It’s hard to be a kid in today’s fast paced world, any kid. But an exceptional child faces so much more. Our world moves faster, people are not always as kind as they can be because they are stressed, and expectations are high, especially if the child looks and talks like everyone else. I see and feel Michael’s pain at times like these. He is so anxious, and worries about what his teachers think of him, what we think of him. He feels bad when he gets angry on the one hand, but on the other, feels justified in making “the rules.”
“Why don’t I get to be in charge? I want to be an adult.”
We had a long walk together after a meltdown yesterday, where we talked about anger, how it is ok to be angry, but hitting, throwing things or screaming insults is not appropriate. We also talked about how though adults make rules, they also have more responsibilities, like jobs, having to pay bills, take care of a house, a car etc. Our ‘play time’ is much more constricted than a child’s who, though they don’t make rules, have the opposite. More play, less reponsibilities.
“So you and Daddy don’t play?”
“Not the same as you buddy. We have chores to do. Now that you are getting older, slowly you will have chores to do also. But for the most part, you still get to play. And you get some choices, choices of extra curricular activities, choice of which fruit or vegetable to eat, and choice of which park to go to. Lots of kids don’t have that. ”
“I know. I’m lucky Mommy.”
“You are. So remember that, you do have some choice. But Mommy and Daddy make the rules to keep you safe and because that’s what adults do.”
This is an ongoing fight and discussion between us, and last night’s talk certainly would not be the last. But at least the dialogue is going. Michael is also getting short term counseling at school. His first visit with the school psychologist was yesterday too. I spoke with him about when I went to speak to a lady therapist two years ago, and about how much it helped me get stronger, and learn new tools to cope with anxiety and anger, when I would be sad or mad.
Seeing Michael going through a hard time lately with anxiety, self-esteem, and generally having to face some difficult parts of his character, has forced me to turn to my own way of dealing with my imperfections, lifestyle stresses and self-esteem issues. I’ve found that barring a few difficult days last weekend, I am doing pretty well. I have come a long way from the woman who doubted her own decisions, made herself feel guilty when she couldn’t be everything to everyone, and in general, didn’t acknowledge that her self-esteem was pretty low. I have days when I’m hard on myself, (certain times of the month are challenging due to hormones and emotions running high): ), but other than that, I can feel when I’m about to have a negative thought, and am able to stop myself from proceeding further into self-destructive thoughts. This is something that at eight years old, and being on the autism spectrum, is still very challenging for Michael to do. I get it. I have to give him a break. I have to give myself a break.
Exceptional Moms, how hard have you been on yourselves in the past, before and now with your Exceptional Children? What issues has your Exceptional Child helped you work through? Our kids are our best teachers as I always say, and Michael is now showing me what I am made of and what he is made of. Each day, his ways of coping with anger, anxiety and aggression are getting better. He is crying and asking for a hug sooner. This was what helped me break down my anger, crying and asking others around me for support. Remember Moms, we’re all in this together. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help for your and your children. You’ve come a far way already. Until next time.