Old picture of Sally The Cat during a hospital stay.
Several months ago our son had what we call an “episode.” Something was said or done or not done, he was in trouble and he exploded. These days these episodes are infrequent and usually short-lived (everything you want in an “episode” after having dealt with larger episodes in the past) I’m happy to say, but they are still intense and leave us reeling.
The headless cat sat for months on the pile of mending I needed to do but grief was palpable in our home last year and late last year I fell, breaking my dominant hand and there went any hope of sewing for a few months.
A little while ago I pulled out the sewing machine and spent the day getting a large pile of mending done. A hem let out, new pants hemmed for a growing boy (thanks to growth hormone!) and a cat’s head re-attached. I got a great start on the repair and called my son down. I said, “I didn’t mind getting this started but you need to finish this.” He did and he was happy it was done. He said he was sorry he did it and said he shouldn’t have, showing some regret.
Five or so years ago these episodes were three hours long. These days? They are about 15 minutes and not near as explosive and few and far between. Even thou
gh experiencing these episodes still leaves us feeling raw, we get some satisfaction knowing we’re coping better. Every so often we recognize something that could have set him off, but if we leave him alone for 10-15 minutes he can self calm and get back in check. Sometimes when he gets into an episodic rage he lashes out at us, sometimes himself and sometimes things. On that day, he grabbed his beloved childhood stuff animal Sally, off of a shelf and started to pull her apart. We usually will not intervene if he is damaging his own property, but will if it’s expensive, ours, or irreplaceable. My husband grabbed the cat because we knew that would be “damage of regret.”
We’re getting better at recognizing when they might occur so we can avoid one and coach him through it when they do occur. We manage and we manage better as he ages.
That’s the thing about these episodes of my son. We get through them and sometimes even with little to no damage but we always know the event happened. We all show the wear and tear. Like the ripped off head of a beloved childhood cat. Luckily, like a repaired stuffed animal, when we’re better, we show the experience as well and we learn. We all handle it better as time goes on. That’s the gift of time, patience and maturity. For all of us.
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