Thursday, January 30, 2014

Zen Tough Love

During our appointment with the child Psychologist, I cried. And cried, and cried. Overwhelmed with emotion. During the trip to the office Wood and Twig had both been so demonstrative. Wood because I had changed my mind over the course of several days whether Twig should attend the appointment and Twig because, once he knew he was going to the appointment, he was infuriated. He wailed "No, I don't want to go!" in a really, super pathetic groaning voice I've not really heard from him before. It was interspersed with angry tones and kicking the armrests and seats that Wood and I sat in. It was very, very difficult to keep it together while driving 55mph along Highway 5 in morning rush hour traffic.

When we arrived, the Nice Man chatted with Twig alone in another room for a few minutes before meeting with Wood and I. He quickly asked Twig to go to the lobby. He complied, happily, cheerfully. Our conversation started with small talk. An update about what's been happening in our lives and moved on to what's happening with Twig. How things have started to slowly increase in intensity and that the boy has begun to get somewhat physical with me again. It's not to the extent it was last year when Grandma had moved in with us (and everyone was angry) and I literally feared for my life at times. But it did require me to lock myself in my room for fear that either he'd hurt me or I'd lose my cool and really hurt him. The thought "I really want to beat the living crap out of him - if I did that he'd really get the picture" scared me so I took my computer and some yarn into my room, texted Wood to get his ass home, and stayed there until he did. 

The conversation between the Nice Man, Wood and I centered on our responses to Twig's behaviors. How these responses play into the downward spiral is not new information. We must not give any emotion. We must say things once and provide natural consequences. Duh, duh, and duh. We also implemented all of the techniques that we learned in a class we took last year - to no avail. So, he's upped the ante. 

The plan at this point is that Twig will choose to be cooperative, helpful and respectful. If he does not, he will get nothing from us. Here are a few examples: Yell at me because you're not pleased with the food I made, refuse to help set the table, empty the dishwasher, etc? Figure out your meals yourself. Toss a fit because you don't want to put your dirty clothes in the hamper, not willing to put your clean clothes away? Good luck with that, you're on your own. Push something to the extent that you get sassy and/or physical? Mom gets to leave the house and go do something fun - without you. So what if you're not supposed to leave a kid under 12 home alone. We're not talking about the usual kid upset from frustration, sadness, confusion, etc. We're talking about his demonstrative behavior for which I feel like I'm constantly at war, on the defensive, angry. The Nice Man handed down his verdict and explained that if this didn't go in Twig's favor - meaning if he can't get it together (because he knows what he's doing) - Military School, haircut the way Mom & Dad wan't it (his hair is long), clothes we choose, removal from the school he currently attends, and stopping all extra curricular activities, may be the only logical next option. He may have been scared straight.

Day 1 (even though it was the same day as the appointment, I think it counts) I dropped him off at school with zero fanfare. Except the required hug and kiss upon departure. The usual stuff here. It was after school, when I picked him up from martial arts, and thereafter, that was different. He greeted me with an actual smile (it's usually a detestable roar of "why are you here to get me?"). He put his things away where they're supposed to go with no reminders - shoes, backpack, coat, lunchbox and all of it's contents! I didn't get into anything with him. Let him stay up as long as he wanted. 

Day 2 
The morning routine was mine because Wood had an early meeting. Twig woke up and came into my room for a bit of a cuddle. Nice. A few minutes later I stated "I need to get up and get my day started. If you want a ride, you need to get ready within 20 minutes." My bad, I shouldn't have stated a timeframe because I know the timeframe isn't really reasonable - for him. And we don't have a clock in the house. I'll be getting one today. He got himself breakfast, dressed. I made his lunch. Offered a couple of reminders in the form of a question - are you going to brush your teeth today? And, only because I don't have anywhere to be, told him to let me know when he was ready to leave. I stood there fully dressed, keys in hand, waiting for him. 

The evening was the same. At pick up, I talked to his Martial Arts teacher. He let me have the time without any questions and no interruptions. He had a great attitude. Helped when asked. OFFERED TO HELP MAKE DINNER. Washed his hands without a fuss. Participated. Talked about his friends, his school day. A 180 degree departure from usual.

Day 3 - This morning was about the same. He generally participated, did what he needed to do, had a good attitude and even told us what was left on his getting ready list of things to do. Without prompting. 

Well, this has been an absolute dream couple of days. This, this is the family I've always wanted. I'll keep you posted because I'm sure, no positive, that it's not going to be this easy for ever. 

1 comment:

Paula said...

How unusual to have such a 180. I do hope that it's the beginning of more calm for you.