Duck!

I’m not talking about duck as in a bird. Nor am I telling you to duck. You know what autocorrect does to a certain word? Yeah, that.

I wrote about the kids laughing at Little Man last week.  He’s been reluctant to go back to science class since. I’ve seen the return of all his aversion techniques…going to the nurse’s office, leaving class to go to his quiet space, outbursts, tears, meltdowns. Friday, the nurse called about an hour after school started. He was in her office with a headache that wasn’t getting better. He had fallen and hit his head on the ground at soccer practice Wednesday night, and although he’d had no symptoms since then, she didn’t want to take any chances. I brought him home.  He was fine all weekend, outside of a meltdown Saturday  morning over getting woken up to get ready for his soccer game. It wasn’t pretty, and lasted about twenty minutes, but then he was perfectly fine at his game as well as the rest of the day.  He was great on Sunday – no meltdowns, no outbursts, no physical complaints.

An hour into the school day Monday, the nurse called me again. He was back in her office with another headache, and would I bring him some ibuprofen so we could try to get him through the day. So I took him some ibuprofen. Two hours later, I got another call. He was back again, the headache wasn’t any better, would I come pick him up. Back to school for the third time that day, and I brought him home early.  Yesterday, he made it the entire day (I’d told him that morning I wasn’t coming to get him early at all), but when  I picked him up, he told me he’d “freaked out” at recess, that kids were laughing at him, but he couldn’t tell me what the situation actually entailed, nor what had happened before or when the kids started laughing. He could not talk about it without getting really upset.

I emailed his team last night. Something is going on, and it’s affecting him intensely. His SAI let me know they’re aware something is happening and they’re looking into it.

Today, Little Man called me. I was in the middle of work, and asked him to ride it out for a bit, see if his headache got better. He called twenty minutes later. I took him ibuprofen again, and, as I had to leave town for work, told him he’d have to call Dad if anything else happened. Not to make it sound like I put work ahead of him…..I’d never do that if I believed in that moment he was dreadfully sick or really needed me, and only me, to come get him.

My phone rang while I was driving. It was the school counselor. Little Man had spent much of the day with her, most of that in tears. He’s unable to verbalize to her what’s happening when the kids are laughing at him. And he told her it would be better if he weren’t alive anymore. Dear Lord. My breath caught. I explained we do take him seriously, every time he says this. We can’t not take him seriously, but we also know he learned those words are a ticket out of whatever situation he doesn’t want to be in. It’s a very fine line to walk. I ducking HATE this. I hate it. I hate that he hurts. I hate he can’t tell us why. I hate we can’t just snap our fingers and make it better. I hate the anxiety, the social deficits that make him reach this point. Duck! DUCK! DUCK! DUCK!

I did ask if we could add speech therapy back to his repertoire. I feel he needs help with pragmatics again, as social situations and dynamics have shifted over the last two years. His peers are in an entirely different place, and they are very aware his issues, which are once again much more obvious. And we know how very mature thirteen year olds are. We’re also going to call his old outside therapist and see if he can have some sessions with her. The problem with that is he doesn’t want to talk when he’s supposed to talk. Does that make sense? If it’s on his terms, he *might* talk. If it’s a scheduled thing, he’s more likely to push back and shut down. DUCK!!!

I’m exhausted. I’m fearful for my boy. I’m emotionally tapped. I feel I have to be with him all the time, have to be on my guard all the time, have to utilize everything I have in me on him. Which then leaves the question, what do I have left for Spouse, for his siblings, for my friends, for my job? How is it fair to any of  us, much less Little Man. DUCK!

My heart just ducking hurts.

Cups

When Ry was a toddler and P an infant, I had a breakdown/meltdown. I was an exhausted mom of two kids under 2, pushing myself beyond the limits to be the perfect mom, wife, and homemaker. And one night, I fell completely apart. The proverbial straw was a stack of 32 oz plastic cups which would not fit into our dishwasher and needed to be hand-washed. Seeing them sitting on the counter at the end of a very long day pushed me over the edge. It was very apparent I was overwhelmed and much of it I brought upon myself. I reached out, and found a counselor to take me on. I only saw her six times, but it was enough for me to understand what was going on, and to learn how to better manage. The first thing that counselor had me do was to throw away those plastic cups. What a novel concept, right?

I’ve been a perfectionist my entire life. My mom gave up making my bed for me when I was about six years old. One night, upset that my “sheets weren’t right,” I stripped and remade my entire bed, at 11pm. I thrived when things were in their places, when there was order in chaos, when there was structure and certainty. When those things were not there, I struggled, I became emotional, and overwhelmed. As a child, I was unable to recognize what was going on, what I needed, and how to address those needs, as well as how to  keep it in check.

I still have an inner need for perfection. The difference now being I am much more forgiving of myself, much more realistic as to what will be, and capable of recognizing when I’m letting that desperate need for order, structure, and perfection overwhelm.

Last year, E’s therapist asked who at home was the OCD perfectionist. I sheepishly admitted my guilt. I thought I had been doing such a good job of keeping that from affecting the household and children. Apparently, I was not as successful as I thought. She told me the perfectionism was reaching Ethan, tapping into and increasing his anxieties. Guilt tore through me. I thought I had come so far from that night of the plastic cups. I thought I was so much better at tossing them out, literally and figuratively.

In the past year, I’ve worked very hard, again, at letting myself not be that perfectionist. While it stresses me out, I have to be okay with laundry sitting on the table for a day or two. I have to be okay with someone else putting dishes in the dishwasher, even if they’re not put in the “right way.” I have to be okay with someone else doing some grocery shopping, even if they might not get the “right” brands. I have to be okay with letting the kids have some control of their bedrooms, even if that means they are not as clean and organized as I would prefer. For my sanity, and to help keep my issues from affecting Ethan’s anxiety increasing, I have to be okay with things not always being in their places, with things not being perfect, with our home not looking like a model home, with outfits that might not match completely, and with a child who will wear his favorite pair of sweatpants every single day if allowed.

I looked at my kitchen this morning, and felt my anxiety rising. I felt close to tears….there they were…a stack of plastic cups waiting to be washed, the dishwasher unable to hold them all. At the same time, I was seeing posts from those “perfect” moms…or the ones I perceive as thinking of themselves as perfect. I started to get that feeling again…the feeling of failure because I’m not perfect, the sense of my own insecurities and self-judgement, the defensiveness that typically comes when I see or hear *those* moms (and granted I realize this is my perception of how they see themselves and me).

I am not perfect. My house is not always the cleanest. The laundry is not always put away right from the dryer. Towels hang crookedly on their racks. The upstairs hallway has a few half-built Lego creations laying around. My bed awaits clean sheets. The walls are banged up. The car is full of sand from our beach day Saturday. There’s some cat hair on the couch. I don’t cook gourmet meals every night and am perfectly fine with one (or sometimes two, depending upon how busy we are with the kids’ activities) frozen waffle night a week. Does it make me a little crazy? Do I still have mini-meltdowns? Certainly. But for my sanity, and to help my babies see it is okay to NOT be perfect, I have to be okay with all of it. So throw those dang plastic cups away. There’s freedom there.