Sick Again

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The boy is home from school again today.

He missed three days last week because of a stomach bug and now he has a very annoying cold.

My kid can’t seem to catch a break.

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And neither can we.

He’s a bear when his nose is bothering him.  He wiggles and whines and screams and goes insane.  Same deal.  Different day.  Frequent topic.

It makes us all nuts.

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And there’s no real way to explain to anyone what we go through in our house.

He’s an angel out in the world.  He behaves, he is loving, he handles things.  (Except occasionally at school, but that’s another post.)

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At home though, when it’s just the two of us, or just the three of us, he is a different kid.

He is inconsolable, desperate, angry, sad, very physical, exhausting and exhausted.

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He wakes in the middle of the night, will do nothing to help himself, but is insistent that we are awake and miserable with him.

We rarely get a full night of uninterrupted sleep.

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Our son slams doors, throws toys, twists his body, flails his arms, furrows his brow, screeches, and screams, but he says nothing.

We try desperately to help him, but our efforts generally fail.

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Last night, husband actually got him to take some Motrin.  He was tired and it did help him to fall asleep, but he was up again at 3:45 and back to his routine of misery.

I asked him repeatedly what I could do for him.

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I suggested all of the usual remedies for his bothersome throat and nose and I tried to comfort him.

I offered him a snack, some water, and a hug.

Nothing worked.

At 4:30, I gave up and told him I was going back to bed.

I closed the door to our room, but that made him crazy.

He got louder and louder and finally crashed something into the door.

Husband got up that time.

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This morning has shown more of the same.

The boy is miserable from the cold and he wants everyone to know it and feel it right along with him.  It’s maddening.

He took some more Motrin about an hour ago.  He has eaten a hot dog and even exercised at my urging, but it’s going to be a long day in what already feels like an insanely long week.

Husband is gone for a few hours to catch up with a friend and I will get out for a while when he comes back, but I don’t know how far that will go toward preserving our sanity today.

It’s 12:15 p.m. and I’ve yet to make it out of my pajamas and into the shower.  My hair is dirty and flat.  My skin is colorless.  Honestly, I look like the sick one.

Stress.

We need a babysitter.

I’m starting to forget what my laughter sounds like.

P.S.  The best thing to happen today?  I got out the camera to make a video of his on-going tantrum and suddenly he’s a model – posing, smiling, saying “cheese” for all these photos.

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He’s on the couch, watching a video now.  Maybe I will get a shower after all.

♥♥

Snow Day & Slow Day

Weeks have passed since my last post, so there’s plenty to write…

but Thursday night, when I sat down to share highlights of our recent trip to the desert, all I could think about was the fact that my son was absolutely FREAKING out.

He’s sick again.  Or maybe still.

He missed a few days of school earlier in the month and then we traveled and exhausted him.  And rejuvenated him.  And exhausted him.

He played in the snow at the top of the mountain.

He swam for hours in a pool heated to bathwater temperature.

He painted a car at the Children’s Discovery Museum.

He ate every snack he wanted.

He enjoyed the trip.

We all really enjoyed the trip.  Even without mascara, sunglasses or a hairbrush.

But Thursday, the boy walked in from school and started falling apart.  By 4 o’clock, he had screamed and thrown things.  It went down hill from there.

I really believe the time change has messed him up.  He’s panicky about finishing things now.  It’s dark an hour after he gets home and I think it makes him nervous about his routine.

Nothing I did on Thursday seemed to calm him down.  I tried sweet and I tried stern.  I fed him and I gave him something to drink.  I tried distraction and positive reinforcement of his few good behaviors.  But what he most wanted, I couldn’t give him.

He wanted me to stand behind him and hold onto him while he endlessly repeated a complicated series of obsessive compulsive hand gestures, chants, head ticks, etc.  I wouldn’t do it and it made him mad.

When he asks for a plain old regular hug, it melts my heart and I’m totally in, but I won’t become part of his compulsive routine.  He can depend on me for a lot, but not for that.

I know that if I give in, he will expect it of me and of whomever else is with him.  He won’t be able to function without a human tool to manipulate as he sees fit.  Not everyone will understand, and as he ages and gets taller and stronger, his tantrums about it will be harder to manage.  No, I can’t give in.

Around 4:30, we had an appraiser over to measure and take photos of the house.  We’re refinancing and it’s required by law.  Just one more total violation of privacy rights in the course of a day.  Grrrrrrr.  But that’s another post.

The entire time the appraiser was here, my son was screaming at the top of his lungs.  The appraiser was not someone I trusted, so I couldn’t leave him to wander upstairs alone.  My son didn’t like that I left the room.  Despite the fact that he could see me on the landing above, he was furious and raging.

The dining chair my son “sat” in has become a squeaking, rickety mess because of his consistently ruthless shaking, slamming, scooting, and jumping.  Poor chair.  It’s loud now.  I feel like it’s crying for help.

I know my son is.  The problem with his cries is that I don’t know how to answer them sometimes.  I don’t always know what will change the evening for us.  I was exhausted by his behavior and the irritating sound of the chair’s complaints.  The two were deafening together.

I’m sure the appraiser thought we were both nuts.  I can hardly wait to see if the chaos of our home detracted from the value of our house.

Yesterday, I kept my son home from school.  It helped.  His obsessive compulsive episodes were frequent, but less intense than the day before.

We spent a lot of time at the table – cutting, pasting, taping, stapling.

I cut out pictures from ZooNews magazines and pasted them onto card stock.  This has become my favorite kind of Christmas ornament.

Here is my favorite from last year:

The boy made a turkey.

He wins.

I ♥ this turkey.

Happy Saturday!

P.S.  One of my favorite things about the desert?   Brandini Toffee.  Oh my oh my oh my.

P.P.S.  Nothing Bundt Cakes finally opened in Mission Valley.  The pumpkin cake sample sent me straight over the moon.  Must.  Have.  More.

♥♥

Dear Thomas,

You got a bloody nose yesterday morning.  Coupled with fatigue from a day or two of erratic eating and sleeping, it pushed you over the edge.

You couldn’t stop moving and flailing your arms and crying.  You had a king-sized tantrum.

The blood dropped big red polka dots all over our beige tile.  The sight of it disturbed you even more.

At the height of your misery, you screamed “no school” at the top of your lungs.  You were shaking when you tried to scream it again.  It came out softer and more defeated the second time.

So I let you stay home.

My decision put visible peace on your face.

As I used some windex and a mop to clean up the floor, you took a pen to your dry erase calendar and circled the rest of the week.  You said “today, no school.  Tomorrow, yes school.”  You understood the trade off.  I let you stay home and you go without complaint the next four days.

We go through odd cycles with you.  There are weeks, sometimes even a month, during which all is well and somewhat uneventful.

Then there are the bloody nose days.  Or the “no sunny!” days.  Or the “no-all-gone-the-too-much-cheese-goldfish” days.

We can’t plan for those.  They are what they are.  They happen when they happen.

Your daddy and I have to roll with the emotional punches.  We wait out your tantrums, try to feed you something, try to calm you down, and then move on.  And we have to do it without defeat and without concern for what anyone else thinks of us, or you, or how we handle things in our family.  That’s not always easy, but we do it.

We start over everyday.

This morning you were upset that I wouldn’t give you 60 minutes on the timer to play on the computer, but you got up too late for that.  And you dawdled.  Ultimately, you conceded to eliminating most of our time at the grocery store on the way to school.  You are a crafty time manager.

Miraculously, we made it just as the final bell rang.  I didn’t even get a satisfactory goodbye from you before I had to walk away.  I hate that – leaving before I’m certain you consciously see me and know that I’m going.  It makes me worry.

I know that you recover from your upsets quickly.  I’ve witnessed the return of your cheery demeanor quite often.  It usually just take a few bites of peanut butter and jelly to bring it back.

By the time I get back in my car each morning, I feel like I’ve run an emotional marathon.  I usually have to sit there a minute and collect my scattered thoughts before I can start the car and drive to my next destination.

Whatever the mood between us when I drop you with your teacher, I can’t wait to see you at the end of each day.

I am sorry that we’ve had a difficult few mornings.

I will try harder to be the right mommy for you, because you are absolutely the right little boy for me.

You are the sweetest, smartest, cutest, kindest, most beautiful baby boy that ever lived.

I love you.

-Mommy

P.S. We took that top picture of you at Legoland a few weeks ago.  The bottom picture was taken at the Zoo in March.  You love to hug the characters.  🙂

♥♥

Tonight

The last ten minutes sucked.

My son was playing games online as usual and I walked over to tell him it was time for bed.

I had warned him several times – twenty minutes, fifteen minutes, ten minutes, five minutes – okay, time to turn off the computer.

Our routine works beautifully most nights.

He always plays his favorite video games for a while in the evening, then eats a snack and goes up to bed.

Lately, he has really been great about heeding our countdown and final directive to shut off the machine.

Tonight, not so much.

He started his tantrum thrashing before the computer was even off.

I counted to five.  He wouldn’t shut it down.

I shut it off for him and he went nuts.

He was hitting me and thrashing and looking for something to throw.

I had to hold his arms so he couldn’t toss the giant dry erase board he reached for on the table.

He was pissed and kept on thrashing.

I shuffled him toward the couch area where there were fewer things for him to break or ruin.

Husband tried to distract him, but it was too late.  He shrieked at the top of his lungs.  Loud.

This all happened quickly and within just a few minutes he had calmed down and was sitting nicely with a chocolate milkshake.

When he finished it, he hopped up the stairs lickety split and got out his toothbrush.

He was again our happy little laughing boy, but me?  I had every bit of joy drained right out of my body.

I felt sick to my stomach for the interaction between us.

I hate that I had to physically keep him from throwing the dry erase board.

And I hate that my kid hit me.

His behavior is so far removed from what it was a few years ago, but on occasion it rears its ugly head.

One unintentional hit from him now takes me right back to that crazy time when he was purposefully hitting me with all his might, repeatedly, everyday.

It was so dehumanizing.  I don’t even remember how I got through that.

It’s not like that now.  It really isn’t.  He has changed.  I have changed.

Things are good now.  His upsets are fewer and far less volatile.  And truly, I have several tricks to avoid them completely.

But tonight?  One got through and it sucked for ten minutes.

It was husband’s night to follow him up for toothbrushing and tucking into bed, but I went too.

I had to be sure the boy knows I love him.

I had to be sure that he loves me.

He knows and he does.

Thank God.