**My Christmas Party/ Customer No Service post has been delayed due to a need to rant a bit.**
For those of you who are new to my blog, you may not be familiar with the super fun times that my middle child has given me over the past four years. He is one of the sweetest and most lovable kids ever, but boy is he a handful. He has given me trouble since the day he was born... colic, reflux, sleep issues, behavior issues, walking late, sensory problems and speech disabilities have all combined into one giant anxiety ball for me. I have struggled to figure out exactly how to handle all of his issues and make decisions on whether to push for a diagnosis or let things ride, tried to back off and let him find his way in school and social settings, tried not to be defensive and irritated when people treat him differently or look at us as if we are bad parents because of his behaviors and have truly tried my best to teach him, love him and raise him to be who he is.
This is an ongoing struggle for me every day.
We used to be part of a play group here in our area. I used to try to take the boys to meetups and to play with other children, do crafts and have little trips. I kept trying even though it was not working very well. I wanted, maybe NEEDED, to have them in a "normal" social setting. To act like and play with other "normal" children. And I wanted to be able to make friends with other Mothers. Mothers of "normal" children.
And one day, I was sitting at a table, watching my child wander apart from the other children and spend the next 15 - 20 minutes lining up cars along the edge of a bed, when I realized.... I was totally alone. Alone in the middle of all of these women. Not one of them had any clue what I was thinking. What I was feeling.
Just like Braeden was alone in the middle of all of the other children. And no one (including me) had any idea what he was thinking or feeling either.
And I realized that by trying to push him to act "normal" and play with "normal" kids... I was just pushing him into more aloneness. Even in the middle of a crowd, he was still separate. Still different. He didn't know HOW to play with these kids. And when they reacted badly to his overtures, he went off by himself and went back to what he knew made him feel better. Lining up cars.
So, I stopped taking him to the play dates. It was a relief in many ways. There were no more screaming fits when we went to a new home. No more screaming and fighting when it was time to leave. No more wondering if the other kids, and Mothers, really wanted us there.
When Braeden started school I worried about how he would interact with the other kids. But, he has done really well in some ways. I think it is because he is in a structured environment where he knows exactly what is expected out of him. When they go out of those normal areas, that is when he has problems.
When I picked him up today, he was in the middle of a full blown crying fit. One of the other boys had hit him. He was all blotchy and snotty. He really had his feelings hurt more than anything, he had no idea why this boy had hit him. And I think, honestly, the little boy had no idea why he did it.
And as I watched his teacher comfort him and wipe his face, I started to get angry. Not at the teacher. Not at the other kids. Not at Braeden. But at myself.
Here was my sensitive and loving little boy, crying his eyes out and so heartbroken.... and I was just wondering if it was "normal" for him to be such a big cryer. Was it "normal" for him to react that way. Or was this another sign that he was not "normal".
His teacher told me this morning that the school's behavior specialist had decided to implement some new things with Braeden. But she did not give me any details. So, I called and left a message for her to call me back. Because I have no idea what she is planning.
I am in the process of setting up more testing and evaluations for him to see what steps we need to take next.
And I really just want to cancel it all and say STOP! I just want my little boy to be happy. Is all of this really necessary? What is "normal"? Really? And why is it so important to me all of a sudden? Since when?
I used to tell my daughter that the only normal people in the world were really abnormal because nobody was really "normal". Everybody was weird in their own way. I used to revel in being different. But I guess the difference, for me, is choosing to be different and odd versus being that way and having no control over it. I want my son to be able to fit in if he wants to. I want him to be able to choose to be different. Does that make sense?
So, I am spending my afternoon feeling lost and scared. How do you parent a child when you have no idea what to do? How do you decide when to get help and when to stop? How do you know if pushing for more "normal" behavior is just making your child into someone they should not be? I told his therapist that I did not want to lose who HE is in the middle of treating his behaviors.
I don't want to wonder who he might have been and what he might have been like if I had done things differently. Being a parent is so hard.