It mostly stems from the constant friction between the 7 year old's (that would be #3. Eldest Son) intense hatred of all things "hard" and the necessary "evil" of learning new things. Anything that takes effort for the boy is deemed as "too hard" and he tends to melt down pretty quick. Because the task isn't "quick." You know? The irony, is that once I allow him to just calm himself down, he gets right back to it and eventually pulls it off. It's just the whole taking-3-hours-do-to-40-minutes-of-homework-and-piano-practice. And then he's upset because he doesn't have time to play with friends.
Honestly, this routine is normal, almost daily. But #3 has good days. Occasionally he will come home, jump into the work and be done -bam! --and off to play. Today was just particularly difficult. It's usually a ratio of 2 bad days to 1 good day.
We're seriously considering having him tested by the school psychologist. He has his sensory issues (we believe it's 4S) and two emotions: Happy and Angry. It's not completely black and white, but he has a tough time being able to express himself in any other way. Frustration, sadness, embarrassment --they are all expressed as anger. Loud, screaming, anger. And then in mere moments? He's just fine. Resolves, takes a breath, calms down, and is okay. Occasionally it takes longer, but for the most part, he can calm down within 5-10 minutes.
So, we're hoping that if we can figure out how/why he feels/thinks the way he does, we'll be better equipped to help him. Family dinner, like homework, is usually a disaster. He will storm off (because of sensory things) and refuse to eat until everyone is done. He eats breakfast before anyone else is allowed to. We've tried softer foods, ear plugs, music --nothing works. He can still hear it all.
I remember a particular bad night a few weeks ago, when he was on my bed, crying his eyes out and I came in to talk to him. He had just stormed away from dinner again. I rubbed his calf and asked him if he was okay. He then said:
"I feel like I was born different." (That REALLY got me crying!)
I asked, "What do you mean?"
"I feel different."
I thought for a moment and then asked,
"How does it make you feel, #3?"
He paused and then said, "It's anger. Lots of anger."
"Where do you feel the anger?"
"In my ears."
I just held him and sobbed and sobbed.
So, yeah. I think we'll be focusing on this a bit more and making it a priority. I already feel like a terrible and awful mother for not trying to do something sooner. Blah.
However! #3 is happiest when: He's playing soccer, winning at a video game, riding his bike with friends, making silly faces/singing silly songs with his sisters, watching his favorite shows, eating peaches, helping his dad, "fixing" his toys (battery replacement), and having his back scratched. He has a lot of happiness! And I'm much more patient with him, now that I know what can trigger his anger.
I love this kid. He is the trial of my life, and yet I would die for him. All I want is to help him and show him how he can do things, how he can be successful. I'm grateful for Brandon's patience with him (and the small amount I have, too). Tonight, after #4's soccer game, Brandon sat down and got him to do his math homework and watching them together was so beautiful. Moments like that give me hope that he'll be okay; that we'll figure out how to help him --that he'll always know how much we love him. Because we do. I mean, look at him! How could we not?
(Taken in San Francisco, May 2011)