Thursday, February 3, 2011

Seeing the green flash

Have you heard of the green flash? It’s an optical phenomenon that has been popularized by the likes of Jules Verne and, more recently, in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. The green flash is a glimmer of green light that appears momentarily at sunset as the sun dips below the horizon. Have you seen one in real life? I have, but not in the beauty of the sun setting over a calm sea. No, I saw mine last night at the exact moment my son’s angry outburst turned into a full-fledged meltdown.
I literally saw the point of no return. It was a flash before my eyes when I was trying to calm down Grumpy Badger. Why? All because he didn’t want to blow his nose.
It always starts off innocuously enough. I heard him sniffling. Granted, we’ve had a little runny nose thing in our house for the past few days. Unlike the rest of the country who is under snow and ice right now, we’ve been seeing some beautifully mild weather here. I actually have crocuses blooming and bulbs popping up in my yard. So, it’s easy to guess that a drippy nose could be caused by our spring-like weather. No biggie.
Well, the King of Perseveration himself, Monkey, took a runny nose as a great way to develop a new talent. Obsessively sniffling. We’re not talking the odd sniff here and there. No, it’s almost as if he’s been watching Mary Katherine Gallagher on Saturday Night Live. Remember her? She was Molly Shannon’s character that would sniff her fingers after they’d been in her armpits. “Superstar!” I digress... Well, Monkey’s been sniffling kind of like that. Without the armpits. And, without the fingers. Just with his nose. Loudly. My guess is that it gives him some good sensory input and so he keeps doing it. And doing it.
Grumpy Badger, the King of Echolalia, has been listening to Monkey sniffle. As you can probably guess, he’s now copying the behavior. Both of them are doing it often enough that they have effectively formed a new, loads-of-fun-for-me-to-break-later habit!
So, I’m “helping” Grumpy Badger get ready for bed because he was showing signs of being uncooperative. While in the midst of getting changed, he sniffed loudly right next to me. I heard the congestion in his nose and left to get a tissue. Knowing that I didn’t want him going to bed with a full nose of gook, I asked him to stop sniffing the stuff back up into his nose and try blowing it out into a tissue. He refused and whipped his head away from me. I talked with him a little bit about how the stuff in his nose can make him sick if he doesn’t get it out, and tried again to get him to use a tissue. He sniffed in protest and I saw his face scrunch up with an angry scowl.
That’s when it happened. I swear I saw a green flash! I knew the simple act of requesting him to blow his nose in the middle of his nighttime routine had just turned into a battle that I didn’t want to wage. I settled into a position seated on his bedroom floor because I knew that the faster I helped him resolve his meltdown, the faster he would get to bed. As I sat there, I quietly spoke to him about calming down. When he started lashing out physically, I scooped him into an intense bear hug. His body needed the pressure to help de-escalate his mood. All told, I think the meltdown lasted around 15 minutes.
After the drama had subsided, I was able to talk with him. He was ready to engage in the conversation and not shut down. Apparently after getting all of that energy out of his system, his body was finally ready to cooperate, which meant his mind could then follow suit. And you know what? He laid his head down onto his pillow with a huge smile, AFTER blowing his nose into a tissue.   
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