If you have not read the beginning of our story, please go here.
Finally, at the end of Little Sister's kindergarten year, things had reached the peak of difficulty. Or so Mama thought. Mama loved Little Sister and really missed her. Little Sister seemed so worried and upset and angry so much of the time. Mama couldn't remember the last time that she saw Little Sister smile. In fact, that became Mama's mission...to find her girl with a smile on her face.
Mama called a group of occupational therapists and told their story. She wondered if they could help. Mama told that she would get Little Sister up and dress her in her school uniform while Little Sister was still half asleep because Little Sister could not get dressed without extreme fits and discomfort. The OT said it sounded like a behavior problem to him.
At the end of the year conference with the teachers, the teachers told Mama that they didn't see anything out of the ordinary and that Mama was getting so tense and upset about nothing. Mama did something that she had never done in any conference with an adult. Mama cried.
Little Sister had joined the neighborhood swim team, following in her sister's footsteps. However, trying the bathing suit on during sign up had become a major scene in the bathroom. Of course it was too tight. Mama thought that Little Sister was just being picky and didn't want to listen. Time outs and other consequences followed. Little Sister became more angry and irritable.
Little Sister took swim lessons to prepare for swim team. There were three other kiddos in the class, and she did really well, learning to swim the length of the pool. When swim team started however, with 30-40 children at the pool at a time, she became "difficult". After her first few opportunities to swim to one of the teachers, she really started to dislike it. Looking back, Mama realized that Little Sister was trying to make some sort of connection with the teacher, but it wasn't always the same teacher, and there was a more demanding, pushing spirit than Little Sister had experienced at swim lessons.
Soon, she started to spit the word, "No!" to the teacher when she asked Little Sister to do something. Ultimately, Little Sister was dismissed from swim team with the idea that she might be ready the next year. The teacher clearly gave the impression that Little Sister was a "rough" kid. For the first time, Mama was not only hurt because an outsider had seen this behavior, but she was really embarrassed. And to be honest, Mama was angry. Little Sister who had been so kind and loving, seemed to have morphed into a child who was going to prove that nobody could make her do anything.
Within the next month, Little Sister could no longer wear anything other than one pair of very stretched out pajamas. Mama took Little Sister, who wore her pajamas and a pair of Crocs, shopping to find something--anything--to wear. They went to Wal-Mart, Target, Gymboree, the Children's Place. Little Sister couldn't find anything that she could wear. Nothing was soft enough, stretchy enough, endurable enough.
The next day was Sunday, and Little Sister couldn't wear the church dress that she had worn the last Sunday. Mama tried to help Little Sister find something else, but everything brought out a horrible tantrum and lots of yelling and screaming. Mama was very frustrated. And ticked off. If this was just bad behavior, then what else could she do? Finally, Mama dressed Little Sister in a school uniform even though it was Sunday. The uniform had been her sister's and was a size larger than Little Sister had been wearing to school.
Little Sister couldn't bear it. She shrieked. She yelled. She hit. Mama carried her to the van. Daddy took the baby in the other car. Once strapped in and on the way to church, Little Sister screamed bloody murder. She screamed gutteral screams and yelled that she haaaaaated her parents. More gutteral screams and thrashing--kicking the windows and the back of the seat in front of her. Mama thought that Littl Sister was going to kick the window out in the van and/or break the seat in front of her.
Seems silly that Mama, Little Sister and the rest of the family still went to church that day, but at this point, Little Sister behaved like this so much of the time that if they didn't go anywhere when she acted this way, the family would have been on house arrest. Right or wrong, Mama felt like Little Sister would "fall into place" when they got where they were going.
Once the family got to church, Mama held an exhausted Little Sister on her lap during the service. Little Sister sat chest to chest on Mama's lap the entire service, and she was spent. Red, swollen eyes and absolute exhaustion colored Little Sister's face. Mama's heart was breaking. This was the child that she had prayed over, "Lord, let us always be close." What was going on?
More of our story to come....