In what is becoming a depressingly re-familiar pattern, we got a day of respite where Alex did an overnight with my parents and then a day of hell when his already shaky ability to listen and be trusted crashes below typical levels.
This is what we used to deal with all the time with Alex. He would complain, get into things he wasn't supposed to and otherwise make our lives difficult. We would do our best to keep everything consistent but would get worn out and need a break. But we knew getting that break would prompt an even more difficult day afterwards.
That was several years ago.
Up until this September, Alex had been doing quite well. We could trust him on a limited basis, even unsupervised. He still sometimes got into something but we knew which objects/activities were a great temptation for him and could make sure they were out of eager hand's reach.
Yesterday, Alex spent most of the day trying to get into things he wasn't supposed to. His advent calendar, pushing the buttons on the microwave and alarm system, etc. But the big frustration came while Nathan and I were at cartooning. We came home to discover that Alex had taken Nathan's carefully prepared Triops aquarium (an early Christmas present from his great-grandmother) and dumped it, the eggs and the food into the sink. From a recreation of Dave's memory, it sounds like Alex was messing around with it while Dave was busy dealing with an urgent call from work. Dave told him to get out of the kitchen and he remembers Alex pouring something out into the sink.
Nathan was devastated. He'd spent two days preparing the aquarium and was looking forward to adding the eggs that day. Alex lost his screentime privileges for the rest of the day and will be paying for a replacement kit to be shipped to the house.
From there, the day continued to go downhill as Alex continuously demanded screen time, only to get upset when he was told he couldn't have it. That would trigger a whining fit and an acting out. Which would trigger a confiscation or time out. Things would get settled and the whole thing would begin again.
Having to constantly supervise him is exhausting and expensive. We used to have aides constantly in the house to provide an extra set of eyes so that we could do things like take care of Nathan and go to the bathroom. We're not used to operating that way any more.