Today was a full cup kind of day. Not the biblical connotation with the positive vibes of joyfulness spilling over. Nope. This was more of a catastrophic flooding kind of scenario. As in, your toilet is flooding all over my floor kind of plumbing disaster.
My youngest’ occupational therapist snagged this cup metaphor out of desperation and genius. She pointed out that our emotions are like water in a cup – too many big emotions and they start spilling over. Putting good things into the cup helps bring the level back down and calm our emotions. And it stuck – it made sense to him.
I took it further. I pointed out to my oldest, a pre-teen seething with a barely concealed rage all the time, that his cup was flooding into my cup and I just couldn’t handle it right at that moment because my cup was already full. On that particular day I sent him to his room until we could both calm down.
Today’s repeat overflow situations were triggered by lots of things. “I can’t do my math without your help!” “He’s LOOKING at me!” “I can’t write 2 more sentences!” “Her foot is on my seat!” “It’s not FAIR!” Gods, I hate that particular F word. It’s the bane of parents of multiples everywhere.
At each point, I followed a multi-step process:
- remove child from situation
- speak calmly and determine the issue
- prompt child to use their coping tools to calm their body down
- give hugs (skip this step for the pre-teen unless he initiates)
- work together to find a solution
- return to the situation
I felt like a frigging ping pong ball today. Still, I’m proud of my kids because they continue to identify their own needs, articulate them, and find solutions (sometimes with a lot of parent prompting.) For our neurodiverse family with hair triggers and impulse issues, that’s a major victory. It’s like they’ve been living with red light/green light all their lives and suddenly they understand the concept of a yellow caution light. It’s a minor victory, and I’ll take anything I can get!
It’s sad to me that school is still so much of a trigger for all of them. My youngest went into instant school rejection mode the minute I pulled out his math book. We worked through it – easily, once he calmed – but his knee-jerk response is still panic. Fear. Anxiety. My middle kiddo freaked out over a writing assignment that should have been so simple for her, but she got hung up in her own head and overthought it.
I want to fall into hysterical laughter every time someone tells me they’re not “cut out to homeschool” their kids, or that I must have oodles of patience. Ha! No, I don’t. My own cup has been consistently overflowing this week due to health issues. We’re all just muddling through it together.
Today, the academic lessons my kids practiced were far less important than the social/emotional ones. Like their spelling lists (what IS it with the spelling issues, seriously?) I’m sure we’ll be repeating these lessons again tomorrow. And that’s ok, because that’s how you learn.