I’m sitting on the floor in the hallway outside my son’s therapist’s office, and I’m crying.
I’m on the phone with my mother-in-law, telling her that Zachary is completely imploding. He has been lashing out at his parents, his siblings, and his friends. Earlier this week, we had a friend over and Zach kept yelling at him to stay where he had put him because otherwise he would cheat at some game they were playing. Zach called his friend “rude,” which is astonishing because this is – and I say this having had a great deal of experience with kids in many different places – the nicest child in the Western hemisphere.
Yes, the nicest child in the Western hemisphere wants to be friends with my son, and Zach shat all over that gift.
Then, today, I pick him up at school, only to have the aide in the classroom inform me that Zach spent the morning telling kids he hates them and hitting. She’s standing there, no sympathy in her voice, rattling off his list of offenses. The teacher isn’t in, and so it has fallen to her to tell me that Zach has been having problems for a week. A task she seems to delight in, by the way.
“Pouting!” she says. “Like that. See that?” pointing to him. Because maybe I don’t know what my kid pouting looks like.
So, I’m sitting on the floor in the hallway outside my son’s therapist’s office, and I’m crying.
My husband doesn’t think this therapist is doing Zach very much good, and perhaps he is right. After all, Zach is still just as anxious as when he started six months ago. We are seeing no improvement in his behavior or his self-esteem. Because it is all about low self-esteem. He’s off-the-charts smart, and I mean truly off the charts, but all Zach can see is that for some reason he doesn’t fit in with his peers. He doesn’t know why, so he figures it’s because there is something wrong with him.
Or maybe them. Maybe there’s something wrong with them? Yeah, that’s it! If I don’t feel like I fit in with my peers, let’s blame THEM. That oughta make me feel better.
I have a call in to a new therapist. I am hoping she can get in to observe him before the school year ends, because he only exhibits these problems with other children, so she needs to see him in his native element. In the meantime, the uncertainty of the end of the year is killing this kid. We still haven’t found a house, creating more uncertainty, and since he has been moved so much, Zach puts no stock in our assurances that we are only looking for houses right here in town, near his friends.
If he keeps any friends.
I can’t figure out how to help him. We get him therapists, we talk to him, we shower him with positive attention, we create boundaries – we do all the right things. But sometimes – in moments when I am being honest with myself – I recognize that we are just chasing our tails. Because we can’t help him. He’s going to have to learn to fit in on his own terms, and we can’t show him how to do it.
Which is why I’m sitting on the floor in the hallway outside my son’s therapist’s office, and I’m crying.