I took the brick to Target to spend some birthday money. Not only did he pick out things that he truly wanted (versus the impulse buy) but he kept track of how much he was spending, rounded up for tax and didn’t spend all of his money. Three LEGO Chima sets and a new Nerf gun later we were at the register. I had him pay with his cash. Even though he is at grade level for math the application of many math concepts in real life is still hard for him. He got it in the end (only two tries) and was able to tell me how much change he would get. The nicest lady was behind us in line. She was patient and smiled the whole time. It is nice to not feel rushed and “put out” when teaching a real life skill.
Most of yesterday and this afternoon were spend building the LEGO sets. He has gotten so much better at paying attention and really looking to see where the pieces go. And if he does make a mistake, there are no longer meltdowns. He gets frustrated, but simply takes the pieces off and fixes it (sometimes with more colorful language than I like). I am amazed how he can take the extra pieces and add a few from his room to make additions and improvements on the models. He is so creative and mechanical in his creations. I am in awe.
After he finished building the LEGOs, he wanted to have a Nerf War with his brother. I cannot stand the sound of the guns reloading. It is a loud, piercing click sound. It gives me a headache. But, I allowed it. After about five minutes his new gun jams…uh-oh! It won’t slide back for him to open it, he can’t re-cock it, and it is fully jammed. I see the disappointment and frustration mounting……meltdown in 3, 2, 1….nope! No meltdown. Tears, yes; meltdown, no. The brick would have gone totally ballistic a year ago, even 6 months ago he would have slammed a door or something. After some investigating there are two darts stuck so the slide won’t move and you can’t open it to get the darts without the slide in the other position. After a discussion of our options (yes, a discussion, using words!), we agreed it was better to wait for dad to come home. He might know how to get at the darts without opening up the whole gun (fingers crossed).
When I think back 2-3 years and remember the behavioral outbursts we dealt with I know that all our hard work, ours and his, have been worth every ounce of effort. Every talk about “what would a better choice have been?” every conversation about “Stop, think then act” every ad-nauseum discussion about the 5-point scale and managing anger and frustration were all worth every sound that escaped our lips and every fight to get him to listen and discuss. I know maturation has played a role as well, he is 2-3 years older, but I know, in my heart and my head that he would not have come so far without our amazing teamwork. I also know, beyond a doubt, that in 2-3 more years he will be that much more able to calmly handle frustration. We all blow up, even us NT adults, and that is OK, it’s human nature to get upset occasionally. How we blow up—what it looks like– is the important part.
If you have younger kids, hang in. I know it is hard. There were times I wondered if we would ever move forward. Time, effort and consistency make all the difference. A lot of teaching and a little maturation go a long way! It may seem like progress is slow, and it may be, but when you look back and see how far you have come, the waiting seems so insignificant.