The past couple days have been HARD. For a while we thought the gluten-free diet might be working. A little, at least. Jacob was very normal and fun in between tantrums, so we were hoping it was just a matter of time. But the last couple days have been horrific. Jacob admitted to Craig this morning that he's been throwing out his sandwich at lunch the last couple days, so maybe nutritional deficiencies are part of it, but it's hard to tell. The sandwich thing is killing me, by the way. For some reason Jacob has started associating his daily PB&J with making him sick. Granted, he didn't feel well late last week, but I'm pretty sure it had nothing to do with the sandwich. He loves PB&J, always has. But now, even when I changed jelly flavors to get him off this kick, he's still convinced. This puts me in a bad spot because I don't know what else to send with him. He's very picky and his options are even more limited now that he's gluten-free. I've thought about cheese and crackers, sort of a homemade lunchables sort of thing, and I may try that, but geez. Once this kid gets something in his head, it is so hard to get it out.
And, that, my friends, is the root of most of our problems. If it's not done Jacob's way, he's not doing it. Which means homework time is torture, getting ready for school and bed are impossible, and convincing him of anything (even how to spell a word) is ridiculous. Homework that should have taken him 20 minutes took about an hour each of the last two nights simply because he was arguing endlessly with us about the fact that "cream" should start with "K" (for something asking the color of our house) or what a lower case "d" should look like. He'd argue, get angry, throw his paper, and walk away from the table. He won't believe us when we tell him anything, no matter how simple, and even though we try to gently tell him, he freaks out about being wrong. Or he insists we're wrong. All of this is fraught with hitting, kicking, head-butting, and all-out wrestling, if it gets bad enough. Craig has taken to doing a full-body pin when Jacob won't stop hitting him, until Jacob stops. It is brutal.
We're taking a beating, physically and emotionally. And of course, even if spankings did impact him (which they don't--they only make things worse), we'd still be on the losing end of things. Intimidation, punishment, gentle talking, incentives...none of it works. The beatings continue, nearly constant in the middle of an episode, and don't subside until the switch flips and he chills out. That is unpredictable and impossible to figure out. His brain is clearly messed up, and we are powerless to manage it right now. We're both exhausted. Craig is taking the brunt of it, mostly because he has more patience and he doesn't want me to get beaten on. I'm grateful, but the guilt on my side is pretty bad, too. I worry endlessly about Carter, as well, and how all of this is going to impact him. It's not good for him to hear the yelling, and I don't like him to see the hitting or kicking. He may not be able to process it right now, but that doesn't stop it from having an impact. And God forbid Jacob snaps one level further and decides to take things out on Carter. I would never forgive myself.
I take a little comfort in the fact he's not really violent at school, or really with other people, but that just makes the problem more complex. What is it about us that makes him so angry with us, to the point where he's out of control, but then he keeps himself in check (mostly) at school? Could he do that if he had a legitimate illness, or is some of this within his control and he's choosing not to control it when he's around us?
The past couple days convinced us that we had to take a couple extra steps toward getting him some help. Craig called the pediatrician, and I called the school counselor to check the status of his school district evaluation. Both sources gave us similar looking packets of paperwork to fill out. They both have a lot of questions about his behaviors and tendencies. It's going to be brutal to fill out. But one will lead to an ADHD diagnosis from his doctor, and the other will get him help at school. And if we need more from there, we'll see. I'm really starting to think he's going to need medication to get through this, because he seems so far beyond what I would think a gluten-free diet can impact.
I can't quite express the pain and sadness that goes with a situation like this. Being so disconnected from your child and having nearly every moment with them turn into a battle is just horrible. Having Carter around has reminded me how close Jacob and I once were, and it breaks my heart that things have spiraled so far downward. I worry about Carter, too, knowing that things can go from perfect to horrible, and pray that he will never go through all that Jacob is battling right now. I want to know what it's like to raise a "normal" kid who won't fight us on everything. Maybe that's not fair, but this has been a long road and I find myself increasingly jealous of my friends who tell stories and share pictures of their normal kids having fun. I find myself looking at old pictures of Jacob and feel sad knowing that the happy little boy in the pictures is such a mess right now. Of course, so many of those pictures remind me of how naughty Jacob was at the moment, and how hard it was to get that shot. It hasn't been an easy road, ever, but right now it's worse than ever. And it breaks my heart. And Craig's heart. We're both so sad. It's hard to get up in the morning, or motivate ourselves for a long evening of battles. We just wish for a miracle that would make Jacob the fun-loving, sweet kid he once was. People still see it--just tonight one of the afterschool helpers told me how much she enjoys him. His daycare teachers still love him, despite all the ridiculousness he pulled there. And of course, we still love him too. This wouldn't hurt so bad if we didn't. It's just hard to want to nurture that love when you know that everything you do could be met with resistance, violence, or complete rejection. Sometimes it just doesn't seem worth the effort.
But if there's one thing I've realized, there's no escape from this. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if we dropped him off at a psych ward or something. It truly feels like we can't handle the beatings or the constant struggles, and that seems like one way he might realize the seriousness of his issue. But he might feel abandoned and never forgive us. There's just no good answer right now. Waiting it out is killing us, but there's no way to magically fix this. So we wait and pray and hope to keep our tempers intact for one more day. But it's harder than we could have ever imagined.