I Don’t Want to Play With You Anymore

I don’t know how many gaskets human beings are fitted with, but I am about to blow one. What on Earth am I doing wrong? My goal over these next few days was to show my son my unconditional love in the face of whatever he could throw at me to taunt me into hating him. At the moment, it seems like he’s winning this battle. I literally just told him, “I don’t want to play with you anymore.” Granted, I also told him it was because he kept being mean and ugly and that when he was ready to play nicely I would play with him again. He went poutingly to his room and shut the door. Now I hear him crying. But it sounds like the fake kind so I’m ignoring it.

I don’t want to take this anymore! I quit saying I can’t take it anymore, because what does that even really mean? I have to take it. “It” won’t actually, physically kill me…I have to live with it. I just want to bury my head in the sand and have this all go away.

Yesterday, he decided to show his worst behavior to two of the people in the world to whom I most want him to show his best behavior. My new boss, i.e. the principal of his new school which I will be teaching at this year. And my Dad who loves us very much, but who really doesn’t understand my child’s challenges and differences. He honestly thinks that if I’d “get up off my *ss” and discipline more, aka spank him more and harder, this would have been over a long time ago. That I’m ruining my child, and if I don’t “get Dr. Spock out of my house” my kid’s gonna end up in jail. This is the last thing that a lost and clueless mother needs to hear. The thing I hate the most about it is that I can’t prove him wrong. And, of course, just like any other mother of a high functioning special needs child with no physical flaw or disability, I wonder every day if I have caused this. It is less than reassuring to know that others think I have. I also hate, hate, HATE, that when you read about what happens to kids with Asperger’s/Bipolar disorder, many times they DO end up in jail. Their emotions and energy level can vary sporadically. Combine this with a complete lack of understanding of society and social rules and expectations, and you’ve got a pretty jail-worthy combination. If, Heaven forbid, Javan ever did end up in jail, I would hate to face my earthly father. I am reassured though that even though Javan’s bipolarism is quite severe, his Asperger’s is mild. The mood and emotional cycles will always be there, although they can be tamed somewhat with medication. But he is more capable of understanding society than many other Aspies.

It’s been a few months since my told me all that, and we’re on better terms now, but I still would like it if every visit with me and my son didn’t reinforce his opinion. By the way, I have since told my Dad that I love him and respect him and I truly want him to be a part of my child’s life. He did a great deal during my childhood to build up my character in positive ways and I am so thankful for that.I want him to have the same influence on my son. However, I also told him that he was no longer part of my parenting support system, that I would not come to him for parenting advice, and that he was not to give me parenting advice ever again. He is entitled to his opinion, but I don’t want to hear it on this one. This was said in all respect and I thank my father for building the kind of open relationship with me that allowed me to express this difficult thing to him. It was simply the drawing of a boundary.

The people who are allowed to be a part of my support system have to meet certain requirements…namely, they have to be, well, supportive. They are allowed to criticize me because they do so in constructive ways and in love. I recently had a family member who confronted me in love and told me that her family was being hurt and frustrated because I was slipping in my enforcement of discipline. They could see that I was getting tired and frustrated, and they’d been there before with there kids, as all parents have at some time or another. She told me in love and with understanding that I needed to be quicker to enforce consequences. As a result, I have tried to respond more quickly and effectively to Javan’s disobedience and disrespect. It was a gentle, loving push in the right direction. A needed reminder. Another good friend of mine, the one who I go to to say the things I’d never say to another soul besides her, so she knows my most terrible parenting thoughts and experiences, has recently asked me the question, “Is it possible that maybe you are enabling him too much?” In other words, could I be being too sensitive to the things that bother him and set him off and not letting him learn coping skills by protecting him too much? I admit, at first I was a little taken aback. Not angry, but I had never thought of it that way. As much as possible, I should be encouraging independence and giving him the tools he needs to one day face this world without me. She is right. The thing is, while it is always slightly humiliating to be confronted with my shortcomings as a mother, these people don’t judge me for them. They love me in spite of them and they usually relate to them as fellow flawed human beings. I am thankful beyond words for the wonderful women and men who support me and my family in so many ways. I honestly don’t know how people do this alone.

Today, my main frustration has been that he is intentionally doing things to annoy me. Sticking things in my face and pushing things over and kicking the back of my seat in the car and growling and hissing at the doctor while she was examining my husband’s broken foot. The whole time we were in the office. Thankfully, she has a four and a half year old boy and wasn’t phased in the least, but I was so angry and embarrassed. I even spanked him twice, hard, right there in front of her. He was convinced she was evil. I couldn’t figure it out, but as I wrote that last line a light bulb went off inside my head. She was wearing a white doctor coat! None of the other doctor’s we see do that. And Dr. Calico, the evil doctor from Bolt, wears a white coat. Dr. Calico is currently banned from the household for causing months of nightmares for my boy. We explained to him that she was a helper and that nothing she did hurt Daddy, but he just could not be convinced that she was anything other than the Devil himself. I wonder if he consciously made that connection? Or if I’m shooting arrows in the dark? More on that later.

Then, after my Mom got off work, we met her at Big Lots while Hubby went to the chiropractor…those crutches are terrible on his back and neck. They had this tantalizing row of beds, literally 8 or 10 of them all so close together you couldn’t squeeze in between them. What kid wouldn’t want to jump up on them and run all the way down them and all the way up again? So I wasn’t angry with him when he did it. The first time. No, Javan, we don’t climb on furniture at the store, especially when your shoes are getting somebody’s new beds dirty. My Mom, Grammy, who is obligated to spoil her grandson in some way on every possible occasion, let Javan pick out one candy (Circus Peanuts) and one toy under $5 (small X-Men figurines). Well, when he B-lined for the beds and refused to come down, with an impish grin on his face that said, “I know you can’t get to me easily and I’d love for you to jump up here and chase me across these beds in front of everyone. Bring it,” I simply said, “You’ve lost your candy or your toy. You chose.” Oh, the wailing. Not sure if that was more or less embarrassing than the bed-top marathon. He chose to give up the Circus Peanuts. Wise choice, Grasshopper.

My Mom could tell that I’d had enough. She offered to take Javan to Chick-fil-A to play for a while while Hubby and I picked up dinner. Then we’d meet up at our place to eat together. I found out over dinner that while playing, he came up behind a 2 year old baby and pushed him over for no reason. He laughed when the baby cried. I asked him how he felt in his heart when he made the baby cry. I could see the struggle on his face as his lips moved wordlessly: “Do I tell her the truth? Or what she wants to hear?” I reassured him that whatever he felt was okay. He told me he felt happy in his heart when the baby cried. I tried not to show my pain and disappointment, and I told him that when people get to be adults, they go to jail if they hurt a baby. So if he wasn’t going to decide to be the protector of babies that I’ve tried to make him, he at least needed to decide to leave them alone. But why? Why does it make my kid feel good to hurt a baby? I literally wonder sometimes if he’s not possessed. Not joking here. Those of you who know my child well know that he loves babies. He sings to them when they cry. He tries to soothe them and delights when they smile. Where is my child?

He’s just being terribly rude, mean, disobedient, and disrespectful most of the time now. I don’t know what’s changed. It isn’t any diet change I can recognize, nor a sleep pattern change, I’m giving him his vitamins and medications…what else? What if it’s just the bipolar and we were in a better phase and now we’re in a hellish one? Every time we “get it under control” and I “have my son back” we end up losing it again. And the bad cycles always last three times as long as the good ones. But when we’re in a good phase, I finally feel like I’m doing something right, and I always think we’ve figured out the right medication/discipline/diet/sleep/etc. combination to keep it that way. That it’s gonna stay good. And then it always gets ripped away from me. And I always feel like a failure and it hurts so much. I actually asked my husband the question today, “Who are we raising?” I feel like we’re raising a future convict, someone who will never adhere to social and legal rules. Someone who will hurt others and enjoy it. Not the respectful, kind-hearted, successful man that I want to see in him, that I sometimes see in him, before it ends again. How can I do right by him? How can I not fail him?


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. LeAnne McClure
    Aug 19, 2011 @ 23:00:31

    You can’t fail him because you are his mommy and you love him. Re-read this post. Could it be that the doctor was tolerant of this behavior because she knows that’s what kids this age do? The hardest thing for me to figure out was when a behavior was a result of the disability and when it was just a kid being a kid, messing up because that’s what kids do. Its just not easy to tell sometimes. You may have had a difficult week because it is so very hot and dry outside, because he senses a change in routine with school starting back, or because he just felt like being naughty, as all kids do at times.

    Hang in there and keep writing. You are a gifted writer.


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