It’s been a difficult week this week. As well as still feeling poorly, and the anniversary of nan’s death, we’ve had a few incidents with J which have left me feeling like quite a failure as a mother.
At long last however, following J having a meltdown at school resulting in him physically attacking me in front of staff and other students, his teacher took me to see the SENS lady at the school. After a long conversation with her, I felt much better and slightly less of a failure.
It’s difficult to explain to someone the change that sometimes comes over J. When he’s good, he’s very, very good, when he’s bad he is awful. He gets an ‘angry face’ on with gritted teeth and he’ll lash out. At school on Thursday morning it was about taking off his coat. I tried to help – he said he didn’t need help so I stopped trying to help – he flopped to the floor, getting under foot of other parents and kids in the cloakroom, and started rolling about. I got him to his feet, said to him he couldn’t be rolling round on the floor like that because he’d get hurt, and tried again to help him take off his coat. He kicked at me – he punched me – he grabbed a handful of my hair and yanked it one way while kicking me again. He’s only four, and he’s a slight build, but when the rage takes over and he starts lashing out it really is painful. And I don’t think people can appreciate how bad it gets until they’ve seen it – on Thursday it was the first time that the teachers saw him get physical with me.
The SENS lady was very understanding and very helpful and we established that J seems to have some issues surrounding certain things. She is writing a recommendation for our GP that J is assessed to see whether he needs any additional support – whether he is on the autistic spectrum at all or whether it is a case of him needing to be taught additional tools to help him learn to control his behaviour. His love of routine, order, lining things up, the way he will hold a conversation with an adult without an issue but has difficulty relating to kids his own age, all seem to point toward him being on the autistic spectrum somewhere, but at this point we need the assessment to see.
If he is, it’s not like it will make a difference to me – he’s just J as far as I’m concerned, and despite as upset as he makes me at times I do love the bones of him and would do anything to support him. I want the assessment to see if there is any additional help he can get. I don’t want him labelled as a troublemaker, or that kid who hits, or for him to be one of those children who gets to secondary school and ends up in the lower sets because he can’t concentrate properly so he ends up getting left behind with a bunch of kids who’re in the lower sets because they don’t want to apply themselves properly. (I know – I was one of the kids who ended up in the lower set for maths at school despite desperately wanting to do better I just can’t get my head around mathematics and so I ended up in a classroom of kids who only wanted to muck about and not actually learn)
It was a big relief for me to hear someone say that I was doing the best I could in difficult circumstances because for a long time I’ve felt like I’m failing him in some core way by not being able to deal with him properly 100% of the time. I’m fed up of feeling like a bad parent because he runs off and refuses to come back to me; or when he starts kicking off and getting physical with me. Early this week another child from his class was removed from the school to attend a specialist school due to his difficulties and the fact that the school J is at cannot provide the support this other kid needed. When speaking to the SENS lady about this she did say that J’s behaviour was noticeably worse when the other child was around because he would copy the bad behaviour. Now the other child has gone they hope that will help to calm J down considerably but she and his teachers agree there may be an underlying reason for his behaviour difficulties.
I refuse to call days “good” or “bad” any more. We would have far too many bad days and I feel that’s like telling J he is doing something “wrong”. I prefer to say he has had a difficult day, or a challenging day, and when he gets upset and starts lashing out rather than tell him that is wrong I’m explaining why he shouldn’t do it, that it makes the other person feel sad and hurt, and we’ve had a few less difficult times this week. I don’t know if that’s a result of the other kid leaving school, or because I’m going at it from a different direction or a combination, or maybe it’s just because he’s getting over his cold so he is sleeping better. His behaviour is always worse when he’s ill, because he doesn’t sleep well. He was always such a good sleeper as a baby but after he got to 2.5yrs that went out the window – he’ll be in our bed four nights out of seven at least by six o’clock in the morning.
Today he is being very attention seeking. Since waking me up at 8am by screaming and smacking me because Daddy P had gone to work without saying goodbye to him (we were both still asleep) he has been constantly demanding. I’ve had two days off work sick this week so I’m desperately trying to catch up, as well as do the housework that hasn’t been done all week because I’ve been unwell (those damn housework fairies never did show up to lend a hand!) every time I try to do something he’s interrupting me – he wants a drink, he wants something to eat, he wants me to help him with part of his game, he wants me to watch him playing his game, he needs the loo, he wants to play with my phone, whatever. It means everything is taking twice as long as it should because I can’t just get on and do it. I eventually asked for some quiet time and during that quiet time he sat there getting closer and closer saying “mummy, mummy, mummy” constantly until I snapped. I got up and told him to leave me alone for a moment while I calmed down and went into the kitchen. He followed me “mummy, mummy, mummy” so I went upstairs for a while. I feel terrible when I do this but it’s either walk away or shout at him and I’m trying my hardest not to shout. It’s not his fault I feel so shit. It’s not his fault I can’t split myself in four pieces so one piece can do housework while the other plays with him while the other works and the other catches up on sleep. It’s just all been snowballing and getting so much to cope with that I don’t feel like I’m able to cope anymore. Not like this. Which is why I’m so relieved that the school have finally started taking me seriously and are helping. I’ve been asking them since he started Nursery for some assistance. A year and a bit later we’re finally getting there.
I know, if he is on the spectrum, a diagnosis is a long way off. I know, if he is on the spectrum, this is just a baby step into a very long journey but the way I’m looking at it is, at least we’ve taken that step.
Now, I’m going to have a coffee and spend some time playing with him.