My son is a very anxious child, bless him. It breaks my heart some days. Every day things which others take in their stride is one big trauma for him. He spends time worrying about it, thinking about it and unable to sleep or even eat! It turns into an obsession.
As the end of the summer holidays loom his anxiety about going back to school is escalating. This happens every year, you would think we would have got used to it. But every year it takes me by surprise and I think, help, I don’t know how to deal with this?
So before we broke up for the holidays I asked the school for help and his school counsellor gave us a book all about how worries are like growing tomatoes. You feed and water the plant, you look after them, and think about them all the time and soon you have tomatoes everywhere and you have to eat tomatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s a fabulous book. When we read it I thought to myself I don’t think he has understood that at all, back to the drawing board. What shall I do now to try and explain anxiety to a child which has no real idea about feelings, emotions etc.
Yesterday we went to buy new school trousers. I have put it off for as long as possible but now it has to be done. It started off ok, we were browsing and having a little jokey moment when suddenly Bam! Out of nowhere total meltdown. Hiding in amongst the clothes, shouting and crying. Other parents and children staring, wondering what on earth is going on.
There I am sitting on the floor trying to talk him down and I can hear others criticising my technique. Well, I don’t blame them. I guess to the outside world it looks like I am talking to a very rude child and I have no discipline techniques whatsoever! Yes, I guess in that instance they are right, it must be my lack of parenting skills as you would never normally have a child of this age behaving like a toddler going through the terrible twos! Well how do I explain to them that my son is behaving like this because he is stressed, scared, anxious, that he wants to run away from the world and never return? How do I tell them that he has a variety of complex needs and that he isn’t naughty he is just struggling with the world?
So I just continue talking him down and ignore the comments and eventually he crawls out from his hiding place and rather exhausted falls into my arms. We hold each other for what seems like an age, I am not too sure which one of us needs the hug more at this point in time! I think we were both trying to support each other. And then he looks up to me with a sad face and says “sorry Mummy but it is the tomatoes, they made me do it!”.