Friday, February 8, 2013


Today was Parent/Teacher Conferences.  Quite honestly, it's a day I do not look forward to.  Although I'm not naive enough to believe the "if I don't hear it there is no problem" ideal, it still stings to have all of these issues saved up and then dished out for one half-hour meeting.
Mostly, the kids are doing great. There are minor issues with some organizational and attention aspects that can always be improved on, but overall, they get high marks and kind words on their work and effort.
Then we get to Kolby.
Kolby seems to be lost.  I look at this picture that I took the other day, when he was playing around with some extra mustaches he found lying around.   I asked him to sit down and let me take a picture of him.  What I saw, when I looked at the picture, was a boy who feels unhappy, unloved, lost, and insecure.
His teacher, the assistant principal, the school psychiatrist, and the special ed teacher all met with me during my conference.  All of them are concerned for Kolby and as his teacher explained "Don't know what more they can do for him".  They are now at the end of their testing.  The last in their bag of tricks.  If he doesn't respond to the next group of testing, assessments, psych evals and small group help, then they don't know what else to do.
I'm not trying to discredit his teacher(s).  They really want to help figure out what is going on. Why doesn't Kolby want to learn? It's not that he isn't smart. He is, and they can see that. It's that Kolby has no desire to try. He doesn't care if he gets detention.  Getting an F on a test doesn't phase him.  He won't try to read the directions, he'll just fill in the circles on a multiple choice question.  He lies about completing assignments.  He has no internal motivation to accomplish things.  He just doesn't  want to do anything, and when he has that mentality,  no amount of bribing or rewards or positive reinforcement or negative results can sway him.
So what is it that is going on with Kolby?  There is something we are missing, when it comes to how he learns, and I fear what will happen if we don't figure it out soon.  Is he dyslexic?  Could be, but there is no state funding to test for it.  Does he have some other disability that is preventing him from learning?
He has been lying a lot.  To me. To his teachers.  To his friends. To his family.  He told his teacher that he stayed out on the trampoline until midnight the other night, and nobody cared and nobody told him to go inside, and that he was alone the whole time.  I'm sure his teacher didn't believe him, but she questioned me about it anyway.  For me, this wasn't so much about his lying, as it was a glimpse into how he feels. He feels unloved and lonely.
What can I do to make Kolby feel special when all I want to do is punish him for all his nasty behavior towards us?  He is unhappy with us, doesn't want to participate in family activities, and creates negative drama for anyone who is near him. I understand that these are ways for him to get attention, but when we offer such pleasant love on the flip side, I wonder why he doesn't want happiness, instead of negativity.
He has always been my most challenging child.  Maybe it's because we clash, that makes it so hard for us to get along.  Honestly, though, I try really hard because of that. I want him to be happy. I want him to succeed.  But he doesn't want that, or so it seems.
Today was a hard day..but when I see that picture of Kolby, I just get so sad because  I can see how unhappy he is. I am failing him, and I don't know what to do.


Adri said...

I'm so sorry, Shaina! It is so hard when you don't know what to do for your child. I will be praying for your inspiration.

Jude said...

Oh Shaina! I so feel for you both. For you all. He reminds me so much of my middle child - also a boy (well, a 30 year old man now! LOL) and to some extent of my youngest - another boy. The middle is officially dyslexic and almost certainly dyspraxic. The youngest has mild dyslexia, dyspraxia and ASD (and we discovered 3 years ago is also Bi-Polar).
I know it isn't a diagnosis but you can find "tests" online that could give you an idea if this is the case with Kolby. You could be describing my middle child when you describe Kolby. These children are usually highly intelligent (my youngest has an IQ of 158) and come up with the most amazing stories - hence the trampoline until midnight maybe? Punishment never changed my two either; don't get me wrong - if they did something naughty they were punished.
I don't know what would work because I don't know your family, but do keep trying at the positive reinforcement. He wants to be loved and liked. The not joining in reminds me of my youngest. It is hard and I spent most of their younger years wondering what I was doing wrong. Well, I wasn't. And neither are you. You will find the answer. And it will all work out because deep down he does know you love him.
It's probably no consolation, but my middle one is finally hoping to go to University this year, and the younger one is about to emigrate to the USA to marry his fiancee in LA!! There is light at the end of the tunnel - even if the tunnel is a long one; the light will get bigger.
Phew!!!! Sorry! Didn't mean to go on so much...... I don't know if this ha helped? And please feel free to email me. All the very best. And big hugs for Kolby. I will be thinking of you all.
PS. I'm glad you have comment moderation for your blog; this is more of a personal message for you. ((hugs))

Jeff and Lori said...

Hey Shaina! I read this post earlier today and started to comment, but stopped because I felt like I didn't have anything helpful to contribute besides "My thoughts and prayers are with you!" (which is true). I could feel your mother's heartache in this post and it made my mother's heart ache too. The courage of being a mother extends beyond getting through the pregnancy and labor pains. It involves opening our heart to all the pain each of our children have to endure in this life, along with all of the joy. But I couldn't get your post out of my mind for some reason. I keep thinking of a few words of wisdom I've picked up from Suzanne D. in the Briargate ward. I'm not sure how well you got to know Suzanne, but she's mentioned times of anxiety and struggle with her children and what helped her find the solution. The two gems that come to mind are an experience she related about inspiration when she was at the temple concerning her children. Also, how important it was for her children to have an activity that they loved as they grew older that helped give them an identity. For one child it was the piano, another basketball, another taking things apart and figuring out how things work. She's also read more parenting books than anyone I've ever met and has suggested a couple that have been great when I've been struggling (although in my case, the books were for dealing with preschoolers...tough enough for now!). Maybe you could give her a call. She's a sympathetic and experienced ear. And I am a sympathetic and inexperienced one :). Good luck! And my thoughts and prayers really are with you.

courtney said...

I'm not sure about the teachers at that school, because it really bugs Jared when he is in a meeting with other teachers who say they can't do anything about "that one bad kid" and he'll respond, I have no problems with him in my classes. I would perhaps call Jared and ask him his opionion about what should be done for Kolbers. As for loving him...You know more about parenting than me so I feel I don't really have anything helpful or that you don't already know, but picking your battles and even lowering your expectations, does he have to get A's or will C's do? Does he have to read 30 minutes or can he do just 10...IDK. Love you and Kolby!

LC said...

I've been lurking on your blog for a long time now, but this post touched my heart because I have a challenge child, too. One thing I've learned is to build my boy up for everything. Everything. "Thanks for obeying so quickly." "Thanks for using good manners." "Thanks for sitting quietly in church." I corrected my kid so much that he became very sad, but I didn't praise him nearly enough for what he did well, including those behaviors that are expected, but not necessarily extraordinary. The more I've praised him, the more he's realized he is capable of making people happy and doing good things. For us, the turnaround has been incredible.

Shannon said...

I feel your stress for Kolby as I too have a child similar to this. We clash as well and he doles out negativity left and right, which is disheartening and frustrating. For me, I've wondered if his negativity and bad attitude have become a bad habit that somehow needs to be broken. I like the suggestion LC mentioned in praising EVERY positive thing he does. Maybe with that positive reinforcement, we'll be able to push thru the negativity to help them change their bad habits and their mindset. I worry about my son forgetting who he really is and not ever being able to break out of the negativity so that it eventually engulfs him and he loses his true self. Maybe you've had the same thoughts?

Also, I heard a talk once where a mother asked her young son, who was struggling with negativity and hitting his siblings often, for forgiveness from him for his hurt when she spanked him when he was little. She had only done it a few times, but in his mind she had done it "all the time" and he was being negatively affected by it. She sincerely apologized, asked for forgiveness, and had a real tender moment with him. She said that from that point on, he never hit his siblings again and life was better from there on out. Years later, when she commented to him about spanking him when he was little, he no longer remembered what she was referring to. His mind had been cleansed and he had forgiven her and "remembered her sins no more." Now, I share this experience because it touched me deeply and has caused me to reflect on how I'm raising my chidren. What might I have done to hurt my boy and cause him to be bitter or negative about himself or his role in our family? What can I do to change my attitude so he can change his? It sounds like you're already thinking in that direction, and I'm sure you'll be able to help Kolby. Just know that our children can perceive reality differently and that we need to help them see it how it truly is and ask for forgiveness from them when we make mistakes.

I know you'll do the right thing. You have all the answers in the gospel and I'm sure you'll find what will work for your boy. Hopefully you understand my comments come from love and concern, not judgment or criticism. Sorry to take us so much of your comment space!