I’ve been noticing a behavioral change in Gavin and I feel comfortable saying that it began during COVID lockdown. I’ve stated that Gavin’s been doing really well and that’s absolutely the case. What I’m writing about today is more annoying, disruptive, and a bit curious than anything else.
Here’s what’s happening.
Gavin startles very easily and I mean very easily. That’s not a problem in and of itself. The issue is that when he’s startled, he now screams at the top of his lungs, and sometimes falls out of his seat or throws whatever is in his hands into the air.
This happens across the board. He doesn’t watch things that are even remotely scary. Tonight, Emmett was playing the Xbox and he was looking around a room. When he turned his character around, there was someone standing there that hadn’t been there before.
This new character wasn’t a bad guy or anything like that. It was just a person who wasn’t there previously. That’s it. Gavin was simply watching Emmett play the game and wasn’t playing it himself.
Gavin jumped out of his seat and screamed at the top of his lungs. It’s very dramatic and theatrical. It gives the impression that it’s a reaction designed to get attention.
I’m not saying he’s faking the reaction. I’m just saying it’s so over the top that it screams (pardon the pun) drama.
I’ve been aware of this behavior in recent months and it drives me nuts. Tonight it ended up triggering a conversation that I ultimately brought Lizze in on because we’re a team and I didn’t know what to do.
After a solid thirty minutes of talking with Gavin and getting nowhere but frustrated, something occurred to me.
I suspect that Gavin is so stressed out and anxious about all the COVID things that he’s chewing through the limited resources he has to navigate everyday life.
I tried relating the spoon theory that people with fibromyalgia use to explain how chronic pain impacts their life. Gavin wasn’t picking up on the analogy but was instead getting frustrated.
Partially out of frustration and partially out a desire to defuse the situation, I changed the word spoons to shits.
I explained that when he wakes up in the morning, he normally has ten shits to give throughout the day. He spends his shits when necessary to help him cope with everyday life or stressful situations. Ten shits is usually enough shits to help him navigate his day at home and he does remarkably well.
When he has a bad day or maybe didn’t sleep well the night before, he might start the day with eight shits instead of ten. That means that he’s beginning the day at a deficit and with only eight shits to give, navigating his daily life becomes more challenging because he’s lacking the resources he needs to cope with everything. He has two less shits to give and so there may be things he struggles with that day.
Since COVID hit, and he’s been worried about his health, rightfully so, he’s been struggling more.
I told him I suspect that because he’s so anxious and concerned about COVID and all the changes in our lives, he might be starting every day with only five shits.
This means that things he’d normally spend his shits on to get through the day, he can’t because he’s out of shits to give.
As an example, when something startles him, he would jump but since he had shits left to give, he coped with it and moved on. Now that he’s running low on shits, or runs out of shits all together, he isn’t coping as well.
As far as I can tell, I don’t think extra shits are carried over into the next day either. At the same time, if he ends the day with a deficit of shits, that impact the amount of shits he has to give the following day. Ideally, he would simply break even at the end of each day.
I know this sounds ridiculous but it actually makes a great deal of sense. After Gavin was done cracking up on the floor, he said it made sense to him. I’m not sure if this is a parenting win I should be proud of but it defused the situation and explained things in a way that Gavin understood.
The plan is to speak with his therapist about ways to reduce the overall anxiety that is chewing into his supply of shits he has to give each day.
We’ll go from there.
It was an exhausting process but a little humor went a long way and hopefully we will get this figured out.
That makes total sense and seems like a great way to explain a complex problem. It also might create a way you can check in with him. “How many shits do you think you have left today?” Might give him a way to have insight into his own resources. Great idea!
I hope you get some great rest and time to do nothing. Everyone deserves some down time…