originally posted here
One of my best friends has a young son with sensory processing and was recently diagnosed ADHD. We were texting the other day and she said that she wished she just knew what kicked off a bad day so that she could somehow mitigate it (or, I'll add, just be prepared for it). How I get that sentiment. Amidst the working through issues at school or getting services or etc, etc, that comes along with a child who is atypical, you then have these things that explode and you have no choice but to be along for the ride.
And when the ride sucks? Well, it sucks and there is not a damn thing you can do about it.
When Bobby and Maya were two, I'd estimate that we had episodes like the one I'm about to recount every other day (and sometimes daily). So much of it revolved, I think (and I thought then) around his lack of ability to communicate. He couldn't "tell" me what was wrong, so he had a physical tell instead. It didn't make it easier to handle but, at the end of the day, I could at least say "This happened because he couldn't tell me what was wrong", even though I still didn't know what was wrong. The episodes would last anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour and I would be exhausted by the time they ended. If they were longer ones, Maya would be upset because, as a 2 year old, she had no idea what was going on and was scared. As she got older, she would try to intervene and "help" him and, since Bobby was so far off by that point, he'd lash out at her, and she would just cry and cry because she wanted to help and he didn't want her to. Heartbreaking.
As Bobby's language and social skills have improved, these instances have decreased. He still has tantrums and blow ups (he's still 3 and, in so many ways, that is normal), but the all out breakdown, where I have to restrain him... I actually cant remember the last time that happened. Until yesterday.
I know there are possible reasons why yesterday went to hell in a handbag. They visited their grandparents in the morning, prepared to stay all day (under the assumption they would take their naps there). I had my OB appointment at 1. When I was done, I had a text to check in with my MIL and I rang her; the kids weren't napping and she was exhausted (she's still recovering from knee surgery in February), so I offered to pick the kids up, which she accepted. They weren't happy to see me (it was around 3, and they wanted their "full day" with their grandparents). I ended up having to fireman carry Bobby to the car, where he kicked and screamed the entire way, calming down when his grandpa gave him a snack to have on the way home. When we got home, where it was clear they were both ready to crash, I got them to bed and, by 3:30, they were sleeping. I knew I'd have to wake them by 5, which would cut their normal 2h+ nap short, but sleeping longer than that would be a disaster for the night.
At 4:30, Bobby woke up crying. Not normal. You could tell he was upset because he was still tired. When I went in, he leapt into my arms and tried to go back to sleep. Maya woke up but wanted more time, so I told her she could rest for another half hour and I took Bobby to the living room, where he snuggled on me and dozed until 5. Holding him, I got Maya up, and carried them both to the living room, where I got them a snack and they watched Bob the Builder, a favorite.
And then... CRASH.
When it was over at 5:15, the afternoon went downhill and fast. For half an hour, it was pure insanity. Screaming, banging his head on the floor, slapping himself, slapping at me, trying to headbutt me, crying... Unable to express himself or tell me what was wrong. I'd get him calm for 15 seconds and then BOOM! Again. Explosion. It was A.W.F.U.L. I ended up having to get him on the floor, wrapping my body around his, and just trying to mitigate the damage he could do. By half an hour in, he just relaxed and everything seemed fine. Back to normal.
I was trashed. I couldn't help it, but I just went to the kitchen out of sight and slumped down, tears coming out silently. Bobby wandered in and seemed unaware of what had just happened. He called out to me, told me he loved me "so much", and gave me a giant hug. He was back to his happy-go-lucky self. And I had (and still have) no idea why we were back to a year+ ago.
I tell myself that yesterday was an off day because of how the afternoon played out and the lack of good nap. But, at going on 4 years old, we've had days that are different. Take, going on vacation for instance... that was a totally different day with a tiny nap (one of the naps, either to VA or back, his nap was only like 45 minutes!), and he didn't melt down like that.
I know from talking to other parents that things like this are par for the course. But when you have so many good days and average days and even "typical" days, situations like this just blow you out of the water.