Future Draft Mode.

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. 

10 thoughts on “Future Draft Mode.”

  1. Sending hugs. You’ve got doctors, therapists, etc.? Ask them for (more) help. Does the school know you have sought outside help for Wesley?

    My son’s anxiety manifested itself in an eating disorder (what he ate or didn’t eat was something he could control). We hated to do it, but in fifth grade he began taking a small dose of Paxil (after consults with our pediatrician, therapist, psychiatrist and dietician). It had an almost immediate effect, and when he was in middle school (his eating disorder well under control), he came to us and asked to be taken off the meds. They had done their job.

    Good luck.

  2. Hugs. I’ve been there – not exactly the same situation but I definitely relate to all those emotions you just shared. Just know that you are not alone.

  3. I’m not a parent, but as an outsider looking in I can just feel the waves of love and support and emotions coming off of this post. We in the readership community are collectively pulling for you, and Wesley, and the other kids, and all the team members working together to make everything better even one tiny bit at a time. Just keep hanging in there – baby steps, right? I’m so glad Wesley has you in his corner – just don’t forget you have peeps in yours, too! None of you are alone in this. All the love and hugs in the world.

  4. This sounds so challenging. I hope you are kind to yourself, as it appears you are doing everything you can to support and help!

  5. Hugs to you and Wes. Give yourself and your kid grace. Don’t assume that there are 2 kids that will have had major negative experiences due to your kid. All kids , like all adults process things differently. To some kids it could be just a bump in the road the day it happened. Remember, in both cases, something was said to Wes that he reacted to. I can tell you that sometimes kids will push another kids buttons just to watch the reaction. I don’t know what evaluations have or haven’t been done. I think that now would be a good time to do them, or do them again. If recommendations include meds, strongly consider them. Many parents don’t want to use medications, but in many cases that does the kids a disservice. Their lives would be easier for t hem to manage with them. I also know that runners and other people that exercise a lot, do not like to take meds themselves. You fought them for years., as did I. If they suggest he be tested for ADHD,- there are many different kinds, Inattentiveness is just one aspect. Impulsive and explosive behavior is also a huge part. Thoughts and hugs for the whole family

  6. I can’t imagine the heartache you feel. I think you are doing the best things for him and I encourage you to keep on trying.

  7. Our sons are similar ages, and many of your posts are relatable. While my son doesn’t act out in anger, he does misbehave impulsively without regard for consequences – then immediately regrets it. As a toddler and preschooler, he did have rages that baffled us. We (and his teachers) work to try to keep him mindful of his actions and the related consequences before he starts to snowball into worse and worse behavior. That means (like every year since first grade) a special behavior chart with hour-by-hour tracking. I think my son’s impulsivity is getting better as grows older. He’s always been a bit immature, so I pray that time will be the solution. I’m here with you! Mama solidarity.

  8. With a parent like you, Wesley will be ok! It’s incredibly difficult while you are in the midst of it. We are thankfully 2-3 years past the worst of my sons anxiety and anger. What is shocking to me is how little of the specifics of those dark days he remembers! Mostly we have his incredible therapist and all the hard work he did to get his anxiety under control. It takes a while but the therapy (and meds if needed) will get him to a better place. It’s also easy to react – as a parent – to a flare up but your post serves as a reminder of how far your son has already come, how much positive mental health work he (and you) have behind you. As parents we can easily spiral down the dark hole of what ifs but remember all of the many good days with no incidents. He’s doing great, big picture wise. This hard bad day will be a blip on the radar in 6 months time (hopefully). I hope some of that rambling helps!

  9. Wanted to add something. One tool that was incredibly beneficial to us was a sheet of paper that had ANGER written at the top and below it a list of all the many many emotions that lead to his anger, as dictated by him. Our therapist explained that anger is a secondary emotion and if you can identify what caused the anger, NAME it and SAY IT then the severity of the anger would lessen. For us, our sheet listed sadness, fear, disappointment, nervous, dread, worry, embarrassed and hurt. We drew it up with colored markers and slipped it into a protective plastic sheet and kept it on the kitchen table 😉 Eventually our son was able to identify those feelings without the sheet but it went a long way to helping him vocalize his emotions, particularly in the heat of the moment, so they could be dealt with rather than turning into anger against himself or others. He was in 5th grade at the time.

  10. I think what everyone has said above is valid & supportive.
    My kids are grown,my youngest is a freshman in college- all girls and they got rough but never really hit- BUT I can’t think of one of my friends growing up that wasn’t in a physical fight myself included. I don’t know one family where siblings didn’t beat the shit out of each other on occasion- not approving of it but let’s just reflect back and look at these people today as grownups- can’t think of one that’s not a good caring adult – so I don’t have any usable advice but just saying Wesley is not alone you are not alone and if Wesley was born 15 years ago or in all eras thru BC no one would’ve lost sleep over this. My friends in the Uk say they’re still to this day not losing sleep over children and adults coming to blows – Again not advocate of fighting, but where did all this fist a cuff go? Did the light go on and all kids just learned to talk it out? What if all our kids were free range like the old days and socialization involved making mistakes and working it out without adult supervision & we all figured out that punching wasn’t the answer? It’s hard knock life? Or is it ?

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