When Zack was about two and a half we learned we were expecting another baby. Things were at the height of chaos and craziness in our home. Things had to get better.
How could we bring a new child into this house with so much chaos?
I must admit, my husband had been less than helpful with all of this. He always felt that I somehow provoked Zack, and I was too firm, not flexible enough. One of the specialists did tell him “you must back Kim up, whatever she says as far as discipline must be the rule if she has already told Zack. If you do not agree do not say so in front of the child, take it up later.” Soon after this Zack had one of his rages in front of Doug, and after about 1 hour my husband wanted to give into Zack. This seemed to be a turning point, I insisted that he respect my decision and if he could not be firm and stand as one with me then he could move out until I got help for Zack. I could be firm and set limits and would help Zack myself, and that he was undermining and tearing down whatever I was trying to accomplish. We were under a “deadline” to get our household to some sort of normalcy before the new baby got here. He agreed and since we have worked fairly well together. It seems we never argued unless it had something to do with Zack, what to say to him, what to do or not to do to him.
Zack’s rages and bad moods would come and go. He would have a terrible rage for several hours, throw things, screaming, yelling, kicking, eyes glazed, lips swollen, he looked like a mad dog. He would rage at the slightest thing.
Many times he would ask me (point) to turn on a particular road into our neighborhood, always at the last second, not giving me enough time to turn, so I would not turn on this road, this would outrage him. He would cry and scream for hours just because I did not go down a certain road. I would call the doctor for yet another referral, he would calm down, and I would feel like I over reacted again by calling the doctor.
The house would be calm for a while, days or weeks and we would think maybe he had grown out of it, maybe he was OK. Zack would be cheerful, fun, considerate, compliant and a wonderful three and a half-year old. Then he would wake up screaming one morning and the hell would start all over again. His moods shifted several times a day, several times an hour. He would be kind and loving, then screaming and crying, then laughing, and on and on. I was astonished by how his range of emotions would vary from hours or minutes.
Zack is an incredibly intense child. Intense in every emotion, every want and desire. He doesn’t get just sad, he gets distraught. He doesn’t get disappointed, he gets devastated. Every emotion is exaggerated to such a high degree. If he makes a B on a school paper it is proof he is a “dummy, or an idiot”. There is no middle ground for him; something is either horrible and unacceptable or wonderful and fabulous. And everything, every want and need has to be immediate.I have since learned this inability to change his thoughts, to shift, is called cognitive inflexibility. And it is a nightmare. His mind gets stuck on a thought, or idea and he can’t make it go away. On those few days when he wants something or to go somewhere and I say not now, or in a few minutes and his reply is “ok”, that is earth shattering. The times he can actually accept he is not getting instant gratification for milk, food, a movie, whatever the whim of the moment is, those are miracles.
I will say again, by now it wasn’t crazy all the time. Zack could be a charming, wonderful child, when he was good he was very, very good, but when he was bad……watch out!!! Life would be hell for a while. There was no rhyme or reason to it; it was like we had two different children living in the same house, in the same body, we never knew what child would wake up in the morning and what the day would be like. It was all a guessing game. The worst part, no one understood, no one else could see or understand. (cont)