It’s a high stakes game, this parenting gig. We have precious little folks that we’re responsible for turning into responsible adults, and there’s no single right way to do it. With all of the factors going into human nature and nurture, getting it right for each child seems to be a crap shoot at best.
Then we add in developmental differences and the learning curve steepens, necessitating therapies and strategies that typical parents never have to consider. Or even the odd combination of phases that occur when cognitive development is delayed. For example, Alex is 15 years old, and is mature and savvy about many things, but has just discovered lying. You know that clumsy way your first grader lies to cover for his transgressions? We’re right there with a 15 year old. It’s just as annoying as when a six year old gives it a whirl, but all the more ridiculous with Alex’s man-voice. Just chalk this up to another parenting issue I never saw coming.
Overall Alex is easy though. He’s pretty straightforward, and super fun and funny. His quirks just add a little dynamic to the game.
Then there’s the truly complex child.
I took Ben to a new psychiatrist last week and she was stymied. She called him bossy, challenging, severely hyperactive and puzzling. And that was only a snapshot from 30 minutes in her office. Maybe it was the complete meltdown that resulted when she told us to go, then called us back into her office that bemused her. Or it could have been him splaying full out on the floor of the waiting room when our exit was delayed. Or any of the couple dozen uncomfortable interactions in between.
In this high stakes game I don’t know how to win. My child leaves experts at a loss.
I know he needs me to stay calm, but sometimes I lose my cool.
I know he needs structure and routine, but how do you stick to it with appointments and phone calls and all the necessary behavioral interventions?
I want more than anything in the world to do the best and be the best for him, but I swear it’s like being an actor and switching from “The Jungle Book” to “Rain Man” with “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” running constantly in the background. All along I feel like I should be Mary Poppins.
I can’t keep up.
I can’t switch gears fast enough. I have a hard time hugging when I just got kicked in the face…even though I realize he needs it. I have a hard time playing after recovering from an epic public (or private) meltdown. And that’s not even taking into account the learning and medical needs.
How do I keep up, let alone maintain the therapeutic environment he needs to thrive.
When I write it out I realize how impossible it is, yet I sink into an abyss of guilt when I fail to be absolutely everything he needs, plus parenting my other children.
This is no attempt to garner kudos or warm fuzzies, there is nothing anyone can say that can change the truth. The kind words are nice, but it doesn’t change our reality.
Yet we carry on, ever moving forward, and keep trying, trying, trying. He’s our baby. How can we not? How can we ever stop trying?
Someday, maybe, we’ll find someone who can really help. Each day we get up resolving just that.