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.

Monday, July 25, 2011

1.5 Notches Below "Tantrum"

July 25, 2011

Two hours.

Two hours of an outside, "all is not well" show in our yard we share with neighbours - a yard easily viewed by numerous passersby, many of whom were of particular interest to Chef who seemed sure that if he complained loudly enough, some of them might rescue him from having to deal with the attitude he'd given his mom after being reminded that he needed to clean up what he'd left on the stove. He believed he'd cleaned it up - the smoke coming from burner indicated otherwise, and I was the messenger.

And just this morning I was telling someone that things were going well. And they are, for the most part. There have been some amazing happenings this summer, and no major tantrums (loosely defined as yelling and/or swearing and throwing things and not participating in de-escalating, etc). Everything is relative.

One of the things I've started to notice is that whenever I take Chef to see a movie (I'd taken him Saturday evening, the night before last), there are a couple of days when he is somewhat off, starting either the next day or the day after; sometimes it shows in easily-triggered anger/frustration such as today (though easily-triggered anger/frustration are definitely not limited to such days; it's not uncommon for Chef to turn to angry blame when something he's done or hasn't done doesn't work out), sometimes it shows in not wanting to do much of anything at all for a couple of days, sometimes it shows in other ways. But it's just starting to nudge my radar that it's been happening after we go out to see a movie. My daughter and I have also started to notice that it's starting to happen on Sundays or Mondays prior to the Tuesday evenings that Chef spends with his sister.

Within minutes of the yard-show ending, Chef was singing and happily preparing supper. I was worn out. We sat on the deck and I played guitar and sang for a bit, then we came inside. Chef is now alternating between singing and reading in his room and I'm relaxing in mine. I think I'll put in a movie.

This week, Chef has been great with getting his chores dones and tossing his laundry in on his own, all without reminders. He has also been asking everyday if he can prepare meals. He's been great with his nieces, was a great help in preparing for the local farmers' market, and one day he offered to carry numerous items home from the thrift shop. When I asked why he would want to carry so much instead of dividing everything between us as usual, his response was, "If I carry most of it, maybe you'll let me cook supper." Wow.

As an aside, I do have some mixed feelings on the cooking front. I thoroughly enjoy the meals Chef prepares - it's like a celebration of the skills we've crafted together in his life, it feels good for me when Chef prepares supper at the end of a day that has had its moments due to Chef's choices and/or "behaviours", it feels nice to have Chef giving to his family by cooking, and...well, he loves cooking! At some point somewhere along the line, I'd read that it's not good for children with unhealthy attachment to prepare their own food because it removes a sense of "my parent will provide for me" and feeds their sense of fending for themself, in addition to giving them an unhealthy sense of power over the parent and removing an area in which the parent can be further building attachment. I wish I could remember where I'd read/heard that. It does make sense. It also makes sense to let Chef prepare meals on his own for the reasons mentioned above. Some might even say it makes sense to allow Chef to prepare meals as a reward....hmmmm.

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