I think my body knew that this afternoon I would need all my energy and patience. When I got home from the school drop off, I lay down just for a moment as my back was quite sore, and I had a bad headache. (I have no idea why my back is sore, but I just have one of those backs!) Anyway, I woke up at 1pm!!! Eeek! An entire day wasted in sleep. I had some food, some coffee, did some washing and then set off to get my son from school. I got to school a little bit early in order to unchain his bike and take it to our new meeting place. I was intercepted by the principal.
Her first question was, “Does he swear at home?”
Me: “He has a couple of times, but no, he’s not allowed to, and has been sent to his room each time he has done it.”
Principal: “Hmmm well he let some pretty choice language go this afternoon with his aide. He also spat at her.”
I was silent… what can you say really?
The principal went on to suggest that we now let him know that we’ve talked and that if he does it again he will be warned by her that Mummy will be informed. If he then does it again he will get five minutes in his bedroom even though the behaviour was at school.
She also said that she has already seen some small difference with the new medication, which is good. However, she thinks that he needs further assessment as she thinks there is something else going on with him. Now this is something we’ve heard over and over throughout the years, as he just doesn’t fit into either any ‘normal’ box, nor any ‘diagnosis’ box.
I told her that I believe all the stuff they see at school, like the missing of social cues, and the impulsive behaviours and the lack of empathy is all anxiety centred, because he doesn’t display a lot of this stuff at home… very often… any more…mostly. The short of it is, that he is just still doing a lot of very anti social behaviours at school. She said his verbal intelligence is just so high, but he really doesn’t get any of the more basic things like social interaction. Sadly our conversation was cut short by the bell ringing but she wants me to talk to the school counsellor again, and allow her to speak to his psychiatrist. Sigh…
She also very kindly suggested that I need to drop my guilt about him as if he’s now on an antidepressant prescribed by a specialist, then that means his problem is biological (chemical balances) and not anything to do with environment or parenting. I agree with her to some extent. The cause is the chemical imbalance, but our parenting makes a big difference to how he handles it or whether it creates worse behaviour or not.
So I collected the child, let him know that I had chatted to the principal and that I knew what had happened today and that we would have chat about it at home. He then raced off on his bike, but I called out to remind him that he is not allowed to cross the road without me watching since he didn’t look when he crossed the other day (I was following in the car and spying on him). He listened and crossed with me, but then raced home ahead of me when there were no more roads to cross.
As I came home, I saw him on the front lawn looking very stressed and holding a big piece of wood. The dog was prancing around him, and I could tell something dramatic had happened.
Son: “Mummy! I blue tongue lizard was going to bite Moppy’s foot! I had to kill it with this piece of wood! It was hissing at us and I was really scared!
Me: In horror… we’ve had a blue tongue lizard living under our verandah for about 7 years and it suns itself regularly on the lawn. It also has a number of babies. I couldn’t see the big lizard on the lawn, so I figured it must have been one of the babies. “No! You didn’t?! Where?”
Son: “It’s under the end of the wood.”
Me: Picking up the wood and retrieving the half crushed lizard, to find that it was only half dead poor thing. “I am so upset with you for doing that to the lizard! Get your stuff inside right now, we have to take it to the vet!”
We took it to the vet which is only two minutes away from our house, but sadly it was DOA. 😦
I had a long talk to him about other options he had when he was frightened, and explained the lizard wouldn’t have hurt him or the dog. I also said that he is now not allowed to beat me home, so that I am there if something frightens him again.
I began the conversation about the swearing etc today and asked him what happened that made him do that.
He told me that the aide he was with kept following him around the playground at lunch time (they are supposed to do that to give him playground support), and that when he was playing with a little girl, the aide told the little girl not to play with him because he was a very rude boy. Well. Now, I know he has a tendency to lie about pretty much everything if he thinks he’s going to get into trouble for it, but we can usually get him to tell the truth if we are careful about how we get it out of him. The most effective way is to pretend that we believe him, and let him know that we are just going to ‘check’ the story with another adult who was actually there. That will usually get him saying what really happened.
Me: “Right, well although that is not any reason to swear or spit at someone I can see how that would have upset you. Adults should know better than to say things like that to children, and I will ring the school up right now and get them to check what happened and I’ll tell them that the aide said that to you.”
Son: “Good! Ring them right now!”
I did ring them and was lucky enough that the principal answered the phone. I told her and she even got on the phone to my son and told him that she was upset to hear that had happened to him and that she’d be talking to that aide very seriously tomorrow. He seemed happy with that, so my guess is that she really did say that to him. Now it’s very likely that he was being bossy or whatever to the little girl, but come on! That’s why he has an aide at play times!!!!! He doesn’t need adults around him who shame him instead of guide him! We’ll see what her story is tomorrow I guess!
Next we decided to play. I couldn’t bend down and push a little toy car all around the garden because my back hurt, and that made him really angry. Well actually I think it was all the other stuff that had happened, but that was the last straw for him emotionally.
Me:”We’ll need to play some other way or a different game sweetheart because that game hurts my back.”
Son: “Well, you’re just a f*&$%ing idiot!” Said with a completely serious angry face looking straight at me.
Me: “Well, since you chose to swear and speak to me like that, we won’t be playing at all, and you can go to your bedroom instead.”
Son: “No. I’m not going”
Rather than arguing, I decided to just pick him up and carry him to his bedroom. He allowed me. I left him in there and came out, knowing that he wasn’t going to just take that as there were some really big emotions happening behind the scenes. Sure enough, I heard him banging things around in there, so I opened the door and he flew at me in full attack mode.
I scooped him up and took him over to his bed and held him while he raged a bit. He tried to kick and hit me but I just kept quiet for a while. Once he was a little bit more calm I said,
“Right. I am wondering whether all the things that have happened today have made you feel quite angry at yourself. Like losing control and swearing at a teacher and at mummy. You are also probably really sad about that lizard too, and feeling bad that you did that to it without thinking first.”
Son: Using a devil voice…”Yes.”
Me: “Right. I thought so. I can understand that. It’s not OK to swear at me though, or try to hurt me. Now I can tell you are still struggling with all those feelings so I’m just going to sit in the room with you in case you want some help or need me. When I feel that you are going to be safe. You will have to do your time out for swearing at Mummy.”
Son: “I am going to kill you one day you know. I am really going to kill you. Get out of my room!”
Me: “That shows me that you aren’t ready to be safe, and that you still need someone here to help you through some really tough angry feelings. So I’m going to sit over here. I won’t touch you or talk if that’s what you want, but I’m not going anywhere until you are calm and safe.”
It took about 15 minutes this time, which is pretty long, but he came over and snuggled into my lap and had a chat about it all and apologised for talking to me like that. He explained that he was really mad at himself for doing all that stuff which meant that he wasn’t going to get any of the rewards in the reward cupboard. (I had bought some new little rewards today as some toys were on sale) Rewards are different now though, they aren’t earnt as such because he then only behaves as long as a reward is at the end of it. As soon as there are no more rewards, he stops behaving. I use them as surprise treats just to show I’m proud of him in general if he’s done kind things, or helpful things or stuff like that and made me happy and proud of him.
Fortunately, he played really nicely in his room with Lego for most of the rest of the night, and he did his extended time out for the language with me and the behaviour during the first time out! Bah! What a day! I need some chocolate now. I wonder what he’ll give us tomorrow.