In one long day spent with my two sweet if high maintenance home children, I had already experienced something of a rollercoaster with Sweet Girl. The morning was a fabulous, wonderful high that I am leaving for last on this journey of three posts, because the third event of that day (now forty eight hours in the past!) is distinctly less pleasant.
So why revisit it?
It’s simple really. It happened, it was a big event this week, and I’m hoping that by marking it I can make sense of what happened a little, and remind myself that things can improve as well as explode sometimes. And in this instance, writing Thursday’s explosion gives me a marker in time to see how well we improve!
Little Man has an explosive temper. I don’t believe this is part of his basic personality which is largely easy going and happy. However, growing up with an older brother who is almost always angry and enraged, and a sister who is almost always anxious and intolerant is going to affect the most laid back person. Add in the curve ball that is chronic illness and constant doctors’ appointments, tests, needles, treatments, therapies and an increasing awareness of being different to all the other kids in your school, and you have the ingredients for quite a lot of unhappiness. Little Man Tom is a bright button, but he has learning difficulties. Of what nature is far more mysterious, but I do know that his memory works in very strange ways, and that he has a very flaky understanding of the practicalities of life (compared with other kids his age). With all these factors playing a part, he is a little boy with a VERY short fuse.
Thursday morning, following an amazing riding lesson, we arrived home for lunch. While I was preparing this lunch which was by no means late, Sweet Girl and Little Man were playing. She became quite considerably upset when he wanted to rename one of her teddies temporarily. Sweet Girl had morphed into Queen B**ch, sotto voce… Little Man does not do sotto voce, and so the first inkling I had of this fight was his loud, shrill voice yelling at her. My attempt to a) separate them and b) help them sort out what was clearly a trifling sibling issue was thwarted by Tom’s about turn as he directed the full force of his anger and hurt at me.
Now… I am patient, and understanding. It turns out, as often, that Queen B**ch was totally in the wrong, and his anger was primarily confusion and upset at her reaction to an act of kindness. All of this was to come out much, much later. However understanding I may be, I have very little tolerance of being used as a punching bag. I have experienced this both literally and metaphorically at the hands of Eldest and Sweet Girl, and Little Man has now joined the party. At no point have they ever seen me accept such behaviour. There have ALWAYS been serious consequences.
And yet… here we are again.
I was able to curtail the lunchtime crisis and accepted the rather sullen sorry from both Little Man and Sweet Girl. Queen B**ch had retreated in the face of my exasperation, and actually Sweet Girl is beginning to accept her inner Queen and therefore control her a little better.
Fast forward to the end of the day. 9 hours of solid, intensive, supportive parenting. I love them completely, but I really needed a little bit of “me” time. Given the last few days, I wanted to spend a little time at the piano in the hope of recapturing the glimmers of peace I had found there the previous day. The Offspring were in the sitting room, apparently playing nicely.
For all of 4 minutes…
Oh yes, dear readers, I got FOUR minutes of peace. (Needless to say, not enough to find even a hint of a glimmer.)
Gentle, patient voice: “I think you need time apart, just move away, I’m coming”
Patient Mummy morphed, much as Sweet Girl had earlier. 9 hours, I spent with these two!!! To cut a long and, let’s face it, boring story short, I spent 45 minutes shouting at them! I don’t do shouting very often, it’s proved to be totally counter-productive. But I had had it!
Sweet Girl wanted to use a step-stool given to Little Man by Nanny. He was not using it. But on the basis that “it’s mine”, he became immediately aggressive and possessive about it. Kesia reasonably wanted to continue using it and resisted. Little Man morphed into Godzilla, King of Destruction and charged to take it from her. Screaming ensued and I intervened. So far, so banal: brother and sister and a good dose of stupidity.
Unfortunately, much as earlier in the day, Godzilla, King of Destruction showed once again his utter lack of control and turned his gaze and wrath onto me… wrong move!!!
Hence, forty five minutes of me shouting!
Sweet Girl had the good sense (only recently discovered) to stand in a corner of the room facing me and looking downcast and apologetic. Godzilla, King of Destruction did not, and took forty five minutes to finally realise that this was a fight he could not win.
It was harrowing, especially after a day which had already drained me of all my parenting energy. But I do think it was worthwhile. As much as I have to take into account Little Man’s difficulties, fatigue and the problems that will necessarily follow the exhaustion of a temper tantrum, there are occasions when it’s important to let him know that he cannot get his own way by whining, or worse, fighting with Mummy.
I haven’t found a solution to help him.
I’ve used pictures, to help him understand the step by step nature of his arguments and emotional meltdowns. I’ve used reward charts and consequences, warning cards and words, distraction techniques and relaxation techniques.
I’m no closer to feeling that he understands what’s going on. And if he doesn’t understand it, I’m not sure how and if he can learn to change his behaviour or control his emotional outbursts.
At the moment, we know that he’s not well. His weight is not good, and just by looking at him you can see he’s quite sickly. He’s started throwing up again (hasn’t done that regularly for a good few years now), an he’s tired all the time. He experiences headaches daily and we don’t know why (another thing to investigate). Clearly there is a link with food, and I’m sure you all know of someone who becomes ogre-like when they need to eat. But what is going on with Tom and food is anyone’s guess…
Little Man is not short of valid excuses for emotional rocky seas. But as his mother, I cannot allow him to behave in ways which will cause him great harm long term. Somehow, I have to teach him to deal with disappointment and frustration in a way that is socially acceptable. I don’t feel that I’m very far along that path. I’m trying, day by day, step by step. And I’m ALWAYS open to suggestions. Given the wide range of difficulties I’ve experienced already with Eldest and Sweet Girl I may answer with “done that”, or “no, that won’t work”, but mostly, I try and see if those suggestions can in any way be useful…
The last couple of days have been better. I have cut off Little Man’s tantrums just as they are about to begin and although it’s been tough, they haven’t escalated. I’m hoping that by marking this big one in time and in writing, I will be better able to help him navigate the next one!!