We are no different. I have signed Javi up for a slew of day and sleepaway camps, which will start next week and will give him lots of ways to burn off energy and enjoy his carefree summer days ... but there are seven long, arduous days between now and then. Think I'm exaggerating?
Meltdown #1, 8:30 am: I instruct Javi to go get dressed in a tee shirt and shorts. He starts to suck his teeth and thrash around the room, but I curb his behavior with the promise of a reward. "Go ahead and get dressed, bubs. Then you can help feed the fish." But he takes a long time getting dressed and I know we need to leave soon, so I yell up at him, "Go ahead and brush your teeth while you're up there."
The ensuing thrashing and crying and stomping were pretty spectacular. "You said get dressed and I can feed the fish!" he sputters through tears. I tell him he will feed the fish as soon as he brushes his teeth. He does it and then slams down the stairs and immediately beings to bully and taunt Bella. I give him a warning to cut the attitude. He sasses at me and winds up losing the privilege of feeding the fish.
We wind up 30 minutes late because he requires a time out before he can pull himself together to even attempt brushing his hair and putting on his shoes.
Meltdown #2, 9:15 am: We are in the car. I put on the iPod and "The Monster Mash" and then "Gonna Have a Good Day" play and everyone's happy. Next is "I'm Me and You're You" and Javi yells, "this song sucks!" I give him a warning about watching his mouth. He says, "It still sucks and she sucks too!" while sneering in Bella's direction.
I tell him not to open his mouth again. He stares at Bella until she cries. I tell her to pretend like Javi's not in the car, that he doesn't want to be her sweet brother right now and we need to leave him alone. He starts up again and I let him know he's welcome to think whatever he wants, but that if he opens his mouth again, he'll be in daycare with his sister. He is quiet. Seething, but quiet.
When we get to Bella's school, he yells out, "Bye big baby!" as Bella's getting out of the car. She whines to me, "Javi had words come out of his mouth!" I reminder her that we're ignoring him. When I get back in the car I tell him he's exhausted his warnings. He is not to speak again until I tell him he can. He obeys.
Meltdown #3, 10 am: We've signed up for library programs and are now at another center signing up for a few weeks of fun activities. A child walks in with his lunch bag, but we know there's no camp this week. I try to help him while Javi stares at him. The child is obviously older; Javi is impressed by his independence and wants to impress him as well.
It is time for us to go, but Javi stares after the boy, who is wandering around the center. I tell him it's time to go and he resists. He makes weird faces and hand motions. Again, I tell him it's time to go. He exaggerates his motions/expressions. I head for the door and hear him thrashing and sucking behind me. He says, "I'm staying here. You need to pay for me to stay here." I explain there is no camp today and direct the secretary to help the boy.
Javi cries the whole way home. "You should've let me stay! All those boys were there and you were supposed to let me stay!" I tell him that I'm sorry he got confused, that the kid is likely being picked up by his mom now, and that he'll get to stay next week. I then let him cry it out.
Meltdown #4, 1 pm: We've had snack and lunch without any issues. Javi has played quietly at the table with the "boredom box" we picked up over the weekend. I hear him starting to get frustrated. He's huffing and hitting something. He asks me where the scissors are and I get them for him. He looks confused so I ask him what's wrong.
He tells me that he is trying to color a roll of pictures that has dots for cutting with scissors, but the instructions don't tell him to cut anything. I explain to him that he can choose for himself whether to cut the paper. He yells, "but the instructions don't say!" I read the instructions and they show a full roll completely colored. I ask Javi, "Do you want to make one long roll or do you want to cut it?" He starts to cry and says, "I already cut some!"
We go back and forth about why it's okay that he cut some and that he can leave it in two pieces, making two rolls. He's lost his patience but wants to see it through. So I put away the shorter roll and tell him to focus on the longer one. All of a sudden he's slamming his fists on the table and growling through tears. I ask him what's the problem and he says the edges keep rolling up and nothing he does will make it lay flat. I try to show him that if he puts heavy objects on either side, the roll will lay flat, but he is too far gone.
I take the roll away and tell him we're going outside. He cries and pushes at me. I lose my temper and yell at him to put his shoes on. His rage bubbles over and he's screaming and throwing things while yelling about the "stupid instructions." I grab him by the arm and yank him out of the room and onto our deck. We both just sit there for awhile until he calms down and we apologize to each other.
We are on Day #2 of summer vacation, and the day is only half over. I see the rest of our summer stretching before us in a haze of frustration and impatience and tears and resentment.
I try to remember that we'll hit our stride and that I have a child who doesn't handle frustration or transition well. I try to remember that this is a hard day and we'll have easy days, too. I try, but it's so hard and the urge to sit him in front a television or video game is intense.
We'll get by. The summer will pass and we'll have some really great memories. I want to live in the present, but right now my sanity hinges on that bright and glorious future. And that has to be okay.