So as with any child who has planned on doing one thing and then has been told that one thing was not going to happen, you (me, we) have to pick up the pieces and move on with the day. Liam is sensitive to change and often inconsolably in flexible to change. It may take several hours or an entire day to rework the schedule and make it bearable for all those involved. Today was no exception or maybe it was since it only took me a couple of hours to pull him around into something I could work with to finish out the day on a positive note. I never want him to go to bed unhappy though I can’t always be certain if he is or isn’t. I want him to have fun.
Our plans changed, so be it. Kid, it is going to happen. I was honest; I was empathetic; I was firm but loving. He cried harder. I offered possible play scenarios and then ultimately gave him time to stop rejecting them all. Thankfully he decided he wanted to go back outdoors. Such a beautiful day and we had been stuck indoors, reduced to tears on the couch begging for plans I could not offer. Finally he agreed. He agreed it was a good idea to play outside. That’s a start I thought! Play he did. He invented his own game, very involved, using lots of sensory fun! So the following is how the madness began. A good kind of madness!
What did he do? He decided the sandbox needed water, lots of water, and that he needed to get bottles full of water and make rivers. In and out of the house, he slowly, steadily walked carrying jugs of water that he carefully filled himself at the kitchen sink. First he brought his chair over, climbed up and turned the water on and filled the pitcher until it reached just halfway (where I showed him it would be a good place to stop). He learned quickly that when he would put too much in it would spill if he did not walk slow enough. I could hear him chatter to himself about being careful and slow and needing more and more water for rivers. I tried to stand back and let him do all the work and decision-making for himself. The path from the sink to the door got muddy, sand started to make its way in on the bucket and then into the sink and onto the counters, but I let him keep going. 20 maybe 30 trips back and forth until he was satisfied with his work and the wetness of the sand. The weight of the water, the up and down, the filling and dumping, the slow careful movements all helped him to relieve the pressure he had built up inside. Even more remarkable was that he chose the activity he needed.
From there, he learned about mud pies. I made my own. He made his own. No help needed mom. He set about creating them, pretending to taste them, sharing them and oh of course dumping them. He had turned over the last mud pie and with the container flipped over, he realized he had a perfect drum and started banging a beat with his shovel and created a song about eating mud pies and how they taste. The drumming was loud and rhythmic and he repeated his lyrics over an over. Liam was now in pretty good spirits after what started out as a scattered, scary afternoon for the both of us. Liam can not be lead; he must lead. This happens very rarely that he choses a path to walk down and sticks with it, but I am happy to follow a few steps behind and see where it leads.