It’s 5:45pm, Monday, mid August, and I am shaking as I type. It has been a lazy day at home for me and the boys. They have been at each other’s throats for the last few days. So when we went for an evening swim just now I can’t say I was surprised as one pulled the other’s arm and the other started punching him. No, I wasn’t surprised but I reached my limit. As I calmly told them pool time was over they burst into hysterics. “Moooooooommyyyyy, just one more chance! Please mommy.” When it is clear that there will be no compromising my oldest son smashes his goggles on the ground and destroys them.
The familiar feeling of defeat and dread and gloom and anger and deep deep sadness comes crashing back. Its been a long time since we have had an outburst of this magnitude. But, if I am being honest with myself, I know it is because we have structured our lives in a way that works with ADHD and SPD (sensory processing disorder). I politely decline when friends invite us to visit them at their summer homes in Maine or Cape Cod, hell I decline when they invite us over for lunch. This risk of an outburst or sensory meltdown is far greater than any reward the visit could offer. We miss out on little family get aways because we are concerned about throwing off the balance. (Y’all outta know that as I type this my 8 year old is STILL screaming at the top of his lungs)
So, how the hell did we get here? I mean he is EIGHT years old. I left my job so I could take care of them. I have spent the last six years researching, and learning, and growing, and fighting. I have worked with therapists, consultants, interventionists, family, friends, teachers, you name it, I have tried it. I am a smart girl. I should have figured this out for him by now. But I haven’t. To make matters worse, I fear I won’t be able to. My own ADHD, anxiety, and depression are like roadblocks keeping me from appointments and follow through. They are keeping my son from reaching a stable and productive place. They are choking the life out of my family. The magic of childhood is whizzing by and we are still paralyzed by this shit. People always tell me they think I am a great mom, that God sent their souls to me with purpose, they are lucky to have me.
But I know that is not true.
They would be WAY better off with a mother who was structured and calm and could take everything she learned and actually do something with it. The fact of the matter is, I often think I am learning more from them than they are from me. But truthfully, I am not one to throw a pity party so I am not going to go on about the losses we cope with on a daily basis. Instead I am going to tell you how the evening ended so you can all have an honest look into the life of a family whose parent and child both suffer from cognitive, behavioral, and mental disorders.
So, in the house we went, both children screaming and crying. Lamenting they had done nothing wrong. Because, you know, its totally ok to hold someone under water and even more ok to punch people in the back while they are swimming. My younger son quickly starts listening. My older son, upset about the goggles that he smashed is still carrying on. Then I informed him he would need to pay me $5.00 for them because I bought them for him. Well, that was it. He snapped. He screamed “I hate you!” and, get ready for it….I am honestly horrified to share this…..
He spit at me.
Everything went black. I started to run after him, ready to scream and punish him. Thankfully I caught myself before I started yelling and quietly told him he had done something very very bad. He lost his ipad for a few days and he needed to go to bed-immediately. He continued to scream and pound on his door for almost an hour. My mouth went dry. My whole body was shaking. I forced myself to stay calm and just keep repeating the same thing. You made a very big mistake, you are going to bed no matter what. I love you but I am very disappointed in you.
Honestly, it is not in my nature to discipline like this. I am a teacher, an administrator, the daughter of a Marine, we demand respect and obedience. When you cross a line like this you get your ass handed to you. Losing control is not a luxury I can afford. Yelling and showing emotion only overloads his sensory system even more, making things worse. So, I do what the behavioral therapists have taught me to do, I stay calm, give as little attention as possible and stick to my guns. It sucks.
So now, I am at my kitchen table on a Monday evening towards the end of summer, defeated, exhausted, miserable and angry. What will this look like when he is 14? 16? 20? I know it could be worse. I am usually not this doom and gloom, but he spit at me. My baby spit at me and there is no cute twist or reasonable thought I can apply here. I am at a loss.