I mentioned that my son had started seeing a therapist, to which a friend at work replied “What’s wrong with him?” I felt myself screaming inside my head, I wanted to scream out loud, “Nothing, nothing is wrong with him, he is emotional and struggling, and has lost 3 grandparents in 4 years, now leave him alone”. Did she mean any harm? No, of course not. Did it sting? Of course it did. You see, my son is currently seeing a therapist and being evaluated for ADHD. So I worry. I worry that he is being judged as the bad kid, I worry I am being judged as the bad parent. I worry that people think there is something “wrong” with him, and I worry that people think there is nothing wrong with him. And then after I worry about that, I worry some more….here come those walls again.
Carter is brilliant, he excels in math, he is smart, funny, kind, thoughtful, out of the box, and loving. He is fun to be around…sometimes. Then sometimes he rages for no reasons, he antagonizes people for attention, he screams and cries and fights, he yells, refuses to do things, forgets to do things, can’t sit still, breaks things accidentally, he can not focus, he drifts while working on a task, anything that could to be done in 5 minutes will take 30+, fidgets and makes noises, refuses to do his work, argues uncontrollably, lies, threatens his brother, tunes out/checks out, can’t tolerate making mistakes, pees on the floor and doesn’t know why. He doesn’t know why for any of it, and neither do I. So that is why we have reached this crossroad, and that is why those walls are pushing in.
Carter has always struggled, he didn’t sleep through the night until he was two and a half, truthfully he didn’t sleep at all. Now he sleeps but it is scattered and rough, unless he takes a melatonin. He would get upset as a toddler and bang his head, not temper tantrum head knocks, but bumps on cement or walls that would leave him having constant knots on his head. I love Carter, through and through, but as a baby and toddler, it was hard some days to like him. I know parents aren’t supposed to say that, but there it is. The issues have always been there, but they have been a minimal issue in school, until this year. He started 2nd grade this year and it requires a lot more focusing and sitting still than he has experienced before and he is having trouble doing it and focusing. I always said when he had trouble in school, then we needed to do something. So, alas, we are doing something. And it is terrifying. I feel like I am keeping a secret, I am hiding so he isn’t judged and labeled a bad seed, and so I am not judged the neglectful parent.
People do not know your daily life, or the struggles in it, but that doesn’t stop the negative thoughts or judgement. I think that if the judgement was just toward me it wouldn’t be so bad, but the fear that this label can affect Carter in such a negative way scares the heck out of me. So until the verdict is read and all evaluations are complete it will be a secret, and even after, if it is so. I will share Carter’s secret carefully, to those I trust and know. I will teach him that these words and labels do not define him, they are only part of him and he gets to decide what to do with those words and what they mean. I will teach him that he is amazing, and awesome, and creative and no person, no label, no amount of anything can ever take those wonderful things away from him. And I will worry, and I will worry, and I will try to hold back these walls.
***Elephants can feel grief and loss, they have amazing emotional intelligence***