Christian had probably one of the worst karate classes he's ever had today. Whatever his sensei told him to do, he was determined to do the opposite. It took multiple times to redirect him to any task.. Even just simple tasks like "Close your hands into fists" became laborious as it took asking five, six, or seven times to get even a little cooperation.
|Christian at karate today|
There was very little karate accomplished today, but I hope something bigger might be taking place. Because of the difficult time Christian had today in karate, it gave his sensei and I both a platform to discuss these behavior issues with Christian. It gave us a really concrete concept to talk to Christian about, which he needs to be able to comprehend and expand his thoughts. I can pinpoint specific things he did at karate that are not exemplar behavior and explain how and why he needs to do better. We've been discussing it today, as did Mr. Taylor at the end of class today, and I think it's clicking for C.
The last few months have been a challenge behavior wise for Christian, but I think we are finally over the hump and starting to even out and figure our way along, despite the rough karate class today. I think Mr. Taylor is one person Christian hasn't bucked on too much just yet because he respects him, and I really believe today was just some final testing for Christian to try to figure out how hard and where he could push his limits. He's been testing and pushing me for months now, so Mr. Taylor has been spared so far.
I think it all started with a hard school year. Not only was it Christian's first year of school and extended stays away from Chandler and I several times each week, but some things went on that shouldn't have through no fault of the school, and unfortunately, Christian reacted with aggression. It wasn't his fault, and it's a total expected reaction in circumstances like that, but it left me worried nonetheless.
On top of that, the school year was a time of growth for C. He had lots of therapies and lots of new experiences, which gave him a good developmental boost! He began speaking even better, using larger words and more complex sentences. He finally started using pronouns correctly after years of saying them wrong in such a cute way. (I'm happy and sad all at once over that one #MomLife.) Christian started learning that he can walk and explore independently without holding my hand. He already knew this and tried it a little, but it was really reinforced at school and he was shown exactly how to do it. This newfound freedom was exciting for Christian. His favorite phrase this school year has been "I want to do it all by myself, Mommy!"
Basically, he went from a pre-schooler to school aged kid. He is growing up, as much as it pains me to admit it.
|Christian's first day of kindergarten last August.|
Look how much he's grown!
That new found independence mixed with the new aggression he learned in an attempt to protect himself from someone who wasn't being nice brought lots of power struggle between he and I.
Christian mastered the art of the "No" and was testing the waters to see exactly where his limits were. He would disobey until he was absolutely forced to do otherwise. He would get angry and lash out over not getting something he wanted right away. It was rough, and it also wasn't the expected or typical behavior that I had known from Christian.
The thing that worried me the most was that Christian is so dependent on me to help him with things like safety, and he just decided that he no longer needed that help. When I would tell him to stop walking because he was getting close to an edge or something that could hurt him, he just continued walking and refused to listen. He didn't care that he was about to get hurt. Literally, getting hurt mattered less than asserting his independence and ability to make his own choices.
So, the last few months have been a challenge, to say the least. Christian has always been my calm one. He is the compliant child, or at least he was. He was always the sweet, sometimes quiet little boy who always had a smile on his face and a happy disposition, and suddenly I didn't know where that happy little boy went or who this screaming banshee that looked like my son was.
When I finally began to nail down the issues and figure out what was really going on, I was finally able to help. I decided to drop our nursing after months and months of having different people in and out of the home who Christian would get attached to just in time for them to move on to the next case. Christian needed consistency and we just weren't getting it, and while that is just how that industry works, it was doing harm to Christian. On top of that, Christian became suddenly scared of any new nurses that came into our home (I'm talking, fetal position in my lap until they left) and strangers in general. That was when I really honed in on what was going on and decided it was time to end nursing care.
I was nervous about ending it, but I can't say enough about what a load it has lifted. It's strange how having nursing care went from lifting a burden to creating one, but it did, and I was hesitant to give up the help that I desperately needed. It took me some time to figure out exactly how we were going to manage without some sort of respite care for Christian. I was honestly nervous. Christian requires a lot, and so does Chandler. Christian's tube feedings and care, along with his sighted guide safety needs can keep someone busy all day long. I wasn't sure I could do it all alone. I had also planned on starting to work soon, and that would be out the window without someone who could feed Christian. I hadn't planned on going without nurses, and I knew it would be challenging, but I knew deep down that it was time.
I made the leap of faith, well, the call of faith, and cancelled the nursing care anyways because I knew it was what was best for Christian. I noticed an almost immediate change in Christian for the better. Within just a week, he was more relaxed and the aggressive attitude started to calm down. He still wasn't listening better, but we have been able to work on that since the aggression is leaving. It's been...2 or 3 months now, and Christian hasn't questioned once why his nurses aren't here until just a few days ago actually. That tells me a lot about how he was feeling about it. He's had nurses for most of his life and went for 2 or 3 months without ever speaking about the fact that they were suddenly gone. I know he noticed the change, because he isn't stupid by a long shot. He used to wake up every morning and ask who was coming to be his nurse that day. He *knew* there were no nurses, and yet he never asked me why or where they were. That spoke so loudly to me.
Christian calmed down a ton, but the willfulness was still going strong, and he was just being so daring and using zero safety consciousness, which is so important for visually impaired people. (Think, walking carelessly off the steps because you don't care to take an extra few seconds to slow down and find them first.) I began to try different things to see what was going to help. At first I tried cracking down, and it just made him fight me that much harder.
I couldn't even begin to discuss everything I tried, because I was trying it all. I almost reached a point of feeling helpless, and tried calling around for some help. I was met with brick walls and 'No's." So, I kept persisting. Finally, the one thing that worked was more patience than I knew I had. The more Christian pushed my buttons, the more angry it was making me, and the more I was reacting with punishment. It just kept making things worse. I had to really start stepping outside of that anger and doing what I knew I needed to do.
Christian was trying to take control because he had felt out of control in his situation with school and nurses, and here I was trying to take that control away. He wasn't giving up without a fight, and rightfully so. He needed to know that his current situation wasn't going to get out of control. He needed me to listen to him and hear what he wasn't actually saying. He also needed more than to hear the aggravation and frustration in my voice directed towards him when he didn't do what I told him. He needed me to talk him through and explain to him why I needed him to do what I asked him to do, so that he could then CHOOSE to listen. He needed to have the freedom to choose to listen to me, not just be mindlessly forced into it. He also needed some stability and consistency, to know that he was not going to be put back into a situation like what existed while I wasn't around to protect him at school, which I think just comes with time.
So, Mr. Independent, I am happy to report, is doing better! The independent streak is still there and sometimes the aggression is still rearing it's head. He is still insistent on doing things his way and being stubborn about listening to adults.I can't say I blame him, because adults failed him and he is just trying to process it all. This school year taught him that not all adults are trustworthy and that he can't listen to everything he hears.
I know his strong determination will serve him well one day if he is not led by the pack, not a mindless follower. It is truly my hope for him that he will be a strong and assertive man who stands by his principles and doesn't bend to pressure. The thing is, I have to survive raising him first! :)
I'm just thankful that after months of working through this, we are seeing progress. I hope that next week's karate lesson is better and that Christian learned something today! I'll be sure to keep you guys updated! Thanks for reading!