Friday, August 20, 2010

Nathan Can Change the World

Nathan's summer is winding down, and he's starting to get "done".  That stick-a-fork-in-me kind of done.  It's been a challenging summer for the both of us, and we've both have been working really hard with situations that we struggle with. For me, it's interpersonal professional relationships and remaining flexible when in the midst of mummifying anxiety. For Nate, it's been dealing with losing. 

We've dealt with this subject before. It's something we've wrestled with like a chained bear, only to be left on the mat bruised, bloodied and defeated. I try to use every possible moment as a teaching moment to let him know that losing is a part of life, being a good sport is better,  you have to learn how to lose and learn how to win.  He responds by rolling his eyes and then looking at the wall while the rest of the conversation looks like this:

Nathan has had a hard time with competitive games. They touch every negative button on his control panel. It messes with his desire to be first all the time, every time. He's a perfectionist, so if he doesn't do something with laser like precision on the first try, the world ceases to make sense to him. (I stole that last bit from my friend, Kate. Yarrr!) I truly wish he could learn this like they do in the Matrix; Trinity asks for the schematics for a helicopter and it gets loaded strait into her amygdala.

Since we don't have that technology, we have to do it the hard way. Where there's crying, and screaming and misunderstanding of the world. I dislike that. I also dislike having to teach my kid to deal with being competitive. Because it SUCKS. I SUCKED at competitive games. Still do, to an extent. I am more aware of my abilities and know where I can shine and where I should just sit my butt down. 

Nathan is still figuring that out, and he is becoming more aware of his weaknesses and strengths. I talked with his therapist about dropping him from actively being a part of competitive games. He's getting the same social pragmatics of being with other kids. He has to work together, he has to play fair, he has to be respectful. That's hard work on it's own. Mix that in with him trying to compete in a game. It was making him sad. And it wasn't every game. It usually involved a ball, usually a football. I totally understand. I am not fond of an object being hurled in my face, imagine what his brain is processing when he's trying to do about 16 different things at once.  

After giving him the option to pass, he was improving a bit at camp, coming home a little less sad. He was still involved, he would cheer on the sidelines, go catch a ball that went out of play and would join in on occasion.

We've upped his Concerta a few days ago (he's been at his current dose for almost a year and he's grown over 6 inches), and we are watching him for showing any zombie (very sleepy) like behavior, loss of appetite, etc. I noticed him being more talkative, engaging me more in conversation. We played a game the other night for over an hour, where we used action figures on an incredible adventure that came from his imagination. We've been able to actually talk, and not have the blah blah blah. 

Getting back to the focus of the story, I picked Nathan up early today. They had their "Olympics" at camp and I was like, "OH boy...." His counselor said, "He was in a race, and he didn't win....and he was okay with it."

I didn't realize that my hands had been clenched the whole time. I let go and my shoulders relaxed and I looked at Nathan and said, "Is that true?" He looked RIGHT at me and said, "Yeah, Mom. I didn't win. And that's okay. I'm  changing myself. And I can change the world."

I felt the tears blossom in my lower lids and I waved my hand in front of my face  like you do before you break down in hysterically joyful pride. I managed to keep my composure and my boy came over and gave me a hug.

I can't say what got him to this point. Was it the repetitive messages of being a good sport? Was it giving him the opportunity to observe sportsmanship outside of the game first so he knew what to expect? Was it the higher dose of meds that maybe gave him a bit more clarity and focus?

 What I do know is that sometimes I talk too much, and that I tend to use every moment as a teachable moment and that can become just noise. I needed to focus and shorten my message. I needed to give him the tools he needed for his social tool box and let him try situations on his own. I had to give him his own line and see what he was able to catch. 

And he caught a freakin' MARLIN.


  1. Hurray for teaching a boy to fish! That is awesome. I'm still waiting for the day when those words come out of my little guy's mouth (when not prompted by me or a teacher after a 20 minute tantrum...)
    You are the kind of mom I strive to be. Can't wait to get out my fishing gear.

  2. catrina wood-hawkins8/21/10, 9:49 AM


  3. YAY! A win for both of you/

  4. My son also struggles with perfectionism. There was a time that a folded corner on the paper meant all work on said paper was OVER. Extremes of black and white, logically, extend to winning and losing. I think our boys will get there. Give it time :)


  5. @trydefyinggravity: I am not the perfect mom! LOL! I am merely a mom who keeps on trying, even after making lots of mistakes, but I hope that my experiences may help someone along the way. :)

  6. @catrina: Thank you so much!

  7. @Caitlin: I have nothing but time! LOL! This was quite a milestone for us, so I welcome the continued repetition of this recent behavior. If it doesn't happen, we do it like shampoo. Wash, rinse, repeat. :)

  8. @Gilda: You are tremendous! Thank you for putting it on your blog! Whoo!