Thanks for all your well wishes—I’m feeling quite a bit better today, although my legs are still pretty painful. It’s not my pain that made today painful, though.
It is so difficult, as a parent, to watch your child struggle and not be able to really help. Mr. December thought I was upset because I had a kid yelling at me constantly while I tried to offer support, but what really made me feel like crying was seeing how miserable said kid was. From the outside looking in, you might think that this was a case of terrible disrespect and laziness; from the inside, I can tell you there’s a lot of fear, frustration, shame, and sadness behind every outburst.
I’m sorry for being so non-specific, but as my children get older I feel that some of the frustrating things need to stay more anonymous; I also realize that while I know my children as wonderful people with their own difficulties, my readers don’t, and I don’t want to create the wrong impression. At the same time, my frustration as a parent is front-and-centre some days, and I want to be able to write about it. It’s a delicate balance.
Today I found myself idly wondering where we went wrong in our parenting. Maybe we’ve been too patient and supportive? Maybe we needed to be stricter? Or perhaps, as Rowan Atkinson suggested in one of his comedy sketches, if we “had administered a few more fatal beatings…”? Okay, maybe not that last one. But you get the idea. There was a lot of self-doubt in my head today.
One of the biggest frustrations for me is how long it takes to help our kids with their issues. First, it takes time to identify exactly where the problem seems to be, and which professional to engage on it. Then we wait for an assessment appointment and then come the interventions, which take time to work… or to not work. It’s trial and error, and as we go through this process repeatedly, years of the child’s life are going by: years where maybe we could have chosen a different intervention or clued in to a different aspect of their problem.
For a child who had difficulty learning to read, we tried the following: extra phonics support; vision therapy; Orton-Gillingham tutoring; Occupational Therapy; and finally, intensive (15 hours a week) one-on-one tutoring at a specialized centre. It took us two years to get from recognition of the problem to a solution.
The child who spent most of the day yelling at me was particularly solicitous this evening, helping me tidy up and get dinner to the table; they also voluntarily practiced an instrument and really put in a good effort. Maybe it was an attempt to remind me of something I’ve never actually forgotten—but the child perhaps fears I might—that they have their bad days, certainly, but mine are fundamentally good kids, doing the best they can with the skills they have.