I am not at all sure what to do about tonight.....I cannot believe that we may need help in the evenings, but I also don't want to see David scared again. There has to be some way for us to all be happy together and for me to help Matthew to learn to be angry in a safe, healthy way. The question is can I teach Matthew this BEFORE David becomes too scared.
We had a nice family dinner tonight- sure Jacob was mad about having to eat a carrot, and Matthew was much more focused on having dessert than he was on eating dinner, but regardless, we were together as a family. Finally, it was time for dessert. David went to get out the popsicles and there was one in the box that was opened. Of course, Matthew's first response was that he didnt open it, but by now all of you know as well as I do ,that he opened it. After a quick reminder to tell the truth, we were back on track. Unfortunately, just as I was going to hand out popsicles I found an empty cracker wrapper on the counter that should not have been there.
When we got home tonight Matthew had run into the house and came out hiding something. I of course asked if it was food, to which he responded "no, there is nothing in my pockets." After a quick peek at him, I didnt see anything or that he even had pockets, so I decided to take the easy route and so I believed him. Well, now with the empty cracker wrapper it all made sense. he knows the rule in my family is that if you lie or eat food when you are not supposed to you don't get dessert.....With my heart in my throat I had to follow through...he has to know that no matter what I am going to be consistent.
He knows our house rules, for him it is just a matter of whether I am going to figure out which rule he broke or not. So, I had him throw out the popsicle..of course I knew all too well that this was going to lead to the tantrum of the century.
I can deal with the tantrums. If it was Matthew and I, we could get through it, unfortunately it is not Matthew and I, there are 2 other kids here- kids who need me, and sadly Matthew is a very large 8 year old. No sooner than Matthew started to scream, David started to cry. All he wanted was the noise to stop. In David's world we all need to be happy all the time. David would love it if life was quiet and people followed the rules. My heart broke- how do I get him to understand that people get mad sometimes. That even if Matthew is mad it is ok. If there were 2 parents in my house one would play with the 2 little guys, and one would help Matthew...but there aren't 2 parents here, there is just me. How do I balance everyone's needs? How do I teach Matthew to be angry in a safe, quieter way?
I called my parents hoping that Matthew would talk to one of them, but he was too upset...too mad, he wouldnt get on the phone. I tried to get the other 2 boys into the tub, figuring that David would feel calmer, they wanted no part of it. I tried to get the little guys to play downstairs while Matthew and I were upstairs, but David needed to be near me. I tried, I thought, I tried.....I didnt konw what to do. I did all I could....we needed help. David and Jacob needed to know that they can play while Matthew is mad. They needed to know that there are people to help us if we need help. they needed someone to hold them while Matthew was angry, and I was with Matthew.
Thankfully, I called my friend and she came over. She and David and Jacob read books, snuggled and played. But how often can we do this? How many times will this be ok? Why are there no directions for how to be a single parent to 2 children with needs and a toddler? Why is there no one who can tell me how to do this better? differently?easier?
I have placed an ad for someone to come be with us a few evenings a week. For now the only thing I can do is make sure that David and Jacob feel safe when Matthew is angry- I know they are safe, but safe is a feeling- it is an emotion. When Matthew is yelling and banging and screaming and loud, to David and Jacob it feels scary. It feels out of control. It feels overwhelming. It is unpredictable. It is too much.
By 7:30 it was all over- there had been progress- Matthew came downstairs and apologized to David and Jacob all by himself. Matthew joined us for the bedtime routine and they all went to bed no worse for wear. For me however, all I have thought of all night is what next time? How can we do this better? What do I need to make this feel as good as it can for everyone? How many times before Matthew learns the limits? How many times before I know how to do this perfectly?
I do have to remember that there was growth in Matthew. That the boys ended the night happily. And maybe, just maybe it is time to learn that popsicles are the devil......and sugar water isn't worth this much stress!
- I am a single mom of three amazing boys! All three of my sons entered my family through adoption. All three of my boys have developmental disabilities. My oldest son, Matthew has been diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Bipolar Disorder. David, my middle son, has a genetic condition, he has a duplication on his 15th chromosome which leads to autism like symptoms, seizures and learning challenges. My youngest son, Jacob has learning disabilities. Each of my children bring unique challengs to our family and also bring their own personality and joys to our everyday life!