School refusal, or what anxiety does when it smells blood in the water

This morning Lei woke up and blew her nose about 20 times. A mountain of tissue accumulated on the bed next to her and she looked at me miserably.

“Mom,” she moaned, “I don’t feel well.”

I could see that, and my heart went out to her. I told her to ask her dad – when he got out of the shower – if he thought she was sick enough to stay home.

As she waited about five minutes for her dad, Lei became more and more miserable. She groaned and held her head, blew her nose another score of times, and ran to the toilet to throw up a bit of bile.

By the time my husband got out of the shower, Lei was a complete mess. Fat tears rolled down her cheeks as she told him how terrible she felt and that she really couldn’t go to school today.

But I had watched her emotional state escalate from “I feel cruddy” to “Going to school will kill me dead.” I could see what had happened: she smelled blood in the water.  Continue reading

Breakthrough on the left

At Lei’s audiology appointment on Tuesday, the audiologist gently asked how we were doing. She listened to Lei about how she has been feeling, and thoughtfully absorbed the suggestions for programming we had come up with in our meeting with the d/hh team at school.

Finally it was time to take the plunge. I handed over the left processor and the audiologist connected it to her computer on one end and to Lei’s head on the other.  Continue reading

Hearing again and saving herself

During Lei’s days off last week, I tried having her wear her right processor again, and surprisingly she was able to hear decently through it. Over the last week the cutting-in-and-out problem seems to have resolved completely. Lei can hear again!

She still talked about being homeschooled, however, and I asked her how she planned to stay in touch with her new friends at school. “I’ll chat with them online,” she breezed.

She had it all worked out. But on Tuesday when Lei, her dad and I met at midday with the school case manager, audiologist and hearing itinerant, Lei did a 180.

“I talked with my two good friends here and they said they wouldn’t be friends with me if I quit going to Madero.” She grinned. “So I’m staying!”

Let’s hear it for positive peer pressure!  Continue reading

Is this a breakdown?

I keep wondering if this is what we’ll someday call a breakdown.

Someday maybe we will tell this story by saying that Lei kept having really hard years at school, that we kept trying new things, new interventions, new schools, but we couldn’t seem to find the right fit. And then we’ll talk about how we were so hopeful that attending her dad’s school would give her the security, academic challenges and sense of belonging she lacked. And how, just after she started there, she suffered a breakdown.  Continue reading

“My implants were like a bridge, but then … poof!”

Lei's words: I felt like I was in a sound-proof bubble.

Lei is home with a cold today so I decided to ask her to tell me how it has been for her to have her cochlear implants both fail. She’s a bit more reticent than usual because of her cold – normally she is quite talkative – but these are some of her thoughts on her life over the last ten days.

 

What was it like when you stopped being able to hear with your cochlear implants?

Things were going great at school. I was making friends and actually becoming kind of popular. Suddenly the implants started fritzing out. Continue reading

Let the tiger out: Validating my daughter’s anger

The tiger in my chest, by Elahe Bos, www.plantlovegrow.com

Last night Lei and I happened upon Elahe Bos’ blog, Plant Love Grow. We were loving the artwork and the creative approaches to social emotional development when we stumbled on The tiger in my chest, a printable story about anger that includes calming exercises to avoid losing control. As we read it, I reflected that we can’t just keep the tiger caged up all the time. So I asked Lei about her anger, and what she wants to do about it.

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All the chances I can stand

Lei is out of school even though school isn’t out yet.

On Monday I took her to a very fancy doctor who took an extensive history of Lei’s hives, repeated colds and stomach problems, examined her, and then told me to toughen up and force her to go to school even when she says she feels sick.

As we got into the car, I decided that instead of ruminating on the sting of yet another parenting lecture from a teacher, doctor, nurse or other uninvested stranger, I would just talk to Lei, trying to share my feelings with as much love as possible.

“Lei, when yet a doctor or teacher tells me I should just be tougher with you, that you’re just manipulating me to avoid going to school, it feels pretty humiliating. And I wonder why you feel like you need to do that. Do you know why you work so hard to avoid going to school?”

Continue reading