I was getting ready for bed on Sunday, January 4. It was the last night of what I thought was going to be a very stressful vacation. Ten days of unstructured time is often challenging for G. As I reflected on our winter break, I realized… it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. Yes, there were moments when I could see the lack of structure provoked some of G’s more challenging behavior. But, there were also times when the lack of structure was great. Days that we (as a family) stayed in our PJ’s til noon. In fact, I realized when I did G’s laundry yesterday, there were a lot more PJ’s to be washed then regular clothes. I guess I let him stay in his PJ’s all day more times than I remember!
In some ways, having that break was calming for me. For ten days, I didn’t have to worry about what was happening at school. Worrying about how the absence of G’s teacher was impacting his behavior. Worrying if he was going to regress even more. For ten days, there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.
As I got ready for bed the last night of vacation, I felt a strange calm. A strong resolve to face whatever was coming head on. The phrase, “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst” entered my thoughts.
The six weeks between New Year’s and President’s Day is typically not a fun time, if you live in New England. There is cold and snow and everything that comes with it. Sidewalks to be shoveled, ice to be salted, boots and hats and gloves to be dragged to school every day and dried out every night. Lather, rinse, repeat. Activities get canceled and plans get changed due to weather and winter colds. Add to that a kid whose behavior has regressed and is having a hard time dealing with bumps in the road, both major and minor. I was dreading it.
But then, I realized, the only thing that can change is me. Yes, there are things about the next six weeks that I can’t change. I can’t change the weather, or the spread of winter colds, or who is teaching in my son’s class. But I can change the amount of love and care I give to myself, the weight of my own expectations, and my own ability to be calm and flexible.
I went to sleep resolved. Whatever happens when we return to school, I can handle it. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. I can take good care of myself either way, so that I can be the wife and mom my family needs.
We walked in to school on Monday morning and discovered G’s teacher present, greeting her first graders with a warm smile. I think everyone in the building heard me cheering, “Ms. L is back! Ms. L is back!!”
I picked G up at the end of the day, and Ms. L. gave me a thumbs up. “He had an awesome first day back at school. Cooperative, flexible, ready to learn!”
The afternoon flew by like a dream. Backpacks unpacked, snack consumed, homework completed. No muss, no fuss. Cooperative, flexible, cheerful. All the things I’d been missing for six weeks.
That’s when it hit me. It had been six weeks since G had last been cooperative. Six weeks since he’d been flexible. Six weeks since he’d been bursting with the joy and cheer that are characteristic of my little guy.
I’d been so focused on dealing with the tantrums and managing the regression. I’d been so focused on how much I disliked the behavior of the new G, that I hadn’t realized how much I was missing the real G. The G I knew was in there, but wasn’t seeing.
Welcome back, my dear, sweet G. I missed you so much, and I’m so happy to have you back.
And welcome back to wonderful Ms. L. Thank you for bringing so much joy to our children’s lives. Wishing you all the love and care I can possibly send to you.