I absolutely have control over the universe. I am convinced of it. Weekends like the past one totally convince me that I am the star of some crazy stellar hiccup. As I write this, I am having metaphysical daydreams about how this could actually be possible. I wonder how my writing a blog post about how well things were going could actually make the whole situation take a gnarly turn.
That is just it. I wrote a few days ago that things were going well. When I wrote that, it caused the gods who actually pull the puppet strings to throw me a curve ball. It isn’t as though I couldn’t predict this turn of events. I admitted, in WRITING, that things were going better. In turn, I also relaxed the structure of our lives a bit. Although I can only see that in hindsight. I didn’t think about the consequences of my actions. I have myself to blame.
Here is the list of events that caused the collapse in my house yesterday.
- G was out of town for the weekend. That is enough to cause some major distress for M.
- I took M to Target with me Sunday morning. I had to grab a few things and I wanted to try out some techniques which the OT recommended. The techniques (fidgets + iphone and headphones) worked for the most part, no tantrums.
- I then pushed the limits by taking M and M2 to church and dropping them in Kid’s church. I have been trying to make this a consistent part of our schedule so that he can get used to the routine. But we are still early in that process. I ended up dragging M out of church screaming as people were praying quietly.
- I didn’t try to get M to nap on schedule. He was already dysregulated from our church experience and I let him fall asleep on the sofa for a mini nap in the late afternoon.
- The bedtime routine ended abruptly. The kids take a bath as part of the bedtime routine. They love it. They play nicely together, pouring water from cup to cup and drawing with the bath crayons. It is usually a relaxing time. Last night, M2 pooped in the bath. On the eve of her 2nd birthday, this was a first! I had to quickly end the bath session before M was done. Slow transitions are the general key to success at our house.
I should have skipped church and Target and opted for a quieter Sunday at home. Maybe a walk in the park or some other activity that I know he finds calming. The alternatives to what I chose are endless, really. I should have cleaned the tub quickly and refilled it for a do-over of the transition out of the tub.
Sometimes when M gets dysregulated, he retreats. He will chew on his lips and lick the wall. He gets nervous and clingy. Not always and not yesterday. After the bath, he became manic. First it was manic happy, he and M2 chased each other around the table in their pjs for about an hour just laughing and roughhousing. Mind you, it was already past bedtime. When it was time for that to wind down, he wasn’t ready. He became manic aggressive I tried reading but he was just jumping on the bed and getting more and more antsy. I finally shut off the light and he freaked out. He demanded to go in his therapy swing. I swung him for a minute, I could tell by the tenseness of his body in the swing that he was not settling in to it and a minute later he demanded to get out. At this point it was almost 90 minutes past bedtime and M2 was getting very sleepy. I went to get her settled and left him out in the living room. He stormed in and grabbed his water bottle and threw it across the room aiming it at me. It only nearly missed M2 and I was at a loss for what to do about his behavior. He was getting more and more aggravated. He gets this rolling eye movement and resists being touched or even talked to. I was still calm at this point but I couldn’t think of a better way to handle the situation and I just locked him out of the room while I talked calmly to M2 who was already unnerved about her brother’s behavior. I let him cry outside of the door for a few minutes but it was torture. His angry cries quickly turned to sad cries. It went from a raged “Mama, don’t lock me in!” to a exasperated “Mama, don’t leave me!” I just sat comforting M2 and crying. After what may have been about 5 minutes, I let him into the room. He laid in his bed without a fight and cuddled up with his quilts. It was one of those parenting moments that I “won” because he went to bed but I failed big time in the emotional development realm.
Afterwards, I consulted the internet. What should I be doing when my child is out of control and violent? One of my favorite sites, Hand in Hand Parenting, had these tips:
- Step one in helping a child is to stop the aggressive behavior by moving close and offering a warm connection. (Failed here for sure. Locked M out of the room. Totally the opposite of moving close and offering a warm connection.)
- Don’t blame, shame or punish.
- Stop the behavior than “staylisten”.
- An aggressive child is a frightened child
- A child who feels connected can heal her fears. A child who doesn’t feel connected can’t.
I have M2 to protect and nurture. She was also scared of M’s behavior. If G was home, he would have probably taken M to another room for a timeout. I was by myself. I still don’t know what I should have done. I probably could have restrained him in their bedroom so I was still close to M2. But honestly, I don’t know, I still don’t have any answers for the right way to handle his aggression. But I feel terrible for how I did handle it. His cries of “Mama, don’t leave me!” are still in my ears today.
After he was settled in his bed for a few minutes, I went and gave him some affirmative words. I said, “You are kind, you are gentle, you are good.” He responded with, “Mama, I am a good guy. I am not a bad guy.” He has been a bit obsessed with “good guys” and “bad guys” lately. I am not surprised that he identified the situation in this way. But I wish I could write the implication in his tone when he said that. He was not declaring himself a good guy, he was trying to tell me and to get me to believe he was a good guy. I am more than a bit brokenhearted over the situation today. I do believe he IS a good guy. But I am treating him like a bad guy and I don’t know what else to do.