Sunday, September 03, 2006

Sent "Over the Edge" by "Over the Hedge"...

Weeeelll... B really seemed to enjoy Over the Hedge, but in the aftermath of a very intense evening C & I are thinking that B is still having difficulty with the intensity of the movie-going experience. We avoided theatre movies from ages 5-8 because B was very likely to try to run out of the theatre if things got too overwhelming. It wasn't much of a sacrifice to forego the theatre experience (or expense). We just got the ones we thought would be good after they were released on dvd or vhs. When B was 8 1/2 he decided he had to see The Incredibles & did so well that we even saw it twice in the theatre. So, we tried Chicken Little & Madegascar last summer, & he was all right while watching the movies, but we noticed that B would have a delayed reaction to the experience. It's as if the surface humour would wear away & the actual anxiety behind the humour would get under B's skin. This certainly happened after seeing Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, which is the last movie we took him to see in the theatre... maybe last summer?

Yesterday afternoon B seemed in good spirits when he got home, & asked to play a game on the computer before dinner. He had finally found a lego site game earlier in the day that: a )worked on the mac, b) wasn't too hard, & c) wasn't too easy. He was delighted (at one point he told me, "mom, it's just so exhilirating!") & really wanted to get back to it. After about 20 minutes he called, "mom, I can't progress to the next level unless I invite someone to play (as in send a friend's email to them)- what do I do?" Warning bells went off in my head. We have very strong feelings about being used as advertising ploys (I won't take any solicitation by phone, not will I participate in those "canvass" your neighbour by mail charity things) & especially about our kid being used this way. I explained that we do not participate in these sorts of things, & why (he already knew, but hadn't identified this as a scam). B went ballistic... not at me, but at the lego folks. He sat & tearfully listed the many ways they had let him down recently: games that won't work right or at all on a mac, not updating the ExoForce site often enough, taking the bionicle stories to terribly violent new lows (he hasn't been able to finish the last 2 books & used to love them...) so that he can't enjoy them any more, & now trying to use him to suck a friend into the site. I said that the only thing to do was to let them know, so I searched the site for a feedback area, finally found, it, & sent them an email telling them how disappointed my son was & that they were violating our family values by requiring him to "invite" a friend before he could progress to the next level of the game. This seemed to help for a few minutes, but he couldn't get the thoughts & feelings out of his mind. He became distraught again & descended quickly into "stuckness". C announced that dinner was served, but when he came in the living room he realised that we were in crisis, so sat with us, adding words of support. I hugged B tightly, grateful that we had caught him before he couldn't be touched, & tried to validate his feelings & "talk him down". When he seemed calmer, I started asking him questions about the "Knight Ranger" he was holding (B has synthesised his Knight's Kingdom guys into "Knight Rangers" with very complicated back-stories). He quickly started telling me all about this Ranger & within 5 minutes or so was smiling & ready for dinner. Whew... We talked about Over the Hedge during dinner & they told me all the funny parts, but I also noticed a bunch of themes that usually trigger disturbing thoughts in B, such as animals being eaten or hurt, so I did wonder that he had taken it so well.

After dinner was a quick bath for B before friends arrived for dessert. Right before the bath I heard sounds of distress from B's room (C was up there, too) & decided to go up for support. B was frantically rummaging through his lego bins as C was running the bath water. He "needed" a guy for his bath but they weren't in one piece, & he was frantically searching for feet. I helped him find feet, then he was in crisis because one of the critters he wanted in the bath had a "light brick" & couldn't get wet. I set him up on the bathroom counter & told B that his weakness was water & that the guy he had just finished making was now safe in the water (B chimed in that he was the Ranger of water...) & bath time proceeded... But B descended into full freak-out mode when he got out of the bath. He barely allowed me to re-braid his rattail, then fell moaning, screaming, & rocking into his body pillow. I sat with him, trying to keep myself from touching him, since he didn't want me to, & trying to talk gently & keep him as present as possible. I was very aware that we had friends coming over in 1/2 an hour, but also ready to ride it out with him no matter how long it took. C was with us, too. We would occasionally ask B if there was anything we could do or change to reduce his distress, & eventually he nodded yes & started saying initials, which I just wasn't getting (it was "BP" but the "B" sounded like a "P" & vice-versa). He eventually spelled-out "B-O-D-Y-P-I-L-L-O-W", so we removed it (he was wrapped around it at the time) & he calmed down almost immediately. There was no indication of why it was suddenly a problem, but we did not ask... we just wanted B to feel better. (This morning C asked him & B said that all of a sudden it reminded him of his 2 1/2 years ago, first-ever OVD trigger, a very powerful thing, & he has no idea why it suddenly popped into his head in connection with the pillow... he seemed better disposed toward the pillow after talking about it). I went downstairs & answered the door, & B & C came down a couple minutes later. Ed & Newc, who are the people who would become B's guardians if anything happened to us (pretty neat- & brave- people, huh? :), brought a peach pie to add to our carrot cake. I made tea & all 5 of us sat down for dessert & a nice chat. C & B played checkers while we talked, & then B wanted to share some Weird Al songs with them, which they really liked. He was ok until C took him up for bed. After about 20 minutes I heard yells from upstairs & decided to go relieve C (our friends offered to leave then, but I thought C deserved some grownup time, so I told them I'd send him down). B was kind of upset again with thoughts, but agreed to have me read to him. I got out our dragon book & read for about 40 minutes. He was still awake when I left him, but calm & fell asleep on his own- perhaps listening to the buzz of our voices downstairs helped.

After our friends left, C & I tried to deconstruct the evening. C remembered that B has been known to seem to enjoy a movie & then freak-out afterward. He's even done it with movies viewed at home (the latest was Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, which I'd given to C for Father's Day... B began watching it obsessively & having massive tics every time he saw Agustus Gloop, but couldn't stop watching it until we put it away). I was thinking that, once again, the subtler, scarier messages had gotten through to B & fed the OCD anxiety. Somehow it had all gotten enmeshed with the lego site frustration as well, & he could never quite get the distressed thoughts out of his head.

Today B has definitely been ticcier than usual, worrying about Rufus & his Knight Rangers getting hurt (C & I suggested that their Knight armour helps protect them & B seemed to like that idea) & has done some majorly obsessive lego-ing, too. (There's a sound, a loud, rhythmic, crunching sound, that comes from B's room when he's obsessively rummaging through his lego bins, & that clues me that he's obsessing & needs some help.) C spent time this morning helping to distract B by playing with the lego guys with him (very elabourate story lines, all from B's imagination). Now C is off sailing & B has been watching PR's while legoing, which seems to be helping. I'll interrupt for lunch & Japanese lesson, too, which should be a good distraction. I'm hoping that he'll be able to let us know what the disturbing images are as time goes by, which seems to diffuse them. It does leave us with a dilemma when it comes to movies... but there doesn't seem to be anything in the near future that has tempted him, movie-wise, so we're safe (?) for a bit. All part of the growing & maturing process for our kid...


At 10:39 AM, Blogger Kristina Chew said...

I know what you mean about delayed reactions----Charlie has those all the time about things that have a big impact on him. (My parents' departure, leaving the beach, having people argue, etc..) He liked Over the Hedge a lot though I thought the ending with the violence done to the people was not funny and, indeed, cruel. And there is a sense of panic in the whole movie----the animals are so worried about storing up food, about hoarding things in fear of winter and starving-----heavy theme in kid movies (and I'm not even thinking Bambi's mother dying).

Hope B has a less agitating day.


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