It started this morning with the blood-curdling screams of our seven year old. I really hate waking up to that sound and it happens so often.
You see, he knows he will get our attention that way.
Not that we ignore him, but when we're asleep and his big brother won't let him out into the lounge room to watch TV in the morning, or will let him, but then won't let him actually breathe, the seven year old has learned to scream and rage to wake us up quickly to come and save him.
Today started with yelling, and sending Mr 13 to his room. Reassuring Mr 7 he was indeed allowed to sit and watch TV and breathe.
The next task was to talk to Mr 13 again. Yet again. Like all the other agains that have happened over the past nine years since hour long screaming-until-he-passed-out-from-exhaustion sessions morphed into stealing things, mostly food from shops and friends houses and our pantry, and lying about things, and bullying his brothers.
The talk varies but pretty always comes back to the big question. Why? Why does he torment his brothers. Why does he attempt to parent them even when we are in the room? Why does he bully? Why does he allow the tiny things, like breathing, irritate him so much he is compelled to shove a person half his age and size onto the floor?
He doesn't like his brother, he says. He steals because it makes him feel good, he says (the developmental paed we saw when he was eight said stealing is a self-soothing activity when his anxiety overwhelms him).
Lying, well, lying happens because he knows stealing and shoving his brothers is not okay.
I try to reason with him, but he says he doesn't care. He doesn't care about anything, He doesn't want to talk about what he wants out of life. He doesn't want to talk about how he feels. He shuts down.
He sits in defiance with his hand over his mouth, head perched on his knee on the floor in front on me. The room cools and he doesn't speak. Time passes and we both shift our weight to avoid pins and needles. I wrap myself in one of my other son's doonas to stave off the cold. He sits in defiance unwilling to speak or make eye contact.
I suggest how I think he might be feeling but I'm wrong, wrong, always wrong.
We sit in silence and time passes.
There is no clock in the room so I don't know how much time has passed, I just know that I can't get up and walk away because he needs to talk, he needs time to think through his feelings and he needs someone there to keep him on task so he doesn't distract himself with another activity.
Sitting doing nothing is killing me. I know that if it is killing me, it is killing him too, because we are very similar. We both fidget and bide our time.
A long time of silence passes.
He is afraid of being assessed by a psychiatrist because he knows he will come back 'positive' for ADHD. He believes if he doesn't try to control his impulses I won't take him to a psychiatrist because so far, as long as he has continued to be impulsive I have not had him assessed.
His theory is arse-about-face, but I have to admire that he has been observant enough to note that I have not acted during all these years of him following his impulses.
I tell him anti-social behaviour is a disorder. Anti-social behaviour is a disorder if it cannot be controlled and it is a disorder when the person can control it but chooses not to most of the time. I tell him that having a disorder is not a bad thing in and of itself, it is a sign that a person needs some assistance. Getting assistance is a good thing.
He looks at me as if I just suggested swallowing knives.
I tell him that the behaviour cannot continue. I tell him I am compelled to seek treatment for the behaviour if it does continue. I tell him I have been wrong to let it continue this long because it has given him the impression it is acceptable, even preferable.
He says it won't continue, that he can control it.
I want to believe him. I want him to be happy. I want my other children to be happy, too.
In the end we spent three and a half hours sitting in that room, mostly in silence, while he worked through the thoughts in his head. It was hard on both of us. We both had to sleep afterwards. I don't know if it made any difference, only time will tell.
Sometimes silence is more effective than pushing for answers.