“Cate, please make your bed.”
“Cate, please brush your teeth before school.”
“Cate, it is time to eat dinner.”
“Cate, please move over a bit. I need to get by.”
“Cate – PLEASE – go to BED!”
The word is on repeat here.
Cate’s transition to school is still in progress. The honeymoon period is over and things are settling into place. As Cate is adjusting she has returned to crying, multiple times each day, at school and at home.
- When Catelyn fell to the ground laughing and the teacher told her she needed to calm down, she cried.
- When the teacher stood behind her during a test to encourage her to look at her answer again, she cried.
- Peer interactions, with friends and with non-friends, have ended with Cate sitting by herself and crying.
Crying is Cate’s initial response when she is taken off guard. Instead of stopping to think about her situation, Cate reacts with tears.
My husband and I are left trying to figure out what Catelyn is experiencing. Is she having a hard time being flexible in different situations? Is she having a hard time interacting with her peers? Her teacher? Are some of the girls just mean?
We are working out the details. And Cate is still actively working in therapy.
And even though Cate is currently a big ball of negativity – that never leaves my side – I’m thankful.
I am not thankful that she is feeling bad.
I am thankful that she is talking to me about what is happening.
So far this year, the teacher is not reaching out to me to complain about Cate in the class. Nor is the guidance counselor calling me telling me about the peer interactions that have gone sour.
Cate is telling me. Which is a pretty big deal.
Cate’s issue with crying in school has been an issue for a few years now. As well as Cate’s interaction with peers. We have worked with the school on both issues to try to help Cate.
It gets to the point that when Cate has another incident in one of these areas, mentally I am screaming, “WHAT?!?! AGAIN?!?! STOP IT!!!”
But I don’t say that. Or even hint that I am thinking that.
Instead I try,
“Oh no. I’m sorry. What happened?”
I know it sounds pretty basic. But when I am upset, frustrated, sad – EMOTIONAL – about what Cate tells me, the more she will shut down and not tell me anything.
A few years ago Declan’s Occupational Therapist recommended the following book to me:
I picked it up, read it and have it on my nightstand in my pile of books. As the books I read rotate in and out, this one stays there as I reference it occasionally as a reminder on how to communicate with the kids.
More importantly, how to listen so the kids will talk to me.
Two years ago, Catelyn became depressed. She was being bullied at school. I knew at a very high level what was happening, but that was all she would relate. Instead, she chose to spend her days in her room alone. And cried all the time.
I am very thankful that Cate is opening up to me more. She is telling me what is happening in her day. She lets me know if she cried. She lets me know if someone was mean to her at school. And even though I can detect where Cate might have made an error – either in her behavior or her processing of an event – I never call her on it in a way that will cause her to shut down.
Being more aware of Cate’s day helps me help her. I can try to direct her or encourage her in a positive direction. I can stand up for her and support her when confronted. I can have a relationship with her and be active in her life.
It is hard for Cate to communicate. She does not always have the words to describe how she feels (hence the crying). But my being open and calm is helping her to find words to discuss her life with me. As she gets older, I can only imagine some things will get harder. But I am glad to have found this book and hope to find it just as helpful in the years to come.