* Life Goes On

Sorry for the rather abrupt termination of that last post. I actually got the phone call while in the middle of writing that entry, so it was angst in real-time! Drama in real life!

Since then I have calmed down considerably. I am gradually learning not to take Rio's mishaps so personally, and not to despair with so much melodrama. So this time I only spent one day in tears. That's progress!

Rio's counselor was very instrumental in my consolation. Although she was also disheartened by this little setback, she reminded me that the events leading up to his expulsion were actually not that extreme, at least in relative terms. She is used to dealing with kids with extreme problems, and on her spectrum Rio is in a class of angels (she, like most adult women who are not prissy prudes, adores Little Hercules).

Lest anyone thinks that I am condoning his aggression or not showing enough sympathy for the children on whom he has taken out his aggression, let me elaborate. Or rather, let me provide an excerpt from an email I sent to The Diva. Because I'm just too busy to retype it all and it makes my point very well:

I’m feeling a lot better about Rio’s most recent debacle w/summer school. His counselor definitely helped eased my mind on Friday. Although she’s taking his behavior issues seriously, she reminded me that there’s really no cause for despair (as I am prone to do whenever Rio gets kicked out of school). She said that 10 years ago Rio probably would’ve been considered a normal, though especially active, little boy and the consequences for his problems wouldn’t be so drastic. The System (insert ominous music) has become so hyper-regulated that even minor offenses are dealt with harshly. For example, there was a time when climbing UP the slide wasn’t outlawed, and subsequently Rio wouldn’t have been condemned so quickly by another kid and wouldn’t have had cause to kick him. Not to mention that it seems to me like he’s become an easy target for antagonistic, bullyish kids who like to get a rise out of him because it’s oh-so-easy to do. Ya know? In addition, Rio claims that the kid he kicked had been hitting him and his friend in the “weiner.” AND the day he got booted, he was in a kicking match with 2 other kids, and I got the impression that these were the same antagonists from previous incidents. And given that Rio has a very righteous sense of justice, he doesn’t deal well when he gets in trouble for taking matters into his own hands. And because, unfortunately, Rio fights fire with fire.

So, the point is that Rio has a flair for the dramatic, a hot temper, and no impulse control, which together make for a lot of conflicts on the playground. The good news is that he doesn’t fly into a blind rage and beat kids to a pulp for no reason at all. His more aggressive behavior is usually provoked, impulsive, and fleeting. Sometimes he overreacts to less antagonistic behavior, such as shoving someone who cuts in front of him in line, which also has more dire consequences in Rio’s case because he’s so much stronger than other kids his age. Somehow this comforts me, because I don’t have to despair that my son will grow into a callous sociopath. With some proper coaching, patience, and persistence, he’ll eventually learn how to deal with all the annoying kids out there in the world without giving them a swift kick in the head.

There are two key points here. First, Rio is an easy target for antagonistic kids. That has recently become apparent and accounts for most of the trouble he's been in at the last 2 schools he's attended. Second, the fact that he's bigger, stronger, and heavier than just about every kid his age and many older kids, means that when push comes to shove somebody's far more likely to get hurt. Which of course makes it all the more important for Rio to learn to manage his anger and his impulses. Which is also why he tends to get in more trouble more often than those antagonistic little brats that love to mess with him. It's all fun and games until someone gets a swift kick in the head from the Foot of Hercules.

All this makes me wish I could be there for him. I wish I could be there on that playground, looking out for him, ready to prevent problems before they escalate into a brawl. Hercules needs exactly that, a dedicated guardian to look out for him. I don't mean someone to ward off the bullies and the brats in the world, because he most certainly needs to learn to deal with those people. They are everywhere in the world, young or old. But I do think he would benefit if someone could hover nearby, and when those kids come around and a disagreement ensues or the subtle teasing begins, that's the cue. That's when they need a conflict resolution coach who can say "What's a better way to work this out?" And it wouldn't just help Hercules, it would help the other kids, too. This is what I try to do when my stepkids come around, whenever I can (which isn't nearly as much as I'd like to). Because they could all use a little coaching in the conflict resolution department. Hell, I know plenty of adults who have never mastered this skill.

But this post is about moving on, and so I think I need to do that. Someday I would like to master the art of short, frequent posts so that I am not so intimidated by the bulk of material that I need to discuss that I fail to post at all. There, now you know my weakness.

Once Rio was kicked out of summer school, I was then faced with the problem of where the hell to put him while I go to work every day. This was no small dilemma, because when it comes to affordable short-term childcare, there are very limited options in this town. But find one I did, and it seemed so ideal, at first. They take drop-ins anytime! I will never have to worry about missing work again!

Alas, it was indeed too good to be true. The first red flag was that they don't allow the kids to play with the toys. Yep, you read that right. WTF?? Apparently the toys are only for the full-time preschoolers or some such lame excuse. So what can the children do, you ask? They can watch movies. All day. Unless they are playing outside, or eating, or napping. Otherwise, that cursed TV is spewing out animated hypnosis for hours on end.

But that's not the worst of it. It wasn't long before Rio was coming home with reports of suspicious practices on the part of the caregivers. Like boxing the little kids in the ears. Not the bigger kids, because they might know enough to speak up to another adult and get the place shut down. But they didn't reckon on my little Hercules, heroic whistleblower that he is! Ha!

So we spoke to Rio's counselor and she's going to file a report for us. And I'm happy to say that today is Rio's last day at that godforsaken place, may it burn to the ground (at night, when it's empty, of course). I was fortunate to find just one other place that will accept him on short notice for just one week this month, and it costs the same as the other. I had originally ruled this one out because it's located in kind of a bad neighborhood. Not too bad, in fact, it's about the same as the one we live in (and very nearby). But I'm going by there after work today to look it over. So far I already got a good vibe from the director over the phone. She at least speaks intelligible English, which is more than I can say of that other director. And I can at least hope that it can't possibly be any worse than the first place. Right? Let's hope not, because if this one fails me then I'll have to get a second job just to pay for childcare.

Next, I'll post some pics from our Fourth of July trip to Kansas for my husband's family reunion. There was a talent show and Little Hercules was on stage, stealing the show of course! Photos soon to come!

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