In recent weeks DS1’s anxiety has been on red alert. While the underlying reason is as yet unclear, it has manifested itself in several behavioural formats.
But the upshot of it is, everyone (and by this I mean me) is ruining his life.
By way of example, we were having a heated debate about how it was advisable to have a shower after playing football, because, as a result, your body sweats and becomes dirty.
You can guess which side of the argument he was favouring – the one that didn’t involve a powerful jet of water touching his skin.
“Everyone in the world is ruining my life,” he seethed.
He was pulling my hair and shouting in my face as I tried to state the case for the defence.
“Is that any way to treat another human being?” I enquired, angrily.
“It is when they are randomly angry,” he retorted.
Drum major (tantrum)
Drumming has become another bone of contention. We are locked in a stalemate with regard to practise – or rather lack of.
DS1 is adamant he can’t practise properly because he doesn’t have a drum kit that resembles the one he uses in lessons. To be fair to him, he doesn’t – he just has a junior three-drum set-up.
The fact that this week’s practise required use of a snare drum only was neither here nor there. It was not the same. QED.
Now, while we have no problem getting him a ‘proper’ kit, they don’t come cheap. So we suggested that if he wanted a new drum kit, he had to demonstrate that he was prepared to knuckle down and practise.
“But it’s not the same,” he insisted.
“But you only need the snare for this one,” I insisted back.
Later that evening I could hear some distressed groans coming from the dining room.
I went to investigate and found DS1 in the middle of taking his drum kit apart, but he was struggling with a couple of the nuts.
“Why are you taking it apart?” I asked.
“Because I need to.”
That he couldn’t answer. It was just something he needed to do and he was unable to transition to anything else (like going to bed, which it was now time to do) until this task was complete.
“But it’s not important,” I said.
“We’ll only have to put it back together again.”
Resigned to the fact that life couldn’t continue until the drum kit was in bits, I helped him with the last couple of nuts. To be fair to him, each drum with its requisite nuts and bolts were all neatly stacked so nothing could be mislaid.
Mission complete, he headed for bed.
“Does that make you feel happy now?” I asked, trying to get a handle on his state of mind and why the kit dismantling at that precise moment had been so vital to his wellbeing.
He looked bemused.
“I’m trying to understand why that was so important and how it made your head feel, so if we have a situation like this again I’ll know how to react,” I explained.
He continued to look bemused.
I gave up. It was clearly an intellectual conversation too far. It needed to happen, it happened. Move on.
“Are you going to put it back together tomorrow?”
Instead, I found myself championing the merits of buying him an electric kit over an acoustic one. Most notably, it would mean we (and the neighbours) wouldn’t have to listen to him smashing his kit at stupid o’clock. Plus, they are supposedly easier to fold away and take up less space.
“Electric is not a real drum,” he told me.
“Well, no, but they are really.”
“They are just pads.”
“Yes, but they make a drum sound. Quite a few drummers use electric kits.”
“No they don’t.”
“They do,” I replied feebly, the fight slowly ebbing out of me.
“If you buy me one, then I will just take it apart.”
The penny dropped. Taking his junior kit apart was his way of telling me that it was no longer sufficient for his needs and if it was in bits then how could he possibly be expected to practise.
You have to admire his logic.
Drum major (tantrum), part 2
Things have been complicated further by the drum teacher wanting to mix up the teaching groups – he teaches in pairs – to better reflect people’s abilities.
This has proved unacceptable to DS1 on two levels. One, it means change, and he doesn’t cope with change; two, the boy he is being paired with is from the year below.
I tried to explain that if he was with someone of the same ability then he would get more from the lesson, but that didn’t compute.
“If I have to do it with Fred then I won’t go,” he final answered.
After school one evening we popped around for a nose at Henry’s new house (they’ve moved, which means that the boys no longer walk home together – another cause for his anxiety, I think. Change, you see).
Anyway, they were playing football in the garden, when DS1 came in dripping wet.
He’d fallen in the pond trying to retrieve the ball.
Henry’s mum suggested he had a shower. To my utter shock, he acquiesced.
How did she do that?
As he got into his pajamas that night I noticed his knees were still muddy from when he’d been playing football (before the pond incident).
“Why didn’t you wash your knees when you had your shower?” I asked.
“I had a shower because I fell in the pond,” he replied.
“Yes, but that doesn’t stop you washing your knees as well.”
Apparently it does.
In the course of all the pond shenanigans, we managed to leave his coat and bag (containing the all-important lunchbox) at Henry’s. We resolved to pick it up on the way to school the following morning.
“What time do we need to leave to get my lunchbox?” he asked the next morning.
“Oh, just five minutes earlier than normal,” I said. “I’ve made your lunch, so we’ll meet Henry outside school and transfer your lunch into your lunchbox before you go in.”
“That’s not going to work.”
“It will, trust me.”
“It’s not going to work, I promise you.”
“It will. I’ve made your lunch, we’ll take it with us, we’ll meet Henry outside school and transfer your lunch into your lunchbox before you go in.”
There’s only so many times you can say the same thing calmly – normally twice in my case
“I’m not going [to school],” he screamed and hid himself behind a door. “We have to get the lunchbox, come back here, make lunch and then go.”
“Well, that’s not going to work.” I retorted.
Now running late, I managed to coax him out of the front door with the carrot of going in the car.
A clandestine lunchbox exchange outside the school gate duly complete, he ran off into school as if nothing had happened.
Too early for a pint?