Saturday, February 23, 2008

Pokemon Boy and The Sub

In the documentary 'I Have Tourette's But Tourette's Doesn't Have Me', one of the kids says something like, "Tourette’s and substitutes: a bad mix."

Pokemon Boy is in the middle of 2nd grade. His teacher adores him. She understands him. She extends great patience with all of her students. She has a soft but firm hand with them. In his whole 2nd grade year, he has gotten perhaps one note home. She had to ask him twice to push in his chair. Scandalous. But that's Pokemon Boy. At school he is very eager to please. He loves learning. He has been every teacher's dream so far. He's a bit distractible - what 7 yr old isn't? I don't even chalk it up to the obsessive compulsive tendencies diagnosed as co morbid with his Tourette's. He's just a normal kid.

Well, Wonder Teacher left last week (when I was traveling) to have her baby. Yay on the arrival of Teacher Wunderkind. But I'm a bit concerned about the "long term" sub. This week, Pokemon Boy had three notes home. THREE. For minor infractions. Once he was singing during a quiet activity (he does this all the time - he usually has no idea he's doing it). Once for talking to a classmate in stead of completing the task just given by the teacher. Today it was for...good grief...I can't even recall. It was equally as small. But I do recall it boiled down to him needing to do what she asks, when she asks it. I have a feeling that their normal teacher allows for slips because she knows the kids. She understands the boundaries with each one.

I explained to Pokemon Boy that the three notes home do NOT mean he's a bad student (he cried for about 10 minutes when he got home and "confessed" to me). I told him the New Sub is just trying to set the rules and might be a bit heavier handed than Wonder Teacher because New Sub doesn't know them. I explained that New Sub doesn't yet know how great Pokemon Boy is. Once she gets to know them all, I'm sure it will smooth out.

The interesting thing, however: today he had a new audible tic. Brand new and very pronounced. It was a twist on one I've seen before. It's hard to describe. It's like a hard "th" sound but there's a flick of his tongue in there. And his cheeks puff a bit. He didn't even know he was doing it. Or maybe he did. I'm not sure. I noticed a few more soft grunting noises. The eye blinking was absent. Oddly. That's usually first.

For the last few weeks, he has been having anxiety episodes - I don't want to say "attacks". They manifest right after he's eaten. I'm still not convinced these are purely anxiety. I think they started out as true reactions to crappy fast food. But I'm wondering if his anxieties caused those same symptoms at other times. He gets incredibly worked up each time. He asks me or whoever he's with to go to the bathroom with him because he's convinced he'll throw up. I've pointed out lately that, in all the times he's felt like this, he has never thrown up. But he's convinced this time he will and he's all crying, shaking and panicked. It has happened almost every time we've gone out. At different places. Different foods. The last time it happened before my business trip, I almost lost it. Sounds awful, I know. But I was tired, emotionally drained, totally stressed. My parents took us out to dinner. Two bites into my food, he starts. "Mom! I have to go! I'm going to throw up!" and the crying starts. I wanted to chuck my whole plate of food across the room and scream at him. But I went with him and tried to calmly reassure him that he'd be fine if he can just get a handle on how upset he was getting.

I left for a week and this scenario was repeated with my parents. With my sister. With my brother-in-law. I felt so awful. It's very hard to know what to say to him. It's very hard to keep your patience.

My mom had success with getting rather firm with him. She recognized one particular instance as pure anxiety. So she had to get a bit firm with him and tell him to calm down. She said it really worked. Tonight, we went out with future ex. Sure enough, 3 bites into my salmon, he has to go. He's gonna throw up. But - thankfully - he wanted future ex to go with him. I selfishly wolfed down my food while they were gone, assuming I might have to do round two with him next.

They returned from the bathroom and future ex was surprisingly Zen. I knew he was annoyed but he kept it to himself. When we left the restaurant (Lil' Bro asleep in my arms), it hit again. Pokemon Boy started panicking and crying - he was going to throw up. I piled the sleeping Lil' Bro into his seat, buckled him in and talked to Pokemon Boy. I reiterated that he has never thrown up to this date. I went over how things worked while I was away - how Grandma got him to calm down that one time. How I knew he could do it again. I explained that his panic is making his muscles tense up and might be adding to whatever GI distress he might actually be having.

Once in the car, he worked very hard to calm down. I was impressed. He did it. We had a nice drive back to future ex's house. I don't really get what this is. But it clearly is related to anxiety or panic. I don't know if it's tied to the stress at school. With my travel and the New Sub, who knows. And I'm sure eating at home would benefit us anyway.

Just thought I'd give an update on Pokemon Boy.


Jane said...

It's hard, isn't it? We want to climb inside their minds and figure out why they think the way they do. Yesterday, Max said to me, "Mom, do you ever wish you could be inside someone else for a day or two?". It's those types of words that make me realize just how aware he is of his differences.

Love you!

Trish Ryan said...

Bless you sweetie. That sounds so stressful! You're doing an amazing job. Reading these posts is like a primer in parenting for those of us who aren't there yet.

Sarakastic said...

I learned this trick from my mom who never let us have sugar growing up. Probably why I treasure candy so much now. Anyways, peppermint seems to be really good for digestion & works with most tummy aches that aren't caused by a virus. I always have altoids, mints, or small pieces of candy to pass out, even just smelling it is supposed to help. Don't know if it would calm his anxiety but I've seen it work for kids & even my grown up friends, may be purely placebo but it's candy who cares?

I agree wholeheartedly with Trish she always puts things so eloquently I should just follow her around & say "what Trish said".

Wanda said...

All I can say, is Lynette...YOU are an AMAZING woman!!!

Moanna said...

Glad you're back. The new sub sounds a bit tense. I used to have panic attacks and my doc said to start counting backward by 3s because your brain has to focus on that instead of the panic. Don't know if it'd work with your son but I mention it just in case.

Stacy said...

Poor little guy! This is me giving you and Pokemon Boy cyber hugs.