Thursday, April 2, 2009

Tortuga's upcoming birthday

I have hesitated to say anything because I didn't want to jinx the good days we had recently especially with Tortuga. He has been working hard to hold it together and putting into place some of the strategies I have tried to give him to keep himself in check. Over the past couple of days he had been doing really well except for "small stuff."

One of my pet peeves and one of his big issues (great combination) is that he always has to have the last word even if it is just some random noise, nonsense words or unintelligible attempt at contradicting whatever has been said. If we send him to get something, he goes off mumbling. If we start to explain something to him that HE HAS ASKED FOR HELP WITH, he interrupts to say something like "I already know!" (Then why is he asking for help?) For example two days ago he came downstairs ready for school and went into the room where Corazon was changing litter boxes. He was about to open the back door to check for trash that needed to be taken to the trash bin. Each of them has this chore (cat duty or trash) every single morning. Corazon greeted him warmly with "good morning" and then casually pointed out that his pant leg was tucked into his sock. He turned and screamed at her with venom dripping from his mouth as he spewed "I know! I don't care!" He then slammed the door and stormed outside. Upon his return I calmly called him and Corazon over and asked him if he had greeted her with a good morning (we work with this with ALL of the kids) and he calmly said "yes, mom." She started to shake her head but I put my hand up to stop her and then he screamed at her "I was GOING to." I pointed out the contradiction in his statements and he started ranting about how much she bothers him, etc. etc. I stopped him and asked him what Corazon had done to bother him this morning. He said he couldn't remember. I asked what she said to him after "good morning" and he replied that he wasn't listening to her. I had them repeat the conversation again in slow motion and had him fix his response to her and thank her for trying to help him not look ridiculous when he walked out of the house. He fumed the entire time but got through it. I dismissed him to finish his morning routine and he stormed off talking to himself about how awful we all were to bother him and how he already knew about his pant leg, etc. Guess how he looked when he walked out of the house? Yep. Pant leg still tucked into his sock.... That's my boy :)

His birthday is tomorrow and the anticipation is killing him (and his ability to keep himself in check). This will be his third birthday with us so he know he can expect certain things. They are all small but part of our family traditions. He gets a "special breakfast" tomorrow and a card from me before school. He gets to pick the dinner meal (in or out) and he gets 1 present. We don't send any treats to school (he cannot handle them) and we don't tell them when we will have a "birthday party" for them. They sabotage that. Sometimes we do it before their birthday, sometimes on their birthday, and sometimes afterwards. We only do "family" birthday parties because they cannot handle the stimulus but also until recently neither of my older kids had ANY friends. He had asked for a birthday party with school friends and I suggested this wasn't a good year for it since we were new her but he kept asking. I know he hasn't been invited to a single birthday party this year and there have been no requests for him to go to anyone's home. In football and scouting he has several classmates who seem to work pretty hard to stay away from him. Nonetheless, being the good mom that I am, I floated a couple of questions by his teachers and we all agreed that it would be highly unlikely that anyone would attend. He has a couple of kids he plays with in school but they mostly think his behaviors are odd and they put up with it but we weren't sure they would make an effort to attend. Since we are new here, y'all know we don't really have any friends yet :( so I put it on us and promised we would revisit it for his next birthday. He is clearly disappointed but he has never had a birthday party so he initially he seemed to take it in stride.

His ODD is funny at times because if he can't be oppositional he is immobilized. He asked what I was getting him and I asked him what he wanted. He couldn't think of anything for a while and then after several days identified a book series he really wanted. I said OK and told him I would get some of those. Since then he has pestered me about which ones I am getting for him and I am noncommittal. He cannot handle that and keeps saying, "just don't get the ones I don't like!" and I say OK and we repeat the cycle. He finally got tired of not finding anything wrong with my response so he finally had to scream that I wasn't getting him anything he wanted because he didn't want those stupid books. I said OK.

Last night he got himself all worked up because I gave him a choice of which book he could read during quiet time before bed after he brushed his teeth. That set him off and he started screaming that he hated me, hated the house, didn't want a birthday party, didn't want gifts, was running away (hand on doorknob), etc. He even spit in my face when I got too close to him. I didn't say anything although my blood was boiling because spitting in my face is really a gross thing to do. C. was ready to grab him and drag him to his room but she was waiting for a cue from me. I let him scream a couple more minutes (now that I was between him and the door) and then started counting slowly. He got confused and stopped screaming so I whispered that he needed to go to his room "don't pass go, don't collect $200 (a phrase I use often with my monopoly loving kids to show I am serious) and he tried to interrupt to tell me he needed to pick a book and brush his teeth! I just kept repeating myself "don't pass go, don't collect $200." He stormed off but didn't stop to get a book or brush his teeth and went right into his bed. He has a new weighted blanket that he loves so he tucked himself into it and calmed right down.

This morning he had some making up to do for his behavior but I didn't hear any objections. He did his tapping without any complaints although he managed to walk out the door without his shoes and socks on because he miscalculated how much time he had. So far, so good.

I am sure this won't last but I appreciated the effort. When Corazon was younger I kept changing her birthdate around so she couldn't anticipate the day but they are both too old and too smart for this now. I cannot believe he is turning 10! He is still much more like a 5 or 6 year old except for his size but as I recall he was more like a 2 or 3 year old when he first came. I'll take the progress where I can get it.


Essie the Accidental Mommy said...

Wow you are awesome to change up birthdays to avoid sabotage- what a creative idea. The first year we actually skipped Geneas birthday because there was no way she could handle any of it. She moved in with us on her actual birthday, so that wasnt happening anyway. We kept thinking we would make it up but in the end it never happened. Made up for it the next year though!
If you havent, try telling T that you want him to be sure to have the last word and if he cant think of one to just grunt at you. You know he needs that control blah blah blah. Fun for all!

Dancing on the Edge said...

I'm with you for taking progress where ever you can get it! Sometimes we have to really look at the Bigger picture, or we see nothing.
When Ellie starts screaming, we often encourage her to scream louder. We make comments like, 'that's not very loud', etc. Sometimes we applaud her performance. She hates that we aren't getting mad and always stops. Such strange little brains, we live with!

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