We decided to go to the grocery store at 12:30. “That’s 23 minutes, from now, OK?” I remind The Boy. A few minutes later, I get up to make the grocery list, and I hear the beginnings of a meltdown. I hear the frustration in his voice, and the elevated volume saying, “I can’t FIND it!” It turned out to be a sock, a very particular grey and blue sock, for which he could not find the mate. He had actually looked in the laundry basket of socks first, which is huge. Usually, he will visually scan a room and if it doesn’t jump up and say, “HERE I am!!” it is lost. Forever. Somebody took it. So we looked all over his room. We looked in the clean clothes basket. We looked in the basement. I told him it would turn up sooner or later, and sat down because it was obvious we would not be going to the store today. I was making a mental inventory of our groceries and trying to determine how not getting groceries today would affect our Monday… The Boy began to get very angry and started throwing things. After he tossed a blanket across the room (thankfully only a blanket), I walked over to him on the couch, and said “STOP IT.”
From here it could have gone two ways: I could have started shouting, making things worse, or I could have gone the other route to try to get him to calm down. Today (because I don’t always make the right choice), I made a split-second decision to get him to calm down. I got him down on the couch, and lay down on top of him, using my body weight to give him some sensory input. He was still yelling about not going to school tomorrow, me calling the police on him, him calling the police on me, and ended with, “Get off of me or I’m going to be bleeding!” But he was calmer. We sat up, and I pulled him into my lap. We talked about better ways to communicate his frustration, and I laid out the options for him: We could clean up his room together, and if we didn’t find it, I would buy him a new pair, or we could hope it turned up, and choose a different pair. He chose to clean up his room, and look in the basement again, which we did.
As we cleaned up his room, we threw every sock we found on his bed. When we were finished tidying up, I said, “OK, Now we’re going to play a game. We will each make as many sock matches as we can, and whoever has the most will get a candy bar when we go grocery shopping today.” We sorted socks, I taught him how to fold pairs together, and we each snatched socks from the pile. In the space of about 20 minutes, we had gone from potential meltdown to smiles and laughter as we played a game together. And he lost, and it was OK. He found a different pair of socks to wear (because we still didn’t find that darn sock that started all this), and it was OK.
If it had been 7am on a school day, when these types of things usually occur, I’m not sure I would have made the better choice. But I did today, and we are both better off for it.