It didn't turn out that way.
It wasn't J's fault. It was his Aspergers.
Day to day, we have to be careful to not let that become an excuse. We have to differentiate between the times when he can control his feelings, emotions and actions but chooses not to and the times when it is beyond his and our control.
This evening was one of those times. The two things that he can cope with least, happened in one big double-whammy.
Usual protocol for grading - turn up to location (albeit a different location to his usual karate lessons but we got over that hurdle about a year ago), take part in the grading lesson (where the most important aspect is doing your personal best in an environment of encouragement), shake hands with instructors and receive new belt. And this is how it went for D.
For J however, we hadn't realised that now he was on his yellow belt and in the 'intermediate' category that he was required to do a second lesson straight after to pass his grading and get his new belt.
As far as he was concerned he had fulfilled his part of the deal. He had turned up, on time, with the right attitude, taken part fully, done his absolute best and now the goalposts were being moved.
This was beyond his ability to cope. The combination of 'change' of plan to what he was expecting and the concept of 'unfairness' as he had already completed everything he had been required to do as far as he could understand just let to total meltdown.
He sobbed, he was totally inconsolable, he shouted, he raged.
We had to carry him out of there. Thankfully Daddy was there too - there was no way I could have done that alone whilst having D, baby T and all the karate bags there!
Initially I was cross. In that moment I so easily forget just how hard it is for him. I try to incentivise him with promised rewards, when that doesn't work I threaten punishments. I forget that in that 'mode' he is unreachable. None of these has any impact or effect.
Then I remembered. I remembered the time when I was around that age. When I had been looking forward to being milk monitor at school. The opportunity only came round about once a year, if that, and it was my turn. That day was my day. I was going to be the one who got to put the straws into those foil lids of those tiny bottles for all the children in the class.
Break time was approaching. My excitement was building. I had waited all year for this and then as I approached the crate, to my shock and utter dismay every single bottle had a straw poked through. Someone had done it already. Someone had stolen my job. It was my turn. How could they.
I sobbed uncontrollably for hours. They called my mum into school. I wouldn't tell anyone what was wrong. They debated about whether to call an ambulance as my sobbing was so intense and wouldn't stop.
That was what J experienced this evening. A change of plan that was unfair. Then I understood.
D was super - for a 7 year old he has such wisdom and understanding sometimes. We should have spent the evening celebrating his achievement, praising him for his accomplishment. But instead we kept everything low key because of J's disappointment.
So here is D's shout out. WELL DONE ON YOUR NEW BELT! We are so proud of you. When J is calmer, we will make a great big fuss of you and tell you how proud we are, but in the meantime thank you for being so understanding.
|Well done D!|