Saturday, March 19, 2005

I'm a bad mommy

To my daughter, at least. Last night I took Geoff to cub scouts, and it didn't get out until 7:30. Part of me is relieved to not sit through the play tonight. Another part of me wishes I had gone.

That part of me is the part that doesn't enjoy 10 noisy, disrespectful boys joking around about peeing behind trees and in the ocean.

They're working on their world conservation badge, and the entire discussion this meeting was about "leave no trace" outdoor front-country behaviors. And they all decided that in addition to trashing your trash, and "managing your pet" (which means, pick up your dog crap, even if you're in the 18,000 acre forest...) but that you should pee in a bottle and carry it around with you all day. And then stop and pee some more. And make sure you bring your pee back to a potty and flush it.

And this went on and on for over 20 minutes. With hysterical giggling and tittering each time one of them mentioned pee. Geoff sang a song about peeing in the ocean. I think the den mother was going to have an aneurysm, but she held it together. God bless her, I couldn't have done it.

As badly as I wanted a beer last night, tonight was tenfold.

I'm not sure what it is, but this was the worst behaved these guys have been since we started the year. I think we all need a break. Hopefully Battleship Cove won't be, as Michael referred to it in an email to me as "The worst night of my life." Hopefully Geoff and Doug will survive it.

I'm glad I'm not going.

When I picked Jessie up last night, she informed me that everyone was really downtrodden during and after the performance. During the school day on Friday, a bunch of students who had attended the Thursday night opening performance had told all the other kids how bad the play sucked, how everyone sang horribly, the story was gay, the entire thing sucked.

So the entire cast got very defensive, and very angry. Some kids who had told them that they sucked were actually IN the audience, heckling.

I can't freaking believe that these kids showed up and spent five dollars to heckle.

The good thing is, they're out five bucks and the arts association pockets it. They can heckle all the hell they want. Assholes.

So, Jessie said they're going to try harder tonight. While they were backstage, everyone had pretty much given up. She tried to rally the troops, but they weren't having it.

I feel so badly for these kids. What the hell is wrong with people? I swear if I hear one heckling little dingus I'm hauling his or her ass out of there and bitchslapping them verbally in the hall. Grrr.

Don't incur my wrath, punkass.

Speaking of punkasses... At the beginning of March, I met (and Geoff did too) with a behavioral psychologist to talk about Geoff's problems with behavior at school. He had some suggestions to put into play immediately, and wants to send a colleague up to the school to spend time observing Geoff.

One of the things he suggested was reinstituting a behavior chart. A rewards program, but making sure that Geoff knows at the beginning of the day what is expected of him, and also making sure that he at least gets SOME reward even if he has a bad day, so that he doesn't feel totally defeated.

For instance, mornings are great for Geoff. He comes to school, he's on task, he does his work quietly, he is a good citizen, he behaves well.

Then, they have lunch and they go out to recess. He doesn't run around like a maniac and play with the other kids all the time. He kind of sulks around, walks about the playground, and just generally keeps to himself.

Upon return to the classroom, he is unmanagable. He is aggressive, nasty, no fun, will not work, will not obey. And it has been incredibly difficult for any of the other students around him to get anything done after recess.

My feeling is that recess is part of the problem. Free time to himself to build up his imaginary fantasy space hero stuff, or get into a verbal altercation with another student (it happens a lot) is not good for him. All of us enjoy free time, but Geoff just doesn't know what to do with it.

That's one thing we are looking into. Food allergies is another thing we're investigating.

But -- back to the behavior chart.

Seeing as mornings are so good, that's an instant reward. We wanted to communicate to Geoff that mornings are where he does best, and he should work as hard to do as well in the afternoon.

So the chart is broken up into two pieces -- mornings and afternoons, obviously. The mornings are rewarded with a Quarter. Afternoons, he can earn .75 cents. Because the afternoons are harder for him, he should receive a greater reward for good behavior.

We explained all this to him, and let him know that if he behaved super badly, he'd get nothing in the afternoon. If he behaved okay, a Quarter. If he was good, Fiddy Cent. If he was AWESOME, the full seventy-five.

And he liked that idea. He KNOWS he will always get that morning quarter, but he sees that the afternoons are more valuable.

We put the plan into play last week. Throughout the day, he asks his special ed aide "Am I doing okay?" "Do you think I'll earn the seventy five cents this afternoon?" And he stops himself before he does something that he knows will jeapordize his earnings, and gets himself back on track.

I'm proud to say that in two weeks, Geoff has earned his full dollar each day. His teachers are so happy to see this turn around. All for a freakin' dollar.

The behavioral psychologist told us that eventually Geoff can be weaned off this plan, that he'll know his behavior is capable of being managed without a monetary reward. I'm not sure how THAT's gonna work out, because honestly, he is motivated by the reward.

We tried stuff like this with him when he was 3 and 4 and 5, and he just didn't give a damn. Stickers, quarters, treats... nothing was worth getting back on track in his mind. The doctor said that at about this age money becomes a great motivator... and kids respond.

I don't want Geoff to develop the sense that things are only WORTH doing when you're being PAID to do them... I want him to learn the value of doing something for the sake of doing it, because it is RIGHT to do it. The doctor and I talked about that, and he said that is all part of the process. Geoff could very well before the end of the year develop this sense of "crap, this dollar thing is SO not worth the hassle..." and go off it. And we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

In the meantime, these past two weeks have been wonderful for him. And I'm incredibly pleased... and so is he.

Which is a relief. I think with Geoff, crossing each bridge as we get there is essential... I have a tendency to want to know what impact things are going to have in 10 years, 15 years, 20 years... what is he going to be like when he's 30. 20. 15. I think going day by day and taking the positives is something I need to really focus on. And hopefully... the positives will totally outweigh the negatives. The bigger picture will be all positive when I look back on it, instead of worrying about what could be ahead of us.

I hope that made sense.

I brought a ton of work home with me to keep me earning money all weekend. In drips and drabs, blips and blurps. An hour here, an hour there. I figure I can be done with this floorplan project by Sunday as long as I stay away from the playstation, and my kids don't bogart the keyboard.

I'm hoping to fit some Geocaching in, and may bring a friend of Geoff's. Last year at this time, when she was in the 6th grade play, we hid a geocache and all it had done for weeks was RAIN. We haven't been back out to that site since, so we may do some cache maintenance.

After hiding 10 caches, I'm finding that's my limit. Needing to revisit them is hard when I'm looking to actually go out and find someone else's caches.

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