This weekend was awful. I was starting to feel pretty ill, the NC had been feeling ill, I was frustrated after spending nearly a week on crutches, and Mini was horrific.
He simply cannot cope with the NC and I at the same time. We (including Dave-the-therapist too) don't yet know quite why this is. Perhaps it's the feeling of divided loyalties, too much stimulation, one more person's attention, similar personalities, the different dynamic....I just don't know anymore. But I do know that Mini is nearly always different when the NC is around, and by different I mean hyperactive, challenging, louder, more defiant and it feels like we walk on eggshells more because we just don't know how he'll react to anything.
After a few hours of shouting (him), distraction attempts and playtime (us) and more shouting (everyone), we decided to go out for a short drive, to a nice food hall where we'd get some nice fresh bread for lunch and fresh fish for dinner.
We got there, and immediately Mini wanted to play on the climbing frame, so off he raced. I decided at that point to think differently about this trip out...
Mini doesn't have a diagnosis of any kind. We know he has 'attachment difficulties' but no-one will commit to anything more than that. Suggestions of ADHD, Attachment Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Conduct Disorder have been all been mooted at various points, but a diagnosis will not be made until Mini is older - if ever.
Now I know that having a diagnosis shouldn't make a difference to how I feel about Mini, and it wouldn't in the sense that I'll love him the same, cherish him the same, hug him the same but...would it make me more accepting of these challenging behaviours?
Me? Well, yes and no, although I don't like the way Mini is, I understand and accept why, and I'm trying to change my approach to better deal with the challenges and Mini is about to start theraplay (having already had talk therapy) to help him deal with what's inside.
However, it might help me handle those unpleasant times when I have to deal with those judgemental stares and derogatory remarks i.e at the park because Mini is having a meltdown after being told it's time to go - perhaps being able to say he's got 'x,y,z' would make them less judgemental?
Even if I didn't tell them he's got 'x,y,z', perhaps knowing it would make me feel stronger, less affected by the whispers and tuts.
So what about if I give Mini's behaviour a name? Just in my head? Would it make a difference?
Minitis - a form of developmental trauma, resulting in challenging displays of behaviour and emotion specifically in Mini.
Back to the food hall trip.
Normally taking Mini somewhere like this would fill me with dread - so many things to touch, see, try, smell, climb on, hide behind - sensory overload, and Mini would just have to touch everything, see everything, try everything, smell everything, climb on everything, and hide behind everything!
But this time the different thinking kicked in - when Mini started pointing at every different type of beautifully crafted artisan bread with a very loud "Ergh, what's that?" attracting a few sneering glances I thought two things - "what an inquisitive nature, he's keen to learn, let's let him choose something to eat and we can teach him about it" and "they don't know he's got Minitis".
When we got to the cheese counter, his nose was pressed unattractively against the glass, smearing those lovely snot trails from left to right across the whole counter, he was hopping from foot to foot, eyes bouncing around already seeking out the next target, whilst he continually asked if he could try this, that and the other. I asked him to take a step back, and thought "It's OK, they can clean it" and "he is being like this because he has Minitis".
And finally we got to the fresh fish, Mini began to lean over the stubby glass fascia, attempting to poke the fish eyes out, scoop up handfuls of ice, fake-puke at the sight of a skate wing, and tell all and sundry that pink fish was his favourite, I thought "it's fine, he's a bit hyper now, but he's got Minitis".
All this thinking might be nonsensical. And it doesn't excuse bad behaviour, but it does allow me to remember that much of Mini's behaviour is not intentional, it's not naughty and there is a good reason behind it. It helped me cope with the judgements, it helped me feel calm and in control. And however silly Minitis sounds, it really helped me on a day I needed help. And next time, perhaps I won't need to think of it as Minitis - an illness, perhaps I can just remember that he's experienced early trauma and that is enough of a reason for him to be the way he is.
So anyway, whilst Daddy was paying (he's quite well-trained!) I took Mini and Dollop outside back to the climbing frame, and they played, and laughed, and shouted and were children. And I thought "it's OK - they're being Mini and Dollop" :-)