education · Fibro Flares · Keepin' it real · parenting · waxing philosophical · whine and cheese

Day 253: Better and Worse

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.

6 thoughts on “Day 253: Better and Worse

  1. If you did not terrify them with anger and say “I know you are not dumb how can you be so stupid”; if they did not go into a blank white out of panic from fear of your rejecting them … well; you are doing better than generations before you. If they know you want to help and aren’t always sure how to best do that, it really helps the child feel supported.
    I think you are being the best parents you know how to be, winning more than the generations before you, and working hard to help your children find solutions and correct help. We have come a long way in 70+ years and will learn piles more, I hope, over the next 70+ years. Parenting is very hard and knowledge about learning disabilities and other approaches to learning methodologies is growing but still has a very long way to go.
    I suspect when the child is not in full tizzy you talk to them and are supportive and talk about wanting to help and not always knowing the answers. Keep on loving your children, you are human and some days are just harder.

  2. OMG the amount of time it can take. We had to first correctly diagnose a physical problem…which involved several years of mis-diagnosis. Then actually correct the physical problem…which required surgery. Then correctly diagnose the *new* problem, which had similar symptoms and possibly was there all along. Then we had to wait for a specialist. Then it was about a year before we finally convinced the specialist that him effectively doing nothing at all had not in fact made the problem go away. Then we finally started treating the actual problem, taking another 6 months to get various medications and associated doses correct. And now I finally have a kid who can not only sleep at night, but also concentrate on school stuff! Except that we had several years where neither of those two things are happening…which means that we’re several years behind on school work, and have also developed some horrible habits…

      1. Based on what you write here, your kids are able to focus on schoolwork. Around here it is a good day if we can get 15 minutes of math workbook done, with me sitting beside her and encouraging every step. We’re dealing with extremely severe anxiety there. The sleep thing…I’m talking about a kid who would not sleep until 2am, ever, in spite of being totally exhausted. When forced to go to bed…would lie there awake until we went to bed and then get up. So on the advice of her doctor, we started giving her melatonin – and that has fixed the problem. I suspect that you’re dealing with an entirely different set of issues…but if you’re actually dealing with serious mental health issues in kids feel free to call me!

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