On Wednesday, Ryan and I met with a therapist regarding Porter's behaviors/misbehaviors/tantrums/not listening. I can't even verbalize how silly I feel seeing a THERAPIST because my kid doesn't "listen". I can only put it this way.... I've nannied, taught, taken care of kids for the past 17 years (since I was 11!) and I have NEVER dealt with a child that has stumped me as much as he does. Yes, I know that because he is MY kid it is different. Yes, it is. But, we have tried everything to achieve compliance/respect/obedience.... taking away privileges, spanking, time outs, talking/discussing, etc etc... you name it, we've tried it (short of exorcism HAHA!).
When I first spoke with Dot back in February I knew right away she was a good fit for our family. She understood exactly where I was coming from just from a 10 minute phone conversation. She told me "Hang in there, it's not going to be as hard as you think. We'll make things better."
And she has. In just one session I walked away feeling 500lbs have been pulled off my shoulders.
When we first met with her, conversation was easy and we talked about our home life (how Ryan is able to relax/de-stress and me... not so). About how I refuse to admit I suffered a bit of PPD after having Hudson, although Ryan urged me many times to see the doctor. We talked about The Summer of 2008. The move, the new baby, the move again, the working long hours, the new job, the loss of Cathy.... all the change.
Dot stopped writing. And she said point blank to us..... "This little boy has been through a lot of loss. *I* feel stressed out for him." She said he sounds like a very tenderhearted boy who takes things to heart, who clings onto things and thing that we don't seem to think would be sentimental are. Like Samson, the dog who died when Porter was 18 months old. Or the cars we have traded in on new cars that Porter tells us he misses all the time, and how he has this cling-on obsession with my mom and then she has moved away as well.
And I almost cried because I just thought he'd get over it and move on.
We talked about parenting methods and how to address his feelings and how to recognize them without giving in. And how to give him choices (much like Love and Logic.... love the theory but have a hard time implementing it ALL the time).
She agreed with us that he does exhibit a lot of "Terrible Two" behaviors and she thinks its a delayed stage that he is reverting back to to deal with some of the loss he's had. She explained it this way... adults can sometimes just push through their losses but it usually ends up coming out at some point or another but not necessarily in a reaction to the initial loss. Someone might lose their job... they trudge through... move on and hunt and hunt and hunt for a new job. They never "deal" with the grief/sadness of losing the job. And then down the road tiny losses occur and say, their car breaks down and they melt down and react to the car breaking down in a way that is equivalent to losing a loved one. Its kind of a delayed/built up reaction. And this is what a lot of his tantrums are stemmed from.
For the first time in at least a year or two... I felt like I had such a positive outlook on parenting. I couldn't wait to get home and read the book she let us borrow. I couldn't wait to try implementing some of her techniques.
I know that the hardest part will probably be the changing of us... of Ryan and I and our parenting styles that we have taken from our childhood. It will be a lot of work but I know it will be worth it. I have already seen so many changes in the way Porter reacts to us just by giving him choices (and consciously making sure we're evaluating how we react to him), and by addressing his feelings when he's upset/mad etc.
I am so excited for the next few weeks. I can't wait to be able to answer someone when the ask me "How are the kids" and I can honestly reply "They're great... they're the light of my life."