How I Know

It’s not him “just being a boy”.

My son is …. challenging. To say the least. To say the most, he is amazing and charming and logical and creative. But to say the least would definitely be “challenging”. It’s a total mind “screw” to parent a challenging child. From the get go he has been a test for my husband and I. Both as his parents, and as a partner of a spouse of a challenging kid.

From the time my son could speak – which was very early – he was getting in trouble for what he would say. Spitting, biting, naughty words. No consequence would deter him, either.

We just called him a stinker and moved on …. to the next teacher meeting. Preschool was intensely challenging for him. This was a shock to me because I always thought of preschool as structured fun. Who thinks of preschool as behaviorally overwhelming?! As a typical no-experience-with-kids adult, I for one did not expect this.

I thought it was frustrating, and sometimes amusing, when the teachers would pull me aside and let me know he had been naughty that day, or had to be removed from the group, or had to sit out some of his play time because he didn’t know how to sit still or go along with the class.

I saw that as their problem and not mine. What can I do for his school behavior from home?! School issues were a world apart from the home issues.

Now, at 8 years old, they are culminating into one perfect storm.

When I try and explain my son, words often fall short. He’s a kid you have to experience to really ‘get’. And even then, depending on the environment, you will most likely only see 1/2 of the picture.

When i’m explaining a situation to someone, i’m often met with, “Well isn’t that just him being a boy?”

The short answer is “No. It’s not.”

I find myself getting more and more defensive and just sick and tired of justifying an already difficult situation to someone who simply has no idea. It’s especially frustrating when it’s people close to our family. For everyone wanting to ask and assumes i’m overreacting to a simply “boy” situation:

I understand your misunderstanding.

I understand your incredulousness.

I understand your doubt.

But you know what? This is my reality, and you can keep your doubt and disbelief to yourself. And for heaven’s sake, please keep your articles and your book titles to yourself.

This child is challenging and energy-sucking as it is, and honestly I do not have the brain capacity or tolerance for a 300 page book on the developing brain of young boys and why they are over medicated.

My kid isn’t even on meds… yet. And if we decide to put him on medication, that is OUR decision along with a slew of professionals who have made that choice. It is not your place and the countless Dr Oz show’s you’ve seen to choose for me. I wonder if those same people judge a kid with diabetes for being on medication. Do parents get a hard time when their asthmatic child takes medication? If medication is required to aid a deficit or repair a function, trust the parents to know what is best for their kid.

Judge all you want, and I understand that happens because I do it as well, but keep your lips sealed until I’m out of ear shot.

How do I know this is something bigger than him “just being an 8 year old boy”? When the circumstances land you and your husband in an office -where your child is already getting services from two different specialists-speaking with a child psychologist who professionally tells you, “Wow. You have had to deal with a lot and this is most certainly a challenging child.” you feel validated.

I’m past defensive. I’m past denial. I’m past blame. I just want answers, and even more than that, I want my kid to have a fair shot at a normal life.

I am beyond justifying my decisions and theories on my own kid. I just want to love him, watch him grow and learn, and see him have a fair shot at life at the same time as his peers. It’s heart-breaking to be looking down the barrel of labels and diagnoses. It’s hard enough to see page long lists of difficulties and accommodations and therapies and theories from professionals at his school. Each time a new one pops up, it’s another blow to the gut.

I think about my child sitting in a classroom full of peers he is now fully aware of differences he has. I love him for accepting the obvious ones. He doesn’t catch a ball or throw a ball nearly as lithely as his friends. He doesn’t have the tracking ability to dodge a rubber ball or a tether ball. God bless him for trying all of these things to attempt to fit in. I’m more proud he is fine with walking away, and on days all the boys want to do sports, he finds ways to entertain himself on his own during recess. It is sad to think of your 3rd grader wandering alone on a playground. It takes a lot for me not to go park by the school and watch him during these times just to be sure he’s ok and to let him know I’m there. I believe in him. I love him no matter what.

But how much longer will he let me do that?

How much longer will his mother’s adoration be enough?

How do I know it’s more than just being a boy?

Because I see him. I see him watching the world and trying to find where he fits into it. I also see the frustration and pain when he is unsure of how this big world reveals his own place in it. I see my son in pain and unable to manage what his body commands him to do and I see my son desperately trying to become his own person despite the limitations his brain is holding him to.

I am so proud of him. I am so pained by what he has to deal with. I am so fortunate to have a kid who is really all there. I am blessed to have a place to go to for answers and help. I am so very thankful it isn’t worse.

And while he is most definitely being a very eight year old boy, he has the weight of not being a typical 8 year old boy on those eight year old shoulders. So yes, it actually is more than just your own personal experience with your eight year old. It is ours.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s