I know. It's not a very nice title for a blog entry. It's not a very nice title for a person. But it's how I've begun to think of Casey lately. Did I mention that he has been having trouble sleeping? He has. He lays awake for long periods of time, tossing and turning and struggling to fall asleep. I wonder what is going through that little head of his. It's obvious to me and to Jason that he has very complicated emotions, and because he is speech and language delayed he struggles to express his feelings. And that's a generous description.
Last night Casey came to me while I was working on a paper and told me, "Mommy, I want swimming." What he means when he says this at night is not that he really wants to go swimming, but instead that he wants to take a bath. I don't understand why he doesn't just ask for a bath-- he asks for a shower. But nonetheless this is the metaphor he uses. So I say to him, "Go tell Dadddy, 'Daddy, I want to take a bath please.'" I heard Casey pad down the hall and say to Jason, "Daddy, I want bath." And I heard Jason tell him he could take a bath instead of a shower, and that he could finish watching his Thomas (the Tank Engine) show first.
The next thing I heard was Jason: "WHY DID YOU DO THAT?" Uh oh. That's never a good question. Particularly to a child who probably doesn't even understand why he did whatever he did-- I really think he just can't help whatever it is sometimes. I race down the hallway to catch Jason pulling the cushions off the couch and saying to Casey, "We don't pee on the couch. We pee in the potty. Big boys pee in the potty." Casey started to wail, and I escorted him first to the bathroom and then to the bedroom.
Last night was the second night in a row that Casey urinated in places where he shouldn't (and yesterday was the third day in a row he pooped in his overnight diaper before letting me know he was awake). The night before he apparently dropped his pants and just peed right on the family room carpet (which, thankfully, is an area rug). Just this week my mom mused how surprised she was Casey wasn't acting out more-- when I came home from the hospital, my older brother (also three years older than me, just like Casey is three years older than Marcie) took a permanent marker to the wall. I think she jinxed us. (Not really, but you know what I mean.) I don't know which is easier to get rid of-- permanent marker on a white wall or urine all over a leather sofa. I'm hoping not to find out. . .
You see, Casey's language skills make it difficult (at best) to get a complete story. For instance, earlier this week Casey was trying to tell us something that happened at school with Jacob. We know there was pushing. We know there was crying. But we couldn't tell who pushed whom. And when we ask Casey questions, he just repeats what we've said (it's no wonder to me that children in molestation cases can be so easily manipulated by interrogators investigating allegations). Or yesterday. When I went to pick up Casey from preschool, he had a huge lump on his head between his eyes. I asked if he fell down. He said, "fell down." Then he pointed to the concrete. But then to the bar/railing that lines the ramp. He hadn't cried, so his teacher didn't know what had happened. Though I suspect he head-butted a kid in his class because later Casey told me "push" and "Nir" (the name of another little boy). Then when a friend stopped by last evening for a brief visit to meet Marcie with her 3 year old Ben, Casey head-butted him. I was quite embarrassed. I know it was Casey's doing because Ben cried and Casey did not. Anyway, my point is that I can't figure out what Casey did or didn't do, what he needs or doesn't need, or what he wants (though he is awfully clear about what he does NOT want) a lot of the time. He just doesn't put words together. . . and this is very frustrating as a parent.
Is he peeing in odd places because negative attention is better than no attention (this is what Super Nanny Jo Frost suggests may be the culprit in her book, which I LOVE)? And if so, what is the appropriate reaction? Calmly removing him and putting him in his room for the evening? Yelling? Time out/punishment? It seems that if we spend time with him talking about what he did and why that he is getting the attention he craves, and that might encourage him to do other things (like draw with permanent marker on the wall!). But I don't think ignoring it is appropriate either. When Casey plays rough with Marcie or gets in her face and yells at her, it's an automatic time-out-- no warnings, no negotiation. Just not acceptable. It doesn't keep him from pushing her, though, so even that doesn't seem to be helping him with the transition. And it's not that he doesn't get any one-on-one time with either of us, because he does. In the mornings I spend time with Casey helping him brush his teeth, comb his hair, and get dressed. And in the evenings Jason spends probably 30 minutes reading him bedtime stories.
I wish he could talk about how he was feeling. I wonder if he'd get frustrated less easily. If he would rage less frequently. I wonder if he'd feel more comfortable about his place in the world if he could just express himself. I wonder how he processes concepts and ideas if not with words. It's all so foreign to me. . .