"Stormy" is the only way I have been able to describe Eli's behavior in the last day and a half or so. He has been struggling with the transition from his previous teacher, whom he really liked, to his new teacher. I knew that he was definitely having issues with the transition. Eli has been asking whether he is the reason his previous teacher left (she and I have both been reassuring him); he has also asked if he is naughty if he can bring his previous teacher back. In the meantime, Patrick and I had a conference with his new teacher to explain the difficulties he is having, along with some ideas to help him along. Eli loves to have hoodies, and wearing one seems to help him stay calmer; we also often bandage his hands because when he is anxious, he scratches the skin off of his fingers. I also kept him out of school for the majority of the week...making his world a little smaller and calmer, as he processes the changes that are occurring.
Until yesterday, Eli had been calming down. Yesterday, he had a near panic attack when he thought an ant had bitten him (last time he had an ant bite, it resulted in a massive case of hives and a visit to the doctor for a shot). I was able to calm him after a while, but he was exhausted later. This morning, he really slept in, but woke up teary.
The plan was to have a very quiet, restful day, but it didn't last. We went to the store briefly, and on the way, Eli said something about turning 5 on his birthday. I had to remind Eli that he would be turning 4, not 5. He said, "but my friend T is 5 and he is going to Kindergarten next year, and I want to go to Kindergarten with him. So, I will be 5 on my birthday."
I had to gently break the news that he is NOT going to Kindergarten next year, and that he is definitely not turning 5 in time to go to Kindergarten with his friends T and K. I tried to explain that he would not be going to Kindergarten in the same school as T and K anyway (we are in different districts), even if he was five. I tried to explain that T and K would still come to play with him after school, and that they could see each other outside of school.
For TWO HOURS, Eli was inconsolable. He cried because his misses L, a friend from his previous school (whom we STILL SEE on occasion...though not often). He cried because he feels left out. He cried because he's not old enough for Kindergarten. He cried and asked to give them his toys so that they wouldn't forget about him. He cried because he doesn't think they like him since they are leaving his school at the end of the year.
He cried. And cried. And cried. And screamed. And yelled. And sobbed. And cried some more.
Two hours later, he had settled a little bit and was able to eat lunch. He cried intermittently through lunch and for another half hour or so afterward. Patrick called toward the end, and Eli refused to talk to him because he was still too upset (at that point, he had settled into intermittent crying).
Thankfully, mercifully, three hours later, Eli stopped crying and I was able to put him down for a nap. Exhaustion does not begin to cover how I felt. He slept very peacefully for a couple hours...and which was a long, beautiful break for me. After waking, he still had a couple of small crying jags, and he did get into trouble for disobedience several times, but he was a lot calmer.
Hopefully, as he adjusts to a new routine at school, he will return to being his normal, happy, sunny self. Things have never been as emotionally difficult as the first few months Eli came home, when days like this were common - and nights were spent dealing with night mares and might terrors. I am concerned about the level of anxiety he has been showing lately, though, and I am definitely worried about how personally responsible he feels for changes that are way beyond his control. We may have to go back to using some of the strategies we used to use when he was tiny (well, tinier than now, anyway).
Of course, for today anyway, an early bed time was in order...and I think I need an early bed time, too : )!