Tuesday, February 21, 2006

[random] Unexplored region, indeed

original map photo, iStockPhoto - Copyright: nick belton [Warning - long multi-part parenting-related post with boring self-absorbtion and introspection ahead.
  • Part 2
  • Part 3
  • You have been warned.]
    So, the last few weeks have been... interesting. There is, as there must be with a lead-in like that, a back story here. When The Boy finished preschool last spring (a Montessori-lite environment), he had glowing reviews from his teachers, even from the lead teacher, whom he had sorely vexed on many an occasion. You see, The Boy ain't quite right - mostly in good ways, but some that are, shall we say, less than adaptive. He's really smart, and quite good at figuring out what your buttons are, and he's not above pressing them for yucks. He's also not afraid of adults in the slightest, and expects to not be talked down to. That will piss him off mightily - and then the aforementioned button pushing comes in. But by and large, his teachers thought the world of him and had nothing but praise and great expectations for him upon entering kindergarten. Are you sensing impending doom here? If not, adjust the volume on your set, perhaps you're missing the soundtrack here, creepy strings forshadowing doom, doom, DOOM, DOOOOOM! And doom it was. Not big, hairy, major doom like pillars of fire from the sky or anything like that. No, this was more of a subtle, creeping doom: a lot of aggression and acting out, regressive behavior, and generally being (it seemed) willfully ignorant of the social mores of his peer group. If The Boy wanted to wear his balaclava pulled down so that he could play superhero (despite temperatures in the low 60s), then dammit! he was going to. The after-school program at his new school didn't work out at all; he was in a lot of conflict with both the director and some of the older kids, and was being pretty aggressive to boot. None of this squared with his behavior at home, so where the hell do you intervene? There's only so much one can do with delayed consequences... so we found some after-school alternatives, juggled our schedules, and pulled him from the program. Things got somewhat better, but he was still getting into a lot of trouble. He was disruptive in the classroom, and he was drawn to a small cadre of boys who were USDA Prime Grade A shit-stirrers. Oy. One other parent remarked to me in passing that The Boy seemed 'to have a bit of the class clown in him'; one of his classmates made a comment about him not having many friends. Since we spend time in the classroom on a weekly basis and can actually see what he's doing, you'd think that he'd moderate his behavior in our presence, wouldn't you? You'd be wrong. We began to suspect that he was bored more than anything else, so we signed him up to be tested for the Advanced Learning Program, and started the ball rolling to have him evaluated by an outside psychologist, just in case. I suppose 'suspect' isn't quite the right word - 'hope' is probably a better one. I mean, we already knew that he was really smart, so acting out out of boredom certainly seemed to be within the realm of possibilities. 'Hope' is also accurate in this regard: the alternatives (ADHD, some kind of conduct disorder, etc.) weren't pretty. That was a month ago... The results, as they say, are now in. [To be continued...]

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