Wednesday, 5 August 2015

I'm excited!

It's a good way of expressing it. And I know why he chooses to say so. But I think that is only part of the story.

Too loud. Too quick. Too much.

I see he is wired. I see dysregulation.

In an earlier blog I wrote about Digger in the playground. As a parent I definitely let him try his abilities more than other parents I met outside, well... and inside for that matter. Some may even say I'm an irresponsible parent. But I see his concentration and focus. I see a wicked sense of balance in a small bundle of muscles. He is not reckless, or indeed fearless. He is brave, strong, exploring the world around him and himself in it, as he is supposed to do. Curious to find out how his body works, and how much he is able to do. And I love looking on from the sideline.

As a parent it is my job to pick him up and kisses his bruises when he falls. And encourage him, when he is ready, to get back on the horse. It is my job to follow him. Not to push. To follow.

Or so I thought.

Recently, I have seen something new in my son. He gets too excited. He had a couple of quite major falls recently. And they happened when he was hyper. Too excited.

In the minutes before his falls, I was uncomfortable with the situation. I overrode my feeling, just repeating my playground mantra 'If he dares, so do I.' But in all honesty this felt different. I felt his anxiety. He was scared.

It's one thing to keep my own cool, not letting him feel my nerves. I try very hard to response calmly to him, also or especially in emergencies. I try so hard not to add a sense of emergency by rushing and shouting 'WATCH OUT!' etc.

But I have to admit it is quite another to sense his anxiety, and then to realise it is time to stop.

It's about a limit, I thought was clear cut, but I suddenly realised the goal post had moved.

So now I step in.

'It's time for a break/snack/cuddle, my heart. Let's got to sit down.'

'I can tell, you are getting too excited. So the risk of you falling and hurting yourself is much bigger. I am keeping you safe.'

Some cool skate dudes we met recently, told me exactly that. 'If you press yourself too hard, that's when you get really hurt. Never press yourself too hard.' Wise words from a teenager.

So I took the young skater's lesson, and I stopped my son before he got too wound up. He was doing some increasingly risky stuff, and I stepped in. He complained a lot. But it worked. Soon he was calm again, was ready to have another go. And there were no accidents.

He had barely opened his eyes the next morning when he asked if he could go skateboarding again. The second thing he said was 'Mummy, can you please make sure I don't fall?' In other words, he got it too. I was keeping him safe.

This may all be blindly obviously to you, the silent reader, but to me this is a real shift in perception. I never needed to step in like this before. Yes, to keep him safe, but he would generally know his limits. The new thing for me is that when he get overexcited, he doesn't feel those limits anymore.

And it happens more and more often.

I wonder at lot about where this is coming from. Perhaps it is just age appropriate - he can do more, and I trust his ability to do more too - but I sense there is more to it.

Sure, it is about dysregulation and regulation. I'm just surprised at the amount of regulation I am having to do at the moment. I wonder where the unsettling feeling in him is coming from.
I've had some issues in my family. And my husband has a nasty accident. We haven't been as emotionally available lately. We've been worried about other stuff.

But we live with a 105 cm tall emotional sponge. He feels our worries. And it worries him. So we gotta get a grip. On us and on him.

At the moment it seems we cannot give him enough 1:1 time.

If we do not respond to him at first enquiry, he just repeats his request for attention, again and again and again and again and again. As most children would. And then he will move on to shouting. SHOUTING!!! If it is a full on escalation he will only communicate in 100+ decibels.

'Sweetheart, I cannot hear what you are saying when you are shouting.'

The whole regulation thing definitely starts with acknowledging him. And he will go and go and go until he get the attention he needs. Attachment-seeking indeed.

As Bryan Post says: 'It's not a problem. It's an opportunity.' To learn. Hell yeah. Always.

That our new motto. And it makes us laugh nearly every time. Never a dull moment...