Peter’s love for doors not only focused on the garage door, but he had a different “love” for other types of doors. He particularly liked heavy metal doors which he engaged when he wanted to and wants to express himself. Peter, a man of few words, does not communicate his needs, concerns, feelings easily. If you ask him “What did you do today?” You will hear a one word“ I dunno know” which comes from a closed mouth. A skill he has developed over the years of speaking with his mouth closed and still being able to convey his message. The “I dunno know” can refer to just about anything. Peter, what did you have dinner? That would be dinner you just ate 5 minute ago…”Idunnoknow”. Mmm, Peter, see it is sitting on the table….oh! That dinner! Referencing what was done during the day, you will definitely receive a "iduunoknow", as that was hours ago and long forgotten.
In order to get Peter to speak when he was younger, more in his teen years, I would pick him up from after school care, begin the 15 minute ride home, and start talking about my day. If I assumed he was having a bad day, I would conjure up stories of my bad day, and how someone really “pithed me off”…I knew he could relate. In this effort, there was hope that randomly a voice would emerge and some short sentence about so and so, or how he did not want to go swimming…or something that made him have a bad day. This could be within minutes of my dialogue or hours…words hopefully would spontaneously just come out of his month and, when I was within hearing distance.
There was a clue to Peter having a bad day. The door slam…evidence to me that Peter was tired, hungry, not feeling well, or something just set him off. Now in our house, the only good door to slam to make a statement was the metal door between the kitchen and the garage. He perfected the talent of slamming that door so hard, I thought the house would fall down. Things would shake on the wall…our own little mini earthquake, right in our home, sometimes on a daily, hourly, basis. Mike or Sara may have picked up Peter for me, and in would first come Peter, and SLAM. I had this way of flying down the steps to begin to slow down the potential catastrophic events that may occur after the slamming. Mike or Sara, having just had the door slammed in their face, with a panic stricken look, would say…we gotta feed him mom. Interestingly, food was almost always the cure for Peter’s bad behavior.
Many hours were spent on the time out chair, and than as Peter aged, he would be “grounded”, all in an effort to decrease the amount of times that door would be slammed. Grounding meant taking away a privilege such as watching TV, or playing on the computer. Of course, you know, grounding always meant as a parent you ground yourself, because now you sit and stare at each other. You cannot do anything, as that would allow escape time, and you know where that is heading!
Peter still has difficulty expressing his needs and still will slam a door when he is upset. The grounding, the hundred and one conversations about just telling me how you feel, has not quite set in. Hopefully, over time, Peter will be able to say he is not feeling well, he is hungry, he needs a hug. Presently, door slamming still remains the key to how he feels.
So, door slamming..in our house has a new meaning. It is a part of a conversation..it is a feeling..it is communication. Think of that next time you shut your door...oh go for..if you are having a bad day...just slam it!