I have been feeling tired for the past few days, so tired I can hardly hold my eyes open once afternoon rolls around. Worried that my blood counts may be off again, I went today to have a CBC (complete blood count). It was normal, even more normal than it was last time I was checked. My white blood count is 6.8 or 6,800 with the normal range falling between 4.0 (4,000) and 10.0 (10,000). So I am well. I told the nurse there must be some other reason for my extreme fatigue. She guessed that maybe I am pushing myself too hard. Maybe she’s right. Maybe it’s the double, sometimes triple workouts I’ve been doing each day. It’s not that I’m obsessed. I just have been feeling so strong lately that my usual workouts (walking 2.5 miles per day) seem like warm-ups. So I keep going. Or I walk again later in the day. And then I walk again on some days. I consider this my comeback, a return from illness and weakness. I’m alive. And I’m celebrating. But now maybe my body is telling me to slow down, to halt the celebration a bit. Or maybe it’s something entirely different that is making me so tired. Maybe it’s Joey.
Joey is the love of my life. And he is the one person who challenges me and tests me and zaps my mental reserves. He has always been a “spirited” child, a child with more of everything, more energy, more enthusiasm, more defiance, more tantrums, more outbursts, more whining (and more love and sweetness and kindness too). John and I have spent 4 years trying to determine how to best channel Joey’s energy, redirect his inappropriate behavior, and praise what he does well. We seem to always fall short. We’ve relied mostly on time-out and removal of privileges. Both work for short periods of time but there’s no long-term learning. So we’re trying something new. I am a bit uncertain about this approach but it’s apparently researched and seems to works with kids with severe to mild behavioral issues. My therapist armed me with packets of information on this technique. The basic philosophy is that behavior that is rewarded will be repeated and behavior that is ignored will eventually fade away. So when Joey shares with Danny or listens to what we say, we will reward him verbally and perhaps with a small token or favorite activity. When he whines and kicks and screams, we will not respond. We won’t make eye contact and we will focus our attention on something entirely different. We won’t ignore harmful or destructive behavior, but his annoying, bothersome behaviors will not receive attention. Research shows that we will see an increase in this poor behavior at first and then will see it decrease. Sounds simple enough. It always seems easy on paper. Then the moment arrives, we choke, and we fall back into our old routines.
Tonight we were out to dinner and Joey asked for candy once he had finished eating. Since he just had two cavities filled today, we said “no.” We should have told Joey “no” and then not said anything more. Move on. Talk about something else. I had already read about how to do this. But Joey kept asking and we kept saying “no.” We kept justifying our answer and telling him why he could not have candy. He persisted and we responded. We paid too much attention to his negative behavior. We need to do better. We need more practice.
Maybe tomorrow will be better. When I’m not so tired.