I spent the majority of July in Radio Silence. I didn’t do much posting. There was a very simple reason for that, and that reason still exists. I’m exhausted. I feel beaten down and depressed.
Life with Norton is wearing me down. For a while, I was able to make jokes about how we were getting into the Stockholm Syndrome portion of parenting a difficult child: I’d begun to sympathize and bond with my captor. We’re slipping out of that wonderful ability to tolerate his nonsense. I’d rather spend my days in bed hiding, avoiding my son.
We’re still awaiting the assessment for autism screening, but at this point, I’m quite confident that my son is not, in fact, on the autism spectrum at all.
But I’m equally certain that something isn’t right. Life isn’t supposed to be a constant battle with your child. Every day shouldn’t include screaming because he doesn’t give in until Mommy is about to come unglued. The day shouldn’t end with Mommy running off to hide and tune out as soon as Dad is home.
I’m terribly certain that how things are in our home right now isn’t how life is supposed to be at all… but I’m not really sure how life should be, either. Maybe because it’s been so darned long since life has been even remotely normal that I’m not sure what normal looks like anymore.
I have never come across a child so defiant. Sure, there’s a certain amount of normal to a child who doesn’t listen. It’s part of testing limits, establishing autonomy, etc. This isn’t my first rodeo. But he takes it to a whole new level. Everything is a battle, even doing the things that he wants to do. If he wants to “go bye-bye” it takes two hours because he’ll refuse to get dressed. It doesn’t matter if it’s his idea or not. We avoid taking him places anymore because his behavior is so unpredictable. I don’t enjoy being “that mom” with the screaming, bratty kid in the store. And I never know what will set him off. It could be something as simple as his sister looked at him.
He’s vindictive. The other night is a great example. Eudora was playing with her daddy’s watch. Norton gave Eudora some string cheese (which sounds like a great start, right?)… but he took advantage of her being close and snatched the watch away from her. She cried, I insisted that he give it back… so he dropped it behind the couch rather than give the watch back to me.
He’s deliberately annoying. I’m severely claustrophobic. Not just “fear of tight spaces” but fear of anything that can cut off breathing freely. That means nothing tight around my neck, etc. He’s hung off of my neck while getting in my face… and because I’m having a full blown panic attack when he does this, I’m trying to pry him off of me with whatever means necessary. And he will do this at least twice a week. He’ll aggravate the dogs non-stop, too.
He can be flat-out mean. He’ll jump on the dog when she’s sleeping on the couch for no other reason than she’s just lying there. He’ll hit his sister just because he can. (Yesterday, he kicked her in the throat over a toy. He kicked her hard enough that she smacked her head on a table. Then later, he just turned and smacked her in the face over an unrelated incident later in the day.) For timeouts, I have to physically hold the door to his room closed because he will be screaming and trying to yank the door open the entire time.
It’s not always bad, though. There are times when he can be sweet and play nicely with Eudora. Sometimes he’ll pet the dog nicely or have kind snuggles with me. Something isn’t right. I think that he fits the diagnostic criteria for Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Hopefully we can find out soon. His assessment is next month. And school also starts back next month, thank goodness.
On top of all of those behavioral issues with my son, I’m faced with the reality that there are days when I just don’t want to be around him anymore. And then I feel guilty, because I’m his mother and I’m supposed to want him around all the time or something. It’s not that there’s less love, but there’s certainly less like. When you take into account that Eudora has none of those issues and is already a better communicator than Norton is in a lot of ways… and she’s so sweet, then I feel guilty because I wonder if I’m playing favorites.
It’s emotionally exhausting at best, and even physically exhausting on other days when I have to spend time physically restraining him. Then you figure my own temper that flares up when I tell him that if he does x, I’ll do y… and he responds with “No, you can’t.” Oh, yes, I can. And a child telling me that I can’t do something in my own home is sort of like waving the proverbial red flag in front of a bull.
It’s impacting my marriage. There are days when my husband comes home from work and I just go to bed because I have to check out. I am tired after a full day of battles. I’m honestly amazed that my husband even wants to come home some days. I sure wouldn’t want to. But it’s wearing on him, too. When we were first married, he was the most patient guy in the world. He was fairly calm and unflappable. Now? He’s starting to yell, too.
We’ve tried 1-2-3 Magic. Sure, it’s great in some ways, but it’s only effective when Norton is in a moderately compliant mood. We’re still seeing the speech and language pathologist bi-weekly for his language delay. I’m attempting to do the “homework” with him, but oh, how difficult it can be when he’s showing me zero cooperation.
I just want it to get better, by any means necessary. I don’t think that anyone is truly, completely happy living in this situation right now. Have you dealt with a difficult child? How did you get through it?