I love him. You know I do! But one of things that Ethan does that drives me out of my mind is say “No.” He says it often, fevervently, persistently in a way that is truly epic. He makes a typical two year old look postively positive. The other half of the problem, is that he even does it for things that he wants. Yes, you heard me right.
I recall reading Stanley Turkecki’s, The Difficult Child (hoping for some help) when Ethan was about 4. I looked at the checklist that helps you identify just ‘how difficult’ your child is (no, it was not encouraging). I remember thinking that the way the book was presenting negativity was just not as intense as what I was dealing with. His scale didn’t come close to gauging the amount of opposition exhibited by my then, teeny, tiny son. In a particulary bad incident during that time, he had been caught in a several hour loop of tantruming. As a last ditch attempt to ‘break’ through the cycle, I called my mother, his beloved companion, to come and offer him a trip to McDonalds. She kept offering, and he kept screaming ‘No!’ although walking to the threshold of his room, only to stop and scream it again. His propensity for being oppositional is pathalogical.
I knew, even at the time, that is was anxiety and his inability to modulate his sensory experiences mixed with something that we’ve never quite put our finger on. Poor E. Poor us.
So here’s how it goes. We find out about an activity, say tennis, that we need to register Ethan for. If we were to ask him if he would like to play, he most likey would answer – you got it – no. But we don’t ask anymore. We register and hope for the best. I might put in on the calendar, or tell him that tennis starts in a few days, but he will just say – no, he’s not going. He may continue to tell us that he is not participating in a given activty until it is time to leave. 95% of the time, just in the nick of time he says, “Ok, yes, let’s go!!!” and with that, the happy boy packs his stuff and off he goes to tennis. Same with the school dance and bowling.
Very rarely, he protests to the point that the activity has passed, come and gone, and then we deal with tears that he wanted to go all along. I have attempted to persuade him about going somewhere, only to have him decide, around bedtime, that he would like to go.
You might be thinking that you know just the way to fix this. If we would just tell him that he needs to decide and that is his final decision…..blah, blah, blah. Ethan has another really cool super-power – persistence. If only he would use it for good and not evil. He can badger you (which is a really nice way of describing the torture of his nagging) for hours on end. I promise he can outlast The World’s Most Patient Parent. By the way, that’s not me.
As I am writing this, Dennis stopped home en route to Rita’s Italian Ice and offered Ethan ice cream. He said no. Then he said yes.
He can make an easy task difficult and he can turn something that should be fun turn into an act of congress. Would I trade him for all the world? No.