This is a post about parenting which means sometime tonight I’ll throw it back in drafts so it won’t be archived on my website. But I’m feeling very much in need to hear from other parents about my day yesterday so here it goes.
We’ve struggled for many many years to help Wesley manage very extreme feelings that he experiences. Early on, like age 4 or 5 we called it “anger management” but thanks to finding a new pediatrician and her being much more enlightened she said we needed to dig UNDER the anger because she was convinced it was actually anxiety-related. Kids feel anxious when they’re getting in trouble or when they’re embarrassed and the easiest/quickest release of that anxiety is often anger. So…we treat the anxiety/issues with shame/embarrassment and that will help reduce the anger.
And this has been effective, for the most part. He has made many many improvements over the last five years. Unfortunately he’s older and so everything is bigger and so while the “episodes” are much more spread out (we’ve only had two at school this year) they are severe. Early in the year it was a bad episode of very mean bullying to a kid who had embarrassed him in some way. This was hard because you all know I was bullied and so it’s hard to find out your kid is the bully in another child’s memories. Then, yesterday, there was a physical altercation of similar circumstances but instead of lashing out with words, he lashed out with fists.
My kid, y’all. These emotions that surge through him around shame and embarrassment…derivations of anxiety that we feel as adults…they are so extreme they drive him often to self harm, sometimes to destruction of our home. We’ve seen him take all of those feelings out on himself in physical ways and it’s so very difficult to watch as a parent. I have had to physically restrain him from hurting himself. Sometimes I don’t realize he’s hurting himself and stumbling upon that as a parent is not something I wish upon my worst enemy.
But then when he takes it out on another kid…it’s a whole different ballgame. I have to discipline him. There have to be consequences. There are phone calls with principals and I have to handle it as a behavioral problem and we should. I told the principal we agree with any consequences. We are not making excuses.
But I cried to him and I begged him not to judge my kid on this one incident. “He struggles so much and he’s come so far and I’m not trying to make excuses for him but I just want you to know there’s a big ball of chaos in his brain and under that he’s so loving and kind.” He’s done a really good job of navigating in in the last 5 years and I just hate that he’s had two really bad incidents at school this year that go on a record and I can’t add my own stories/explanations to the file. Not that I think I should, it just breaks my heart.
Parenting him has changed my whole perspective on my own childhood. I used to hope that someday I’d find out Jason from summer daycare who tortured me would be a failure as a human. But now I just hope he somehow got the help he needed and I pray that he is a functioning member of society today and I hope he has strong relationships and a support network of quality around him somewhere.
I don’t know, guys. It’s hard. It’s hard talking to school officials about your kid’s behavior and proposed consequences like he’s a prisoner. It’s hard to know there are two students who are going to have major negative experiences from this year because of my kid. It’s hard to know there are parents ranting to their friends about my kid. It’s hard to know there are teacher and principal meetings about how to handle my kid.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the whole concept of your kids are basically you heart walking around outside your body a lot this week. Not just with Wesley, but right now it’s a lot about him. Every ounce of pain he feels and pain he causes is felt through every beat of my own heart and it’s such a mix of feelings, worry about him and frustration towards him, that it’s hard to not feel like I’m doing it all wrong.