Saturday, September 2, 2017

Bored.

Apparently Jacob is becoming a tiny bit more self-aware, because lately when I ask him why he torments his brother and makes the rest of us crazy, his answer is, "I'm bored."  I don't know about you, but when I was bored I'd lay around my room and grump around and finally settle on watching something boring on TV.  Or maybe I'd pick up a book.  I did not want to tell my mother that for fear she'd come up with all sorts of things for me to do--all of which would probably involve some sort of housecleaning. 

But Jacob's version of boredom involves running around the house, making random loud noises, bothering his brother, and generally making life miserable for everyone else.  I can suggest any number of activities, but none are acceptable.  Reading, writing, drawing, playing Legos, playing outside, watching TV, playing a video game...nope.  And while I could assign him a cleaning task, he would most certainly not do it.  The dutiful obedience gene that would have made me feel compelled to do what my mom told me to totally skipped him, and while I could just make it one of the 400 battles I feel like I fight with him every day, I don't.  I'm tired and he wouldn't do it well anyway.  The other day I tried to get him to write birthday thank you notes and it turned into a disaster and a meltdown, so we're back to the drawing board on that one.  The kid doesn't like to write, refuses to follow directions, and then gets so upset about the whole thing he can't function anyway.  I have no doubt the cleaning would follow a similar path.  I'm sure many judgy parents out there would say I'm letting him off easy and he needs to learn how to do that stuff, but until you've dealt with a kid like this, you wouldn't understand.  Their brains just work differently and the rules don't apply quite the same.  It stinks, trust me.

Anyway, when you think about the boredom thing within the context of ADHD, it actually makes a lot of sense.  Jacob is used to a lot of sensory input.  He's constantly thinking, constantly being distracted, and when things slow down a bit and there isn't constant input directed at him (like he was getting in school or at camp), he basically needs to create his own.  That's where the noise and the crazy behavior comes in. 

Another element to it is his relationship with Carter.  He's finally getting to the point where he wants to play with Carter, but the problem is that the two of them have very little in common.  Jacob rarely wants to do what Carter is doing, and Carter rarely wants to do what Jacob is doing.  Finding common ground is nearly impossible.  So, what ends up happening is one of two scenarios:
  • Carter tries to do what Jacob wants to do, isn't doing it the way Jacob wants, so Jacob gets mad and Carter quits.
  • Jacob pesters Carter to stop doing what he's doing, which makes him a nuisance, and only serves to get Carter mad.  Carter refuses to play with Jacob, and Jacob just becomes more annoying in his desperation.
Jacob gets more agitated when he's bored and specifically wants to play with Carter, but he can't get him to do it.  Nothing else will do at that moment, and his agitation comes out in trying to wrestle Carter or otherwise forcing him to pay attention to him.  It's exhausting, because stuff like this goes on all day when they're together. 

I wish Jacob could understand that two years of mistreating Carter (or four, if you count when Jacob was completely ignoring him) has led to this, where Carter is always on the defensive and they just don't have a lot of common interests.  Jacob has never been the nurturing brother who wanted to help feed him, or build Duplo towers with him, or race his cars.  He seems to be coming around slightly, but rarely and only on his own terms.  I don't think either of them have any idea how good it could be if they got along most of the time.  Tuesday's Seabreeze trip was a little glimpse of that, and I made sure to point that out to Jacob. 

The problem is that he is unwilling to consider anyone's ideas except his own.  If he's claiming he's bored, then take some of my suggestions and maybe you won't be anymore.  Try harder to cooperate with your brother.  Have a little more patience with him.  Try to find any other way to get your frustration out of your system beyond driving us all nuts.  Instead of complaining I yell all the time, listen the first time and see what happens.  Long story short, I need some effort on his part.  None of this is going to work if he doesn't put forth some willingness to cooperate. 

We haven't been to the therapist since this "boredom" thing came to light, so I'll be interested to hear her take on this.  Maybe there are some methods we can try to channel that energy or frustration, or maybe she can give Jacob some additional insight into what he's feeling.  It's a process, no doubt.  Sometimes I feel like we see progress and some days it feels like we've only moved backward.  I'll take it as a small victory that we have a tiny bit of insight into what Jacob is dealing with, and hopefully we can help him more now that we understand more about what's bugging him. 

School starts on Wednesday, and hopefully getting back to a normal routine will help a little.  Fingers crossed that he likes his teacher, has a good group of friends in his class, finds his niche quickly, and doesn't get too overwhelmed by the work.  Fourth grade was a tough one for me, so I'm definitely on edge thinking about the things Jacob might encounter this year.  The good news is that he'll be going into the year at the right level of medication and we shouldn't have the same adjustment period we had last year.  This might be the first year where his teacher gets to see the best side of him right off the bat, and that is sort of crazy to think about.  It's a huge opportunity to start the year off right for a change, if nothing else. 

I feel like this was sort of an odd summer--between strange weather (hot early, rainy and moderate in the middle, and now cool a bit too quickly), lacrosse travel, and what seems like a few less adventures than usual.  I'm sure looking back through the pictures I'd see that's not the case, but it still feels...different.  Fall is coming and we usually have some fun adventures then, too, but it's still hard to say goodbye to another summer.  No choice, I guess, so here we go...

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