Free For All Friday, Weekends and Setting Clocks Ahead

Friday is a day of hope and relief for most people. For us, not so much. For moms with special needs kids Fridays bring a sense of  foreboding. Fridays feel heavy, fraught with worry and too much time spent trying to figure out how to keep the uglies at bay.

This weekend is the worst one of all weekends in the whole year.  This one robs us of our already fragile sense of well-being.

While I am grateful for Saturday and Sunday mornings because there will be no fight to get my 17 year old out of bed, in the shower, dressed and out the door on time with a pencil (he loses a pencil a day), I also dread the mood swings, demands for the unreasonable, overreactions, loud rap, chaos in every room, a kitchen that is never put away and cleared of all dirty dishes, siblings bickering.

I have a stomach ache just thinking about it.

I have tried imposing structure, planning activities of interest. I have tried staying positive and redirecting. I have tried ignoring it all and sitting in my corner with some yarn. I have tried bribery. I have invited other kids over. I have tiptoed, removed triggers, made great dinners and snacks. And still, the weekends hurt.

I think the weekends hurt because my kids have spent every bit of their energy on keeping it together for 5 days in a school that doesn’t understand them, is not inclusive, accepting, appropriately challenging and engaging.

Monday through Friday my kids are sitting on a tipped over boat, clinging to the edge, all alone in a sea full of undrinkable water, sharks circling.

Some weekends bring lots of long deep sleep for the boys. Some bring angry lashing out. Some bring tears. Some are filled with obsessive worry, perseverative thinking. I can fix none of it for them, no matter how many IEPs we reconvene, how many meetings we have with school administrators. No matter how many sessions with therapists, or runs to Taco Bell and McDonalds.

But this weekend, this dreadful weekend, brings an extra challenge. Daylight Savings Time. My youngest and I don’t do well this time of year because of it. It wreaks havoc on our systems, punches holes in the boats we are clinging to, messes with our sleep and natural rhythms. It’s disorienting and uncomfortable. It makes us both feel on edge and out of order. It’s just unnatural and it doesn’t help to hear the masses tell us how great it is to have an extra hour of daylight. We hate it.

Teachers, remember this as you great your kiddos on Monday morning. Remember that some of your students don’t love the shift in time, the light lasting longer each day. Some kids don’t adjust for weeks. Some kids are so uncomfortable they turn into someone or something you don’t recognize. Behaviors may escalate, kids may shut down, some won’t be able to concentrate. Before you make assumptions about why, before you put the onus on the kids for unwanted behaviors, please remember that setting clocks ahead or back can significantly affect your students in ways you may not understand. And they certainly won’t be able to tell you why they are feeling out of sync.

Be kind. Have compassion. Adjust expectations. Maybe change the pace of lessons, slow things down a bit, be gentle. Be mindful that weekends are not restorative for some of your students and this one is especially ugly.

If you see me out and about, please don’t say, “Have a good weekend!”  It just makes me feel worse.

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