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 ( 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.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

4am Mornings = Not Fun for Anyone

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Chef has been up the past few mornings around 4am to use the washroom. I'm not sure if he's been going right back to bed or not, since I seem to drift in and out of sleep and then feel the need to get up and check to make sure he's back in his room.

On Tuesday, Chef had stayed home from school because he hadn't been feeling well. I'm not sure if he's come down with a cold or if his bedroom is causing him some problems with his sinuses, but on Monday night he asked if he could have a homeschool day on Tuesday. I told him that we could gladly do a homeschool day but those days have to be planned at least a few days beforehand. "Oh," Chef said, "because I'm not feeling very good." We later agreed that we'd see how he was feeling in the morning and if he still wasn't feeling great then he'd stay home for a sick day, then talked a bit about the difference between a homeschool day and a sick day. The next morning, Chef was up just before 4 and was sneezing off and on til about 8:00. I'd turned off the usual 7:30 alarm, but Chef came out of his room at 8 and said he had to get ready for school then started doing exercises. I reminded him that he was just staying home because he was sick, and that he needed to go back to bed. Around 11'ish, Chef came out again but this time said he REALLY needed to get ready for school. He still sounded snuffly. I reminded him again that he was sick and needed to rest so he could get better. Chef said he needed to be at school by lunch. When I asked him why, he said he thought he might have a test. I explored this a bit more with Chef then told him to just go and rest. I had a sense that he was in a rush to get to school for lunch because he knew he'd be missing out on other students' treats at lunchtime. I could be wrong. It's happened before. At noon, Chef told me again that he was feeling fine. He spent the afternoon at home with his sister and niece, and that evening he "redid" the dishes from last week that he said were clean though they weren't (we'd had a respite weekend, so Thursdays dishes were checked after Chef went to bed on Thursday then Chef was away til Monday evening).

This morning I told Chef he could go downstairs on his own and I'd be down in a minute. It was probably closer to three minutes. Chef said, "Ok, I'm going to make some cornmeal." When I went into the kitchen, there was water on the floor by the fridge. Chef said he didn't know what it was from. I opened the fridge door and noticed the lid on a casserole dish wasn't sitting well on the casserole dish, and figured the puddle on the floor was likely condensation from the wet lid. I debated whether or not to ask Chef or just point out the obvious situation. He's been in fairly good space and he's been occasionally starting to own up to things without lying first, then acknowledging that he feels better when he deals with things honestly like that, so I decided there might be an opportunity for Chef to be open about what he'd done so he'd get that feel-good. I asked Chef what he'd been doing in the kitchen so far. He said he'd gotten out his lunch, so I asked him what else he'd been doing in the kitchen. His immediate response of "That's all I was doing" came with whining and the ol' teenager "you don't believe me??" body language. I told him he needed to go find his honesty and appropriate ways of talking then talk to me. Chef went outside and did some jumping jacks then came in and repeated the same scenario. Back outside again. When he came in this time, he made a "grumpy and/or angry" face and stated that he'd grabbed some of the casserole out of the dish and eaten it while getting his lunch out of the fridge. When I reminded him that it would have been better to have breakfast and that there are appropriate ways to access food, he appeared even more indignant, looked like he was about to yell and started to say something but I quickly put my fingers to his lips to close them so he wouldn't wake his niece. Chef immediately started twisting his head and almost lost his balance. After removing my fingers, I asked Chef what the appropriate ways are to get food other than sneaking/grabbing food and stuffing into his mouth. "To ask or to eat at the table" was the grumpy reply. "Ok, did it work to lie and get angry with me over it?" "No," came the grumped reply. "Did it work to use up morning time that you needed to use for getting ready for school?" "No." Chef then started pushing his lip around with his hand. When I asked what he was doing, he said his lip hurt. I told him that it would definitely hurt doing what he was doing, and that if his lip hurt it would be better to put something cold on it. I had a look at his lip, saw nothing, got out a bag of frozen vegetables and put it to Chef's lip. He made an angry face and said his lip didn't hurt, but I wasn't sure if he was just saying that because he didn't like the cold. I told him that if it hurt, the cold would help and that it would be good to have it on there for a few seconds, and if it didn't hurt, then we didn't need the drama. Chef pulled away from the bag and walked over to the counter to get his lunch. I put the frozen vegetables back into the freezer and reminded Chef that he needed to quickly put away dishes from last night (usually not a morning requirement at all but I'm having someone over today and we're using the kitchen, and there were issues with dishes last night) and that he needed to hurry because he was running late. Chef did put the dishes away very quickly then slowly started picking up his lunch items. I asked him where his clothes were and he pointed to the bathroom and said they were in there. I reminded him that he needed to quickly get dressed because his bus would be coming and he still needed to add more food to his lunchbag. Chef started spooning some sauerkraut into a lunch container. And then - the bus came. When I told Chef the bus was here, Chef walked to the bathroom while I hurried to the front door and opened it. I'm having someone over today and sure didn't want the bus leaving and Chef staying home for the day! Chef walked out the door barefoot, in his pyjamas, carrying his clothes and his lunchbag. I reminded him he couldn't be outside barefoot - another eyeroll from Chef, but he stopped, put on his shoes, and went to the bus.

Today's lesson? Even though Chef doesn't have a problem with it on occasional weekends, don't suddenly change up the school morning by telling Chef he can be downstairs on his own for a bit before school, especially when he's been waking early! And mornings aren't the time for "feel-good" opportunities around food-sneaking!

Last night while dishwashing was taking forever because the dishes were being declared as "done" but showed evidence of not having been washed and had to be "re"washed, I considered setting up my camera to record on the kitchen table. I'd done this once in the past and thought I was being fairly brilliant with the idea. However, while the camera was calmly recording the kitchen happenings, I was nervous about leaving my camera there on its own for fear it might be "accidentally bumped" or encounter some similar fate; the concern was outweighing the benefits of recording. I also had absolutely no desire to sit and watch an evening of dragged-out dishwashing after Chef had gone to bed that evening. So last night I decided instead to check in occasionally by watching the reflection of the kitchen in a glassed picture frame in our living room. I've also done this in the past. I turned up the tv volume a bit then walked to where I could see the reflection. Chef didn't seem to notice whatsoever, and what I saw confirmed some of my wonderings. Chef wasn't actually washing dishes, but was doing the "dip, dip, and drainer" move or occasionally giving a dish one swipe with the dishcloth. I then stepped into the kitchen to watch. Chef glanced from the corner of his eye, continued singing, and started using the dishcloth to scrub all parts of the bowl in his hand. Aha! This provided reassurance for me in two areas. First, Chef is indeed still able to wash the dishes and still knows how to do so even on evenings when it is questionable as to why dishwashing is taking so long. Secondly, Chef wants to do what is right and is capable of doing what is right as long as he knows someone is with him or watching him. The latter might be a bit of a stretch seeing that the reassurance was coming from observing dishwashing, but it does seem to follow in pretty well every area of Chef's life. If someone is with him or he knows someone is watching him, he will almost always make good choices.

Dishes and 4am's and this morning aside, Chef seems to be in good spirits. He is taking responsibility for correcting himself when necessary, is generally accepting boundaries at home, and has generally just been pleasant to live with this week. He's been bringing artwork home and seems to be waiting for his hug when he hands me a painting or drawing. On Tuesday afternoon he just about bowled me over when he hugged me unexpectedly as I walked in the door from grocery shopping. Yesterday, he asked if he could give me a hug and actually snuggled in and gave a great squeeze with his arms. Very cool. And last weekend while packing for respite, Chef independently without any prompting at all announced that he needed to pack books because he gets bored of just playing video games and watching tv. And then he packed books! And his respite provider said he did a lot of reading over the weekend. This makes me smile.

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