(I’m done keeping a second anonymous journal for reasons I outlined in my last post. This is from that one, which I’ve deleted.)
“Fuck off,” my son says as soon as I walk into the ER.
“Get the fuck out of here. Go fuck yourself.”
I’m here to see him because he just assaulted his father, a psychiatrist, a perfectly innocent computer, oh and also a police officer. So the cops put him in restraints and onto an ambulance and then he was here, in the ER.
His father is standing there with a security guard and they are trying to get him to relinquish his shoes.
“Hi, honey,” I say.
“Fuck off,” my son says again.
“Take off your shoe,” his exhausted father says furiously. “I know you’re just taking that shoe off as slowly as you can.”
“Why do I even have to take them off?” demands my son.
“It’s policy,” says the security guard, which is the worst thing to say to a kid who needs to know the reason for everything that you could possibly say.
“What are you fucking doing here, cop?” My kid snarls. “Aren’t you going to beat me? Isn’t that what cops do?”
“I’m not a cop,” says the security guard.
“Well, then quit dressing like one,” says my son. “Fucking cop.”
The security guard stares at me with drowning eyes.
“You need a break,” I say to my coparent. “I’ll take over.”
He leaves and I start asking the security guard about himself. The weather. The security guard keeps standing there with his plastic bag but he starts to relax. We both ignore my kid who then removes his shoes and wordlessly hands them to the security guard, who fairly runs out of the room, mouthing ‘thank you’ to me as he goes.
“Fuck off,” the kid says to me again.
I look at him. “Are you scared?” I ask. “Do you want a hug?”
And then he is my little boy again, sobbing in my arms, and I want to kill everything and everyone and I want to cry, too, but I don’t because I’m supposed to be strong and stuff.
We then wait for 24 hours for a bed in the local adolescence psychiatric floor.
I just started a new contract job at a bank. I didn’t expect to find kindred spirits here.
But everywhere I turn, there are other parents of kids with special needs or trauma or who are just plain assholes. And we always find each other and bond.
Because my son was just hospitalized and I had to tell people and I am not interested in contributing to stigma by pretending it was for pneumonia or something, people in my office know that he was nearly expelled for telling his principal to fuck off, calling her a bitch, and walking out of school.
Next week, instead of that, he’s graduating from middle school and I’m going to go to the ceremony and Coparent and I will take him out to lunch after. So I had to cancel some meetings and I explained to my coworker why.
She emailed me: “Congrats on your damn kid graduating from middle school! I feel your pain/relief. These people with perfect kids have no idea. I always tried to really, actually feel proud during those moments. No matter how much they’re acting out, they need validation and support, too. You’re a good mom.”
First: calling my kid ‘your damn kid’ is awesome.
Second: I decided to try to actually feel proud instead of stressed out and guilty toward the teachers, especially the one who had to ban him from his class forever for something terrible he said that I still don’t even know what it was.
A few days ago I found myself muttering to a dear old friend who was proudly posting about her daughter’s very high academic achievement rating in her state (3% in the entire state) and her volunteer work and the Ivy she’ll be going to: “No one gives a shit about your perfect kid,” even though _I_ give a shit about her perfect kid!
I’ve never felt this hostility toward other parents. This is not me. I needed to focus on the pride.
Last week, for instance: My Damn Kid had a band concert and the kids all got together ahead of time to collect money for the band director’s program, and to buy fun t-shirts with his face on them. They announced this at the concert.
“Did you give Our Damned Kid money?” I whispered to Coparent.
He shrugged elaborately.
Afterward, I went up to my son and told him how great the band was and asked which kid I should give money to.
My son looked surprised. “I gave him money,” he said. “I have my own money.”
And I was so proud. So proud.
The morning of Kid’s Middle School Graduation, ready to be proud, I was completely unprepared for what happened.
“I’m not going,” he said. “Also, you’re not going,” he said.
He refused to get up. He told me that we were too embarrassing. He told me I didn’t know what was going on; no other parents would be there.
I cajoled and I reasoned and I asked him what was up with him and if he was anxious and he just dug in his heels and then The Scary Mommy Voice came out of my face but he continued to refuse.
“Okay,” I said, because I’m sorry to say that sometimes treating an autistic teen like a three-year-old is what works. “I guess I’ll take your little brother to school. Bye.”
Suddenly he was dressed and drinking his morning hideous glass of pop.
“Dad will be really disappointed,” he said.
“Yep!” I said, and headed for the door as he frantically started putting his shoes on.
That’s when his dad arrived, ruining my careful manipulation, and started dispensing threats and demands and wanting to know “What’s embarrassing about us?”
I took a deep breath, did not scream, and left my apartment to take his little brother to school. When I got back to my apartment the van was gone.
I drove to the school, parked seven hundred miles away, and crutched to the building.
Then I sat and watched an interminable slide show (it was literally TWENTY MINUTES LONG) showing all sorts of fun activities and friendships all the kids except for mine had engaged in, and the tears I’d been holding back would not stay back.
I sat in silence with the hot tears pouring down my face and listened to a list of students with high GPAs that our kid was not on, despite his scores in the 99th percentile on all standardized testing, and then we sat and listened to the list of awards for being good people and kind to others which of course he was not on, and then instead of heading to the park with all of the other parents and kids we headed for the cars because my son certainly doesn’t know anyone in the school and I don’t know any of the parents because I can barely wipe my own ass let alone get involved at the school.
The kid’s counselor gave me a hug on my way out to the car and looked at me with profound worry. Our entire family radiated misery. He asked about our son’s day treatment, which is starting Monday. He talked about how much he remembered giving us the tour of the middle school and the great questions my son had asked three years ago.
I cried some more and he gave me another hug.
Brunch was nearly silent. I managed not to cry. I asked things about what he would miss about Middle School and what he was proud of that he’d done and what he was looking forward to in High School.
He grunted sometimes in answer. He complained about his award-winning band teacher because he yelled a few times over the past three years.
I excused myself, give him a kiss and told him that I loved him, and went home instead of to work and cried myself to sleep, which I did for a foggy hour. I was 20 minutes later than I’d said I would be and logged into an online meeting late.
I have to keep going, with this and my EMDR, but I have no goddamned idea how.