Wednesday, January 10, 2007


We still seem to be in transition mode at our house, although from what to what (transition-wise) I seem to be losing sight of... The meltdowns come, fast & furious, & not always predictable, but it's starting to feel like this is the work of the day. Just as Brendan has been learning to "de-tic" some of the (mostly static) tic triggers, it seems as though he's also working on learning how to "unmelt-down" . When I say "work", I mean it in the sense that life is work & play is work. This is his present work, & he's really immersed in it.

Monday afternoon I decided to take the bull by the horns & begin to re-imagine life after school, which up to now has been session after session of Adventure Quest games. Post Saturday's major AQ-inspired meltdown, I have decided that it's time to encourage Brendan to be more thoughtful & proactive when it comes to his frustrations with this game (which has been his major "life" for the past couple of months). So, after snack I matter-of-factly mentioned a list of things that could/needed to be done until dinner time. On the list was writing thank-you notes, which we'd made on the computer & printed out over the weekend, watching some of the videos he & dad had gotten out of the library (more Electric Company, Jeeves & Wooster, Marx Brothers), & playing with some of his holiday gifts. I did not mention AQ & Brendan got a deer-in-the-headlights look on his face. He asked about AQ & I told him that we'd need to rethink how much time he spends on it, plus how he self-regulates when he gets frustrated. With a reserved look on his face he asked what I meant. I explained that I thought he should have just one, 45-minute session (with time tacked-on at the end to finish the adventure he was on) before dinner, since there were so many other things he could do as well, & that if he found himself calling the monsters ugly names he would take that as a sign that he needed a break from the game & stop the timer while he did so. Interestingly, Brendan did not immediately dissolve into a puddle when he heard this. His response was to ask me whether I believed in compromise & family decisions or not... :) I responded that I believe in these when they work, but that our new AQ rules, established a few days ago, were not doing the job & it was time to pull the parent thing & intervene. Then he melted down, cursing AQ, the monsters, & finally moaning about his own stupidity & inadequacy... sigh. He moved from anger to remorse & finally resolved not to play AQ any more because there were no redeeming qualities in the game. I gently disagreed, & reminded him of how he's worked very hard to learn how to progress in the game, & that things aren't interesting to do unless they're a challenge, & that he's finding things easy now that used to be really hard... just like real life. I also said that he doesn't have to play AQ & that there are many, many things he/we can do. He finally emerged &, with the promise of my scribing his notes for him (& he just having to sign them), he decided to work on thank-yous. The rest of the day went really well, even the usual "witching hour". Charlie couldn't believe how easily the evening went & we agreed that he'd gotten it all out of his system early :) That evening they finished reading "Eragon" before bed & started on a new book given to Brendan by Charlie's parents, called "The Boy, Me, & the Cat" by Henry M. Plummer, which is the journal of a sailing trip made by a father & son (& a cat, of course) from Massachusetts to Florida & back again in 1912-1913. Charlie came down to say that Brendan had actually fallen asleep while he was reading, which hasn't happened in quite a while.

Tuesday began with a meltdown at breakfast, over a stick. Brendan has been carrying around a long, thin stick (looks rather like a dowsing rod, actually) that he'd partially whittled this summer when we were in Pennsylvania. He's developed some ticcy stuff around it & has to lay it down in particular ways & in particualr places when it's not in hand. At breakfast I (reasonably, I thought) asked him to put it down while eating, since he was trying to manage a bowl of rice with chopsticks while still keeping a grip on the stick & I could see disaster looming in the form of spilled milk at least... He didn't want the stick on the counter, didn't want it on the floor, started moaning whenever I mentioned someplace else & I finally lost patience & told him I'd put it in the living room, so he couldn't see & worry about where it was. He was really pissy after that (not worried, though) & refused to eat... I was getting the soy sauce out for his rice when a brainstorm occurred. I told him if he started eating I'd tell him something really gross about the soy sauce bottle. That piqued his interest, so he took a hashi-full of rice. The I told him about the time I went to pour some soy sauce & it wouldn't come out the little dispenser hole, so I opened it up to clean it out & found a dead ant in the hole... He was delightedly grossed-out & regained his good humour in record time. (There are times when a 10-year-old's sensibilities are a plus...). I delivered him to school still in good form, although I guess it was an upsy-downsy day from Cherie's report when I picked him up. Intermittent troubles with no real warning.

I was anticipating an afternoon & evening without respite, since Charlie had a dinner meeting that evening, so I did not choose to rock any boats after school. Brendan wanted to watch some Electric Company with snack, so we took our crackers & ramune up to the tv room & watched for about an hour. The he told me he thought he could handle the new AQ rules, so he went for it & did very well. It wasn't until after he was done that things went south. I was online & he curled up on the sofa next to me, making Kirara (cute demon cat) noises when suddenly he began twitching & getting upset. Something that had happened at school that day popped into his head & he couldn't get it out. He said it was like a song that won't get out of your mind. I talked about distraction- watching some tv, helping me make dinner (it was time)- but he couldn't be diverted from the thought. I managed to get him into the kitchen, & then off the floor (he was banging his head) & onto his chair at the table (twice, after he ran back into the living room) & tried very hard to get dinner made so he'd have some food in his stomach to fortify him. He was really distraught & kept telling me that the OCD was like a parasite in his head. I kept talking to him, countering with some less desperate images, but I felt kind of helpless with no Charlie in sight. I was making okonomiyaki pancakes for us, & his was done first so he did start eating a bit. As he ate he decided that the OCD wasn't like an unruly Skitty because he'd have to give it up & he likes Skitty. He asked me if I thought it was like Naraku (the super bad guy from InuYasha) & I said that I thought that was a great analogy. It is- Naraku is a user & a coward, & very powerful... but throughout the series you see characters that not only grow in their ability to counter his evil (like InuYasha), but those who fearlessly & almost comtemptuously face Naraku (like Sesshoumaru) & I think that these are really realistic & even positive images for Brendan to have when it comes to the OCD. As he talked about InuYasha & OCD, he became calmer & more peaceful, munching more pancake until he was finally full & ready for dessert. I ate a very relieved dinner myself, & we had a nice, comfortable evening together. Brendan's attempts to find analogies for the OCD & his frequent wrestling with with it over these past few days are what make me feel as though it's his present work- & Brendan's style is to work on something pretty much exclusively until he has a handle on it. It can be a wild ride, but I feel really proud of him, too (when I'm not eating chocolate to recover... :).

Charlie was really surprised to find Brendan already asleep when he got home last night at 9:15... We've been thinking about trying melatonin (as Kristina & others have written about lately) as a way to further reduce Brendan's daily seroquel dose, particularly as he's not been falling asleep much before 9:30 these days & waking up with the alarm, groggy & unhappy. Although the melatonin does seem to have possibilities for our seroquel-reduction plan, I think we've discovered why he's been falling asleep so late... The new bedtime reading book, old-fashioned & gentle, with sweetly funny bits & a lazy-journal-written style has been putting him to sleep in about 10 minutes tops :) It would appear that Eragon was simply to exciting to read before bed (duh!!). We will keep this in mind when choosing further bedtime reading, believe me...


At 10:17 AM, Blogger kristina said...

Charlie had the same kind of obsession/anxiety about Barney and other videos----it was so hard to figure out what to do because he loved the videos (he smiled so big when he watched them, acted out the stories--scripting, I guess---) but there seems to be a correlation between how much he likes/loves something and his anxiety about having it. (The stick is like the squishy ball for Charlie----there are so many places a small object can hide in!) Sometimes I think the OCDs are some of the things hardest for us parents to deal with-- what does one do when one's child asks for something, likes something, and then gets all upset when one gets it? (That's not a rhetorical questions!)

That's great Brendan can use chopsticks! Charlie doesn't have the fine motor yet. He does like to use them like drumsticks in restaurants---my parents smile and let him, whereas they used to chide me if I even tried....


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