Things I never thought I’d have to ask a child of mine, excerpts from Volume One:
Why is there a cheerio in your nose?
What did you just put in your diaper?
Why are you eating that book?
How did you manage to throw up all the way over THERE?
The funny part is that all of those things seemed really challenging at the time, you know? WOE IS ME, my child is naughty. Wah. Wah, I say!
I do believe we’re currently somewhere in the middle of Volume Four, and we haven’t even hit double digits yet. Pray for us.
So here in Volume Four, we’re up to:
What could you do instead of screaming?
Is it ever okay to throw chairs?
Do you think that you’ll be allowed to keep going to school if you can’t follow the rules?
Do you understand that if we can’t fix this, you will be expelled from school?
What can I do to help you learn to control yourself?
He doesn’t know the answer to that last one, by the way. In his defense, he’s only 6.
What’s my excuse?
I knew this might happen, of course. Even before kindergarten was over, it was becoming crystal clear that Monkey has some issues. He did fairly well over the summer, and because I wanted to believe that meant progress, I conveniently glossed over the extreme stress of starting at a new school, transitioning from “school is easy and fun” kindergarten to “school is about rules and assignments” first grade.
When the teacher clued me in that the first day of school didn’t go as smoothly as Monkey claimed, I went to Parental Alert Level Orange. With each passing day—and his insistence that all was well, and no further reports to the contrary from the teacher—I relaxed a little, and dropped down to Parental Alert Level Yellow.
This afternoon, I popped open an email that started out: “Hi Mir, Well, we survived the week,” and only got worse from there.
Parental Alert Level Freak the Fuck Out, activated.
I guess the teacher thought I didn’t need to know about the “little” meltdowns Monkey has been having throughout the week, because that way, it would be SO MUCH MORE FUN to hear about how my son completely lost his shit today and had to be DRAGGED FROM THE CLASSROOM. Yeah. That was superb.
You know, I only go see my therapist every few weeks these days, and I happened to see her this morning. I was relating a tale of something completely unrelated… actually, it was a story about Chickadee. (You remember Chickadee, don’t you? My difficult child? HAHAHAHAHA. I know, it makes me laugh, too!) Anyway, she interrupted me to point out “You’re always worried about what kind of job you’re doing as a mom, and this is a great example of what a fabulous mom you are. Remember this.” And I got all misty, because yes, I obsess over the job I am doing as a parent more than anything else. And for a little while there I felt like Hey, I’m doing my best, and my best is probably pretty good.
And then reality bitch-smacked me this afternoon. Screw my best. If this is my best, I completely suck. My child is out of control and I have no idea why or how to help. I am MORTIFIED by his behavior, and—almost worse—I am shocked. At least when things are going badly with Chickadee I know what to expect, and I can sort of see a pattern. This? This is utterly unpredictable. We never know what will set him off, and there seem to be no boundaries to his storms when they come.
How can I deal with what I cannot understand?
The teacher is doing her best. The therapist is doing her best. (Though first thing on Monday morning she had best be turning CARTWHEELS if she doesn’t want to watch me have a nervous breakdown in her office.) My ex is doing his best. (He actually came over tonight so that we could talk to Monkey, together, and that went very well in terms of parental unity, but Monkey was a lot more interested in getting back to his Legos than in listening to us try to explain why he’s lost television privileges for a week and how he needs to write his teacher an apology.) I’m doing my best.
My sweet boy is disappearing and I don’t know why. I want him back.
Our best is not enough.