COMPUTER-FREE AND SWEET-TEMPERED

The Navigator was grounded off of his computer for 10 days. The details of the transgression that led to this consequence were unimportant, except to say it was something that I told him not to do, warned him if he did it again he risked losing use of his computer, and when it happened again, the computer was gone within five minutes.

There was the understandable meltdown, misery on the way to school, statements about hating me, how his life isn’t fair, and then …

Sweetness. When I picked him up from school he was amazingly sweet. Not “I feel bad for what I said” kind of hang-dog sweet, just my sweet boy sweet. Sweet like I haven’t seen in several weeks. Sweet like who he is at his core.

When he told me of his computer plans and I gently reminded him that he no longer had access to his computer (fully tensing up for the storm I was sure was coming, battening down the hatches, planning for a bad, bad blow) he calmly said “that was stupid of me [to do what I did].”

Wow – so impressive. And sweet.

And he was cooperative and sweet the whole time. Wowsers.

Refusal to go to school and refusal to do schoolwork are common themes for us. I have a theory that perseverative thinking and meltdowns can sometimes herald developmental leaps.

Of course they can also herald other things, and that is one of the great challenges and frustrations I experience because I don’t know whether he is working through a change in his understanding of the world, or responding to anxiety or stimulus.

My problem is that during the calm period between the leaps, or whatever causes the aggravated behavior, I foolishly think the calm will last, that it will be the status quo we will maintain.

Even when I am trying to pay attention, the ebbs and flows catch me off guard. When I am expecting cooperation, I can get fighting. When I expect fighting, I can get sweetness.

I took this sweetness, gladly. After weeks of fighting over not only going to school and doing homework, but about using a fork at the table or clearing up after himself – pretty much every direction he was given – being met with resistance, being ignored, or downright refusal and shouting, the sweetness was like a vacation.

One night he was getting ready to finish a school project, he stimmed by spinning in a doorway for five minutes. When he was done, he marched right over and finished the project steps, and hugged me when he was done.

Sweet.

Sweetness