Friday night a fit started. Keegan’s class got to vote on a class reward. The winning ballot promised a pajama day and video game day at school for his class on Monday. His class. ONLY his class.
Suddenly an outburst. My teacher is so stupid. She doesn’t believe in video games at school. Why can’t we have a video game day? You HAVE to let me take my video games to school on Monday too.
Insert yelling, screaming, slamming doors, crying, throwing things and more yelling.
Friday’s at our house are traditionally popcorn and movie night. The clock was rapidly ticking toward bedtime leaving minimal time for our favorite weekend activity. Because the fit was continuing we let Keegan pick the movie for the night on his own. Of course what Keegan picked was the stupidest movie ever. A movie that he hates more than anything. Why would you let Keegan pick that movie?
Still we stood by our decision and started the movie and popped the popcorn. In that order. For which I caught grief because the air popper was too loud for him to hear the movie that he hates. I threatened to not give him any. He calmed briefly.
The movie ended just in time for bed. Hopefully a good nights sleep will cure his anger.
Not so much.
He started from the time his feet hit the floor. Within an hour of getting up he lost TV and video games for the weekend. We know these things tend to escalate his behaviors so we limit them anyway. We quickly realized that he couldn’t handle any.
Insert more yelling and screaming and name calling and crying and yelling.
It escalated throughout the day. We had errands to run and really needed to run them together as shoe shopping needed to be done for two rapidly growing boys. They were insane in the car. Building off of each other and sending their behaviors through the roof. There was so much yelling and screaming by all parties.
My head began to pulsate. The stress was building. I was tired and worn out from fighting with both boys. I couldn’t listen to Eli’s vocal stimming for one more moment. I was furious with them for constantly running from us in the store. I wanted to go home but we had so much that needed to be done. And due to sales it had to happen that day.
After we got home my honey sent me out for a few extra items. I’m certain that she shipped me off so I wouldn’t kill myself or my children. I drove off repeating the mantra I do love my boys. I do, I do, I do love my boys. I worked to drown the voice that kept reminding me that I paid a lot of money to get those boys and why did I do that. I enjoyed my brief time alone and hoped that when I walked through the door it would all be better.
Bedtime came early Saturday night. Sunday had to be better. It just had to.
We tried a divide and conquer method with them. I took Eli out to the store. He wanted to go. He got lost from me a multitude of times. Fortunately I only had to follow the sounds of the vocal stim. I argued with him during our entire check out time because he wanted a Slim Jim and I wouldn’t buy him one. He kept walking over to bring one back to me and I kept putting it back. He was driving me bat shit crazy. I’m pretty sure at some point on the drive home I actually thought about just driving head on into a tree.
He spent much of the remainder of the night in his bedroom. It was too much to handle. He went to bed even earlier. He fell asleep rapidly. He must have just needed a lot of sleep. He has been growing. Tomorrow he’s back to school. I’m back to work. It will be better. It will be ok.
But Monday morning found us yelling and screaming at each other again. The vocal stim was non stop. He asked for breakfast then yelled when I gave him what he asked for because it wasn’t what he wanted. He yelled yet again because he wasn’t able to take video games to school when Keegan was. We argued to no end about the stupid video games. Tears were threatening but I wouldn’t let them fall from my eyes. Thankful for extended time at school I packed the boys up early and dropped them off at school. On the way to school we fought some more. I told Eli that I loved him but couldn’t stand being around him when he acted that way. I was delighted to go to work just to get a break.
Early Monday afternoon I got an email from his teacher. Everything we had dealt with all weekend was now on her platter at school. His behavior was off the hook and he was coming home with a poor behavior chart for the day. He did so great all last week and now this. I sat at my desk and cried. I didn’t know what else to do. I was at my wit’s end. I thanked his teacher for letting me know and I assured her we would be talking with Eli after school. I shared that he’d had a really rough weekend and that we already had a list a mile long for the worry doctor on Tuesday.
I got home from work on Monday to find Eli with a fabric grocery bag filling it with all of his things. He was moving out. Our rules sucked and I didn’t want to be around him anyway. I was stupid and idiotic and didn’t use nice words with him. Now my already crappy day just turned to shit. Really can it get much worse?
When you’re already hanging in purgatory don’t piss off the devil cuz’ he’ll gather your things and lead you straight into the depths of hell. And boy did he lay out the red carpet for us.
We made dinner in the middle of Eli moving out because the boys needed to eat to go to diving. I had pretty much determined that Eli was again going to bed early instead of going to diving. I threatened as much but kept making dinner anyway. We served pasta and meatballs and decided to try a new alfredo sauce since Keegan is allergic to tomatoes. You would have thought we’d set poison on the table when my honey pulled out the sauce. It wasn’t even on the pasta yet and already they were both ranting that they weren’t going to eat and how dare we make them eat something so nasty.
We both lost it.
A weekend filled with yelling and screaming and ridiculous behavior was leading too far into the week. We couldn’t take it anymore.
So we pulled that reverse psychology parenting trick. Fine. You have NO MORE RULES. NONE. You can eat what you want but you have to make it. You can wear what you want. You can do whatever the hell you want. Just don’t ask me for anything.
I took my plate of food away from the table and started eating. My honey sat at the table but just started eating. The boys just sat looking shocked. Keegan started crying because we started eating without saying Grace. We always say Grace before a meal. Eli started crying because we didn’t care if he ate fruits and vegetables or not. When we still didn’t budge they decided to dish themselves out the meal we actually made for them. They got out their own vegetables and fruit. They ate the well-balanced meal we’ve taught them to eat and they actually enjoyed the alfredo sauce with the pasta and meatballs.
We laid out their swim stuff and let them decided when/if they wanted to get dressed. They were going to diving regardless. They could decide if they wanted to dive or watch. We got ourselves together and left when it was time. They were dressed and ready for diving. All on their own.
We drove in silence because everyone was pissed. We tried to find comic relief during diving while watching Keegan’s Frankenstein walk along the diving board. By the end of diving we were actually back in a decent mood. We dried off the boys and sent them to the locker room to change. They came out saying that someone’s things had been thrown in the garbage and the toilet. We questioned them up and down to make sure they didn’t do it. They said they didn’t. They swore it was already there. We believed them but it seemed to be icing on the cake.
We drove home and had some giggles along the way over a Justin Bieber song on the radio. We began to hear a beeping sound in the car and couldn’t figure out what it was. Eli announced that it was a watch Keegan took from the locker room. Someone’s watch, probably the kid whose stuff got thrown in the toilet, was laying on the floor so Keegan took it. Oh did the yelling begin all over again. We were so far over the edge as a family there was no turning back. I turned the car around and drove back to diving. My honey took Keegan back into the building and made him give the watch back to the swim coach. We drove back home in silence.
We put the boys to bed immediately after getting home. I sat on the couch and cried. I was spent.
Tuesday morning I decided to just keep calm and stick with the do what you want model. Eli awoke asking for Paczki for Fat Tuesday. I reminded him it would be up to his behavior if we went for Paczki before school or not. They boys made their breakfast request and ate what was put in front of them. They made their lunches on their own. Their behavior was a little better so I drove them to the store for Paczki. On the way Keegan started to get a little crazy and I heard Eli whisper to him that he’d better stop because otherwise I would turn around and go home. Finally he was catching on. We got the Paczki and I drove them to school for tennis practice. I kissed them goodbye with meaning instead of because I felt obligated.
After school we went to the worry doctor. On the way there I told Eli that we were going to talk about the weekend because nothing like that should ever happen again. EVER. When the worry doctor came out to get us Eli greeted him with I am not talking about the weekend. Thank you, son, for that lovely segue!
We sat down and the worry doctor looked at me and said you look exhausted. What happened this weekend? So I spilled everything. The good, the bad and the ugly. I shared that for the first time in years I felt the need to medicate my child. He talked to me for the first half of the session. Then he turned to Eli. Eli still wasn’t budging. So he taught us a mindfulness technique to try. We tried it during the session. Suddenly Eli was insanely calm and started spilling his guts.
All that behavior because his brother got to take video games to school and he didn’t.
And then the kicker. He has that PDD-NOS diagnosis but more likely than not it’s Asperger’s. And, as a part of that, he perseverated on the video game thing all weekend which kept his anger ramped up and his behavior off the hook. That’s what the worry doctor thinks, anyway. And it makes sense. As soon as he spilled that that’s what his anger was about his whole demeanor changed. He was a happy kid again.
We had a delightful journey home. We stopped at the store to get a couple of things for dinner. When he asked for a Slim Jim and I said no he replied ok mommy. He sat at the table and ate his dinner. He did his homework without argument. He showered when asked and put up no fuss over getting read for bed.
My boy was back from wherever the crazy took him. We were slowly climbing out of the depths of Hell.
Today was better. He did great at school. He ate dinner without complaint. He was mad at Jesus because he couldn’t eat meat today but quickly turned around after he got a snack. He’s a nasty mess when he’s hungry. He did amazing at diving. We were back to our normal routine.
We came out of this a little more wise, incredibly exhausted and armed with more knowledge about our son and how to help him. We are crossing finger and toes and strands of hair in the hopes that it doesn’t happen again, EVER. Or at least not anytime soon.