Recently, I was on the phone with my girlfriend when Ryan’s computer froze. He couldn’t do anything and became very anxious. I told him I’d help him as soon as I finished my conversation. If Ryan’s problem was something serious or affecting his safety, I would have helped him right away. It was his computer; it could wait a few minutes in my opinion.
Clearly, Ryan disagreed.
He kept trying to get my attention to help him. I tried a few things while I talked with my friend, but nothing worked. I then asked if he had tried turning his laptop off and back on—sometimes that works. He looked at me and in a very rude voice yelled, “I already did that!”
My friend could hear Ryan through the phone and couldn’t believe he spoke to me that way. She has known my son since he was in a stroller and was shocked that he was being so disrespectful. I told her I’d call her back because Ryan was having a meltdown.
Fortunately, we have an incredible friend who helps us whenever we have computer problems. But would I have called him at 10:00 p.m. at night? No way. It was not that important, and Ryan could wait until the morning.
However, in Ryan’s world, it was that important. Ryan called him without my knowledge, got his voicemail, and hung up. When our friend saw the call was from Ryan, he called back right away. Not only was it late, but our friend had been sick all day. Ryan woke him up. I felt terrible!
Our friend walked me through several steps and ten minutes later, the computer was working again. I apologized for waking him and so did Ryan. Once Ryan had calmed down, I explained that this was not important enough to bother someone late at night.
While Ryan heard my words, and agreed, I know that if this happens again, he will probably make that same phone call. To Ryan, it is an emergency and my trying to explain otherwise goes nowhere.
I called my girlfriend back and explained what happened. She couldn’t believe how calm I was after he was so rude to me. She questioned if I felt his behavior was okay. I told her it was not. I don’t believe anyone should be disrespectful to someone else.
However, I know Ryan. He can’t handle when his computer, television or cable has a problem. He completely falls apart and you can’t reason with him. Once the problem is fixed and he calms down, I tell him that I don’t appreciate his tone of voice and the way he treated me.
I don’t make excuses for Ryan, but I realize that when he can’t cope with what has happened, the time to talk to him is not when it’s happening. The time to teach him a lesson is once he is feeling better and can understand that his behavior was unacceptable. Helping your child through their crisis or behavioral problem can be difficult.
You can find additional tips for helping you child on this website under the mental health section.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs to share their tips and stories about caring for their children during difficult times.