It's been a rough week. Jacob's behavior has been nearly intolerable, and yesterday I started to realize that this felt even more like when he was five and melting down regularly. Though we don't have meltdowns right now, he jumps all over you for any little issue and I just see this complete lack of responsiveness and this mania that crosses his face during his episodes. It seemed to be a bit cyclical in the past, and I can't help but wonder if we're getting it again now. I have no idea why, of course. It might be a gluten thing, where he was unknowingly glutened and it makes him lose it. His symptoms have never been obvious but his behavior was at its worst right before he got diagnosed, so it's not that much of a stretch. Maybe something else triggered it and he just can't shake it. I think I mentioned that sometimes I feel like it's a PTSD thing related to Carter's birth, and perhaps there are triggers that make it come out worse. Maybe there is an imbalance somewhere in his brain that's making everything harder right now. I just don't know.
But yesterday we had another episode. I took him with me to Wegmans after I picked him up from camp, and while I knew he'd probably be a bit distracted, I never imagined I'd be calling Craig to come get him (I knew he was probably on his way home from getting Carter) because I could not shop with him acting the way he was. He was constantly distracted--grabbing things, not listening, pulling the cart as I was trying to steer--and refused to listen to anything I was saying. We literally could not progress through the store because he was such a distraction. I was quickly grabbing two greeting cards and he ran to the next aisle, the toy aisle. He repeatedly picked up a can of tennis balls, then ping pong balls, then a magazine, then started playing basketball with a bin of small rubber balls. He also grabbed a roll of wrapping paper and was using it as a weapon. At each item I was telling him to put it down and then grabbing it out of his hands when he didn't. I was grabbing his wrist and literally dragging him away, which of course was only making him madder. But I was practically in tears because I just wanted to be done and get home and we could not get out of that aisle. It was awful.
The rest of the store didn't get much better, and eventually Craig and Carter arrived. I didn't want to "reward" him by sending him with Craig, but I was about to lose it so I really had no choice. How is it that I cannot take my eight-year-old to the grocery store and yet no one can seem to find anything wrong with him? Not that I'm looking for a diagnosis--I'd much rather have solutions. But until someone finds something concrete, it seems like we're just going to get a suggestion of general therapy, which has not worked in the past. And honestly, until he's willing to admit something is wrong, I feel like no amount of therapy is going to help. We cannot live like this.
To make matters worse, he says he does this because I "hurt him". Some of this goes back to the worst of it, when sometimes as I grabbed him my nails would dig in. I'd by lying if I said it was never on purpose, but when NOTHING else was getting his attention, that did. And when he's about to run into the middle of the road or is trying to punch me, sometimes you need an immediate response. It wasn't hard enough to break the skin (a couple times may have gotten close, though), so it seemed harmless enough at the time (like a spanking, the pain was momentary), but would I go back and change that method if I could? Of course. But with what? I'm still at a loss. Nothing worked with him. Stubborn is not a strong enough word for him.
I frequently explain to him that I would never have to grab his arm (or whatever it takes to force him to do what I need him to do) if he just listened in the first place. But that just doesn't seem to connect in his brain, so I am completely in the wrong and he's justified in being a jerk to me. Trust me, under normal circumstances I have no desire to hurt him or even get into a shouting match with him, but he makes it impossible to avoid because he simply WILL NOT do the things he is told to do. To some degree I understand his anger and mistrust of me because it has been a rocky road since he was five, but I have apologized repeatedly and pleaded with him to try out proper listening and obeying so he can see that I don't have to be "mean". It doesn't have to be this way, but I swear it's like some self-fulfilling prophecy now, where he incites things just to "prove" that I'm as mean as he thinks I am. He needs to be right so he puts me in a position to prove it. Why do I take the bait, then? Because there are times I need him to do something--walk through the store normally, for example--and he will refuse. What then? At that point we can't even leave immediately because undoubtedly he would refuse to do that, too. I can't walk away, because he won't care. He gets completely impossible and no traditional parenting method works. I wrote an entire post about his aversion to usual parenting advice three years ago, at the early stages of the worst behavior. So much of it still holds true today. We can only hope that by Monday's third intake appointment they will have some solid suggestions for next steps for us. I feel like they need to observe us or something, because I don't think anyone who doesn't see it for themselves would believe what's happening. I still can't believe this is my life, and I live it every day. I hate that this is our existence and I mourn for the relationship we had when he was a baby, when I was always greeted with a smile and I was his first choice for comforting and a hug. My heart is broken.
As for Carter, he had his speech evaluation this week. I gave them some social background last week, and they visited him alone at daycare for two different evaluations this week--one speech and one psych. I had zero concerns with the psych one because that was just a necessary part of the general speech evaluation, but after months of stuttering and some garbled speech I was interested to see what they'd have to say on the speech side. Well, he passed with flying colors! The worst of the stutter--where he would get really stuck on parts of a word--seems to have faded just in the last few weeks. I don't know if it's completely gone, but I certainly haven't noticed it. He does repeat some words, but overall it's only 5% of his speech so it is not enough to warrant services. Lately I feel like I've had a harder time understanding some things he says, but it seems that he talks fast and with the level of some of the words he uses (she was very impressed by his command of the language!), it wouldn't be surprising if he was grossly mispronouncing them anyway. With kids like him, sometimes they have so much to say that their mouths simply can't get it out, and I think that's what's happening here. If we notice anything else we can have him evaluated again in three months, but the early results are that he's perfect! He charmed everyone, of course! We just need to encourage him to slow down. Slow our speech, let him see there is time to get it all out, and even read more slowly to him. Easy enough! So we'll just keep monitoring the minor stutter he has left and it should fade even more over time. Nice to know we don't have to worry about him for now!
Tomorrow is my 20th high school reunion. It seems like it's going to be a pretty low-key event, and with the rise of social media within the last ten years, reunions just don't seem as important. I've connected with those who I want to stay in touch with, and those that aren't online probably won't know about the event anyway. It'll be nice to talk to a handful of people in person for the first time in at least 10 years, but aside from that my expectations are low. I can feel pretty good that my weight has stayed in check, I have no gray hair, and my wrinkles are minimal, but obviously my personal life is a bit iffy and my opportunity to impress old crushes has pretty much passed. But I will go and try to be social. I'm sure the cliques will still be there, but hopefully we can all get past that and just enjoy our time. After 20 years, I feel like we've earned that, at least. Craig will be hanging out with the kids, and while I will miss them, I probably do need a break from their antics. Next up is one for him! Oh, and we planned Jacob's birthday party (finally) for next weekend, so now I have to figure out how to clean my house by then. Never a dull moment in summer!