Today was one of those days. Well actually, overall it was a good day. Both of my boys went to camp and my daughter was in summer school. I was able to spend a WHOLE day with my best friend. I so needed this girlfriend time. We had a fantastic day shopping, looking through stores and taking our time. For that I am thankful.
Then, it was pick up time. My little one had a bit of an up and down day at camp. He’s been going everyday since Monday, so it’s expected that one of those days will be a bit more challenging. Even though his day was up and down, the camp leaders said he was very responsive and cooperative – another win! Then we arrived home. His safe place. This is where it turns into one of those days. I should actually rephrase this to one of those moments, as the rest of the day was fairly good and the evening after taekwondo class was much better.
When we arrived home, he fell apart. The transition from the car to the foyer of the house was not easy, he couldn’t carry his backpack, it’s too much and too heavy for him. He wasn’t able to unpack his backpack and the question is “Mom, why don’t you just do it? You are the one that wants it done anyway.” No pleases, no thank yous, just orders.
Quickly I’m scrambling in my brain on how to diffuse the situation, clearly he is not able to regulate. So I suggest a snack maybe he was a little hangry. This was obviously the WRONG option for him. Then I gave space, which was also the WRONG option for him. He finally decided to go up to his room get changed into his uniform, where all seemed reasonably quiet and calm. Then came downstairs. I was busying myself in the kitchen and he was trying to put on his taekwondo belt and having a bit of a hard time. I have tried but still have no idea how to tie this belt, so when I noticed he was struggling I gingerly suggested that maybe he could tie it when he got to class.
“Remember, you don’t like how it feels when you wear it in the car?”
That did it for him, he was not going to class because I don’t have confidence that he can tie it. Anything that I said from that point was taken as negative. He was upset and in his mind I was not supporting him. At one point he said that me talking is causing him to be more upset, but when I would get quiet he would say that I was ignoring him and don’t care enough to help.
Yes, this is FASD and one overloaded brain. What was the trigger to this? At that moment I was not sure, he’s was not sure.
I am happy to say that we don’t have many times when we don’t know the trigger, most of the time it has to do with a sensory issue, feeling rushed or some other big feelings that rise up. We are also lucky to be raising a little guy with lots of self awareness and one who has the ability to let us know what he feels, whether we want to hear it or not.
So in this moment, where I can do nothing right for him and his brain is just frazzled, I did what I felt was best. I kept to routine. Yes, he was still loud and angry. He still didn’t have the most smooth transition, but we did it. We moved on from the moment in the house and now we are in the car, it took about 40 minutes for a 5 minute transition, but that’s ok. I allowed him to be upset, say his piece (and then some) and get things together to the best of his ability during that time. I tried my best to keep things simple and to have the environment as calm as possible.
The drive to his class started out with him speaking rudely and slowly calming down. Just before we arrived at the taekwondo school, he was starting to talk. He talked about his day at camp and the fun things he did and then he talked about what some of the other kids had said.
They played a game, would you rather and one of the questions was “Would you rather play with (my son) or would you rather play with (another boy)? He told me that “all” the other kids said the other boy and feels no one likes him. I know this is most likely not true, but it is his perception. When I drop him off and pick him up, he’s always with a group of friends. He has a circle of friends that understand him and want to play with him in our day to day life. But in that moment and the moments to follow he felt rejected. He was hurt and now struggling with the simple day to day tasks and routine. His brain could not cope with one more thing and was very reactive. Had I got upset over his behaviour and dealt with things differently, that rejection would have continued and been bigger. Instead of us getting out of the car, where he apologized for being so rude, and starting his class with a big hug and kiss, it could have carried on to the next activity.
It is difficult to be centred in those times and to see past the behaviours when they are big, the words coming at you are hurtful and it seems like whatever you do is not helping. I spent quite a bit of my brain space this afternoon keeping myself calm, using mediation techniques and breathing. I made a phone call to my husband just to get a bit of a reprieve, not to really talk about anything.
The rest of the evening had gone much better for him because he was able to talk when he was ready and was able to process. We had dinner, conversation, he had a nice bath, a quiet activity and then off to bed, all without incident.
This day is a good reminder for myself that the behaviour I see is usually due to something out of our control and his. It is also a good reminder on how important it is to take care of myself. I had a great day with my best friend and was recharged and feeling good. Had I been overwhelmed and reacted to his behaviour, the rest of the evening would have been a whole different story.