Monday, August 06, 2012

Stress and distress

Hello readers,

With me, no news is usually bad news. So if you haven't heard from me here in a while, it's because things are  seem real crappy and hopeless. I rarely write when I'm stressed, though it's usually just what I need. In the chaos of stress, I forget the one thing that helps me most: sharing my pain and stress.

I say this a lot, but it bears repeating: somebody probably needs to know they're not alone. That somebody always includes me. That's why I share, even when it sounds like complaining or self-flagellation or navel gazing.

In the past few days, I had a close call with a wandering 3 year old. Let's just say that nothing quite prepares you as a parent for finding your daughter's dress in the hallway and your daughter nowhere in your house or yard. (She was found two doors down wearing a leotard and crocs; she later claimed she was walking to gymnastics.) This is stressful.

In the past week, our 2 year old has turned into a rabid billy goat who is constantly moving, making noise and messes and biting his siblings. This is rather distressing.

In the past few weeks, we've been introduced to such schoolish terms as behavior plan and student assistance team. I also now recognize my son's teacher's phone number on the caller ID. This is stressful.

In the past few months, I've gone from an ADHD skeptic to tearful and fearful near acceptance of my son's diagnosis. This is distressing.

The signs have been there and been building for years. The realization that he often behaves exactly as our 2 year old in certain situations. The five topics in 30 seconds conversations. The gradual backing off of friends. (And I seriously don't blame your kid for not really wanting to hang out with mine.) The inability to control his impulses to back talk and interrupt. The constant movement and noise. The rigidity and stubbornness.

Let's face it, social norms that come easily to some kids just don't occur to those with ADHD. How many five year olds have to be told that randomly blowing in people's faces is a bad idea? Or that spitting water at another person's face is never acceptable? Most five year olds have enough sensible fear of their parents to just stop arguing their point. Not my kid. He'll argue and follow even when I've walked away and stopped talking. There is no escape. 

I could frame all this information in terms of how lucky we are to be at a school that takes such a supportive approach and that he is getting the help he needs so soon. The school is "this effective, this soon," I was reminded, instead of my son's experience being "this bad, this quickly." In my better moments, I do think the former. At my most distressed, though, I am heartsick for both of us. I'm already so, so weary and afraid that I just don't have the strength to travel this road.

This road means notes sent home, phone calls and emails, meetings and therapy and having to push him more that I'm comfortable doing. He will be different and singled out and have to work harder for things that come easily to other kids. His teacher already tells us that he is "trying so hard" and that just breaks my heart. We'll have to manage the way this is all presented to him so as not bruise his delicate, developing sense of self. I'm sure we'll learn how to do this but it all seems so daunting right now.
And the feeling I can't seem to shake is that somehow, some way, I made some fatal parenting error. It's as if every mother with better behaved children has a portion of the parenting manual that we're missing. When a child goes to school, it feels like your parenting skills are on display. I rarely care what people think of how I parent; it only worries me what they assume based on my children's behavior.

Right now, based solely on his behavior, I appear to be a parent who did not teach her son any social skills, loads him up with sugar and sends him off to school. Which I don't, of course.



Unknown said...

wow some of what you just wrote completely describes what i just went through with Devin about 15 minutes ago. sigh, its tough. My heart goes out to you!

Unknown said...

Dont know why my above comment says unknown when i logged in with google jeez, this is Heidi!

Monica said...

feeling for you. don't know what else to say except that your writing is so heartfelt and i really cannot imagine a more perfect mom for your kids.

Heather said...

Judson and I went through this last school year with Lucas. Even now he still doesn't have friends, I still cringe when the phone rings, he still makes weird chicken noises when stressed and it still feels some days like I must have done something to cause this. I didn't. We didn't. He just is. A weird chicken-sqwaking little boy. Who I actively have to open my heart to love every single day.