Today Toad came with me to the store. We were at Target and I had a list - it's errand day. Now sometimes I do this with him and I don't get very far with things because he's not interested in shopping, so I have to leave.
Today he was awesome.
This isn't the surprising part, he's had plenty of good trips to the store before.
But I was enjoying it, and him. So I forgot for a while who I was there with and let myself get distracted. It was Target, this happens. Deviating from the list and the task at hand means we're there longer. You see where this is going...
Usually I get some warning when things are about to go downhill with the Toad-man - he'll start to do his not-so-happy humming, he'll fake pinch me a few times, ask for the car, things like that.
This time it came from out of nowhere, BAM! Full-out, blood curdling, teeth and fists clenched to the point of breaking, scream. Which certainly brought me out of my "wow he's being so GREAT!" aisle-wandering reverie in a hurry.
I booked it to the nearest check-out but despite the clear intent to leave, he continued to make his displeasure known to the masses. He was in frenzied attack-mode while checking out as well as in the parking lot on the way to the car. I put him in his seat, which wasn't easy as he was fighting me the whole time, and took away the i-Pad since he was hitting it. This just made him angrier. Then he started smashing one of his little rubber cars against the window - so I took that away too. He hits the window a lot when he's mad, but I figure there's less chance of his breaking it with just his hand...
So then he was COMPLETELY enraged. Screaming and kicking, hitting the window beside him, hitting his head (with his hands). It's hard in the car, he's really loud and the car is a small enclosed space to have to endure that kind of noise for long periods.
Then he started yelling for fries.
I wasn't in any mood to indulge the tantrum at this point so I said no, which of course, just made it worse. But I just kept telling him that I wouldn't get him fries since he was screaming and hitting. I told him to stop repeatedly but this had no effect whatsoever.
Then for some reason, when he asked for fries for like the 10th time after I'd already said no, I told him that if he wanted fries he had to be quiet - "If you're quiet I'll get you french fries, but you have to be quiet".
Well. Didn't I get the shock of my life when he went silent... ! He did. Like immediately when I said that. I was watching him in the rear view mirror and I could see him really working. He had his arms crossed over his head like he was concentrating on not hitting the window or anything else and he would whisper sometimes... he was being QUIET. Purposely.
I literally held my breath most of the rest of the way. I told him once that he was doing a really good job being quiet so that he could get the french fries. I didn't want to set him off, I didn't say anything else and I didn't bring it up again. I wanted him to succeed so badly, this was definitely not a coincidence.
When we got to within a couple minutes of the McD's I told him we were getting the fries now because he'd done such great work being quiet.
He got his fries.
He was a happy Toad again.
This was a BIG. DEAL. He understood what I was saying and he did what I told him he needed to do. Nothing else was having any effect - "stop it" "no" "that's not ok" "no hitting" even telling him to stop if he wants something doesn't seem to work. But he understood being quiet. I'm sure that comes from school after all these years (as of this September, he'll have been going to school for 10 years... whoa, WHAT?! Wow.)
It was pretty amazing. It was really something to watch him obviously working hard to make this happen because I'll tell you, he was in a flat-out rage going in to it so I know it took a lot to get it under control.
I don't know that he'll respond the same way another time, with Toad you can't count on too much as far as behavior goes. Plus with him it's all about diminishing returns - something that works really well initially, will not work at all after a certain period of time. But it did show me an understanding and capability from him that I've never seen before.
Nice work Toadie! Self-control is a beautiful thing.