|this guy right here ...|
i tell a lot of stories on this blog, sharing ups and downs of these two beautiful blond boys we’re lucky enough to share our lives with. and there are lots of stories to share, because they are active and awesome kids who make us laugh and cry, make us rue our weaknesses and be so proud of our strengths.
no stories today, though. today i want to talk about transparency.
there’s a strangeness to the era of social media. we share the most intimate details of some parts of our lives, yet edit heavily to portray the “best” of our selves.
but the best of our selves is truly that we are human, and multifaceted, and dimensional – that we do not fit into happy smiley boxes of vacation pictures and beautifully decorated walls and immaculate homes and elaborately cooked meals. (tho there is nothing wrong with any of those things – but we are more.)
shew, that’s an elaborate preface for a little blog entry.
(another little preface here: i'm writing all of this from my point of view and with my emotions. please know that i am not alone. my husband is hand in hand with me on this journey, and struggling with his own emotions about it. i would not presume to write his perspective, but rest assured we're in this very much together.)
i've been pretty open that we’ve been challenged with john’s behavior lately. the behavioral tendencies he’s battled for the past year or so at school have escalated intensely in the past month. what used to be periodic episodes of anger or frustration expressed through yelling or inappropriate silliness have turned into near-daily bursts of rage and uncontrollable behavior.
between incidents - and the majority of the day - he is still my sweet, mannerly, engaging, charming john. but in the two weeks previous to this one, he was removed from his classroom twice for removing his clothing and urinating in class; twice for throwing blocks or toys; once for throwing chairs; once for hitting a parent and younger sibling there to pick up a friend. his school and teachers have been supportive and amazing, but there is a limit, and he is near to being asked to leave.
thursday morning was the breaking point, for me. john had another incident early in the day. usually his tough times are afternoons, but the excitement of the fourth of july parade they were doing or the visiting parents or the birthday party for america or SOMETHING overwhelmed him, and they called me to come get him.
there is nothing quite like entering a daycare in tears against the tide of preschoolers pouring out for their patriotic parade - their teachers happily shuffling them along, their parents snapping pictures and cheering, their red white and blue paper hats and signs fluttering - to hit home that your child is not ok.
my child is not ok.
that's a terrible thing to say out loud.
i made a tearful call that morning to john's behavioral therapist - we just started seeing her three weeks ago - and told her what was happening. i had a conference with the school scheduled for 2pm, and i feared that john was done. the therapist listened - they're great at that - and suggested i go ahead and call an occupational therapist for an evaluation of john. she hears a lot of things in his behavior that suggest sensory processing disorder, and an aval with an ot would help identify the issues and start the development of a plan for john.
later that day, i had the tough conference at school that they wanted john to take a week off of school until that plan was in place. they would then allow him back and they are willing to do anything recommended by the occupational or behavioral therapists to help ... but if things don't improve, he will be disenrolled.
my child is not ok.
i have spent the past several days beginning to make peace with the fact that john is not "normal." there are big quotes around normal, because who is? but there are degrees, like with everything, and MOST kids are never in danger of being kicked out of pre k. MOST kids have temper outbursts but don't throw chairs at their friends. MOST kids don't have to have a cadre of therapists helping them figure things out.
and that's all ok. it really is - and intellectually i recognize that with that coaching and assistance and the toolbox we're building john will be just fine. he'll grow to be "normal" or whatever passes for it - i am no expert on that!
but in my heart, in my soul, i am crying and rending my clothes. because my beautiful child is not ok. my amazing little boy is not ok right now.
and i do feel guilt about even thinking that, because there are kids out there who are way less ok than john. his condition is not life threatening. he is healthy and well. he is (presumably) neurotypical and able to recognize his behaviors and learn coping mechanisms and be fine. and even if he wasn't - those non neurotypical kids are ok too! he's alive. he's running and jumping and laughing.
but as my friends will remind me that i tell them all the time - it's not a competition of who has it worse. this is our path and it's really hard right now. i'm struggling. john's struggling. our family is struggling. and you know what?
that's part of life.
so instead of sharing a pinteresting craft or an amazing dinner idea, i am sharing this: my child is not ok. i am not ok. but we will be, and your love means the world.
i'm gonna finish this up on a brighter note. let's count a few amazing blessings:
1) my oh-so-flexible work from home job with an amazing dear friend as my boss means i can make this work - i can shuttle to appointments, work with my husband to cover john's week off of school, and still crank out some great work in the quiet moments
2) my oh-so-supportive husband who is on my team and is my partner in all of this and loves these kids with all his soul
3) my funny smart john whose company i cherish even in these rough spells
4) my funny smart charlie who chugs along happily with our family (and has thankfully fully recovered from his viral rash from last week)
5) the resources and drive that our family has to seek out the help that john needs
6) the friends who love us and understand when i don't return calls or schedule meetups or manage to shower on a given day
7) the parents of john's friends who still see the good in him and want to arrange playdates with my son even though he's going through a tough spell
i could go on and on.
we will be ok.