Friday, February 8, 2013

Getting it ALL wrong

What if all the instincts and impulses that you had inside of you were considered socially unacceptable. Now imagine that your mind and body didn't yet have enough self control to stop you from doing them. Your neurotransmitters just couldn't send things fast enough to tell yourself to stop.   Everywhere you went people would tell you that you were doing it wrong. " Nope, not that way."  "Oh careful, not that." "SLOW DOWN!"  "Oooh you messed up AGAIN!"
How long would it be until you broke.  How many times could you hear your name in THAT tone of voice that says "you screwed up!"  before you either stopped caring or just lost your joy all together?   I fear for my little guy that we are dangerously close to this place, if not already arriving.  I have been witnessing the joy dwindle from him, first in small amounts, and now in a way that seems at times like despair has set in.

  Last week I  talked with his teacher (who is amazing and wonderfully gentle in his corrections.) I got  advice from the school counselor after having her meet with him (because when your son no longer wants to play with his Legos, you take it serious.)  Things that were suggested included a light box since we live in the northwest and the sun doesn't like to be around this time of year. Maybe a session or two with a play therapist?   It was suggested that maybe this was a stage and it would blow over.   I hoped for the latter, and we turned on our Happy Light at breakfast time for a few days.  Then I did some thinking and I tried to put myself in his shoes.  That is what the first paragraph was all about.   Constantly doing the wrong thing, not planning to do the wrong thing, not wanting to do the wrong thing.  (this kid sits and draws during choice time so he won't unknowingly do the wrong thing and get into trouble.)  It has to be crushing for him and I think his new sullen attitude is a product of this.

I googled "play therapist" to see if we had one in the area.  Then I thought about play.  I got a random idea and this is what we are trying, and I think I am seeing results of a happier kid. Long term I am not sure this is going to work but I'm taking it a day at a time.  The plan is:  Short burst of one-on-one time with my son (husband is doing this with him too) where we have fun and no matter what he does, we don't correct him.  It's a time when he can do no wrong, we just play and have fun.  He wrestles me to the ground, or we play a board game, or whatever, but NOTHING he can do gets him a correction or even a scowl for the duration of that playtime.  (My goal is 30 minutes)  The rest of life goes on as it did before except that window of fun.  

My hope is that those times will bring his joy back and we can keep working on ways he can help himself be successful at self control so that he won't have to hear as many corrections.  He wants to follow the rules, that is obvious to me, but his little body and mind are just too full of Tigger to make it happen.

 However, I kinda think that the hundred acre woods weren't as fun until Tigger moved in.
(perhaps we need to move to the woods and homeschool?)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Peace that passes understanding

Almost a year ago I found my escape world.  A place where I could go to grow stronger, and work so very hard that my body would quake like a California fault line and my mind would stop jumping and racing and simply focus on not falling over or collapsing.  It was the ballet that I loved as a child, the yoga that I found relaxation in as a collage student, and the pilates that I knew my 2 times pregnant tummy needed. Sometimes it is a place of prayer, it started with a very serious "please Lord don't let me pass out or fall over." and overtime it became deeper than that.  

     Barre3 is the place I can go where I don't feel guilty for escaping, and despite the insanely hard work, it is a break from my busy mom reality and it keeps me calm.   Recently I have been thinking more about what my children need to keep calm.  What space can we create? What things would help them reach that place.
I created a soothing sensory zone under my sons loft bed. After a trip with my Mom to the magic land of IKEA I ended up with a duvet cover and a ton of pillows to fill it with.  We decked it out with white Christmas lights overhead and more and more pillows.  Both the kids use the space (individually) when they need to find the calm.  Usually they bring a comic book in with them for the ultimate happy place.

     What else though? I'm sure that isn't enough.  How can they find peace at school? On a car ride? At a friends house?   It's great to have a physical space, or an activity that we do that brings us peace but what we really all need is to have that peace inside us.  A place we can go without leaving the room.  Sometimes I feel like I can do that.  I can take that deep breath and have that peace. People comment on it sometimes, how I am so peaceful and calm.  It's true that I am filled with a calm spirit but it's not my own.  I am happy to have it there in me.  Sometimes I have trouble finding it there when it's really crazy.  I want to show my kids how to find it when life is overwhelming (when isn't life overwhelming?)

  I think the trick might be as simple as acknowledging that that calm spirit is within you.  It may not be you, your life may not be calm at all, but that spirit, it's there breathing slowly and just waiting for you to welcome it. Your busy life and jumpy mind may push it away again, brush it off for another time, but there it is always, patient (of course) waiting for you.  

     I'm not sure I can teach my children this, telling them about it just isn't enough.  I can model it but I think they will have to seek it out, make their own discoveries of what dwells within them.  Until they find it I can provide a squishy soft lit place under the loft for them to read.