Your Children Are Listening

your children are listening

Photo credit to Gage Skidmore

We are screwing this up, y’all.

A few weeks ago, I took the boys out for wings to celebrate surviving the first week of school.  Once my newly minted third grader had coated approximately 87% of his person in sauce, he became a chatty treasure trove of information.  After four solid days of interrogation, chicken wings bought and purchased all the details on the first week of class.

I did not like a lot of what I heard.  And it’s our own fault, fellow grownups.

My son’s voice shook as he was telling me about a conversation he wanted clarification on.  He led with a shaky, “I’m kind of scared to ask you this.”  I gritted my teeth, prayed it wasn’t one of those questions, and told him to lay it on me.  He teared up and said, “Donald Trump kills babies.  What will happen if he wins the election, mom?  Do you think he will kill my brother or is he too old? Why would he kill babies?”

MY THIRD GRADER THINKS THAT DONALD TRUMP MIGHT MURDER HIS LITTLE BROTHER IF HE WINS THE PRESIDENCY.

We have officially lost our collective minds, y’all.  How numb has society become when you can say that Trump kills babies within earshot of an EIGHT YEAR OLD?  It didn’t stop there.  He asked me about Trump “blowing other countries off the map just for fun”, and WHAT IF HE BLOWS THE WHOLE WORLD UP, MOM!?!.  Adult diatribes full of sarcasm and bitterness tripped off his tongue and landed in the middle of our table.  Did you know that people who vote for Trump (their children included) are “a bunch of idiots”?  So are the ones who vote for Clinton, in case you thought the argument at school was one sided.

My son’s class did a project last May and he choose to decorate his with a ridiculous comic about Trump.  Granted, it made no sense, but I still found that VERY odd.  Especially considering our circumstances.  Thanks to his severe anxiety and several epic fails when he was very young, we don’t watch the news in front of him.  We do not talk about politics in front of him.  Once he gets an image or thought in his head, he can’t get rid of it.  So we rolled him up in bubble wrap and protected him from all the things.  Which is proof that I’m one buttered roll short of a chicken dinner myself, people.  I clearly should have taken him out of the cocoon a long time ago, but I was too busy burying my face in the sand.  If people are going to spew hatred and anger out of the microphone of their children’s innocent mouths, then I’ll need to get in there first.  For the love, y’all.

I’m not going to play saint here.  This election is a TRAIN WRECK of suck.  I brace myself every time I open Facebook – the whole place is a hate explosion.  At night, I rail at my husband about all the stupid while pacing in front of him – flailing my hands around and leaving a trail of Skinny Pop in my wake.  (I’m the hot head in our family.  Bless my heart.)  We have all kinds of conversations together in private where I trash talk and lose my temper about the candidates.

THIS is what I said to my child:

We live in the best country in the world.  We are blessed that brave soldiers lost their lives so that we may be free.  Free to have our own views and opinions.  Free to express them. Free to vote for who we want.  When it’s time for an election, the candidates will tell the American people about their beliefs and how they would run the country.  Then we get to decide who will run our government by voting.  People will always disagree and as you get older, you may find that even your closest friends will have differing views than you do.  That’s okay.  We aren’t supposed to agree about everything.  The mark of a good man is one who shows respect, even when others around you don’t.  One who knows how to disagree politely and without malice.  One who can make an educated and insightful argument without belittling people.  It’s hard, but it’s important.

THIS is what I promise to do going forward

I’ll teach him about the democratic process, the party system, and how it all works.  I’ll share our views with him when he asks, and I will do so with a kind voice.  I’ll explain why we feel the way we do while doing my very best not to speak negatively about those who disagree.

Right now, at his tender age of nine, I want my little boy to learn the big picture.  I want him to see the words “President of the United States of America” and have his heart swell with pride for both the role and and our great nation.  I want him to respect the position, learn how incredibly hard the job is and why it’s a selfless act to run our country.  He’s got plenty of time to learn about politicians and social media debates and “them” and “we”.  I don’t think it’s naive to expect parents to temper their words in front of little ones.  It should be a given that while we may dislike a candidate, we don’t utter phrases like “Trump is a baby killer” within earshot of a third grader.  Call me crazy, y’all.

We are human.  We slip up.  We aren’t perfect.  We say things we shouldn’t.

We can do better than this.

Let’s decide now, TOGETHER, that we won’t let a couple of people running for President push us to the point that we poison our own children.  They still have a few years left before they have to be subjected to all the hateful realities of adulthood.  There is a lifetime to be jaded.  It doesn’t have to start now.

I Hope He Has Friends

I hope he has

My youngest son would happily watch YouTube toy review videos for the rest of his life.  I don’t let him, but he SO WOULD.  He especially loves the “blind bags” – those ridiculously priced little pouches filled with a single tiny version of a superhero, which you may or may not already own because you can’t tell what’s inside, damnit.  Little Bear has cried all three times I’ve surprised him with one because it’s WRONG and we need to TRY AGAIN, MOMMY!  I’m doing my best slow clap, you evil marketing geniuses.

Parenting a child with mental illness is, without a doubt, the grown-up version of a blind bag.

If it’s a volatile time, I wake up every. single. morning. wondering which version of Pea will come down the stairs.  Will he be happy and relaxed?  Or did he toss and turn amid a torrent of nightmares?  Will he give me the sleepy grin and crawl into our bed?  Or will he hover near my beside table wringing his small hands with worry?  I’m never sure.  I do a lot of praying, y’all.

Other times, the blind surprise is sneakier.  It appears in my lap out of nowhere with a giant “OPEN ME!” sticker and I’ve got no choice but to follow the directions.  Occasionally, it’s an unexpected blessing.  Sometimes, it’s an epic disaster that I’ve never entertained the thought of before.

I recently opened a disaster and it’s nothing and it’s everything.  Pea is about to start 3rd grade.  Pea thinks he is popular.  Pea is not popular.  I wonder if this is the year that he will figure it out.  Please don’t let it be the year that he figures it out.

It’s a loaded topic and more nuanced than that, but it hit me in just those words during a chat with my mom a few days ago.  When our babies are little, they are as “popular” as we are…meaning that your young child is friends with people YOU socialize with.  They don’t have much say in the situation, other than controlling the instinct to bite Sally and/or steal McNuggets and toy trains.  Pea is lucky to have some amazing friends thanks to my “tribe” in the neighborhood and for that I am very thankful – because he’s getting older and he’s going to probably wear the “weird kid” tag soon, if he doesn’t already.  He was briefly picked on by a 4th grader last spring and the boy’s catch phrase whenever he laid eyes on Pea was, “Hey, look!  It’s the Weird Kid!  Hi, WEIRD KID!”  Weirdly AWESOME, jerk face.  Did I say that out loud?  Anyway…

The bottom line is that Pea IS different.  His brain seems to operate in a different space.  He loves to tell jokes…one of his sweet teachers told me last year that she opened up their writing lesson by asking if anyone knew what “contractions” were.  Pea raised his hand to say they were “something that pregnant women had”.  I snorted with laughter over that one – but how many second graders do you know who have studied labor and delivery?  Pea tackled that topic at the ripe old age of 3.  He likes different things than his peers.  He plays in different ways than his peers.

And let’s face the elephant in the room, y’all.  He cries a lot at school.  He panics a lot at school.  He goes to the nurse a lot at school.  He tells everyone at school about his GAD and OCD because I taught him that it was no different than his friend with diabetes doing the same.  Except it is different, isn’t it?  I’ll NEVER be sorry that I taught him to stand tall and not feel ashamed.  But I’m only just now thinking about the social ramifications for his openness.  Blind bag, anyone?

Pea has one “best” male friend.  One sweet boy from his grade who is gifted and funny and loves to make up elaborate worlds and play in them just like Pea.  He’s laid back and easy going and fast becoming a popular little dude.  Pea is not his only best buddy.  The difference is palpable now.  This summer, he’s frequently out at other friend’s houses when we try to invite him over.

Pea doesn’t get invited to other friend’s houses.  I hadn’t thought about it ONCE until a couple of weeks ago.

Pea got invited to one birthday party outside of my tribe this year, and that was a BIG party.  The “tribe” birthdays are dwindling because most of my close friends have girls and they do things involving glitter and slumber parties now.  I don’t WANT people to force their kids to include Pea – that’s ridiculous.  I might be the odd mom out with that feeling, but I’m not for forced inclusion – unless the whole class is invited, of course.  I wouldn’t make Pea to invite the whole class to HIS small parties (when he has them) and the same goes for everyone else.  If you want to have five best pals at your party, they should be your FIVE BEST PALS.  But, LORD, ya’ll.   It shatters my heart into a million tiny pieces when I think of Pea not having his own buddies…kids with his name on the tip of their tongues when planning a celebration.  All the blind bags.

I want him to have a crew of boys who laugh and play and eat all the food in my kitchen.

I want to say, “No, you can’t go to Johnny’s house!  You’ve got homework!”

I want to say, “Sorry, Sally!  Pea can’t play tomorrow – he’s already got plans with Steve.  The rest of the week is crazy.  How does Monday work for ya’ll?”

I want my fellow mental illness mamas know that I feel your pain and we are all in this together.  I’m sitting with you and hugging your neck when you hear about the umpteenth party your babe wasn’t invited to.  I hate it, too.

I’m there during all those summer afternoons when your little dude is bugging you to have his buddy over and you don’t want to tell him the truth – buddy had plans with another friend.  You’re not looking forward to the day he realizes that he’s not ever busy.  I’m not, either.

I take that back.  I want ALL THE MAMAS to know that my hand is on your shoulder.  Being left out certainly isn’t bound to kids with special needs.  It happens to everyone.  And it SUCKS when it’s your child on the sidelines.  No matter what.

Let’s remember to support everyone whenever we can.  Be a friend to that mama who has a kiddo on the outskirts.  Being a parent is the HARDEST THING EVER and we need each other for love, kindness and vodka drinking moral support.

And honestly…WHO came up with these damn toy reviews on YouTube?  I would be all what-the-hell-turn-that-junk-off except that HobbyKidsTv is the primary reason that I’m able to shower daily.  So Imma let you finish.

<<cracks self up with Kanye reference and drops mic>>

 

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The Truth Behind Picture Windows

 

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I’m sitting in the front room of my house, early morning sunlight filtering through the big picture window.  It looks like the sun has decided to shine today.  I’m impressed by this now – the sun’s insistence on shining despite the whole world falling apart.  I hear the meaty footfalls of my three year old and turn to find his giant blue eyes and flopping curls in front of me.  He’s holding a slightly sticky Superman action figure and smells of syrup.

Mama, where is Bubba?”  He knows where Pea is, but he still asks me over and over again. I understand.

He’s still at the hospital at his super special overnight camp for his anxiety!”  I wonder if the false cheerfulness in my voice is perceptible to him and then push the thought out of my mind.  Again.

Yes.  He’s got a sick spot in his brain and he’s getting better so he will want to play with me again.  We will play superheroes when he gets home.”  He nods at me as though he is convincing both of us.  I gather him into my arms and we perch together at my desk, looking out into the quiet front yard, watching the world carry on as though nothing has happened.

Yes, little cub.  That’s exactly right.  I can’t wait.

I’ve sat in my chair endlessly in the wee hours of the morning, pondering this moment.  I’ve wrung my hands while intense, blinding fear washed over me in crashing waves.  Pea was admitted into the hospital a couple of weeks ago and spent four days and three nights having his medication changed and participating in intensive therapy to help him take control back from his anxiety.

Do I share what happened?

My social media accounts stood silent for weeks while I lost the battle to make him better.  I’ve had a crash course in grief.  What will I say?  What will people assume?  What if Pea loses friends?  Everyone knows that Pea has an anxiety disorder.  I’ve shouted from the rooftops on so many occasions that mental health should NOT BE TABOO.  But that was before I had to use the word “inpatient” in a sentence.  Can I talk the talk and then walk the walk?  The answer came to me on what would end up as Pea’s last night in the hospital.  I had just finished dressing down a nurse in GLORIOUS SPLENDOR and was flip flopping down the long, sterile corridor that connects the “Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Unit” to the other properly sick kids with illnesses that DIDN’T deserve a locked door hidden in a corner of the top floor.

Yep, it was right about then.

I found myself smiling through my tears because HOT DAMN, this is what I’m supposed to do.  I’m not going to be quiet.  Honestly, I don’t think I’ve been quiet in my entire life, so why start now?  I have a whole bunch of precious kiddos to stand up for and THOUSANDS of parents who need to hear me say that WE ARE ALL OKAY.  And much more importantly, I have society to educate.  And society turns out to be a lot of people, y’all.  I’ve got to get busy.

I referenced “dressing down” a nurse, but I want to tell everyone right off the bat that Pea was cared for by an AMAZING TEAM OF SUPERHEROES.  We are BLESSED to have access to such wonderful care and his team of doctors, nurses, therapists, and specialists are life savers and TRUE heroes.  The field of pediatric psychiatry has to be the hardest specialty to decide to go into, which would explain the HUGE shortage of doctors and nurses in the field.  I’ve seen things in the past few weeks that made my heart hurt so badly that I couldn’t find my breath.  And I’m not talking about Pea.  There are some sick babies out there and these people come to work every single day and take care of them when there’s nowhere else to turn.  Mental health disorders are fickle and insidious and the same chemical imbalance presents completely differently from patient to patient.  I can’t imagine doing the job those angels do day in and day out.  They have my HEARTFELT AND ULTIMATE RESPECT.  We would not be here today, on the road to feeling better, without them.  And I’m going back to Pea’s very first diagnosis at age 3.  These people are the very definition of selfless.

That being said, we’ve got some BIG ISSUES, AMERICA.  The mental health system in our country needs an OVERHAUL.  A “tear it down and start over” overhaul.  I’ve decided to talk about that.  I know you’re shocked.  I’m generally SO reserved.  Ahem.

Today, I’ll start with one fairly simple concept that I want to lay out for you.  This is my first post on the topic and my “outing” of the fact that Pea was hospitalized for 4 days.  So we will stick with just this ONE issue.

I FEEL LIKE I AM OUTING US.

That is utterly and completely ridiculous.  If Pea had been diagnosed with a brain tumor, or the “C” word that I can’t even utter, or suffered a traumatic injury, I would have rushed right to Facebook with a plea to all of our friends for prayers.  I would have kept everyone updated constantly, posting test results and lab findings and surgery times . Pea would have been nestled in a hospital room just around the corner from the giant castle decorated atrium, his room bursting with balloons and stuffed animals and get well soon cards.  Visitors aplenty would arrive with gifts, love and well wishes – if he was well enough to receive them.  There would have been trips to the adorable play rooms as he felt better and fresh air at the elaborate playground off the main entrance.  There would be walks down the halls and high fiving nurses and cheer because it’s a children’s hospital and they do such an amazing job of making it not so scary for the children who have no choice but be there for treatment.

THAT IS NOT WHAT HAPPENED TO US.

We sat ALONE.  We were scared and hopeless and hopeful and worried and prayerful and ALL THE THINGS…and we were well and truly alone.  I hemmed and hawed over every single word I said to anyone, fearing that having to be hospitalized would mark Pea for life to everyone around us.  Word travels fast, after all.  Pea isn’t violent or scary or “a danger to himself or others”.  No, wait.  That’s false.  He IS a danger to himself…in the sense that OCD and Anxiety are ruining his childhood.

He was first enrolled in the Partial Hospitalization Program, or PHP as it’s called there.  It’s the same program that he did last August that I wrote about on this very blog.  This year, it wasn’t helping fast enough.  He barely made it through school and we quite literally heaved ourselves over the finish line by the skin of our teeth.  He was so anxious that he was making himself physically sick.  We just found out that he officially has OCD in March and I’ve learned quite a bit since his spiral downhill started.  OCD is not just about locking a door five times.  The “O” is for obsession and Pea has obsessive, intrusive thoughts around the clock that will not let him be.  His thoughts tell him that he’s not good enough, his school work is horrible, his friends must not like him, his parents probably wish they had a different son, etc.  The problem that brought us to this point is that Pea tries desperately to hide it. He won’t share what is spinning in his head All. The. Time.  He plasters on a smile and tries to fit in.  He tells jokes and makes up silly words and tries to hang on while he’s dying inside.  And everyone buys it.  Sadly, he’s even fooled me before.  My Pea was born with a chemical imbalance in his WONDERFUL brain and put simply, he needed new medicine and better therapists that specialize in OCD.  We want him to be able to go back to school in August and BE OKAY.  We found out that he needed a complete overhaul on his medication and LOTS of therapy from a team that specializes in acute care – people trained to hit the reset button when things are BAD.  We got everything we needed.  He’s home and feeling much better and we are doing the hard work now of attending new therapies and trying new methods and FIGHTING to teach Pea’s brain to unravel everything in his head and rewire it correctly.

But let me tell y’all something else…my son was born with a very unfortunate illness when it comes to sympathy and support.

My son has an illness that isn’t supposed to be talked about.

My son has an illness that we are supposed to cloak in darkness and share privately with the fewest people possible.

My son has an illness that is judged by an ignorant society because it can’t be seen or touched, because he’s had enough therapy over the last six years to generally present himself well, because he’s brilliant and funny and occasionally talks too much and if it looks like a normal 8 year old, it must be a normal 8 year old.  I do not say that with anger or hate…I was once the ignorant person through no fault of my own.  In our country, we have public knowledge about so many diseases – but when it comes to mental disorders, the only “awareness” is from those of us who have no choice but to be “aware”.

My son has an illness with symptoms that are behavioral and therefore it is an illness unworthy of support from the village.  He has an illness that we are carrying him through, one day at a time, one hour at a time, by ourselves.  This should not be, friends.

And so I’m here.  I’m standing up tall and telling you that my fabulous son lost a battle to his anxiety and OCD, but he WILL NOT LOSE THE WAR.  I’m telling you that he was in the hospital and he’s doing MUCH BETTER, thanks for asking.  I’m telling you that we don’t need any dinner deliveries, but I might need a sitter for Little Bear occasionally.  I’m telling you that I’m NOT AT ALL ASHAMED that Pea was born with a chemical imbalance and he fights it all day, every day, LIKE A ROCK STAR.  I’m telling you that he might not ever want to go to a huge party or compete in sports or be class president, but he IS an amazing kid, fabulous friend, and the best and bravest person I’ve ever known.

If someone finds Pea’s hospitalization a reason to distance themselves or their children from him – that is a MONUMENTAL loss for them and, quite honestly, doesn’t mean one damn thing to us.

If there is ONE thing that I will accomplish as his mother, it will be to instill in him that WE ARE NOT EMBARRASSED OR ASHAMED of his diagnosis and NEITHER IS HE.  He is not defined by this illness, but he IS defined by the battle he fights and the BRAVE WARRIOR he has become.  My son is going to grow up and become a champion for pediatric mental health disorders and a voice for all the little ones who have to put one foot in front of the other and walk into that hospital unit buried in the back corner of the hospital – just like he did.  I know this because he told me.  And I believe him.  If you don’t know him, you should.  He’s a big deal.

If this ever happens again (God forbid) – I’m putting it on Facebook and posting updates and asking people for prayer chains and laying it all out there, just like any other illness.

I certainly can’t demand change without BEING THE CHANGE MYSELF.  

I’d love for y’all to join me.  Tell your stories.  Be brave.  It doesn’t help to sit in front of picture windows and wish that people understood.

You have to TEACH THEM.  Dr. Ross Greene, a pioneer in child psychology who is fast becoming my hero, has a mantra: “Kids do well if they can”.  I believe the same simple (yet incredibly profound) concept can hold true for all of us.  Generally speaking, society will be kind, helpful and understanding to the plight of our kids IF THEY CAN.  That means that we can’t expect them to read our minds and innately have knowledge that they’ve never been given.

And so here I stand, dusting the cobwebs off my idle blog, telling you the truth.  He fell apart.  He went to the hospital.  He’s doing much better.  He’s playing superheroes again…

AND HE IS ONE.

Pea and Little Bear

Pea and Little Bear today

Perception

Coddling.  Merriam-Webster defines it “to treat with extreme or excessive care or kindness”.  It’s interesting, this word.  The connotation lurking around it is negative.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard the term mentioned in a positive light, although I do think that “excessive kindness” is an oxymoron.  Can kindness ever be TOO much?  I suppose the answer would be yes…I’m sure it wouldn’t do to be excessively kind to someone who was, say, robbing you at gunpoint.  But then again, I doubt you’d use a word like “coddling” in that particular situation.  If someone were being overly kind to a killer, we might say they were crazy.  Or selfless.  Showing kindness in the face of death would definitely be selfless.  But was she “coddling” her attacker?  No, that wouldn’t make sense.  But I digress.  I’m sort of a word nerd.  Is that a thing?  (It’s clearly a thing)

The term coddling gets thrown around a lot in my world.  When Pea was first diagnosed with all of his “stuff”, he was not even three years old.  In those days, nobody accused anyone of treating a two year old with “extreme or excessive care”.  But the little patients inevitably become bigger ones.  The behaviors that would illicit sympathy and hugs from others aren’t quite as palatable when the baby cheeks go away.  I get it, though.  Life is hard.  It’s not getting any easier.  We have to let our kids fail.  Flounder.  FALL.  We have to do it because LIFE.  I’m a FIRM believer in this.  They need to learn to pick themselves up and try again.  They need to realize that not everyone will always like them and vice versa.  If they don’t study, they fail the test.  If they forget to bring in their homework, they get a zero.  Mom can’t and shouldn’t save the day forever.  If they don’t learn how to roll with the punches and get through the bad times, what kind of adult will they be?  A craptastic one.  Much like the kids that we read about now who organize protests in college and file lawsuits because they got their feelings hurt.  Similar to the petty girl who wrote that horrible op-ed piece about not getting paid enough money out of college to afford the lifestyle she was accustomed to.  Kids have to learn to work hard – DAMN HARD – to succeed.  They have to learn to be GOOD PEOPLE.  We, as parents, cannot take the pain away.  We can’t fix it all.  They have to learn how much life can suck and how to come out the other side.  It’s the hardest part of being a parent, in my opinion.  It doesn’t matter if your child wears the “special needs” label or not.  Each child is special needs in some way or another.  All children have a struggle – A THING – that will make something harder for them one day.  ALL THE PARENTS have a big uphill battle and it’s work and it’s impossible and it’s doable and some days we do a super job and some days we need all the martinis.  But vodka, not gin.  Don’t be ridiculous.

Here’s the thing, though.  They may be taller, may have lost all their baby teeth and may quote YouTubers all. the. freaking. time. while discussing who they have a crush on…but 2nd graders are still babies.  Hard to believe, eh?  They love a good show about teenagers, but I busted my big guy pretty excited to watch the new episode of Paw Patrol the other day with his little brother.  They still have a whole lot to learn and a whole lot of maturing to do.  My Pea, in particular, has some big problems.  They are problems that he doesn’t wear on the outside, but they are problems none the less.  Now that he’s getting older, I’m moving into new terrain.  The era of being THAT MOM has started.  I’m the crazy lady who is double checking and triple checking that the substitute teacher won’t be the man who makes Pea panic.  I’m the one who has to RSVP “no” to an AWESOME nerf gun battle birthday party because Pea can’t handle that kind of environment.  It’s me who requests a teacher who gives lots of hugs and it’s moi who will ask for special treatment when her son has his feelings hurt.  It’s true, y’all.  I AM A CODDLER.  I coddle THE HELL out of Pea.  I totally and completely treat him with extreme and excessive care.  BLASPHEME, they cry!!

But…and this is a GIGANTIC BUT AND THE REASON THAT I AM WRITING TODAY…I spend just as much time forcing him to do EVERYTHING that you could never imagine.  You have, very literally, NO IDEA.  You can’t know that when I wake up, I pray that God will give me the strength to do the hard stuff again today.  You don’t know how far he’s come and how VERY VERY MUCH we force him to do – how incredibly opposite we are from “coddling” in it’s negative sense.

I have to push a child who has been crying and shaking out of the car ALL THE TIME because I force him to go to school.  This is a tough one for people to believe because Pea loves school and loves his friends and pulls himself up by the bootstraps and does a damn good job when he’s there.  He’s able to do that because I force him to do it.  I had to let him fall. FLOUNDER.  I carried him, kicking and screaming and biting me, into preschool every. single. day. his pre-K year.  They let us use the back entrance because he was damn heavy to carry like a football.  I cried in the car after almost every drop off while I put my hair back into place.  That would be hard to imagine if you met Pea today.  I did it so that you could meet the Pea you meet today.

I joined online groups and made friends and took Pea to a social function practically every day until he started school.  I filled our schedule to the brim.  He would whimper and cry and be scared constantly.  I took him anyway.  We had to talk for hours beforehand and lay out exactly what was going to happen and where and how long he would be there.  It was a very exhausting period of time.  He needed to learn to socialize before elementary school started and it was hard as hell, but I kept on it.  I took him to birthday parties where we were an hour late because it took that long to get from the car into the facility.  It would have been much easier not to go, but I took him anyway.  He has to live here, on this earth and with these people, and I’m the only one who can throw him in the deep end and force him to swim.  This might be shocking if you see him at parties today, but that’s why I did it.  So you could see him at parties today.

He’s got a team of doctors.  He goes to therapy every Tuesday.  I make him miss recess and lunch for his appointment so that he doesn’t miss instructional time.  Recess and lunch are what get him through the day and he has begged me to change the appointment time.  I do not.  I force him to miss his favorite things because “life hurts, son”.  It’s probably strange to hear that this bothers him because he leaves school for his appointments with no issue, but that’s why I do it.  So that he learns to be kind and pleasant even when things aren’t going his way.

He tells me EVERY SINGLE DAY OF HIS LIFE about something that is bothering him…some little thing that is twisting around in his brain.  To Pea, everything is a BIG thing.  He has OCD and it manifests for him with constant looping thoughts that he used to call voices.  His mind is constantly and endlessly feeding back memories that nobody would ever normally recall.  Sometimes he will say them aloud, telling me something that upset him four years ago out of thin air.  I don’t pretend to imagine what it’s like being in his head, but it can’t be fun.  We work tirelessly to help him push the thoughts aside so that he can pay attention in school and do his work.  He has always held himself together exceptionally well at school, but he suffers for this.  He has terrible stomachaches and frequents the nurses office.  The cost of his easy laugh, his not complaining with every single breath he takes, him holding back his tears to twice a day instead of fifty, is to feel sick inside.  He would like to go home every time he visits our sweet nurse.  I forced him to fight harder this year and I get to listen to him whisper on the phone that his stomach hurts again and tell him that he needs to stay there.  That’s the hard stuff, folks.

I suppose my reasoning behind my ramble tonight is two fold.  First, don’t forget that you don’t know what someone else is going through.  (I know.  I say that a lot.  I’ll say it a lot more.)  I have so many surreal moments during my day to day interactions with people.  All sorts of little firecrackers are firing off in my head while I’m smiling and nodding and wondering inside if I should say what I’m really thinking…share that I don’t know if I can volunteer for the event because it might be one of the Bad Days…tell the truth about why Pea can’t go to the party rather than RSVP no and make up an excuse…tell my old friends that I’m not sure if we can get together because Pea might not be able to say anything to them for the first two hours and I won’t be able to pay attention to them because I’m wondering if he’s okay…it can be rather a lot to live inside MY head, too.  And I can tell you with certainty that I screw it all up A LOT.  I choose wrong.  I’m human…it’s kind of our thing.  And I’m going to get accused of coddling Pea A WHOLE HECK OF A LOT as he grows up, which brings me to number two…WHO CARES!?!?!  Be strong, my fellow parents!  Let’s do this together!!  Let’s raise our martinis after the worst day ever (or Dr. Peppers.  Whatevs.) and rejoice in the fact that it quite simply DOES NOT matter what other people think!  Doesn’t that feel blissful?!?!  Regardless of what your own situation is, remind yourself of the following things:

  • You are doing your absolute best even though you sort of suck at parenting sometimes.  And adulting in general.  And math.  (that part was for me)
  • LOADS of people love you to the moon and back, ESPECIALLY YOUR BABIES!
  • Some people think you are an absolute idiot.  They might be slightly correct on occasion.
  • A handful (or slightly more depending on your number of acquaintances…this is when it would help to be introverted…which I am SO not) think you are coddling your kid too much.
  • A bushel of folks think you don’t coddle them enough.
  • You thought I was going to say “peck” here, but I’m not because I’m shifty like that.  And occasionally an idiot.

Don’t sweat it, y’all.  Love each other.  Give each other some credit.  Trust your gut and do what’s right for your family, even if it’s not a popular choice.  If someone looks anxious or worried, ask if they need a hug…guaranteed they do.  And MOST. OF. ALL…if your child needs it – even if people on the outside looking in don’t get it, even if you are 99% certain that you’re known as “that mom” in various circles – you go right ahead and be the parent that looks like a stark-raving-lunatic-viral-HuffPost-article-inspiring-coddling-helicopter mama.  I know that isn’t what you are.  You know that isn’t what you are.  And that’s enough.

 

In Summary

IMG_0046Last night, I actually printed those adorable little forms that are currently sitting on the buffet table.  That was the designated NYE activity in the land of excitement known as Our Home.  I saw the form posted on Facebook a couple of days ago, maybe more.    Being a naturally nostalgic person prone to fits of simultaneous joy and melancholy over this kind of thing, it had my full attention.  “Oh, we have to DO THIS!”, I exclaimed excitedly in my head when I saw it.  “We can do them EVERY YEAR!!!”, I chirped with enthusiasm.

You may have noticed that we didn’t do them.

I’ve been writing a post in my head for several days to end 2015 with.  After I finally closed both bedroom doors upstairs and shuffled toward my next duty (dishes…so many dishes), I saw the bright white forms sitting untouched on the buffet table and it hit me.  That is the perfect way to summarize 2015.

Sometimes the best laid plans go awry.  It doesn’t matter at all.  Be happy, anyway.  

This year has been a huge jumble of ups and downs…said every single person ever.  The days of this life all run together and years simply pile up.  With the exception of the ones that include major life events or tragedies, they just bleed into each other, one after the other.  Rather than years, time seems to lump together into periods.  I’m deeply buried in the “young children” era right now and all I can seem to do is concentrate on the here and now.  I am FOREVER making plans like the sweet form that remains untouched tonight.  I don’t need New Year’s Resolutions.  I need resolutions for tomorrow.  Usually they consist of me asking my phone to remind me to do the thing that needs doing tomorrow at 8am.  And then watching the banner pop up all day as I say, “I AM TOTALLY GOING TO GET TO THAT NEXT!”  Until it’s 8PM and I’m not sure how we got here and oh, well…TOMORROW IS THE DAY!

I started this blog in 2015 to share the story of our lives with a child suffering from a severe pediatric anxiety disorder.  I heard from so. many. people. who were excited to have someone talk about what we are all going through.  “It’s going to be AMAZING and LIFE CHANGING for ALL THE PEOPLE!!!  This is my CALLING!”, I crowed to the husband as I rolled out my big plans.  And then life happened…job changes that led to schedule changes that led to me running out of time.  I felt so guilty as I raced to complete everything that I needed to at night, while the clock kept ticking later and later.  “I’ll write tomorrow!”, I assured myself every single day.  Yet, there has been no writing.

I started working out religiously over the summer – at a gym very close to my house that I LOVE SO MUCH – but I had to stop going after the huge change in my husband’s schedule this fall.  I just happen to have a big kid who can’t handle the decibel level of the gym and a toddler who can’t handle seeing mommy going into class while he stays in childcare.  “I’ll go twice a week when he’s at preschool!”, I assured myself.  But after I do all the things that need to be accomplished for our family…those short hours are gone.  I have to prioritize the elusive time without a little one around, and it doesn’t often leave room for “me” time.

I have a beautiful friend who wrote me the longest letter that I haven’t responded to days and days and days later…because I need to sit down at a keyboard and type, uninterrupted – and I can’t seem to do it.  There is no time that is uninterrupted.

However, I refuse to see this as a failure, and you shouldn’t either…because I know you have your own list of epic fails.  Here’s the thing…epic fails result from epic plans.  And we make these plans because we are TRYING SO HARD.  And that’s pretty damn awesome of us.  We want to be super mom.  We have great visions.  We think the 2015 printable for our kids to fill out will be a fabulous memory.  So we add it to the list.  It didn’t get done, but we tried.   And we missed it because the short one wanted to play Hot Wheels Super Track Ninja Dinosaur for three hours and the tall one wanted to have light saber fights at the park with his best friend.  And that’s a fabulous memory, too.  Granted, they won’t remember the details of today, but they would have remembered if their mother barked angrily for them to stop playing and COME FILL OUT THIS CUTE FORM FOR ME TO REMEMBER YOU BY, DAMNIT!”

I’m absolutely going to write this blog.  More than once every three months, I swear.  I’m working on it.  I’m still paying my monthly dues at the gym because I will figure it out, sooner or later.  I’m going to return those emails and be a better friend and make that 4th of July wreath from last summer that I bought all the stuff for.  I have no idea WHICH 4th of July it will be ready for, but that’s neither here nor there.  Right now, mamas with the littles, we will get through tomorrow.  And we will go with the flow and let life happen and not worry about the printables that don’t get filled out.  I’m 99.9% sure the dinosaur ninja skills that I’m currently honing will make up for lost Pinterest ideas.  I’m kind of a big deal.  

Happy New Year, friends!!!

The View from the Trenches

It’s 9:30 at night and I’m standing in the kitchen with a ziplock bag in my left hand and my right hand buried in a box of Lucky Charms.   My kids don’t actually like Lucky Charms as a whole.  They do, however, like the marshmallows.  Pea learned years ago to quit asking for them because “I’m not buying an entire box of junky cereal and watch you make it even worse by only eating the marshmallows”.    There is something about that box, though…Little Bear went banana sandwiches to have it today as we swung through the cereal aisle.  Little Bear is one of those “willful” children that gets loads of articles written in HuffPost offering prayers to their mothers and promises that they will “be leaders” and not kill us.  Or something to that effect.  Anyway, I bought the damn cereal.  I still had groceries to buy.  I’m not even sorry.  If he had asked for a pony, I would have given him that, too.  You don’t EVEN know.  Anywhoooo, now I’m standing in the kitchen with said box.  And I’m fishing out the marshmallows and putting them in a bag for Pea.  I’m stashing it in his lunch box tomorrow so that he will open it and feel joy and know that I love him more than all the moons and stars and heavens above.  Or at least just smile a little bit.

I had to break down all the Amazon boxes in the garage this afternoon in order to fit them in the recycling bin.  I never buy things in actual stores.  See above comments about willful children and ponies.  I’m not made of money, folks.  So cardboard is always cluttering the garage.  The boys thought this was the most fun they’d ever had.  They pulled lawn chairs, two coolers, dad’s entire set of some tool I don’t know the name of, two pool noodles, a giant box of bamboo plant stakes (Previous owners?  Plant stakes?!), five random bricks, Pea’s rock collection from 2010, a mallet (!), the shop-vac, an outdoor extension cord and four left over tiles out into the driveway.  Oh, and a large bowl of Chex Mix and two drinks, which Pea made and spilled all over the kitchen.   They had a GRAND TIME, friends.  I think they were being ninjas, but I’m not entirely sure.  I had to say “don’t sword fight with the bamboo stakes!” about 75 times and at one point Little Bear figured out that knocking over the “brick tower” with ninja kicks caused the bricks to break, which made him very VERY happy about his existence.  They were so dirty that they resembled Pig Pen from Peanuts by the time we had to come in for dinner.  And it took me just as long to clean up the driveway as it did to break down the cardboard.  But THE JOY.  Their dusty faces were lit up from within.  We laughed as we hunkered over the sink and watched the water run brown from our hands.  And then I reheated pizza for Bear and empanadas for Pea and brought my own salad out in the backyard where we had a dilapidated looking dinner on the tiny toddler picnic table.  I couldn’t fit, so I sat on the floor and told Bear not to jump from the top of the playhouse about 50 times in between Pea telling me every last detail about what he’s building in Minecraft.

Pea has two rats.  Minnie and Maisie.  He researched and prayed and asked and dreamed and we made him wait A YEAR, but finally broke down in June.  Yes, they have long tails.  No, they don’t look like those ugly things in the sewer.  I actually think of them as Disney characters and continue to be annoyed that they don’t make me spaghetti.  But I digress.  They live in the lap of luxury in a giant cage in the playroom upstairs.  My child who swore up and down and around the corner that he would take care of the rodents doesn’t take care of the rodents.  Because OBVIOUSLY.  As it turns out, I will not tolerate the smell of rats in my house, so I clean the cage constantly.  To MY standards.  It takes up my Scandal watching time.  I do it anyway.  Tonight was cleaning night and I hunkered down in the playroom with a bottle of 409 and a roll of paper towels and did what I always do.  I hurried because we were running late and it was bedtime.  The bathed boys had disappeared and I hurriedly wiped down the cage and tossed in new bedding so that I could find out why it was so quiet and what may or may not be on fire.  As it turns out, Little Bear had wandered into Pea’s room.  Pea was watching one of his endless Minecraft videos (why are they ALL British?!?!) and Bear was all the way under the covers with him, nestled into the crook of his arm.  I decided in that moment that our rats don’t even have to make pasta in order to earn my love…they gave me this moment.

After I fished the baby out of his bed and turned off the annoying sounds of Little Kelly playing Minecraft, I scooted Pea over and climbed into his bed.  I kissed his forehead and told him what a great helper he was in the grocery store today and began rattling off all the reasons that Little Bear would be lost without him.  His anxiety rears it’s ugly head when he’s trying to go to sleep, so we have a tried and true routine of chatting about mindless things while he’s nodding off.  It keeps the darkness at bay.  Tonight as I’m doing this, he got a strange look on his face.  I stopped talking and quickly asked if he was okay.  His answer?  “Yes, mom.  I was just watching you talk and thinking about how you are the best mom in the whole world and I just…I don’t know…I’m just thinking about you.”  And with that, I am full to the very top all over again.

I won’t remember the scene in the driveway or the $5 box of cereal that I didn’t need to buy or how tired I was while cleaning that stupid rat cage.  This giant conglomeration of days and nights and shenanigans called childhood will morph into fuzzy memory and I’ll definitely remember some highlights in vivid detail – but not the minutia.  I can assure you, though, that I will remember that they loved me more than all the moons and stars and heavens above and I was their best and only girl for just a little while.

 

SOMETHING!

Oh, HEY THERE!  Long time, no see!  How’s your mom?  Did your kids get back to school?  Have you had a Pumpkin Spice Latte yet?  It’s AFTER LABOR DAY, y’all!  It’s only been a month since I wrote.  I still have this craptastic stock layout.  I’m sort of the best blogger ever.  I should write a book about it.

My husband is a pilot and managed to be gone for three weeks.  Or 22 days.  In a row.  But who’s counting?  I survived the start of school with Pea, his anxiety and Little Bear.  It was super fun.  But anyway…

Pea.  I love him so much.  He’s having such a hard time.  I hate anxiety.  I despise OCD.  I want it all to GO AWAY.  I want him to just BE.  The hospital program was truly amazing – if we could live there, I swear we would.  But now we are back in the real world and the bottom line is that we have a LONG. WAY. TO. GO.  We are getting ready to start with a new therapist that will continue the work they were doing in the hospital.  He has been in play therapy for years, but it’s time to transition to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.  We will start addressing his fears head on and teach him how to get through these moments that debilitate him.  It’s hard, y’all.  I’m not going to sugar coat it and I am the QUEEN of sugar coating.  Pea is now in his third week of school and he’s been to the nurse or counselor every day since day three, I think.  Sometimes more than once.  BUT, my friends, he stays at school.  I haven’t had to go get him.  He STAYS THERE.  And that’s a big deal.  You’ve got to look for the bright side in everything.

There’s a lot to talk about.  I’ll tell you all about what’s bothering Pea at the moment.  We can discuss color coded behavior charts at school and why they will be the death of me.  We should also talk about why I both love and hate Stitch Fix and how I want to be the kind of girl who rocks a scarf, but can’t.  (This is a reoccurring issue for me.  You don’t even know.)  But for now, Little Bear has a cold and has woken up 3 times while I’ve been trying to write this.  So you’ll just have to wait to hear about my issues.  I know you are on pins and needles.  😉

At least I wrote SOMETHING!

The Rules (or Lack Thereof )

As I was cleaning up after dinner, I looked out from my position at the sink to see all three of the men in my life on separate devices.  Dad at the table on his iPad, Pea on the couch on my iPhone and Little Bear at the computer watching Blue’s Clues.  I thought it was pretty cute.  I kept washing dishes.

Occasionally, I think about how I’m mostly the worst mom ever.  No, that’s not true…I think about how I would be labeled as the worst mom ever if anyone ever found out that I kinda don’t care about all the things.  I don’t have a lot of hard and fast rules here, aside from the obvious.  I’m all about everyone being GOOD PEOPLE…respectful, loving, kind.  There are rules about hitting, foul language, being online without a parent (NO), respecting our elders, not using a Sharpie if you are under 35 – the basics.  But I don’t have screen time rules or snack rules or play rules.  I might just look up at 2:30 one afternoon and shout, “Let’s go outside!” if I feel like the screens have been going for too long.  (But not now.  It’s 4,876 degrees outside, for the love of all that is holy.)  If it’s 4:30 and I’m waaaaay behind on dinner (like maybe always-ish), I’ll let them dig into the fruit snacks or Goldfish.  If Pea wants to run a strip of masking tape down the middle of the entire staircase and place HUGE neon green traffic cones on the landing with signs directing which way is up and which way is down, I might let him.  Or I did let him and I just tripped over a cone while putting up laundry.  But I digress.

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Guests love this.

I have a feeling that this way of thinking stems from having my oldest child born with a serious anxiety disorder.  Things in our house don’t look exactly like they might elsewhere. I can’t even be sure on that one, honestly.  I’ve never known a different way!  But I do know that things taken for granted by other folks are high stress moments in our house.  When Pea was little bitty, he stopped being able to get a haircut at all.  AT. ALL.  The worst moments were when I would offer him a present in exchange for going inside a salon.  He wanted a toy so badly, but he couldn’t turn off his anxiety in order to get one.  I will never forget that day…he was four years old and crouched in the very back of the SUV, shaking and crying and begging me not to leave the parking lot because he was still trying to get out.  We sat there for almost two hours while he tried.  It never happened.  (and you can bet your bottom dollar that I bought him a toy, anyway.)  I bought all the tools to cut hair and watched YouTube videos on how to do it.  Pea looked very strange for quite some time there.  (Never ask me to cut your hair.)  We worked so hard to get him back in a salon that by the time he did it, I think I bought him his own island.  Or everything at Staples.  SOMETHING GOOD.  We kept it up – he gets little rewards every single time he makes it inside to get his hair cut.  To this day.  Usually just a new pack of pencils or a new lanyard (we can talk about Pea’s choice in toys later), but always a little something.  It’s our thing.  He had to drop out of an entire season of T-ball when he was 4 because he couldn’t get out of the car at the new field.  We tried for 3 weeks in a row.  The last straw was that last week when I was snack mom.  I had to drop the snacks off to my friend and head home with Pea.  He got sick in the car that day.  He was beside himself.  He wanted to do all of these things, but couldn’t.  I have a hard rule that I don’t spend more than $150 on a new sport/event/thing because you never know if he’ll be able to actually do it and we often lose the money.  But we think it’s VERY important that he TRY if he wants to.  We always want him to try.  So we got this awesome team of doctors and therapists and we started working on it and he fights like a warrior all the time.  He started taking medicine that helped him finally get out of the car.  He goes to therapy to learn and practice all the tricks to help him not get under his desk at school when a substitute walks in the door.  The world looks very different through his eyes and it’s the minutiae that gets us.  The decor in a restaurant, the resting face of a new therapist, the feeling of a pair of socks, the smell of the cafeteria, waking up late, switching to long sleeves, accidentally laying eyes on the little flyer with the impoverished child from the Feed the Children campaign, hearing a classmate get reprimanded, the sound of the gym at school, the loud music that floated through the walls when he tried to come to MY gym, riding in someone else’s car, the red lights and which lane I’m in and when I should turn…the list goes on and on and ON.  I suppose that when you never know exactly what is going to go wrong – you stop worrying about things like official screen time limits and  snacks before dinner.  I don’t fault ANYONE for having these rules – don’t get me wrong!  I sometimes wish we lived a “normal” life (as if there is a such thing) where I worried more about how many episodes of Stampy he was watching and less about how I’m going to convince him that it’s okay to walk upstairs without an adult.

But seriously…those fruit snacks are TOTALLY organic and I’m pretty sure they don’t have that red dye.  It’s not like I’m a hooligan or something.  😉

It’s a Great Time to Start a Blog!

Remember that time I started a blog?  I was all, “OH, I’m going to write EVERY day and share our story with the world and be both sensitive and hilarious and make ALL the people follow me with abandon and know ALL about pediatric anxiety!  It’s going to be awesome!”  I mean, sure…there aren’t three of me and I have one child going back and forth between a hospital 45 minutes from our house, family therapy that I have to attend and OH, YEAH…a two year old.  No problem.  OF COURSE this would be a good time to start the blog!  That’s sooooo doable, Mom!   Oh, and you should absolutely pick up that book about writing code so that you can format the blog yourself!  And return all the amazing emails that you’ve received from the blog.  And clean the house.  And feed the children.  And AND AND AND….

I’m actually the very opposite of Pea – although he looks just like me.  My first instinct is always a resounding, “Sure!  No problem!  It will turn out great!  No worries!”.  God definitely knew what he was doing because my personality is perfect when it comes to mothering Pea.  I’m a “don’t sweat it” mom.  I’m pretty hard to ruffle.  I’m not even remotely rigid.  Pea’s absolute favorite thing to do for the last…let me think…8 YEARS is to create worlds to play in.  He has never EVER played with a toy the way it was marketed.  He creates vast lands across our house using everything from cans in the pantry to all the dining chairs.  We move furniture.  He makes signs and badges and tapes them all over the house.  You want to use all the spices in my spice rack to make a choir?  SURE!  You want to take everything out of your closet to make it an office?  Let’s do it!  Can you have every piece of tupperware to use as aquariums in your marine biology lab?  No problem!  I’m calling it “fostering creativity”.  😉  Pea wouldn’t do well if I wasn’t okay with giant messes in the name of imagination.  And my lack of anxiety is certainly handy when it comes to helping him relax.  I consider us the perfect team.

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The Spice Choir, circa 2012

The downside to being laid back?  I always say yes.  I always think I can do it all.  I’m always up at all hours finishing ALL THE THINGS.  I walk around the house and clean it up every night so that Pea has a clean slate for his next idea.  I handle all the various appointments for Pea.  I’m always the room mom.  I’m going to be on the PTA board this year.  I’ll take on all the projects.  And throw all the parties.  And cook all the food.  And apparently start a blog or two.  Did I mention I have a two year old?  HA!  It works for me, though.  It’s just my personality.  And I always manage to get it done.  Mostly…ish.

Sooooo – that was my long winded way of saying that I swear I’m going to keep writing this blog.  And making it beautiful.  And bringing awareness to mental health problems in children.  It just may be 2am when the latest posts arrive.  🙂

This has been an emotional and overwhelming week, to say the least.  Pea is doing AMAZINGLY WELL at the hospital program.  He’s doing so well that I’ve now switched my anxiety from how he will cope with going to how on God’s green earth we will get through the transition to him NOT going.   He really loves it.  I’ve never seen him so happy to go somewhere.  Tonight as he was falling asleep, he said, “I wish I could go to anxiety camp tomorrow.  I hate waiting until Monday.”  What the WHAT?!?  I want to make them 1,000 cookies and knit them sweaters and kiss every last person over there.  This is clearly the right place for Pea.  We have our first family therapy session with him on Monday.  I’m very much looking forward to getting some insight into Pea and how we can help him more at home.  I’ll be sure and share any tips that I can.  He has shown them what he’s struggling with in many ways so far this week and they are coaxing him through everything.  The process is intensive and I am still utterly and completely optimistic that this will be the beginning of a smoother year for my Pea.  That’s how I roll.  “IT WILL BE FINE”, she said.  And they keep on keeping on.

The Professionals

The sun hadn’t cleared the horizon this morning when my Fitbit buzzed my wrist to wake me up.  (Sidebar:  If you don’t have a Fitbit, this feature alone is worth it.  I’m far less likely to murder someone with a flying alarm clock when it’s my bracelet that offends me)  I was already awake because A) Little Bear is the worst sleeper ever and B) HOSPITAL DAY!!!  I was a ball of nerves when I went in to wake Pea up.  Would he be able to do this?  Would he be too frightened to speak?  WOULD IT HELP?  The answers to these questions would finally be answered and I was both excited and flipping the freak out.

We tiptoed downstairs together – as to not wake up the baby that only sleeps when I have to be awake – and it felt like a school day.   I packed a lunch, got everyone dressed and we hit the road nice and early to avoid the nightmare that is driving into the city.  Daddy took the day off to stay with the offensively sleeping Little Bear.  We talked the whole way and Pea was excited and nervous in a good way.  Do you know how sick a little boy has to be in order to be excited to go to the hospital?  Yeah, there’s that.  The drive was uneventful and we even managed to stop at Starbucks for breakfast, where Pea agreed to try an English Muffin and actually liked it.  It’s the little things, folks.

Once we arrived to check in, the paperwork started and the wait time was just long enough to give the thoughts time to run around Pea’s head.  He started to clutch my arms and try to crawl inside my skin.  He ducked his head into my chest and began mumbling into my shirt about how scared he was and how his stomach hurt.  And I had the feeling I always have – FIX THIS.  MAKE IT BETTER.  LOVE THIS AWAY.  I’m never able to actually do those things, which doesn’t get easier – no matter how many years have ticked by.  And that’s not just an anxiety mom thing.  It’s an ALL MOM THING.

By the time Pea’s name was called, he was in full on panic mode.  We were lead to a conference room where Pea was given some legos and a smile by what turned out to be an AMAZING nurse.  The paperwork and chats about history got underway.  There was a LOT to talk about and record.  I kept wondering why Pea needed to be here for this part – shouldn’t we get him started first?  It’s so stark and boring in here.  But we kept going.  As it turns out, there was method to their madness.  There were two nurses with us at this point and they would intermittently address Pea in some way, to which he literally could not speak or respond.  But the nurses just merrily kept on as if he had.  They would chuckle to each other about the joke he didn’t respond to or the question he didn’t answer.  And slowly – ever soooooo slowly – he started to relax.  At first it was just a hint of a smile before he ducked his head.  Then a few whispered answers that were so faint, I couldn’t make them out from beside him.  Then they got a little louder.  At no point did the nurses make a big deal or acknowledge that he was opening up.  They stayed the steady course.  I kept doing my part, answering questions and putting my signature on 10,748 documents.  Inside, my heart was swelling.  These women KNEW.  THEY KNOW MY PEA.  I don’t have to explain how to help him.  THEY KNOW.  At one point, I felt tears threatening and I NEVER EVER CRY in front of Pea.  Not because I was sad, but because the relief was like a tidal wave.  This was the first time in our lives that I was with a team of people who knew even better than I did.  I wanted to launch across the table and hug them and say, “THANK YOU FOR HELPING ME.  THANK YOU FOR UNDERSTANDING US.”  Help is a powerful thing.  Taking a burden from someone, even if it’s just for a moment, can change a life.

The brilliant tricks continued and before I knew it, Pea had been taken back without me with absolutely no hysterics.  I was in awe of these people.  It was very hard not to ask them to move into our house.  😉  After all of my paperwork and doctor consults were over, I walked outside alone and sat in the shade for awhile.  It wasn’t incredibly hot yet – still just 10:45am.  I needed to breathe for a minute and feel the breeze on my face.  I needed to close my eyes and let the sensation of relief wash over me.  These wonderful people took my load today and carried it themselves.  I felt it in my soul.  And it was good.

When I picked up Pea, the reports were glowing.  He had used his words all day.  He participated in everything they did.  He only got truly upset and overwhelmed twice and both times, he was able to tell the therapist exactly what was bothering him and why.  This is unheard of for Pea when it comes to strangers.  I quickly learned that these folks would never be strangers to him.  They speak his language.  He knew instinctively and immediately that they were his people.  The drive home was positively blissful.  He perched in his booster in the backseat and twitched and bounced gleefully as he told me about each and every staff member and all the cool things they said.  He kicked his skinny little legs against the seat in anticipation of what would happen tomorrow.  He gave me unlimited gap toothed grins as he shared what one of the other kids joked about at lunch.  They made him peaceful.  And they gave me hope.

Pea went back to being Pea when we got home.  He cried and clutched me when I tried to go to the gym.  He got angry with himself for needing to be corrected about something and ran out the front door to hide in the bushes and cry.  I don’t know how much this program is going to help him.  We will just have to ride it out and see.  But I know that if anyone can help, these people are the ones that will do it.  And I’ll take just about anything at this point.  Today was enough to lighten my load.  For that, we are blessed.

I know there are probably parents reading this who have been on the fence about seeking medical help.  You have a child that is coping with his issues, at least a little bit.  Maybe you think that you are managing pretty well on your own and the problems aren’t severe enough.  (This is a typical mom move.  “Oh, I’ve got this.  I don’t need help”)  Some of you may be loathe to give the issues a name.  I know that seeking a diagnosis, especially one involving mental illness, can be daunting.  Sometimes it’s easier to tell yourself it’s not that bad.  “We’ve got this under control.”  Please let me speak to your heart.  Share your burden.  Seek out a therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist.  Let someone help.  You will likely hear me say something like this a million times on this blog.:

If your child had diabetes – or you thought he might have it, you would take him to the doctor and get it checked.   Of course, you would.   This is no different.

There are amazing people out there that can help.  Really. Amazing. People.  Don’t feel guilty seeking them out.  We all need a team.  Teams are awesome, my friends.