Today I had one of those challenging days that made me turn to the heavens and say, “I know you are still laughing when I asked all those years ago to use me for a greater purpose.” Yes, I uttered those very words at a time in my life when I felt bored with my job, bored with my life. I felt like I had no purpose and though I was healthy, making a good salary, had a home, family and friends, felt that there had to be something else to life besides this. About three years after I wished that, Michael came into my life like a tornado. I’ve talked before how as a new Mom I wanted to do everything perfectly. My life finally had meaning for me, and dang it, if I wasn’t going to screw it up by not being the perfect Mom. I had to be. Well, as Michael got older, like a lot of other new Moms, I blamed myself when his development veered off the so-called “normal” track. In time I would learn all about autism, as now I am learning all about diabetes, but boy, what a long time it took me to understand all the moods, fights, tears, stresses and strains. What a long time it took me to understand that it was not all my fault.
I’ve talked about this in other blogs. I’ve particularly talked about how hard it has been to stay calm when Michael has pushed my buttons as a parent, doing everything physically and psychologically to test me and break me. And no, it is not because he is evil like I once thought in my angry confused state. It is because he is crying out for help. It sounds hard to believe that when a child is being rude, disrespectful, aggressive or all of the above, they are actually hurting, scared, tired, confused or all of the above. But it is all true. I saw it with my own eyes today. I knew the day would end with stress when Michael burst into our bedroom at 6 am after falling asleep after 9:30. He was excited to play his new XBox before doing his morning injections and getting ready for school. Dad and I had told him if he insisted to not go back to bed, he would be tired and would need to go to bed earlier this evening. He had scoffed and disagreed. Sure enough coming home this afternoon, his tolerance for learning was not high. He was cranky, arguing with me about everything, and ended the evening with stalling at every turn, talking back, in turn forcing us to cut his bedtime routine short of everything but his evening injection and tuck in.
Dad and I both cooled down in our respective corners while Michael cooled down in his, and in the end I had my suspicions confirmed. Michael admitted, “You’re right Mommy. I am tired. I need to go to bed.” It was so hard to sit through cursing, mocking, rudeness, but I knew in my heart of hearts he was crying out for attention. Earlier in the evening he said he was afraid to go to bed. He blamed a video he had seen weeks ago. I know that is only part of it. I think the monsters are closer to home. The monsters are his diabetes and anger. Learning to control them is challenging. And though Dad and I don’t want to scare him, we have told him how important it is that he keeps his temper in check now more than ever. We told him if his blood sugar goes up too high, he could end up in hospital. He is beginning to realize the importance of his health. We are reminding him of the wonderful strategies he developed with his educator. Now, he has to learn to use them. I was reminded tonight how important me staying calm was to the outcome of Michael calming down. I am learning how to see the bigger picture while not taking his anger personally. He is lashing out in the only way he knows how. With firm boundaries, love and consistent consequences he will learn to behave appropriately and reign himself in. Dad and I have to learn to be there for him when he is ready to move forward and apologize showing him we love him even when we don’t like his behavior.
Exceptional Parents, do you have a hard time seeing the bigger picture when your Exceptional Child lashes out? It is so hard. Some days are also easier than others to stay calm. It’s important to remember that we show our child how to treat us indirectly or not. If we are firm, consistent yet loving overall, they will learn they cannot push our buttons for long. If we constantly react to the bad and not praise the good, they may also not feel that they can do anything worthwhile. Show your child you love and are there for them when they start to use good ways to handle their anger. Show them you believe in them to make the best choices. And don’t beat yourself up as a parent. You are doing the best that you can. Your love for your child will carry you through everything. Until next time.
I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with Autism and Type 1 Diabetes has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of living in the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence on their own exceptional parenting journey.
For more information on my coaching services, for a FREE 30 min consultation, and to receive a copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY,” see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.