Saturday, March 28, 2009

Observing the observer / Velcro Man

On some mornings Nikko is pretty good about eating his bananas, but this morning he didn't show any interest in it. I had to fork-feed him a few, but even then he refused (unless I enticed him with his Ovaltine). By lunchtime he was hungry and gobbled up all the dino nuggets on his plate. After lunch I took the kids into the basement to run off steam before naptime. I've been surveying the basement to see what toys I can change up or if I should lay out things differently. I took down some Thomas tracks and a new Percy train. What a mistake! Although the boys waited somewhat patiently and curiously for me to break it out of the box, they both wanted Percy and were fighting for it. Ronin would get it and would start screaming and running away from Nikko who pursued him. Ronin would careen right into my lap still screaming. I tried to be diplomatic but I couldn't convince Nikko to take turns with Ronin, or that the Thomas train was better than Percy anyway. It definitely forced me later on to look up some articles on autistic children and their siblings. Audrey was also wailing around this time, so I felt like the entire mood was spoiled and I roared to everyone that we were going upstairs NOW. Nikko could tell how mad I was and he scurried ahead up the stairs. Ronin was holding Percy and screaming for the heck of it, but followed me up the stairs regardless. Nikko was watching me as I ranted to them about not knowing how to share and being so loud and crying over nothing, watched me throw cars back into their bins and throw blocks back into containers. I stopped myself after a minute because this is exactly the type of behavior Ronin probably copies. Also, I could see that Nikko was really watching my actions and could tell from my mood that I was angry. He looked kind of worried, so I had to take things down a few notches. It was Ronin's naptime anyway so that helped me put one bezerk child to sleep.

Later in the evening we went to the in-laws for dinner. Nikko was Velcro Man when we first got there, but once I had the nuggets on the table he was surprisingly compliant and not surprisingly hungry. A handful of grapes kept him in his chair, too. After dinner he came to me and tried to lift his shirt as if he wanted to take it off but didn' t know how. I helped him take the sleeves off and he assisted me in yanking it over his head. Then he was let loose to run around. Nikko seemed happy running around the living room and crashing to the carpeted floor. I was watching him from a corner and felt kind of sad that he was in his own little world for a bit. Ronin and Rex were running nearby and sometimes Nikko would weave between them, almost clipping them. He'd do his little swagger and sashay as he'd round a chair, again in his own world. But just as I'd think he was totally gone, he'd come running up to me where I sat and look at me straight in the face, smiling. I'd pet his head and he'd lean in affectionately before taking off again. When we got home, Denis put Ronin to bed this time and I sat with Nikko for just a little bit. I didn't lay down and sleep with him, just kneeled at the side of his bed while he lay tummy down and he listened to me sing the Good Night song from the Good Night Show on the Sprout channel. His head was in his burp cloth, but he'd turn and look at me from the corner of his eye. I saw him smile sometimes, too. He raised his head twice when I was giving him good night kisses and leaned in so that I could kiss him. It's so sweet because he looks me straight in the eye with no fear or embarassment and leans forward to kiss me... but he doesn't purse his lips, he just leans in. Sometimes I kiss his lips, sometimes I kiss his cheek, but it's very sweet just the same. He didn't protest when I left the room, so hopefully he was easing himself into a nice sleep.

I think Nikko might be displaying awareness of my feelings. He watched me getting angry in the basement and I could see him getting upset with that. He has tried to scale the toy parking garage in the living room and he hears me call a stop to it, pauses, and then stops climbing (unlike Ronin, who proceeds to climb after I've told him to stop). Reading joy on my face is the easy part, but when I'm sad, or angry, I think Nikko is aware of it. Unfortunately, he can also tell when I'm anxious and I think that's when he turns into Velcro Man on me. I think he senses that I am going to leave for somewhere and then attaches himself to my leg. When he is Velcro Man, I get very frustrated and flustered. I don't want to yell at him, or squash his hopes, or pick him up if I'm in the middle of something, or ignore him either. He doesn't understand me when I rationalize with him, so sometimes I just keep on going and he gets upset. Kneeling down and giving him comforting hugs doesn't quite cut it. But sometimes he just up and runs away in the middle of a tirade. I haven't figured it out yet.

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