Bad Morning - At Wits End

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by WearyWoman, Aug 3, 2010.

  1. WearyWoman

    WearyWoman Guest

    It's been "one of those mornings" so far, and I guess I'm posting about it because whenever days like this happen, I feel SO bad for not handling things better.

    It's an autism therapy day for my difficult child 2 (age 9), and his therapy starts at 10 a.m. Well, he's consistently been having problems with cooperation during therapy - sometimes severe where he'll flip out and throw things, yell, hit, scream, break things, and run away. It doesn't help that his therapy had been starting in the afternoon when his medication was wearing off. We backed it up earlier, however, I've been holding off giving him his ADHD medication until an hour or two before therapy, because it really helps him calm down enough to think things through. BUT . . . that means that he's unmedicated from 5:30 a.m. when he gets up until 8:00 a.m. Any of you who have children with severe ADHD know that this is a very long time to deal with symptoms. We're currently working with his pediatrician to try Intuniv, so we're in the early stages with that (the dose titrates upward over the course of a month). In the meantime, we're stuck with severe out-of-control symptoms for portions of each day.

    This was my day so far:
    5:30 a.m. - difficult child 2 gets up; I am in the shower. He locates our cat and annoys her as much as possible. I tell him to leave the cat alone, but he doesn't listen. He has taken all the blankets off his bed and is running around with them everywhere.

    6:00 a.m. - I head to the kitchen to make him breakfast. He wants waffles, and he wants syrup and applesauce on them - at the same time. I tell him to choose one, but he refuses and starts running away with the applesauce. His fingers are sticky, and he's managed to touch everything in the kitchen. Finally, he settles and eats the waffles, but smears applesauce all over the kitchen counter. I clean up the mess, and head to get his clothes out for the day.

    7:00 a.m. - I tell difficult child 2 that his clothes are ready and to get dressed. He refuses and runs away. He grabs the prescription toothpaste we got at the dentist's office yesterday and refuses to give it back to me. He's still running away everywhere.

    In the meantime, difficult child 1 (age 16) comes down for breakfast and starts making his own mess in the kitchen I just cleaned up. He decides he wants peanut butter and applesauce on his pancakes. The phone rings, and it's my mom. She's wishing me a happy annivesary (19 years today) and asks how I'm doing getting my prep work done for my job, etc. In the kitchen, difficult child 2 has reappeared and is grabbing pancakes off of his brother's plate, and both are screaming at each other. I tell my mom I'm doing just dandy and need to go deal with the kids. difficult child 2 has managed to eat two of difficult child 1's pancakes. Now, peanut butter, applesauce, and syrup and cat hair are everywhere on the counters and on difficult child 2, who is only half dressed.

    I feel my blood boiling and I just start yelling at the top of my lungs. I am sure I'm going off the deep end with my sanity. It's only 7:00 a.m. and I feel as though I've been through WWIII already! I'm not proud of my yelling. In fact I feel extremely guilty. I'm usually patient, but I just didn't have it today. I was overcome by complete frustration.

    It took me over an hour to clean up the kitchen for a second time.

    8:00 a.m. - Gave difficult child 2 his medication. He is still only half dressed and refuses to put on the rest of his clothes, flush the toilet, brush his teeth, or wash his hands. He shouts at me, as I throw a load of laundry in the washer.

    9:00 a.m. - difficult child 1 has found a way to keep himself occupied outside, and difficult child 2's medications have kicked in. He apologizes for his behavior, gets dressed, and picks up his clothes. Oh, I wish there were a way for his medication to last all day instead of just 6 hours.

    I find that when the ADHD is at its most severe, difficult child 2's ability to cooperate, follow directions, and complete tasks is hugely impaired. In fact, he seems completely incapable of even the simplest routines when he is unmedicated.

    I can't tell you how frazzled I feel on a regular basis. It's chaos around here, and I have no life outside of the enormous parenting responsibilities. I'm upset, angry, and sad, and worse, I feel so ineffective too.

    The therapist will be here soon, and my anxiety about difficult child 2's potential refusal to cooperate and my responsibility for it is really high. I pray he doesn't have a serious meltdown. I don't know that I have the coping skills to deal with all of this. It's really taking its toll.
  2. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Happy anniversary, WW!
    So sorry you had to spend it like this. :(
    Gosh, I've had so many days like that. I hear you!
    The only thing I can offer is go ahead and dump as much cr*p on the stupid pancakes as the kids want, just because that battle isn't worth it. Clearly, your kitchen will be a mess no matter what you do, so just let them eat peanut butter and syrup and applesauce all at once. (And hope they don't throw up.)
    Other than that, I would definitely focus on the medication issue. That is too big of a window. Even 5 min is too big of a window!
  3. I often feel just like you did today. It is soooo overwhelming to handle the daily ups and downs of AD/HD and ODD. I find myself at my wits end so much with my son, yelling and not knowing what else to do to get through to my difficult child (age 7). My thoughts are with you. We just have to take it one day at a time, or maybe we should say one hour at a time ;). Hang in there. Parenting is never easy, but it is always worth it. Do the best you can, and that's all that can be asked of you.
  4. WearyWoman

    WearyWoman Guest

    Terry - Thanks, and I know you're right about the pancake battle not being worth it. Sometimes, I just can't handle how out of control their behavior is - with disobedience and property destruction. Sometimes they insist on mixing three different cereals together. I'm sure it doesn't taste better that way, but it's another way for them to control and get way too carried away with everything. Why can't they just eat like everybody else? When we go to a fast food place, they mix together five different types of drinks at the soda fountain (don't worry - we hardly ever go out to eat - even for fast food). Why? Again, I'm sure it's not because of the taste but because of the thrill of doing something they think they're not supposed to be doing. I'm tired of living like this. I don't remember what peace at home feels like. Frankly, it's a blessing to go to work where I'm not being attacked or argued with in some way all day long. They can make a mess in 5 minutes that takes me over an hour to clean up. They're not toddlers any more, but that's the effort level it takes to keep up with their behaviors.

    ODD - I'm sure you understand all about this. Some days I can cope better than others, but it's been a long summer already. I'm sure that it would be easier if there was at least some periodic rest from this, but I never feel recovered or well rested. I'm stressed out chronically. I have a mysterious come-and-go rash that itches like crazy all over my body that lasts for months at a time. It's a type of hives, I think, and I wonder if stress contributes to it. I hope one day this will be behind us and that we can truly enjoy life more. I'm struggling to find contentment in my days right now.
  5. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    It sounds like a really hard morning. It is never fun to adjust medications, esp if you have to titrate up slowly. Can you ask the doctor for a short acting stimulant like adderal to fill in those times that the intuniv isn't working? When the intuniv is full strength and working the prn stimulant can be eliminated.

    You may not like this next advice and point of view. I used to be like you and get upset over a lot of stuff my kids did. It helped NOTHING.

    My pcs mix different soda flavors every time they are at a fountain. As long as they drink it and don't get in anyone's way, it doesn't hurt anything. They know not to complain or ask for another drink if it is gross. I let it go because it really doesn't matter in the long run if they have sprite or sprite and dr pepper and powerade mixed together with a little lemonade and a shot of cherry syrup. I don't have to drink it so why should it bug me? I watched the kids at a party after the last soccer team a few years ago. My kid was NOT the only one mixing all the soda flavors. EVERY SINGLE KID THERE DID IT if they didn't have a parent standing there fussing about it. Kids from age 5 to 18 because a lot of teams went to the same place to celebrate. It didn't hurt anyone or anything.

    Why not either have just one cereal at a time or get a BIG container for each of them. Let them mix their cereal in that ahead of time and take a bowl when they want it. Or let them mix cereal as long as they clean up any spillage and eat what they mix? My kids rarely put milk on cereal They will drink milk, but we like it with-o milk on it. We lived with my parents for a while and it was a HUGE deal to my dad. For some reason it bugged him to no end. He FINALLY let it go when he forced my oldest (my difficult child with enormous sensory problems who gags at a LOT of textures, esp soggy ones) to eat a large bowl of cereal with milk. Wiz did NOT make the bowl of cereal because the rule was if you make it, you eat it. Gpa poured it (in a quart size serving bowl that he uses for cereal) and put the milk on it. About half way through the gagging got the better of Wiz and he puked on the table. My dad cannot STAND vomiting. After that Gpa never pushed the issue again. We still don't know why it was an issue because my mother and I have eaten dry cereal for most of my life.

    Some of the battles are making your day harder and don't need to be fought. If the kids will pick up spilled cereal let them mix it. As long as they eat it. It doesn't really hurt anyone, does it? Same for the stuff on pancakes. Make it policy that they have to wipe up the mess on the counters or there will be no more peanut butter and applesauce. If you need to have peanut butter and applesauce around and they won't clean it up, put it in your room or somewhere you can lock it up. Let them PROVE that they can handle it by cleaning up after themselves for a week. If the applesauce won't keep, get smaller jars or the individual cups.

    Keep some of those disinfecting wipes around for the kids to wipe up the counter or table with. You can also use baby wipes for this (they are cheaper and do a pretty good job). My boys both have sensory issues and smear their place at the table with dirty fingers. Every time. They also know they have to either get spray and a paper towel or a wipe to clean up their place after they eat. It took a while to work it out, but it is pretty routine now. My oldest lives with my parents, is almost 19 and still does it. It is annoying to find the mess if he doesn't clean it up, but other than that it hurts no one. The sky isn't going to fall and no one is going to take the kids away if they smear stuff on the table. They are old enough to wipe it off. Put a reward in place for cleaning up what they smear and be calm but consistent about having them wipe it up.

    You know your youngest cannot really function with-o his medications. Putting demands on him before his medications work is just going to make life hard and tense for all of you. He really cannot help being that hyper. It is how his brain is wired, not a choice that he is making.

    In the morning have your son do something with all that energy. Have him run laps around the house. get a mini trampoline and have him jump on it while he watches tv. Have him take the dog for a walk/run if you have a dog. He needs SOMETHING to do with that energy, so find a constructive, or at least not destructive, thing for him to do. Wait to make him get dressed until the medications kick in. He isn't going to do it before then anyway, even if you start the battle two hours earlier.

    Simplify his life and possessions. If he has blankets that he drags around that make a mess, find a smaller blanket that he can use or make him a cape out of blanket material. If he likes the weight of the bigger blanket sew some pockets into it and put some small heavy objects int here (sew the pocket closed with big stitches so you can remove the item or use something that can go through the washer and dryer, or use velcro to close the pocket).

    Take a look at the morning problems and ask if the battles are really worth it, if they are accomplishing anything, teaching the kids anything that they really need? If not, try to let it go. They are both old enough to clean up their messes, so supply what they need and have them do it. It will take time to get them to do it, but it will help in the long run. Your youngest may actually need to wait until his medications kick in to wipe up the table, but that is OK too.

    Your son's behavior makes me think that he has some sensory issues. Sometimes the brain doesn't process input from the senses in the typical way. Have your son evaluated for Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) (sensory integration disorder) by a private occupational therapist. Schools have OTs on staff but they only look for problems that make an impact on their school day. A private Occupational Therapist (OT) will look for how it causes problems in every part of their life. There is a LOT that can be done to help sensory issues and in my opinion MOST kids with autistic spectrum problems have sensory problems. Our neuropsychologist thinks that Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) is at the mildest end of the autistic spectrum.

    Battles in the morning set everyone up for a rotten day. If you can find a way to step back from the problems, get the kids to take responsibility for cleaning up at least part of their messes, and wait to put real demands on difficult child 2 until he actually CAN do the things, I think you will tame a whole lot of these problems.

    I am sorry things are so rough. I remember those mornings when nothing went right ever and every day was the same battle over and over. None of it got better until I got control of myself and picked my battles wisely. Ten years from now nothing will have changed whether your son drank a mixture of every flavor of drink available or he drank just one flavor. The battles over stuff like this might have an effect in ten years because it is tearing up your relationship with your kids. Looking at it from that point of view also helped me.

    This is just suggestions. I know sometimes it is really hard to let go of things like this. It was for me. I was a HUGE screamer, esp in the mornings. I found a book about moms and anger that opened my eyes and really helped me figure out when I was getting mad, why and how to change how I reacted when I was mad. It also helped me see how my yelling and screaming and anger were HURTING my family, and how I could change that. The book has a Christian bent, but if you are not Christian it can still be very helpful, in my opinion. A few friends of other faiths have been able to use it while overlooking the religious aspects. It is called, "She's Gonna Blow: Real Help for Moms Dealing With Anger" by Julie Ann Barnhill and is available at amazon.

    Adjusting your expectations can make a HUGE difference in the overall atmosphere of your home. I hope this helps and does not upset you. I DO understand how you are feeling, and how stressful it is to have kids making messes just as soon as you clean things up.

  6. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Great ideas, Susie!
    I only see one problem ... I wonder if the kids mixed the cereals in some tall, thin Tupperware style container, would the novelty wear off the next day? Would they still eat it? Just wondering.
    WW, maybe you can have a backup plan to make weird Rice Crispie treats or something with-the remaining cereal if the kids change their minds.

    I forgot to mention one thing that Susie brought up--definitely, the kids have to clean up their own messes. Having learned the hard way, I can recommend that you not shout "Clean up that mess!" but you say, "difficult child 1, get a sponge, put soap and water on it, and wipe up the spilled milk. difficult child 2, get a towel from the top drawer and dry off anything the difficult child 1 has washed. Then put the towel in the laundry room and the sponge in the sink."

    Your instructions have to be explicit. Sometimes I feel like I'm talking to a roomful of idiots at a nuthouse. But eventually, they will say, "Mom, I KNOW how to wipe off the table!" and you'll wonder how they learned ...;)

    Also, if they react in a bad way to your voice, you can make short lists of chores for each activity and have the kids check them off as they're done. I print out chores from my computer every day. My voice irritates the heck out of my difficult child and those pcs of paper have saved the day on more than 1 occasion.
  7. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Others have given great ideas. I'm really sorry your morning started off so rough! I was right there with you today-only I was able to have husband drop off difficult child at camp! Gentle hugs.
  8. WearyWoman

    WearyWoman Guest

    Susie - Your post is great. Now that the day is over, I have a better perspective. Sometimes I get overwhelmed in the moment. I think I have sensory issues too, really. I don't like a lot of noise, and clutter/messes cause me a lot of stress. I crave peace and quiet. My idea of a vacation would be a comfortable chair in a warm, outdoor place, surrounded by nature, and a good book. Of course this is the exact opposite of my real-life situation. The disability perspective usually helps me a lot in maintaining my patience. Today, I just couldn't access that, and I do feel very guilty and demoralized. I struggle between choosing my battles and holding my kids accountable in the way of respect for people and property, as well as their manners. The worse their behaviors are, the more difficulty they'll have in life. Yet, you have a great point that many of the battles could be avoided in the first place, since they are not so critical in the scheme of eternity. Why are some days so much harder than others? Thanks for the book recommendation. I am Christian, by the way, and I do appreciate that perspective. My son does have major sensory issues - in some ways he avoids (only likes touch on his own terms) and in other ways he is sensory seeking (sleeps with hard objects). I have so much to learn, and I hope that I can pick myself up and move toward a more positive approach tomorrow.

    Terry - The mixed cereals novelty could wear off, especially if they perceive that I'm giving them permission - it won't be as fun then! You hit the nail on the head with the voice thing. I know for sure that oral instructions are a negative for both my boys. They both seem to have auditory processing delays, and they also are geared toward visual learning over auditory learning. My older son gets a list of things to do every morning from my husband, and he usually does everything on it with no problem. We haven't tried that with the younger one yet, but I bet the same would be true for him, except that right now, his ADHD is not well controlled.

    Wiped Out - Your screen name is similar to mine, so I assume that I'm not alone in this boat. Actually, this whole place has been a fantastic resource and support for me. Thank you!

    Well, the sun will rise again tomorrow, and I'll thank God for my second chances.
  9. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    WW, that's my idea of a great vacation, too!