Thursday, January 7, 2010

Natural Consequences

Gabe is always the last one in the car. Any time we have to be anywhere we all ALWAYS end up sitting there waiting for him to get "one more thing". It is annoying and rude and I have yet to figure out a way to make it stop short of driving away and leaving him at home which I think CPS would take issue with. In the morning before school is the worst - I mean he is seriously not motivated to get there anyway (and yes he does it even if we are going somewhere fun). The other kids who are ready and waiting and DON'T want to be late to school end up having to rush to class because he stalled. Last week with his therapist she mentioned something about secondary benefits or a pay off for certain of his behaviours. Not this one. But on Wednesday morning as he is the last one dressed and downstairs I can see it coming and it occurs to me - he likes being in charge of when everyone leaves. When everyone has to wait on him it makes him feel important. He KNOWS we can't go without him. So at breakfast I calmly say to Jason - when you guys are ready to go just head on out. I'll take Gabe whenever he's ready. Now let me also preface all of this by telling you that the night before we had talked about how he is always running behind and we were going to start getting all of his stuff packed up the night before, pick out all his clothes and in general leave nothing to do but eat and get dressed. Of course by the next morning what he picked out to wear wasn't his favorite or wasn't fitting right or whatever. And woudn't you know it, "oh yeah I need pictures for my star of the week poster". So, sure enough Jason heads out with all the kids. Gabe has just barely finished breakfast, has no shoes on and no pictures. I sit calmly with Sweat Pea drinking my coffee and say, "just let me know when you are ready to go, but just know that I am not going to write you a note to be excused for being late." He disappears to get stuff done. He starts complaining about his belt, that it isn't tight enough and I suggest he go get one of the 3 other belts in his drawer. He says he doesn't want to waste time going upstairs, but it makes perfect sense to him to start a search for the leather punch we use on the horse tack. Yes, this is the kind of crazy we live with(: I enjoy my coffee and let him look. He can't find it, gives up and goes to get pictures. He finds some and then heads upstairs, presumably to get one of those other elusive belts. At this point 20 minutes have passed since everyone left. He will not be late if we leave right now. I say nothing because I know if he knew that he would sabotage it. He says, ok let's go, so I calmly get the baby in her car seat, grab my coffee and head out. And we sit...for about five more minutes. I'm fine - I have coffee, and music. I am not stressed. I hear him yell for me from the back door, "MOOOOOOMMMMMM!" I roll down the window, "yes?" He screams with tears and all, "This belt is too tight!" I suggest that he could wear any of the other 5 pair of pants in his dresser that are self tightening and do not require a belt. He disappears. And we wait... Now he is late. He finally gets in (with a completely different pair of jeans on). I don't pull away quickly as I normally would when everyone had been waiting. I just calmly ask, "is that everything?" Yes "Do you have your pictures?" Yes "Do your pants feel good?" Yes "Can you think of anything else you might need?" No

By the time we pull up to the school and he sees that the usual car rider line is gone and he must go in the front door he starts crying. All of a sudden he doesn't feel good, he is going to be sick. I tell him that surely if he throws up in school the nurse will call me and I will come and get him. Finally, he is honest, "I don't want to go in crying!" And I say, "well pull yourself together, you have everything you need, your pants feel good and you probably only missed morning seat work." At this point he looks really pitiful and I actually am starting to want to rescue him. He gets out and walks in. He looked so small and sad walking in there all by himself, but I refused to go in and make an excuse for him. It was HARD. When I got home I emailed his teacher and told her it was an unexcused tardy and that we were trying to let him experience some natural consequences.

This morning he was the first one in the car.

2 comments:

Lindsay said...

Way to go, Heather. Looks like you're "on to something".

Emily said...

You are amazing! I hope I'm half as good of a mom that you are! :) I love you!