We are at the end of December Vacation and it has been a long two weeks. This has been potentially one of the most challenging vacation weeks we have had as a family for many years.
For David, I believe, he is loving his classroom so much, and the routine and structure, that vacation for him creates a challenge. He is a child who thrives on routine, loves his new classroom, and therefore the unstructured days of vacation are a challenge. He started vacation with many challenging days full of intensity but unable to express what he was feeling.
It is so hard for me as David's mom because I know he is feeling things, and I know that he hates to be defiant and I think it scares him when he is out of control, however I still need to respond to it and set limits for him so that he learns. No matter how much you are missing school, or how unsure you are of your schedule for the day, it is not ok to scratch me and to yell at me and to throw things. That said, when David is yelling and screaming, it is a more obvious scream for help. He calms when I hold him close. He calms when I whisper and he calms when i finally hit on what it is that is bothering him.
I am often unsure when it comes to parenting David. It is hard to set limits when you don't know that the child understands. It is hard to rationalize with a child who struggles to communicate. It is hard to look at his eyes that are filled with sadness and know that he has a want or a need or to tell you something but that he is unable to communicate. Luckily, once David's rage is over and his need is met, he quickly goes back to a calm space and he can be engaged in a puzzle, playing with trains or often some other quiet activity. Given time, David will reconnect and makes amends once he finds calm and is back to feeling comfortable.
After a rough first week David seemed to settle into vacation mode, and has done relatively well since New Years Eve.
Matthew has had a rocky break as well. He has had some great moments, we had a date that went well, and he has enjoyed some great time with friends. However, many of his comments are scary and he has had multiple outbursts that leave the family shaken. There is no way for me to know which of Matthew's comments are made for effect, and which are made because if it is in Matthew's head, it is said out loud. That said, comments about pushing people over railings, and killing people are never funny and are never things I can take lightly. I don't know what to do with these comments, except to tell Matthew over and over again what is socially appropriate, how he can better express himself and remind him of the consequences of poor choices.
He has been quick to anger over silly things- a slow car driving in front of us, creates a panic for Matthew. Someone looking at him, becomes a reason for him to yell. Me taking "too long" to get ready, becomes a fight. With Matthew you have to have a daily plan because empty time is reason for tantrums, however any plan that we have is talked about so many times that the fun is sucked right out of the plan.
For example, Matthew was supposed to go out to eat with friends of ours on Sunday and I told him about it on Saturday. Every single time we saw each other, he had to make a comment about going out to eat. Where are we going? When? Who is going? What time? How many people? It becomes too much talk, and the fun is sucked right out of the activity.
On Saturday Matthew got upset because he drank almost an entire bottle of orange juice and so i told him that he simply could not buy an iced tea with his respite worker. I wasn't upset about the orange juice, I simply set a limit that he had enough "junk" for the day. Unfortunately, this limit sent Matthew into a tail spin and he raged at me. He ran at me and pushed me into the counter in the kitchen, he threw a massage toy at me, and he punched me in the back. All the while, I spoke calmly to him and reiterated the rule. I needed him to know that I wasn't upset, and i wasn't punishing him, he simply had already had enough "junk drinks" for the day.
Once his rage was over, he was over it....unfortunately, the impact of Jacob seeing Matthew push me was a catalyst for him to fall apart. The entire evening was spent with Jacob in hysterics because he was afraid. Once again, I don't know how "afraid" Jacob was, vs how tired Jacob was from vacation. Jacob kept saying that I didn't call for help, but I was trying to explain to him that I didn't need to call for help because Matthew's respite worker was there, so we all just had to leave the house and could go along with our day. Unfortunately, Jacob's own ability to either understand all of this, or make sense of it was a mess, and so he ended the day with an hour long tantrum.
It isn't easy to be Jacob. He has his own learning challenges that he is just becoming more aware of , coupled with a desire to be a helper to others, and often I fear that Jacob may crumble under the pressure he puts on himself. Jacob is expressing a lot of anxiety tonight over going back to school tomorrow and I cant tell if it is because of some social issues at school, concern over school work, or him just not being ready to be back on schedule and routine.
If you had asked me when i adopted these three guys what I thought parenthood would look like, I would have never guessed it would look like it does. I envisioned a constant stream of friends over. Hours of watching movies together and family card games. In reality, friends over is not typically a reality because of Matthew's unpredicatable nature. Jacob, David and I love movies and need to watch more of them together- it is the perfect time for snuggling, and in place of family card games, we have started to do family puzzles.
Not quite the family I envisioned in my plans, and this was certainly not the vacation I had pictured, that said, if I look back over the 2 weeks we had time at the trampoline park, did 2 puzzles, each that had 1000 pieces, took on 2 new family volunteer projects, spent time with friends, and weathered the storms of our life. Not our best December break, but honestly, not our worst either.
- 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!