Monday, April 23, 2012

It's fun! No, it's torture!

I'm so super crafty, I know it'll be a race to add this to Pinterest.  Go ahead.  Be jealous of my skillz.  Behold, the new activity I recently made for Shu.  

Taking things in and out of containers is pretty much his favorite thing these days, and he needs practice seeing a task through to completion, so his speech therapist suggested I create something a bit simpler than the typical shape-sorter, which we have.  And voila!  It works great, and there are two dozen of those discs, so the activity takes a while. He also practices saying "in" (or "out" or "open") while he plays.

After every disc or two, I turn the container slightly.  Aren't I mean?


Shu usually gets the first few in, no problem.  Then he jams the disc sideways, repeatedly, and cannot seem to figure out how to turn it to make it go in.  (Quite possibly this is a result of his motor planning disorder.)  He hits max frustration level in about seven seconds and melts down.  I'm happy to help him (duh), and want very much for him to learn that a) I am happy to help him, and b) with practice he will improve at this task and not find it so challenging.  And let's add c) tantrums are tremendously soul-draining for us all.  Heck, I'm on a roll, let's keep going...d) I'm not trying to make him mad; I'm trying to play with him while teaching him something.  and e) he can and will become a reasonably happy, functioning person, despite plenty of evidence, thus far, to the contrary. 

But first, to deal with the meltdown.  I held him in my lap while he thrashed and cried, asking him to choose between staying with me to play or going to sit on his stool.  He chose the stool.  Took a few minutes, but he regained control and came back out to finish playing with me.  We are teaching Shu that he cannot just quit or tantrum every time he needs help or gets frustrated with his circumstances...which is often.  We are also providing opportunity for him to choose to get control of his emotions before we proceed with an activity, whether it's something he wants to do or not.  For instance, I refuse to change his diaper while he is crying or fighting me.  So I will wait (if I am able) as long as necessary until he tells me he is ready to continue.  I also will not get him out of bed until he tells me he's ready.  This has been very effective, and offers Shu a small element of control.  Amazingly, once he calmed down, he really required very little assistance from me, and was able to get the discs in the slot almost every time.  Imagine that. 

And that's the way it goes with him.  There is still so much fear in Shu, and I don't want to be insensitive to it.  But at some point he has to learn that life can be experienced safely within the context of mom's and dad's love and protection and assistance.  We can try our game again in a day or two...hopefully with 95% Less Drama!

From my Bible reading this morning:  "I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron.  I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord..."  Isaiah 45: 2-3  

I can try (in vain) to be the best dang parent in the world, but I know there is a healing work to be completed in Shu that only the Lord can perform--mountains to be leveled, bars to be cut through, precious secret treasure in this little boy that will one day be fully day at a time, one hour at a time, one awesome homemade activity at a time.  


living out His love said...

Oh my, I seriously get that entire scenario with the put & take container! Brooklyn has gotten soooo much better at controlling her emotions more quickly though, I can honestly say. And sometimes time away from the thing causing the tantrum is exactly. what. she. needs. It's amazing how that simple thing just resets her.

Keep it up mama. We are certainly not perfect but we're doing the best we can. And one day (hopefully sooner rather than later), I pray that Shu finds safety, peace, comfort and some good old-fashioned fun in his mama's and daddy's arms. You are a wonderful mama! Hugs to you my friend!

M. said...

Wow, Jerusha! What a picture of loving through the unlovely moments. A picture of redemption at work. May God give you all the grace, love and mercy you need for each and every moment! And, may your rejoicing be great!!

So glad to get to row this boat with you!