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Thread: Explaining things to an eight year old

  1. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by rfbdorf
    It occurs to me that he might be upset with you because it's incomprehensible to him that you really cannot move around or feel things, as that's completely outside his personal experience. So you must be faking it; that angers him.
    Hey Richard I think you hit the nail on the head here. I was able to spend some one on one time with him last night. And although it was like pulling teeth, he finally opened up. Like you suggest, it's just incomprehensible to him . He understands what the chair is for. But he can't seem to grasp that I can't move. After two months of him not seeing me, I sense we are back to where we were six months ago when I first got well enough for him to visit regularly. He was saying things like "Why can't you just try to move?" I guess despite everybody's good intentions since my injury, there are some gaps in his logic and understanding that need serious addressing. Even though he has stopped yelling (to everybody's relief--he was on the verge of being banned from visiting), he's still very angry at me. Not just me to be sure, but I am his main target.

    I hate to say it, but I almost feel that maybe we all assumed he understood more than he actually did. Like I mentioned, my sister has taken him to some floor hockey and basketball games. So his conclusion was "those people in wheelchairs can use their hands, why can't you" And the basketball league is an open one so it has a number of able bodied players who play in borrowed chairs. So he wants to know why some of the players can just walk away after the game. His conclusion: maybe that means I would only need a wheelchair sometimes too. It's a catch 22. My sister was taking him to these games to help him meet people and become more comfortable with things. And I think it has been a very good thing for him and his six year old brother. But obviously we need to re-think how we are explaining things to him. It's not just these games. He's been picking up things all over the place. It's like there are some disconnects between what he does actually understand and what he thinks he understands. If that makes sense. He's a bright kid. I know that he understands more than it seems I am giving him credit for. But I need to re-think how to deal this.

    We are going out to the pet store tonight so we will see how that goes. The talk last night seem to make things marginally better. I am sure he will be okay. I am just still really stressed about it. It's like no matter what you do to try and make things better, it just creates more heartache for everybody involved.
    Last edited by orangejello; 10-17-2006 at 04:39 PM.

  2. #12
    Because you're clearly very intelligent, I think that you'll be able to work it out with him, but I suspect it will take a long, long time - if ever - before he really groks your new condition. You will also get "aren't you well yet?" from him.
    Like I said, I sometimes forget, and I'll, say, tickle the sole of my wfe's foot when I'm dressing her, expecting a reaction, and then I'm disapppointed when I realize that no, everything's just the same. And I have the maturity and capacity to know better, apart from having been with her much, much more than your nephew has been with you.
    I'm sure that somewhere, sometime, these things have been studied. But we all have to learn on our own.
    I'll be interested in hearing how the pet store visit goes.
    - Richard

  3. #13
    oops - double post!

  4. #14
    We did manage to get out to the pet store as planned. I am very glad we were able to because it was touch and go for a number of reasons. I would say it was a mixed results kind of outing.

    He was very excited to go and was very eager to help get things ready so we could leave the hospital. But it’s a fairly big effort to get things organized and ready for me to go out anywhere. Plus the weather was not great which was complicating things a bit. So his enthusiasm quickly turned to impatience and he started getting angry that we needed to do so many things before we left. Not quite a full blown tantrum, but close. I, or somebody else tried to explain to him what we were doing as we got ready but that seemed to be upsetting him more so I just left it. He was impressed with going out in the van but again the smallest things seemed to make him either very angry or very sad. I know I am making him out to be a little monster here. He’s not the misbehaving type. It was just his moods kept changing and I was never sure what to say in case it set him off. I did entrust him with my wallet and bank card code and had him write up a list of what we were going to buy. We had every single pet in our family, including fish, to buy for so that kept him semi-occupied. I must admit that it was funny to see how seriously he was taking his wallet guardian duties.

    I was a little hesitant about this trip because it is only the second time I have been out in a van and I am not all that comfortable with it. So I started getting stressed and that was affecting him. But my dad and the nurse that came with us were really good about things and kept my nerves under control. It was really good because my father has a tendency to hover over me and he didn’t this time. Anyways we got there and went inside and my nephew was really good about making sure that anything in my way was moved. I think it was making him feel important. And the isles were actually quite messy so he had his work cut out for him. We browsed the store and managed to fill up a whole cart. With what, I am not really sure lol. Then we went and played with the animals which really did wonders for both of our spirits I think. We got to put a very spirited and unbearably cute bull dog puppy on my lap tray and play with him. My dad showed my nephew how to hold my hands and to help me pet the puppy. He was very reluctant at first to touch me but eventually he did and he seemed okay with it. We played with a kitten the same way. Then we got to the birds and he was thrilled when the one of the store employees put a parrot on my shoulder. I was, as usual really stressed about the thought of going in public. But it was not as bad it seemed as my previous outings. They knew we were coming because one of my nurses knows the store manager. And maybe that made things a little easier for us all because we didn’t need to ask for anything, pretty much whatever we needed somebody was right there to help. Not a luxury I will have on most other forays into the world. And maybe cheating a bit, I don’t know. But we all had a very good time at the store. About the worst thing that happened in the store was he forgot my bank card code while we were in line and I had to tell him after he punched it in wrong twice lol.

    I had a bit of a health issue on the way back and that sent my nephew into a tizzy again. I was fine but he got very upset and it seemed all the positive energy evaporated just like that. And then we had to say good bye because he was leaving the next morning. He was a big ball of anxiety and the unanswerable questions started up again. Hoping to try and lighten things up I gave him a cheque and a list of small fun things I want him to buy for my new apartment. I told him I trusted him not to just take the money and run. That at least got a smile out of him. But saying goodbye was very hard. I am just hoping he is going to cope okay when he gets home. I should be home in six weeks so that is likely the next time I will see him. I guess we will just wait and see what happens with him in the meantime and how he copes when I do go home. I am glad he came, but what an emotionally up heaving four days.
    Last edited by orangejello; 10-18-2006 at 02:34 PM.

  5. #15
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    OJ, Sounds like all involved are on the right track. I dont see your nephew as a monster just a scared worried little boy with fear of the unknown just like the rest of 3 million people in the US. LOL

    I think you done the right thing by giving him very grown up duties to be in charge of. Kids really need to feel important and independent. I think this will eventually help with the fear he is having. It is important for him to learn that he can take your hand without fear of hurting you. Fear does really strange things to a persons body and mind.

    OJ I think it will just take time and this was a great big step in the right direction.....(((((((hugs))))))) I am glad that dad didnt hover as before either......
    T12-L2; Burst fracture L1: Incomplete walking with AFO's and cane since 1989

    My goal in life is to be as good of a person my dog already thinks I am. ~Author Unknown

  6. #16

    Thumbs up

    It all sounds to me like you had a very successful trip that was good for all involved - you, your dad & nephew, and even the staff at the store!
    - Richard

  7. #17
    It's odd how the healing after catastrophic damage involves so much more than just us.

    And as always, what's goin on inside a kid is so much more exposed. They don't articulate well, so you're guessing on that level. But they don't have the artifice or guile to deceive you about the fact that this is an upsetting situation and omg, how refreshing is that?

    I sure don't get the picture of a little monster child here. (I've known some, they irritate me.) I get the picture of a well-brought up, generally well-behaved child that's upset by a particular (and let's face it, damned upsetting) change in his family, and in someone he loves.

    I'm also seeing a family that is smart enough to tune in and understand that this child's response to this situation is important now, and in the future family dynamic. Don't see that everyday. A lot of families-like mine-will just get a babysitter, deal with the crisis at hand, and plan to get back to the kid situation later. We usually do it 12 or 20 years later when they're raging alcoholics or drug addicts LOL. I hope your family's approach is more successsful.

    Your ventures out are getting less and less traumatic. You're progressing well imo. Keep on plugging.

    PS-The pet store was a great idea. Nothing like the healing power of puppies! Having your nephew touch you may have explained a lot to him. You're still flesh and bone, still warm, and not just pretending that you can't move your hands.
    Last edited by betheny; 10-18-2006 at 02:50 PM.

  8. #18
    OJ,

    I don't check here for a few days and I miss a lot. I agree that it sounds like you're on the right track. An SCI is new to kids, and most adults, and they don't know what to expect. Keep reassuring him, try to be around him when you're home and answer questions, but give him time to sort those questions out.

    I have a cousin who is now almost 16, since I'm over 21 years post, she only knows the wheelchair me, as most people. In several ways it has helped that she has always known me this way. Now, even in her teen rebelion, she never hesitates to help when I need something, a drink, fed, etc.

    Give your nephew time and he will start to understand and be able to help further, the wallet was a great help.

    However, I would strongly caution against him touching you, at least for now. If I get touched/moved, it will almost instantly trigger a muscle spasm, or you move by yourself. With him seeing you moving your arms/legs, as far as he knows, it could be a big set back, especially if he caused it. I haven't heard you say anything about your spasms, so you probably have them well controlled, but it could cause some problems. You know my e-mail.
    C2/3 quad since February 20, 1985.

  9. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by betheny
    It's odd how the healing after catastrophic damage involves so much more than just us.

    I'm also seeing a family that is smart enough to tune in and understand that this child's response to this situation is important now, and in the future family dynamic. Don't see that everyday. A lot of families-like mine-will just get a babysitter, deal with the crisis at hand, and plan to get back to the kid situation later. We usually do it 12 or 20 years later when they're raging alcoholics or drug addicts LOL. I hope your family's approach is more successsful.

    Your ventures out are getting less and less traumatic. You're progressing well imo. Keep on plugging.
    Yes I agree betheny it is really wonderful and important that my family is making sure that my nephew isn't being left out or forgotten. I realize how lucky I am. Coming from such a big involved, family (five kids), it has helped "spread around," so to say, some of the stress and the work involved so it isn't falling all on the shoulders of my parents and my partner. It has also made things easier in trying to keep the kids involved, at least the older ones.

    But yeah, there is still so much healing to be done and it's so easy to forget that until something happens like what did on this visit. I am feeling a lot better about things now that it is over. It went very well. It seems the people who responded here were quicker to see this than me! We had a very nice time going out and he left on good terms. It was definately a learning experience.

    One thing I found out: he managed to acquire a full vocabulary of swear words while at cub scout camp this summer. It was very hard and painful dealing with him at times. But, I must admit, it was also impossible to keep from smiling sometimes when he started misusing swear words, especially when he tried to use them in combination. Even the staff here had to cover their mouths some times to keep from laughing. It's not funny and his parents have been trying very hard, and unsuccessfully, to reign it in.
    But it did provide a few moments of comic relief.

    Yes my outings are becoming less traumatic . At least physically since I am finally figuring out a system of dealing with things. It's still very hard emotionally, but that part is getting a bit easier too. Thanks for the vote of confidence. And also thanks to daisy and richard who always take the time to offer their thoughts on my outings.

    Quote Originally Posted by trainman
    However, I would strongly caution against him touching you, at least for now. If I get touched/moved, it will almost instantly trigger a muscle spasm, or you move by yourself. With him seeing you moving your arms/legs, as far as he knows, it could be a big set back, especially if he caused it. I haven't heard you say anything about your spasms, so you probably have them well controlled, but it could cause some problems.
    Hi trainman I know what you are saying here and I appreciate your concern and advice. I am having a very hard time with controlling my spasms. Some days are worse than others, but it doesn't seem to matter whether I am being moved or not. They still happen and can be very severe. My family typically does not touch me. Most of them are too afraid of hurting me, even though I told them they won't.

    When we were arranging the trip to the store, the concern over spasms almost quashed the plan to play with the animals. My nephew has seen me spasm and although it upset him, we did try to explain it to him. They usually don't last all that long for me, which is why my dad held my hands before letting my nephew. And neither of them held my hands for very long. It's a tough call right, because I didn't want him upset or confused. But I also thought it was very important that he be able to touch me because for most of his visit, he wouldn't come any closer than two feet. It was worth the risk in this case
    Last edited by orangejello; 10-19-2006 at 03:46 PM.

  10. #20
    Hey OJ, It occurs to me that your nephew may think that if SCI happened to you, it can happen to him (may even be "catching") and that may be one reason he is angry. You probably discussed that with him already, but I though I would add my 2 bits. Kids have goofy misconceptions until they are sorted out. When I told my 10 year old son about a gay couple we knew (being in love, yadda, yadda, yadda) and asked him if he had any questions, he paused and asked, "What do the babies look like?"

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