Today I mourn the loss of my son. The son who I have birth to in all his clarity and perfection. I mourn that day too, before all of this, in all its ignorance because that day I could never have even imagined I’d be writing this five and a half years later.
So- I am mourning the son I never had and the child I assumed he would grow into. Over the past five years my husband and I have passionately worked to teach our son right and wrong, boundaries, consequences and kindness. I used my experience and training as a primary school teacher to employ the strategies I knew to help him along the way, and with my husband’s background in psychology we might have a better understanding of the intentions behind his actions.
But unfortunately we’re in a state of no-man’s land right now. Our little boy is struggling. Struggling with school (he’s in reception). Struggling with friends. With life. He resists doing as he is told. He knows there will be firm consequences (thinking time/toy taken away) and yet he will still resist. He hurts children on the playground. EVERYDAY. This is the one that breaks my heart. I have tried EVERYTHING I can think of. But nothing stops it. It is random and unmotivated. He has a wealth of strategies listed on his IEP which the school are doing to help him and we now follow up every incident at home.
So every single morning we talk through his actions and our expectations – how we don’t hurt and we do what the grown ups tell us. This is our journey to school every day. My heart is thumping at the prospect of taking him to school, the unpredictability of it all, I have no control over what he does when he’s there. And I can’t seem to stop it. But we walk through the playground past the ‘looks’ and sometimes hear the odd “that’s the hurter” like being heckled at. So I hold back the tears so he can’t see and play pretend with a big smile on my face I look at him and tell him I love him and remind him of his reward chart and what he needs to do. Then we say goodbye I get in the car and I start to cry. To mourn again. But I stop, I can’t as my toddler is in the back and calling “mummy mummy – red car!” to show me another one of his awe inspiring vehicles. So I wipe away the tears and play pretend again. Big smile, no time for tears.
I check my phone a hundred times a day, not for messages from friends or family but for missed calls from school. Constant state of anxiety. It gets to 3pm-no phonecall. We make our way over for school pick up. Walk through the playground past the ‘looks’ again. We stand there, my youngest and I. I don’t think anyone really wants to talk to the mother of the ‘hurter’. Sometimes I try though, for his sake, I want him to have friends, I want to make playdates as he so desperately pleads me for with his school friends. So I play pretend again, talking to the school mummies feels almost like being a hypocrite.
I impatiently wait for the doors to open. Will I be spoken to today? His teacher makes his way towards the parents..please not me please not me… she walks past me today-phew! The other children run -all smiles and talk. He walks to me then past me and starts to run out. Desperate to leave. “I got 8 smileys mummy (out of 10)”. We tried not talking about what happens at school as “it’s been dealt with” but that hasn’t worked so I question him. “That’s good, what did you lose 2 for?” I ask. “I can’t remember”. Hmmm…. Sometimes I get half a story as much as he can remember and then we’re met with a brick wall as he can’t remember any more. Ok. No treat. We make our way home. He plays sweetly with his little brother. They cuddle and he asks little one what he has played with today in an endearing older brother way.
Dinner. Play. Bed. I see signs of his growing anxiety all over his face. Literally. He repeatedly scratches at his face. It starts to bleed. That one had just started to heal. He has developed another tic-he constantly clears his throat as he’s playing. He is too scared to fall asleep on his own so I stay with him and stroke his hair until he drifts off. Is this really all down to all-consuming and uncontrollable anxiety on his part? The openness and unstructured nature of that playground is too much for his type of brain and like a little kitten he lashes out because he is scared? I can’t fathom it. Now I can mourn, cry whatever you want to call it and I usually do. Up at 5:30-6. And so it begins all over again.
So I’m sorry. I’m sorry to those children he has hurt and I’m sorry to the parents who hear about it. I’m sorry. We’re sorry. We’re on a path to help and we will get there. He’s been seen by the Early Help Advisor, who thinks it is all down to a desperation to be socially involved but unable to have the skills to socialise yet. He will soon be seen by a peadiatrician and an educational psychologist – we’re awaiting appointments. And this is life now – IEPs, school phonecalls, ed psych appointments along with all the acronyms being banded around ‘autism, aspergers, adhd, ODD…’ This is bloody hard. We’ll get there.