Two steps forward, one step back

What a day. I spent the morning up at the special school learning how to do Play Therapy. It was really interesting and definitely worth knowing. I think the next 15 weeks will be interesting as I hone my skills in specialised therapy play with specific language and stuff that I need to use. It’s tricky, but worth it in the end I think.

I picked the boy up from school and took him to his drumming lesson. This time I sat outside the room and listened to the whole lesson. Painful. Frustrating. Those are the best terms to describe it. My son clearly likes drumming. He is actually very good at it, but MAN it’s hard to listen to how distracted he is and how hard the teacher has to work to get him to do what he needs to do to learn anything! I can only imagine how much harder that must be for the teachers at school trying to get him to do things he doesn’t like! Sigh.

He did a lot of ignoring my instructions this afternoon and had his ‘teenager angry’ attitude on, which is never pleasant. Particularly in a 5 year old. I try not to take him to the shops very often or for very long due to his lack of self control and how frustrated I get with him, but we just really needed some milk and peanut butter! Inevitably the result was a frustrated Mummy and an even angrier child since I wouldn’t buy him… well… EVERYTHING in the shop! Sheesh! We were only in there for 5 minutes!

When we got home a series of usually minor events created a very painful and disheartening evening with behaviour that we haven’t seen at home for a long time. Made me sad.

The giant white puppy jumped on the boy as he usually does when the boy is playing on the floor. The boy pulled at the puppy’s mouth fur, also as he usually does, which makes the puppy bite at his head. This is a regular occurrence in our house. It is usually followed by my shouting at both the puppy and the boy. I shout most at the boy because the puppy responds to my commands fairly fast but the boy follows the puppy and continues to annoy it! Anyway, the puppy scraped his teeth on the boys shoulder while the boy was rolling around underneath the puppy’s head! The boy got extremely angry at this then started crying. I came over to make sure he wasn’t really very hurt and was told,

“You are stupid! Take control of your stupid dog will you!”

to which I had to reply under the new special school rules,

“It’s not OK to talk to Mummy like that. You need to go and sit on your bed for 2 minutes timeout.”

He immediately started arguing back and I began repeating the instruction and physically trying to guide his body towards his room at the same time. The result was that he started hitting me in the face, kicking at my shins and then when I restrained him so he couldn’t do that, he bit my thumb….really hard! Meanwhile I maintained a completely calm facade and continued to guide him to his room like a robot. No eye contact, and repeating,

“It’s no OK to hit or hurt Mummy. You will be doing your timeout and the longer you take to get there and do it properly, the longer you will be in there.”

Eventually I got him to his room where he proceeded to yell mean things at me and then started systematically destroying things in his bedroom! Now he has never actually done that before, so that was a bit of a bummer! He’s always been quite safe to put in his room because he might throw his pillows around or something but never actually empty bookcases and break shelves and that sort of thing. Also biting bits of the wood out from his bed head!!!! Eeeeek! A bit scary really.

Anyway, it took nearly an hour, but he eventually realised that I was re-starting the timer every time he got off his bed or went bonkers or came out, or hit me more or shouted. He finally stayed put calmly for 3 minutes on his bed then came out and apologised. I thanked him for his apology and then informed him (all the while thinking, this is not going to go down well) that he now needed to calmly put his bedroom back together and fix anything that he had broken. He did! Without argument would you believe?!

I then commenced to have a chat to him about what was appropriate and what wasn’t, after having used clear labelled praises for the way he sorted out his bedroom mess after only being told once (all part of my morning training session).

We then commenced the 5 minutes of play therapy. We are at the child directed play part, which means that the child is in charge and the parent follows them and just does special kind of language for reflecting back to them, praising, imitating what they are doing and other stuff like that. I did warn him that 5 mintues wasn’t a very long time before we started, but that we would be doing this every day. We had a great play and I put a lot of what I had learnt into action. Then the timer finished… ba bum….

“Hey! You set the timer for only 1 minute! That wasn’t long enough! This play therapy is STUPID! YOU ARE STUPID! I HATE THIS!”

Lego was thrown on the floor and anger had hit top rung again. If he had stopped yelling at me he would have found out that I was actually about to say “lets keep playing because we were having such a lovely game”, but no… unfortunately there was more hitting, biting, kicking and this time he picked up my belt (which I had removed to allow myself to sit on the floor in my jeans… note to self… less eating…more running) and swung it around and hit me in the arm with the buckle! Yet, I still remained stony faced. I am so good.

So it began again. I removed him to his room, he fought and argued, until eventually, since he was hanging onto my leg, I made him do his timeout on the kitchen floor in front of the microwave, which is what we use for the timer. I figured, at least he’s sitting still and quiet and not getting my attention for that time. After that I scooped him up and sat him down to ask why he had done that, and what was he feeling? He told me he was angry with me (well der!) because the playing wasn’t long enough. Then out of the blue… heartbreaking sobbing! Cuddles, kisses, sorries and it was all over! I think he might have been so tired he just couldn’t contain his feelings any more this afternoon. It’s hard to take sometimes. Especially when you think you’ve finally got him past all of that sort of full on stuff. He really hasn’t done that sort of stuff for a really really long time. Sad, and difficult.

So, we take a deep breath… eat some cookies…(damn it! Note to self… stop buying and/or making cookies!) and start again tomorrow! Seriously, I’m going to end up with wrinkles soon, and that will really be a bummer! Wrinkles, grey hair, and no money for wrinkle cream or hair dye!

KL

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