Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Wish Carl was here now

A couple of posts ago, I took a quiz and it turns out I'm equal parts Carl Jung and Mother Teresa... Oh, how I wish. I would love to have Mother Teresa's patience and caring. And maybe if I were a psychiatrist, I would know how to deal with what's going on with my son right now.

He's 7 going on 14 in the teenaged angst-kind of way. I don't know for sure if there's a problem at school or a problem at home or a combination of the two. This morning featured a temper tantrum and slammed car doors. A strange ending for such a great beginning when I sat on his bed and rubbed his back until he woke up, sat up beaming and gave me a big hug.

The biggest issue right now SEEMS to be homework. He doesn't want to do it. Something that should take him 20 minutes max is taking all afternoon and an hour in the morning. It's not that he doesn't get it or that he's not smart - it's that he doesn't WANT to do it. And when he DOES do it, he loses it or just leaves it at home so he doesn't get credit for it. There are lots of arguments and tears. Time outs. The "distractions" (read toys) have been packed up and removed from his room. We've tried cajoling, bribing, cooperation, help and tough love. Nothing seems to help.

But is homework the actual problem, or is it a symptom of something else?

I know he had a bully-ing incident at school a couple of months ago. He reluctantly talked to us about it and we also talked to our KenPo instructor about it. I have assured him that he would not get in trouble with me if he had to defend himself at school, although he probably would get in trouble with the school. Is there bully-ing going on that he doesn't want us to know about? Is taking KenPo making him worry about it all the more - the necessity of being able to defend himself at all?

He has also said that he has a hard time getting to sleep because he's worrying so much. About nuclear bombs, the end of the world, and the meaning of life. He mentioned this to me a while ago and we talked about it and it never came up again... until last night. So he's still worrying.

This is particularly of concern to us because we already have a kid with schizoid affective disorder. Supposedly it was caused by a head injury, but what if it wasn't and we're starting to see the beginnings of a mental illness here? This is scary stuff. I have seen how negatively my step-son has been affected by it. He's an incredibly smart and artistic person who disappears behind disordered thinking and alcohol abuse on a fairly regular basis. I don't wish that on anyone and it's scary to think that it might be a possibility for my other son. His brother started out thinking the same kinds of things.

Z-boy actually asked if there was a doctor that could get that stuff out of his head. So I will do what I can to locate someone he can talk to and see if we have an actual problem on our hands. Or if it's a phase - a very weird one that I've never heard of before.

All you more-seasoned Mommies... any advice?


quinn said... glad that he has opened up ...even though he doesnt know exactly what he needs he has expressed the desire to fix it and is willing to have a doctor help.. How amazing is that ..!!! Call asap your family physician so you can get in ..While your family physician I am sure is awesome what you will really want is a referral to a child phycologist perhaps.. One that He can talk to and explain his fears, concerns etc to ..and one that will actually know what to look for in his responses..and one that can help.

Many kids go through this same phase about homework so that by itself is really not a huge thing... the fears of war, etc. are normal to his age. When I was young they talked of how if the sun were to burn out everyone and everything would just immediately be frozen in total darkness..well that scared the shit out of me for at least 5 years. I was sure it was going to happen any day.

As for the "stuff in his head" maybe it isnt the worrysome things you are thinking of..maybe it is just the regular fears of a child but he believes if he talks it over with a doctor ( all knowing as far as kids think) they will have the answers to make him feel better...after all they know when we dont feel well we go to the doctor...he wants to feel go to a doctor.

good luck.

Sayre said...

Thanks, Quinn. I've gotten him a doctor's appointment in February and also asked his teacher about the scope of the guidance counsellor's office.

I'm proud of him for being so open about all of this. We try to keep an environment where he feels safe doing that.

I also realize that this past year was one of upheaval for him. We moved (he's always lived in the same place); we lost two cats and two dogs, all of which had to be put to sleep (i.e., we "killed" them); he changed schools and left his friends behind for a very different environment. Perhaps all his anger and fears about what has happened this past year are expressing themselves this way.

Either way, I'm glad he's willing to talk to someone and I will make sure he does soon.

Anonymous said...

I have known of other children being very sensitive to the News on TV and Radio. This seems to be rather overwelming to them with all the violence and such. Their parents blocked all news and such. I am not sure for how long?
But after doing this the kids seem to become more comfortable in their surroundings.
As for the schiziod disorder this may allow for catching something in the beginning and doing some preventive medicine.
Hope this gives you an idea to help

Janet said...

Equal parts Carl Jung AND Mother Teresa? What were the other choices?:) lol

Sayre said...

Even funnier - I am equal parts OJ Simpson, Jesus Christ, Charles Manson, and Sigmund Freud!

Kevin Charnas said...

Sayre - I can understand your worry with the experience of your step-son...and this may not come as any kind of comfort to you - :) but I worried about the same things at his age...honestly. And the meaning of life almost pushes me to the edge. It's incessantly in my head.

Maybe anonymous has a point there of limiting his exposure to news and radio. Even for an adult, news fasts can be quite healthy.

With all of that being said, I understand that we want our children to be children as long as they can, but maybe his inquiries, being a sensitive boy that he is, maybe he's dialed in more than others. I understand your worry because of the step-son, but I also hope that your son doesn't feel like he's got a problem because he's concerned about REAL issues.

I don't asked Mommies for advice and I'm obviously not one. So, sorry if I've over-stepped my bounds. I'm just trying to give a perspective that it may not be that bad. He's a thinker and actually, more should be like him instead of the opposite...but maybe the tantrums are actually demonstrating his frustrations with his incessant thinking. maybe he's bored - intellectually with his classes? Is there a way to channel his contemplations on the meaning of life into creative work that he can be proud of and stimulated with? Such as poetry, painting or free-flowing thoughts on paper? Even if they're dark? Maybe he could write through the dark stuff and come out on the other side?
Just to get things out of his head might help?

Again, sorry if I've written too much. I'm just trying to help a friend. :) I'll be thinking of you and your family.

nikki said...

oh sweetie, i wish i had wonder words of wisdom for you, but i don't. be thankful that he is able to open up to you. sending you hugs. sometimes being a parent sucks.

Jeff said...

You are taking him to a doctor, that is all the advice that you can really get right now, isn't it? Kids go through phases. Hopefully, this is one of them.

Just curious, what does he say when you ask him why he doesn't want to do his homework?

Anna said...

I'm not a mum but I am a psychologist...

I think Kevin has a good idea there, if he could express what he's thinking in a creative way that might help.

If he's not sleeping well, he will be cranky and cross and have temper tantrums, especially if he's also experiencing anxiety about problems which he can't solve, like war and death and stuff.

Maybe he could try a technique I've used in the past - last thing at night you write down all the problems that are bothering you. Then if thoughts of those problems start to intrude, you say to yourself "I can't do anything about it right now. I can deal with it in the morning." It helps you to understand that sometimes you just have to let things go. You acknowledge the issue, and put it in a box marked "later", so to speak. Some things have to go in a "cannot be solved" box.

Maybe he's having problems with homework because he can't concentrate, with unwanted intrusive thoughts coming into his head and distracting him. What's the point of homework when you have the meaning of life to sort out?. I hope the visit to the doctor helps, but I'd be worried that Z-boy will think there's something "wrong" with him and become more anxious. You know him best.

20 minutes is a long time to concentrate if you're tired. Could you split it up into two or even four smaller sessions, with a small reward after he gets each one done?

Just a few things to think about, I guess.

Nikki said...

I used to worry about the same stuff as your son. It would keep me up at nights. I would be in the middle of having a fabulous time with my friends and those thoughts would invade and ruin it.

I worried over killer bees and killer ants the sun burning out, not enough trees...everything really....I think he'll be fine...and that you seem to be doing what a great mom should be doing.

Kevin and Anna have really good suggestions.

I just lost myself in books..I chose to hide from my fears when I was a kid....their way sounds so much better.

Sayre said...

I am beginning to see that this is not all that unusual. I didn't really have those issues when I was small. I was afraid of Tornadoes and flying monkeys (thanks, Wizard of Oz), sex (after it was explained to me), and Darth Vader (who was scary and kinda sexy all at the same time). I was also a bit older.

I never worried about the meaning of life or the end of the world - so it amazed me that THESE were the things he was worrying about.

You all gave some very good advice. He does draw - and some of it is a bit disturbing. I've talked to his teacher about this and she's going to talk to the guidance counselor. Perhaps all he really needs is to talk to someone who's not me or his dad. In the meantime, we're keeping the lines of communication open and taking his fears at night seriously. I have a lot to mull over, and I appreciate everyone's input... Mommies or not. I guess I just figured that mommies would be the most likely to respond.

Thank you to all of you.

Mel said...

Sayre - I don't have any advice. I don't know enough about incipient mental illness to even guess if that's what is going on with Z, or if it's just a caring and sensitive child starting to realize that some parts of being a human on this planet are pretty sucky.
I will hope that it's the latter, not the former, and please keep us posted, okay?