I feel like I am stuck. I often feel like I am at the top of a parenting cliff with Matthew, and I am avoiding us falling down. Unfortunately, I am not the only one who is responsible for the decisions that keep us teetering at the top of the cliff, and I am not the only one who will be responsible if we fall, but i will be the one to shoulder the load, as I am Matthew's mom.
The biggest problem when you are raising a human being is that they are constantly being molded and formed by everything around them. From the food they eat, to the songs they listen to , and the company they keep, everything is impacting the development of the human brain.
If I had my way, I might choose right now as the best time to put Matthew in a bubble of sorts so that I could have complete and total control over all of the things that impact his development. Honestly, if I was independently wealthy, I may choose now as the time to take Matthew from school and home school him as a way of purifying his environment. I am not sure that I could do this and maintain my own sanity, but, as a mom, I would give up anything for my children, and in this case, while it might mean giving up my sanity, it might mean saving Matthew and I am willing to risk my sanity to save my son.
I am constantly trying to figure out right now how much of Matthew's struggles are developmental in nature, how much is due to mental health instability and how much is potentially Matthew's response to being surrounded all day by other children with challenges and mental health instability. In Matthew's school it is fairly common for children to be out of control. It is fairly common to be in a classroom with a child cursing, and being disrespectful towards staff and other children. It is common for their to be a child in crisis. Given that this is all common place, I find myself wondering would Matthew's behavior be the same if he was not exposed to the chaos of his school?
Would Matthew curse at adults if he wasn't surrounded by cursing at school?
Would Matthew lash out verbally and physically, if lashing out was not something he was exposed to daily at school?
Would Matthew treat teachers with disrespect if he wasn't seeing others treating teachers with disrespect?
Could Matthew be a different kind of student? Could Matthew be on a different path?
I have begged our school district to allow Matthew back into a district classroom. I have begged for him to be educated again inside a typical school building. I have begged for him to be educated in a school environment that offered him opportunities for music education, for interactions with typical peers. I have begged for him to be educated in a school that did not have rooms where children are locked in when they are out of control. I have begged them to let him be back in a school where he was not witnessing children being restrained by adults when they are out of control.
How would Matthew be different if he wasn't exposed to these things? How would he be different if he wasn't exposed to the language and behaviors he is surrounded by daily at his school?
I know that given his diagnosis, there are challenges that Matthew is likely to face. I also know that Matthew was a child who struggled even when he was in a special education class within a typical school setting.
I know that given his diagnosis, Matthew is a child who is likely to struggle with limits that are imposed on him. He is a child who is likely to struggle with self control, and attention to work. he is a child who is likely to be impulsive and reactive.
What I don't know is how much his current educational setting is impacting Matthew now and how much it will impact Matthew in the future. I have always felt like Matthew needed to be shown things in black and white. There is a right and a wrong. For Matthew, it was important that these distinctions be made clear. In Matthew's current school setting there is a lot of gray, and Matthew does not understand gray.
I don't have all of the answers for Matthew. I wish I did, it would make life easier. Last night as he cursed at me for over an hour I was unsure how to respond. I have learned over time that the better I am at controlling my own responses to Matthew's behavior, the better I feel about the situation. I have learned that for David and Jacob it is important for me to remain calm, especially when Matthew is out of control. However remaining calm when your child is screaming and cursing at you is a huge challenge. I wanted to scream back. I wanted to ask him who they hell he thought he was, and why did he think he could talk to me that way. I wanted to ask him what the hell he thought he was doing calling me names and cursing at me, but I know that in those moments there are no answers.
Matthew is lost in Matthew. I wish that Matthew was surrounded by people all day long who modeled how to have self control. I wish that Matthew was surrounded by people who modeled using nice language, and appropriate social interactions. I fear that Matthew is responding and getting more and more lost because of the negative interactions he witnesses daily. I worry that he has come home and told me yesterday and today that he saw his friend be restrained. That his friend had a crisis. That crisis staff was in his room. Today the police were at his school. He asked me if I knew they were there. Were they there for him? Were they watching him?
I worry that he is asking me repeatedly tonight whether the police are coming. I worry that he is asking me whether he is going back to the psychiatric hospital. Are these questions his way of telling me he needs help? Are these questions his way of expressing that he feels out of control? Are these questions just questions?
I have no answers. I have my gut instinct, I have my hope and my faith and I have my worries. I am hoping that Matthew is going through a time of testing his new classroom. he has been in this room about 3 weeks, so it makes sense to test the staff to see what will happen. I am hoping that Matthew is just going through a pre thanksgiving bump in the road. This is his rough time. Halloween through Hanukah, these are the challenging months for my boy.
I am hoping that with love, consistency, and patience that we can get through this, and take a few steps away from the edge of the cliff. I am hoping that his teacher and I can find our way together, I will forge ahead and try to build a relationship with her even though my entire being wants my boy out of this school. I will forge ahead because for now she is the teacher who is spending 6 hours a day with my son, and for those 6 hours she is at the helm of the ship, and she is balancing him on the edge of the cliff. I will forge ahead because hopefully she is the person who can be my partner in finding him a more stable educational setting for the future. I will forge ahead, because for now I have no choice.
This is the placement the district is offering, it is the only one they are putting on the table, and so for now, I can only forge ahead towards the future.
- I am a single mom of three amazing boys! All three of my sons entered my family through adoption. All three of my boys have developmental disabilities. My oldest son, Matthew has been diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Bipolar Disorder. David, my middle son, has a genetic condition, he has a duplication on his 15th chromosome which leads to autism like symptoms, seizures and learning challenges. My youngest son, Jacob has learning disabilities. Each of my children bring unique challengs to our family and also bring their own personality and joys to our everyday life!