Friday, March 4, 2011

It's just a phase, he'll grow out of it.

I finally understand that phrase.

Ryan goes through phases - usually a period of several weeks of intense repetition of some bizarre behavior - and then one day I'll realize, Oh, he hasn't done that in days. And it's over.

Ryan went through a disturbing phase of chewing on his hands. He would chew til the skin was cracked and raw. I'd coat his hands in cortisone while he was sleeping, because if I put it on him while he was awake he would chew it off. I considered investing in chewable bracelets so he could satisfy his need to chew his hands without eating through his skin. And then last night, I noticed Ryan's hands are smooth - they feel like human skin again. And it occurred to me that the hand-chewing had stopped a few weeks ago. Unannounced, unheralded. He just grew out of it.

He has gone through a long, strange series of phases centered on the concept of injury and healing. For as long as I can remember, every time Ryan experienced pain - physical or emotional, real or imagined - he would reach for White Blanket. White Blanket is a standard-issue baby blanket that's fuzzy on one side and silky on the other side; the silky side has the magic healing powers.

White Blanket on the left, trail of Styrofoam destruction on the right...
At some point he started using words to request White Blanket: "Need White Blanket back! Can I have White Blanket back, please Mommy?" The same way, every time. Even if White Blanket was within easy reach. Even if he was already holding White Blanket. Eventually I recognized this was a script and not an actual request.

Then, he decided White Blanket wasn't enough to heal some wounds, so he requested kisses; at first I was happy to oblige. "Kiss it?" he'd ask, usually without indicating the location of the injury.

Then he needed more kisses. "Kiss it?" I'd kiss it. "Kiss it again?" I'd kiss it again. "Kiss it one more time?" I'd laugh and give him a kiss. After several weeks of this script he added the request, "Hundred times?" One hundred is Ryan's standard number for "a large quantity." After I gave him a few kisses, he'd cry, "Need White Blanket back, get White Blanket back, please Mommyyyyy?" Again, he could have been holding White Blanket already, but he would still say this.

During this time, Ryan went through a big self-injury phase. Whenever he was upset, he would slam himself into the floor, or into a wall, and declare himself hurt. At this point I established a policy that I would only kiss real booboos and not injuries caused on purpose.

A few weeks ago, it occurred to me that all of these requests for blankets and kisses had stopped. The self-injury has largely stopped, too. I don't know when that happened, but I'm grateful.

Suddenly, Ryan is much more self-sufficient in his booboo management, but in kind of a disgusting way: he has decided that saliva has magic healing properties, so whenever he bumps his head or bangs his leg into a table, he puts some spit on his fingers and rubs the spit all over the site of injury. It's gross, but it is an effective coping strategy for him at the moment, and I'm not really trying to stop him.

It's just a phase. He'll grow out of it.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my, my little guy (three) says "one hundred times" for everything, too. :)

    ReplyDelete

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