I’m learning this stuff as I go, just so you know. I don’t profess to be an expert by any stretch of the imagination. But people who know me personally and know Little B personally seem to be somewhat put off by his new diagnosis. I think it’s just that they don’t understand what it MEANS. They know Little B well, and have since he was born…now they don’t know if what they know is right. They don’t know if this “label” should change their perception of the little boy they know and love.
Here’s the dealio: I am still struggling with this one myself. He’s my baby. I love him dearly. But I don’t always LIKE him. Isn’t that true of your relationship with your own children? No, just me then? Okay, whatever. Poser.
The frustration of dealing with his negative behavior traits (i.e., the grunting, the rage, the violence (yeah, I said it…), and his constant demands) is no different today than it was when I thought these were temporary frustrations that he would eventually outgrow…but the aftermath of that frustration is different now. Now, every tantrum ends leaving me with a feeling of doom. That we’ll never be free of this. That I will spend the rest of my life catering to his every whim, his every need, and trying to be the steady calm for his storm. Those feelings are tempered by the new knowledge that this is not something that he can control. I used to spank him, but not anymore. How could I spank a child who has no more control over his outbursts than he does over the color of his eyes? The spanking did, I will admit, literally calm him down sometimes. It could ‘snap’ him back to reality. Not always, but sometimes. Losing that parenting tool has left me a little confused. I get confused too when Little A and Little B are engaged in the same activity that they should get in trouble for. The doctor was clear: Little A should be punished more strictly than Little B. Even though she is a year younger, and they are doing the same thing, because Little A is capable of more self-restraint than Little B. So, how the hell, exactly, am I to enforce THIS concept? Is Little A not confused enough, at this point? BLAH!
Concepts and words are easy. It’s the putting them into action, with style, that eludes me. I have a lot of things to figure out, obviously. But in the meantime, I thought I’d address some issues that you guys might need help with to.
In this first installment, I’ll address those of you who are complete strangers, or possibly even distant relatives or acquaintances. You might not see us, specifically, out in public, but apply this tip to any situation like the this that you happen upon. If the kid is acting strangely, or throwing an unGodly tantrum, or hitting his mother, here’s what I would want you to do if it were me and Little B that you happened upon:
Just look away. Walk away. I do not need to see you stare in disbelief that I am putting up with it. You will only complicate matters by hanging around just to allow your “normal” kid to watch to set some sort of example about how not to behave in public while you shake your head in disapproval. When it goes on and on, and you begin to suspect that there might be something wrong with him, I do not need to see the realization come across your brow. I do not need to meet your eyes and receive an “understanding” nod of your head. You don’t understand. I don’t even understand. Just walk away. I don’t want to feel the urge to tell you, someone I will likely never see again, that my son has Pervasive Developmental Disorder, as though I require some sort of excuse for this display. I want to end the tantrum with as little anxiety as possible, and get on with my day. That’s my only goal. Even if you think, in some part of your heart, that maybe you can help me through this in some way, trust me when I tell you that there is nothing good that can come from you lingering. Just move on. (And take your damn kid with you, too.)
Tee hee hee. I couldn’t resist that. I’m sorry. 🙂
Thanks. You’re the best.
P.S.: To be clear: the above advice doesn’t apply to close friends and family. You, I gain strength from. Your listening and trying to understand makes me feel validated, and loved, and supported. I’ll probably not have any “tips” for you guys until I get a grip on this myself. Just continue to love him. That’s really all he needs. And to stay over at your house once or twice a week. But beyond that, just love, really. That’s all. And maybe to come over and play one Saturday when the weather’s nice. And to be loved. Because he loves you. You know who you are. He asked about staying over at your house recently. I told him you loved him…and that you’d be calling for him to come over any day now. And that’s all he needs. He could stay longer than just one night, depending on how much you really really love him. But that’s all your call.