My 13 year old adopted son, E, is not and never will be a morning person. Of course, neither am I. This makes getting him ready for school a very stressful endeavor. He doesn’t like to be rushed and yet, he likes getting the “rush” that goes with leaving things to the last minute. This includes getting dressed in time to get on the school bus which does not always arrive at the same time. It is obvious to you and me, but not to him. He has severe anxiety disorder along with sensory integration dysfunction and a huge executive functioning deficit which impacts time management. The bus arrives at our door anytime between 8:23am and 8:45am, depending on the prevailing weather conditions. E hates uncertainty.
As the child of an OCD/anxiety ridden mother, I am very prone to overreaction. My husband is much more easy going and better suited to handle E’s anxiety. For years, I was the one getting him up and ready for school; often with disastrous results. This year, my husband, Martin, offered to get him up and dressed while I either stay in bed or stay out of the way and it has been working very well.
This morning was a typical morning. E had trouble waking up and getting out of bed. We sent our rockstar kitten, Sergeant Sunshine, downstairs to wake him up. It’s always best if Sarge wakes him up. We never imagined when we got 2 tiny kittens a year and a half ago that they would end up being “therapy kittens”. E adores them and they provide a huge amount of comfort for him. Mr Whiskers is a special needs cat, go figure, but I’ll leave that tale for another time. E emerged at 8:10am and announced that he was going to have a shower. Good concept, not so good on the timing. If I was there, I would have screamed “OMG, you’re having a shower, NOW?”. Up until 3 months ago, we had a lot of trouble getting E to take showers; this is a boy who loves getting wet, swimming, eating snow, rolling in snow and jumping in puddles. He used to shower twice a week and he REALLY smelled bad a lot of the time. You know your child stinks when another adult mentions it. Now he showers every other day and sometimes every day, so we don’t want to discourage him from showering. Martin simply responded “OK”, praying to the “bus Gods” that his shower would be brief and that the bus would arrive on the later side. Unfortunately, the bus arrived at 8:25am and E did not have his shoes and socks on. It was “panic stations” while E screamed at Martin “untie my boots and give me a dollar”. But, to give him credit, E did get himself together and got on the bus.
You have to understand that even 2 months ago, the outcome in the same situation probably would have been different; he would have become overwhelmed and refused to get on the bus, announcing he wasn’t going to school. This has happened many times in the past. I would get up, get dressed and spend the next hour trying to convince E to get in the car and go to school. Sometimes he would refuse to go. The last time he refused to go, he locked himself in my room and Martin kicked the door in. E was so shocked, that he went to school. We only live 6 blocks from school, but it is best if he takes the bus and I am not involved in transporting him.
At 8:40am, I emerged to find out if “it was safe” to come out. Martin relayed the story and told me I would have “gone nuts” if I was there. I thanked him and wished him a very happy birthday. Today is Martin’s 59th birthday. There is a very good reason NOT to have a young child when you are pushing 60!