Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Day We Almost Went

So...Sunday.  Not a good morning.  Sundays at home are usually a pretty big challenge anyway, as it's hard to get everyone up and running and off to church on time.

To make matters worse lately, Jacob is lacking church clothes.  His stand-by khakis are getting too short, and he hates them anyway.  He's insisting upon dress pants, as they apparently feel better to him, but it is hard to find them in his size right now.  I just got a tip on somewhere else to try, but long story short, on Sunday he officially decided the khakis were too short.  Despite his pleas, I refuse to let him wear the same sport shorts he wears every day, as I think church demands a bit more respect than that.  But a while back we got him a pair of khaki shorts (very cheap, thankfully).  He was resistant at the time, but after he tried them on he promised me he would give them a try.  Well, surprise, surprise--he hasn't.  He's refused them ever since.  They look nice on him, but he has every excuse in the book about why he hates them.

But this week, since they've been doing outside things at Sunday School lately, we really encouraged him to wear them.  He repeatedly refused to put anything on.  At this point we were already going to be late, so in the end we practically forced him to wear them.  At this point you're probably wondering why we didn't just give in, but he is a different kind of kid and if we give in like that, we will never win that battle again.  And I truly believe that there is value in dressing reasonably well for church.  It doesn't have to be dressy, just a step up from athletic attire.

Anyway, he freaked out about it most of the way there, then refused to get out of the car.  We tried to convince him for a good 10 minutes before I took Carter into his class, hoping Craig would convince him while I was gone.  But no, they were still standing near the car when I came back out.  Jacob was convinced he looked terrible, and would not go in.  In the end, this went on for about 45 minutes.  We'd get him close to going in, and he'd chicken out.  He insisted he wanted to go back in the car or go home, but that was not an option.

At some point we realized he was mentally pretty out of control--it's not something we see often now, but I remember that feeling years ago when the meltdowns hit with full force--and while I wanted to be sympathetic and let it go, I just didn't like the implications of that.  Out of control or not, I knew that he would internalize that and we'd have to deal with the same behavior in the future.  My hope in some of these cases is that if we hold strong, he will see that the world doesn't stop turning if he has to do something he doesn't want to, and realize he can grow and move forward.  But that was not the case Sunday.  Like I said, at one point we realized this was a different level of anxiety, and finally we said that if he did not go into church, we'd be loading everyone back into the car and driving him to the hospital.  And honestly, I felt like that might actually be a valid option given how awful the situation was.  Quite frankly, we can't live like this.  It's not healthy for any of us, and if checking him in gets him help, so be it.  We need to get him more help than we can offer, clearly.  In the back of my mind I was hoping that we'd drive all the way there and reality would hit him before we'd actually go in, but I felt like we needed an extreme other choice to make him realize he needed to stop and take a step back.  But no.

At multiple points he actually said he wanted to go to the hospital (though of course then refused to get into the car), but we kept saying to him, "You don't know what you're asking for.  It's not going to be fun like it was when you had your surgery.  There are very sick kids there and you might see some scary things.  You'll have blood taken and tests done.  It is very serious."  We emphasized that we want to help him, but that this was just a pair of shorts and they look perfectly fine and there was no reason why he couldn't just walk into church.  He couldn't tell us what he thought would happen if he did that, though.  But eventually, after 45 minutes of back-and-forth, Craig convinced him to go in for the last few minutes of church.  By that point I had grabbed Carter from his class (that wasn't at all awkward...ugh) and we just sat in the car until they came back after it was over.  And that was that.  Jacob snapped back into "normal" behavior and we went home.

As you can imagine, I was very upset at this point.  The rest of the morning was miserable and I spent the rest of the day masking tender eyes and a completely deflated mood.  I ran some errands and spotted a college friend as I was leaving a store, and I seriously turned my head and avoided her because I just didn't want to be seen.  Most of the time this all just feels so impossible to fix.  We've been trying everything for so long, and nothing has worked.  If anything it has gotten worse.  Maybe it's not like the daily meltdowns we had three years ago, but the depth of Jacob's defiance and dislike of me is getting very serious.  All that runs through my head most of the time is, "You're doing it wrong!"  But with a kid like Jacob I seriously don't know how to do it right without letting him walk all over us and turn into an obnoxious adult.  I told Craig last night that I've obviously screwed up very badly somewhere in my relationship with Jacob, and it absolutely kills me.  But the thing is, if I had to do it all again, I question if there's anything I'd really be able to do differently because so much of this has just been survival.  It's been finding a way to get through the moment and prepare for the next one.  None of this has been easy and I question why God thought I was capable of this.  I sure don't feel like it, and I have yet to understand what God has wanted me to learn from all of this.  I know that I have gained a greater tolerance, understanding, and appreciation for all sorts of parents.  Not that I don't have judgy moments, but usually I snap out of them pretty quickly and remember that we all have our battles and things are not always as they appear.  So, there's that.  But I feel like there are so many less soul-crushing ways to learn that lesson.  Did I really have to have a child that hates me and misbehaves at every turn to learn that?

As a result of the behavior, Jacob lost electronics for the week.  However, as a concession, since it's hard to tell what he can and what he can't control, he is able to read to earn an equal amount of electronic time.  So if he reads for ten minutes, he can earn ten minutes on Craig's phone, which he wants to use lately to film short lacrosse videos.  Even with that, it's still a struggle as he is very unhappy about the reading.  But whether or not he can control himself, he still needs some motivation to improve himself and avoid these types of situations.  I figure if he goes without for a while, perhaps he will realize he needs to work on himself to avoid losing things in the future.  Right now I feel like that motivation is lacking and I worry if any sort of therapy will work if he's not convinced he needs help.  He doesn't think anything he does is wrong.

Monday is our third intake appointment with the behavioral specialist, and we'll definitely be bringing this up.  I'm hoping she'll have some suggestions to help us find a new route to help him and help us.  God knows we need something new to try.  On the bright side, he's actually been engaging Carter a bit to play outside, and while it doesn't usually last long, at least he seems to be trying.  He'll still insist he hates him, but there's a tiny glimmer of hope.  And right now we need to cling to that.  Some days it's all we have.  Prayers accepted...

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