The move has been rough on Hannah. There has been a resurgence in old behaviors and an increase in current ones. Twice she's peed in her closet (why is it always the closet by the way) not because she had to go to the bathroom, but because she was mad at me. The hitting, kicking, biting, scratching, screaming, and shouting nasty words is at an all time high. The bigger she gets, the harder that is to manage. She is just so strong! She seems to be perpetually angry and has zero impulse control when her hair trigger is activated.
Shortly after we moved in I took her to the Omaha Zoo by myself. We used to go to the Rhode Island Zoo by ourselves all the time so I thought nothing of doing it. Well, this zoo is a lot bigger than our old zoo and requires much more walking. At one point Hannah's whining reached critical mass and she just freaked out. When I suggested we call it a day and come back another time that freak out turned into a full fledged meltdown. I ended up having to drag her close to 2 miles (most of it uphill) back to the van while she screamed, hit, kicked, scratched, and bit me. Let me tell you I got plenty of dirty looks that day. Only one kindly person offered me a smile and the encouraging words of, "It looks like someone is having a rough day," the entire way! I'm actually surprised no one called security thinking I was trying to kidnap her, she was putting up such a fuss. Even though it was a crisp spring day, I was drenched in sweat by the time we reached the van. The workout I received wrestling her back to the parking lot rivaled anything I ever did while on the P90X program! Try it if you dare. It's guaranteed to melt the pounds away!
She snuck out of the house during nap time and went visiting around the neighborhood. The scary part was that she even crossed the street and was on her way up to the next street when Kyle found her! Another scary part is that two of our neighbors that she chose to go visit actually saw and spoke with her, but neither of them called us to let her know she was off wandering. Seriously, who thinks it's ok for a 4 1/2 yr old to be off on her own running the streets?!? When I went looking for her I was in a panic after having searched the house and not been able to find her. At first I thought she was hiding in the house since she's prone to doing that. The new house is much bigger than the old one and it took me much longer to search thoroughly and that wasted precious time. Our property is also much larger and very wooded, as is the whole neighborhood so she could have also been hiding nearby outside and I not been able to immediately see her. I was on the verge of calling the police when Kyle came walking up the driveway with her. He found her at the very edge of our property on her way up to the next neighborhood! After that little episode we made the tough decision to put a lock back on her door. We were hoping that we wouldn't have to do that here. She's almost five and should be able to be trusted to stay in the house. We also live in a much quieter area and I thought even if she managed to get outside she'd be ok as long as she stayed on the property. That day she proved she wouldn't just stay on the property!
Back last year when Hannah had her latest psych eval, along with her Disruptive Behavior Disorder-NOS, Pediatric Bipolar and ADHD were listed as rule out disorders to watch because she had many warning signs of both, but the teacher evaluations did not match the home evaluations. Over the last 6 months or so we've seen a marked increase in impulsive behavior. In fact the girl barely has ANY impulse control at all (for good OR bad actions). She's never really been one to learn from her mistakes and the consequences we give for her choices never seem to make any difference in future choices so we are really starting to suspect that an ADHD diagnosis may be tacked on in the not so distant future. Her birth brother also has this diagnosis so it's not too big of a surprise and the more and more I learn about ADHD and it's characteristics, the things I thought disqualified Hannah from the diagnosis don't disqualify her at all. At the moment, all attempts at behavior modification are failing and I think it's beginning to affect her self esteem. I think she's starting to FEEL as if she is a bad girl. That is something I really DO NOT WANT. I know she is a good girl. She just can't seem to help herself sometimes. All this makes me wonder if an ADHD diagnosis comes if we should consider medication. I never thought I'd ever consider it for her for pretty much any reason, but I want her to be happy and right now she's just not. She can't control her actions and I imagine that is pretty frustrating. Have any of you ever considered/used any of the ADHD medications for your children? What factors went into your decision to try/not try them? What were your family's experiences with them?
On the positive side, Hannah's academics of course continue to accelerate. Lately she's been working on the phrasing aspect of her reading fluency and has made huge leaps! She reads with barely a thought about decoding and when she does mess up phrasing she notices and goes back and rereads the section until it sounds right. Addition and subtraction of the numbers less than 10 have pretty much become automatic for her. Counting change is also pretty much automatic. I think we are going to move up to paper money and larger amounts of change (several dollars worth of change) soon. She's cruising through a first grade math textbook with ease at the moment and we haven't really hit anything she hasn't mastered yet. Her vocabulary continues to increase and makes her sound much older than she is. Combine that with the fact that she just had her well child check up and she was in the 99.7th percentile for height and we've had multiple people suggesting that she must be in 2nd or 3rd grade lately! They are always astonished when Hannah informs them she hasn't quite turned 5 yet and she'll start kindergarten in the fall. Her fine motor coordination is also improving and her handwriting has improved drastically. Her coloring is much better too although she still hates to color. She's begun mostly using upper and lower case letters properly when she writes although she'd still rather write in all upper case. She still has several number reversals that we are working on (2, 7, 5, and 9), but the numbers themselves are formed correctly. They are just facing the wrong way! That's totally age appropriate so I'm not concerned in the least. Her spelling is getting much better and she's memorized how to spell many of the unusually spelled common sight words and is beginning to learn some of the more common spelling patterns beyond CvC and vCe. She's really into writing lists and stories at the moment and has begun writing her own chapter book. Now her idea of a chapter consists of only 2 sentences, but hey it's her book!
We've met 3 families in our neighborhood/town that have children around Hannah's age and have had play dates with them all so far. Two of those families have kids that will go to the same school as Hannah so that is a huge plus. AND one little girl (who unfortunately won't go to Hannah's school, but IS starting kindergarten next fall) lives basically next door. Our property extends quite a ways up the street we live on away from our house and all the way up to directly across from her house. We are hoping for lots of play dates with her this summer. One of the other families we mentioned invited us to attend the local festival with them and also invited Hannah to join their sons' team for a jr firefighters' water fight. It was AWESOME! Hannah had a blast. She watched the parade, climbed trees with the boys, and of course participated in the water fight. The actual competition is difficult to explain so I'll have to post pictures of it instead. After the kids' competition we watched the adult firefighters do their competition. Imagine what you see the kids doing in the picture being done with fully dressed firefighters and fire hoses! It was awesome to watch.
Photo Notes: The pictures are from painting Hannah's new room. The room was originally a dark forrest green. It was very pretty and well done, but hardly a little girl's room. Hannah also had been asking for a blue room for a year so we decided to give it a try. Kyle did a great job on it and Hannah even helped with the first coat of paint. The last picture is from the water fight. I'll post more pictures from that in my next post.