REPEAT: THIS IS A COPY PAST FROM 6 YEARS AGO. I AM NOT PREGNANT AT THIS PRESENT TIME. Just wanna make that clear. :-)

"Baby News"
Original post date: Saturday, November 15, 2008 ...

Yes, I'm pregnant!

I didn't mention it in the last blog b/c we were trying to wait til we were out of the woods - or at least at the edge of them! I am 10 weeks and 5 days as of today. We got pregnant within the first month of marriage. Of course we were not planning that, but now that this new life is growing inside of me I wouldn't have it any other way. I would've never imagined getting pregnant would be so easy for me, but ... I guess we know now just how fertile we are. (Hopefully we won't end up with as many kids as my Davis cousins. Hee hee. LOL! I'm just kidding. I love you guys!).

Yesterday was so amazing. That was my first ultra sound. In these first few weeks, I have been in kind of a state of shock. I have found being pregnant hard to believe, but yesterday made it all so real to me - and to Robert. He's not the pregnant one so it's hard for him to get as excited as I have been. Yesterday finally put us on the same level.

And I am so in love with this little person who I don't even know yet! I can't wait to see who this baby looks more like - me or Robert. I definitely can't wait to know what sex it is. I think it's a girl but we'll see. I could be wrong. So ... anyway ... every body just keep us in your prayers. We still have a long way to go. We'll update more soon.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

On This The 16th Day Of School ...

So my first word for my first blog on the subject of being Ellie's Mama is WOW! I had no idea so many people were following me or the Facebook posts I make about Ellie, but ... WOW! That's all I can say!My sister-in law told me yesterday that a co-worker of hers is waiting to hear the next update about Ellie. And I have had folks that follow my public posts write me to encourage me or ask how she's doing.So in light of all the curiosity, I have started this blog. I promise I will try to make all entries shorter than my usual ramblings. Well .. all future entries. :-)I give my Facebook followers my apologies that you've been left hanging over the past few days; I have been super busy with some job training.Okay, without further ado, here is your long awaited "Ellie update," as we are now calling them. Let's recap: We implemented the rewards jar system the weekend before last. We told Ellie that she had to came home from school with a week's worth of smiley-face stickers if she wanted to earn something from the jar.She came home last Monday with a note about bad behavior again, so already that week's chances of a reward were shot. I figured she may need to have daily goals in place in order to make the weekly goal more attainable.Before I can come up with what those daily rewards should be, I take her to school the next day, Tuesday, and her teacher informs me of just how bad she was to earn that note. The week before it was pinching, yelling, throwing puzzle pieces - aimlessly or at others - and disrupting music class (a place where usually you are encouraged to be noisy). I'm told what happened that Monday was that she pushed another student. Basically, the class was lining up to go to lunch and the other student - a husky little fella - "got in her space." So ... she turned around and pushed him out of it! Problem was - aside from not keeping her hands to herself - was that he didn't expect the push, so it literally knocked him off his feet and into the other eight students standing behind him. I'm told they all went down like bowling pins! Of course I take this seriously, but on the inside I'm chuckling just a bit at the visual.But again, I do take this seriously because she can't continue to behave this way socially; my inside chuckling quickly turned to discouragement as I drive back home. Nothing I was doing seemed to be working: time-outs, spankings, taking away privileges - nothing. It was time for more earnest prayers and drastic measures. So I went home, cried, prayed, and then took most every toy she owns out of her room; I put them all away for safe keeping. They are tucked in tight at the top of my closet where she can see them but can't reach them. I left her Monk Monk because he is her absolute comfort, some crayons and coloring books, some dolls that she NEVER plays with and her TV. I couldn't take everything for storage reasons. Plus I needed something left for leverage should she decide not to comply after this point.Of course she was livid when she came home, but she seemed to understand that if she wanted it all back she had to earn it one toy at a time with good behavior.The next day, Wednesday of that week, she came home with a note about "slapping at lunch table." I asked her about it and she admitted that she slapped another friend across the face. Knowing that if I ask her why she did it she would just say she didn't know, I asked her if she was mad about something. She explained that she did it trying to be funny. I told her we don't slap friends when trying to be funny, because chances are no one interprets slaps from supposed friends as funny. With that antic she lost Monk Monk.At this point I'm thinking something's gotta give. She needs to see her own progression as well as her own decline. So Thursday while at the Parent Teacher Store with my boss, I picked up an actual rewards chart that you might see in the classroom. I grabbed some reusable smiley-face stickers so that we can make our home reward chart look just like her homework/behavior folder from her teacher.

She came home that day with a smiley face and a note that read "We had a much better day today!" I let her pick where she wanted the reward chart hung and as long as she comes home with smiley faces, she gets to put them on the chart herself. So guess which toy she wanted back? Yep! And I guess Monk Monk could be the key, but I like to think that all the praying I did (and am still doing) is coming to fruition.Thursday and Friday of that week and Monday of this week she has come home with smiley faces. I'm thinking, "Finally! I've found what works!"Nope!Fast-forward to Tuesday of this week. Another note! This time it read, "Ellie had a hard day following directions." So I took Monk Monk again thinking that would nip this week's behavior in the bud. Did it? No!Yesterday's note read, "Ellie really had a hard time staying with the class and not hiding in the room." Apparently, Ellie will just spontaneously jump from her seat to go hide (usually in the book nook). Then on top of that, I'm told she behaved rather badly at church last night. (I was at church, but it was my first night in the youth room. She was left to "test" her daddy's limits. Not my intent, but she saw the opportunity.)So ... last night we took from her the toys that she had earned back Thursday and Friday of last week as well as her TV, and of course she still has not earned Monk Monk back. We explained to her that when (not if) she comes home with smiley faces she can have her toys back (one at a time still), and when (not if) she learns to behave in church she can have her TV back.Now I'm back to feeling rather discouraged. I just wished that along with that bad behavior note the teacher could tell me just one good thing my kid did. Ya know ... something like, "Ellie had a hard day today following directions, but helped a friend pick up toys." Otherwise I feel I am only reinforcing her bad behavior these days. It's like when she gets home we discuss her bad behavior, but never what she did good. I can't reinforce good behavior if I don't know about it. I wrote the teacher a letter to that affect. So I guess we'll see how today goes.
In the meantime, I am asking God to show me today how to be loving and nurturing toward her rather than harsh. This is a difficult adjustment for her - her more so than me. I'm asking him to allow me to see her need - to see her as he does - and to show me how to almost blindly praise good behavior while not giving much more attention to the bad. ###