Yesterday, difficult child had a friend over from 3:30-10:30. Long time! They tossed around a football outside, but mostly played PS2. I made spaghetti and pizza for dinner and they ate up a storm (which was nice ... I wasn't sure how the friend would react to rice crust, rice pasta and fake cheese, but if you don't say anything, kids usually don't notice ). After the friend left, difficult child went upstairs and straight to bed. He was wearing his clothes, which sometimes means he intends to go back downstairs in the middle of the night. Or, just that it doesn't occur to him to change. He was reading quietly. I asked him, in a nice voice, for the PS2 controller. He refused, in a nasty tone of voice. And he gave me that hard, cold stare that shouts, "I DARE YOU!" Uh oh. Not wanting to escalate it, I got husband and asked him to get the controller. He did ... and it escalated. VERY quickly. Like, 1.2 sec. difficult child totally exploded, yelled that he's never liked or loved us, hates us, hates everything about his life, etc. For good measure, he threw in something about hating Mom the most, especially in the past 2 yrs. (I was in the hall, so he couldn't see me.) He yelled at husband until he was hoarse, used the F-word, pulled out all the stops. Of course, when he's mad, no matter what you take away, he yells, "I don't care!" So husband said, "Fine, if you don't care, the PS 2 can go away for ever." "I don't CARE!" husband finally got the controller. I locked it in my ofc. (I hate to throw things away, so I'm going to tell easy child to give it to one of her babysitting jobs. husband took all the CDs and DVDs for games and hid them somewhere. I was upset when difficult child got the controllers for a birthday gift. I am so glad they're going to be gone now. He is so Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).) husband went back to bed. I told him that difficult child has some serious depression going on. husband agreed. difficult child started to throw things. I got husband to go back to difficult child's rm again. He went into difficult child's rm and had words with-him, but left soon after, convinced that difficult child was fine and he was just throwing around his little wrestling guys. I wasn't so sure. You know how the air gets filled with-such rage and irrationality that you think you're going to wake up to a kid with-a knife to your throat? After the things that difficult child yelled about me, the rage in his voice, the irrationality, (last night he said husband had said that if he didn't behave. husband would kill him. Where the h*ll did he get THAT idea? And that husband said he wishes he weren't his son. Say what?) he really had me scared. The dogs were scared and went into the guest room. So did I. I locked the door and slept in there. husband promised to set his alarm at 12:30 and check on difficult child. He never did. I've had a migraine for 2 days. I took major medications and fell asleep for about an hr, and woke up--no migraine! But no husband, either. I carefully opened difficult child's door, and he was sound asleep with-all the lights on. The rm was trashed but I knew better than to touch anything. It was so silent, so calm, I was able to go back to bed and sleep for 7 hrs straight. This a.m, difficult child refused to get out of bed to go to church. That mean glare again. I left with-o him. When I returned, he was sulking in a chair in the LR in front of the TV. I told him hello in a nice voice and reminded him that his chores were listed on the cupboard. Lo and behold, he got up and did them all. He even did two that I hadn't asked him to. I told him he was through for the day and I could see his sense of relief and accomplishment. Then husband and I asked him to sit at the kitchen table and talk to us. We had to address what happened last night. Funny, the sermon today was on negotiating conflict. I haven't attended for 2 mo's but am I glad I went to this one! One of the things the minister mentioned was that you've got to find a way to completely listen to the other side so you can figure out a solution. You can't half listen. You can't insert your agenda. Especially when you already know one another and you are assuming that people are going to behave a certain way. People only express parts of their personalities at certain times, which makes it difficult to work with-the whole person. All stuff we already know. But it helped to hear it again, in his words. The other side is going to imbue words and actions with-all sorts of meanings that aren't there, and if you don't address it immediately, it will get bigger until it explodes, or until there is no negotiating and the person cuts you out forever. I was able to calmly ask difficult child what he thought about last night (he asked me to be more specific. I had to give him credit for that one!) He said that he was mad at his friend and he took it out on Dad. Whoa! Wasn't expecting that. husband agreed, he had heard them arguing. We asked difficult child if he thought it was acceptable to refuse to cooperate with-your parents, and to use the F-word. He said he was sorry about the F-word and it was done in the heat of the moment. But he wasn't sorry about keeping the controller because we didn't trust him not to use it in the middle of the night and it made him mad. He wanted to be able to control the controller. And he didn't like what I was thinking. (He's really into believing that we are thinking things. Especially things that are exaggerated, or completely fabricated.) He also said he wasn't sorry about being mad at me because I always promise him something and don't stick to it. For example, the other day, I told him that once he finished his chores, he could have the controller. He stunk to high heaven and had promised me he would shower 2 days in a row and he never did. I knew I had a way to make him shower--keep the controller until he showered. Boy, did he see betrayal in that! Never mind that he broke his promise to shower. husband and I explained to him about delayed gratification. I told him I could see his point and I would be more careful in the future. I also reminded him that is why I have the chores listed on paper and taped up where everyone can see them. That way, there is no confusion. He conceded that maybe I didn't change things every time. I also asked him why, after easy child moved out, he urinated on the shower door and in the shower yesterday. (This is a new one.) He said he hopped in and didn't want to get back out. husband spent a long time explaining why you shouldn't do that, incl. how the plumbing system works, and all about germs. I suggested to difficult child that every single time he takes a shower from now on, he uses the toilet first. I told him it's partly because of that that easy child moved out, and that it is something like a 3-yr-old would do, and that he wasn't acting his chronological age. I told him that his explosion was way out of proportion to having the controller go away for a few hrs, and he agreed that he was angry about his friend and that made the whole thing worse. In a calm voice, I told him we were very disappointed and expected him to improve. He countered by saying that he hadn't hit me or broken any windows of kicked any holes in the wall for a yr and a half. I told him that was great; that showed he COULD control himself and that he could pause b4 he threw hurtful accusations and insults at people because what you say in an instant can last a long time. I told difficult child it would be nice if he could write 20X, "I'm sorry for saying the F-word," to Dad. He said that just saying "I'm sorry" out loud was good enough. So he said he was sorry. husband accepted the apology but said that he didn't feel it was enough to make up for all the horrible things he said about us as parents and he'd prefer a note. It's weird, hearing the convoluted thinking and rationalizations that difficult child has going on in his head. I'm glad that we discussed it length, and calmly, but afterward, I asked husband, "Do you think we accomplished anything or that we wasted our time?" He thinks we accomplished something but that it's going to take lots of repetition and enforcement. husband and I had lunch with-easy child. She said she is happy about moving out, and made the right decision. (After last night, she has NO idea what a good decision it was. We did not tell her.) We came home and difficult child had written the most beautiful, heartfelt, gut wrenching note I have ever seen. Actually, he didn't show it to me. He ran upstairs and gave it to husband. I asked husband to show it to me later. He said he really does love husband and is glad he's his father, and addressed all the emotional issues. I know I'm repeating myself, but the note is absolutely stunning. This morning I was so depressed and couldn't shake the feeling that our family is falling apart, and that I cannot cry because I will not be able to stop. I feel a bit better after seeing the note.