We arrive at Thursday. We’re a little the worse for wear, but we’re in one piece. J is doing well. He is still repeating things ad nauseam, but the anxiety is slowly abating, and he is happier and has more energy.
Yesterday, after a day of anxiety (for me,) and excellent work (for him…I was too scattered to clean house, people) J came home in a wonderful mood. His teacher reported another FANTASTIC day, and J emerged from the bus with a wide smile and happy disposition. This continued throughout, and at 5:15 PM, without anyone suggesting or prompting, he came upstairs asking if it was time to run. When we turned to look at the clock and nodded YES, he ran up the stairs to look for TGG, and off they went to the treadmill and the stepper and all that other good stuff.
The sight of J voluntarily bouncing up the stairs in search of his sweats and sneakers, and egging TGG on to take him to the gym…it’s just heartwarming. The same kid who used to sit on his beanbag, or in bed, or on the sofa, like The Caterpillar does as he talks to Alice, now WANTS to go to the gym. He’s more motivated to go to the gym than I am…
I think that we’re, once more, working our way through this med reduction in a positive way. The difficulties of Tuesday have become clearer after talking to some of the people who interact with him. The consensus has been “when he’s having a difficult moment, he needs to be taken to a place where he has space, and you cannot TOUCH HIM!” Words of wisdom from the bus driver and his bus aide. Yes, yes, yes…like a small child having a meltdown, J will not respond well to attempts at hugging or restraining him. Space is needed, and there’s a BIP in place for that.
I understand that teachers, aides and staff feel affection for J, and I appreciate that they care about him, but I also know in my bones that -in those moments- J needs a firm response from the grown-ups surrounding him. I love my son with all my heart and soul, but I cannot turn to mush just because he “seems” to need coddling; J’s realization of self-control comes from what we show him, and we can guide him to proper behavior without judgment.
All you need is love. (Wah wah wah wah WAH!) That’s true. If there is love in your actions, something about them will have a better effect than if you’re acting out of habit. Any task worth doing is worth doing well, a spoonful of sugar, and all that good stuff…yes, yes. However, you cannot feed a moment of self-injurious behavior and anger with a “there, there, there.” I feel the “there, there, there,” but it wouldn’t be helpful to J if I succumb to it; I save the “there, there, there” for when he realizes how sorry he is that he’s behaved like an ass, and he needs consolation. The love is there, and so is the compassion, but there is also a lesson that I need to convey and I do.
I’ve learned, over time, to not get angry at J (at least not outwardly.) I tell him that what he has done isn’t the best way to respond, for his sake and for other people’s sake. At home we always say “we don’t negotiate with emotional terrorists.” At school, because the world has become a place where a lawsuit has become the only expression of taking umbrage, there are tenterhooks that activate immediately among staff. These tenterhooks, sadly, operate at the same time and in support of the layer of eggshells they’re already walking on.
Is that what we have done to this world with our sensitivity? I know I complain and air out my grievances about certain things here, but I also think that I simply expect ANSWERS not just REACTIONS. I have an emotional response to things that happen at school, but I turn the dial to RATIONAL, or -at least- I try to…I want to know WHAT we can DO to help J and staff. This, from what I’ve heard, makes me an intractable hard-ass who is demanding and difficult to work with, but when I sit down for IEP meetings, we end up with very reasonable goals that I don’t expect the school to achieve alone…we are rolling up our sleeves and trying to support the system in its efforts for J.
The problem is, and I am wearing my chain mail and armor for this one, that we all think our kids are special and deserve the best, but we don’t fully realize that EVERY SINGLE KID is special, and that every other parent feels about their kid in the same way we do. The esprit de corps that should exist among those of us who face a similar (lifelong) challenge with our children flies out the door when it comes to “what my kid needs.” I ask if J is okay…after asking if everyone else is OK. If J has done harm to himself, I will deal with that, but an important part of my mission in life where J is concerned is that he doesn’t ever believe hurting another person because HE is frustrated is an acceptable thing.
The urge to hug a person who is in pain, angry or frustrated is great. There are moments when, if I could pick him up and hold him like I used to when he was little, I’d have J on my lap while I coo consolation at him. When he is calm, happy, relaxed, there is a tremendous amount of cuddling and hugging and encouraging that goes on, but when he’s had a rough moment and needs his space to level off, I have to give him that, and a spoonful of disapproval with a bowlful of advice.
We’re cresting the hill…I’m sure there’s a nice, panoramic, softly winding road ahead, and some of it will be downhill, but hopefully gently, gradually. I understand the need for plummeting (leaps of faith require the risk of plummeting, right?,) but I’m pretty sure we’ve found the right pass among the rocks on this part of the terrain. If I could talk to the rest of the hikers (the ones in the team that doesn’t camp with us,) I’d remind them that love is awesome and appreciated, but that love sometimes has to mark territory and say “enough.” There is, for J at least, solace in being told “there’s another way, and it’s available to you, but you have to be willing to put in the effort.”
And now, to Friday…