We’ve been working hard on behavior around here and it’s not easy. Anger and frustration are two emotions the Roc can fly to in half a heartbeat. I’m pretty sure I’ve lost a little bit of hearing over the last couple years due to the volume in our house, I often have a quick vision of my grandfather as I wince, and it makes me smile through the ear piercing pain. Once upon a time, when I was a little girl we were visiting my grandparents in Ohio and I remember catching my grandfather suddenly reaching for his hearing aide and turning it down. My rambunctious boy cousins were running and yelling, being boys. As soon as his fingers drifted down we locked eyes and he quickly smiled, his twinkly blue eyes full of mischief (those sparkly blue eyes have been passed on to the Roc.) I covered my mouth and stifled a giggle feeling like grandpa and I were sharing a little secret. Now, years later, and well before I actually need one, I regularly wish for my own hearing aide or some sort of volume control in my home. Ah, the screeching.
Lately, the thing my water obsessed boy loves to do is to make “waterfalls” with blankets, he arranges the blanket to spill over the end of my bed or the couch, and it has to be placed just so…or all hell breaks loose. We have been working on teaching him how to appropriately gain our attention. So often when he screams/shrieks/shrills out his frustrations I either come running or yell that I’ll be right there. Lately we’ve been ignoring him until he uses an inside voice and asks for help, using the magic word, please. While he was attempting to make his “waterfall” this morning it wasn’t coming out how he wanted it to, and he got upset. After a bit of screaming before asking me nicely to help him he suddenly demanded that I fold the blanket a certain way using what we refer to as the “nasty voice.” I walked away knowing that we were going to have another explosion before he was able to get to the point where he could use his “nice voice” to ask me for help again. He followed me to the kitchen shrieking all the way there and when he failed to get my attention he threw my shoe at me, and it hit me in the back. I was just as shocked by this behavior as I was by the way he hit me yesterday. His behavior has been escalating now that he is not getting our attention immediately like he used to. GC and decided to draw the line at the physical. We used to send him to his room, but that having no effect we are now having him sit on the stairs.
I told the Roc to take his place on the stairs and he immediately started sprinting for the top, the opposite of where I told him to sit. I reached out and grabbed his ankle, only wanting to slow him down, but causing him to fall onto his face and scaring him badly. The instant “child cry” he went into is something I rarely witness. Usually the Roc is frustrated and angry or calm and happy. He almost never cries, really cries. You know, those big crocodile tears and heaving sobs children (and some women..ah hem…me) can produce when truly, truly heart sick sad (usually over something small, but mighty in their minds.) Without thinking I galloped up the stairs and pulled him onto my lap, facing me, and he threw his arms around my neck and jammed his face into my shoulder, and cried. I held him tight and rocked him back and forth. So rare, those moments are so rare, did I mention that?
After some time went by I asked him if he knew why he was sent to sit on the stairs. “Because I throw’d a shoe at Mommy,” he sniffled while looking sideways, the close proximity to my face too much to bear. When I told him that throwing objects at people was something bad, very bad, and that he could have really hurt me, his face crumpled and he started with “But!” I cut him off and said, “It does not matter what your reason is…throwing things at people is never okay.” We went back and forth a few times, me cutting him off at “But!!” He cried again and told me that he wasn’t going to tell Daddy…and then he leaned back away from my face and said, “I’m sorry Mommy…My angers are really angry,” while touching his chest with both hands. “Are they in here?” I asked pointing to his sternum. “Yes…and, and, and there are a lot of them,” he said.
Who knew anger could be plural?
For once I felt like we were getting somewhere. He has these wild emotions and hasn’t been able to wrangle them in, gain some control over them for so long now. But being able to name that overwhelming feeling he had today is the first step to being able to control himself. It’s baby steps baby, and often as many steps backwards as forwards, but he’s moving, we’re moving along, everyday.
And that deserves some credit.