A Day in the Life

It begins early, way earlier than most young boys and girls are up for the day.  If he sleeps past 7,  I am amazed and yet, I lay in bed with bated breath.  He will wake and the sounds of screams fills the livingroom.  Running up and down the hallway, I cringe, wondering how long it will be before my youngest is jerked from sleep.  It is a weekend morning, a  time when the world slows down a bit, a time to renew and refresh is embraced.  Yet, for this young boy, relaxation is not an option.  Leaping from couch to floor to chair and back again.  couple that with the tv blaring and screams at whatever program is on can be heard even for those walking by on foot.

With a sigh, one of us rises to hand over 4 different medications, one is an instant or fast acting adhd medicine which should kick in by the time he reaches school or eaten breakfast.  He cannot even look me in the face as he scrambles into the kitchen, running circles, bumping into walls and laughing like a maniac.  He grabs them from my hand and takes off at a dead run.  If I can get his attention I can talk slowly to him and give him one instruction and then another.  Where most of us can handle, go to the bathroom, wash face and brush teeth.  These remain items of a garbled mess to him.  He can handle go to the bathroom, but be completely lost as to what to do next.  After painstaking repetition, we can get dressed and headed out the door.  I try to pack his backpack a bit heavier so he can feel the weight of it and it may take his energy level down some.  I stand, ready for a hug, and I receive a full body slam in return.  I look at him, smile, smooth back his hair, and say, “you are beautifully and wonderfully made.  And. I love you.”

I watch him leave and i sigh silently.  You see, already the comments have started from his classmates.  “mom, they think I’m weird.”  I want to cry, to shelter him from their harsh comments, the anguish in his voice, the fire that disappears from his eyes as he describes students telling him to shut up.  I know he can talk for hours on one subject and appear as though he has no clue that no one is listening.  I know that is frustrating and I will be the first to admit that I care nothing about the latest WWII fighter bomber flight.  I know he talks like this at school too.  I can’t stop him.  Faster and faster he will speak and then the filler words will come spewing forth, “like, you know, and like, like, like.”  He is the smartest child I know, with a talent for music and a memory that traps knowledge and emotion like a steel trap.

He also is given to fits in front of other people and has a hard time if something does not go his way.  Unable to transition and adapt, he is left feeling ousted from the group because they move at a faster pace  than he does.  Onto the ground he will throw himself, full on temper tantrum with screamed comments that no one likes him and everyone hates him.  In his worse states, he will claim a desire to run out into the street and not care if a car comes.  It is those comments that break my heart.  Then, as quickly as he whipped himself into a frenzy, he is done and laughing.  This leaves his friends wondering what just happened and how to handle what they just saw.  Moments later, another event sets the whole cycle back into motion and we begin again.

I watch his papers come home.  The illegible handwriting, the scrawled name at the top, and I shake my head.  As a teacher, if I could not read papers, I would count them wrong, or make the student redo the work.  The trouble is, he knows exactly what he is doing.  This kid is wicked smart, but with a dwindling confidence in himself, I fear for his future in school.  I see test scores come home and I smile, knowing all along this kid has the IT factor.  If only others could embrace what I see.

Then I stop.  I must admit that I have snuck out to the garage and screamed into the darkness.  I have sobbed out frustrations, shook my fist heavenward, and blamed myself for all that has happened.  The comments from others ring in my head.  “Oh, it must be genetic on your side.  You took medication when you were pregnant, it could be that.  Really, there is nothing wrong with him except that he is a normal boy with energy.  What are you doing giving him medication, that will screw him up completely.”  All those words pound in my head and I begin to resent my son, my wonder boy, my baby.  I begin to feel angry at all the things he does because he has too much energy.  The constant noise, chewing everything in sight, the lack of attention to his hygiene.  I shake my head each time he gets up from the table, seeing the spill of food around his face, he is oblivious.  I want to save him,  I can’t.  I listen to his brother now start to call, “MOM!!! he needs his meds, he’s acting crazy again.”

I feel alone.  I feel trapped in a reality that few can understand.  I am angry at the fates that would allow my son to suffer from not 1 but 2 mental illnesses.  I want to fix him, or to love him enough I could squeeze the disease out of him.  I would not wish this on any parent.  You see, it is not something that someone  can readily see.  It is not like a broken limb, a physical deformity, or a terminal illness.  All of these would be horrendous to handle.  His is silent.  Silent, until you watch for five minutes.  Silent until you want to sink beneath the church pews and apologize to everyone for his upsetting the quiet in the congregation.  Silent until you are too scared to go out to supper or a family outing for fear of a blow up or his wandering off but himself.  What should be a relaxing moment causes me to sit on pins and needles waiting for the bottom to fall out.  And, in the moments I speak of to no one, I begin to hate that child who stole the dream of a perfect little boy away from me.  I hate the look in his eyes when he is in despair or so angry he is out of control.  I want my baby back.  The one who giggled and laughed and took pleasure in silly games.  I miss the boy who was easy to play with, who did not react to every situation and storm off, destroying whatever is in his way.  I hate the looks from family members who watch his behavior, thinking that it is something we, as parents have done.  I hate handing my son 4 medicines 2 times a day.  I hate thinking of what the future may hold for him.  I hate myself for thinking these thoughts, and I try to chase them away as soon as I can.

But, the loneliness and exhaustion are everyday feelings.  Few moments of true laughter come as I watch and anticipate.  I wake each morning wondering if it will be a good day or i will be tired by the time he leaves for school.  I drive home, wishing that I would receive a hug, not the screaming body slam that I get the minute I walk in the door.  They hurt, yet he is unaware.  I wait each night, barely breathing as I wonder what kind of night we will have, how long it will take for him to rest and if he can settle down to do his homework.  I go to sleep cursing the fates that dealt this hand.  And, I wake, destined to repeat the day before like a constant episode of “Ground Hog’s Day”  I yearn for people to understand, to reach out, to talk with, and to share the journey…to really relate without judgment.  I yearn for the dust to settle and allow my son to breathe and think clearly, for him to find true peace.





2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mike
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 22:19:26

    The best thing about him is the humor, the compassionate heart, the awareness deep down of others (many times), and the fact that he can feel safe with his mom and dad and his illness. Others will think what they think, but by your modeling and patients, some have changed how they understand his actions. I found some comfort too reading about others that struggle each day with actions that remind me of him and make me glad I didn’t have to experience what they had to go through.

    You need to scream, breathe, and do what it takes to get to the point you will remember that it may not be by his choice that he is acting this way and the amazing child with all of his gifts and flaws is still there. I struggle too and ask that you remind me when I am allowing those frustrations to take hold of me.


  2. Dawn
    Sep 02, 2013 @ 12:15:16

    My situation is similar yet different. I understand a portion of your feelings and frustrations. It is exhausting and I too scream cries out when I can’t handle it any longer. One day at a time, one step at a time. That is all we can do and put the rest in God’s hands. Very hard to do when we like to be in control, but letting go and trusting is a start to inner peace. Hang in here.


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