OB: Fear = Freeze

The following post was from a little over two years ago.  A post on a group reminded me of it.  That and I’ve been going NUTS with this child’s “staring” rather than answering when I speak to him. I really wish I was as empathetic as I used to be.  I’m working on it.  I saw a few other posts when looking for this one.  Maybe I can get back to being more gracious.

A week ago, we had a situation come up that really helped me see how solidly T-lo is operating in a state of fear rather than actually being *here* sometimes.  All the other kids had gotten down from the table. T-lo was playing with his second piece of broccoli.  He had eaten the top off the first piece.  It had been 20-30 minutes.  This is something we struggle with not stressing about due to his growth issues.

I turned his chair to help him down (we have one of those bar height tables AND he has a booster seat).  I picked him up and told him “I love you. No matter what happens I love you. I. Love. You.”   He looked terrified.  I asked him what I had said sure he couldn’t have heard me or he would seem so scared.  He said, “get down from the table.” I tried again and he replied, “eat.” I tried one more time and he went back to his first answer. The child was so terrified when I picked him up, that he could only guess what I had said.

I hugged him tightly and a few moments later repeated what I had really said. This time he heard me. “I love you too, Mama.”

So that was quite an education.  A lot of times he seems to blank out, zone out, just not be there when we say something to him.  Or he’ll start crying though what is being said or done is not cry worthy (sometimes, quite the opposite).  It’s like he’s responding to something else.

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OB: What’s a boy to do?

Given: Child better not leave bedroom after being put in there or he’ll be beaten severely.

Given: Child will be beaten severely if he wets on himself, in his bed, etc.

Given: Child has to potty more regularly than most children (ie, he is not going to make it through the night).

So what on earth was he SUPPOSED to do?   Did his first parents ever think of THAT?

I actually remember a situation like this from when I was a child.  My dad was very strict.  Usually, I was able to stay within the standards expected.  But one night when I was four, we went to my grandmother’s home.  My dad had told us not to eat anything over there.  My grandmother, of course, offered us food immediately.  I told her Daddy said no.  She said she’d worry about Daddy, eat.  So now do I disobey Dad or Grandma?  I was stuck.  My brother and I got spankings that night.  30some years later, I still can’t imagine what I was supposed to do.

My son was in a predicament one day. I had started a diet and made a chart of how many servings of X and Y.  I made each kid one also.  Why not?  I remember a checklist as a school assignment in elementary school so it seemed to make sense to teach nutrition (there is controversy about whether this was “good nutrition”).  Well, one of my categories, I had put something like grains: bread, cereal, etc.  There were three boxes next to it.  My son ate cereal for breakfast (this was before we stopped doing that).  Later, I had told the kids to get something for lunch and I had gone upstairs for something.  I came down and J was eating cereal!  What on earth?  Since when do we eat cereal twice in one day?  I fussed at him briefly, sighed, and fixed myself something for lunch.  Later, J comes to me telling me that he doesn’t understand why he “got in trouble” when the chart says cereal and has three boxes.  Poor kid.  He was just confused!  Thankfully, in our home, “we don’t eat cereal twice in a single day” and a frustrated sigh is considered discipline enough (though maybe not my best parenting, go figure).  Thankfully (even more, imo!) my son could come to me later so we could work it out! BTW, yes, I beat myself up over the confusion and fussing at him.

See, my son knew I was reasonable.  He could come to me and we could fix the problem.  And the discipline wasn’t harsh anyway though I apologized of course!  And the issue with my father was not an ongoing thing.  I remember it well since I felt I was wronged, but I didn’t live my life in such turmoil.  But *this child*?  There are several things the children expressed being similar.  They just couldn’t make “good choices” because no choice *was* good enough.  Now, we’re still working with them (8½ months after they last saw their parents…update: 25½ months…) to see that things are different here.  They will not be disciplined harshly; and regardless, we can always work to clarify things because I want it easy for them to not have to be anxious about the boundaries.

Struggling

I am struggling significantly (as is the rest of my family) with the loss of our Sweet Little M.  Many people cannot understand; but we feel as if we lost a daughter.  To make it worse, we fear for how she is doing and how she will do long term. Unfortunately, what information we’ve gotten has made it worse, not better. And so then there is the guilt that we couldn’t find a way to protect her from this.

I am so thankful for my online and IRL support.

I just wish the pain didn’t hurt SO badly and SO constantly.  For all of us.

I hope one day I stop crying so much.