So, after talking to the teachers, I'm feeling both better and worse. The problem seems to be that he's becoming very defensive and thus becomes argumentative because he thinks he's being attacked even when he isn't. (Hmm, wonder where he gets that from?)
It comes down to this: Is he feeling defensive because that's just one of the behavioral issues he has? Maybe. I've seen him do this, and I agree it's a problem. But I also know that his dad is having a lot of trouble right now with his patience level and is snapping at him a lot and giving him a lot of negative input. Everything is a battle and when it isn't, dad is emotionally removed. (And I also know that dad feels really bad about this and that it's really out of his control. I'm not blaming him, I actually feel for him because I know how much he loves the kids and I know he really is going through a lot of crap right now and he's doing the best he can, but right now he needs to be self absorbed. But this adds a lot of stress for me, and I can't even say that without making the situation worse. How do I diffuse the damage? How do I explain to a 5 year old that his idol is treating him this way because he's under emotional/mental duress of his own?) There's also the breakdown in his diet (because his dad is feeling too overwhelmed to deal with it), which I know makes him more emotionally sensitive. And his teacher, who I'm sure is totally well-intentioned, is on his case all. the. time. Today I asked her if she was finding chances to give him some positive reinforcement when he managed to do the things she had asked him to do, and the answer was not reassuring. Basically, she has to point out a problem to him every day, but I think she feels too busy to point out as many or more positives. Classic trap: you're so busy putting out fires that you don't feel you have the time to build up the structures that would keep the fires from starting. With this kid, though, that just makes the problem worse. I don't want him coddled, but hell--who isn't going to start feeling like crap if all they ever hear is what a screwup they are? And who can keep it together when they think they're crap?
And why do I feel like this is all SO SERIOUS? When I was a kid, kids were just hyper. They grew out of it. They weren't disabled and every move you made wasn't this huge weight hanging over your head, as if one wrong move would scar them for life. It's like the whole issue of weapons and violent play--what boys when I was a kid didn't play cops and robbers or cowboys and indians or some form of war play? And even as a girl--we all made guns and chased each other around with them. Now, everyone fights against that. I finally realized, about a year ago, that I was probably doing him more harm than good by fighting that. Way to give him a neurosis: "Oh, you like that? Well, I don't like it, and it's wrong, wrong, wrong. Don't even talk about it!" God, Carl Jung is rolling in his grave.
And has everyone noticed by now that I'm a completely over-analytical freak? Oh, did I forget to mention that? I remember when I was about 4, I used to bug my mom constantly about--I'm not kidding--the fact that there was no way to tell whether everything that was happening was really happening or whether it was a dream. And if it was a dream, how did we know it was even our dream? What if it was somebody else's dream, in which case we might not even exist at all?
I got spam today from "Ass Girl". That's gonna be my new superhero name. Ass Girl. Me likey.