It's been a busy couple weeks. Most evenings are spent Christmas browsing online or just trying to keep up with life in general, and I've officially restarted my horrible holiday habit of staying up until midnight every single night, even though I have the best of intentions to go to bed earlier all the time. I'll get into that in another post. This one is about something that I can only describe as a Christmas miracle.
Thursday morning was a bad one. Recently we've been struggling with Jacob, almost as much as ever. He's been very disrespectful, unwilling to listen, and rather short-tempered. Mind you, most of these interactions take place first thing in the morning or in the evening--both of which happen to be when his medicine is out of his system. It's evident that it makes a huge difference, but recently it's just seemed like things have gotten worse. His behavior off the medicine seems much more erratic and purposefully annoying. The worst part is that he's completely out of control when he's like that, in that no amount of yelling or physical intervention really reaches him. It's like he's so wrapped up in the moment that he just can't break out of it. It's exhausting. And Thursday was just another day of that frustration, I suppose, but that much arguing first thing in the morning isn't good for anyone. I went to work sad and completely spent. If I didn't have a ton of work to do and had my computer home with me, I probably would have just stayed home to cry it out and move on.
But I had work to do, so I fought tears all morning. My only saving grace (ironically) was that I could leave a little after 2pm because I had to pick Jacob up for a 3pm therapy appointment. That appointment was actually one of the major points of contention that morning, as he was insisting he didn't want to go. He refused to go to school because we were making him go, in fact, and he droned on about how it's boring and doesn't help anything. To which I responded, as always, that 1) if he could get his behavior under control, we wouldn't have to go there; and 2) if he actually tried actively participating and sharing with his therapist, it might actually do some good to go there. I conceded that maybe he was right--that it wasn't worth our time to go because he didn't want to make good use of it. Despite his ultimatum, obviously he had to go to school--and presumably along the two minute ride he got quite the talking-to from Craig.
Since Craig had work commitments, it was up to me to pick him up. And, to his credit, the minute we were walking out of the school, he was apologizing to me. Our conversation on the way was pleasant, and our session ended up being pretty productive for a change. Our therapist outlined each of our concerns, and then we talked about possible solutions. We talked about Nerf gun wars, Jacob helping Carter play Wii, me emailing his teacher about some school issues, and focusing on giving Jacob a daily evening dose of his ADHD medicine to keep him more even-keel at night. Since many of our problems have been happening then, suddenly it seemed like it was really worth a shot.
Last time we talked to Jacob's doctor, she had actually suggested a second dose later in the day. We have leftover short-acting medicine from before he went to the long-acting stuff (we had just refilled), and she mentioned that if we could pull it off, a dose of that wouldn't hurt. We had asked about how it might impact bedtime, but she explained that because it keeps him on a more even-keel and he's not ramping up like he does as the medicine wears off, it actually might be easier to fall asleep. And sure enough, with a couple test runs we'd done, he'd been fine. The afterschool program can't give medicine, so we'd been hesitant since we don't get home until 6pm, but with as bad as things got in these last couple weeks, suddenly it seemed like our only hope.
And while I had high hopes, I still have concerns. I worry about whether keeping him medicated most of the time is bad. Will it be worse if he's off it for some reason? I wonder if it's a problem that he won't have much time to "practice" controlling his behavior. But it's been so bad lately that I feel like we need this break to get ourselves back to a place where we love and trust each other again. When every moment is an argument or a criticism, it makes it hard to look at someone with love, or even want to be near them. That's about where we'd gotten to lately, and it's such a terrible feeling. I didn't even realize until yesterday how bad it had gotten, or how badly we needed to heal...and I certainly already knew we had problems. Bad ones.
Jacob admitted to the therapist that he can tell the difference when the medicine wears off, and that his friends seem to like him better when he's on it. That was a little hard to hear, but there's no doubt it was a game-changer all around when he started it at school. And no joke, Jacob can be a really cool kid when he's on it. When he's not, it's an endless stream of obnoxious behavior, rude talk, annoying noises, and impulsive decisions. It's exhausting and miserable to deal with every day. We don't get to see the medicated side very much, but given how good it is at school, it seemed like the better option despite the concerns.
As we were leaving the therapist, Jacob specifically mentioned that he wanted his pill. He could tell (as could I) that it was wearing off. We had Craig's birthday dinner that night (a day late because he had to work the previous night), so we knew we had to do it. Instead of our usual Red Robin, Craig picked Outback, probably because he knew Jacob has really wanted to go back since our original lobster night. Jacob even went out and got an Outback gift card with his birthday money so he could get lobster again! When we got there, he and I decided to split this great platter that included one lobster tail, two shrimp skewers, two crab cakes (on a separate plate because of the gluten), and two sides. He picked broccoli, and I did a salad. He was so excited to try shrimp!
It ended up being really great for us, and we were both stuffed! It was so good, though! And he loved the shrimp!
|Lobster! And yes, he insisted on dressing up for dinner...and yes, the hair is out of control. Stay tuned...|
So, that night was amazing. We even had a coupon for a free dessert so we got the gluten-free Chocolate Thunder from Down Under, and everyone was happy. He was great for the rest of the night, and considering how horrible I felt that morning, to go to bed at peace was so nice.
Craig was busy again Friday night, but despite having both kids with me it became our mission to get Jacob's hair cut. It had been a long time coming and we'd been discussing the style for a while, as he wanted to do something a little different. The cut went well, and it makes him seem like such a big kid, even with just how he was deciding with the stylist what he wanted! Things were going so well that we even survived a trip to Five Below for some Christmas scouting.
Everything went so well that by bedtime I couldn't help but take this picture...
|Is this even the same kid?!|
Today (well, yesterday) was mostly a continuation of the good stuff. He had a gorgeous goal in his game, and we had a good time at the Knighthawks' game. Of course, it came after the kids (well, Carter) broke the Christmas tree and a few random moments of wondering just how well the medicine was working. It was also an awful day for Carter all around (he was grumpy about everything). But it was still a hundred times better than usual and I'm so grateful for 48 hours of what I think normal life is like. Having time to fall back in love with Jacob and see the good in him has been hugely helpful, not just for my attitude but for him learning to trust me again. When all he gets from me is negative (and I swear, I really try not to let it be that way, but it can be a constant onslaught of unacceptable behavior a lot of the time), it's no wonder he can't take any of my feedback as constructive criticism.
I really, truly hope this sticks because we need it so badly. I love this kid so much and I need to make this better. Maybe this is our chance. Maybe it's not, but I will make the most of my Christmas miracle while I can.