All kids have bad days. All people have bad days. But when Alex has a bad day, it goes beyond what most people would probably imagine, because he tends to save these episodes for me. It’s always fun, though, when Alex chooses to display his tantrums in public, and even more fun when it occurs in front of people we know (like this evening, when he threw himself on the floor, screaming, in front of not one, but all three pastors at our church).
And today, of all days, I chose to work on my arms at the gym. So there I was, already sore, and trying to convince my stubborn kiddo (who is very strong, I might add) to put on his coat and his shoes so we could go home. Easy request, right? I wasn’t asking him to do anything difficult. But wow, did that set him off. I still don’t know exactly why he got so upset. He is probably very tired, having not slept well last night, and he didn’t eat much dinner so he could have been hungry. It was also the first night of a new Wednesday evening schedule, so that could have also played into the situation.
It’s like having an inconsolable infant; you know something is wrong, and you can narrow it down to a few things that may be causing the tantrum, and then all you can do is try to go down the list to find a solution. Only in this case, it’s much more frustrating because he is capable of telling me what he wants or needs, but for some unknown reason, this time he doesn’t. He is very verbal; he makes demands all the time. He sings songs and tells jokes, and has a terrific imagination. He has the ability to “use his words” (I can’t tell you how many times a day I use that phrase), but in this scenario, he just doesn’t. Instead, he cries and screams, and I’m left to determine why.
To add insult to injury, when I share these situations with those who are supposed to be helping us, I get the ever-predictable response of placing the blame on his Down syndrome. I’m not buying it anymore. Yes, his Down syndrome makes communication more difficult for him, but why does he have that hairline trigger that sets him off the way it does? Why, after throwing a 20 minute tantrum, can he revert back to his cheerful, funny disposition, like nothing ever happened? Something else is going on; his Down syndrome might contribute to it, but there is something else.
Now, to just figure out what that is, and how to handle it. Exhausting.