Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tortuga's ups and downs

Tortuga has been having a hard time again. He is never an easy child but during the months of November-February (end) he is particularly challenging. This year we delayed the "big" issues until 2 days after Christmas which was awesome. Since then he has been on a roller coaster with some good times mixed in with some very challenging times. We have started a "new" guided imagery series and he seems to be responding to that a little bit. I have also continued the "music therapy" which keeps him grounded and focused throughout the day. I am dreaming of a serious stereo system where I can "pipe" music to every room in the house as kids' need dictate. Right now we are "doing school" while listening to Gregorian chants and Mozart. They also listen to reiki music and Corazon, especially, has responded well to it.  So far, the combination of music therapy and guided imagery seem to be helping the most with Tortuga but we still have bumps (like he keeps breaking the ipod). He is also starting tapping again which I am hoping will work better for him this time around. The last time it became a battleground even though he could tell it helped him so I finally said I wasn't interested in "forcing" him to do anything he didn't want to do so we gave it up.

Last week he was especially nasty and disrespectful. I finally told him we were taking a break from him and he would only be allowed around the other kids when he was "helping" them, doing something nice for them, or otherwise working on being pleasant and a total joy to be around. As soon as he wasn't focused on making them happy, we would go back to taking a break for him. Yesterday was the first time in longer than I can remember that the rest of the kids actually had fun with him. They are so good at tolerating him and putting up with him but they rarely ENJOY his company. I could see him working harder at it so I kept encouraging him and trying to support him. I think he got annoyed with me for calling attention to his good behaviors and intentions but ultimately he felt successful and  I complimented him on his successes. Of course, today he has driven me crazy asking for things he isn't allowed to have or he has shown no ability to handle.

This is his pattern. After a good day, he gets "demanding" and ultimately blows up. Yesterday before he went to bed I tried to lay the groundwork for what I thought would happen today and how I planned to handle it. I cannot tell that if my talking about it last night is making it better or worse today but so far, I have not engaged with him about any of it and he hasn't blown up. He is such a hard kid and so exhausting on so many levels. I am working on not letting him zap all my energy so that I have something left for the other kids but it is hard. I have to keep reminding myself that he is 5 or 6 emotionally even though he is 13 and several inches taller than me. That boy will fight us on just about everything even on the NOT fighting him thing. We took another step back this month and I told him no schoolwork until he can handle it without attitude and drama. Of course, nowvhe begs for schoolwork every morning and I say, "nope, you get to do whatever you want as long as it isn't destructive or interrupts the other kids' learning." When I checked to see what he was doing, he had gone back and "corrected" all his assignments that he hadn't completed in the last 3 months (he has a workbook he likes and he does guided journal writing).  Then he asked if he could please finish his All About Me book which he fought us tooth and nail about when we got them this past summer.  Go figure.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Hello 2013

It's mid-January already. The Christmas decorations are finally put away. I am still sweeping up pine needles which I will probably do until May but I don't mind. It brings a smile to my face to be taken back to the sights and sounds of our holiday this year. It was our best yet and we registered the least number of tantrums and meltdowns ever! Tortuga held it together beautifully and Corazon was ever so helpful.

Of course those more peaceful days are behind us now.  As with so many children of trauma when things go well and they are overwhelmed because they feel loved and happy and they don't think they deserve it all, the other shoe drops. Pollito stopped brushing his teeth, started wearing the same dirty t-shirt day after day, and has pretty much interjected himself into every. single. conversation. for the last three weeks. It is driving all of us absolutely nuts.  Corazon stopped using toothpaste and deodorant and worked really hard to make herself stinky by refusing to shower. Then she pretends to not notice, or she tries to engage in a discussion about it. I have a particularly acute sense of smell, which she knows, so I know she is just trying to get my attention. Tortuga kicked up the ODD a few notches and invites me to fight with him several times each hour. Currently my computer and table are covered in sticky notes reminding me of those things that I have a hard time remembering when they start coming at me from all angles. The most prominent post-it note right now says "DECLINE the invitation."

If I get invited to join an argument, I DECLINE the invitation.

If I get invited to participate in mediating whatever current attention getting competition Corazon and Pollito create, I DECLINE the invitation.

If someone starts pretending she forgot how to ________________, I shrug, walk away, and wait until another child in need of attention, (who tries to point out to me how silly she is behaving,) decides to go tell her how to do it (which suddenly jolts her memory faster than any prompting from me. Go figure.)

If someone leaves off an important article of clothing because I haven't taken the bait to fight or argue about __________, I comment loudly to no one in particular, that it sure is chilly outside.

If, after a particularly enjoyable family dinner out with friends, someone walks in the door and decides to start a battle about being deprived and treated unfairly because other kids get ___________, I listen for a minute and then as soon as possible smile and say "you are right honey now go get ready for bed."

That is what is working right now. I am able to engage with the kids in ways that are fun, appropriate, necessary, and the rest of it, I am not getting pulled into. It's hard but it works for us. Until I slip...

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