Veterans of the ER We Are
Long Night Together

A Lesson in Parenting

Prelude to a ride of talking, singing, chanting, praising, laughing


Charlie wasn't feeling his best when he got to school on Tuesday. He had woken at 5am, we had walked, he had fallen asleep in the brown chair and woken up just as the bus arrived so he wasn't really awake when he boarded. And what with the 5 staples and all the to-do on Monday, he had to have lag.

At APE -- it had had happened the previous week -- he tried to pull down a post holding up a volleyball net. Got very upset, calmed, ran and hit his head on a column in his school.

His teacher called and I thought of him pulling down all of our bookshelves in spring break of 2011 and, more recently, hitting his head on tree trunks.

The goal of the afternoon was working towards and, hopefully!, maintaining the peaceful easy-feeling. Charlie was eager for a bike ride and had a great time with Jim, singing and talking as they rode. We went to get a few groceries at the one store Charlie can handle. We came home on a happy note and then -- this has a way of happening -- he got distressed.

We'd been quiet and avoiding talking about anything stressful. I was trying to set up a new modem for Jim and was getting the 'not detecting any wireless device' message and kept trying and then sternly told myself, hearing a little cry from Charlie, stop. He can sense when we're more obsessive about anything, technology and computers especially -- he most notice the difference in our focus, body posture, inattentiveness to him, OCD-strained energy.

After a bit, he came downstairs, turned on the Arcade Fire 'Suburbs' album and wanted a walk. He was not peaceful-easy. I was in favor of waiting, Jim thought we could go.

We all went. For years, I've been avoiding talking too much around him when he's upset, as anything I say seems to be astimulus for him getting irked and annoyed - maybe it's just the sound of my voice! I tried, in a moderated way (with a reminder from Jim) to offer simple affirmative enthusiastic praise to Charlie, the sort Jim is good at delivering in a non-forced sounding way. (It's not a science but an art.)  A third of the way into the walk, I could see Charlie's shoulders no longer tensing and, while making growly sounds and running, he was not on the road to agitation. Charlie was indeed a lot more at ease when we got home as rain was starting to fall. 

It was a good lesson for how we can change what we do for the better for Charlie. Certainly we have asked him to change so much over the years.




The boys in the video for the Suburbs are about his age, and full of tense shoulders and peaceful-easy, among other things. It's difficult to be a teenager.

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