Crazymaking Makes Me Crazy

My son falls asleep watching a movie, sleeps through dessert. He wakes up, I ask him if he is ready for dessert, how is he, etc. He does not reply. I ask again. Again, no reply.
I go about my busy business, cleaning and cooking and putting things away. He follows me around, calling me names, and stomping angrily. He talks about me, and spits. He calls me stupid as I put his clothes away.
When he starts beating on the floor I wrap him in a blanket and restrain him (we live in an upstairs apartment, and I can lose my lease if I get complaints). He screams and cries and when he agrees that he is done I let him up.
He screams that he wants his dessert.
I tell him to sit quietly at the table, and ask nicely for it. I remind him that I do not reward children with sweets who are behaving badly.
He sits at the table, and I tend to the things I have in the oven while he screams and cries, because I am waiting for him to be calm and quiet.
My pie has spilled over and burnt the bottom of the oven, from the stomping and beating on the floor.
I hate cleaning ovens. I told the children I had a lot of baking to do this weekend, we are going to functions and need to bring food and I want to get it all done for the coming week, as this past week we had no baked goods for them to eat after dinner. I have been wanting to bake all week, and never had the time. Last week I had nine appointments, after a full workweek, this week just five, and still not enough time to bake until tonight.
I got really mad, seeing the spilled food from the pie I am trying out for the first time. I got angry, with the spillage smoking up the house and making everything smell burnt. I wanted to cook this particular type of pie since last weekend.
I lost it. I told him he should be happy now that he has finally upset me, that I hate this sort of mess and he has no respect, stomping around like he did when I was cleaning and cooking for his benefit.
He is calm enough to ask for his dessert politely, and I give it to him.
He ate his dessert and went to bed and cried. He came to me after fifteen minutes or so and said he wanted to say sorry and I told him sorry is not enough. He needs to tell me what his problem was, to treat me like that when I am taking care of his Pokemon cards and his clothing and his food. He says he does not know.
I tell him to get to bed. I tell him to be quiet and let his siblings sleep, and when he complains that he did not have his gummy vitamins, I tell him we all missed a lot of things this evening due to his bad behaviour (we missed books! too loud!), he tells me to leave him alone.
I look at this pie and I feel sick. I don’t even want to open it up and try it.


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Two Years Out

We are two years out. Two of us on medication, two of us with PTSD. Two of us cured. Two of us remember everything. Two of us do not.
One of us does not know what happened.
Three of us do not recognize the abuser’s face in pictures.
Two years of protection gone.
One more year that he is ordered to stay in the borders of his state by the criminal courts.
One more year before he is free.
Eight more years before he is free to contact us four.
He said ¨Even if it takes me ten years I will kill you, wherever you are.¨
Ten years is what the paper says.

I have to petition the criminal courts to extend the protection at the time of expiration. If there is no attempt at contact I will probably lose. I have to do it without giving my new name, and since it is on a case listing my old name, I think I can.

I should send an update to the shelter staff and the advocate group.

I try to talk about what happened, and instead I end up counting like this.


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¨Mommy, you are a little bit cool. But I am ten pounds cooler than you.¨ says my middle child- on the way to parkour tag. I bet I never would have got that praise if I did not play it with him. Especially since I outweigh him by a hundred pounds.

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A Clear Vision

When my oldest son was born, he was very fat. He had his own sleep schedule, and would not be coaxed into another until he was three. He was terrified to hear the vacuum. So I had his grandmother take him far away, outside, so I could vacuum. Still, if he heard it from another doorway, another house, he would scream.
He choked on milk. I would despair of him getting enough to eat, not knowing he was the fattest baby on the block. His crying when trying to eat would panic me. I fed him all the time, hoping in frequency to compensate for the short meals.
As a baby he tried to pull his face off, repeatedly. I do not mean that he scratched himself. I mean that he tried to hook his fingers into the skin of his cheeks, pulling down with his fingernails, impervious to the pain, until there were welts running down his face. I kept his hands covered for four months. I let his hands out for a time daily until I had to pull his hands off of his face and cover them back up, and at four months I was afraid it would impede his development so I kept his nails to the quick and restrained him, instead. I kept him within an arm’s reach, or I swaddled him really well. Mittens when outside, as the stroller faced him away from me. Cold made it mandatory, anyway.
I held him all the time, massaged him frequently. He wanted to be rocked nearly continuously, and he got so heavy, so quickly, that at nine months I had to break him of it. He did not show much curiosity for anything besides mouthing objects, until he became mobile.
He was slow to turn over. Slow to sit up. Slow to stay up, quick to injure himself with bumps on the head, always falling.
When he began walking, it was deliberate. Changes in surface depth caused him to walk curbs or dips over and over again, as if teaching himself uneven surfaces.
He did not like strangers. Strange faces made him scream. Yet. He would not look at me, he would not call me mommy until a year after he had started addressing other people by their names.
In the car he lasted exactly an hour and a half outside the home. Then the screaming started and did not stop until we reached our doorway.
He could not switch gears, could not switch focus from one thing to another, without pitching a long fit. He hated being locked up in the few rooms he was allowed into. He wanted to get into everything. I let him empty the dressers over and over again, to keep him calm.
I was in a county that had a visiting nurse program for new mothers. The nurses were so happy with his growth, with the fact that I was always holding him, that they used our home for training nurses in the program for a year. They told me horror stories about the other homes they visited, where babies were kept in car seats, nearly all the time.
I took him to the free developmental screening when he was six months old, where the screener was suspicious of his lack of motivation, asking me ¨Does he reach for things at home?¨ Not really, I told her. She never called me to follow up, as she said she would.
I asked the pediatrician why he was so upset so easily. A phase, she told me. As a toddler I asked the doctor what to do about his violent tendencies towards his brother, whom he attempted to strike whenever there was crying. The doctor pretended not to hear me. I asked again. He said ¨Well, since there is nothing else..¨ and walked out the door.

Why did none of these professionals recognize his autism and auditory dysfunction? Was it about our state subsidized insurance? Was it our minority status? Was it because I spoke quietly? What clouded their vision?

I worked through it, anyway. We were connected. I could tell by his behaviour when he was at his limit, and I knew how to calm him. His symptoms got worse before they got better, and now he is much improved. I haven’t stopped, though. I am still trying to make it easier for him.


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Math Class

Today the school taught my son how to count by tens.

So he forgot how to count by fives.

He also cannot count by ones any longer. I tried with him, for a long time tonight. He has forgotten completely, only tens come out, even on his fingers. He felt badly enough to start goofing off.

I wrote a note to his teacher instead of losing my cool. He is going to have enough trouble, I need to be his cheerleader and not his taskmaster. I can make him do his homework, but I cannot magically make him understand it.

No wonder he would rather read a book. So would I!

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I bought my daughter some fairy wings for next to nothing at a thrift store, black and glittery. She was really excited to try them on. She put them on, walked in some tight circles and glanced back at them.
¨They don’t work.¨ She said, with a frown.
I crouched down to her height, concerned.
¨What’s wrong, baby, what do you mean that they don’t work?¨
¨Mommy, why am I not flying?¨
I was so very sorry for her in that moment.
She took them off, but she did not cry.


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Saturday Morning Tantrums

Middle son was a good boy all day yesterday, and then lost it at dinner. This is his second week without naps, which might have something to do with it, and today he had his first session of EMDR.
I do not know if aggravated symptoms are normal after EMDR. I have read very little on the typical experiences of children other than reports of immediate or gradual relief.

He usually has his tantrums on Saturday morning. For throwing shoes at me, being rude in front of his grandmother, and then pushing his poor sister into a door knob he lost his computer privileges for Saturday. Which makes Saturday more difficult for me, because the computer would keep him occupied and out of his siblings hair. So I knew, when I went to bed, that I could have a rough time.

I did.

But not as bad as it has been, no one got hurt. He did be generally unpleasant for about two hours, and it was evident that he was exhausted, as he was unpleasant from a reclining position on the floor. I kept my focus on the housework and the laundry and gave him a timeout for kicking out at his brother, or pushing. The rest of the time I tried to ignore what he was saying. It was borderline, not directly punishable. Annoying borderline bullying, definitely not nice, but not a zero tolerance issue, either. So after a few hours of continuous laundry and cleaning I succumbed to the backache and I sat down on the couch in front of my middle child.

The baby crawled up with me and told me her brother was not being nice and that she needed a huggie (her word for hug). I didn’t mean to, I just started sobbing. My eldest son got on the couch and hugged me while I cried and tried to tell me his brother was bad, so I wouldn’t feel so sad. But I told him I was sad about his brother’s choices, that his brother was good, and I knew he could do it differently.

When I dried my tears I saw the culprit creeping down the hallway to put away his blanket, something I had asked him to do hours before and he had refused and complained bitterly about on and off since. When he came back out of the bedroom after a few minutes he was back to his normal self.

This means he has empathy. This is huge. I have so much more hope now than I did last year.

Despite the triggering today I did not lose my cool. I never hit fight or flight. I cried, and who wouldn’t? I don’t want any abuse in my home and it was there, being felt by the smallest of us, years later. I was tired and in pain. But I never lost it. I am getting better, too.

I can see, in how he and I handle the stresses, how our PTSD is doing. Today it is doing well. Yesterday the psychologist said the meds are helping him so much, that she started his EMDR. He wouldn’t let her do it before, not for the past year.


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