There are days when I feel like I only exist to disappoint my kids.
And not the yeah-no-we’re-not-going-to-stay-up-late-and-eat-candy sorts of disappointments, which—truth be told—I rather delight in. When my kids want something unreasonable, I’m apt to say no with relish. I’ll be the first one to point out that I am RUINING THEIR LIVES because I am SO MEAN and I NEVER EVER LET THEM HAVE WHAT THEY WANT! I’m not talking about that sort of stuff.
I’m talking about days when I feel like I am forever saying no, justifying the things that hurt or upset them, and just generally feel like their own personal harbinger of doom instead of the kind of mom who loves, protects, and bakes cookies. I mean, I try really hard to do that stuff, too. But on a day when I’m busy breaking their hearts, who the hell cares? Cookies only fix so much, you know.
And I hear I could get into trouble for making them margaritas. So.
About a month ago, Monkey and his BFF had a little tiff at school. Monkey went from zero to Hulk in about half a second, because as far as I know, he and Lemur have NEVER had ANY sort of problem at all before, and Lemur basically just reached out and smacked Monkey during a discussion. The bad news is that Monkey completely lost his crap (surprise! except not really!), but the good news is that he didn’t hit him back (progress!).
The medium (?) news is that his teachers elected to change the seating so that Monkey and Lemur were no longer seated together. The boys were told this was a temporary move, and of course an hour later they were perfectly fine and wanted to sit together, again, but were told that the new seating arrangement would last “a little while” and they needed to be patient.
I could now spew out at least a hundred thousand words about what has happened in the intervening month, and it would cover everything from what was on sale at the supermarket to the weather, but if you asked Monkey to detail the last month for you here is what he would say: Lemur was supposed to be moved back to sit with me and they promised and promised and promised and it never happened and the teacher lied and everybody hates me and I’ll just go eat worms and die.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is called perseveration. Nothing else matters, because Lemur is not sitting with Monkey and THAT IS BAD AND WRONG AND NEEDS TO BE CHANGED.
There have been multiple incidents of Monkey getting it into his head that TODAY IS THE DAY! And then when he gets to school and demands the teacher move seats and she (wisely, and calmly) informs him that 1) he doesn’t get to make demands and 2) it’s not happening, he loses his crap all over again. The thing with his particular rigidity is that he cannot bend his thought process to entertain different possibilities, so instead he bends what he thought he heard or was told, until it conforms to what he wants. Ergo, each time he insists that TODAY IS THE DAY he honestly believes it was promised to him, and it’s a crushing blow when his desires aren’t met.
We had a particularly awful Incident on Monday, because he was convinced that being back from spring break finally meant TODAY IS THE DAY FOR REAL, plus his parapro was out, plus the guidance counselor was out. I won’t go into details, but suffice it to say that it wasn’t pretty. Well. I had a long talk with Monkey, that night, about how every time he pitches a fit it likely means he has to wait even longer because the teacher can’t very well give him what he wants on the heels of his behaving badly, because then he’s being rewarded for being a jerk. “Just be patient, honey,” I begged him. “I bet that if you stop asking and you just really behave, you’ll get switched back soon.”
I thought I was being logical. Of course, Monkey marched right into school on Tuesday morning and demanded that the seating be switched, so clearly I had a huge impact on him. Ahem. And HEY, Tuesday was when it was decided that the boys should be kept apart for the rest of the school year, and never switched back.
This makes me want to rip my hair out, one handful at a time. Everything about this makes me want to cry. (Actually, if you want to get technical, I did spend most of yesterday crying about it. Because I’m mature like that.) Turns out that Lemur’s mom would rather the boys be kept apart, because she feels the situation has become stressful for him. And let me be perfectly clear when I say that I totally respect her position; she’s only looking out for her kid and I get that. But. BUT. I got this info secondhand, which hurt my delicate little feelings, and I’ll suck that up eventually (even around my huge, weighty baggage of feeling like I spend half my life managing how my son interacts with the “normals” so that other parents don’t hate us and here the one person I thought was my local special needs ally maybe is not, but okay), but the fact remains that Monkey was promised a reunion which he was then told is not going to happen, and this is really, really hard for him.
It’s also how it’s going to be, and life is like that, so okay. We need to help him deal with it.
But the bottom line is that on Monday night I looked my son in the eye and assured him that the teacher would never lie to him, that he’d been promised they would be moved back; and then the very next night I had to tell him that I was wrong, she was wrong, we’re all very sorry, but actually no, this isn’t going to happen and now we have to deal. And he cried and said he was told that Lemur didn’t want to be moved but of course Lemur said that wasn’t true at all and now they should just move them because they both agree! And I was left trying to figure out what to say that would help.
Nothing helps. “Life isn’t fair sometimes, bud. This is one of those times. I’m sorry.”
He’s angry and disappointed. And I’m his own personal Angel of No Mercy.
On the other hand, we told Chickadee that we’re going to have to shelve nerd camp this year unless we can get her diagnosed/treated within the next few weeks (which, HAHAHAHAHA). I actually think Monkey’s disappointment is easier to deal with, because Chickadee is doing the mature thing and just wandering around looking sad rather than complaining, and that’s just about killing me dead.
“Mom,” she said to me the other night, “they’re never going to figure it out. I’m just going to be ugly and itchy for the rest of my life.” Skewer to the heart. I then spent four hours whispering sweet nothings to Dr. Google, and I actually think I may have figured out what she has. All I have to do now is get one of these doctors to test for it, and if I’m right I suppose I could do a little victory dance, you know, inbetween the paroxysms of guilt that I allowed doctors to waste 3+ years NOT diagnosing her and I figured it out online in half a day.
As a bonus, if I’m correct it’s genetic from my side of the family. So at least she can be disappointed with me about that, too.
(And how is YOUR week going?)
Listen, all of this sucks. I don’t know any other way to frame it. It just does. But last night after dinner, Otto and I went out and sat on the porch swing, and the dog sniffed around and jumped up and jumped down and chased bugs. Then Chickadee came out and plunked herself down in my lap and random conversation led to hysterical laughter over things that probably weren’t all that funny, but seemed like they were at the time. Then Monkey came out, and Chickadee picked him up and jogged him around on her back while he giggled, then she left him with us and went back inside, and he made us laugh, too.
I wish there was less disappointment in their lives right now. But I’m grateful that even so, we can still laugh.