Yesterday at daycare my children were each coloring Mario and Luigi when I arrived to pick them up. They wanted to finish, and I let them, because finishing a task is important, and a good habit. Also because my autistic child NEVER colors. He seems to be unable to handle the drag sensation of a crayon or pencil on paper. But he was doing it, and I want him to, so I waited for them.
Middle child finished first. I secured his paper. He began asking for games. He always wants something, and for that minute it was a new Mario DS game. I told him if he could refrain from throwing a fit on Saturday I would buy it for him. I do not like to use large rewards, they smack of bribes, but I am intensely curious to see if he can manage any self control at all on any Saturday.
We started off the day with breakfast, a little bit of media time while I did some chores and had coffee, and then we went off to the beach.
The tantrum started at the beach. Middle child started bullying his brother and sister, I think due to jealousy over sea gull feathers, and I would not allow it.
So he threw himself down and had a nice fit. He threw sand at me and I explained he was not to do that. He began to throw a rock at me and I told him he may not. He threw it, to the side. He threw the sand at my feet. I ignored him and pretended to eat his sister’s sand ¨cookies¨ that she had prepared for me. He cried and cried about not being able to dig a pit in the sand. I offered to teach him, he refused my help.
I really like tantrums at the beach. The risk is the running off, which he has not tried lately. I weighed the option to take everyone home, but this sort of thing throws a wrench in plans too often. What I like about tantrums there is the space. The crying sounds far away, there are no walls for it to bounce off of. It bothers me much less, I have water to look at while I wait, it’s soothing. I decided to let it pan out.
When he had slowed down a bit I asked him if he wanted to go look for fish. He did. We went. We all had a nice time. The baby let us go out deep without panicking this time. Everyone insisted we do it together. We pretended to be sea creatures.
After two trips to two parks to get his energy out and keep him sane, we played checkers at home. His first time. He grasped the rules more quickly than his brother ever did. He lost. Of course. He cried, a lot, and started kicking. He asked me to let him win. I explained that if I did that, he would never learn to play well, and his friends would beat him, and he would come home and ask me how his friends got to be geniuses at checkers while I was so stupid at it. He laughed(the word stupid is like swearing at our house), and I unwrapped him when he said he was ready.
I don’t know why each game he learns we have to start over with the sensitivity to losing. I would have thought it would be just when he started playing games at all, but it is every time he learns a new game. He is starting to understand it is part of a process. Kindergarten is in two weeks, I hope he is ready.
He also figured out for himself that he would have to try again next Saturday for a Mario game, that this Saturday was lost. He took it well, it helped a great deal that he was the one putting two and two together, and not having it spelled out for him. That is the best way to give him bad news, it keeps the blame off of myself, and normally translates into zero tantrums.
Much better than last weekend.