(picture credit: www.ca.uky.edu)
"In two years when you move out..."
Yes, two years I can deal with especially since lately things haven't been so great. You know, I really never thought we'd trade in positive symptoms for what I would say now are the negative ones. I never thought there would be an across the board trade where Thomas's positive symptoms were relatively under control but his negative symptoms would be so bad. We are working on solutions for that, all of us, Dr. K., me, and Thomas, so my hope is that things will improve soon.
Yesterday, mainly, we talked about Thomas preparing a family dinner once a week. He did it last week but this week I got so busy and wasn't around much so I wasn't there to encourage Thomas to do what he needed to do to work towards planning and preparing a meal. I really fight with all of this because I don't know where I should be stepping in and where I should leave things alone. The fact of the matter is, if Thomas doesn't cook then of course I will. The issue is, though, do I remind him and then let it go or do I encourage him every single step of the way?
Yesterday Dr. K. implemented a fledgling plan that if Thomas doesn't cook on his night that the whole family should go unfed that night. Yes, a pretty drastic suggestion but perhaps viable. As the discussion about this went on Dr. K. started to feel bad about making Dan and I go without dinner so he changed the plan to: if Thomas doesn't cook then Dan and I can go out and get dinner and it's up to Thomas to fend for himself. The problem was, Thomas was quite fine with spending his own money to buy his own dinner out on the nights he doesn't cook.
And there it is.
This is the timeless issue we have always had with Thomas. We lay down ultimatums and Thomas doesn't take any action based on them. We went for years doing this about homework and chores, just to name a couple, and it really never worked. Thomas struggled and I ended up feeling horrible for being such a jerk and yelling at him or grounding him etc. when he didn't do what he was supposed to do. Ultimatums flat out just don't work so planning for the family to fend for themselves if Thomas doesn't make dinner isn't an effective strategy. So, then, what do we do? In my opinion, I'm right back reminding him every step of the way in the hopes that someday it'll all stick and Thomas will be an independent thinker about planning and preparing meals.
With me being busy for most of the week, I did check in with Thomas and remind him that he needed to plan a meal. We stood in the kitchen and I asked him what he wanted to make. He was silent for so long and struggled so much that I finally gave in a bit and suggested that he think in terms of types of meals, Italian, Mexican or American food. Still he couldn't come up with something so I left the house that day telling him to give what I said some thought and we'd see what he came up with.
So, "dinner by Thomas" didn't happen this week at all.
I don't know what to do!!!!
Last night, though, after therapy, I had to do some grocery shopping so I took that opportunity to teach Thomas more of the basics of grocery shopping. He was very attentive and helped out when I questioned him about things and I began to feel like, for now, that is enough for him. Planning menus, making lists of ingredients, shopping for the food and preparing the meal might just be too much for him right now. I really need to think about this a little bit but in the meantime, last night, I had him cook the meal that I had planned and put together.
It was really rather sweet because he was very excited to help out and ended up doing really good with it all so there is hope in there somewhere. He really struggles with written directions and has to refer back to them constantly but he gets it done. I also had him make the salad and he said he felt that picking through the spinach was a task he didn't see much point in and he felt it basically wasn't worth the effort. That was where I took the opportunity to teach him about mindfulness and told him to, instead of hating the job, take each piece of spinach, feel how it feels in his hand, how it's cold, how it's wet, how it feels in his fingers as he tears it etc.. That seemed to work and he got the salads made.
So, I don't know. It's not like Thomas doesn't want to cook dinner, it just seems that he's caught up in places like planning and needs help. In the end, Dr. K. gave Thomas five 3x5 cards and told him to write down five meals, the ingredients needed for the meals, the estimated prep time and the directions for how to prepare the meal. Then Thomas can pick a 3x5 card once a week to work off of. It's a viable plan but we'll see how it works out. It's going to take some resolve on Thomas's part because he's going to have to do the part he can't seem to do well, if at all, and that is all of the planning and he'll have to do it all at once.
I will work on them with him today or tomorrow and we'll see how it goes next week. I feel like getting past the negative symptoms is like trying to push your way through thick, dense underbrush in a dark forest. I have hope that we'll get through it but man oh man, this isn't easy.