The Morning Assembly Line

In the past, mornings have consisted of the boys waking up for school at the same time, with Keira waking shortly after, creating a buzzing chaos every morning. With Anthony moving up to middle school this year and taking the earlier bus, the Deeds routine has become a “Morning Assembly Line”:

First thing in the morning, I wake up Anthony, nice and early, just as the sun is changing the clouds to pink. We take Zar Zar, and Titus out for their morning break. Anthony feeds the dogs. I feed Anthony. Anthony brushes teeth and hair and stumbles on to the early bus.

I grab a cup of coffee to take it up to Kirsten, who I’m hoping is in the shower and not running late. I wake up Ethan, run back in to the master bedroom to give Kirsten a morning kiss, before heading downstairs.

I feed Ethan, who in turn feeds the cats and waters the dogs (because that’s how they grow). Ethan jumps in the shower and makes just enough noise to wake the baby. I run upstairs under the pull of Keira’s singing giraffe to change the baby’s butt and get my morning snuggles (she’s such a daddy’s girl). I surprise Kirsten with baby giggles while she is getting ready until she looks at the clock and realizes she’s running late.

Keira and Daddy run downstairs to get Mommy her water, Coffee (it’s capitalized for a reason, folks), a banana and other food items for work. Kirsten runs out the door with a kiss to all as I tell her to drive safely (not slowly, just safely). Ethan tromps downstairs like a heard of elephants, usually with both dogs in tow. He grabs his backpack and heads out the door to the bus stop.

In two minutes, Ethan realizes he forgot his jacket, his lunch, his clarinet, or something else and comes running back towards the house. I hold out his missing item and off he goes. Keira and I watch the bus carry Ethan away from the picture window. I turn towards her and say “alright, little one, time to start OUR day.” She giggles and looks at me with her cute face and says “Daddy, noooo….”

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Wordless Wednesday (First Day of School)

Bullying or Kids being Kids?

We’ve always found it humorous how different Anthony and Ethan are when it comes to their clothing choices. Anthony is our future goth child. He only likes to wear black, red and grey and preferably with skulls. Ethan, on the other hand, is a sharp dresser. He always looks for a reason to wear a tie and gets excited when he receives a sweater vest for Christmas.

This Monday morning, the chaos was on to get out the door to work while the kids rushed around to get ready for school. Down came Ethan in his torn jeans and a wrinkled shirt. “Ethan, put something nicer on for school.”

And off he stomped upstairs. Five minutes later, he’s back in a nicer pair of pants and a long sleeve shirt that barely reach his pants. Jason grabbed Ethan’s hand, “Come on. Let’s go find something for you.”

Moments later, Ethan came down again in a argyle sweater, looking nice but huffing and stomping even harder. “Ethan, what’s wrong??”

“I don’t WANT to wear this!”

“Why not? You look nice!”

“Because the kids make fun of me! They always say I look stupid!!”

Oh. My. So, it comes out. Is my kid being bullied? “No, that’s just how boys are.”

The next day, I looked outside and saw this:

Ethan, sitting all by himself in the front yard when he was supposed to be playing with the neighborhood kids. Days from then I found out from Anthony that Ethan had got into a physical fight with one of the neighborhood boys. “Good for him,” my dad said. “It’ll teach him to stand up for himself!”

Hmmm… And then again today, I offered up the idea to both the boys, “What would you think of home school?”

Right away, Ethan pipped up. “That would be great!! Then I wouldn’t have to take the bus anymore!!!”

“What’s wrong with taking the bus?”

“Everyone on the bus HATES me! They all make fun of me!” I questioned myself, Is this just exageration? But before I could even respond, Anthony added, “He’s right. All the kids make fun of him.”

The pieces have started to add up. My poor child is being bullied! Even at home when I see him playing with the neighborhood kids. Even with his older brother. And at football when I see him standing as far as possible from the rest of the players. So, Jason and I are working on our plan.

Step 1: Work on Ethan’s confidence.  Have you ever noticed that kids tend not to pick on the one who’s sure of himself? Ethan has been dealing with low self-confidence for the past year or so. Maybe it’s part of the adoption adjustment. Maybe it’s moving from California. But whatever it is, it doesn’t need to be there. This child needs to know that he’s wonderful just the way he is.

Step 2: Enlist the help of Big Brother. I know for a fact that Anthony enjoys torturing his brother. A lot of big brothers do. But when they share the same group of friends and ride on the bus together, Anthony is showing the other kids that it’s okay to pick on Ethan and all the things that bother Ethan most are pointed out for all the other kids to see. So, it’s time to sit Anthony down. It’s time to point out what’s going on and how helpful he could be by just being supportive. Anthony is a smart kids – he’ll figure it out. And hopefully enlisting his help will get Anthony to start curving his own behavior.

Step 3: Enlist the help of the Teacher. Thank God it’s Parent/Teacher Conference time! I’m looking forward to getting a chance to talk to the teacher shortly and get a feeling for what’s going on in the classroom. Does she see the same things I’m seeing? And if so, together we can work to stop the teasing, the name calling, and Ethan in the nurse’s office, pretending to be sick yet again.