Thursday, September 01, 2011

My Eldest Son

Today was full of opposites. Peaceful, wonderful morning/early afternoon (worked on my Sunday school lesson, did laundry, took #4 to his first day of preschool, played games with #5, read my book club book for the month) and then BAM! Dante's Inferno disguised as after-school theatrics.

It mostly stems from the constant friction between the 7 year old's (that would be #3. Eldest Son) intense hatred of all things "hard" and the necessary "evil" of learning new things. Anything that takes effort for the boy is deemed as "too hard" and he tends to melt down pretty quick. Because the task isn't "quick." You know? The irony, is that once I allow him to just calm himself down, he gets right back to it and eventually pulls it off. It's just the whole taking-3-hours-do-to-40-minutes-of-homework-and-piano-practice. And then he's upset because he doesn't have time to play with friends.

Honestly, this routine is normal, almost daily. But #3 has good days. Occasionally he will come home, jump into the work and be done -bam! --and off to play. Today was just particularly difficult. It's usually a ratio of 2 bad days to 1 good day.

We're seriously considering having him tested by the school psychologist. He has his sensory issues (we believe it's 4S) and two emotions: Happy and Angry. It's not completely black and white, but he has a tough time being able to express himself in any other way. Frustration, sadness, embarrassment --they are all expressed as anger. Loud, screaming, anger. And then in mere moments? He's just fine. Resolves, takes a breath, calms down, and is okay. Occasionally it takes longer, but for the most part, he can calm down within 5-10 minutes.

So, we're hoping that if we can figure out how/why he feels/thinks the way he does, we'll be better equipped to help him. Family dinner, like homework, is usually a disaster. He will storm off (because of sensory things) and refuse to eat until everyone is done. He eats breakfast before anyone else is allowed to. We've tried softer foods, ear plugs, music --nothing works. He can still hear it all.

I remember a particular bad night a few weeks ago, when he was on my bed, crying his eyes out and I came in to talk to him. He had just stormed away from dinner again. I rubbed his calf and asked him if he was okay. He then said:
"I feel like I was born different." (That REALLY got me crying!)
I asked, "What do you mean?"
"I feel different."
I thought for a moment and then asked,
"How does it make you feel, #3?"
He paused and then said, "It's anger. Lots of anger."
"Where do you feel the anger?"
"In my ears."

I just held him and sobbed and sobbed.

So, yeah. I think we'll be focusing on this a bit more and making it a priority. I already feel like a terrible and awful mother for not trying to do something sooner. Blah.

However! #3 is happiest when: He's playing soccer, winning at a video game, riding his bike with friends, making silly faces/singing silly songs with his sisters, watching his favorite shows, eating peaches, helping his dad, "fixing" his toys (battery replacement), and having his back scratched. He has a lot of happiness! And I'm much more patient with him, now that I know what can trigger his anger.

I love this kid. He is the trial of my life, and yet I would die for him. All I want is to help him and show him how he can do things, how he can be successful. I'm grateful for Brandon's patience with him (and the small amount I have, too). Tonight, after #4's soccer game, Brandon sat down and got him to do his math homework and watching them together was so beautiful. Moments like that give me hope that he'll be okay; that we'll figure out how to help him --that he'll always know how much we love him. Because we do. I mean, look at him! How could we not?

(Taken in San Francisco, May 2011)


Amy said...

Poor little guy. I feel for what you are going through, as you know we have anger issues with our son.

It has really hit home that they will always be our babies, no matter their age.

Not sure if it would help, but I went to a course offered at our Children's Hospital about boys and working with their brains. It was fascinating and really helped me to take a step back and understand better how the boys think and act. If you're interested, we could chat sometime about it.

Cheryl said...

Amy, I would l love that!

Fisher Family said...

We have had some of the same concerns with Isaiah. I'll send you an email on what we've read and looked into. He has a lot of anger and gets frustrated really easily. SOmetimes we fell like we're walking on egg shells with him. Anyway, I'll try and remember to send you an email.

Judi said...

Oh Cheryl...made me cry too. What we wouldn't do for our boys...My #2 went through a period in 3/4th grade that was particularly hard. Ticks, etc...Most of it has past, but comes out once in he is just a hormonal 13 yr old boy...
Hope you can help your #3. He is such a darling...and just as an FYI you are NOT a terrible mother/parent.


Cheryl said...

Denice, I would love to get an email from you! Send it to me, STAT!

Judi, thank you so much. You are an awesome friend and a great mom, too. :)

tamrobot said...

Awww. Poor guy! What's with his sensory issues? Does he have a mild form of autism maybe? I thought a lot of sensory issues were closely related to autism...

The Conductor said...


I'm not sure how to express this in a few simple lines...because to fully express it would require several paragraphs along with energy I don't have right now... But I just want to say thank you for who you are -- for sharing all that you share here on your blog.

I don't come here often enough, but when I do, I feel rejuvenated somehow, and I think it's because you are simply so genuine. I appreciate hearing your weaknesses (i.e. the housekeeping post that follows this one) because so (SO) many of them are my own. I appreciate hearing your trials with your children because, of course, I, too, have trials with my children. (Incidentally, I shed a few tears for you and your little guy as I read this post. My daughter has an anxiety disorder called Selective Mutism -- different from 4S but similar in the anger and outbursts I guess. And it's frustrating as the parent, and it's so physically and emotionally exhausting, and you do your very best and then you step back and beat yourself up for not doing better. And all you want is the best for them and you know you would do anything for them, but sometimes you just don't know what to do next!)

I just wanted to tell you that I think you are one of the most fabulous moms I've ever known and your children are so, so blessed to have you as their mother! The way you handled that little conversation with #3? Perfect. He will get the help he needs because he has you to lead the way -- something so many children with issues do not have! I wish you the best in your journey with him. Such a beautiful little boy!

Cheryl said...

My #3 is my biggest challenge as well. I always say that I love him the hardest....

Amanda D said...

We were having some problems with one of our sons and his teacher wanted us to have the district test him for some different things. My sister (who is a teacher) said, "whatever you do, don't let the district test him for anything!" So, we took him to his doctor. His doctor agreed with my sister. Schools get more money when they have children with problems so they possibly don't have the best interested at heart.

Listen to your gut. I did some research and decided that none of the things that his teacher thought were wrong. Come to find out he had all the issues with his hearing and his ears.

Love how you handled the conversation and love how much you love him. :)