Monday, March 21, 2011

The first time it happened, I wanted to scream at him to stop, that it wasn't that bad, that it wasn't worth getting that upset over.  I struggled with myself as I observed his agony, not wanting to add to it, but fearing that my fleeing the scene wouldn't be helpful, either.  Thank goodness Dan was there; it helped, as he was the one who did the talking and the reassuring as I fought off my fight-or-flight response.

Guitar lessons and practice weren't meant to be this anxiety-inducing exercise for the little guy.  He wanted to sign up for them, but it was terrible at first to see him become a puddle of frustration.  The second time he tearfully struggled with the chromatic tuner was almost equally heartbreaking, as I tried to talk him out of his bawls and he wailed, "I just can't help it, Mom." Okay, deep breaths and break time, then back to it.  You can do this, honey.  "When The Saints Go Marching In" isn't this hard. Really.

As if having him dissolve into tears over tuning his guitar and practicing his music weren't bad enough, he then got obsessed with tying his shoes, and not in a healthy way.  It goes beyond wanting to demonstrate new-found skill.  Yesterday, it turned into a session of waiting waiting waiting on him to get over the fact that the laces weren't perfectly lined up before he even began tying them, then having him repeatedly refuse our help, then have him tie and retie his shoes because they weren't tight enough, they weren't a perfect bow, they weren't this, that or the other was a good 15-20 minutes of this before we could leave the Purim carnival that was closing around us.  Sure he's had perfectionist streaks in him before, but not like these.

So I mention this to the doc who's overseeing the monitoring and dispensation of his medication, a generic form of Concerta, and am informed that, on some of these stimulants, tendencies towards obsessive-compulsive behaviors are sometimes augmented.  Lovely.

When I first got frustrated at the kiddo's fits of upset over this stuff, I wondered at my own capacity for being a perfectionist, which is something I had to unlearn - in some ways, I am still unlearning it.  There's a lot that one cannot directly control in this world, and it stands to reason that getting het up about all the things you cannot manipulate to your absolute satisfaction could reduce you to wearing a jacket with no holes for your hands in a mattress-lined room if you don't learn to let some things go.  I prefer being able to walk and talk and appreciate the good things in life a tad more than I want to pick at everything and everyone around me for not being up to some near-impossible standards.  This is a fairly recent development, however, and it's part of what made me ache for the little guy as he found his guitar wasn't tuned perfectly and something died inside of him on just thinking about it.  I'd been there to a slightly lesser degree in my younger days, and alternated between wanting to hug him and wanting to tell him to quit it, that this wasn't worth his pain - and wanting to yell at him that he was much too uptight about something that ought to be fun; why couldn't he just let it go????

I could just as well be asking, "Why couldn't some other behavioral genes be manifesting themselves?"  It'd be nice, wouldn't it?  Engineer it so that I wouldn't even be dealing with this doctor right now.

And while I was at it, maybe I could turn back the clock and demand my own mother do the same for me.  Yeah.  That's right.  Few to no crying jags during art school critiques would've been in order maybe.  Perfection attained!

But no, it is not to be, for either of us.  We are left with constantly monitoring what the therapy and the meds are doing for him and what they aren't doing for him.  Thus far, the benefits seem to be outweighing the side effects.  We must simply stay attuned.


Kelly said...

Well written. I feel for you.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

Tuning drives every guitar player nuts when they're first learning the instrument. (The only more frustrating petty matter in life is the sudden realization that you have a flat tire on your car or your bike.) The resulting internal rage is as instant as it is devestating.

But you learn, because once you do get it right, it sounds beautiful.

As an alternative, you could start him on bass guitar. There's no quicker way to get over perfection by being the member of the band who's just there to look cool :)

But if he's an easily frustrated tyke with a quick emotional response and a lingering case of OCD, there is only one instrument that needs to be in his hands (and you'll hate me forever for this): a drum.

Leigh C. said...

Oh, we're not averse to the drums...not after this season of the freaking vuvuzelas. ;-)

And he's not HUGELY off-key when he tunes his guitar...but if it isn't EXACTLY right, he's unhappy. The teacher says he's got a lot of raw talent, but he needs to practice...but practice rubs the kiddo the wrong way. Errrgh.

Breny said...

My OCD-ness comes out sometimes. I've learned to recognize it most of the time, sometimes not soon enough. I'm confident the kiddo will make it through. He has wonderful, supportive parents that are getting him the help he needs to deal with his differences. I learned to love my differences, and I've embraced marching to my own beat.

Ah-meds and side effects. Been there, still doing it. I'm thankful there are so many different AD(H)D meds available these days. If side effects became unbearable for me, we tried something else.

Hang in there!

chrissie said...

Oof. Hang in there lady, you're a fabulous mama and it will eventually get figured out.

ALM said...

I can relate to what you're saying, as trying to teach Emmeline to read (in English) has been a real uphill battle. Although there are some good days where she "gets it" and is actually excited, most of the time she's reluctant and quickly dissolves into a wailing puddle on the floor. While I'm standing there bewildered and irritated that she's so frustrated. It seems that if she can't do it right immediately, she has no intereset in doing it at all. And don't even get me started on tying shoes! I can't imagine where she gets it from (says her perfectionist mother).