Do you watch Parenthood? Take a look at Max. I bet he entertains you, right? True, children with special needs have unique gifts and special qualities to offer their families. Can I be brutally honest though? It is so stinking hard to raise a child who cannot rationalize in a "normal" fashion.
You know what makes it harder? Parents with "perfect" children who judge our parenting tactics because they seem unorthodox.
My child wigs out and we do "twirling robots", make human tacos or blow bubbles in milk. He kicks holes in the wall and we patch them. People look at me like I’m a flaky new age parent who lets everything slide. Umm, not true. I pick my battles.
He "runs away" and we call the police and find him in minutes because we know all of his hiding spots (including behind the abandoned church across the way) but understand that if he sees us he will run. I guess one of his gifts is running. He should be on a track team.
He loses control and we take a trip to the hospital. We don't ignore or wish it away. We confront it even when it hurts.
We spend three hours a week watching our child suffer through intensive therapies to learn simple things like how to hold a pencil correctly and breath properly (without panting), to speak clearly and practice motor planning. We dole out medication like candy and nothing changes. Years go by. It feels hopeless. It feels frustrating when your child screams "I want to die" and you know he really means "life is hard and I need help" but lacks the reason to ask calmly.
Yesterday I found the hole in the wall. Words can’t express how upsetting that was. This is destruction of property. It’s out of control and there are no good answers from counselors or anyone in the medical community. We are flying by the seat of our pants and there is a lot of turbulence.
Today I’ve done laps through my house chasing him through tantrum after tantrum. It is exhausting. I get ten minutes of peace and he’s mad again. He ran outside. Now, I have called the police four times this year to help me recover Caibry. I can see him when I call. He’s in my view and totally safe, but if I approach him he will run and I can’t guarantee his safety then. You know what? I am sick of explaining my life to police officers and doctors, watching them evaluate me as if I’m the problem then go home to their ordinary lives.
That’s why, when he ran out of the house today in his socks, I let him go. I stayed inside and even locked the doors. I let him cool down and watched him from the windows as he walked to his favorite hiding place. I saw him every moment. I knew he was safe. I saw the red car pull up beside him to ask if he was okay. I watched the mother with her perfect teenager park in my driveway and get out of her car to come give me a “talking to”. I watched my son run to the porch and ask calmly to be let in.
Yes, stopping for a child in trouble is kind. Judging the parent for what you think you witnessed is not.
Let’s be honest, my tactic worked. I have a calm child taking a time out on my bed right now. He is actually humming to himself at the moment and has probably forgotten why he was even mad in the first place.
Me, I am typing this rant to calm myself before speaking to him so I don’t raise my voice or get physical though my blood is boiling. I’m coping.
My parenting doesn’t make sense to the woman who stopped or the other parents in my neighborhood who no longer allow their children to play with mine. Maybe it doesn’t make sense to you either.
It doesn’t have to.
Simply put, my children come first. They always have and they always will. I’ll do what works. I’ll fumble my way through. I’ll look like a nut to keep the delicate balance of sanity active in my household. I’ll do the hard things and be an outcast for it. Would you?