19 July 2010


Tonight our oldest son had a meltdown. He went to bed a bit unhappy, but fine overall. 5 minutes later, he had worked himself up into an angry but controlled state. Knowing that he had himself under control, we gave him 3 options for how he could proceed. Unfortunately, he chose the option that ended with significant consequences.

Usually in these situations, consequences lead to full blown rage that goes on for quite a while. This time was different. Instead of reacting angrily, he reacted with deep sadness. As he cried and tried to get away from us, he kept saying, "I don't want to be your son anymore!"

As Peter assured him that the 2 of us love him very much and will always be his parents (whether he likes it or not), I realized that before bed I had talked with him about how our week would be very busy. I told him that we wouldn't have a lot of time to spend together, but then we would be going home and have plenty of time together next week. I suddenly wondered if that conversation had triggered his meltdown.

I told him that I wondered if his "big mad" (a phrase we picked up from our therapist) was really a "big sad." I wondered if maybe he was sad that we were so busy and if he really wanted us to spend some time with him. To my complete amazement, he calmed down and agreed that he was indeed sad. Then, with a little coaxing, he used words to tell us that he was sad and that he wanted us to spend some time with him this week.

Maybe this story seems insignificant to you, but I'm pretty certain that in 3 years we've never heard Joshua say he was sad except in therapy with help from the therapist. Not only did he let go of his "big mad" tonight, but he claimed to have feelings that he's never expressed before. On top of it, he wanted to be affectionate with both of us as soon as the conversation ended.

So tomorrow morning one or both of us will be up much earlier than we like to spend time with our little boy, but tonight we're celebrating a huge milestone while he sleeps. (If you can say that sitting here crying at the computer is a form of celebration.)


EEEEMommy said...

Praise the Lord!! My youngest daughter has rages of her own, and I know how frustrating and exasperating and exhausting they can be. How wonderful that God gave you the discernment to get to the root of the issue and that Joshua was able to respond better as a result!! Wisdom and discernment are the two things I request from God most often, whether for myself or others. They are so critical for life in general, and parenting especially. May He continue to grant you such so that you can enjoy more happy endings like this one. (And, yes, I consider tears in front of a computer screen a happy ending!) ;)

Even One Sparrow said...

That's beautiful, Becky. :) You are both such wonderful parents.

Christy said...

Blessed victories.
That is a big milestone! I totally acknowledge that! We had been working on that with Patrick too. When he has crazy anger that comes out of nowhere for seemingly no reason I would tell him that I thought he was sad and it is o.k. to be sad but he should tell us so we can help him. Once he got that he really clung on to it. I think he tells us (with signs) he is sad more than he really is but that is o.k. It gives him practice in expressing a different feeling and us practice responding. Plus it keeps him from throwing himself on the floor screaming 100 times a day. I'll take him telling me he is sad over silly things than screaming any day. :)

Jon Stolpe said...

What a great story! Thank you so much for sharing. Parenting sure has it's ups and downs, but those breakthroughs sure make the tough times more bearable.

On our home front, we had a huge milestone this week as both Hannah and Isaac made the decision (on their own) to be baptized. These are the moments/the blessings that make all the "crap" worthwhile.

Jonathan D. Coppadge said...

SO HAPPY for you and touched by your story... I know this has been a long journey for you, but how wonderful that Joshua is figuring out how to give voice to these things so early in life! How many of us figure it out so much later in life, or not at all!

All 8 of Us said...

Thanks for sharing this huge victory!!Mercy still has 'meltdowns' and often they are totally unrelated to the issue at hand but have some deeper meaning that we need to extract out of her. It is almost as if she can not even access that part of her heart until she is spitting mad about something else(usually a trivial issue)...then the dam breaks and the grief comes pouring out...I love the 'big mad'/big sad' thing...I will use that next time we are faced with an episode.
Rejoicing with you in this...I understand what a big deal this is!!

Anonymous said...

Wow....Jut read your blog about Joshua's break through. That is wonderful. I know when Kris melts done we keep hoping and praying for him to be able to get out what is making him either mad or sad. Oh for the time when they get further and further apart and less and less severe. Peace, Love and JOY!!!