A Different Kind of Week

This week has been different. There’s no other word for it. Just different. Some things were definitely obviously different, but there’s something else different that’s bugging me and I can’t quite put my finger on it. I feel like there’s something going on with Javan that I need to identify and take action on at once, but I have no idea what it is! Could just be anxious mother syndrome.

Javan did come to church with us on Sunday. I have to say, I had childish hopes that the Holy Spirit would grant Javan peace and the ability to learn about and praise God at church since he’s become a Christian. Maybe it would just…work. Whelp! There goes that theory! I do type this with a smile on my face and not with bitterness. It was just a hope. It would have been nice. No big deal that it’s the same as always.

First thing that morning, he starts physically and verbally attacking his dad. He’s charged with so much emotional energy! Finally, finally, we figure out together that he is angry because the new shirt Dad had put on him was itchy. So we change the shirt. He’s still mad at Dad. In his mind, Dad had deliberately put a torturous device on him and was then in full knowledge of Javan’s discomfort. And obviously, Dad didn’t care a lick. So, Javan was mad. He had his feelings hurt. We explained to Javan that there’s no way for anyone but him to know what he’s feeling unless he tells us with words. The shirt didn’t feel itchy to Dad’s hands. If he had known it was itchy, he wouldn’t have put the shirt on him. I’m not really sure he gets it. Well, actually, I’m pretty sure that he doesn’t. But he at least accepted the fact that somehow we were idiotic enough not to notice the obvious fact that the shirt was itchy, so he forgave Dad and went on with his day.

Ok, so remember at this point, I’m still hoping for church to go super smoothly. Like never before. Well, when we got to family church, which is small and we all go together, he led us to the front row directly in the center before the stage. He has never taken us anywhere except to the very far side, against the wall, where we could go unnoticed. We went with it. Then he did something that literally left my draw hanging open. The song leader asked for volunteers that would come to the stage and help lead the song. His hand went up! She called on him, and HE WENT. What?!?! Now, I’m convinced. The Holy Spirit is doing a miracle and allowing Javan to overcome sensory overload and social anxiety in order to serve the Lord. It’s not a song he knows, and even though it’s repetitive beyond belief, he never joins in the song or motions. But he looks comfortable standing there with another boy his age on one side and an older girl on the other singing to the crowd. It doesn’t cause him anxiety that he’s not doing what’s expected of a volunteer, probably because no one actually told him what was expected. He stood on stage…he volunteered. He was so proud! So were we. The song ends, and the song leader asks the first boy something he’s grateful for. Without hesitation, he replies, “Star Wars!” I draw in my breath. She’s about to ask Javan what he’s thankful for and then stick the microphone in his face. Public humiliation, here we come! But nope. He also replies, without hesitation, with the sweetest voice in the world, “My Mom and Dad.” My face broke out in a proud smile, as I’m sure my husband’s did, but I never took my eyes off of our son. Leaps and bounds. Miracles. And, of course, lots of “Awwwwwwws!” from the crowd.

There it is folks. Our five minutes of blissful glory. Maybe it was the Holy Spirit. But then, it wasn’t again. We could not get him to stop chasing the invisible, flying bad guys in the room. Couldn’t contain him in the seat or talk any sense into him. He actually tried to climb the wall. Right up front there. Yep, there’s the public humiliation we were waiting for! But at least he wasn’t in the spotlight with a microphone in his face. While we waited for Javan’s Pops to rescue us by picking up Javan while we attended regular church, Javan decided to take up his old post as greeter. He took some pamphlets, spent most of his time talking to the pamphlets and counting them. Occasionally sticking some out to visitors in a non-personal way. No verbal greeting. No eye contact. He’s been great at this before! Guess this isn’t his day. Eventually, he abandoned the pamphlets and took up running along the super long sidewalk in front of the church building. Up and down the sidewalk. Up and down. Up and down. He did decide at this time that it would be appropriate to verbally greet visitors….”Hey! Wanna learn Kung Fu?!?!” He didn’t get any takers.

Our school week is over now. We both do best with four day weeks and one day alone together to veg. One day off to just be mother and son and not complicate things with teacher and student. This school week started out ROUGH. It was our first week back from Christmas break. Yes, we started back a week late. Yes, I guilt tripped myself about it incessantly. Until I realized that this is one of the perks enjoyed by every homeschool family. When Momma has strep throat, school is canceled. Just as it would be in a public school if every teacher in the school had strep one day. I am every teacher in the school. I decided to give myself a break.

This week just felt like Javan could not find the right side of the bed. He woke up on the wrong side. Every morning. We take our mornings slow. We cuddle and watch tv. We have coffee and chocolate milk. We start school when we’re ready. I try to keep it around 9:00, but sometimes it’s 10:30. As long as we keep it in “the morning,” I consider it a flexible schedule. This week though, as I’ve said, it has just been so very different. I can’t get him to eat anything at all until 10:30 or 11. We’re finishing school by that time! He’s claiming that tons of things that have been his go-to foods and drinks for years are now “yucky.” I can’t get him to eat a variety at all. And one day he likes something and the next he hates it. He’s pooping, but he complains at random times that there’s “lightening in his belly.” This seems to occur just before dinner. It’s possible that it’s hunger, but he says he’s not hungry. And he always points just above the belly button, so that doesn’t seem like hunger to me.

Other differences this week are shifts in mood. And severe hyperactivity. Which I don’t get at all, because we just switched from the starting dose of the Strattera (ADHD med) to the one-higher dose. And it seemed to be working so well! I’ll ask the doctor about keeping him at the starting dose, but that just doesn’t make sense. If the medicine works for him, then going up to the next dosage should make him less active…even tired. Ohhhh, no. This kid is running around and around and around the house like crazy! We haven’t had good weather, so limited outdoor time could have something to do with it. And the mood swings. The anger. He does still mess up and hit, but not so often as he used to. He usually just screams inappropriate things at us. The hardest part is that every taunt is infused with such hurt. He’s not just raging mad like he used to be. He’s hurt. He gets his feelings hurt by us from things that he doesn’t understand, and things that we don’t understand that he doesn’t understand. Ugh. Circular thinking is dizzying enough, but circular misunderstanding is downright nauseating.

I do ask him to go to his hammock a lot. It’s a little one that used to be my husband’s from boy scouts, and we hung it under his loft bed. It really, really calms him down with hugging his body and swinging and being in a dark, quiet place. The rule for during school is that if I ask him to go there and he does, he can still earn his treasure box toy (even though there was something inappropriate he was doing that made me ask him to go there). If he feels like he needs to go there and just goes, he can still earn a treasure box toy. But if I ask him and then have to spank or make him go, the treasure box toy is lost for the day. This system seems to work well. He’s angry when I ask him to go, but he’ll do it so he doesn’t lose a reward. Without fail, 2-3 minutes later he comes out smiling, hugs me, and apologizes if needed or allows explanation from an adult if needed. Although slightly heartbreaking and simultaneously pride-filling, I can’t help but find it endearing when he is raging angry and with tear-filled eyes and fists held at his sides he yells in the face the offending parent, “I’m just gonna need a minute to think about that!” and storms off to his hammock on his own. No, I don’t punish him for yelling at us at these times. He used words, not fists! And he’s self-regulating emotion by making his own decision to remove himself to a calming place. Granted, only sometimes does he do this, but the fact that he even does it sometimes shows remarkable growth of maturity. Most of the time he can even use that time to come up with some words to express what bothered him. But even when he can’t he usually finds a smile and is able to go on.

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