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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Whispers of Distress

This past weekend we went to a new movie theater. It's a brand new theater that has state of the art ammenities. Like LaZBoy chairs that you can RECLINE in and put your FOOT REST up to watch your MOVIE!!! What?!? Why hasn't anyone done this sooner? Who wants to watch a movie while your body is all scrunched into a tiny, hard, squeaky seat like you're in Coach on an airplane? No legroom! Nowhere to stretch out or cross your legs! Stuffed in like sardines! Crazy. At this new theater you get assigned seats, like you're going to a play or concert. You can reserve your tickets so if you have a big family like ours, you're not peering through the dark, trying to find a place to all sit together. I love it. The concession stand is spotless and smells of pristine popcorn- not like older theaters that smell like a mixture of stale sweat and stale popcorn. There are soda machines that have a million choices that you get to pick with a touch screen. My kids probably love the soda machines more than anything else. Although Ella adored the Family Bathroom. It has a big toilet and a small toilet, a big sink and a small one. So she got a huge kick out of the fact that she and Mama could go potty, at the same time, next to each other. We laughed and laughed. She thought that was a riot.

The rest of the family had been to this theater before, but it was my first time. I was SO excited. It was nirvana. It was a little slice of Heaven on my Saturday afternoon. The kids were all calm and happy. We were going to see a kid movie that I was looking forward to. The theater was overwhelmingly awesome. I was having FUN.

We got to our assigned seats. The kids argued a little bit about who was going to sit where, but for the most part even that went smoothly. The kids clambored over each other, trying to show me how to work the buttons on the chair, because they know me so well and knew I'd be THRILLED with this amazing contraption. They wanted to see and share my excitement. It was really fun. 

We all got settled in. The kids all took off their shoes. Ella had her weighted blanket nestled on her lap. Everyone had snacks. Ahhh. 

I kept thinking "Is this really going to be such a fun, easy, good time? Are the kids really not going to have any problems? Can it be that our family is actually doing a 'normal' family activity without any major malfunctions??"

Wrong. I should have seen the tiny signs from the beginning of the day. But sometimes you don't know if the signs are going to snowball into a major problem, or if they will just stick around and poke you at small intervals all day. So, while I noticed that one of my boys was "off," I just kept going about my day, hoping that the tiny issues would stay just that- tiny. 

About 3 minutes into the previews, the boy sitting next to me started to send me whispered messages. He wasn't feeling well. His tummy hurt. He felt like he was going to throw up. He didn't want to see a movie. Did he mention he wasn't feeling well? Oh, and in case I'd forgotten, he wasn't feeling well. 

I said maybe you just ate too much too quickly just now. Take a little sip of soda and relax. See if that helps your tummy. Nope, that didn't work. More loud whispers. I said lean back. Take a deep breath. Do you really need to throw up? No, he said. He just felt icky. 

On and on and on the whispers of distress went. Finally, I asked my boy if he wanted to go home. He said no. He asked me why this happens to him every time he sees a movie. Why does his heart race and he doesn't feel well? I didn't have an answer. Sometimes I don't have answers for the hardest questions that I wish I could have answers for.

So I spent the movie whispering back and forth with my distressed son. Worrying he would vomit all over me and the beautiful theater. He assured me he probably wouldn't vomit, but you never know. He didn't want to go home. But he didn't want to stay. Gr. It's impossible to relax when you have a distressed, anxious kid. I looked over at Alex at one point and he was sound asleep in his big, comfy chair. Humph. Must be nice.

So after Alex's nap and the movie, we went out of the theater. Ella had to use that awesome bathroom again, so we had to wait while another family finished using it. My distressed son was starting to escalate. He had wanted to buy a book after the movie. Alex and I hadn't had a chance to discuss it yet. That irritated him. We were split up, trying to get small people into appropriate bathrooms, and still weren't able to talk about the book. This irritated my already-distressed son more. I willed people to walk out of the theater and past us faster, because I had a feeling that my volcano of a kiddo was going to blow. 

Sure enough. He started pounding on the wall. He started swearing and yelling. I told Alex he and the other kids would take one car home and The Volcano and I would leave right now with the other car. Everything I said, didn't say, did, or didn't do irritated my son more. I walked too fast, he said. So I slowed down. Then he yelled that I was walking too slowly. He was very mad that he couldn't get a book. He was very mad about everything. I just wanted to get to the car to enclose The Volcano in a relatively safe, private area. 

I didn't even make it out of the parking lot before I had to pull over. My son smacked my arm and was hitting the window, so I pulled over and told him that it was dangerous for me to drive while he was acting like this. I said "Tell me when we you can handle this situation and we can drive home."

When we finally started driving, my son was in tears. He bawled "Why am I like this? Am I insane? What's wrong with me? Why do I feel like this? I need to kill someone. Who can I kill? Why am I insane?"

I calmly explained to my little Volcano that he is not insane. He asked me if I was sure. I said yes. I'm sure. You are not insane. Your brain just works differently than other people's, and sometimes things are harder for you. When you get sick, your brain can't function right, it seems, and your emotions get all wonky. But sometimes when your emotions get wonky, your brain can't function right. Maybe you're getting sick. Maybe you're worried about something. I don't know what the beginning of this problem is. I don't know what it is that's making your brain go wonky, but it's either that you're getting sick or that your worrying about something.

Man, I'm good. Sure enough, yesterday the school nurse called with a sick boy, wanting to talk to me. He broke into tears on the phone because he felt so terrible. I went to pick him up from school. He and I were both sick with the same thing- fever, feeling tremendously tired and icky all over. When this kind of illness hits me, I'm fussy and just want to lie down and not live life until I feel better. But that's the extent of it. When my Volcano gets this kind of illness, he is sure he will die. His brain is on fire, it's inflamed, it gets all wonky. Which makes his behavior crazy and erratic, his emotions irritable and violent and out of control. All because he's got a bug. 

So my Saturday Awesome Movie Theater Experience didn't go as smoothly as I first hoped it would. Such is my life. What can you do? You can't control this kind of thing, you can't change it. You just have to walk through it with your Volcano, teaching and guiding along the way, keeping him safe and everyone around him safe. Hoping it is just because of a temporary illness, and hoping it will get better. It isn't quite better yet; my Volcano is still home sick. If we don't have the right drink, there's an eruption. If we can't go to Panera for lunch- eruption. He has to work on his homework- eruption. It's incredible to me, even after 13 years of living with my little Volcano, that something like a virus can completely throw his world out of whack. We all feel horrible when we're sick, but there's horrible and then there's HORRIBLE. Poor Volcano. There's always hope that tomorrow he will be healthy again and his brain won't be so wonky anymore. 

There's always hope.

1 comment:

Full Spectrum Mama said...

I read this post in awe. No, for REAL.
At every turn that really mattered you were big-hearted and patient in a way few people could be. And your strong faith in your child(ren) shines through as well.