Redirection: Not an English boy band
A few months ago, my dad and step-mom visited. It had been a few years since my kids had seen them and the kids were very excited. Within the first 24 hour period, my step-mom, who has known me since I was 7, took the precious time to criticize my parenting skills, the cleanliness of my house and even called my husband "useless". The comments left me in a traumatized state that extended for months past their departure.
I was telling my friend, Stacey, about the latest part of the drama, (my dad had written a letter telling me "to get over it"), and she replied, "you need something to replace that. It is useless for you to keep replaying that in your head. Find a song you can go to when your mind starts running that useless dialogue." So, I did. And now, I start singing Biz Markie's "Just A Friend", and it works like a charm. What I didn't realize, was how often I found myself thinking of all that drama.
Stacey had redirected me.
In my house, the ability to redirect any child during any said meltdown is the one thing that makes my alcohol cabinet confident that it will still be stocked tomorrow. Redirection is key. When my #1 is upset, I start singing a song he loves and it usually helps. When #2, the Aspy, is upset we used to do outrageous math problems with him, but now we appeal to his love of geography and say wrong "facts". "Egypt is the capital of France" and that usually works. With #3, PDD/NOS, we're not really sure what pisses him off and sometimes telling him Auto-bots have red eyes works and other times we just have to wait it out. For the twins, just turning into a tickle monster or talking in one of my sesame street voices helps. "Elmo says, cut that shit out." Just kidding.
When a school year begins, I write letters to the teachers and aides telling them what the boys interests are and tell them the best way to redirect them if needed. In fact, when prepping anyone to deal with my kids, the FIRST thing I tell them is how to redirect them and then I tell them possible triggers.
The ability to redirect someone is an art. It is an ability to connect with someone's psyche, interrupt their internal dialogue, and press the "reset button." When one of my children is "reset" their face changes from all scrunched up to relaxed, their pulse decreases and the demon who had possessed my child has returned to the depths of hell. When I see that happen, I feel like someone placed a gold medal around my neck. "That's right baby. I am the champion" (cue, Queen)
I learned from Stacey that even though I am pretty much a pro at redirecting my kids most of the time,(well, 4 out of 5 ain't bad) I needed just as much help redirecting as my kids do. We all benefit from having someone that can push us to the bright side. Stacey, this gold is for you.