I’ve not written in a while. Busy, and overwhelmed and feeling like a bonafide failure as a parent to our middle son.
I would implore you to read an article about “That Kid” from the Huffington post less than a year ago. My older children are mortified, and I am feeling like a failure, because I am currently a parent to “That” kid. I don’t want anyone’s pity, and I know that we will get through this, but we keep on hitting new rock bottoms and I am tired, terrified to share this with you all, but convinced that when I have the balls to share this very real stuff with you all, it does more good than harm.
So here goes.
Adam’s behavior is not currently getting better. It would not be inaccurate to say, that in some ways, he is getting worse.
We’re stretching our time, resources, and patience to the point of breaking.
Because his “thing” is anger, and he has pushed, pinched, punched or kicked teachers and children, we have put in place constant supervision for the sake of those around him.
Our eldest son has been bullied mercilessly and risen above it with grace, dignity, composure and even an expanded sense of humour as making bullies laugh is one of the many weapons in his arsenal.
Adam is the bully.
I can now officially say I have been on both sides of this fence as a parent, and I am finding dealing with a perpetrator to be a much more heartbreaking and challenging prospect than being on the receiving end.
We’d make light of it when he was very small. He would stand up to his siblings and rule the roost in our hectic household. We’ve come down heavy on him for unkind behavior, and rewarded and highlighted… and in my case CLUNG to his empathetic and kind moments.
He starts the day assuring everyone who will listen that he would have a very good day and he would control his temper.
It appears he may expend too much energy in wanting to be good, and building up his huge expectations of the glorious admiration and adoration he’ll gain for behaving so well. All of this anticipation and all of this energy culminates in outbursts.
My heart sinks and tears refuse to remain in my eyes and drip silently down my face as I listen to the principal, assistant principal and teacher’s aids relay the same messages:
“We’re all trying so hard.”
“We just don’t know what to do.”
“You mustn’t blame yourself, we see in him all the good work you have done as parents.”
“We’ve never come across anything like this before.”
“He’s so bright, and so angry.”
And on it goes.
I am ashamed to admit, earlier this week I looked at my son and I had to close my eyes tight for a moment and grit my teeth. My fists clenched so tightly at one point I broke skin with my nails.
And the most reprehensible feelings washed over me.
For a brief and terrifying moment, I could not look at my five year old with compassion or hope. Those feelings were completely eclipsed by despair, shame, exhaustion, sadness, and anger.
I’ve spent time digging very deep to try and figure it all out.
He’s only little. We all know he is trying, really actually trying not to be a vicious little brute. But a vicious little brute he absolutely can be…
So we are making HUGE changes.
Changes that include less socializing, more routine, less electronics, more exercise, less yelling and more calmly walking away, less anger and more cuddles.
We have been given “sensory diet” by a wonderful occupational therapist that embraces movement and routine over harsh discipline.
We are at day two and I can’t report too much at this stage.
The older kids are mortified that they have a little brother who is “one of those kids” and I am quick to remind them that they have overcome serious behaviourial and social issues in their short lives as well.
That shuts them up for a bit.
Last night Steph and Adam played together and neither were given any screen time at all. They had two rounds of go fish and had a fashion show and wrote each other encouraging notes before bed. It was a rare and much needed light at the end of this very dark tunnel.
So on we trudge through the trenches of childhood with our extremely bright, and extremely angry five year old.
I must end this by imploring other parents to take it easy on themselves and their troubled kids.
The single most counterproductive activity in our family is blaming and self-loathing. I feel like a failure. Adam feels like a failure. I feel like the other kids are getting lost in the fray.
All that takes time in my heart and mind and day.
When we carry on one day at a time and do the things that the army of specialists have suggested, we do see progress.
We can’t handle this by ourselves. Nothing will improve if we give up, waste time on blame or shame, or if do not work as a team to help Adam cope with his huge emotions and feel safe and a whole and better equipped to make better decisions.
All my Love and respect to other parents. Of all the many things I have learned through this heartbreaking journey, it is that we are not alone.
If anyone reading this has a good online or real life support group for families dealing with angry kids and/or ASD, I would very much appreciate an introduction, as I am feeling very alone and defeated right now.
Have a great day, and if you are struggling with your kid(s) right now like we are, I wish you all the strength, Love, hope and support in the universe to get you and your child to a better place.
Thank you for reading.