You may have noticed things are a bit… sparse… around here, lately. Ahem. There’s only so many times and so many ways I can write “My child has LOST HIS FOOL MIND and life is WEARING ME DOWN” before I just back away from the computer and curl up in the corner for a while.
There have been good days and bad days. Rather than building up a thicker skin and greater patience, I find that my ability to deal gracefully with Monkey’s rough periods is eroding. This has been dragging on for months, now, and my reaction when he’s busy morphing into Angry Delusional Hulkboy starts with about a nanosecond of “oh poor baby must be feeling really rotten” and quickly shifts to “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WILL YOU PLEASE JUST CHILL OUT.” I mean, I would love to tell you that I am a steady pinnacle of love and gentle support, but the reality is that sometimes it feels like a good day if I don’t resort to pelting him with Advil and barking through clenched teeth that no one likes being sick, but not everyone has to be a complete jerk when they are.
It’s wearing on the whole family. That’s the truth of it. Not only is that not terribly entertaining, it’s downright depressing most of the time. So.
But tomorrow he’ll have surgery and that will be a whole ‘nother chapter of awful—thank you for sharing your stories, both good and bad, on the previous post—but one with a finite duration and which will, PLEASE GOD, lead to better times. Greater health. Better sleep. Fewer “I feel yucky” nerve impulses that his brain interprets as “YARG! HULK ANGRY! HULK SMASH! HULK SERIOUSLY PARANOID!”
Of course, knowing how rough the surgical recovery is likely to be, I’m nervous. But I’m trying to focus on the Better that comes after.
Yesterday I plugged an unfamiliar office address into the GPS and took Monkey for a complete auditory workup, per the surgeon’s request. The results were encouraging; although his hearing is now compromised in both ears (“What?”), there’s no damage, so getting his ears drained should fix him right up. Monkey chatted with the tech and made sure to end his time in the soundproof booth by pantomiming being stuck in a box, and he was generally sweet and charming and the staff there was totally taken with him.
I bought him a donut on the way home, which he happily munched for the remainder of the drive. We’d been home for maybe fifteen minutes when he came into my office for the third time in a row, interrupting me on a phone call to announce he was bored, and when I asked him which part of “Find something to do and give me half an hour to work uninterrupted” he didn’t understand, he screamed at me that I’m mean and nasty and I never pay any attention to him and he might as well just go DIE for all I’d care.
And that’s pretty much how it’s been around here for several months.
A few nights ago a bathroom altercation with his sister ended with him screaming and wailing and accusing her of a murder attempt, and while Otto attempted to talk him off the ledge, Chickadee stormed downstairs and collapsed into my lap. “I—” she started.
“I know,” I said, cutting her off. “I know. It’s okay. Just let Otto handle it.”
She rested her head on my shoulder for a minute. “I miss nice Monkey,” she said, finally. “I mean, I know he’s still gonna have Asperger’s after the surgery, but…. He used to just be so sweet. I miss that.”
“Me, too,” I said, trying not to cry. “Just remember how awful he must feel, sweetie, to be so cranky all the time. He’ll be better soon.” I tried to say it like I believed it. I do, mostly. There are just those dark, scared moments when I “What if…?” and I try not to dwell on those.
Yesterday we started planning. I quizzed him what he’d like for dinner tonight, given that it will be his last solid meal for a while. (“Salmon, Mom, OBVIOUSLY, you KNOW that’s my favorite.”) We talked about various beverages and soft foods and I promised to take him shopping today for whatever he thinks looks good.
I cut Monkey’s hair—all the better to keep any potential ear gunk out of his locks, post-surgery, according to him—while he made fish faces and asked me if I was done every ten seconds. Today we run through the final pre-op gauntlet via the ENT’s office and then over at the hospital, and stock up on soft foods and normally verboten beverages and do laundry and get him ready to convalesce and then GET BETTER.
There was a moment, at dinner last night, when we started joking about the incident from the other night when he’d gotten into it with Chickadee, then, um, exaggerated about it to Otto. The rest of us got to giggling about a few of the things Monkey had said, and that was probably a bad idea. Monkey set his jaw and glared at the offender—I honestly cannot even remember who the final straw was, now—and when that didn’t prove enough to evoke an immediate apology, he went on to GROWL his displeasure. That’s a delicate moment, you know, because it means everything is probably about to go sideways and an explosion is imminent, but some reason I ignored all the danger signs and said, “Oh, look, he’s growling. I can do it, too!” And I imitated his stern glare and leaned in to him and said, “ROWR!” It was not a very good growl.
He snarled angrily in response, and we were clearly in the danger zone, but then Chickadee said, “Oh! Okay! We’re all doing it! ME TOO! RAWWWR!” And Monkey was looking VERY ANGRY INDEED and then Otto joined in with the angry glare and the animal noises and the air was thick with tension for a minute until Monkey started to laugh, and there was a small *whoosh* as the three of us collectively exhaled in relief.
I quickly tried to shift the conversation. “Hey, Monkey, what flavors of ice cream should we buy for you tomorrow?”
He thought about it a moment. “Chickie, what kind of ice cream do YOU want?” he asked, ready to let her choose. We were all struck silent by this response.
“Nice Monkey,” as Chickadee put it, is still in there, trying to get out. I’ll keep getting everything ready for tomorrow and then hope that Explosive Hulk Monkey resides in either his tonsils or adenoids or maybe even in the fluid currently trapped in his ears. Our attempts to love him through this feel inept and often inadequate, but under the circumstances, it would appear we’re all doing okay.
Happy Love Thursday, everyone. Sometimes, when love doesn’t feel like enough… the universe hands you a small reminder that really, it kind of is.