Sunday, October 18, 2009

In the Presence of Presents

I've been wanting to write about a new ism facet the Roo has been exhibiting lately, for lack of a more diplomatic way to say it, these last few weeks. I wanted to write about it because, frankly, the behavior drove me crazy, and I wanted someone to help me understand it, tell me if they've seen it in other kids, tell me how to make things more manageable.

Well. Today I went for a jog. I might have gotten a bit too woo and metaphor-happy in the fresh air because I started to see things in a new light as I sweat through the issue.

The problem confounding me has been how the Roo receives presents. It USED to be that if you calmly gave him just one surprise item of anything, including new underwear, he'd make big happy eyes at you and say, "Wow! Cool!" He was GOOD at "Thank you." Of course, if you bombarded him, say at Christmas or Hanukah or his birthday, he'd tear through stuff like a tornado and get all moody and run around overstimulated. Lately, a new wrinkle: even if Roo begs and begs and begs for one item, or if you surprise him with one item, when he gets it, he goes all crestfallen and dramatic, and he tantrums. It could be something you already know he loves, something cool he's never seen, or the exact object of his desire, and it doesn't matter. Full on sobbing ensues within minutes of getting the gift, whether it is wrapped or not, whether it's presented matter-of-factly or not. He always says you got him the wrong thing. He is always disappointed. It's happening often, at home and around others.

So, I was starting to feel grumpy and bitter about this, all taken-for-granted style. Like I said, I was thinking how, well, annoying it was, and I was thinking pretty unhappily about autism. I wanted someone to justify my annoyed feelings and offer a remedy. Maybe part of me still feels a little like that, but I told you something all mushy came over me on my jog, so you know where I'm heading, and YOU know that I know that I might be stretching things, but at least it's working for me, this other perspective...

Maybe when the Roo gets something, it isn't some hugely bizarre thing to feel disappointment, because don't we NTs do that on a different scale? Aren't I, his mom, the tree the apple fell from, constantly wailing that nothing is ever good enough?

When I was a kid, growing up in Dysfunction Land, I believed if I ever escaped, I'd never ask for anything more of the universe, or God, or deities, or karma, or luck, or Fate, or fortune, or whatever. But getting out was far from an end to my tears and wishes. When I found myself in a bad relationship, I told anyone who'd listen that I wasn't looking for Mr. Perfect but just for a real and soulful partner with whom I could build my life -- a deal I forget all about when J's mountain of laundry I washed topples over before he puts it away and it takes him six weeks to rehang the toilet paper holder on the wall. Now when I beseech the universe to make my son have better behavior, I overlook that moment when I was pregnant but having some spotting early on and I beseeched the universe just to give me a healthy baby and then I'd never ask for anything, anything, anything, ever again.

Sure, I'd still love to know if any of you have any insights or wisdom about how to help my boy feel better about receiving things. But right now, I'm feeling like the very best gift I can give the Rooster is more of my patience and tolerance while he works through his emotions.

And clearly I ought to jog more often, doncha think?! :-)


pixiemama said...

Never mind - I emailed you instead of filling your comments.


love to Roo, too.

Melissa said...

Hmm ... what about a social story? Just my first thought, as we haven't experienced this sort of scenario exactly.


redheadmomma said...

wow, that's a unique one that we've never hit in this household. I can imagine that you want very much to have him work through that because the family at large would NOT get that one.

Do you think you could appeal to his sense of what others are feeling? I think a social story would come into play here pretty well. What I'm really interested in is why he's responding like he does. That's really interesting, and I've never come across this with any of my friends' kids either.

Wish I could help more.... XO R

goodfountain said...

I don't know how to make him feel better about getting gifts, but I'm always in favor of extending more patience and tolerance.

If my kid was doing this, I would think it was a phase of some sort.

Love your productive jogging!

jess said...

my only insight is that i've got to get out there for a jog!!

maybe you could role play gift giving with him? practice a little? does he respond well to social stories? maybe write it out. we use the kids as models for social stories .. so we'll set up photos .. say, darby handing kendall the present would be one .. kendall opening it would be next .. etc

if everyone's in the right mood for it (meaning, you know - if the moon is in the seventh house and mercury's aligned with mars .. lol) it can be a fun project to do.

maybe it's just an overload of emotion for him. maybe he's just not sure what to do with all of it. but a little practice without the pressure or reading about it and seeing himself act it out in the pictures might de-mistify it all a bit.