An explosive moment in public provided a hard reminder about kindness and letting go.
I’ve written on numerous occasions about raising our six-year-old son who has great potential and a challenging prognosis of at-risk FASD.
These challenges include explosive outbursts, impulsivity and emotional regulation.
Managing these moments feel especially difficult during these hard days of virtual schooling.
Thankfully, about two weeks ago, he made a new friend, a six-year-old from outside of the City who is staying with his Grandma during the week, who is helping him with virtual schooling.
The two of them have been playing very well. Now that the days are getting longer, it’s been nice to take T outside to play. Let him run ragged, so he can go to bed faster is how I look at it.
The nuclear meltdown happened last Thursday.
As with these unexpected moments, it came out of nowhere.
T wanted to be pushed on the swing. As he often does, he asked in a loud demanding way.
I told him to ask nicely or I was not going to push him.
Out came the grumpy T. “Shut up,” he said.
I reminded him to use nice words.
“Do you want me to slap you?” He said.
Planned ignoring from me.
So he upped the ante. “Do you want me to punch you?”
I gave him one last warning to talk nicely or we were going to go home.
So he got off the swing and shoved the swing towards me.
I said softly to the Grandma of T’s new friend. “I’m sorry, but we’re going home now.”
The thing with managing T’s behaviour is that you have to follow through with your warnings.
So T erupted like a volcano.
Loud screaming, crying, fell to the floor. If you only heard what was going on without any visual cues, you’d think a child was being murdered.
I picked him up, this kid that was now half my height, and carried him kicking and protesting out of the park – defeaning screams and all.
It was the longest three minute walk home.
I felt the heavy gaze of every parent and child in the park. I felt like eyes were looking out the windows of homes on the street.
When I got home, I dropped T to the ground. I was trembling and my voice was shaking.
I told him how embarrassing his behaviour was – and I told the hubby to take over, because I was done with him for the day.
As a special needs parent, you learn to live through these moments. But they are nonetheless draining.
It ruined my long weekend; I had taken Friday off work as a mental health day and to take T out for a hike after school.
I spent the day in my room with myself. I did the bare minimum with T that day, because I was so upset.
But beyond the anger and embarrassment, what I really felt and was having a hard time processing was the sadness.
It was a sobering reminder that despite the many positive and amazing gains T had made, there is always this specter of his prognosis.
Specifically, it reminded me of the lifelong struggles he will likely have.
One of my big emotional triggers is around the worry of how T’s behavioral challenges will impact his social life as he progresses through childhood, adolescence and adulthood.
He is a very bright, funny, caring and sweet boy. This is the majority of our experience. But all it takes is a moment like this to tarnish his impression on others.
I find this the hardest part to cope with.
To put it frankly, this was an incredibly deflating experience.
We always try to teach T that if you fall down, get up and try again.
That really is what special needs parenting is all about – whether we like it or not!
And that’s what the hubby and I did – after about three days of my pure grumpiness.
I told the hubby I don’t think I could face the Grandma. She probably wouldn’t want her grandchild to play with T again.
But we had to try. Because we can’t live our lives in constant fear of judgment or looking like we’re screwing up in public.
Yesterday night, we took T out. We had a very good day in school and were optimistic we were not going to have a repeat episode.
T and the boy played so well together and even included another girl in their game.
The Grandma asked if he’s feeling better. I told her about T’s prognosis and background.
Being a retired high school teacher, she knew about FASD. She then disclosed one of her other grandchildren has autism and she shared her experience with supporting him.
Then she added that she thought the hubby and I were doing a great job.
I know she was trying to be kind, as she’s only just met us, but it was nonetheless such a reassuring thing to hear.
We walked home together afterwards with T running far ahead of us.
She asked me if he was going to be ok.
I joked that if someone abducted T from the streets, they’d be paying me to take him back.
This evening was a wonderful reminder that there are no coincidences in life and that we were meant to have the moments that we have – even these explosive embarrassing moments – and you meet the people you’re supposed to meet, like this Grandma and her grandson.
It was also a good reminder to always exercise kindness with yourself.
As T got out of his bath that evening, I wrapped his towel around him and I gave him a big long tight hug.
And I finally let go and felt the heaviness of the past few days fall off my shoulders.