Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pulling in the reigns

Today I played the role of weekend warrior, taking out my parenting frustrations on household work. It was time. This is the weekend that our older son was going to switch to a larger bed.

I have no idea if he will reject the notion. He could end up sleeping on the floor of his room for months to come. He could cry, fat, mournful tears over the loss of his twin-sized friend.

Why? I found myself cutting the sentimental apron strings to that bed. It's NOT LIKE HE SLEPT THERE!

This morning, I took that thing down. It's pretty, a purchase we had made with the sale of this house. And, I vowed to pull it out again when I have that house in my golden years that is actually decorated and uncluttered. But, for now, I see it as a parasite. It put a sickness on our nights.

Our son needs a fresh start.

WE need a fresh start.

And, I refuse to think that it is unreasonable to hang my hat on the notion that a new bed can bring this to us. In this crazy, messed up world, you just never know.

So, I worded. With my sprained but healing back hooked up to an electric stim machine, I defied all logic, and I pulled an extra bed down from the attic. I pulled a mattress and box spring from the rafters of the garage. I dismounted the twin bed. I cleaned all of the DUST that I am ashamed to admit had collected in strange places.

I hauled, with some help of our eight-year-old, that mattress up the stairs, just about killing us both. I did the box spring myself and felt like a goddess. I scrubbed and cleaned and hauled and moved and resituated until finally, the room has taken shape.

Please, I beg of you, do not call me a saint.

This act was the physical manifestation of parental frustration, for, our son is going through a rough patch. I say that often, don't I? Well, yes, I do.

It seems that turning ten has brought about a hormonal change, and, while for a little while we've been guessing that he has emerging bi-polar disorder that is co-morbid with his OCD and autism. Well, that bi-polar has become more...intense...the last six months. It is pretty obvious once you do the math.

My husband and I have just been fighting the fires in front of us one at a time until, lately, the fires have grown and collected. At some point, we had to stop and realize that what we are dealing with and what we are doing isn't working.

Two nights ago, the fervent need for rides in the car returned, which means that our son hit a manic session, and then locked into an OCD compulsion to do nothing but ride in the car. We, his parents, worked very hard to soothe him. Shape the behavior, talk with him...the next thing we knew, the child had kept us up all night, falling asleep after 5am.

I struggled through the day, eeking out a plan of what to do with him for the afternoon and evening. But, my plan had no meaning. He screamed and cried for the car for three hours straight, all the while I was trying to help my other son with the challenge of homework in his classroom where he is mainstreamed.

I needed to be a special educator to the younger son so that homework did not produce anxiety, yet our older son was screaming and pushing us and pulling us for the car. My younger son would laugh at his antics and then cry almost in the same breath. The chaos in the house was unbearable.

I realized that I had to take control. Just because our older son is disabled and under the control of those disabilities doesn't mean that he can't be held accountable. We needed to help him draw boundaries for acceptable behavior, and what isn't acceptable is to pull this entire household into emotional turmoil. It is unhealthy, and I worry about our younger son's future.

When our older son was young, and because he didn't sleep and wandered, we eventually put a lock on his door.

What an emotional hurdle that is for a parent in my shoes! I have even heard typical parents discussing putting children like ours behind locked doors as though it is a form of abuse. Had I not been given this life, perhaps I would feel the same.

It isn't an easy thing to admit publicly, but I'm going to. We did lock our son's door, and we know many that did so also. We locked our son's door, and it became part of his routine. He felt safe. He learned to ask us to be locked in.

Then, at one point in his development, he showed us that he no longer wanted to be locked in, so we stopped. How wonderful! Development!!!

Last year, he pulled that lock off of his door, after a couple years of it having not even being used. I know he pulled it off in rebellion, as if to tell us that he wasn't going to be locked into his room as a form of punishment.

I liked his spirit, but...

We DO send our other son to his room when he is in trouble. I was sent to my room when I was little, and I didn't have all the electronics that this kid has! It's the philosophy. It's being put somewhere you don't want to be. Only, with our older son, he doesn't have the self control to actually STAY put.

So...the other night when the "car" situation began, well, my husband and I were already pretty strung out from a hard summer. We don't have much left to give, and that night took the last of it. The following day, having our son deal with his mania/obsessions while I was also trying to guide our other son through his academic challenges made me see that this family was being driven by OCD/autism/bipolar.

We needed to take control. We needed to pull in the reigns. We needed to revisit our roots.

So, right then and there, I told our older son that I loved him, but this was out of control. We can't let our feelings/compulsions rule our lives. We have to learn limits. This is a hard lesson for a child with little coping skills, but this boy is smart. He may not understand how to cope, but he does understand what a lock is.

I told him he would be sent to his room just like his brother the next time this happened because we need to learn to cope/calm and be receptive to redirection.

And, that night, when the "car" insanity began, we put him in his room...

...and we locked the door.

Yes, we did just that.

If we didn't, our son would have been out screaming, and I would have been at risk for child endangerment. If we didn't, my husband would have been forced to drive him again, and he was so tired he surely would have fallen asleep at the wheel.

Outside of his room was unsafe for him. The safest place was in his room.

And, as his mom, I know he didn't feel that way. It's like crying it out for an infant when you don't adhere to the philosophy. I work very hard to listen to my children and help to give them a voice. However, this particular situation, I heard his voice, but I felt as though he needed to learn that his actions were not safe.

There will be a day when my husband and I are too old to care for him. Tell me, who will take him in the car at 3am then?

I feel that a heavier hand now will enable him to more freedom in the future.

Tonight will be the third night of locking him in his room. Last night, he was asleep after minimal complaints at 10:30. Fingers crossed.

Good luck, buddy. We're pulling for you! Love, mamamommy and daddy


  1. Nobody knows you're pulling for him more than he does.

  2. You think? Simetimes these meltdowns can get pretty tough...