how much I hate you?
As we travel through life, we encounter many things. Some we like, some we love, some we don’t much care for and then there are those we hate. For me, there are very few things in life I truly hate. I think it is a word of such strong emotion that you have to truly care about something to actually hate it. Therefore there may be, and there are plenty of things in life that I totally dislike, but only a few that actually warrant use of that word. I suppose I can say one of the things in life I hate, is the inappropriate use of the word hate!
As parents, we try to instill in our children an understanding of the correct ways to behave in society – I think as parents of additional kids, it is somewhat more of a focus than perhaps it is for those with neuro typical children. We have tried to teach our boys that every person is as worthy of our respect as the next – something I truly hold dear, and the surgeon who mended D’s knees is a great man, but having his professional position makes him no better a human being than the person cleaning tables in the fast food restaurant – on a quick side, my boys will always fight over who clears the table when we do go to these places, and get quite upset if one of the staff offers to take the tray from them, as putting the rubbish in the bin is just what should be done!! I am never, prouder than when another parent comments on the manners of my children – and also a little saddened for society that they feel the need to comment because a child has used the word please and thank you.
Recently, D has turned into a teenager. OK, I know he is only 7, but his behaviour has become that of someone I wasn’t expecting to encounter in this household for a few more years. He grunts a lot, and gets angry and shouts when you ask him to use words that are found in the English language. The phrase “Whatever” crops up so many times each day that I lose count. More recently, whenever he is told off for anything, he has taken to telling me how much he hates me. Now, D is a perfectionist, and he has such high expectations of himself that he constantly sets himself up to fail. I am all for people have self belief, how else would we strive to achieve anything, but we have to also learn to be realistic. We have to know when things don’t go as expected, learn from the experience, and adjust how we deal with a situation the next time, after all no mistake is a failure unless we fail to learn from it. D however can’t understand that philosophy. To him, he is a failure – and he will voice that he sees himself in this way, if he doesn’t get the answers to his homework instantly, or doesn’t master a new game the first time he plays it – yes, it is all aspects of his life that he has these lofty expectations. Being his Mum, I try to talk to him about how to learn from trying things and using each attempt as a building block, or I encourage him to do something different for a while, to calm himself down, and very often, I will ensure I’m close at hand and say nothing but monitor his behaviour so he doesn’t cause any harm to himself or things around him, until he is calm enough to reasonably move on.
It is at times like these that he usually tells me how much he hates me, and what a horrible Mum I am. The first few times I heard these words coming out of his mouth, I couldn’t help but cry, after all, nobody wants to be told by those we would give our lives for that they don’t view you in the same way. The more it happen though, the more I realised that he takes his frustration out on me, because I am the one person who will always be there for him – should, God forbid, he turns into a mass murderer, I will be the person being interviewed saying my baby wouldn’t do such a thing!!!! I suppose it is all part of his aspergers. Where he doesn’t let anyone at school see his more turbulent persona, and bottles up a day of emotion and frustration, only to let it out as soon as he is free of the shackles of the classroom. I believe it is the same thing, as in he feels comfortable and confident enough of my love to use me as a verbal punchbag, but he doesn’t really understand the hurtful nature of the words that are coming out of his mouth.
Last night, was the first time in ages that his words made me cry. He had done his homework, and was having his x-box time before tea. The game wasn’t going as it should have and M was getting the raw end of his tongue, until M decided he wasn’t taking it anymore, and left the game to go to the computer. This of course was the final straw for D and the torrents of verbal abuse can flooding out. I asked him, then told him, and then demanded he thought about his behaviour, and to calm it down. To this he threatened to break the games machine, so after one more warning, he was told it was going to be switched off, for 10 minutes while he calmed down. I managed to get out-of-the-way as the controller was thrown across the room at me, but this got him stairs time. As he was put to time out, he told me he hated me so much that he would still hate me when I was dead. The words were hurtful enough, but the venom in his tone and the pure hatred in his eyes just got to me. I left him, tears flowing down my face. A while later he returned to the living room and said he was sorry, but when I asked him what he was sorry about, he couldn’t say, he just knew that it was a time to apologise, but didn’t really understand it was just words unless it was heart-felt.
My bedtime, he was all over me, wanting cuddles and telling me how much he loved me, and I know that he does. It is as if the times of anger and frustration are wiped from his memory.
The old saying of sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me, is so untrue. Be it name calling by bullies, or a loved one feeling comfortable enough with you to lash out, it hurts to hear such nasty things, and it gives you doubts about yourself and your ability to help someone who needs me.
I know my baby loves me, and I know that he only abuses me because I am close enough to understand he needs to release, but I think we have a lot of work to do on his ability to control and channel his emotions into something a little healthier before he forgets and lashes out at someone who doesn’t understand it is frustration at himself and not the person he takes it out on.