Saturday, July 22, 2017

Obliquely Obsessive Boy

There is a deep, deep bruise in my heart. It started out small and has grown to a brown ugly in some places very black bruise and it is growing larger. I don’t know how to heal it. It hurts. It is ugly. I don’t like that it is there and sometimes I’m startled by its presence thinking, “How did that get there?” and then taking a step back of recognition with the follow thought of, “Oh yeah, I know that must have been it.”

This week I’ve noticed this bruise once more. We had a wonderful vacation in Europe this past two weeks where our boy was happy and fun for the most part. A few minor behavior episodes, but nothing major that we assessed or is this just what we tell ourselves and are tolerant to? Grandma didn’t seem to think there was anything major too, so we took it all in stride. The couple of days before we left the stubbornness and refusal kicked in, but nothing too devastating.

Then on the plane ride home a switch clicked and our son’s obsessive compulsive behaviors began to emerge. Mostly giggling and somewhat playful at first and then willful and targeting to the point of uncomfortable as he obsessed on trying to scratch off a mole on my husband’s neck. We got through it. My son said he tried to curb his behavior because he was afraid of being “kicked off the plane” as he’s read things in recent media about emergency landings for such things.

My husband admits it hurts. The twelve year old pulling on his neck with all his weight, grabbing at him, punching him when he covers the mole, and getting kicked repeatedly when he walks away from his obsessive son or tries to separate himself from him----it all hurts very much.

I had that when my son was smaller. I had a mole on my chest area, but high enough that it was often visible. He played with it as a baby and scratched at it while breast feeding to the point of making it bleed. When I covered it with a bandage he would fuss and refuse to breast feed. Little did I know that was shades of things to come. After breast feeding, I got relief from this pulling at my mole for a little while.

He started up again when he was four or five not being able to leave it alone. He’d head butt me if I would put him off my lap where he was bothering it. I remember locking myself in the bathroom one night and screaming for Martin to come rescue me as I had wrestled with him and fought him off and I was bleeding a lot. He had ground my mole down to a bloody hole that night till there was nothing left. It was gone. After the hole healed it came back much smaller to where it is barely there. This is when I began to notice the bruise in my heart.

Now, the episodes of OCD occur at random intervals lasting sometimes just hours and other times days. It can be a chipped paint on a wall that becomes a bigger and bigger hole. They called me from school one day because he had created a hole in the wall of his school library and he was violently defending his right to make it bigger and bigger not letting anyone touch him as he did it.

They couldn’t safely get him away from it, and so they called me to “talk him down”. Fortunately, I was able to talk him down somehow from it, but it wasn’t easy or without bruising to three adults as we surrounded him and removed him from it as the library wall couldn’t run away from him.

Viola, God rest her chicken soul, got plucked one day by him when he was in this mode. He was crying pulling out her feathers, but couldn’t stop. I heard the ruckus and came to the chicken’s rescue removing her to a safe place. He often cries as people around him yell, “Stop it!” to no avail. He can’t. It isn’t that he won’t, but in this emotional stranglehold on his brain and body it is that he physically can’t stop. There is no off button.

I know earlier I said he was worried about getting kicked off the plane. Yes, he was in a playful stage of the obsessive mode and somehow at that stage if you can catch it there he can pull it in still, but there is a point of no return it seems too.

Last night he hit the point of no return and it drove Martin out of the house as he was getting beaten and wrestled to the ground for his mole. He sneaked back into the house last night and was able to sleep in our son’s room as our son had fallen asleep in our bed. As soon as our son woke up though, he found his father and stared in again. We tried reasoning, all the tricks we knew to break it, and it just got worse till Martin fled the house in self-defense, but has sneaked back into the basement to see if he can get some of his work done without the boy knowing he’s here.

I just had a chat with our son, now that he’s calmer and had some “alone time”. You could see his face screwed up in pain just talking about all of this and what we might do about it. The conversation went something like this:

ME: Well, Papa can’t live here with you attacking his mole constantly, so what do you think should happen?
BOY: He should get the mole removed.
ME: He has a doctor’s appointment to talk about the possibility on Monday, but beyond that we’ve all got to live here in peace. How can that happen?
BOY: I don’t know.
ME: It can’t continue like it has the past couple of days. And you don’t know why you’ve got to do this, so how can we get around it?
BOY: It isn’t healthy.
ME: Ah yes, you say you’re trying to remove it for his health, but do you think punching, kicking, and head-butting him and swinging all your weight on his neck is healthy either?
BOY: No. But…but…but he hurt me.
ME: Correction. He defended himself from you punching him and doing violence to him first. He did not want or intend to hurt you. Do you think what you are doing to him hurts?
BOY: It is  necessary to remove something that is unnecessary and potentially harmful to his health.
ME: No, it is not necessary as it is a healthy mole. There are such things, you know.
BOY: It has the potential to cause him harm.
ME: Back to the point, don’t you think you are causing him harm with what you are doing?
BOY: (very quietly) Yes. (he begins to cry)
ME: Sweetheart, how can we help you to stop hurting him? Would a bandage over the mole help? If he covered it with a big bandage, would that help or make it worse?
BOY: It…it…it…help…
ME: Really? You’d be willing to try harder if he covers it with a bandage?
BOY: Yes. Otherwise, I will have to remove it causing damage to his function as a human. It might even kill him.
ME: No, no one is getting killed over this. You can’t rip off the bandage. You’ve got to try, okay?
BOY: Okay. Papa needs a bandage. Go get one for him, Mama.
ME: I’ll call him and tell him.

I left our son upstairs in our bed where he has been spending his days since we’ve returned. We haven’t been able to get him to budge except for meals. I think that is part of the problem too. In Europe, we were walking a lot every day with lots of things to see and do. Back home, even when I ask him to go for a walk or go do things with me all I get is refusal. In that bed, he talks to himself, and his mind spins and spins until obsessions take over.

You may say, “Well, be the boss and kick him outside! Get him out to do things!” and if you say that, you are fooling yourself. I’d pay you well if you think you could succeed in doing just that as that would be a priceless endeavor to us as that is what we long to happen. We vary our tactics every day in efforts to budge him from that blasted bed. I wish it were as easy as making him do it, but if you’ve ever fought a wildcat, you’d know why we don’t succeed at it very often just when the wildcat is in a mood to be tamed.

“The Taming of the Boy” is the new chapter or very old chapter in our lives. As the teen years loom before us, it seems even more important to get a handle on all of this. We have him on medication that is supposed to help with it and it does help. Just when we call his doctor and get that elusive appointment two weeks out or even a week out from one of these episodes by the time we see him the crisis is averted and we all decide to keep him on the dosage he’s on.

Before Europe there were a few episodes we almost changed the dosage, but because we’d be out of touch overseas, we didn’t want to risk to possible even more going wrong out of reach of our doctors. Summer is always a trial to find what might work. Maybe it is time to walk that balance beam once more? Our bruised hearts collectively can’t take the gymnastics we go through for balance.

My boy is crying, hoping for a better solution and so are we. I wish autistics that have been through a childhood like his could tell us how they got through it all or what worked for them. I go to conferences trying to connect with people that can tell me more. I call new doctors and therapists and read books hoping for a better answer. We follow diets and take supplements that help, but haven’t been the solution.

We give him medication that doesn’t put me at ease what we are doing to his body in the long run with it, but short term gives us a little day to day relief from the really bad episodes of violence, obsession, and anxiety that he suffers with against his overall sweet, funny, and brilliant nature. I don't want to be dependent on chemicals and see the side effects do a number on his health either. I hate that also.

When will God bend towards us in this matter? I know my child isn’t the worst, but he’s not the best either and this existence is harrowing to walk through when he’s at his worst. It is us crying out to the universe for answers and getting silence. It puts me in mind of a poem by Edger Lee Masters titled “Silence” here is the part of the poem that jumps to mind that I’ll leave you to ponder.
There is a silence of a great hatred,
And the silence of a great love,
And the silence of an embittered friendship.
There is the silence of a spiritual crisis,
Through which your soul, exquisitely tortured,
Comes with visions not to be uttered,
Into a realm of higher life.
There is the silence of defeat.
There is the silence of those unjustly punished,
And the silence of the dying whose hand
Suddenly grips yours.
There is the silence between father and son,
When the father cannot explain his life,
Even though he be misunderstood for it.

There is a silence that comes between husband and wife.
There is the silence of those who have failed,
And the vast silence that covers
Broken nations and vanquished leaders.
There is the silence of Lincoln,
Thinking of the poverty of his youth.
And the silence of Napoleon
After Waterloo.
And the silence of Jeanne d’Arc
Saying amid the flames, “Blessed Jesus”—
Revealing in two words all sorrows, all hope.
And there is the silence of age,
Too full of wisdom for the tongue to utter it.
In words intelligible to those who have not lived
The great range of life.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

It is Definitely Spring...

It is spring. Our weather is changing minute by minute with temperatures running the gamut and the rain coming in all sizes with intermittent sun. Our Boy is tied to this up and downs of spring. Snapshots of our month so far:

Tuesday, May 2: He fought us in a monumental fight over something small that turned huge lasting for hours. I wrote a poem about it and exhausted I fell into bed.

Friday, May 5th: We sent him off to visit his middle school even though he’d been picked up twice at school that week on high alert and anxious. We spent all day at his new middle school and it was a fantastic day! He had no issues. He talked to another boy about autism and the boy he met was autistic and told him about middle school from his point of view. Our Boy participated in classes and took it all in and when he’d had enough he told us and calmly came home. He was all sunshine and roses this day.

Sunday, May 7th He was a stinker all day. Just not cooperative, but then consented to getting out of the house and going to the most unlikely pick for a movie, Hidden Figures, and he loved it. He even leaned over and spontaneously gave me a kiss on the cheek during a moment there was a little “romance” on the screen. It was sweet.

Tuesday, May 8th: He came home and loudly proclaimed, ”Mama, I had a flawless day!” This is what was written on his report too. He was so proud of himself. I was so proud of him too as he’d written a great poem about the scientists from Hidden Figures. We’d had really great discussions about it. And then the  boy who used to yell loudly that he did NOT write poetry to find out that he’d written a poem mainly about Katherine Johnson and how brilliant she was and how hard it all was but that he admired her. I gave him loads of kisses!

Saturday: He was calm, but tired. He said little, but wouldn’t do anything. I don’t think he moved from the couch. He told me to go away and leave him alone. He was surly and a grouch.

Sunday, Mother’s Day: He wrote me the most beautiful 5 paragraph essay about who I am to him and what he notices about me. I am still glowing about that one. I will keep it always. He went to church. He was kind, but stubborn still about some things. He was trying hard to make it a good day for everyone. He did destroy something nice in his room when I had to go to a meeting, but at least it was his property and not something of mine (I did give it to him at Christmas). I guess that was my added bonus mother’s day gift that for a change he didn’t destroy something of mine.

Yesterday: He talked enthusiastically about becoming an airline pilot. But by bedtime he’d changed his mind as he was looking up all kinds of diseases earlier in the evening. He said, “Mama, I want to be a doctor that helps people in developing countries. They need a good doctor to help them survive as so many of them die of curable diseases!” His big heart was showing as he talked about getting people that needed it safe drinking water and medicines. I told him that is a wonderful ambition and if that is what he wanted or to be a pilot or a combo of the two, we’d figure out how to get him through all the school and things he needed to become one or both of those professions. This made him happy. He lectured himself to sleep talking about all the good he would do.

Today: I had been home about ten minutes when the phone call came for us to come to school to get him and hopefully calm him down. We got there to witness him kicking his teacher and fighting two others. He’d been at it a half an hour by the time we got there.  He collapsed into my arms sobbing, red faced, sweaty, and defeated while Martin spoke in hushed tones with the teachers and principal. They weren’t mad, but worried. We all are about this. It was sudden.

He couldn’t let something go that happened, as far as we could tell once he spoke about it a while ago, maybe even a couple of weeks back, when we picked him up the first of the month. He can’t let go of it as it is against a fellow student. The teachers were protecting that student and then our Boy from himself. The student is fine as they got there in time, but his teachers are worse for wear. He’s out of school tomorrow. We hope that helps reset whatever switch in the weather. We’re talking him through it and trying to change whatever processing that he’s struggling through.

It is supposed to sunny the rest of this week past tomorrow. I hope that is the case and our Boy will follow suit. One of his past teachers called him “Sunshine” as his nickname. He is every bit that when he wants to be or feels free to be that and every bit as loving. So many people are charmed by him. I am. He is our “sunshine” even on a cloudy day.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Another Storm Boy Poem

A hard, hard day like we haven’t had in a long, long, long time. I’m too tired to edit it much. Pray for our peace and strength for all of us this coming week.

Storm Boy’s Mayday
A cloud on the horizon
Hidden among blue for miles
A small nothing cloud
Dotting the blue
Distracting from the good things
We often knew
Were there
And then
Another cloud begins to tag along
And its brother, mother, sister, aunt, uncle and second cousins,
All crammed together
Stepping on each other
Finding cramped quarters
Flying the friendly skies
Not feeling friendly at all
And the armada of clouds
Engulfed that one teeny tiny cloud
Capturing it to capitulate to misery
Not of its own making
It made the one small cloud feel trapped
Yet huge, powerful, and angry,
Enough to rain
Not gentle spring rain
But pelting,
“Run for your lives! The sky is falling” rain,
An insane, flood everyone out,
And who will survive it?
King of rain,
That was today,
That was you,
That was what blew through,
And we boo hooed after,
The punches and pops,
Degrading drops and yelling “stop! Stop! STOP!”
When you looked your father in the face
And spat with everything
That had brewed up
From that point
The eye of the storm
Windmills in tornados
Have nothing on you
As your hands, arms, legs, feet, and mouth,
Didn’t rest, but found landfall,
Over and over again,
On anything you could grab, bite, punch, or pinch,
It was a fit some would say
Others would say you need more discipline
And others more love
You are loved with discipline
And as much teaching as tolerated
Often told how much we care
And we bare our very selves
Our souls, sometimes to you
To calm the storm clouds
And bring back the sunshine
And keep the rain to a gentle
Rhythm that we hope
Brings those seeds of humanity
To blossom and not get flooded
To float away in these damn storms
Today I told you how you control this weather
You protect that small lone cloud
To watch it dance and prance
Not hooking up with all these
Nescience thoughts and worries
That make you in a hurry
To combat those you adore
We are your parents
We hope you inherent
Our best
You are our best
You put us to the test
But we rest in knowing
This storm is past
And our love will last

Sunday, April 30, 2017

I feel I owe a debt to J.K. Rowling on so many levels in my life and that sounds so corny, but it is true.
It was her Harry Potter series that gave me material to practice how to teach large groups of kids about characters. It was good practice how to adapt into scripts and construct props too.
It was her series that I was reading as one of my favorite pets was dying and I grieved over Dumbledore and my beloved cat that summer, but it gave me a place to channel that grief.
It was the bravery of the final book and all its uncertainty in finding a way to finish what had to be done and in that year I finished a particular job era. The what nexts of the next few years, I re-read that final book every year till I found a place to land in my life. I think I read it five years straight.
And then this summer, I was frustrated with my son, who began reading at a super early age, had given up on reading all fiction books he said. Right after he turned eleven I got him to start listening to me read the Harry Potter books because Harry in that first book turned eleven. He got hooked and never turned back!
It has been ten months to read all of them out loud, but I’ve loved every minute of it! What an actor work out! I wouldn’t trade that time for anything! We finished the last movie tonight also.
Hence the poetry mostly about Harry tonight and one I wrote earlier in the day thinking about the days ahead of me. I’ll try to take on some of that Harry bravery that I just spoke about.

Harry Haikus
Hogwarts Express
Train ride find friends
Crunching candy to brave end
Blasts their wizard world

Feral Car Found
Muggle no magic
Flies till untimely crashes
Wild thing rescues boys

Love Protects
Love disintegrates
Those who are Dark Arts harmed
First story to last

Hagrid’s Pets
Hagrid holds creatures
Rare beauty is charming him
He shows other sides

Harry Potter Has Come
Who is Harry now?
He is a part of fabric
Sews us together

Practicing Magic
Magic is mercy
Spells are our powerful words
Love is the secret

Hogwarts Acceptance
I will so miss you
Reading out loud for two
Curled up on the couch
Or on your bed in a pouch
With a flashlight on
Words breaking like dawn
Into your world
The wizard flag unfurled
You would go on and on
About the tiniest little spawn
Or creature or phrase
In that Harry Potter phase
I will cherish the time we spent
The books were such a gift
To get you talking
In your walking
Or waking hours
You’d quiz me about towers
And wands and curses
And all the versus
Of good guys and bad
And what they did and didn’t have
Or what they thought
Or saw or caught
You wanted to know
What was in their souls?
Our discussions were thrilling
As you were spilling
Out so much of what you think
Now it is over and that stinks
I’ll try to replace these books
With other characters and hooks
To dig you out of your stuck place
So our time together won’t be erased

To Be or Not
I’m wearing a sweatshirt today
With a friendly saying
That keeps at bay
Those thoughts from dwelling
Or welling up feelings
That cry to be stuffed
For something tough
The outer garment
Proclaims a place
I find so pleasing
Because it squeezes
The good things out of me
Even when I’m not looking
Tomorrow we’ll see what’s cooking
From a test they are giving me
Not the paper kind
With books and rhymes
That I could pass with flying colors
No, this one is one of the “others”
That come around the bend
And smack your behind
Because you have been unkind
Or done something way
In the past you didn’t think
Would hurt to take that drink
Of Kool-Aid and now it is too late
It isn’t open to debate
Your body needs testing
Because there is a mess within
And nothing can change that now
It isn’t how you thought
You might be caught
Your mind won’t stop
Until tomorrow
Until then you borrow
What strength you have
From a shirt that says you aren’t bad
And you are glad that such a place exists
And you sit with it all on your plate
Not wanting to eat in this state
You push back from the table
Being stable today
Is where you want to be
In reality, now is the opportunity
To be all that you can be

Saturday, April 29, 2017

NaPoWriMo #38 DUCK!

What are the odds on the same day this would happen? Yes, every word is true. I did see a mother duck and her duckling. My dear husband did let a mated pair of them cross the road and then…. (poor guy)! He’s doing okay (thanks for asking).

For the Love of Ducks
Spring has sprung
The grass is riz
The ducks are out
And walking about
I swerved and weaved
But still kept speed
As a mother and baby duckling
These two tiny things
Waddled across my road
On I went to my abode
They strode calmly across
As drivers avoided them at all cost
There was no loss
Mother duck being boss
To baby who distractedly wandered
Running in spasms, blundered,
Its fuzzy headed hopping
Fixated each driver scoping
How best to avoid such a loving scene
Maneuvering our bulky machines
Out of the path of this little family
Watching in my rear view mirror with glee
As they made it to safety
You, however, did a different endeavor
You took such great care
You stopped and took in
Probably with a big grin
As a mated pair of ducks
Crossed your busy road
It was just your luck
In the path of these ducks
You sat contemplating
Their lifelong mating
Just before she came up behind
You saw her but not in time
To do anything about it
(I expect you shouted)
The thud and crunch
Where your cars munched
A hit, a very palpable hit!
I’m sure your stomach turned flips
Your first accident to date!
And it made you so very late
I wondered why I had to wait
Not knowing what you paid
And where you stayed delayed
I asked if the ducks made it
You never hesitated
But told me quite proudly
That they made it soundly