Thursday, October 13, 2011
I have always felt incredibly over-protective towards Captain Underpants.
But never more so than now.
My son is hurting. His courage is failing him. His ability to deal with life with ease and confidence is deserting him. He is distraught and lost and struggling with everyday situations. He over-reacts impulsively and without warning. His tummy hurts. His enthusiasm is waning. He is trying so hard to cope and to keep up with the ever-changing situation around him. It is all proving to be too much.
I feel utterly, utterly helpless.
At this moment in time, if I could wrap this boy in cotton wool, pull him into my lap, lock the door and never let him go...I would.
I just want to stop him hurting and it kills me that my efforts, right now, are verging on ineffectual. I am floundering almost as much as he is.
He loves the fact his dad is now living close by. He loves his father unconditionally and misses him enormously when he is not around. But he doesn't want to go and stay at his dad's temporary home. He is not sure he wants to go and stay at the new house, once they move in November. He wants one home, absolute routine, no to-ing and fro-ing. He is desperately trying to put on a brave face; he has always tried to conceal his deep un-ease with the situation. I can tell he doesn't want to upset me or his father, by saying the wrong thing. He loves us both and is highly attuned - even at 8 years old - to other people's feelings.
Not only that, but he is also struggling at school. Academically he is ahead of his years. Socially, he can find it hard to fit in. He is struggling to deal with a larger class size, of 30 children. There is more noise and it is generally less orderly. He seems to be finding the environment more stressful than his previous school. Not only that, but this year he has a mish-mosh of teachers. His main teacher is there from Monday to Wednesday lunchtime. Then he has another teacher for one day on a Thursday - and yet another for one day on a Friday. He likes them all but is finding it hard to develop a sense of confidence and trust with so many adults to get to know. He is getting less individual attention than at his private Chicago school, which appears to be making him feel lost and inconsequential.
A lack of stability at home. In conjuction with a lack of stability at school.
This child, who thrives on absolute structure and routine and adult interaction, is floundering in a sea of change and uncertainty. Will he adapt, as everyone says he will? Or will things go from bad to worse?
I just can't take the risk of waiting to find out, can I?
But it is also more than that.
There are aspects of his behaviour - the depth of his sensitivity - which lead me to believe it could be something more.
You know. The sort of something where people start to bring the word 'spectrum' into the mix.
The sort of diagnosis that both his father and I are terrified to consider - and have possibly been in complete denial about for many years.
I think his father is still in absolute denial. After a meeting with the school on Tuesday - where they expressed their concerns and we dismissed them with countless logical reasons - Ex turned to me outside and suggested that Captain Underpants is demonstrating this type of behaviour due to a lack of consistent disciplining on my part.
He cited the birthday weekends as an example - where I ignored mayhem and let Ex deal with the admonishing.
I was too busy attempting to stem a flood of tears to either defend myself or slap him. I have NEVER proclaimed myself to be the perfect mother. How convenient that these troubles with our adored son could potentially be attributed to the gaps in my parenting technique.
Anyway, that's immaterial. Nothing else matters except opening our eyes to the fact that we need to get some help - some professional help - before our diminutive son crumbles even further before our very eyes.
I spent the day talking to friends and colleagues who have experience with sensitive / anxious / autistic children. There are several indicators, that he has had since infancy but which have definitely become more pronounced in recent years, that fit within an autistic / Asperger's diagnosis. Maybe I am jumping several guns here. I can have a tendency to think 'worse case scenario' but I have reached a point where I want to leave no stone unturned.
I made an appointment next week with the school specialist, as one of my first ports of call. I have ordered book upon book from Amazon. I felt a bit calmer, once I began to consider the possibilities and take action in getting some outside help.
I was on my way home tonight, internally mocking myself a little for being such a neurotic mother, when I received a phone call from Captain Underpants.
He was in tears.
Not sobbing, angry or stub-your-toe tears. These were the saddest tears I have ever heard. Quiet and heartfelt. I sank onto a step outside my office and my own heart plummeted. I fought to stop myself crying in sympathy alongside him. He softly cried and cried, while saying that he didn't know why he was upset, why he was feeling the way that he did - he couldn't even articulate what it felt like - but he didn't want to feel this way any more. He wanted to stop this feeling and he wanted to come home to my house. He was crying out for help - and I had no idea what to say or do. I listened to him and talked to him gently and reassuringly for nearly half an hour. He calmed but didn't seem significantly happier. I talked to his dad, hearing the concern and emotion in his voice mirroring my own.
I am so terrified of failing him. I love him immeasurably and wish I could magic all his cares away. But I think we need to rely on a little more than just love at this stage.
My special, special, special boy.