Never Let Them See You Sweat: Maintaining Control

WMSJ's Skate for the Light Night brought the 10-year olds (Sage and Hope) and their Daddy out in another beautiful snowy day, full of great fun as they learned how to ice skate!

So while they were having a blast on ice, I was at home with the "littles". 

Initially, it was very quiet here.  Joy (18 months) wanted to watch home videos on my computer.  Stevie (7, autism) wanted to watch sections of his favorite videos on the TV in the other room on. All by himself.

As in, with nobody else there: including yours truly, and baby Joy.

So, when I had watched all the video clips I could stand to watch, I veered Joy  (read: I carried her) into the other room...that room, the one with Stevie...

As you could probably guess, it didn't go very well.

"No TV!  Turn it off!"

"It is off, Stevie."

"No shows? Goodbye, Mommy! Goodbye, Mommy! Go to the other room! Put Joy to bed!"

"Stevie, you cannot have this entire room and the TV all to yourself. It is everybody's house."

I continue holding Joy, as I flip through the videos, trying to find one that will let me sneak away from my still-attached-at-the-umbilical-cord daughter, who is, by the way, heavy!

Stevie pulls on my clothes, trying to move me out of the room. "Goodbye, Mommy!"

He pulls harder.

He pulls "this way" and "that way" and then his frustration and determination escalate quickly. OCD has met it's match in Stevie!

I know where this is going, and it could get ugly.  

But it might not: Just because it happened that way before, doesn't mean it will happen that way again.

So, I keep my cool. I hold Joy in one arm, and hug my fermenting child with the other arm. (This would be why God saw fit to give me twins first!)

I keep thinking:  I can't let him know that I am no longer able to physically handle him if he goes into a full-out tantrum. Rheumatoid Disease has left me easily hurt.There is no one here to help me with him. But I can't let him know  any of that. I can't let him see me sweat. I know God will help me in my time of need. I will act like I can handle this. I am in control-even when he wants to be the biggest control-freak in town. 

Besides being emotionally unregulated, Stevie seems confused... like he really wants to fight to the end, but then he looks and sees me: his Mommy, the one giving him a hug-- a hug that helps to ground him.  

So he doesn't fight. But, He's clearly conflicted.

I sit on the big fluffy brown chair with him and I finally set Joy down.

"Goodbye, Mommy!" he starts again: his cheeks red, his voice distressed, tears of frustration start to fall. He wiggles like he may try to push me off the chair, but I just hug him tighter, run my fingers through his hair to calm him.

"I'm not leaving, Stevie.  It is my house too and I am going to stay here."

And I did.

And he lost his control over the environment he sought after, as he maintained control over his body and emotions and calmed down. Wow. Now that took some serious self-control!

I am so impressed with him; he has come such a long way in the last year!

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Here is a picture of the twins at the Ice Arena:

 Skate for the Light Night

The first picture must have been in the beginning because I heard that by the end of the night, they were whizzing around the rink!

The subject of control came up again, but this time it was about how much easier it seemed to maintain control while on ice skates, as opposed to roller skates.  I guess the wheels don't come off as easily on ice skates.

Maybe we should teach Stevie to ice skate, too :)

Proverbs 16:32  Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city.  

Sometimes, we need to loose control over one area, in order to gain control over another. Like Stevie, we may be holding on to something that isn't ours in the first place. 

Becoming Purified by Tantrummy Flames

Recently, (and hopefully not currently) we went through a really hard time with Sketch.  He started having longer and more frequent tantrums, and more intense and aggressive ones as well.  A developing tactic he began to form was throwing heavier things such as furniture, if he could.

One time he became upset with some Math-U-See bricks (of various sizes) and took the whole bucket and threw it--pieces flew all through the air in various directions.  They came dangerously close to hitting Princess Buttercup in the face, as she sat obliviously reading her book.

And, to add to the intensity and unpredictability, Sketch would flail, pull hair and hit, scratch, kick, etc. and became more intentional about it with each tantrum.  He would target my face, hair or worst of all...my stomach with a growing baby inside.

Because of baby, I am not able to remove him from an area, as I could do before.  I am not able to calm him with tight squeezes, or be near him in that state.  I had to separate him from us with a baby gate--the only option with our house layout at this time.  The problem was, that he is good enough with problem solving now, at the ripe old age of 5, that he would pile blankets and cushions at the gate on either side, to step on and climb over to a soft landing, so he could continue his attack.

This is NOT like my sweet, cuddly boy!  The last time he was like this, he was on steroids most of the time, due to asthma and undiagnosed food allergies!

I don't think I have ever been so stressed out or overcome with despair at a situation with my kids before.  I had prayed for help, for God to calm my little boy, for sanity to return to our house.  I desperately pleaded before his throne of grace for help in my time of need, but I didn't seem to be getting the results I wanted. Day after day this continued...sometimes several grandiose tantrums a day. I didn't know what to do.  I didn't understand why this was suddenly happening. And worst of all, I was sure I would NOT be finding any "treasures" in these tantrums!!!

But, God does redeem e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.

As some of you know from my previous posts, I really like Beth Moore's Bible Studies, and I am currently going through one with my wonderful church called, "A Womans Heart:  God's Dwelling Place"

In the first few weeks of the study, Beth says this:  "...we offer God something more precious than gold when we joyfully lay our sufferings on His altar and agree to be purified by the flames that threaten to consume us." (p.58)  She was commenting on this verse from 1Peter 4:19 "Those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good"

Hard advice, I must say, especially when the ONLY thing you want, is to get out of the situation. The. End.

She continues, "No one can make you surrender your suffering to God.  Only you can decide how your fires will affect you.  Will you be sanctified or scarred?  Listen as He says to you, "My precious child, I bore My scars so that you would not have to!"  He has suffered enough for both of you"

That night, I realized the only thing I could do is to lay down this "suffering" with Sketch, entrusting it and it's consequences to the God who desires to do more for me than I can ever imagine or comprehend.  Even if the situation didn't change quickly, I needed to be willing to allow God to purify me in this situation, instead of becoming scarred by it.  I woke up the next morning with the song, "Refiners Fire" playing in my dreams.

Tough lesson, but a treasure worth learning.

I guess there was a treasure in that after all.

And, for the follow up... God has guided us as parents and we ended up re-arranging our childrens bedrooms so Sketch had a room downstairs where I could put him to calm down, and not harm anyone.  He always wanted me to take him to his room upstairs (carry him) when he was out of control, but that is no longer safe.  Being able to take him to his room again has worked wonderfully to calm him down quicker!  Also, we suspected that his medicine for ADHD may have been contributing to this behavior, although not following the typical pattern of side effects.  We changed the medicine and the tantrums have reduced back to more normal and manageable levels!!!

In the midst of learning this lesson, a friend of mine pointed me to a song on youtube that wonderfully addresses this.  Here it is: