Not quite as "quippy" as my husband, but I figured "Hey, everybody else is doing it" and "Yes, mom, I would jump off a bridge. . . "
Friday, January 11, 2008
Parenting hard kids is hard . . . part 2 . . .
I wrote last summer about how parenting kids with disabilities is difficult on the entire family. My kids are better for it in some ways, and probably worse off in some ways due to the parenting it takes to make Dustin a part of our family. The huge amount of "gumption" it takes to be "on" at times regarding Dustin and his behaviors, his triggers, his rages, his possible reactions is tiresome. It is not possible to simply come home and "check out" for the evening, as some parents can, leaving perfectly "normal" children to fend for themselves. "Mommy is tired, can you just go play please?" doesn't work EVER! Let me give you a snapshot of my night . . .
Last night, Robert had an appointment to film a piece for the local public television about PEACE. Meaning, I had all three kids to myself. It is not my forte. This may sound horrible to most moms, especially ones who deal with far more children than I, but Dustin really knows how to push my buttons. He rarely acts the way he does for me with Robert. Claudia talks alot about how hard it is for her not to play the "push-pull" game when her girls push her buttons. I can so relate even though I am getting better.
Last night Dustin had a major melt-down turned rage about dinner. We used to struggle with major food issues. He would hoard, binge, and even refuse food regularly. Most of that has subsided, and we only deal with it occasionally. Last night was that occasion. Of course. He refused to eat dinner. I never make an issue out of food. If you don't want to eat what we eat, fine, the rule is you have a peanut butter sandwich. of course, he didn't want that either. Usually this is a perfectly acceptable option for him. And by the way, he LOVES the meal we had last night. He was simply being difficult.
He asked if he could go get some air. I told him he could, but he had to stay on the porch. This was the compromise we came to after he ran away the last night. If he needs "air" he can ask, but he has to stay on the porch. he went out, milled around and came back in about 4 minutes later. I said, "Nice job calming down." and he stomped his foot and went back out slamming the door behind him. This continued about 8 or 10 more times. I was proud of my lack of attack and handling the situation calmly and ignoring him. Finally I had had enough of the door opening and closing and the "Hhhrmph" theatrics, and told him he was to stay in the house. Then the running through the house ensued and the stomping, slamming and hollering. Hollering things like, "You want me to starrrrrrrrrve!!!!!" "You never feed meeeeee!" "I'm calling the poooooliiiice!". Nice.
The dog was stepped on, a bowl was broken, the kids were shell-shocked, stuff was spilled, towels were thrown. I was calm. I waited until he was done and asked him if he was ready for dinner. He said "yes." I shut the kitchen door, made him a small plate and started to clean up the kitchen. He grumped, he breathed heavily, he picked. He walked over and opened the door. I said, "Dustin the dog needs to stay out of the kitchen." He ran to the bathroom and barricaded himself in. I went over and removed him. He said, "I'm hungry!" and went over to his plate. The dog had indeed come through the kitchen door he opened and ate his food. The LAST of the food. Nice. Can you say. . . natural consequences?
Another rage ensued but now directed at the dog. Finally as soon as it began, he calmed, looked at me and said, "Can I play gameboy?" Oh Lord, thank you! About an hour later he ate 2 peanut butter sandwiches and said, "Mom! Those were the best sandwiches ever!" Oh brother!