Category Archives: Behaviour

The hell of homework – just add ADHD


Most days, I don’t think about the fact that M has ADHD. It’s just part of him, like his hair colour. He takes medication to help him focus and reduce his anxiety. Over the years, I’ve developed strategies to minimize his triggers and help him learn to cope; at this point, they’re so internalized, I don’t consciously think that reminding him to take his keys in the morning or giving him a head’s up before he has to get off the computer or the TV is related to his ADHD. Yes, he’s messy and has a trouble organizing himself to do household tasks, like clean up his room. But he’s a 12-year old boy. I have brothers, so I know full well that this is pretty typical of this age group.

Recently, M was having some significant challenges completing his school work. His home room teacher advised me that M hadn’t turned in several assignments. It was the end of term, and M needed to submit these assignments, so his teacher could mark them. It sounded simple – M would spend a couple of nights at home and get caught up.

It was, however, anything but. Just getting M to the table to start working was a battle of near-epic proportions. One night, his dad spent 20 minutes getting him to stop standing on his head in a chair and sit down and finish a geometry work sheet. M insisted it was “too hard,” and claimed he didn’t understand the concepts. Once his butt was actually in a chair and he focused on the questions, he knew most of the answers and finished them in about 15 minutes.

Next up was a geography project and finishing up some french vocabulary. I assumed that we could build off the success of the night before and get both of them done without too much of a struggle. Wrong. Once again, M declared it was “too hard for him” and refused to work on his geography project. He refused all offers of parental assistance and, with great drama and a few tears, enumerated all the reasons he couldn’t do the project. This was met with insistence from both parents as to why he should and could do the assignment. Matt insisted he didn’t care if he failed or not. Tempers flared and there was much strum and drang. Everyone was exhausted by the time they went to bed.

It wasn’t until a couple of days later that I realized what was going on  – this kid has ADHD. It makes it much more difficult for him to organize himself. It was less about not wanting to do an assignment or a project (although there’s certainly an element of this too); he isn’t able to look at an assignment and mentally break it down into the requisite steps. Not that this comes naturally to very many 12-year-olds, but for M, it’s even more challenging. It’s as if he lacks the necessary program that allows his brain to sort out the information and organize it in a meaningful way. If the project is at all complicated (i.e., involves several steps) or unfamiliar to M, he shuts down. Even more frustrating, when M did complete an assignment, he’s forget to give it to his teacher so it could be marked. Even when he put it in his agenda, he’d still carry it around for days before handing it in.

You would think that as his parent, I would have put tow and tow together sooner. But M’s elementary school had a “no homework” policy. We had our hands full dealing with his behavioural challenges (also ADHD-related), so no homework was fine by us. M’s transition to middle-school has gone better than I expected, so maybe it wasn’t a big surprise that I didn’t immediately make the link between the homework battles and his ADHD.

Once the penny dropped, I started trying to map out a plan to help M learn to organize himself. His dad and I could push and pull him through middle school, but high school isn’t far off and he needs skills to manage the work load. Fortunately, I have a good friend with an older child with ADHD, who gave me a number of good tips. The experts suggest that consistency is key for children with ADHD and suggest that students use an agenda which parents and teachers check regularly. M has an agenda provided by the school, but he told me that his teacher wasn’t actively using it any more. My friend suggested that an electronic organizer might work better. M doesn’t have a phone but I figured his iPod would have some sort of app he could use. However, when I asked him about it, he wasn’t very keen (he did, however, take the opportunity to lobby for a phone).

The last step was to meet M’s home room teacher and the Learning Support teacher. M already has accommodations through his IEP and the teachers were very helpful in terms of coming up with ideas to help him. Although M wasn’t keen on my suggestion to download a calendar on his iPod, his teacher helped him set it up. Most of M’s teachers post weekly summaries of the class work, so I’m checking the website on a regular basis. M used to forget to bring worksheets home but most of them are available on the website, so we re-print them as necessary. it’s not the most environmentally friendly approach, it cuts down on the excuses. M does most of his written work on the computer, both at school and at home, as he’s started saving everything on the Cloud. Even better, he set this up on his own. He seems to be taking more responsibility to do his work in class – when I reminded him about his current french project, he told me he still had several classes in which to complete it.

I don’t expect that we’ve “solved” the homework challenge. As I’ve learned over the years with M, there’s no such thing as an easy fix. I don’t expect him to rush to the table every night to do his homework. He did spend some time one day this week working on an assignment before his dad or I got home – his dad reminded him, but he did it. This is progress.

This recent experience is also a reminder to me that my child does have challenges. They may not always be obvious on a day-to-day basis – he’s doing well these days, so it’s easy to forget about his ADHD, etc. Sometimes, though, I need to dig a little deeper and figure out why he’s acting a certain way. It’s too easy to attribute his behaviour to stubbornness or teenaged attitude. That’s not fair to him. While sometimes he wishes he didn’t have ADHD, he’s managing it, rather than the other way around. This too, is progress.


I want to be consequence free…who doesn’t?


I wanna be consequence free
I wanna be where nothing needs to matter
I wanna be consequence free

— Great Big Sea, Consequence Free

The impact of one’s actions, or consequences, has been a hot topic of conversation at our house this week. Following a major meltdown last week, M lost all his electronic privileges for 6 days – no computer, Wii or (gasp!) iPod. The last one was particularly controversial because, as M has pointed out to me on more than one occasion, “it’s his iPod; he paid for it with his own money, so you can’t take it away.”

Given the public and profanity-laden nature of M’s meltdown, I didn’t spend much time debating whether I had the moral authority to take away his iPod.  As his dad and I have told him repeatedly, at our house, electronics are a privilege, not a right.  M had his iPod with him when he fell asleep that night, but by morning, it had been spirited away to

Unintended consequences

Unintended consequences (Photo credit: askpang)

a secret hiding place (somewhere in the closet).

M got through the first day with a minimal amount of whining. He complained about being bored a few times, but he dumped a 500 piece puzzle on the floor in the family room and worked on it throughout the day.

The next day, however, the reality of a whole week without any electronic devices, set in. M was very unhappy.  Why couldn’t he go on the computer or listen to music on his iPod, he asked?  I explained to him that losing access to his electronic devices was a consequence of his recent behaviour, which had been particularly awful. “But Mommy,” he said, “Not being able to have electronics is the worst thing ever. I’ll never survive the week. It’s too much.”

I pointed out that he was not the only one who had to face up to the consequences of his or her behaviour – one of his friend’s had gotten into trouble at daycare and had lost his electronic privileges for several weeks.

M – Why is it only kids that have to have consequences?

Me – Adults have consequences too. If I behave badly at work, I may not get to work on a special project or get a promotion. if I spend too much money one month, I won’t be able to pay my bills.

M – That’s not as bad as losing electronics for a whole week. That`s the worst thing ever.

I`m sure there are lots of adults who would disagree. But I guess when you`re an 11 year old boy, losing electronics pretty much seems like the end of the world.  It certainly got his attention. Whether it will serve as a deterrent in the future remains to be seen.

M wasn’t the only one who had to deal with the consequences of his behaviour this week. I forgot my towel one day when I rode to work and I had to use my arm warmers and cycling shirt to dry myself. Fortunately, my shirt was relatively clean so I didn’t feel too gross about wrapping it around my wet hair. Another day, I had to spend almost an hour doing 2-days worth of dishes, including cleaning out both the garbage can and the green waste bin (there’s few household task I dislike more than washing dishes).  Not to mention staying up too late several nights and then being tired in the morning. Plus, eating too many potato chips and feeling bloated the next day. 

Lots of consequences. But I didn’t bother sharing them with M. I didn’t think he’d be very impressed.

Wouldn’t it be great, if the band just never ended
We could stay out late and we would never hear last call
We wouldn’t need to worry about approval or permission,
we could – slip off the edge and never worry about the fall

I wanna be consequence free

Dumb kid tricks – is it ADHD or because he’s an 11-year old boy?

English: Symptoms of ADHD described by the lit...

English: Symptoms of ADHD described by the literature (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A couple of weeks ago, M showed up at school one morning with a long sharp piece of rusted metal. I received a very polite email from the principal later that day telling about the incident.

Normally when a child shows up to school with anything that could possibly be used as a weapon, the school goes into lock down mode and calls in the Calvary (aka officials from the school board). The parents are called and the child is removed from the school. The principal has to make a detailed report. It doesn’t even have to be an actual weapon – a couple of years ago, a couple of boys caused total panic when they brought in empty bullet casings from a Cub Scout visit to the police firing range. Never mind that they were essentially hollow metal tubes – the fact that they were bullets in another life was enough to get them classified as contraband.

I appreciated that in this case, the principal used her judgement and determined that M had no intention of hurting anyone with the piece of metal. When I asked him where he found it, M told me it was on the stairs he walks up ever morning on his way to school. When I asked him why he picked it up, he looked at me like I was soft in the head. It turns out, the piece of metal was loose and he had to kick it off. Once he done that, of course he had to take it with him to school. Duh mom!

Like many kids with ADHD, M can be impulsive. He also gets easily distracted. We joke that it’s the “squirrel syndrome.” M can change subjects on a dime, it’s  the conversational equivalent of watching a dog catch sight of a squirrel. So it’s entirely plausible to think that M saw that a section of the stair was loose and he kicked it off – perhaps over the course of several days. On that particular morning, we were all running a bit late, so he didn’t get his meds until just before he left for school. Given that it takes him less than 5 minutes to get to school, there’s no way the meds had kicked in. So when he saw that loose piece of stair, he kicked it. Maybe if it was 30 minutes later, he would have passed it by. Or even if he’d kicked it off, he would have left it on the ground, because he recognized that taking it with him would get him into hot water at school.

It may well be that M’s ADHD contributed to his lapse in judgement in taking a piece of rusty metal to school. However, I grew up with 2 brother and a bunch of male cousins. I know first hand that pre-teen and teenage boys do dumb things, for no apparent reason. I still remember the summer at the cottage that my middle brother and one of our cousins decided to teach themselves to light entire packs of matches on fire by flipping them open backwards. They had enough sense no to do it in the cottage, but they would practice outside on the deck. A few time, they flipped the pack of matches off the railing of the deck into the underbrush below. Did I mention that the deck and the entire cottage was made of cedar? I seem to recall that was also the summer they took up whittling, which they did like to do inside, using as sharp a knife as they could possibly find. Then there was the time that they decided to clean up the rocks near one of the docks by dragging the motor of my uncle’s boat on the bottom of the lake. They managed to rip a couple of big chunks out of the propeller and provoked my usually genial uncle into ripping a strip off their backsides.

None of my brothers has ADHD. Neither to my knowledge, do any of my cousins. But they did goofy things all the time, usually egged on by one another. They didn’t deliberately set out to wreck the motor – one of them wondered whether the motor would move rocks and the other one grabbed the boat and off they went. They didn’t worry about the consequences. But even if they did get into trouble, it usually didn’t stop them from doing something just as dumb a week or so later. Given some of the stunts my brothers and cousins pulled over the years,, it’s a miracle that no one was ever seriously injured.

When your kid has ADHD, it’s easy to see that as the root cause for much of his behaviour. But all kids do things that seem to the adult mind to be completely stupid. They just don’t have the same sense of danger or consequence. Apparently boys’ brains mature later than girls’, so they are especially prone to taking risks. The piece of loose metal on the stairs was a temptation for any 11-year old boy walking by. Having to kick it off made it all that more challenging. What would be the fun in just picking it up off the ground?

I know I can’t stop M from doing goofy things. After all, half of him comes from the same gene pool as my brothers. And his dad tells me he did a fair number of pretty dumb things when he was M’s age. I can make sure he gets his meds earlier in the morning, so they have a fighting chance of keeping M on track till he gets to school. So if he sees a squirrel, he’ll just keep walking.


Six things I learned about my kid this summer



Summer Needs Action xD

Summer Needs Action xD (Photo credit: Ghawi DXB ™)


It’s Labour Day weekend and the new school year is just around the corner. We’ve had a great summer – lots of weekends at the cottage, warm, sunny days and just hanging out with friends and family. Now it’s back to the routine of early mornings (school starts at 8 am), endless streams of permission forms and extra-curricular activities and going to bed on time. It means my husband and I have to be much more religious about getting lunches ready the night before and enforcing bedtimes. Back-to-school is an adjustment for everyone.


M has had a good summer. There were a few temper tantrums, but with much less physical aggression, even compared to a couple of months ago. We’re still working on managing the verbal aggression – M swears worse than a longshoreman when he’s angry.  We got a fair amount of attitude whenever we asked him to do something around the house, but sometimes he would surprise us by sweeping the floor or dusting his room. He claimed to be bored unless he was hanging out with a friend or on the computer, playing MindCraft, but he learned how to play a couple of new card games and beat his dad multiple times at Uno.


Even when you think you know your child, from time to time, he or she will surprise you. As M gets older, I find the complexities of his personality unfolding like the layers of an onion. Sometimes, his tastes have changes or he has lost interest in a particular activity. Other times, he’s clearly learned a new skill or has overcome an obstacle that has given him trouble in the past. And once in a while, I realize that I have misread a characteristic of his personality.


Here’s a list of six things I learned about M this summer:


  • He doesn’t like to swim. While he will tolerate going into a swimming pool, he doesn’t care much for open water. Apparently, it has “stuff” in it. We spent a fair number of  hot, muggy weekends at the cottage this summer and swimming was often the only relief from the heat. I finally bought a couple of extra-thick styrofoam noodles and a blow-up water recliner, which M liked to play with. But unless it was really hot and everyone else was swimming, M avoided the water as much as possible.
  • He isn’t afraid to look silly in public. Once day a week at Tennis camp was Crazy Hair or Hat day. M went for 4 weeks and on every Crazy Hair day, he wore a blue and white wig that came from the Dollar store. One week, we tied little pony tales with bright covered elastics; another weekend, he went off wearing a lop-sided tiara; and recently, he wore a triangular “hat” with pictures of the Eiffel Tower on each side, perched on the top of the wig. For the final week, the wig was decorated with an assortment of household items, using pipe cleaners. He got points for his team for dressing up, but he could have settled for something a little less conspicuous. As far as M was concerned, the sillier the headgear the better.
  • He’s an introvert. This was the most surprising “lesson” I learned about M this summer. He has always been very social and preferred to play with others than be on his own. Since he seemed to need lots of company and external stimulation, I had assumed that he was an extrovert. But watching him this summer, I could see that while he likes to be around people, he needs plenty of downtime to recharge. He would often come back from playing with another child or an activity and sit quietly on the couch, reading. Or he would go to his room and listen to the radio. Sometimes, I’ve had to adjust my behaviour and let him take the time to chill out, rather than scheduling lots of activities in a single day.  Pushing M into doing something before he is ready has always been a challenge, but now I have a better sense of why.
  • Mental attitude is key for M. Never ever having tied a shoelace, he decided to forego shoes with velcro and go straight to lace-ups. He’s still not totally proficient at tying his own shoes, but he’s discovered he can shove them on his feet, even when they are tied up. Contrast this to tennis, where is a good player. But somewhere over the summer, he let himself be convinced by a group of other kids at Tennis Camp that he wasn’t a strong singles player. Prior to that, he always finished at the top of his flight, but lately he’s struggled. I always knew that M could talk himself out of doing things, but now that I know he can talk himself into things too. Could be very useful as we try to help him get more comfortable with writing. According to reports from the school last year, most of the time, M would just refuse to start an assignment that involved any writing. Hard on his self-esteem and equally difficult for the teaching staff to assess his work.
  • He is fully capable of amusing himself. Like most 11-year old boys, M’s favourite activity is playing computer games. While he has a 30 minute-a-day limit during the school year, we were much more relaxed about allowing him media time during the summer. Nonetheless, there were limits and despite moaning and groaning, he could find things to do to entertain himself, often for hours. I expect this falls more into the category of things I suspected but can now cite as evidence to M when he complains about being bored.
  • M can handle between 45 to 60 minutes at a time on the computer. Much more than that and he gets really irritable and easily agitated. I discovered this the hard way a few times this summer, when M had been playing on the computer for an extended time and I asked him to shut it off and do something else.  He’d usually refuse and we’d argue back and forth for 10-15 minutes, until he’s slam down the lid of the laptop and storm off. A couple of times, the arguments escalated into full-blown meltdowns. Fortunately for all of us, we figured this out early on in the summer.  Once the causal effect was clear to M, it was a matter of coming up with acceptable limits in terms of computer time. Even better, these limits could be enforced, because M understood what would happen.


All of these insights are useful in terms of understanding M and what makes him tick. Figuring out a couple of his triggers is useful in terms of trying to avoid meltdowns and help M manage his behaviour.  It has certainly made the summer go much smoother. We’ll cross our fingers for the fall.


My kid is his own worst enemy

You are your own worst enemy

You are your own worst enemy (Photo credit: macahanC6R)

M had a great weekend. He played morning and night with his cousins who have a cottage down the road from ours. From all reports, M was being polite and considerate. This morning I observed as he instructed several other cousins to watch out for one of the younger children during a game of group tether ball to ensure that everyone got a chance to hit the ball.

Fast forward a couple of hours. I arrive back from a walk to find that everything’s gone to hell in a hand basket. M has been sent home from the cousins for being rude and aggressive, which precipitated a meltdown of epic proportions.

Looking back, it wasn’t a big surprise that M went off the rails. He hasn’t been sleeping terribly well and this morning he woke up at  6am (even for him that’s early). Due to parental slothfulness (aka sleeping in), he’s been getting his meds later which throws his whole schedule off. So he’s tired and over-stimulated from running around for 2 and 1/2 days.

On my way out for my walk, I dropped by the cousins’ to see if he wanted some lunch. He was alternately weepy and snappy with me. I could tell he was on the edge and suggested he come home. But the kids were all getting ready to go on a scavenger hunt – on of M.s favourite past times – and he didn’t want to miss out. He threw a couple of things into the bushes and used a few bad words. Since he didn’t actually throw anything at me or anyone else, I figured he was still under control. But I did walk back to our cottage and asked his dad to go and check on him in a few minutes, just to be on the safe side.

it only took about 5 minutes before the threads on M’s temper snapped completely. He got upset with one of the younger cousins about something minor When he was asked to go home, he refused. Shouting and more bad words ensued. His father was summoned.

I gather from reports after-the-fact that M was very angry. He threw anything in his room he could put his hands on at his dad, including a couple of fist-sized rocks (note to self: remove rocks). He tore his bed apart and slammed the door of his room so hard that he knocked the trim loose. My mother was so alarmed by M’s behaviour that she sought refuge in a neighbouring cottage. Given that her ex-husband (my father) was infamous for his unpredictable temper, it isn’t a surprise that she was frightened.

I missed all the drama. By the time I got back, M was into self-loathing, which is always the final stage of a meltdown – he hates his life, he wants to hurt himself. We know this is part of his cycle out of the maelstrom,. But as soon as M starts to talk about harming himself, we tell him we will have to take him to the hospital for his safety and ours. This is usually enough to bring M back to reality.

When M is calmed down, he’s always embarrassed and contrite. As a consequence of his behaviour, he was not permitted to go back and play with the cousins unless accompanied by me or his dad – humiliating when you are 11. Of course, he missed out on the scavenger hunt. And I stipulated that he had to apologize to everyone he had yelled at or upset, including his grandmother.

Apologies are never easy. But M did say he was sorry, first to his grandmother and then his uncle, who had also witnessed his meltdown. Without any prompting, he apologized and hugged one of the younger cousins. Several hours later, he was able to return to his cousins’ cottage and apologize to the other adults for his behaviour. They all accepted M’s apology and gave him a big hug. He than played quietly with the cousins while his dad and I enjoyed a drink on the patio with adults.

As awful as this incident was for those that observed it first hand, there are a couple of positives to note. While M was verbally aggressive and rude, he wasn’t physically aggressive with any of the kids. He deliberately threw a ball away from the others, rather than at them. In the lead up to the meltdown, as I was talking to him, I could see him struggling to control himself. He removed himself from the group and was off on his own, but he couldn’t take that extra step and go home.

To an outside observer, it probably sounds like I am rationalizing my child’s horrible behaviour. But those people don’t live with M. He is not by nature and easy-going child. He gets irritated easily. The fact that he only used words, instead of objects, is s big deal. So is being able to walk up to half a dozen people and look them in the eye and tell them he was sorry. I knew this would be hard for him. It was supposed to be.

This time, M didn’t succeed in talking himself out of losing control. But he tried. I am realistic enough to know that there will be a next time, but I hope for M’s sake, that he can move the bar a bit closer to talking himself out of a meltdown.

Mad (young) man – I took a week off work for this?


UPDATE – today was much calmer. Despite complaining about having a stomach ache, M went to his swimming lessons. This afternoon, he read while I cleaned mouse poop out of the cupboards. Seriously, can this vacation get any better??!!


I am on holidays this week. The plan was the M would get a break from camp abd we would hang out and enjoy each others company.

It’s Day 2 and it’s pretty clear that there’s not much enjoyment going on. M keeps complaining that “I’m making he do things he doesn’t want to do.” As far a I can tell, this includes anything other than playing on the computer or watching the Olympics.  Me, I’m almost ready to call and see if they need me to come into work.

I know from experience that M tends to do well with some structure to his day. So several weeks ago, I told him I was signing him up for swimming lessons. He’d swim for 30 minutes every morning and then we’d go do something fun.

Every day last week, I reminded him that we weren’t going to sit around  the house all week and we needed to come up with some ideas of things we could do. On Sunday, I asked him what he thought we could do on Monday.  When M said he didn’t have any ideas, I suggested either mini-golf or the water park. He chose mini-golf.

But when it came time to go swimming, M balked. He didn’t want to go. Then he agreed to go, but he didn’t want to walk or ride his bike. Given that the pool is less than a 10 minute walk from our house, driving seems like a waste of gas. But we compromised – we’d take the car and go straight from swimming to mini-golf.

M seemed to enjoy swimming and we had a good time playing mini-golf. He wasn’t too happy that I wanted to run some errands on the way home, but he didn’t give me too hard a time.  Although he complained every time I asked him to turn off the TV or the computer, the rest of the day was relatively uneventful,

However, compared to today, Monday was a walk in the park. When it came time to go to swimming lessons, M refused. He claimed to “hate swimming.” We spent 10 minutes arguing back and forth about the merits of swimming lessons – according to M, there are none. Finally, I told M that we’d take the car (walking seems to be a big obstacle this week).

As we walked onto the pool deck, M spotted a group of girls. He turned to me and said, “I’m not going in the water.”  Never mind that the girls were part of a day camp and weren’t paying any attention to him. I suggested that instead of going in the water, he could stay on the deck and talk about water safety with the instructor. No way – he knew everything he needed to know about water safety. Another 10 minutes spent with me trying to convince him to participate and him refusing (are we detecting a pattern here?) Finally, I told him that if we went home, he would spend the rest of the day in his room and he would have to pay me back for the swimming lessons out of his own money. A bit heavy-handed, but it wasn’t even 10 am and it felt like all we’d done this morning was argue.

After a few more minutes, M relented and spent the rest of the lesson time, happily chatting with the very patient instructor. On the way home, I told him that I didn’t enjoy arguing with him. We agreed we would try to get along for the rest of the day.

The truce lasted for a couple of hours. We had decided to go and see a movie this afternoon – M`s choice. On the way into the mall, M argued with me about where the theatre was located.  It wasn’t where he thought it was and we had to ask for directions. Then after the movie, he got upset when I wanted to get something to eat and check out a couple of stores. He refused my offer to buy him a bagel and creme cheese and whined loudly about how long my order was taking. At one point, he told me he was going to walk home. I told him I’d see him when he got home. He stayed with me.

By the time we got home, I was just about at the end of my rope. If a band of gypsies had showed up at my door, I would have paid them to take my kid. Instead, I gave him something to eat and left M in front of the TV and went out and did some gardening. Occasionally, M would stick his head out the back door and tell me what was going on. Fortunately for both of us, my plants needed a lot of attention.

Despite dancing on my last nerve today, M did a pretty good job of handling his anger. He used a few inappropriate words, but he didn`t completely lose his cool. His obstreperousness only last for a short time.  He apologized for his behaviour (both times), without me having to ask.

M couldn`t tell me why he was so upset today. At one point when he was angry with he me, he told me that “we were only doing things I wanted to do and nothing he wanted to do.” When I pointed out that all he wanted to do was sit on the sofa all day, he didn`t disagree.

So what`s a parent to do? I can`t call in sick. I could insist that my husband stay home tomorrow then head out for a day at the spa. I could stay in my room all day and not worry about my kid`s head exploding after hours of watching beach volleyball and synchronized diving.

Tomorrow is another day and my fingers are crossed that it will be better than today.

M and his dad worked out a schedule for tomorrow. We`ll try swimming again and then head out to a museum for a couple of hours after lunch.

If that doesn`t work, I`m sure they`ll need me at the office.

M and the attack of the ooze – a measure of how far he’s come




The bucket, the puddle, and the tree in the puddle

The bucket, the puddle, and the tree in the puddle (Photo credit: johnsam)


This morning M fell in big puddle of ooze. He was walking across a field to meet up with his camp group, when he slipped and fell in a huge puddle of a viscous substance that had the texture of jello. Only sticky. It was hidden under a layer of grass and sand, so you didn’t know it was slippery until you were sitting on the ground.


Poor M stood up and fell again. Covered from almost head to toe in this disgusting gelatinous goop. There were lots of other kids around and some of them were laughing at him (as he fell the second time, I turned around to a group of girls who were laughing particularly loud and told them to stop, as it wasn’t very nice). I took a couple of steps to avoid stepping in the goo and promptly fell on my butt. I wasn’t quite as gooey as M, but I can vouch for its nastiness.


[Turns out the goo was a powder the camp had been using last week to make snow for a “winter camp.”  In the wake of yesterday’s torrential rainfall, the substance turned into something resembling primordial ooze]


The remarkable thing about this incident was that M kept his cool. He was upset – understandably, as the stuff was gross. His dad went into the bathroom with him to help M clean up and had to scrap it off his shorts with paper towel. As I discovered when I went to peel it off my socks and shoes, once you got the goo off, your clothes dried quickly and there wasn’t much of a stain. So if you hadn’t witnessed M’s fall(s), you wouldn’t have known he’d been bouncing in gloppy goo.


Understandably, M was a little rattled for the first hour or so of camp.


But he stayed at camp. He didn’t have to come home with us because he was so upset. He didn’t get into a fight with another child. He participated in the activities, rather than withdrawing and refusing to do what the other kids were doing. Or being disruptive.




Less than 2 months ago, M had a major freak-out at school when I tried to give him his pills – to the extent that I had to take him home. M doesn’t like to be embarrassed or to draw too much attention to himself (certain irony in this, since his behaviour often attracts attention). Falling in a puddle of gooey goop in front of a big group of people has a high embarrassment quotient.


If this had happened last summer, the day would have been over before it started. M would have been upset, probably more because other kids were laughing, than over falling. But today, he handled a difficult situation with maturity and grace. It was wonderful to see.


I told M that I was very proud of him for keeping his cool. The next time, he gets upset about something, I will remind him how well he handled the attack of the goop.  Progress…definite progress.