Monday, November 22, 2010

Battle of the Bus

I happened again. The battle of the bus. This morning's incident involved Griffin hurling his umbrella onto the (very busy) road, and bolting it back across the road and down our driveway, back towards the house. He was about 100 meters down our 500 meter driveway before he even looked back to see if I was following him. It was pouring rain, to make it a little more fun.

I can't do this any more. I can't fight with him to get on the bus. I can't pick him up, kicking and screaming, carry him onto the bus, plop him in the front seat, pry his hands off me, and leave him on the bus, racked with sobs.

It's breaking my heart.

The thing is, by the time he gets home, he's nothing but smiles, and tales of a good day. By all accounts (both his and the teacher's) he's doing well. I don't think he loves it, (he says he doesn't have any friends) but he comes home happy, and he's obviously learning.

But every time I mention a school day, it's cause for tears. "I don't want to go to school." And just as often, "I want to go back to preschool."

And then the battle of the bus. (Which, by the way, he only does for me. NOT for his Dad.)

I don't know what the issue is. I've tried to talk to him about it, and if there is anything, he can't articulate it.

Maybe I'm the sucker here, who knows.

Either way, I need to figure this out. I dread Mondays and Wednesdays now, just as much as he does. I've stopped wearing Corben in the Ergo when we walk to the bus, because fighting Griffin onto the bus is hard enough, I don't need a 20 lb infant strapped to my chest to complicate the situation.

Anyone else dealt with anything like this? What was your solution?

(I apologize for this post being pretty poorly written, and less than entertaining. This is really taking a toll on me, and I just need a bit of help!)


Somekindofmom said...

Wow that sounds like a really tough time! I have a very willful 4 year old, and I cannot force him to do anything he puts his mind to NOT wanting to do. I've found the more I push, the more he pushes back and the less he does want I want him to do. I've found that I need to pick my battles. Is it an option for you to drive him? It maybe be inconvenient for a while, but perhaps you can put a time limit on it? I'm not sure if that's the answer, but I find with my 4 year old, part of the problem is the inability to actually communicate to me what the problem is. They just haven't learned that skill. I find empathy works really well - empathize directly with him about taking the bus, tell him you understand that he doesn't want to go, over and over, especially at other times of the day (not just at bus time). Then tell him your concerns, put them on the table. Ask HIM to come up with a solution - "I know you don't want to take the bus, but Mommy is worried that you'll be late if you don't take the bus (for ex). What do you think we can do about it? Give him the power to come up with a solution. I hope that's helpful, I know exactly what you are going through, just know that it will pass.

Little Red Hen said...

I've had issues with the bus, too. It could be as simple as the noise level in the bus or that it smells or it makes him nauseous with the gear changes etc. (these were all things mentioned by my kids). It was hard to figure out but I was in close contact with the teacher & the bus driver. Hope this helps. It is hard to do day in and day out.

Ginger said...

Is there another child on the bus that is in his class or is his age? Maybe they could be bus buddies and sit together. Maybe you could have some play dates with that child so they could become friends. Maybe if he had someone to ride with it would be better. If that child isn't on the bus yet he could look forward to the stop when that child boards the bus. I hope it gets better for you and Griffin soon!

Terri-Ann said...

If he doesn't put up the fuss for dad, then the issue isn't really the bus - it's just between him and you. Maybe try and come up with some sort of game, like the bus is a rocket ship and he has to pick which seat is his, or learning to count all the windows, or guessing what colour shirt the bus driver is wearing today. I find distraction is the best way to deal with stubborn young children.

Tawny said...

I've had the same problem since September. My little guy will cry and scream and carry on when I drop him off at school, but not for his dad. It started to become part of the routine and, quite frankly, it was wearing us both down. I just couldn't handle the crying and kicking from the moment he woke up on a school day until I dropped him off and had to leave him there in that condition. And like you said, everything was fine after school, like nothing happened.

I had no idea what to do, so I actually turned to a dreaded parenting book. I tried the "Magic Bracelet" solution. Basically I put a bracelet on my little guy before pre-school and say some magic words, "Here's a magic bracelet for you, with mommy's hugs and kisses in it too," I kiss the bracelet and hug my boy and leave the room. I was absolutely shocked and floored that this actually worked! No more tears! Every time he gets sad about school during the day, he looks at the bracelet and remembers that mommy loves him and is thinking about him. I guess it helps him concentrate and focus on one thing instead of letting his mind get overwhelmed with feelings that he can't articulate yet. Anyway, it calms him right down.

Of course, this might not work for you, but it might be worth a shot?

Good luck sweetie! I know it's draining and exhausting. It'll get better. Hang in there!

Kristen said...

Dearest Jenn,
Oh dear. Well all I can say as a friend is -- I am so sorry. It must be awful.

As a teacher I also feel sorry for you but I am inclined to tell you to stick to your guns. Really he isn't unhappy at school or on the bus, just with getting on the bus. You gotta try to stay unemotional (ha ha ha!) and just calmly put him on the bus. He's small enough that you can do that. Tall order I know but you've got to keep on teaching him that some things aren't negotiable. He already knows that coats and hats in winter, car seats and no hitting your brother aren't negotiable. So you know he understands you.

Good luck and know that many many many moms have this problem too! A little boy named Seth cried for an hour every single morning last year at school. This year, we can't get him to leave school at the end of the day! He's too happy!

Nancy said...

Have you tried letting him pick something special to play with that he can only play with on the bus? It could be something that he picks out from the dollar store or a special surprise from you; the key is that the only place he gets to play with it is on the bus. It would give him something to look forward to and make the bus time special.

If part of the issue is the bus ride itself, ask if he is allowed to sit at the back of the bus because it so much fun going over bumps and around corners.

I've had issues with my youngest not wanting to be at school, usually after a very minor owwie. The crying, leg hugging and pleading to come home just tears your heart out, but I have learned from some very understanding teachers that sometimes you have to just walk away to show them that school is non negotiable and by the time that you are out of eyesight, they have calmed down and act as if nothing has happened. Inside you are a complete mess, but take comfort in knowing that they are in capable hands and that this too shall pass.

Keep us posted.

Sara said...

Gah!!! We're having JK sleep drama in our house :)

Empathetic firmness is my suggestion, along the line of what a lot of the others are saying. You can try the bracelet or a reward system, whichever you're comfortable with, but essentially its empathizing with his feeling but not feeding into it. No drama from you when it happens / no emotions / just 'I'm sorry you're upset but you need to get on the bus'. You can ask him to brainstorm with you (for solutions on how you can work together) as long as it doesn't include you driving him or not going to school ;)

Nancy said...

I forgot to mention that sometimes the tantrums about coming home with me were about the fact that he wanted to be playing and watching tv at home rather than being at school. I would tell him that I wasn't going home, but instead be running errands that he hated doing. You can insert any task that he hates being dragged to to make it less desireable to be with you.
Be firm and be strong. You (and he) can do it!