Ezra,  Motherhood,  Special Needs Parenting,  The Preschool Years

When the last day of school feels too much like the first {thoughts on surviving a very long year}

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I’ve been planning this post for the last few days…in my head, you know.

Today is Ezra’s last day of school for the year. And he’s been through so much. Preschool one, suspensionexpulsion, 6 months of inpatient therapy, then ending with two months in a special needs preschool class. Today, it’s finally over.

And so, I had all the plans. A bag of summer fun presents purchased a few months ago. Superman ice cream after school. A trip to the park to work on riding his big boy bike. Maybe a celebratory dinner at the in-laws.

And there was going to be this blog post with photos happily detailing just how far we’ve come this year.


(Ezra’s first day of the school year)

Today started great. Miraculously, Ezra slept in later than he has in probably six weeks. I was almost stunned.


I poured myself a cup of celebratory coffee because this was going to be a good day. Idyllically good. Because we have survived.

last day of school 7

But then it started. The same thing that happens every morning. The fighting. The arguing. The whining.

He swallowed cherry pits on purpose to get a reaction. Bashed into Daddy, making him spill his breakfast all over the floor. Ran outside and refused to leave the poisonous berries he had picked off the bush outside before coming inside, because apparently they were “baby turtles.” He rubbed a cherry on my face. Wiped his yogurt-smeared face in my hair…then did it again two more times after I asked him not to.

The frustration was growing within me…

After getting dressed, he grabbed his sensory bottle filled with beans and slammed it against the floor to make explosions. Then slammed it even harder down the halls and against the walls, nearly hitting me. I told him he couldn’t throw it anymore or he would lose it, and he just threw it again and again, all while I was trying to redirect him to brush his teeth. I took away privileges. I finally got my hands on the dang bottle and got his teeth brushed. Then he picked up the spray bottle of vinegar and started spraying it everywhere. I gave him a chance to give me the bottle, but he refused, so I took away more privileges. He told me that he’s angry at me and sprayed vinegar directly on me. I turned to mark off another privilege off of the board and he punched me in the back. I finally got him to put down the bottle. Then we got to argue about going through the basement instead of the front door.

By the time we actually made it out to the front yard to take last day of school pictures, I had about had it.

last day of school 1

Come on, Child. Just one nice picture. Is that so hard? 

last day of school 2

Remembering yesterday’s incident of being unable to catch him as he ran through the halls of the school, I offered for him to “earn back” a privilege if he would simply hold my hand in the hallway.

It started off well until he insisted on dragging his feet, trying to grab onto the railing and force us both to stop every ten feet because his “engine was dying,” and singing to every person we passed, “WHO LET THE DAWGS OUT?!?!”

last day of school 3

I tried to remind him that this behavior was inappropriate for school, and told him if he said it again he would lose ice cream time after school. He insisted “the last day of school means that we get to act up,” all while continuing to grab onto the railing and stopping.

When we finally made it to the classroom, he refused to enter. Then when he did, sure enough, he made his grand entrance to the tune of, “WHO LET THE DAWGS OUT?”

last day of school 4

I grabbed him and reminded him of the consequences I had set in place. No ice cream after school. He ran out of the room. I scooped him up, gave him a big hug and kiss, told him that I loved him but that he needed to go back into the room. I set him gently inside the doorway where the teacher was waiting to assist with the transition. I turned around, shut the door behind me as he started screaming, and walked away as the tears burned the back of my eyelids.

So much for an idyllic – or even good – last day of school.

I look back on this long, hard year and I can’t help but see the progress and the changes and all the ways in which things have gotten better.

10 good boy school

(celebrating a good day of school at Preschool #1, September 2014)

But I also live this day-in and day-out. Today was no harder than any other morning–not really. It was just another normal day when I drop him off and walk away wearily wondering if this will ever get easier.

12 amos cottage intake

(waiting for our intake for inpatient therapy, September 2014)

Behavioral therapy was a godsend and exactly what he needed when he needed it. But it was no magic fix. There’s no amount of charts, visuals, coping strategies, calming tents, relaxation CDs, sensory supports, rewards, medication options, or discipline strategies that can change who Ezra is or all of the layers of reasons as to why he struggles the way that he does.

06 first day of school again

(first day of behavioral therapy, October 6, 2014)

But that hasn’t stopped us from trying. From hoping. That maybe, just maybe, we will find one thing that will make his life even a tiny bit easier.

I love him. I love him so much it hurts.

And I want love to look like Superman ice cream and trips to the park and snuggles and not fighting with him all day long just to get him to do anything. But that’s not always in the cards. This love is a different kind of mother’s love. The kind that never stops searching for answers and help in spite of the exhaustion and doubts and fears.

It’s the kind of love that celebrates every success – the small ones just as much as the big ones.

graduation 1

graduation 2

(behavioral therapy graduation day, April 2, 2015)

It’s the kind of love that wishes she could make it all better but knows that she can’t. But keeps trying to find things to take the edge off anyway.

starting over

And so we keep trying. This and that. What works one day doesn’t work the next. But we struggle through it.

We’ll keep starting over, if that’s what it takes.

22 walking to school

(First day of new preschool, April 6, 2015)

We will endure the punches and the screams and embrace the hugs and sweet words and calm moments.

We will take one step forward and 20 steps back. And then do it all over again.

last day of school 6

And we will celebrate the last day of school.

I don’t know what that means. I don’t know if he will have a good last day or have to go to the Principal’s office for throwing chairs across the room like he did two days ago. I don’t know if I’ll backpedal on consequences and take him out for ice cream anyway – or “be consistent” and not reward bad behavior – or if it really even matters either way.

But still…he’s been through a lot this year. We all have. And I think – no, I know – that’s worth celebrating.

last day of school 5

(Last day of school – June 12, 2015)

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