On top of all this there has been the escalation in son's behaviours. We've been having difficulty with him ever since he read his Life Story book; refusal to go to bed at night, the scary morning incident, lots of tantrums, and more recently we've had a return of the screaming at shower time.
I think I've been doing a good job. I've been able to see his behaviours as communication and I've been able to swoop in and put in all the gentle nurturing underneath him. I've been playful, dispelling his moodiness with making him laugh. I've been 'wondering aloud' about his behaviours, been curious. I've been empathetic with discipline when necessary. And behind the scenes I've fixed up an appointment with CAMHS for September. See? Responsible as well as caring.
Has any of it made the slightest bit of difference to him or his behaviour? No. He is back to controlling this family with quick and easy expression of violent emotions, and it stinks.
Tuesday night, shower night, I finally lost it and I didn't even see it coming. We'd all been out in the garden and I was doing some major cleaning up of the old vegetable plot I have now abandoned. Husband took son up for his shower and returned a few minutes later saying that son was screaming, demanding he have someone in the bathroom with him whilst he showered. I suggested to husband that maybe he should be in the bathroom then, rather than standing talking to me.
I think, looking back, I was doomed from that moment. I carried on doing my stuff in the garden, my son's scream wafting towards me on the gentle summer breeze through the open bathroom window, but I was angry at husband for not just automatically doing the nurturing thing with son at shower time that I had been doing for weeks. Why does it always have to be me?
Eventually, I went inside to face the bedtime routine, just in time to hear husband being less than therapeutic with son, who was still in the bathroom. This cranked my irritation up another notch. When I was dealing with a screaming son, I concentrated on being matter-of-fact, and sometimes playful, I managed not to resort to threats. I offered to take over from husband, as I didn't agree with the direct his parenting was taking, but he declined.
So I went and lay on our bed and there, instead of getting myself into a good place, I stewed a while load of negativity together. Son ruining another perfectly pleasant evening, husband not handling it how I would, son controlling this family again, all the memories of the extreme screaming I had directed at me during shower time for the first six to nine months of the placement. Oh yes, it all came rushing back at me. My heart was pounding, my breathing was shallow. I should have stayed where I was or stayed away.
But I didn't. I still thought I could control myself, so I got up off the bed when son came out of the shower and reminded him to clean his teeth. Son threw some Oppositional Defiance at me. No, he was going not going to clean his teeth, he was going into his bedroom. I repeated my request. He walked on past me with the self-satisfied grin of one who knows he is pushing buttons.
I followed him into his room and scooped up his naked little body, and as he starting screaming some more, I unceremoniously carried him to the bathroom, plonked him in front of the sink and said very loudly in his ear, two words. CLEAN. TEETH.
Then, whilst he stood at the sink cleaning his teeth and crying, I stood in the bathroom behind him throwing a whole big lecture at him about acting like a naughty three year old. If he wanted to act like a three year old by tantrumming all the time, I lectured, we would treat him like a three year old. We would make him go to bed at 6pm. We would not allow him on the wii. We would spoon feed him babyfood.
Not pretty, is it?
I should tell you that I did do 'repair' that night, and by our final goodnight we were cuddling and kissing again, but I just HATE IT when I fall back into that parental default of punishment, and show of force, and threats.
I think I'm heading towards burn out and need some escape again, but this time the exit routes are blocked. My mum and dad, who handle son very well, are out of action for the time being. There is no one else I trust to babysit him as well, not when he's being like this. Not when he keep alluding to death and killing himself. So getting out at night time seems impossible. I wasn't here for one night last week (getting back late from that course I did in London) and he wet himself, so I don't even feel I can go out alone to see my friends. I'm not getting to see my friends during the day either because I'm spending so much time over at mum and dad's. And we can't even plonk the kids for a couple of hours with my parents-in-law during the day because they've pissed off on holiday.
I can feel a sense of resentment towards son creeping in, because if his behaviours weren't so difficult, this family would be having a much better time. Even though I know he is not choosing to be like this, even though I know he is hurting and needs my love and help, even though I want to do everything I can to help this little boy heal. I still feel resentment. I feel it because I'm tired and my life is all about housework and shopping and having to deal with other people's emotions with a smile on my face. There is no enjoyment in any of it. I'm having no fun. I want to go and see a good film, or go out for a laugh with my husband and friends, and have lunch with a friend. But I can't. I'm stuck. I'm stuck here and nothing I do or say seems to be making the slightest bit of difference to my son.
The summer holidays are fast coming upon us. I always throw myself into holidays, using them as a chance to chill and bond with the kids. But can I do that from this place I am currently sitting in? I don't know. The way it stands, I don't even want to pick them up from school today and spend the evening with them.