My son has always been a little too aware of things. He notices everything. He sees and hears things that the rest of us just gloss over. Despite many specialists thinking that he doesn’t pick up on emotions and social cues, I believe the picks up too many things at once, making it hard for him to handle emotionally, and therefore making him shut it all out rather than deal with it.
School holidays have just begun here in Australia for the end of term 3. We did a half day of school on Friday with just a maths test that I wanted him to do since it was the last day of term. He did great in the test and next term will begin his grade 2 maths book. That means that I’ve caught him up on 3 maths books this year. He’s gone through Kindergarten and both Grade 1 books. Most kids go through a book a year. He’s done a book a term. I expect that now that things are getting more complicated, that progress might slow down a bit, but at least I know he’s not missed any of the basics. He gets it. Good work to us!
So by Friday afternoon, he was already starting with the ‘I’m bored! I’m lonely! I need someone to play with!” Now as usual that was quite frustrating to me, since I had already played Couriers, Aeroplanes, Uno, I had taken him to the park and flew his remote control plane with him. I had run down a hill in my thongs to retrieve said remote control plane and sprained my ankle. As far as I was concerned, a little bit of time playing alone outside in the garden wasn’t going to kill him. I told him so!
What had started out as a simple complaint about having nothing to do, turned into a full on deep and meaningful conversation about how he’s different from the other kids and how that’s not fair.
Me:”Sweetheart, it is true that you are lonely, and I know that’s hard. It’s not true that you have nothing to do though. There are many things you could do, you just don’t want to do them!”
Son:”Grrr, it’s not fair that I have no other kids to play with! I need someone to play with!”
Me: “Well, we can consider having a trial at a new school next year if you would like? Then you would get to hang out and play with kids more. There are some changes you really need to make to some of your behaviours though, so that we can feel comfortable letting you play for long periods of time with other kids. If you can work hard on some of that stuff, you could go to neighbours houses and play with other kids around the area in the holidays.”
Son: “But if I go to school, I don’t like doing the work! I don’t want to do school work all the time because that sucks!”
Me: “Yes, that’s true. You can’t have it all your way. You need to put in the work and do the boring bits in order to earn and enjoy the good parts. That’s just the way life is for everyone.”
Son: “Well I don’t think it’s fair that I have to always do work. All that stuff is hard for me!” ( I didn’t reply to that, since actually, it’s not that hard for him, he just doesn’t like doing it! After he’s argued for 30 minutes about not being able to something and I’ve ignored him for an equal amount of time, while calmly repeating “yep, you can. Just sit down and try please”. It usually takes him no more than 15 minutes to complete any work I’ve set him!)
Me: “There are some things that are hard for you, that’s true. You are always going to have to work on controlling your temper, remembering to speak respectfully to people who annoy you, and trying to stop talking and listen even when you aren’t interested. These are things that you are getting better at every day, and if you continue, you will be fine in any situation. The thing you really need to understand is that YOU are in control of things simply by the way you think. The things you say to yourself in your own head can determine whether you are sad, happy, bored, lonely. You just need to stop always taking a negative point of view on everything, and turn it to positive in your own head. All of a sudden, things that suck now, won’t seem so boring or bad.”
Son: “But you never get bored. I just need excitement! I want to go somewhere else!”
Me: “Ahh… sweetie, I am exactly the same as you in that way. I always want a new and exciting thing to do. I am always looking for my next big project, or wishing I could jump on a plane and visit different countries and cities. The difference is, I know I can’t do those things, and I don’t want to be sad, or disappointed every day, so I make my brain feel happy about the normal everyday things I have to do. I have to wash dishes and make food at least 3-4 times every day. I have to do washing and folding every other day. I have to clean up. I have to do grocery shopping. I don’t want to do any of those things, but since I have to do them, and I can’t change that, I change the way I think about them instead. Sometimes I sing while I wash up. Sometimes I imagine I’m hanging the washing up outside a little English cottage, or a line on a white roof in Greece. I use my imagination to try and get a little bit of what I want even though I can’t afford to really do all those things. You have an amazing imagination and I bet you could do it too.”
By now, he was actually crying, because of how hard his life is (awww poor thing). Yet, he took a deep breath and went into his bedroom to look through his cupboard and find some toys he hasn’t seen in a while. He came back out with his play dough contraptions and a big smile. 🙂 ……..
Then he suckered me into playing with him and the contraption to make play dough sweets….. damn it!
I guess though, I can only deal with each of his dilemmas one at a time. I do believe that eventually, he will find a way to socialise better. I’m still not sure about school though. I’m a little disillusioned with the school system overall to be honest. I just really dislike the thought processes behind current education and the pressure they put on kids. It’s a different world now, and my son just needs to find a way to live in it positively.