It was around 4am on Monday morning when I heard enough noises to wake me completely. I remember hearing other sounds through the night but must have drifted in and out of sleep until 4'ish. I got up and went first to Chef's room with two thoughts in mind - if someone's broken into our place, Chef will be absolutely terrified since that has always been one of his fears for as long as I've known him; or maybe it was Chef returning to food-sneaking-house-wanderings. Glancing into his room to see Chef's empty bed confirmed the latter.
As I walked down the stairs to the main floor, I called Chef's name but to no avail. I kept calling his name as I looked for him. I opened the basement door and noted that it was dark. Chef is not fond of the dark, so I didn't think he'd be down there. I turned on the light and called him as I walked down the stairs. Nothing. As I walked into the laundry room and turned on the light, I opened my cell phone and was just about to call the police, then stopped - there he was, hiding behind the door. (My daughter sometimes has cookies and whatnot in the basement) I closed my cell phone. "Upstairs. Now." He did, without a word. "Room Check. Now." He did, without a word. An empty chip bag, an empty cereal bag, an empty pickle jar, an empty jelly jar. "Go to bed. Do not get up anymore." "Yes, Mom."
On Sunday night at bedtime, I'd decided I'd wake Chef up early enough Monday morning to give him enough time to do his load of laundry. He still needed clothes for school and I figured waking earlier in the morning might be enough of a deterrent to keep him from being drawn to the idea of still not doing his laundry on the weekends. After his early-morning food adventure, however, I debated whether or not to wake him early - but he had left himself without clothes by not doing his laundry and he had made the choice to do the food wanderings and he needed clothes to wear to school. I woke him at 7am, half an hour earlier than his usual wake-up time.
And there was attitude. Much attitude. I wouldn't want to lose half an hour of sleep if I'd been up til past 4am either! But he was nonetheless reminded that the attitude was not welcome in my home and he could either turn it around immediately and communicate appropriately or take it outside. Out he went. Thankfully he was wearing his bathrobe! To make a loooooooong story short, he tantrummed outside for an hour. Much loud whining and complaining that I wasn't letting him inside and wasn't letting him go to school. When people walked by, he pumped up the volume. (My neighbour later told me that she'd heard him say, "I fucking hate you" when I was inside.) I got out my camera and started recording. This, of course, provided the audience he was seeking but I wasn't about to leave my camera outside to record then go back inside. He kept repeating that he wanted to go to school but I wouldn't let him. "What are you doing to get ready for school?" "Nothing! Because you won't let me come inside!" "What do you need to do in order to come back inside and get ready for school?" "Nothing! Or maybe a bunch of exercises or something! But you won't let me come in!" "What are you doing to help yourself become calm and appropriate so you can come back inside?" "NOTHING!!!"I taped for awhile then realized my camera was no longer recording and I went back inside. He continued to rant and rave and storm outside for awhile longer, glancing at the window every once in awhile and yelling. About 10 minutes after I'd gone inside, he quietly walked in the door, made a very angry face at me and told me he was ready to be quiet now. I told him that was great and reminded him that I hadn't invited him back inside yet because I haven't seen enough evidence that he was ready to be appropriate in our home. He flared his nostrils, and stormed back outside but less than a minute later he was using some exercising to calm himself. I watched him as he jogged back and forth a few times in the yard then did 10 sit-ups, 10 push-ups, and 10 jumping jacks. I then opened the door and asked if he was ready to be appropriate. He looked at me very pleasantly and said yes. He then came inside, and when I told him to put in his laundry, he did.
I wanted to transfer the video onto a disc so my son could watch it sometime together with me and see himself and talk about how that went. Unfortunately, when the camera had stopped recording it was because the batteries had died and the video hadn't saved.
This blog was initially set up as a means of communicating with my son's team. Since then, I've heard from other parents with similar stories. If you are living with challenges or journeying alongside someone who is, you are not alone. There are many of us. I'm a single adoptive Mom (http://richesofsimplicity.blogspot.com/) of a young man who lives with many abilities and many diagnoses. We have journeyed together through many challenges and a few adventures over the years as my son has tried to find space in this world that makes him feel more comfortable, an attempt made especially difficult when living with Attachment Disorder, PDD-NOS (Autism), Developmental Coordination Disorder, ADHD, prenatal substance exposure, etc. Some of the strongest elements used in this journey have been music, visual arts, therapeutic parenting, team-connection, boundary-setting, boundary-setting, boundary-setting, communication skills, community-building, continual lifeskills training, and elements of Theraplay. (Click here for some written resources.) On this journey, there is laughter and tears and growth and hope. The greatest of these is hope.