March 31, 2012
I’ve written a lot about what it’s like to parent my oldest son, JP. JP has ADHD and anxiety disorder. Lately I’ve become more convinced than ever that he also has (high functioning) Aspergers Syndrome. A lot of what I write is raw and real and ugly. It’s hard to be his mom. Sometimes it’s hard to like him. Sometimes I look at him and feel like the biggest failure on the planet. And, more often than not, I feel really, really alone. I love my son but I feel like I fail him every damn day. My words aren’t a criticism of him or his neurological issues- they are not his fault. My words are about the inadequacy, fear, frustration, and stress I experience as the mother of a child that breaks my heart and worries me more often than I can say.
Note: Posts written on this (current) blog are linked below in reverse-chronological order. Older posts (October 2008- January 2011) are below the links, in-full, and in chronological order.
Medicine merry-go-round (June 7, 2012)
Guppies (June 6, 2012)
Brutal truth (June 1, 2012)
I don’t even know (May 18, 2012)
Memo to the Universe (May 1, 2012)
March can suck it (March 31, 2012)
An alarm with no snooze (February 3, 2012)
This actually happened (January 17, 2012)
Where we’re at (January 3, 2012)
We’re here. Again. (November 30, 2011)
And then (November 14, 2011)
Too close (November 14, 2011)
Mad Mama (October 21, 2008)
There’s a kid in JP’s class (we shall call him Mikey) that’s a little punk. By little, I’m mean he’s 5-years old and small and by punk, I mean he’s kind of an asshole.
From what I’ve seen, when the kids play while we pick them up from school, Mikey is an aggressive instigator who likes to create problems where there were previously none. For reasons that aren’t quite clear, Mikey likes to single out my son and a little girl, Riley. JP literally stands a head and shoulders above Mikey and probably outweighs him by 20 lbs. Riley isn’t as big as JP but I’d say she and JP are the biggest kids in the class. Mikey, on the other hand, is one of the smallest.
Mikey likes to “play” fight. He karate kicks, throws jabs and “strikes”. When his target (often JP) fails to respond, or doesn’t respond with much enthusiasm, Mikey crows, “Is that all you got?!”
I used to keep my reprimands confined solely to JP. Then I issued generic “hands to yourself” warnings. Now I yell at them both and Mikey’s name is the first one out of my mouth.
Everything I’ve seen of Mikey has happened after school and I watch that kid like a hawk. All of the parents do. Mikey is not a favorite among the pick-up parents and grandparents and we’re all sick of his dad’s lax nonexistent supervision.
Today, though, a line was crossed. Big time.
At the end of the day the kids were cleaning up, preparing to go home. According to his teacher JP, in an effort to help Mikey, picked up Mikey’s reward pebbles (they earn them throughout the day for small treats before going home). This was definitely NOT okay with Mikey who said nary a word and promptly pushed my sons head into his desk hard enough that it made a “thunk” noise and JP started to cry. Their teacher maintains that JP did nothing wrong.
His teacher said she’s fed up with Mikey’s aggression and anger and will be talking with his parents.
Me too, except I don’t know what to do. I’m tempted to tell Mikey, in no uncertain terms, that if he ever touches my child again he will be in more trouble than he knows what to do with. I’m tempted to tell his dad that what Mikey did to JP amounts to assault and if it happens again there will be hell to pay. I’m tempted to go to the principal. I’m tempted to talk to the superintendent (who I see at a monthly meeting). Temptation is a tricky thing, though. I’m tempted but completely unclear as to what response (if any) is appropriate.
This is Kindergarten! I should not be worried about my child’s personal safety from another student in Kindergarten! But, somehow, I am worried sick and feel powerless.
Update: Mr. G came home and looked at JP’s head and the child has a welt and a slight bruise from today’s incident. I’ve gone from pissed to livid.
It’s not supposed to be this hard, is it? (January 19, 2009)
Here lately being JP’s mom has been exhausting. I’m not sure if it’s because we’ve been so confined this winter, or because of my pregnancy hormones or the bizarre (i.e. normal- I think) dynamic between him and SG, or what, but I find myself almost constantly irritated with my darling 6-year old.
His energy is inexhaustible to the point of being obnoxious. Redirecting his behavior feels like a battle- and often a completely worthless one at that. If I send him upstairs to get his socks on I have to tell him no less than three times in a five minute period to get upstairs, then repeat my instructions several times while he’s up there and then, if I’m lucky, he will appear in the living room 15-minutes later with his socks on. Chances are better that he will either be a) sock-less with socks in hand or b) forget the socks entirely. I’ve noticed lately that getting him to sit still- like really still- during homework or meals is virtually impossible. He’s like the goddamn Energizer Bunny- he just keeps going and going and going. His impulse control, something he’s struggled with since he was around 3, ain’t so hot. There are times when he is so easily distracted I just want to pull my hair out. Then again there are times when he is so focused on whatever it is he’s doing the house could be burning around him and I’m not sure he’d notice.
He’s an extremely bright child but, for the most part, he’s only working at grade level in school (in some areas he’s working above) and at home he complains about how boring class* is. Yet I know there are days when he doesn’t get his work done, that he talks far, far too much and he fights me tooth and nail on homework.
I’m toying with the idea of e-mailing our trusty child psychologist (or, as I like to think of him, the kick in the ass all parents need to do their jobs properly) to discuss the possibility of ADHD. It’s something I’m extremely reluctant to do because I’m not a fan of medicating children. In truth I don’t know that JP’s behavior falls within an ADHD diagnosis but the suspicion- the gut feeling that makes me want to vomit- is there. Fortunately, the doctor is not someone who encourages medicating unless the situation absolutely calls for it** so if it’s simply a matter of Mr. G and I altering our parenting, he’ll tell us.
Taking that step- voicing my concerns and, worse still, knowing it could be confirmed***- is frightening enough that I don’t want to do it. Then again, I don’t really have a choice.
*I truly believe he’s terribly bored which may contribute to his non-compliance in class sometimes. Unfortunately, he’s never really given his teacher the opportunity to see his potential so why would she know any different?
**The first time we saw him, when JP was 2, he asked, “So, do you want to medicate or fix the problem?” I was apalled and told him, in no uncertain terms, that JP wasn’t the problem, our parenting was and that there was no way I was medicating my toddler to make my life easier. He smiled and said, “Good. Because I won’t give you medication anyway. It’s just nice to know what you want and that no one is wasting their time.”
***I don’t fear an ADHD diagnosis because there’s nothing to be afraid or ashamed of. I just hate to have my kids have to deal with anything that will make their lives harder and ADHD would make it harder. That’s all. I’d like to be able to shoulder all the burden on this one for him.
Confessions from under the ice cream cone (February 10, 2009)
I got a call from JP’s music teacher today. Correction- I got a call from JP’s completely exasperated music teacher today. Truthfully, I’m surprised it hasn’t come sooner. Seems he won’t participate in music class at all and is fairly belligerent about it. It’s been like this for most of the year. Occasionally, when it’s really been a bad day, the regular teacher will tell me that Mrs. Treble had a hard time with JP and could I please talk to him? I do, but I could be talking to a tree for all the good it does me. I often do preemptive strikes on music days before I drop him off, “Please, please, have fun in music today and do what Mrs. Treble asks you, okay?”
Sometimes he forgets.
JP gives me no concrete answers as to why he won’t try in class. My theory is that he strives for nothing less than perfection and is afraid to mess up. He is his harshest critic and it makes me sad. Even as an infant he would warily try new things and even then it was only after he’d observed and figured it all out in his head.
I feel really guilty. For starters this woman was honored as being one of the top music teachers in the state so for her to be at her wits end with my kid, well, that says something. Plus, her husband died suddenly last month so it’s not like she’s having a really easy time with life right now anyway and JP has to go and act like an asshole. I’d like to tell her to just whack him on the head with a xylophone mallet but I’m sure that’s against district policy or something. For now, when he acts like a twit, she has him go stand under the ice cream cone and just watch the other kids. Sometimes he cries but apparently standing under the ice cream cone repeatedly isn’t enough to make him behave.
She and I are having a tete a tete Thursday morning to figure out a plan (I truly don’t know what’s going on with him because JP tells me so little and I’ve only talked to her once) and then sit down with JP Thursday afternoon to present a united front.
In the meantime I’m left with wanting to bang my head against the wall. The kicker is that JP is musically inclined! He’s got a beautiful singing voice, a great sense of rhythm and he likes music! Good lord! Music should be one of his most favorite classes!
Ugh. My child is a punk.
Confessions of a terrible mother (May 7, 2009)
I don’t like my oldest son very much right now. Not very much at all. Did you know that 6 1/2 year old boys can be the most irritating people in the world? They can.
JP is being a special kind of punk. He goes out of his way to piss SG off and, therefore, makes my life about ten times harder than necessary. He’s copped an attitude that I thought only teenagers were capable of. He won’t do anything unless I’ve asked/ told him 20 goddamn times to do it. His table manners are appalling (despite my best efforts and constant nagging). He’s being flippant and rude. Yesterday I came within inches of slapping him soap opera style. I despise feeling this way.
I kind of hate Kindergarten. Everyone told me that once JP went to school he’d morph into a smart mouthed jerk and they were right. My sweet, kind, loving little boy only puts in cameo appearances now. There are days when bedtime can’t come soon enough because I want him to shut up and get the hell away from me. Isn’t that terrible?
If there’s anything I’ve learned in the last couple weeks it’s that it’s not going to get any easier. He’s going to keep getting older and learning things I don’t want him to know. He’s going to have friends that I hate. Some kid is going to make him feel miserable about himself. I will have to stand by and watch him struggle because that’s what good parents have to do sometimes. A day will come when pulling him onto my lap and loving on him won’t be a possibility because he’s going to hate me and taking him on special dates will be a thing of the past because it’ll be too damn embarrassing to be seen with me.
I miss my little blonde toe head- my sweet, funny, loving little man…who I now see trying to scale the fireplace to climb on the roof. Holy hell. I want my baby back.
When school calls in the middle of the day it’s NOT good (May 13, 2009)
Let’s preface this by saying it started over a girl and his tooth was already loose.
JP’s gym teacher called Friday morning to inform me my son was in a fight during class. JP pushed another kid to the ground because, “W (the boy) wanted to sit next to R (the girl) and she didn’t want to sit next to W, she wanted me to sit next to her and told me to get W away from her. So I did.” My son is so chivalrous, no? *sigh* So JP pushed him and W popped back up and punched him in the mouth. It knocked out one of his teeth and the blood started running. The best part is that the fight ended then and there with both boys bursting into tears.
I’m not glad that JP got punched. That’s not cool. But I am glad the other kid defended himself. I do not want JP getting the idea that it’s okay to push other people around and I’m sure being punched in the mouth left more of an impression than if W did nothing at all.
In addition to missing gym and music at school JP is also grounded at home from video games, the computer and watching DVD’s for a week. Oh, and the tooth fairy didn’t come for that tooth.
School is out in nine more days. Here’s hoping I don’t get any other phone calls.
Perfect (November 4, 2009)
This is the e-mail I just sent to the child psychologist. Feel free to weigh in.
Last week we had JP’s parent-teacher conference and for the most part he’s doing beautifully in first grade. Generally speaking he’s above grade level in all academic aspects, is engaged in class and participates. However there have been some issues with other boys bullying JP (the teacher is addressing this) but I think JP is bringing on some of it himself, so to speak, because he’s crying in class. If JP gets lost on a worksheet, doesn’t understand something, gives the wrong answer, etc. he becomes very frustrated and embarrassed and begins to cry. His teacher, Mrs. N, is at a loss as well. She says she tries not to offer a ton of sympathy when he begins to cry in class and instead will just quietly ask him how crying fixes anything and tries to get him to come up with ways to remedy the situation that are actually productive. She says she’s gotten to the point where she won’t call on JP unless his hand is raised and she’s confident he knows the answer because she doesn’t want him to start crying. At his school Halloween party I witnessed for myself just how upset he can get. The crying embarrasses him as well because he sits there silently, tears streaming down his face and he turns his head away from the rest of the class.
His need for perfection and to be the best is baffling to me because Mr. G and I certainly don’t put a ton of pressure on him- all we ask is that he try. The conference last week brought to light another issue we’ve had at home with JP being completely unwilling to do any extra curricular activities. We’ve offered music lessons, playing a variety of sports, art classes, swim lessons, hip hop classes, etc. and he wants no part of any of it. I had erroneously figured he didn’t want to participate because he’d rather hang out at home but now I think he’s worried about failing and since he doesn’t know how to do some of those activities, he would rather not do it at all than risk not succeeding.
Dr. C, I don’t know how to help him or what to do. It is immensely frustrating and scary for me because the need for personal perfection was one of my very worst personality traits. I’m terrified of JP going to some of the extremes that I did once I hit my late teens and early 20′s. I also don’t want him to be bullied any more than he’s already endured and I want him to enjoy activities outside of school and home.
We praise him like crazy at home on his successes at school. We praise his artwork and use words like “creative” and “interesting” and “unique” instead of just calling it “really good.” I laud his abilities with the baby to anyone who’ll listen and Mr. G and I freely admit when we’ve made mistakes. In fact I really try to point them out to JP and act as blasé as possible so he knows that we mess up too, that it’s okay and that it’s no big deal. All that aside, I feel like we need to do something more to help him and I don’t have a clue where to start.
Just…wow (Februrary 13, 2010)
Among the bazillion drafts in my queue is one about how awesome JP is when his sister isn’t around and what a neat kid he is, etc. The spectacle he created at the bookstore today completely negates that post. I can’t remember the last time I felt so frustrated or embarrassed by one of the children. We literally had to carry JP, kicking and screaming, out of the store.
He was pissed because I had the audacity to lay down the rule that the bookstore gift cards their grandparents gave them had to be used for books. Of course the second we walked in there was a big display of Percy Jackson action figures and swords. JP’s nose was immediately out of joint because I wouldn’t let him buy Hades. There was much muttering and general throwing of attitude followed by a crystal clear warning that if he didn’t get his shit together, we would leave. He bypassed the hundreds of books in the kids section and camped in front of the toys muttering to himself and after a few minutes declared there were no good books.
Jesus H. Christ.
So we left. And all hell broke loose. I’ve seen 3-year old in the throes of a temper tantrum exert more self-control than my 7-year old. Added to my signficant embarrassment is the fact that JP looks like he’s 10 or 11. So while his epic freak out was wholly inappropriate even for his age, it seemed worse than it actually was because he looks so much older. Frack.
In the car he became completely unhinged (kicking seats, hitting windows, etc.) and got into even more trouble. I also threatened to sell his stuff to pay for any damages to my van and/ or cover the emergency room co-pay should he injure himself. That put an end to those shenanigans.
Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.
Parenting check (March 2, 2010)
Why can’t it be easy?
Took JP to the pediatrician for a med check last week. I wasn’t too worried about his meds, he seemed to be doing pretty good, but was concerned about his weight. He’s lost 4 lbs. and grown a little over 1/2 inch since November. Of course, the day after our doctor’s visit my child seemed to come unhinged. Lately he’s had the self-control of a gnat. Mornings and evenings are enough to make me want to scream- and sometimes I do. JP’s ADHD tends to manifest itself physically so keeping his hands (feet, legs, rest of his body) to himself has been virtually impossible during the times when his medicine hasn’t kicked in or has waned completely. Last night he was trying to tell SG something and she wasn’t listening…so he slapped her. There’s no thought between impulse and action, he gets frustrated, he acts out. That tiny little voice that would tell most kids “HEY! THAT’S A REALLY BAD IDEA! DON’T DO IT!” seems to fail my child when he needs it most.The behavior progress report (they get little behavior charts every week) was atrocious. He either lost recess entirely or lost 5 minutes of recess almost every day last week and he lost it again yesterday. “It’s okay,” he told me cheerfully, “I just sit there and have recess in my head.” While I commend him for having an active imagination, he’s not seeing the point- YOU NEED TO BEHAVE IN CLASS.
I’m so tired of this. I feel like every time we’re in a good spot, rather every time JP is in a good spot, it’s a fleeting victory before we get shoved back to square one.
Tick tock… (March 31, 2o10)
Laggin told me that you want to know the monsters you’re dealing with and she’s right. Of course she’s right. But waiting for the introduction…goddamn. I just want to hide. It feels like The very foundation of our family is about to get rocked to its core and I’d be lying if I said I was anything other than terrified.
Update: The appointment is TOMORROW, not today. Neat. Since, you know, I thought it was today, arranged child care, got good and ready to hear what they had to tell us. I’m ready to be done and have a plan but will have to wait until, ironically enough, April Fools’ Day. Shit.
Update II: Since I thought I would have more info by now, I opted not to delve into the specifics because I don’t definitively know what we’re dealing with. It seems shitty of me to leave a post like this hanging without further explanation so this is the short version of what’s happening:
For the last couple weeks we’ve taken JP for 2-hour evaluation appointments with a behavioral pediatrician. Before spring break JP was meeting with the school social worker for a small group. Last Friday his teacher gave me her BASC evaluation and, like a fool, I read it. On Monday I talked to the social worker about how he did in his small group. The short version is that the issue I was aware of (anxiety) is much more acute and darker than I realized. Frighteningly so. I *thought* we were going this morning to discuss the behavioral pediatrician’s results but, whoops, our appointment is actually tomorrow morning. Part of me doesn’t want to know. What I’ve been confronted with in the last week has been heartbreaking enough. The other part of me knows that we need to take a much, much more proactive approach with JP than we’ve been doing and that there’s a lot that needs to change (parenting, punishments, the way we talk to him, how things are handled at school, if he should even continue with public school, etc.). I’m also looking at alternative treatments to use alongside conventional medicine. He’s already doing yoga but we’re going to start doing relax and restorative yoga (him and I with our Yogi). I’m also getting ready to research diet, massage, and things like that. So, anyway, that’s the deal and I’m sort of freaking out. I went my relax and restore class Monday night and cried. A lot. It’s scary and frustrating and exhausting and I’m finding this whole parenting gig to be a helluva lot more than a I bargained for.
We have a plan (April 1, 2010)
JP, on top of having ADHD, has anxiety disorder.
He starts therapy next week, we’ll do family therapy as well (him, Mr. G and I) and then occasionally Mr. G and I will go to parenting therapy. He will also be working with the school social worker weekly (she is a total rock star, btw), he’ll continue with kids yoga, add a restorative session (it’s kind of like focused relaxing and it’s lovely) and we may consider a massage here and there. Mr. G and I have been encouraged read this book. Quite frankly, I don’t put a lot of stock in parenting books but this is something I don’t understand- at least not from JP’s perspective- and in order to help and parent him I’ve got to understand. I go tomorrow to conference with his teacher and we’ll get a 504 plan started. I also need to touch base with the music teacher who, I think, is unintentionally making JP’s life at school a lot more difficult than it needs to be and he’s responding in kind.
One of my biggest fears was hearing that he was on the spectrum and, thankfully, he’s not. If he were (and this is why I was scared) this would make everything so very difficult for him (and us).
Even though I’m still very worried about him (he talked to the doctor and the school social worker about being scared and using phrases like “it feels like I’m being pushed of a cliff”) at least now we can move forward and make progress.
Confessions of a terrible mother (December 19, 2010)
Lately my 8-year old son is one of my least favorite people to be around. The normal obnoxious 8-year old boy stuff* I could deal with but lately he’s just a wholly unpleasant, hateful, disrespectful punk. Quite frankly I don’t like him more often than I do.
Having a kid with ADHD (in JP’s case this means poor impulse control, not knowing when to stop and tunnel vision) combined with anxiety disorder (my hand to gawd, this kid could give the most ridiculous conspiracy theorists a run for their money), who’s also really smart is just so damn hard. So. Damn. Hard. I often look at my little boy- who’s amazing, who I love more than life itself, who I utterly delight in when it’s just the two of us- and think that the Universe really screwed him over in giving him me as a mother. He deserves so much better than me. He deserves someone with infinite patience, who doesn’t yell, who’s better organized and calm. Who doesn’t have issues of her own, who instinctively knows what he needs and can give it to him. That, ladies and gentlemen, is not this girl. A lot of JP’s problems, most probably, are because of me. Because I’m not doing something or I lack a skill set or…something. Utterly inept. That’s how I feel.
*8-year old boys love fart jokes. And pee jokes. And poop jokes. And butt jokes. And jokes that make no sense whatsoever and are not funny (to anyone with a normal sense of humor) in the slightest but are HILARIOUS to them. And they like to tell you how wrong you are and correct you (“Uh, it is not 8:00. It’s 7:57.”) because you’re woefully stupid. And they like to roll their eyes and mutter under their breath.
I’d like to point out that I’m not 16 and pregnant (January 21, 2011)
Nor am I a teenager. Or, for that matter, pregnant. What I mean is that I’m an adult. An honest-to-god, almost middle age adult with three kids, a house of my own, a husband and a mini van. I may not have all my shit figured out but goddamn by now I at least know how to handle behavior issues with JP.
I’m so fucking irritated.
My parents picked him up from school today and promptly called when they got to their house. JP was very ill-behaved during the last hour of class and in his silliness left his handheld video game in his cubby. But what JP did isn’t the point. My parents are the point.
Mom talked to me first when they called, “Kell, I want JP to talk to you. And I hope…well, I just hope you handle this the right way.” After talking to my son I talked to my mom. My parents were always really big on words when I was growing up. It wasn’t enough that I’d been caught misbehaving, oh no, they’d harp and harp and harp. So not only did JP get a 20 minute conversation in school with my mother and his teacher, he also got a lecture from my father during the 25 minute drive home. For starters I don’t really think it was my parents’ place to take JP to task over his behavior. Second, Dad’s lectured was laced with inaccuracies, was focused primarily on JP’s behavior next year (and 7 1/2 months is woefully far away for an 8-year old) and probably utilized more scare tactics than necessary (um, no, there’s not detention in 3rd grade). And then JP had to sit there while my mom harped to at me.
Look, when JP misbehaves at school I try to let him leave it at school. I may talk to him about it but, generally, I figure his teacher has handled the situation and if she wants me to weigh in, she’ll let me know. I grew up in a house where grudges were held (and held…and held some more) and I try not to do that to my own children. Does he get off free and clear at home? No. But unless it’s super bad behavior (or repeated bad behavior that results in a phone call) JP and I will briefly talk (do you know what you did wrong, how could you handle it better next time, etc. types of questions) and that’s it. It’s what our psychologist (who my mom hero worships btw) told us to do, it’s what the therapist told us to do, it’s what the school social worker has told us to do. It is not what my parents do.
So when I said (irritably, because JP has been a pain in the ass this week and I’m frustrated by his behavior and because my mom was making a much bigger deal about what happened today than necessary), “Okay. Well, he knows what the consequence is and now we need to stop talking about it.” and she got huffy with me (my hell!), I wanted to lose it. I didn’t. At least not out loud.
What gets me about all of this is how it started. “I hope you handle this the right way.” Does she have any idea how insulting that is? Why not just say, “I seriously doubt your ability to raise your children but since you gave birth to him I’m required to let you try.” That, at least, would’ve been honest.
This is not working (March 4, 2011)
I’ve gotten to the point with JP where I just feel like waving the white flag. This cycle or ebb and flow or whatever it is that he goes through is exhausting. I’m not sure if it’s like this with other ADHD kids but with my ADHD kid it seems like things go reasonably well for ____ weeks/months and then, with little preamble, they’re just not. And he’s struggling- at home and at school- with the normal day-to-day stuff that are just second nature to his peers. The filter flies out the window. The little part of his brain that says, “time to focus” stops working. He quits processing the stuff around him and starts making weird sounds. Impulse control? What’s that? There’s no pause button, no off switch. It doesn’t occur to him that putting his elbow in his not-quite-2- year old brother’s face is both mean and a surefire way to get in trouble. “I was only putting my elbow in his face! I didn’t hurt him!” He didn’t want XC on the chair with him and he didn’t hurt him so what’s the big fucking deal? Words don’t work.
YOUR BROTHER IS NOT A DOG. YOU WOULDN’T TREAT A DOG THAT WAY. So I put my elbow in his face which pissed him off but I’m pretty sure he didn’t understand. He can’t.
And I just want to scream at the Universe and say FOR FUCK’S SAKE! COULD YOU CUT MY KID SOME SLACK? COULD YOU CUT ME SOME SLACK? COULD WE JUST HAVE A SOLUTION AND MAKE IT WORK?
The frustration on his teacher’s face is tangible. Bless her heart. She’s trying. We’re all trying. I can’t imagine trying to teach with JP around. No thank you. But she’s trying. And she understands that the behavior isn’t (usually) purposeful. But even though I know he can’t help it, it still makes it hard for me to love him. And I’m his mom. I have a hard time being patient. And I’m his mom. I have a hard time remembering there’s only so much I can reasonably expect from him when his meds aren’t doing their job. And I’m his mom. Plop him in a classroom with 20 other kids, of whom at least 5 have behavioral issues, and sweet Christ what a nightmare. Yet she’s patient and loving and reasonable. And I’m trying. But I’m his mom. I shouldn’t have to try. I should just be.
My baby (March 6, 2011)
JP’s sheets weren’t dry before bedtime tonight. A hectic weekend combined with exhausted parents= forgetting to get the sheets in the dryer on time. He handled it like a champ. SG would’ve had a hissy fit. Personally, I can’t stand lying on the mattress pad but JP just went with it. “That’s okay,” he said. And promptly crashed within a few minutes of lights out. For a kid that drives me crazy so much, I’m amazed at all the stuff that he rolls with- a restaurant screwing up his hamburger, me (apologizing profusely) for not getting something done that he’s asked for, a movie he really wants to see being sold out. Stuff like that- stuff that most kids would whine about- my JP just says, “That’s okay, Mommy.” And every time he says that, it sort of kills me.
I love that little boy so much.
So tonight we got JP out of bed to put his sheets on. Mr. G hustled to get it done and I sat on the floor with my gangly 8-year old nestled against my shoulder and I was reminded of when he was a baby. I held him to sleep in our big chair every night until he was nearly a year old. Baby JP would nestle into my arms and I would gently stroke the hair around his face while he drifted off. JP wasn’t a terribly cuddly baby- he liked to be held but he wanted to see everything around him- so bedtime and nap time was just as much for me as it was for him. He was such a sweet, inquisitive, happy baby. There was always an element of cautiousness about him but he liked everybody and was outgoing and friendly and happy. He was just so happy. I would give anything- anything- to have my baby boy back.
I used to wish, if I could go back in time, that I could go back to the night my grandfather died so I could be at his side. I will always regret choosing to sleep at home that night (I had been camping in my aunt’s laundry room on a make-shift pallet for several nights before then) and not sucking it up to be there for him. But, honestly, if I got one do-over, it would be JP’s the first few years of JP’s life. I wish I enjoyed him more. I wish I could be the mom to Baby JP that I am to XC (so much more patient and relaxed). I wish we’d waited to have SG*. I wish I had recognized the red flags of postpartum depression after SG was born and started medication sooner, rather than later (JP’s behavior issues hit a few months before he was three and after six-months of my being a hot damn mess thanks to PPD and loads of stress) because I think that time was just as hellish for my toddler as it was for me. I wish, oh how I wish, I was a better mom to him. I look at him so often and wonder what the hell I did wrong. And I think about some circumstances (his preschool experience when he was 4, the mess that was Kindergarten) and wonder what I could’ve done differently. What I should’ve done differently. Because, damn, I just feel like I’ve let my son down.
Tomorrow we’re touring a private school that we’re considering for JP. I’m worried about his ability to survive next year (socially and emotionally) and my fears are compounded by the severe, harsh, stupendously idiotic budget cuts hitting Kansas schools (thanks so much, Governor Brownback. I fucking hate you.). I find myself, once again, wondering if public school is the right place for him. Or if I should try to homeschool. Or if we should send him to private school. I worry so much for JP, about JP…he’s my baby and I just want him to be comfortable and happy- in his own skin, around others- and I wish I knew how the hell to accomplish that.
*I don’t regret having SG. But, hindsight being 20/20, it would’ve been better if she had been born when JP was older. SG was so high needs, stressful and demanding and there was so much emotional chaos at that time. I wish we could’ve had SG a year or two later than we did because I think it would’ve been better for JP who was only 27 months old and still very much a baby himself.
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