Friday, November 20, 2009

The Lion's Den

Weekday mornings fill me with dread.  And it doesn’t help that I have yet to embrace the whole “morning person” thing.  I am reluctant to leave my sweet slumber, my comfy bed, the pure bliss that is not having to do anything for anyone.  But the part that causes dread in me is when I face J’s closed bedroom door.  Each school day, there is a possibility that I may have to face one of my greatest fears.  That J will flat-out refuse to go to school.  This is what I think about as I stare at his door.  Well, that and the fact that it’s pretty dirty and I really ought to wash it.

The house is relatively peaceful with his door closed.  Every morning, I long to leave it that way.  Let him sleep.  Let calm fill my soul.  Let the air be undisturbed by unwelcome sounds.

But alas, he must get to school--and preferably on time.

So I turn the handle . . . and enter the lion’s den.  I’m greeted with groans, shrieks, grunts or yells.  The last sounds I want to hear that early in the morning.  My ears ring and yearn for the peace of just moments ago.

J doesn’t like to wake up.  He unfortunately takes after me in that respect.  So he usually starts out grumpy.  Add to that the fact that he doesn’t respond well to being hurried through things--his usual response is to dig in his heels and take even longer.  And top off the whole scenario with the fact that he doesn’t really WANT to go to school in the first place.  The idea of rushing off to a place full of strangers is never appealing to him--it causes his anxiety to skyrocket.  He’d much rather stay home and play with familiar toys and pester his little sister.

But I would much rather he go to school.  Social anxiety is something he cannot overcome at home.  So I put on my nicest smiley face and use my best falsely-excited, super-patient voice, to try to get him moving.  That’s the trick, to get him out of bed and moving towards either the bathroom or the kitchen.  Sounds simple enough, but always ends up being quite an ordeal.

Ideally, I can produce some amusing story that will lure him out of his fetal position, his face buried in the mattress.  Like how I tried to stuff my pillow in my roommates desk drawer during a sleepwalking episode in college.  Or how little R maybe dreamt of roosters and did he hear her say “cock-a-doodle-doo” in the middle of the night?  If I can get him to laugh, our morning usually proceeds a little more smoothly.

I can’t say that I relish having the role of comedian forced upon me.  Shaggy is much better at it than I am, but his mornings are busy with dog walking, making lunches, and getting ready for work.  And J usually roars “MOOMMMYYYY!!!” if Shaggy attempts to cajole him out of bed.  So it’s left to me.

A long lost friend with whom I was recently reconnected, has a child with anxiety issues, as well.  One day, she had to drag her out from under the bed by her ankles and carry her, kicking and screaming, to school.  And they survived.  AND THEY STILL LOVE EACH OTHER!  She’s my hero.  That story is one I try to remember when I’m faced with an especially rough morning with J.

At least my little lion isn‘t usually THAT wild.  And if my friend’s daughter has improved to the point that she can speak in public and perform at piano recitals, there’s hope for J.  So I will continue to face his roars on a daily basis in the hope of growth and an increased ability to control his anxieties.  Until that day comes, I will try to find solace in the fact that Daniel survived his time in the lion’s den.  Maybe I will too.

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