It should be easier to dress an almost-five-year-old in the morning. In fact, he should be dressing himself. Instead, it’s a battle. Just like everything else. We battle to get dressed, to eat, to socialize appropriately, and to handle emotions. We battle during our drives from one place to another. My life is a battlefield.
I try, really, to stay positive. This is not my strong suit though. It never has been. Truth be told, I have my own emotional issues. I’ve been battling anxiety and depression for most of my adult life. So staying positive? Not easy. Especially not today.
Skip it if you must, but if I don’t pour my heart out for just one day, I might lose it. This may not even help (positive?) but I’ll try.
I thought about what I was going to write here all the way to work. My mind was on overdrive. I kept the tears at bay as I thought about our struggles. Don’t want to have mascara all over my face, you know. Nothing says crazy teacher like smeared mascara. Right? Well, I’m sure other things scream “crazy teacher,” but I don’t have time to make a list.
Mommy needs a break. Seriously.
People have told me that God only gives special kids to special parents. To those who can handle them. Well, many days I feel that God has made a tremendous error in judgment. For someone like me, who truly lacks patience, to have a child that requires so much patience must be a mistake. I’m tested daily. Daily.
And then I get told, by The Manager, that he feels like he gets left to deal with Squeaker all the time. I’m angry. I’m hurt. I feel inadequate as a mother. All of that. I can think of probably hundreds of scenarios where I’ve let The Manager “deal with” Squeaker. Most of those scenarios require someone who can restrain a child who, while terribly small for his age, is also terribly strong. Wiry. While I am able to (just barely) manage that task, I’ll admit it. I’m freakin’ exhausted. Big Guy wakes me up at least once a night. I don’t go to bed early enough because I’m too full of anxiety to sleep when I should. I have nightmares that I can’t remember. I’m, once again, battling depression. And, you know what? I have more hours of the day with Squeaker than he does.
I drive him to school in the morning. Yes, The Manager gets him ready (the clothing battle). But during that time, I’m feeding and changing the baby, and then rushing to get ready myself. This morning I had to help with Squeaker. It sucked. The Manager held his upper torso, while I wrangled some jeans on to his constantly-moving legs. After that, it was the shirt. Then the socks. Then the shoes. A different battle for each article of clothing. Thank God, The Manager has the brute strength needed to hold him down to clothe him. Anyway, my hair looks like crap this morning because I didn’t have time to fix it. I threw on the first outfit I found, slapped on some make-up (hello, concealer), pulled my hair back, and was on my way.
And I’m going to point out now that if this seems at all disjointed, it’s because I write in fits and starts throughout the day.
So anyway, the entire drive to work this morning, I’m trying not to cry. I’m thinking about how difficult things are. About how my relationship with The Manager is suffering because we don’t seem to agree on much anymore. We used to be on the same page with discipline. Now, we don’t agree on which battles to choose. You know how you go to see a doctor or a therapist and they tell you to “choose your battles”? Well. I choose my battles sometimes based on how tired I am. Probably not the best method. But at the end of the day, do I really want to send Squeaker to time-out because he won’t put his shirt in the washer? Maybe I should. It’s a (non)compliance issue. But, damn, I really don’t want to!
My other issue? I’m a special education teacher. So, all day long I’m dealing with kids with special needs. I’m trying to get them to “get” the work, to do the work, etc., etc., and dealing with behavior issues all day long. Somehow, I manage to hold myself together all day. Even when I get emails from parents who take the side of their children without taking even a second to acknowledge, from what I’m sure they know about their children, that their children are simply coming up with excuses and trying to get out of doing work. These are high school kids. They’ve got to get ready for the real world. *sigh* I won’t step on that soapbox today. But, my point is, I manage to stay patient and kind and expend a tremendous amount of energy meeting the needs of children all day long.
When I come home, I do it all over again. Yes, I know this is called parenting. All working moms come home tired from working all day and have to handle whatever issues there are at home. But not all moms, working or not, have children like Squeaker. Unless you have a child with special needs, you don’t know what it’s like to not be able to really talk to your child. To hope and pray that whatever friggin’ vehicle was parked in a certain location on the way home is there again today. To grimace, but keep a tight lip to prevent yourself from saying anything when your child asks you a question he knows the answer to just that you can give him an answer he doesn’t want to hear so that he can get angry. These are not normal things. Most kids want to be happy. My child is looking for a predictable response and, for some reason, immediately goes toward self-injury. I fear every day for his safety as he pounds on the window in the car when he’s frustrated/sad/angry because one day he’s going to hit it too hard and break the glass. I fear for the safety of my other child because sometimes he takes his anger out on the baby. I fear that he’ll damage my friend’s property more than just ripping up a book that I can replace.
Does he get punished for the big stuff? Yes. He is not allowed to hurt others, throw things, etc. This is trickier when we’re not at home because there never seems to be an effective place to put him in time-out when we’re not at home. But, in general, he does not get to just do whatever he wants. But consequences do not lead to prevention of behavior. He’s very impulsive. Especially lately. Since he’s behaving all day at school, it seems like we’re in peak tantrum season. Sometimes, I wish he’d have a bad day at school. And that’s terrible of me, I know, but I guess I’m just hoping that would mean he’d be too worn out to do what he does at home now.
Today, one of my coworkers asked me if something was going on at home. I guess I’m not hiding my exhaustion/depression as well as I thought. I need to work on that. Because I know my patience is dwindling and the last thing I want to do is lose my patience when it’s unwarranted because things at home aren’t great.
I’m tired, fellow bloggers. Just tired.
And this is a hugely prolific blog entry. I honestly didn’t have time to write this.
I’ll end with one last scenario. So, I walk Squeaker to school every morning (across the bus lot), and he’s gotten much better with the buses. Doesn’t even need the headphones anymore. He was very nervous this morning, but he made it. All morning I’m thinking about how difficult things have been with him. I’m thinking about how I wish I didn’t have to be the one stuck in the car with him every day because the car is another minefield for us. I’m just very down on the whole situation. I drop him off, tell the TA it’s been a rough morning, and go to give Squeaker my usual hug goodbye. And you know what? He does the worst best thing ever. He gives me one of those huge hugs. The jump-in-my-arms kind of hug where he just wraps his whole body into it. I don’t know if he knew how much I needed that hug. I’d like to think he did. I just wish I didn’t feel so guilty for all the negative emotions in that moment. As I walked away from him, fresh tears sprung into my eyes. I love that kid. I really do. I just really, really wish more of my time with him was as nice as that hug.