Hello again. Well, I'm now back home in the village after the long journey back through Morocco and Spain. We had a five day stopover in Spain with my ex sister in law and, well,... it didn't go well. It's always stressful there in that she lives in an old-fashioned village with a little windy street outside where the local Moroccan children play outside. Spain is not France and the neighbours are much more tolerant of the noise and rowdiness than they ever would be in France but J seems to go haywire there. Gets massively overexcited, won't listen or obey any request to calm down, stop, come back,etc and the whole day seemed to turn into a "What has J done now" - small, boyish naughtinesses but just constant, constant. Climbing repeatedly into a neighbour's garden where he is not allowed, throwing things into another garden and then knocking on the door to get them back, etc, etc. And being very rude and insolent to me when I scolded him, hitting and being too rough with other children constantly in "play" (is this anxiety? He doesn't do it normally this badly and constantly)>Anyway, I do get stressed and upset with him in this environment because he just will not listen and obey boundaries, and my getting upset (I think) makes him anxious and worse behaved.
But what really set the cat among the pigeons this time was my ex sister in law's husband. I love my ex-sil, she's a lovely, warm, intelligent, thinking person with a real heart, like so many of the women in my ex husband's family and I know she loves and cares for J. But her husband... seems sour, dark, brooding and is frankly unpleasant to us. Literally we were five days in his house and he did not address a word to us. Came in the room and he would ignore us... I knew already from my ex sil that he didn't feel comfortable with J being there because he is afraid the neighbours will call the police because of his tantrums and other things that seem all to do with him and nothing to do with J. He really doesn't like J and I have seen this reaction towards J from certain kinds of men before... they get very upset at his lack of respect and his turbulence. Also I suspect he doesn't like him because he is adopted, not a "real", blood member of the family. Anyway, there was so much upset and stress over the five days that it became clear that the husband does not want us there again and I myself would in any case not go there again, so cold and hostile is his attitude. This is really sad for J (though he is the unwitting cause of it), though there is nothing to stop us staying in a local hotel and seeing the sil and children independently.
There was this great discussion, though, with my ex sil about J's hyperactivity. She is open to it, open to learning about it but says she does not understand why when J is staying with my ex husband and family there is nothing like this level of trouble, as she knows from repeated conversations about it with one of her sisters who lives next door to my ex husband (sorry, too many ex's in this story...) And I do confess I am puzzled also. I know my ex finds J difficult and a handful but they are all warm and loving towards him, there isn't this sense that he is a pariah, that his behaviour is totally beyond the pale. My ex sil was trying to suggest that it is because I am on my own, that J needs a man, etc. And I confess I feel puzzled about this angle of things, I really do. I feel an ongoing confusion about whether I need to be tougher with J. In my experience, being tough with him is a total disaster and negotiating, listening, respecting, working with, etc, seem to lead to positive outcomes. Though not in Spain, it is true, where he kind of goes crazy with all the other kids.
I don't know. J is SO clearly a gfg, beyond doubt, a really difficult personality in many ways and yet... there's this playful, adorable five year old that keeps emerging through it all and I think... can he help himself? Is the difficulty really just something wrong in his frontal lobe?
No real answers, I know. Just had to offload some of that because I know you here understand. Thanks for listening...