I think one of the hardest things any parent has to do is see their child suffering and not being able to wave a magic wand and make it all better. When they hurt, it makes us hurt because our primary task is to keep our kids safe and well. Well isn’t just physically well, but mentally also.
D is a worrier. He always has been. I have said many times before that I believe he was born middle-aged. I believe it is his constant thirst for knowledge that drives his fear. It is as if not knowing something is wrong and has to be punished. The way he punishes himself is to get wound up, frightened that something bad will happen because he is missing information. The fact that he is just 8 years old throws no bearing on his self punishment. He should know things, and when he doesn’t it leads to a great deal of distress for him. Trying to tell him it is ok not to know everything, is of no comfort to him. Now, he is a ridiculously clever little man, and extremely skilful in trying to hide that at school – although luckily he’s had teachers that have seen the boys who just wants to learn! It is very much a chicken and egg situation, which came first, the thirst for knowledge because he believed he wasn’t good enough or the not believing in his self and trying to better. He doesn’t accept that he is young and has plenty of time to fill his brain with facts and information, instead he has to binge, and like a binge drink who keeps going until they can take no more, he gets to the point of saturation and explodes into meltdown while he processes everything he had fed his brain.
When he was little, he admitted the reason he doesn’t like going to bed is because he might miss something important. We had to promise him that should anything important actually happen during the night we would wake him to let him know. Of course we never needed to. We had many nights of forcing him into bed, and laying with him holding him tight until he fell asleep – after much talking and question asking. I read recently that the average child – is there such a thing?, asks about 300 questions each day. All I can say to that is there must be some kids out there who don’t ask any to make up for the volume D gets through.
D’s thirst for knowledge and some very positive teachers, have meant that he gets on well at school. He is a rule follower and gets quite annoyed by those that don’t want to spend the lesson time absorbing information. However, he would much rather spend his days playing with computers, and playing football – much like any other child his age, and it gets to the point where I spend many hours each week batting excuses for not going to school. There have only been a few times when it has been for a legitimate reason, usually bullying which the school has dealt with once informed.
During the recent school holidays though his anti-school behaviour was far more verbal. In our kitchen, we have a blackboard wall where I write what is happening during the week. I had just written 2 weeks of holidays, and left it at that. When I returned to the kitchen a while later, he had added, “then evil S. word”. A little confused, I asked him what SWORD was!! He told me we were not to mention the S. word during the holidays, as he didn’t want to think about it. Happily we went along with it, and if it needed mentioning we called it sword!! It did however get a bit silly when in the car and he shouted “beep” when hearing the word school on the radio! We didn’t take his behaviour as anything more than a child wanting to enjoy his holidays.
The day before back to school, of course the place had to be mentioned and this lead to some quite aggressive behaviour. He really didn’t want to go back. Now, like most parents, we have had many a night before back to school persuading our kids that it is a good thing, and like most children, ours don’t believe us, but they know they have to do it anyway. He wouldn’t add any detail as to why he was so adamant he was not returning to school, so we had to just tell him he would be and ignore the abuse that was returned to us.
About half an hour after they had gone to bed, I could hear a strange noise. When I went to investigate, D was sitting up on his bed, sobbing his heart out. Tears were streaming down his cheeks. I sat with him and hugged him, not saying a word. He was inconsolable. When I did ask him if he knew why he was crying he said he was just not happy – a very logical response! Eventually he cried himself to sleep with cuddles from Hubby.
First day of term is always a mad rush finding things they have forgotten where they put them. I went into Ds room and once again he was sitting there sobbing. He didn’t want to go to school. I asked him why not, and he said he just didn’t. He then thought for a moment and said he was just 5% happy and 95% a combination of sad and angry. When your child says things like this, it breaks a little bit of your own heart. I managed to calm him a little, but he was determined school would not be happening for him, and when I begged to differ with his opinion I received a torrent of abuse from him, and even when you know it’s not meant, being told by your child how much they hate you, it really does hurt.
I managed to get him to get dressed by reminding him that one of his close friends was being allowed to walk with them to school for the first time, and so he had to go or he was letting his friend down. M could see how upset D was, and he packed his bag for him! They stormed out of the house, slamming the door as they went!
I was exhausted after all that emotion first thing in the morning! My first coffee of the day never tasted so welcome!
When he got home from school he was much more himself. The day hadn’t been as bad as he was thinking, his best friend who has been off sick a lot was in all day, and his new teacher was nice!
He was having a new teacher, and this was obviously what had been upsetting him. His main teacher was staying the same, but the second teacher was becoming the school PE teacher and so they were getting a job share into the class to replace him. Something as simple as this, to him is a major thing. I should had thought it through to be able to help and support him during this unexpected mid-year transition, but had thought that as the main teacher was the same it was no big deal. It still amazes me that things we take for granted can alter my little aspies whole perspective on life, destroying his confidence.
Today, he still didn’t want to go to school but he got dressed without telling me how much he hated me, so I see this as a good start to the day!