Some observations about difficult child. Not sure what to do with them, or nothing at all

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by SuZir, Jul 2, 2012.

  1. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    difficult child has been visiting home a week now. I'm thrilled to have him but there has also already been some very familiar 'want to strangle the kid' feelings going on. While he did spend some time home last summer, we were still so angry with him at that time he really tried to avoid and not annoy us. And other than that he haven't been home more than two or three days at time for year and half, not after getting caught of gambling and thieving. So this has really been my first opportunity in long time to observe him and how he is behaving. I have tried to keep my emotions in check and really see him, not just react to him. This is what I have noticed:

    He really knows how to annoy. Oh Heavens, he knows. Most of the time he isn't doing it on purpose, I think, but he can up it, if he wants. I can easily see how he annoys his team mates and coaches and that may cost him a lot. I'm not sure if he even understands how annoying some of his habits and ways of doing things and just being can be and how much it has to do with his social problems. And I'm not sure if I should talk about it to him. He already has so much in his plate. More things on 'to do'-list just sound so unreasonable for him to handle. Then again, this annoyingness is really hurting him.

    The way he carries himself, looks at others, all his mannerism, a way he sounds, his tone, all of it, is very off-putting to many. We, while living semi-rural area, are living quite near a major city, difficult child moved to much more smaller city middle of countryside. There is some of regional stereotypes going on between these two places, about arrogant, stuck up city people and backwood hicks. Somehow my difficult child manages to ooze those most stereotypical and annoying entitled city boy stereotypes and I bet it is not making him popular there he lives. (What makes it funny, it is very possible, that in his team difficult child is the only one who has been watching cows from his bedroom window as a child.)

    Sport teams, as any other companies, have different organizational cultures. Team difficult child played before is known also of their arrogance. It is one of the biggest teams in the league, one of the oldest and one of the richest. And through the organization the stereotype (which even has some truth in it) is, that they are keeping themselves better than other teams, even when the evidence like results is not supporting that. In that culture it is cooler to be very talented and lazy than less talented but hard working. Even when they work hard, it is often downplayed in how they talk. The team difficult child is now has almost opposite culture. They are one of the smallest and poorest team, they can't afford flashy talent so they make up with hard work. Even those who actually are lazy talk the talk so to say. difficult child really doesn't seem to learn how to change his behaviour to fit in to the new culture. He does work hard, always has, but he does talk it down. And because his playing position lots of the work is done in smaller group, with his positional trainer or alone, so some may not even understand he is indeed doing his work well. And downplaying it is bound to annoy even those who do understand that he is in fact working hard.

    It doesn't help, that unlike most pro athletes, difficult child looks decidedly unathletic. He carries himself like worm that is somehow reared up, he has half a metre too much hands and legs and he doesn't know what to do with them etc. This of course only until he puts his body to work, then it changes, in reality he has incredible coordination, agility and is very, very quick and surprisingly strong for someone so lanky.

    I'm not sure if difficult child doesn't understand how poor image he presents or if he does in it purpose and it is some kind of rebellious act that begs people to look deeper. Those are of course superficial things, but also that matters, when you are (or should be) trying to fit in.

    Other thing I have observed is that during the week difficult child seems to have flip flopped between three different persona. One is familiar few years back. Whiny, entitled, blaming others, not taking responsibility, passive aggressive. (And the reason I at times feel like strangling him.) Second is familiar even farther away. Enthusiastic, wide-eyed, curious, lively little boy he was a long time ago, not good with responsibility, but very sweet at times. This second one we also saw at times during his teen years, but not often. In fact now it seems we see this one more often than in long time. Then there is this new acquaintance, mature young man, who is rather reasonable, calm and very, very driven. Can be also quite witty guy, great sense for self irony. I kind of like that guy. He really flip flops between this personas several times a day with little rhyme and reason. Well if hungry or tired the whiny teen is likely to emerge and feeding him or calming down the situation is likely flip flop it back to other two, but other than that you never know which one you get.

    I of course very much like to see this new mature version of difficult child and I also like that he is relaxed enough to show the more enthusiastic side of himself, but going back and forth so quickly and so very dramatically is exhausting to watch. With this there probably is very little to be done. He can't yet maintain his more mature side all the time, But hopefully he will learn.

    I'm wondering how much I should talk about these things with him. If he could present better image of himself, it could help him with peers and make his life easier. Then again, he is already working with so much and some of these things are things he probably doesn't even notice. They are difficult to change and it would take a lot of energy. And if he is not able to do anything about them now, talking about them may only make him feel worse of himself and that is not something he needs. After all I at least wouldn't feel too good if someone came and said that I talk wrongly, stand wrongly, look wrong and am really annoying and not able to adapt my surroundings.
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2015
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Just my take on it... but... unless whatever he is doing has direct personal ramifications to YOU, I wouldn't be bringing it up. Not picking up laundry? Chewing with his mouth open? Interrupting when you are in a conversation? If you're talking about those kinds of things, then you have an "I" leg to stand on. It annoys YOU no end, and probably annoys others - but what matters is it annoys YOU. Why? Because then you can take the "I" position. "I have difficulty enjoying my supper when someone at the table is chewing with their mouth open. To me, it is totally unappetizing, and takes away my enjoyment of the meal. Is there some way we can work on this together?" Notice... the presentation is that YOU have a problem and you need HIS help to fix it (rather than fixing "him").

    And even then... pick the ONE thing that annoys you the most. Only work on one thing at a time. You might only get to address 2 or 3 over the holiday... but there is always next year, because the issues aren't just going to melt away overnight.

    All the other stuff... is between him, his coach, and any other professionals in his life.
  3. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Nothing like that but much more subtle stuff. Tone he speaks is very condescending, he has very affected accent, it seems like he looks down on people (well, he is almost six and half feet tall so as worm like his posture is, he kind of does look down to others) and he is simply very chav. He portraits an image of lazy, spoiled brat and that is not doing him any favours. And I'm not sure how well he is aware of how he seems to others. After all people usually don't really notice how for example their accent changes in different situations. And with difficult child the way he talks is much worse when he does speak his second language. When he talks our family's main language, he really isn't at all that affected, but whenever he changes to the majority language, which is a language solely used in the area he lives now, he really sounds like a brat.

    He can tone himself down also when speaking that language and does so in certain situations (especially when talking to older people he does not know that well or in the situations he knows he needs to present well), but I feel that he hinders his social life needlessly with very superficial thing, when he chooses to speak and act like he does.
  4. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Suzir, I kinda think I may understand what you are saying though I think Cory may be more blatant with his personality.

    You know how it is okay when you are a teen to be a bit vulgar and use foul language while with peers? Well Cory never understood that you shouldnt do that everywhere. Even now he thinks nothing of cussing a blue streak while they are working on a grocery store that they are remodeling and the store is still OPEN! Customers are coming and going and he is MF this and FU that. Not that he is particularly mad at the time, just how he talks. Everything is a little SOB. He cant talk without cussing. Then there is dressing. He is always sagging so he has to yank his pants up. I just shake my head.

    I have tried and tried to get him to change these things but nothing has done a bit of good until now when he has decided he wants to change. Suddenly now he wants to change everything. I have no idea if it will stick but I hope so.
  5. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    UGH. Those kinds of things? Unless you have a really strong and flexible relationship, even TTs don't take it from "Mom"... far more effective to come from a girl friend, or peers, or even a coach or a boss, but... "anyone but Mom" is often the refrain.

    Having said that... there are some things you can "nag" a bit about just because you are "Mom"... like posture. It's one of those things that Mom's are "allowed" to be on their kids' cases about... difficult child or typical teen or easy child.

    Can you pick your battle - and limit it to one - and see if it makes any diff?
  6. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    In time he will find a group of friends similar to him. I know not ideal, but in adult life there is less pressure to change. I would hold off and let life teach him these things.
  7. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    We stopped to Subway today to grab a lunch and difficult child managed to even annoy a waiter there. And it was nothing he said, he just said hi, ordered his sandwich and thanked, but it was easy to see, that the waiter thought he was total jerk and I can see why. He was leaning to the counter (as I said, he never stands straight), talking in very arrogant tone, using annoying accent etc. Just really giving a bad impression. I don't really know how much he for example swears normally (he does not really do that, when I'm there, which does show he is somewhat aware) but he does use very annoying wannabe-cool 'big city' teen slang, that doesn't go well even here in that city and I'm sure even less so in 'backwoods' there he lives.

    I'm considering trying to talk with him about it. Just pointing out that he does sound rather immature and too arrogant. The way he talks is usually associated to (dumb) teen girls and boys around 15 and even the youth slang has many derogatory terms to describe those kids. While I don't usually agree using those derogatory terms to describe kids who are just in difficult age and trying to come off as older and more experienced, I think pointing out that the way he talks is not giving an impression he probably hopes could be something difficult child needs to know. Of course he will likely not listen mommy telling him that, but I still feel I maybe should, because really, he is making his life harder very unnecessarily. And it is plenty enough hard even without it.

    Then again I don't want to give impression that he does nothing right and everything in him should be changed. But right now he comes off as a total jerk. Of course it could be that he really is total jerk and I just don't want to see that. But I don't believe that. Yes I'm his mom and not objective at all, but I see so much nice and sweet in him, I find it a shame he portraits so obnoxious image of himself.
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2012
  8. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    He's 18.
    The rule of thumb for ADHD kids is... 20-25% behind in maturity... which would put your difficult child's maturity level at about... 14 or so. Which means he IS "acting his age" - not chronological, but in terms of his maturity level.

    That gap closes a fair bit by age 25. (long time away, I know... me too)
  9. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    6 years (he is almost 19 now) really is an awfully long time. And unfortunately patience has never been my strong suit. :sigh:

    Well he has really made great strides during the last year and half. He still has a lot to do in maturing but maybe it helps if I try to concentrate to how much he has already achieved. And hope he continues to make progress.

    But yeah, I'm still waiting if I can get an good opportunity to talk with him about his non-verbal communication. Or maybe it could be easier for him to digest, if I would just talk about the impression he gives when he is talking 'the second language', then it would be more language related and less about him per se. Don't know.
  10. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    My guess is you're probably better off to tackle the second-language issue, as it IS definitely more neutral...
  11. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Well, it ended up being husband who couldn't keep his mouth shut about these irritations any more. Maybe luckily he blew up only about the posture thing. It started about the use of furniture. difficult child has never really consistently used furnitures like most people. For example most people tend to use chairs so that their head is the top part of their body, feet the lowest and their bottom touches a seat. Not difficult child. This morning he was 'sitting' in armchair in living room, surfing net with his laptop and drinking his coffee and eating oatmeal. Laptop and his plate were at floor, coffee mug was on the arm rest, his knees were the uppermost part of him (over the backrest), his side was on the seat and somehow he manage to wrangle himself so that his elbows were on the floor and his face was pointing 180 degrees opposite compared to his toes. husband wondered if we should go to library and get one of easy child's favourite books from his early toddlerhood, there the protagonist tries to do all kinds of everyday tasks (getting up from the bed, dressing himself, sitting to breakfast table etc.) and nothing really goes quite right first but then 'the correct way' is advised. It indeed had a part of sitting in the chair. husband was musing about how we clearly didn't read the book often enough to difficult child when he was younger and asked if it would help if we read it to him now.

    It would had been just fine if it had stopped there, but also husband is frustrated with difficult child making things harder than they have to be, so he went on about difficult child's worm like posture and how he can expect anyone to treat him with anykind of respect if he cant even stand straight and be a man. husband really was frustrated so I feared it could get ugly and intervened and tried to make it more light by chiming in and making it an old inside joke/silly family game, there I make some totally outlandish claim to support some requirement, rule or something I have made up and demand others (usually kids) to prove me wrong before I budge. So I claimed standing with so bad posture will make his bones bend and get groovy and cause pimples and greasy hair. Rules of the game are, that now I'm allowed to nag about how he carries himself until he proves my claims wrong. And believe me, it is difficult to prove something outlandish wrong. For example difficult child has not yet been able to prove me that cheese is not an integral part of make of of the moon and he did try hard at the time. (He was around 12 and liked cheese, was always hungry and ended up eating all cheese from our fridge often, I made a claim that somehow cheese in fridge, moon being (partly) cheese and moon not collapsing our planet were connecting and that is why he wasn't allowed to eat all the cheese from fridge. Can't remember the whole story any more, but difficult child was never able to prove it wrong and because of that was disallowed of eating all of the cheese.)

    I do hope I managed to steer it more to light and silly because I just feel that difficult child is not able to handle too much heavier criticism from also us right now. I still may talk with him a little about his accent in second-language, if I get a good chance, but other than that I try to point out positives I see and compliment him from even small things. Right now I'm watching from window him working out in garden with kettlebells and doing yoga type things. It's difficult to even believe that the beautiful and athletic young man in our garden is the same worm like guy he usually is.
  12. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Got a chance to talk with difficult child about impression he gives when talking in second language. I kept it about only that, accent, choice of words etc. He did listen. Other than that I don't know. But still, listening is a good thing. Even if he does think I was talking total nonsense and totally disagrees with me, at least he did listen without making a fight out of it. And that is very mature from him. Of course I did wait for perfect opportunity when we were alone, he was relaxed and in good mood and I tried to choose my words carefully, be non-judgemental, keep it impersonal and compliment strides he has made socially.

    He didn't comment a lot, just that it is stupid that those kind of things would even matter. But he did agree that they may matter. I agreed with him that it is indeed error in the world, but pointed out that it is one of those errors we can not do anything about, just have to adapt.

    No idea if he plans to do anything about it, but at least we were able to have a civil conversation about it. And it is always like that with him. If you want to introduce some new idea to him or get him to make some change you have to first talk about it and just introduce the idea and let it be and let him think about it. Then few weeks later you are often able to go back to it and talk about it more. Or he may even try it by himself. But trying to pressure him to something new right away always ends up badly. He tends to need time to think things through before he is able to adapt.

    So I may know sometime at fall if that little talk helped at all.
  13. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Sounds like you took the right approach!
  14. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I've found this post to be fascinating as it triggered alot of parenting experiences with the four boys (the sons and the grands). I relate to your difficult child in a few special ways because my difficult child#1 was an outstanding student and multiple sport All Star athlete and then, sigh, he made poor choices and no longer was either of those things. So I'm rooting for your difficult child in hopes he can earn his way back up the scale. I'm curious about two things that I don't believe you have addressed. Is his relationship with his girlfriend emotionally close? My greater curiosity has to do with the behaviors you have described in such detail today. Has he always "followed the beat of a different drummer" or is this a pattern that has developed in the past couple of years since he has been struggling?

    I've been wondering if perhaps he has some Aspergers traits. There is often a tendency to "role play" with AS in my experience with difficult child#2. Sometimes the social tone of conversations is askew and very often body positioning is so decidedly different that you wonder if it is "posed" or "spontaneous". Interesting.

    I'll continue to follow your saga with interest and as a cheerleader for difficult child. DDD
  15. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    To be honest, I'm not sure. They met after difficult child moved out from home and I have seen them together very limitedly. I do believe that a lot of attraction between them is superficial (on both sides), but at least difficult child firmly believes he is very much in love. And I have seen signs of him being at least somewhat tuned to her needs. There definitely is some emotional closeness and they seem to talk also about deeper matters. But of course it is not same way emotionally close than real adult relationship would (in good case) be. Still they are very young and it is puppy love and I'm not quite sure how deep puppy love usually is.

    He has always been different. I had a feeling of him not being quite like other babies early on and first time something concrete came up was when he was two. I was worried about his sensitivity and on the other hand his accident proneness. After talking about it in his screening/well child check type of things we were referred to Occupational Therapist (OT) and sensory issues came up. At that time they were not considered independent issues here but part of either ADHD or autism spectrum and we were warned that either of those could come up later. His first through evaluations were when he was 5. Again in screenings his troubles came up and he was referred first to psychologist and after that to neuropsychologist evaluation. In that point issues seemed to be sensory issues, hyperactivity, social skills, some anxiety, reactivity and perfectionism. Some ADHD traits, some slight asperger traits but not enough to warrant diagnosis. We were ushered to parenting classes (at that time it felt almost offending but I have to say it was a good thing. Parenting didn't change difficult child to easy child but I'm not sure how we would had survived parenting him without that work then.) and difficult child received some play therapy and more Occupational Therapist (OT). Occupational Therapist (OT) helped a lot with sensory issues and he has been near the limit of normalcy on that after early years.

    Next through evaluations were done when he was near teens. Again some ADHD and asperger traits, not enough for diagnosis. That time I was told that he could be diagnosable if he wouldn't be quite as smart and compensating so well or if I hadn't worked so hard with him to teach him skills. Of course they may had said that just to make me feel better, but still it seems clear to me, that he isn't really neurotypical. He just is atypical in ways that they have no diagnosis for or not quite atypical enough to diagnose. He did get a diagnosis of school phobia little later but that was only a tool to get everyone out of trouble. He played truant so much they should not had let him pass. And CPS should had done something. And because nothing was helping he should had been taken into a care and put to the placement where his education would had been ensured. But county had no desire to pay over 10000 dollars a month to put him to the place there all the other kids had much more severe problems (for him to learn bad behaviours from) and that would not had been an academical fit anyway just to get his bottom and chair in classroom to meet. After all he was learning just fine, he just wasn't going to school that much. We didn't have a real chance to just home-school so he was given a diagnosis that solved a problem from county's perspective. difficult child attended school as much as 'he could' and rest he studied independently

    But yes, asperger traits are there. He is too high functioning for diagnosis and some key traits are missing, but there is a lot in him that reminds asperger kids. And his social skills are poor, but that of course is a chicken or egg question. Was he bullied because of bad innate social skills or have his social skills developed so poorly because of bullying? Who knows? I also suspect some executive function issues and his attention is not really typical (lots of hyperfocusing and on the other hand focus in many things at the same time.) But he is close enough to typicality that in the easier environment it doesn't really show. But of course he has put himself to very demanding environment in some ways.
  16. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    There are studies out there that say it is "both". Kids with social skills challenges - or other challenges - tend to be bullied. And being bullied definitely interferes with social skills development.

    This is so absolutely classical ADHD (whether stand-alone, or as part of Aspie). "Attention deficit" is a misnomer. It's more a problem of "attention management". But the "hyper focus" can be a real benefit. I put mine to good use in my technical career.
  17. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    At the end of the day I had to see if you had responded and it was reassuring to read your post. I believe I have an even more accurate picture of your son and I relate to your quandry. Hugs. DDD
  18. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    This is of course very true. And my difficult child did have troubles with social skills before he was bullied. But we will never know if he would had learned better if he would had had better chances to practise. And because his lack of social skills he was easy and tempting victim for bullies. Both for those who either get some excitement from bullying or who are trying to rise in pecking order by bullying. And then there were those who just didn't know how to treat a kid who 'just didn't get it.' Or plainly didn't like him.

    As I said difficult child has these atypical traits when it comes to attention. But he can manage his attention little better than what would be ADHD. He is borderline in this but mostly can manage his attention enough to do also 'typical attention' if he chooses to and if not too tired or upset. He definitely has ADHD traits but it has never been in degree that would had warrant a diagnosis. Of course he really benefited his ability to hyper focus. Helps a lot with his sport and makes it possible for him to pull off all kinds of 'last minute miracles' with school.