June 20, 2011
Chef slept just over 2 hours when he came home from school today, then read for a bit ("Their Majesties and Other Folks"). We had a late supper, celebrating his last day of school/exams with a pizza. As soon as he finished eating, Chef said he was going to do the dishes. Excellent! There were dishes from yesterday and a couple of plates/cups from today, but no more than one load of dishes plus one load of pots/pans. 45 minutes later I went into the kitchen and found Chef sliding a very greasy, very wet pan into the drawer under the oven. Not so excellent. He was angry as soon as he was discovered before I even said anything. It's been a long weekend for both of us, and I imagine Chef is feeling as weary as I am and probably moreso. I told him that ONLY because he had written exams today and it was the last day of school, he could choose to finish up the dishes and have the rest of the evening free or he could just relax in his room for awhile then have an early night. Chef calmly said ok and walked nicely up the stairs. About half an hour later I went up to check on him. I suggested he open his window at least a crack for a little bit to air out his room. Chef said ok and when he slid his window open, I noticed something fall/flutter. I walked over to the window and glanced out. There on the deck were a couple of paper airplanes. "Ok, c'mon. Let's go down so you can clean up your stuff on the deck." Chef nicely walked down the stairs and out to the deck, picked up one paper airplane, and started walking towards the garbage. I reminded him he needed to pick up each piece, including the spitballs scattered around the deck. Chef grumped and attempted arguing, and was reminded that tossing things out his window was not a good plan. Once he was finished cleaning up outside, we went back into the house and Chef was asked to bring down the art folder from school (he's kept it in his room since January!) he'd been ripping up as airplane/spitball fodder. He brought it downstairs and threw it out. I asked him what would have worked better tonight. This was met with tone. I pointed out the front window. Chef nicely walked outside and stomped the ground then did some jumping jacks. I asked him through the open window if he was ready to talk without tone and he said and showed that he was. I asked him if it had worked to toss stuff out his window.
"Does it feel good to always be doing things that cause problems for you?"
"I'm tired of everyone talking to me all the time about what I do."
"If you hadn't tossed paper out your window, would anyone have had to talk with you about it?"
"If you hadn't tried putting away the wet, greasy pan, would anyone have had to talk with you about it?"
"No. I'm just tired of everyone talking to me all the time."
"Ok, so what would have been the easy way to have less talking?"
"To not do that stuff."
And with that, Chef took his meds (for the first time in weeks!) without issue and went to bed. A few minutes later, I asked him how far he'd read in his book earlier.
"Page 30, I think. I really like that one."
"Wow. I bet you'll be almost finished by bedtime tomorrow. Hey, I didn't see your hackey-sack on the kitchen counter. Does that mean you put it away somewhere?"
"I put it on the cupboard thingy. And I put my money thingy there too" (I'd dropped a quarter on the weekend. Chef picked it up and handed it back to me, so I let him keep the quarter as part of the ongoing plan to help Chef realize that there are feel-goods and other benefits to being a positive family member, and as part of the ongoing "surprise" reward system)
"Well, tomorrow let's find a better place for it."
This blog was initially set up as a means of communicating with my son's team. Since then, I've heard from other parents with similar stories. If you are living with challenges or journeying alongside someone who is, you are not alone. There are many of us. I'm a single adoptive Mom (http://richesofsimplicity.blogspot.com/) of a young man who lives with many abilities and many diagnoses. We have journeyed together through many challenges and a few adventures over the years as my son has tried to find space in this world that makes him feel more comfortable, an attempt made especially difficult when living with Attachment Disorder, PDD-NOS (Autism), Developmental Coordination Disorder, ADHD, prenatal substance exposure, etc. Some of the strongest elements used in this journey have been music, visual arts, therapeutic parenting, team-connection, boundary-setting, boundary-setting, boundary-setting, communication skills, community-building, continual lifeskills training, and elements of Theraplay. (Click here for some written resources.) On this journey, there is laughter and tears and growth and hope. The greatest of these is hope.