Sunday, 22 April 2012

Frightening feelings and new lows...

I posted yesterday to write about how well our to-the-minute planning had worked yesterday in overcoming some of the meltdowns that Saturdays usually bring. Saturdays are always difficult, so planning lots of activities, with little time between left Mini no time to get bored, and no time to meltdown. 
However, in retrospect, it also left little time for his to process emotions, and kept him hyper to an extent as he moved from activity to activity. 

You know I've talked about those good days...and how those good days are always followed by a bad day?? Guess what!

Today, I was so frightened of my own son; I felt that we didn't deserve each other. I don't deserve to feel the way I have today, neither do the NC and Dollop.  And neither does Mini, none of this is his fault - he never asked for the trauma in his life, he never asked to be neglected, he never asked to move from birth family, to foster carer, to adoptive family, and he never asked for Dollop to be born (which is the root cause of some of his aggression), but at times he feels so controlling and the choices he makes are his own, although of course they’re fuelled by emotions that he can’t control and doesn’t understand.

At dinnertime Mini didn’t want to come to the table, when he did, he wouldn’t stay there, so his dinner was put in the kitchen whilst the rest of us ate, until he was ready. He eventually sat at the table, but when he was asked if he was ready for his dinner he said he didn’t know. When I helped myself to more from the dish in the table, Mini tried to attack me with a fork because he felt it should be his. When the fork was removed, he grabbed daddy’s knife instead…I know I gasped out loud and flinched because this is a new low. I’ll add that Mini still watches CBeebies and Nick Jr. He doesn’t know who Ben 10 is, he doesn’t watch anything that is not age appropriate (except perhaps, gentler episodes of Dr.Who, that are screened by us beforehand). He can’t work the DS yet, and only plays Wii Sports and Wii Music; he’s just not interested, so this behaviour hasn’t come from TV or video games.

Anyway eventually, dinner is eaten, nanna and grandad phone after a week away and speak with Mini, the getting changed into PJ’s process is not an easy one but I shan’t dwell on that…

Tooth brushing brings more problems – Mini wanted help but when it was given he point blank refused to brush his teeth. Then next second he wanted help again, and again when help was given he stopped and clamped his mouth shut. This went on three times, then a consequence was given – if Mini did not want to brush his teeth, then the NC would take Dollop to bed and help when he returned instead, giving Mini time to think about what choice he was going to make. Of course this sparked another meltdown, a big one because Daddy followed through and did something other than pander to Mini’s constantly changing mind.

Whilst the NC settled Dollop, I tried to comfort and calm Mini. First with cuddles, but the flailing limbs and well-aimed punches made that impossible. Then words, but he couldn’t hear them over the screaming. So finally, with tickling. This worked, and he didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I managed to divert his attention by suggesting a quick round of his favourite board game – and ignored the fact that we’re half hour late for bedtime by now.

So the game begins, Mini’s doing well, mummy not so well. Then Mini made a mistake and the tiredness and feelings took over. Mini didn’t want to play anymore. He’d had enough of this stupid game. OK I say, I’ll put it away. Big mistake. Mini of course didn’t want me to take it away, he wanted me to fix his mistake, wanted me to let him win, however, he wouldn’t sit down, wouldn’t reset the pieces, and so the consequence was not playing, and I packed it away.
Mini clamped himself to my legs as I tried to walk to the shelf where the game lives. Mini clawed at my free leg, scratched my feet. He dropped off, and then punched my bottom as hard as he could. Then he took a run-up and head-butted my legs. Mini then slapped and slapped my legs, and then tried to grab at and pinch my arms. I didn’t dare get a chair out to stand on (as I normally would to reach the shelf) for fear that he would attempt to push me off or pull it out from under me. I flinched every time he raised a hand; he was in a manic state.

I managed to pop the game high enough for Mini not to grab at it, and then grabbed him in a bear hug, trying again to sooth him, cuddle him, calm him. He collapsed into me and wailed. Stirred, slapped me a bit, and then collapsed again in a sobbing heap.

My son cannot control his frightening feelings, he cannot calm himself, but tonight despite the violence, he collapsed with me and allowed himself to be cuddled, held and soothed. This may not sound like a breakthrough, but actually to me, it is. He let me sooth him. He let me take some of those awful, scary, angry emotions away….I’m hurting inside and out, and I have frightening feelings of my own, but I soothed my son, and he finally went up to bed calm, relaxed and chilled.

I won’t mention the tantrum when daddy got him upstairs, but he is asleep. For now, that’s enough.


  1. Oh Stix, what a terrible day you've all had. We had many days like this early on. I don't think ever quite so prolonged and full-on, however. I can empathise to a degree at least. It is frustrating and utterly mentally and physically exhausting. To feel fear too is not good. Are these kind of extreme days becoming more or less frequent? Tonight we had the 'contrary head'. Nothing compared to this, but that whole controlling by abstaining from making decisions confuses me no end. I am no psychologist but would love to understand from where those kinds of behaviours stem. There are no real words, as none of us are living your particular situation, but I hope you feel you can talk if you need to. And, always keep that bottle of wine on ice. Huge hugs xxx

  2. Thanks for your comment Claire. These extreme days are a recent thing, yesterday being the worst yet. The first 2.5 years were relative plain sailing, I wish in some ways the violence had manifested itself earlier -perhaps we could have found help earlier - before he got so strong! But generally the hitting only started within the last couple of weeks to a month, developing day by day, weekend by weekend.

    As you say the control by refusing to decide is so confusing. I swing from thinking 'what a horrid manipulative, controlling thing to do' to 'how traumatised is this child that he needs to do this'. What's your approach? We try to just walk away til he's ready to make the decision, or sometimes we choose for him (it's always the wrong choice tho right?!)...

    Hugs back at you - bottle of Rosey in the fridge for you x

  3. This is such familiar territory. It is utterly exhausting and frazzling to deal with. We do the 'bear hug' thing whilst reassuring about safety (you are safe, Mummy has you etc) and this is the only thing which works when our son is out of control.
    And the changey mind thing - I think sometimes when they are dysregulated they literally don't know what they want and everything is wrong.
    I hope you have a calmer week. DOn't forget to look after yourself too.

  4. Sounds emotionally exhausting! Sorry things are so bad for you. Do you think it might be the storm before the calm?
    Our boys have plenty of 'interesting' behaviours and both can be controlling in different ways, but I'm not sure I could cope with this violence you are having to contend with. My 5 yr old is very strong, think if he did this I would feel as afraid as you. Is he able to talk about his behaviour afterwards at all?
    Re the decision making; my 8 year old makes a decision and sticks with it through thick and thin - as if he's afraid of chosing - even when he knows it may be a poor decision.(eg he picks out the first toy he sees in a toyshop and won't look at the rest of the toys!) I think that is easier to cope with than continually changing minds! Although he gets pretty stroppy if he can't have what he wants.

    Awwww... my 5 year old just came up to me for a hug and said 'I love you '. Makes it all worth it!

  5. Really hard and sounds like you are coping incredibly well.
    I would say don't 'walk away' - likely he will see this as rejection, which will make things worse. You need to show that you can handle all the big feelings that he's having (even if he can't), that you're still there for him, and you still love him despite his behaviour. The fuss he's making, and not being able to make his mind up sounds like it's just a (sub-concious) cover for something bigger. In other words, he's just looking for something to get upset about - that's why whatever you choose will be wrong. Let him be upset, and validate his feelings, (you really wanted to do it such and such a way, you're really sad about that), listen to him. He needs to cry and let it all out. Distracting him will only delay things, like putting a lid on a pressure cooker.
    Hope this helps a little. Best wishes. Jo