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Friday, April 24, 2015

"A Leader Must Remain Vigilant"

Lately, I watch my four little ones get on their respective buses with dread. I have a gaping pit of Worry in my stomach. Which school will call first today? Who will be sick? Which kid will do something wrong today? Which kid forgot something that I need to drop off? Which kid will do something that requires yet another mom to come pounding on my door, screaming about some wrong my child has committed against hers? Which teacher will email me a list of work my child hasn't turned in? Which teacher call with concerns about my child's behavior, lack of focus, or interventions that aren't working?


It's been a week of the unexpected. One of my dears got in big trouble at school. It was for something that's really not that terrible, but I understand and support the school being tough about even little misbehaviors. It's hard to have to get a phone call from a teacher, listening with embarrassment and disappointment as she describes what your son has done. It's really hard to know that this little boy has so much trouble with monitoring his behaviors and thinking through consequences. And if you do something wrong in the outside world, you have to pay the price. Even when that brings even more anxiety to your already anxious heart. Mama can't fix everything. Sometimes a kiddo has to learn the hard way that there are real world consequences for things, even when you have ADHD and are very impulsive. I was mostly disappointed that my little boy had done what he had done because I worry about his tender soul being crushed even more by the real world. 

I had to advocate for one of my other boys for many days, over many emails, because I felt a teacher was doing something that she shouldn't be doing in regards to his accommodations at school. The teacher, to her credit, was very patient and didn't get defensive, even when we were disagreeing. And she did eventually see where I was coming from and I did eventually help her to understand things from my boy's perspective, and she did do the right thing ultimately. But man, these things wear me out. I feel like I always have to be on guard. Like Robin from the show "Teen Titans" says, "I am the leader. And the leader must remain vigilant." Amen, brotha. Being vigilant is tiring. I wouldn't ever stop being vigilant, because someone has to be. But the things I have to be vigilant about, times four, is remarkable sometimes! Meds, homework, IEP's and 504's, tummy aches, head aches, med refills, activities outside of school, time on electronics, who needs which therapies, daily self-care: tooth brushing, bathing, dressing, shoes, every minute detail has to be reminded and overseen by the Leader. Meaning Mama. Mama must remain vigilant. 

My therapist asked me recently what would happen if I let up a little bit. If I didn't stay so constantly vigilant and just let some things go. I laughed and said our world would fall apart!! I laughed because I realize that it wouldn't fall apart. That's just my perception of things. If I am not on top of everything and juggling all the millions of balls in the air for this family, things will drop. Things will get missed. Things will fall apart. I'm not a control freak, don't get me wrong. When Ella "helps" with laundry and puts things away all mish-mashed into drawers, I am truly grateful. I don't care how things get put away, as long as they're put away. When we have a babysitter - that one time a decade- my instructions are simple: as long as my children are alive when I return, I consider the babysitter to be a success. I don't care what the babysitter does; if she doesn't clean up anything, if she lets the kids jump on beds and eat jelly beans until they're sick, if there are puzzle pieces and glitter strewn across my entire house, if they don't fall asleep when they're supposed to…I don't care as long as they're alive and relatively healthy when I get home. I don't care if Alex loads the dishwasher differently than I do. (I do have to admit, when he switched the places of spoons and forks when putting them away in the silverware drawer, I did switch them. But I swear, I'm not a control freak!!) I'm just grateful when he has time to do it.

I do think that if I didn't stay vigilant in all areas, we'd get by. But things wouldn't go as smoothly. I think ahead in every situation and try to foresee what will be needed. What will the children I'm picking up after school for therapy need in order to not have meltdowns? What do I need to bring to swimming lessons in case the kids are hungry? What do I need to stash in my purse for church to soothe noisy, restless bodies? Whose meds do I need to refill and when? If I don't stay on top of things, nobody else will.

This week, meds seem out of whack for some boys. One boy is having a whole lot more tics, and I'm sure it's a side effect from his meds. Some boys seem much more impulsive, which is leading to increased mania, anxiety, and more rages. I can't predict what one of my boys will do when he's in this mood. I don't know what to expect. This week he wasn't acting appropriately out in public, so he had to stay home from the youth group meeting at church. He was furious. Not getting his way is one of his very biggest triggers. He wants what he wants when he wants it. Even though he should have grown out of this need for immediate gratification years ago, his brain hasn't gotten to that point yet. So we work on it. But he couldn't have what he wanted on Wednesday night. So we had a big rage. As I held the boy who was raging on the floor, I told Alex and the other boy to just go to youth group. One boy shouldn't be punished when the other boy is having trouble. Alex asked if I could really handle the situation. I said yes. I wasn't sure what would happen, but I was sure I could handle it. Aidan was asleep on the couch and Ella was playing on the laptop. I could handle the boy on the floor. 

I'm alarmed at my son's level of impulsivity right now. I wasn't sure if he would run out of the house and try to drive a car to youth group himself. He said he was going to ride his bike there. I wasn't sure if he was really going to make a run for it, and try to bolt the whole, long long way to church. So I held onto him on the floor until he stopped freaking out. It's frightening to not know what your child is capable of, because meds aren't working right or brain chemistry is off because they're sick, or they're having a manic episode. It's scary. I've been driving the kids and had to pull over because things are being hurdled at me from the back seat, or a boy is beating up a sibling where I can't reach them. I've had kids unbuckle mid-drive and try to escape from the car while it's moving. I've had kids threaten suicide, and threaten to kill me. (Not that they would do either of these things, but they still have threatened.) I've had to break up some pretty hefty fights between kids. I've had to duck as plates have been thrown across the room. I've been slapped while trying to help with homework. I've had to do so many things that many parents don't ever have to even contemplate. These things happen because my children's brains are not working the way brains are supposed to work. They don't want act this way. They hate themselves when they act this way. So then as a parent, not only do you have to discipline for these actions, but you have to also tread carefully so you don't damage their already-fragile spirits. Because they have enough self-hatred to punish themselves for a lifetime.

People ask me all the time how I do it. I think that's a silly question, honestly. As a parent- any parent of any kind of kiddo- you do what you have to do. To stay vigilant. Because you are the Leader. I am the Leader of this crazy clan, and I wouldn't have it any other way. (Alex is our co-pilot. He also stays vigilant. It just sounds more cool when I write that I am the Leader. But he is the co-Leader. And I would be lost without him. Just so we're clear.) 

When your kids suffer from ADHD and Bipolar and Tourette's, you never know what your day will hold. You never know what sort of trouble you'll be fishing them out of this day. I try to make the best of it. To teach when there are lessons that come our way. To support and encourage and not let the world crush their sensitive little souls. To be a soft place to fall when the world is hard. And when they all walk up the steps of the bus every day, I breathe a prayer that they all make it home safely without too many bruises to their bodies or spirits. And once in a while I let a few tears fall after the buses pull away. Tears for the difficulties I know my four face every day. Tears for the cracks of weakness I need to let out but don't want my four to see. Tears for what has happened this week so far, and the dread of what could happen today. Tears of worry that my four babies will be ok out there in the hard world where people may not understand their disabilities. Be kind to my babies today, World.

1 comment:

Full Spectrum Mama said...

I had so many thoughts as I read through this. I've got two with challenging brains and behaviors and my son was bullied just before break and anxious going back and I relate, i relate, and my heart goes out to you...
BUT it truly does come down to your closing words, doesn't it?
World, please be kind to my babies today too!!!!!!!!!!