Ever since Archie stepped through those glass doors at the airport and into my arms, things have really been so easy with him. His adjustment has been crazy smooth, to a point where I almost feel guilty because I am not experiencing a lot of the major struggles that other adoptive moms go through. Has it been all rainbows and unicorns? Absolutely not. He has tested us, annoyed us, and frustrated us more than we ever knew we were capable of being frustrated. But those are things that can be expected with any child. A child straight from your own womb, a child without any sort of diagnosed syndrome (other than my personal diagnosis for Ace-- Cantstopdawhinin Syndrome).
So, Archie started Kindergarten in public school three weeks ago. He LOVED it his first week. Everything seemed to be going great, I thought he was settling in and the fairytale would begin. He would make friends, bond with his teachers, do projects, and learn all sorts of new and exciting things. But somewhere along the way, it turned ugly. I got a phone call from his one of his aides last week, and although she tried to be as positive as possible I could tell when she told me in her very sweet voice, "yeah, he is really struggling with some things...", that it wasn't going well.
Of course it is easy to write about all of the cute things Ace and Archie did together, all of the milestones and firsts that we get to share with him, the funny things both kids say. But right now the truth is, I am an emotionally drained wreck.
So after I found out that apparently things were not going well for my little man, I went up to his school to find out exactly what all had been going on. And boy was I unprepared for what they had to tell me. The list was long. He had been hitting, spitting on kids, kicking, throwing, running away, standing on tables, yelling "no, no, no" at his teachers, refusing to do any work, refusing to go with his teacher or aide when it was time to transition from one place to the next.
Hearing all of this was so hard. I was a blubbering mess in front of these people who I really didn't even know. This wasn't my sweet boy. He NEVER hits. He and Ace play rough and have "wrestle time" pretty much every day, and she will sometimes play hit him, but he never ever hits back. I have even seen him in various settings be pushed around or hit by other kids (most commonly at the play castle in the mall) and again, he never hits back. Spitting? He knows how to spit? We have never once seen him spit. I was so shocked and confused.
My tears were for Archie. Not for his teachers who he was clearly giving an extremely hard time, and not for the kids who he was obviously pestering (although I am sorry for those things). But something was just not right. Around this time he started not wanting to go to school in the morning. He begged to stay home. "No school, Mommy, please no school. Archie stay home."
I wish so badly that he could communicate to me what it is. I totally understand that this is all so new to him, he is in a big class with 23 kids. I am sure he is overwhelmed, overstimulated, etc. But those behaviors are just so not like him. And he is not a kid with sensory issues. He is often in loud places with lots of other kids around, and he is perfectly happy. I expected that it would take time for him to settle in and calm down a bit. He is quite "high energy" and all the excitement of a new school and a big classroom with lots of fun things to mess with was bound to have him bouncing off the walls for a bit. But this is different.
Fortunately we are not experiencing any of this at home. I was told when he first started to just be aware that with this big change and him being at school all day and exhausted by the end, that he might start showing some defiance or negative behaviors at home. Well, it has been just the opposite...he is extra sweet and well behaved when he gets home. So that's nice!
This is what we get.....
Apparently this is what they get......
He admits to me everything that he did at school. I read the journal that comes home in his backpack, which is filled with notes on how his day went, and I ask him, "Archie did you throw blocks?". "Yes, Mommy"-- he says with a sad look on his face. "Archie sorry, mommy, Archie sorry." I continue on and he does admit to me that he indeed did the things that the teachers wrote. This is a pretty big breakthrough for him because before when he did something at home (like spilled a drink or drew with marker all over a book) and I asked him about it, he would adamantly deny having anything to do with it, and even blame it on Ace. Or Daddy, or Jessie (our dog). So I am super happy that he is now telling the truth. That is big.
Tomorrow I have a meeting with his principal, teacher, and one of the aides. I am really hoping that we can come up with some sort of behavioral plan for him that will be effective. Archie thrives off of positive reinforcements-- stickers and smiley faces. So we will make a plan, and give it a try for the next couple of weeks. But my heart cannot take many more days of pulling that stinkin' green journal out of his backpack and reading two pages filled with all of the not nice things he did that day.
I am constantly reminding myself that if this is the biggest bump in the road that we have come to, then things are going pretty well. I also have to remind myself of where Archie came from. I find myself forgetting that he spent his first seven years of life in an orphanage. I find myself forgetting that he has Down Syndrome. He is so "typical" that it makes it hard for me to remember those things. He has not even been home six months and the progress he has made is absolutely mind blowing. I cannot imagine where he will be in another six months.
Tomorrow is another day....
Lots of Love!