Frustration Destruction

Sunday evening I went into Jacob’s room and saw this:

This is a television cabinet that Jacob’s granddaddy built. It holds a small TV and is typically where a VCR is connected so Jacob can watch videos from this TV and have his large wall television for regular programming.

I was beyond upset with him. (It had not been two weeks since Mike had moved this cabinet from a corner angle to flush against the wall because Jacob had repeatedly pushed this set-up out the back where it would dangle until we discovered his mischief.)

I calmly walked away and told Mike that Jacob had once again tried to destroy something.

My mind began thinking through the constant frustration of him tearing up things. To add to that scenario, and make it all the more baffling, they are things that appear to be of value to him.

His MP3 player. He will listen to it all day long. But, in a 2-3-month period, he can manage to ‘kill’ one.

His keyboard. Music brings him so much pleasure but he will ‘hammer’ away until there is nothing left. The same goes for the stand. He wants it on a stand but he will also tear the stand into pieces. At the moment, he doesn’t have one in his room because of the damage he constantly inflicts.

I let myself stew because it seems nothing lasts long when Jacob is nearby. And there are a limited number of things that he truly enjoys. Why continue on that path of eliminating those?

Mike went to work repairing and restoring the current problem. I watched him go back and forth with different tools, tape, wire, etc. for several minutes. Upon completion, he told me that a video tape was stuck in the VCR player and he figured Jacob was frustrated. BINGO!

Frustration Destructionthe art of letting frustrations cause destructive behavior

Jacob Pigford

All of a sudden, it made sense, he gets physical when he is frustrated. Sometimes he comes to get us but sometimes he takes matters into his own hands. His own strong hands, I might add. Obviously.

Have you ever been frustrated with something and maybe just given it a swift kick? Like the washing machine or a flat tire? Me either, but I’ve seen it in movies or heard about it in a song! I think that is what’s happening with Jacob. In his trying to make something perform how he wants; he makes it worse in the process.

True story: My grandmother, on my mom’s side of the family, once broke her toe by administering a swift kick to the dog. Yes. She. Did. He was crushing her flower bed of zinnias and she was intent on teaching him a lesson. Her zinnias were happy but her toe was worse than it was before!

Oh, how I needed a different perspective. The fact that Jacob has limited ways to express his frustration pretty much eliminated mine.

Destruction Frustrationthe art of letting destruction cause a rise in blood pressure and extreme frustration

Terri Pigford

Will I get frustrated again? Absolutely, without a doubt. But hopefully, next time I’ll give him and myself some grace to make the best of the situation.

Take a deep breath. It’s going to be okay!

Isolation

It’s a word we’ve heard a lot lately. So many people experiencing it in a magnified way during this pandemic. A widower friend was in our home a few weeks ago and commented that there are days, DAYS, he doesn’t even use his voice. It was an interesting thought. And I could see how with the world of texting and emails. I quickly told him to call us rather than talk to himself! And, vice versa, I need to be mindful to call him.

To be in a home with others probably can’t be defined as isolating. But it can be lonely. You know you can be shoulder to shoulder in a room full of people and feel alone because, for a variety of reasons, you haven’t connected with them.

A special needs family can feel isolated in many ways. Socially, physically, mentally, emotionally, etc. Somehow, often it’ll feel like you just aren’t part of a group. Or maybe you think the ‘group’ you are in can’t understand your daily, so there isn’t a connection.

For us, it seems that spur of the moment fun is rare. Spontaneity seems foreign. It isn’t unusual to have a plan that will have to change at the last minute. Having to always think through plans, have a Plan B, and explore options can be exhausting.

So many times, we (Mike and I) have taken turns when it comes to different experiences. Jacob can’t be left alone. Thankfully, when it came to most major life events, we’ve been able to line up a sitter. But not always for a simple meeting, a date night, or a weekend away. One of the hardest was when we couldn’t both travel to see our newborn granddaughter, 1200 miles away.

More recently, we had tickets to a play and were to meet three couples at a restaurant prior to the community theatre performance. At the last minute, everything fell apart when the sitter canceled. Mike pushed me to go while he stayed with Jacob. Friends were each calling offering to pick me up. Finally, I gave in and went. The three men who did attend made a point to let him know, the play wasn’t that great anyway! Those friends bent over backward to ease our frustration.

Don’t get me wrong. Family and friends have always, ALWAYS, said, ‘bring Jacob’. Whether we were invited to their homes for a special holiday or a cookout. But it isn’t that easy. Yes, we could take his wheelchair and he remains seated in it while we could try to visit. It’s truly the only way he can go because otherwise, he is worse than a toddler getting into everything. All in the name of exploring. And while he is doing that, we sure aren’t chatting but instead are trying to restore a home to the order it was in before our arrival.

I’m not trying to play the pity card. I am saying that I have felt isolated. When our friend said, ‘tell me about isolation’ he wasn’t being rude or playing his own pity card. He was just stating a fact that made me think. We have fared well during this unusual isolation because we’ve had practice.

We are hearing of how damaging social isolation is at the moment. It can and is taking a toll on people’s lives. And there are hard risks associated with it: loneliness, depression, poor sleep habits, and adverse health effects to name a few. It’s quite bothersome what feeling alone can do in the long term.

Everyone who is isolated now because of Covid will make a choice each day. If you are miserable, you can choose to wallow in your misery. But please don’t wallow long. It will not help. You will become more depressed, more sluggish, angrier at your circumstances. OR, you can choose to be thankful for another day. You can call a friend (so they can use their voice), you can surprise a neighbor, you can crank up the music and dance like no one is watching, you can tackle a project with your name on it. Do something. And, in doing so, you’ll feel better and those around you will, too.

Isolation is tough, but you are tougher. Plus, even when it feels like it, you aren’t alone. My God, the Creator of the Universe, knows your name and cares about you.

Let that sink in.

Morning Moods

Our routines have really changed in the last year. It’ll be interesting when Jacob is able to return to his Day Program, what our mornings will be like then. Instead of a 7:30 arrival, it may have to be postponed a couple of hours.

Mike works hard to stay in bed until 5 o’clock in the morning. I know, right? Forty-five minutes later and he has overslept! When he gets up, he usually checks in on Jacob and makes sure to cover him up to keep him cozy. Sweet rascal won’t keep cover on for long but loves to be wrapped in a quilt.

On the other hand, getting up at five is considered torture for me! A slow-motion morning is really nice. Sometimes Jacob is up earlier than I’d like. But most of the time, he’ll sleep a little or a lot later.

You know the saying, ‘they got up on the wrong side of the bed’? There are days that Jacob is just Grumpy Pants from the get-go. It’s like everything is wrong although I don’t have a clue what ‘everything’ is. He doesn’t want to be up, doesn’t want to lie down, doesn’t want me in his room, doesn’t want me to leave, doesn’t want anything to drink, doesn’t want me to put the cup away. CANNOT be pleased. We should all be allowed to wear our grumpy pants from time to time, though, don’t you think? It’s okay to have an ’off’ day. I know I do. Just ask my Mr. Man.

When he has slept in, I never know what I’m going to get when I wake him up. My friend said, ‘don’t poke the bear, right?’ Right!

A couple of mornings ago I went in to wake him. I tiptoed in the room and he was awake enough that he wanted the quilt thrown back over him. I obliged and he curled up. He closed his eyes tightly – obviously pretending to be asleep. ‘If I’m asleep, she won’t have the heart to make me get out of this warm bed.’ I watched him and he’d start to peek but would squint his eyes again so I’d be fooled into thinking he was in a deep slumber.

It was the best kind of sweet slow-motion. I didn’t insist he get up but slipped out of the room knowing he’d probably follow soon. It wasn’t long before he did. Happily, to find a stack of pancakes.

Those mornings are such a gift. Doesn’t a pleasant start to the day just make the whole day go better? Yes, me, too.

No matter the day before, whether horrendous or glorious, each morning brings a fresh start, a new beginning.

God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness!

Lamentations 3:22-23 The Message

That is something to be thankful for!

She Believed

There’s a quote I like a lot:

She believed she could, so she did.

R.S. Grey

It says, to me, that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. That seems like a great approach to life.

Both of my parents are off-the-charts creative. My sister gave my dad a huge compliment way back. She said, “Daddy, if they’d had gifted classes when you were in school, you would have been in one.” He could sell anything, fix anything, build anything. My mom, absolutely, equally as gifted. She is a natural-born teacher. I remember her teaching me to sew when I was in high school. All the while, I griped and fussed and said I’d marry a rich man and never sew a day in my life. Guess what? That didn’t happen and sewing is good therapy for me, to this day. She is still teaching me in all areas of life without even trying.

I could not help but follow in their footsteps. I was raised with a you-can-do-this attitude. Between the genes my parent passed on to me and the example they set of ‘just do it’, a great deal of satisfaction comes with the process of discovering whether or not I can succeed.

I am constantly trying new things and exploring new hobbies. That’s the ‘she believed she could’ mentality. Some quickly fall by the wayside and others bring me a great amount of pleasure. I enjoy a challenge, experimenting, and learning something new. While still realizing, I am far from talented in more ways than I can count.

With that, sometimes I discover I am really crummy at something. Realize it will never be my ‘thing’ and move on. Every once in a while, confidence follows. Self-confidence is great. Self-doubt is not.

Believing you can handle everything that comes your way, though, is a formula for failure. If you haven’t already figured that out, you will. We aren’t meant to carry it all alone. Yes, we are given skills to manage many, many things. But it isn’t our job to fix everything.

Somehow in parenting, creativity and an I-can-do-anything attitude, doesn’t get you very far, does it? They can just yank the rug out from under you and send you reeling before you know what happened. Even now, being a mom for 41 years, I still feel like I don’t know what I’m doing some days. I know for sure I don’t always feel confident.

This is what I do know, deep in my heart, ‘she realized she couldn’t so God did’.

I have come to understand that the only way I can stay on the Jacob train day in and day out, is with God as the conductor.

I cannot possibly be the mom he needs on my own.

She believed she could, with God’s help.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13