One morning, my 3-year-old said, “I am my brother, not me,” while I was busy getting my older son ready for school. Ah, a sign of something coming, I thought. I squatted at his level to acknowledge him, but could not stop for more than a short minute.
Then, my younger son started complaining, “I don’t want the waffle cut in half!” Ah, a louder signal. I still couldn’t pay attention to him, though I did make eye contact with him. I was still busy with my older son.
Then I told him that he needed to change out of his pajamas. He said, “I don’t want to change! I want a Batman costume.” However, he wouldn’t change into the Batman costume which I handed to him. He threw that away.
Then, he was sitting in front of the clothes drawer, unable to make up his mind what to wear.
He was bouncing around. A sure sign of disconnection, I thought.
I was busy packing my older son’s lunch, and didn’t have the time and attention to Staylisten for more than a couple of minutes.
So when my older son went off to school, I offered Special Time for half an hour.
First, my son disappeared for a minute as he sometimes did during Special Time. I begged, “Please don’t go! Please come back!” Then he smiled, waved good-bye and left the room. In a minute, he came back.
When the time was up, he went and changed his clothes before I even noticed.
And he ate the same waffle he had rejected because I had cut it in half. I said, just to be sure, “I am sorry I cut it in a way you didn’t like. How is it?”
He was busy eating, and he said, “Good!”