Cherub 2 has horrible issues with anxiety. I've never seen a child with as much anxiety as he has. When he was a baby he would cry if you weren't in the exact same room as him. His level of separation anxiety was off the charts. I'm not talking about the typical stuff that the parenting books talk about. I'm talking about the fact that he could work himself up to vomiting when he got upset. (He barfed on me one time when I tried to leave him in the church nursery when he was two years old.) If his schedule got mixed up (say my parents came to visit) he literally got sick. Fever and everything. He truly was sick. Even though the people visiting were people he knew and loved -- and wanted to be with -- the change in schedule increased his anxiety to levels most people can't understand.
We've been working with TT for years so that he can learn to self-regulate when his anxiety is peaking. He's doing much better. School is less of an issue. In fact, he joined the UIL team this year. (My kid stays after school to do math for fun and then competes every now and then with kids from other schools. Weird. LOL) He had his first UIL meet yesterday.
When he got home though, we all paid the price. TT had to get up early to get to school on a Saturday. So...he was tired. Then, he had to "hold it all together" during the meet. This was a brand new experience for him so I know his anxiety was probably off the charts. But he has learned to keep his emotions in check (until he gets back home where it's safe to explode). When he got home from the meet he was tired and hungry and exhausted from keeping it all together at school. He began whining. Fussing. Carrying on.
TT does things that I'll read about in blogs that deal with attachment issues. He'll pick fights. He'll whine and complain about trivial things. He'll overreact to the smallest of stimuli. He'll "forget how to walk". When asked to go somewhere he'll crumple to the floor and act like he tripped or something. He'll try to get up and then he'll fall again. It looks quite intentional. But really, it's his anxiety wrecking havoc on his body. (This can also show itself in forgetting how to do lots of things -- like sit in a chair, get dressed, eat, etc.) It is so frustrating when he gets like this. My first response is to scream at him to get his attention. To physically hold him or help him up (depending on what my expectation is of him at that time.) But I know my first responses are always wrong!
I've been learning how to meet the need first. Instead of freaking out on him while he is freaking out, I try to stay calm. It sounds so easy to do on paper. In reality though, whew...I really stink at it sometimes! I'm getting better though. And because we've been working with TT on this for so long now, we're pretty good at knowing what his need is.
Usually it's food. At least that seems to help him the most. When his blood sugars are the least bit low, he cannot self-regulate. He has learned when he feels like things are spinning out of control that he needs to eat first. He is supposed to eat a protein. Often, this helps.
Yesterday he was hosed though. After he got home from school we had only a couple hours until we were going to leave again. We went as a family to an outdoor Christian music concert. Unfortunately, we had never been to this event before so we couldn't answer any questions about it for him. Everything he wanted to know (that would have helped calm his anxiety) was answered with an, "I don't know."
He never did get regulated.
I tried to enjoy the concert. But TT was whiny and upset the entire time.
It hasn't gotten much better today either. We were up late last night so he's still tired. And now it's almost like he's in a pattern of anxiety. It's testing my therapeutic parenting skills for sure.
This week isn't going to get easier. I'm not going to focus on it, but court for the little ones is Monday the 7th. This could be our last week with the babies. And since Grandma has to show up at court in order to be awarded custody, odds are they will be swept away from us right then and there (if they go that is). Their CPS worker wanted to give us ample time to say goodbye. But the logical side of me says that they will give Grandma the kids there at court rather than schedule a day for a social worker to drive half-way across the state to drop the kids off. I'm going to try like crazy to not get anxious this week. But I'm human. And unfortunately, TT will feed off my anxiety! (Do I pack their things? Or do I wait until court? Do I prepare everyone in the neighborhood for their goodbye? Or do I wait until court? etc. etc.)
I will try to keep him close to me all week so he knows he is safe. This fostering stuff really messes with his brain. It's hard enough for him to understand his own adoption. But to witness other kids going through confusion and sadness because of their removal, visits, reunification, etc. it's really hard on him. I'm going to go have a talk with his teacher and the counselor at his school. I need his teacher to understand that he's got some potential triggers that could send him flying this week. I know the counselor will meet with him and give him an outlet to talk.
All in all though, I've got to just let go. I can't focus on his anxiety. I can help him. I can try to not make it worse. But I can't obsess. Wish me luck.