Monday, September 02, 2013

Things Are Getting Serious Around Here

Tomorrow is Brayden's first day of high school.  Technically, it's the "New Student Orientation" day, but it counts as far as I'm concerned.  (Though I'm very thankful to have just found out he doesn't have to show up until nearly an hour later than normal, and gets done two hours earlier...and hey, pizza's included!!!). 

Because of this monumental event in the family life of the Rileys, I have spent many nights worrying brainstorming strategies for what could lead more to success and less to gnashing of teeth around here.  Particularly last night.  Lots of anxiety.  

Ultimately, I determined that we could potentially accomplish a lot as a family if we devoted the 80 minute drive home from Dallas to Eugene to discussing expectations, strategies, positive habits, potential negative consequences, possible rewards, and even throwing out ideas for lunches, dinners, and what time each of the kids would like to be woke up and aims to leave the house for their school.  (Ironically, they've switched places - Brayden now has the school that starts at 7:55, while Mikayla is at the school that begins at 9:00).

We've taken a big chunk of the summer off in requiring Brayden take the medicine that makes a ton of difference in his ADHD symptoms.  The idea of him actually having an appetite (when on any of the medicines we've tried, his desire to eat is so low, he'll consume maybe two bowls of cereal a day if left entirely up to him) - and being able to fall asleep at night was worth the utter exasperation silly antics of Brayden when he's in his more-playful/less-focused state.   Today will be the last day he'll have that freedom, and even just trying to get through the conversation required during the drive home proved exactly why that medicine is necessary when he really has to follow instructions and concentrate.  ;)

Regardless, we got through it - and I feel really good as a family that we accomplished what we did.  The ideas were contributed by everyone - and agreed by everyone, particularly in the case of consequences and rewards designated just for Brayden as he begins high school.  (It's a much bigger deal now!).   There's more to this document than what I show in this picture, but I figured it's not necessary to have to share the positives and negatives our specific family chose as motivators/consequences to meeting expectations.  

The following document was, I believe, Holy Spirit inspired during that night time fretting (an answer to prayer).  While it may not "solve everything", I feel like it is super important in our family to separate blaming/feelings from pre-arranged designated consequences for behaviors.   Too many times in the past, tears have surfaced...not so much because of the original action (missing assignments and such), but because of our reactions and his defensiveness.  If we can take that out of the equation....

So, while there are a whole lot of "unknowns" as to what Marist and the specific expectations of each of this teachers are, at least Brayden (and us) know what our expectations are and the routine we hope to set in place.  With everything I've read about ADHD, I'm more and more convinced that what motivates them to focus is so different than the way the "typical brain" functions so it's important to try to determine what does make that achievable focus come about.  Another very crucial "help" to someone with ADHD is to set up as many patterns and routines that can be followed so it can become like clockwork to follow.  If it is set up to be almost instinctual for him to walk into a classroom and turn his assignment in before being distracted by anyone or anything else...what an achievement that would be.

And, let it be said, it's not just the kids that are experiencing change tomorrow (Mikayla's school begins a week later, but tomorrow will be change enough for her in seeing her big bro head to high school) - it's also "D Day" for me (and John).  Whether that D stands for "diet", "despair" (as I face the scales), "doom", or "death to indulgence" - the time has come.  Here's my own check-in sheet to see if I can't institute the age-old methods of accountability to achieve success (though I don't plan on sharing the results with anyone else - just writing it down I think will help).   While I don't look forward to waking up extra early to insure the elliptical cardio workout happens in the garage before Whitley arrives, I am beyond looking forward to seeing myself in a much healthier light and knowing I'm doing positive things vs. the rather destructive stuff I've been doing lately.  (Like the Nachos I just consumed....and even as I'm typing this, I'm wondering what else I can eat now that I'll be craving like crazy in the next couple of months of working to be good....because, tomorrow is only 3 hours and 57 minutes away.....)

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