The center cannot hold

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.

24 responses to “The center cannot hold

  1. I am so so sorry…..

  2. Em, big big (hugs). It is no help, but as a parent to two out of the norm kids who struggles (them and me) I can relate enough to tell you it’s one thing to know logically it’s a process, and it takes time, when emotionally all you can feel is this heart-stopping fear that there is no way to make this all right because look at all you’re trying and it’s not getting better.

    And of course clearly you know the real deal: he must do ti himself.

    But as a mom, who is trying, doing her best and all the right things, you look at this little person and wonder and worry how such a small young person can manage what so many adults haven’t.

    But he’s got you and all you do. It gives him a base, and that matters so very much.

    I don’t blame you crying.

    Do you tell the therapist? Do you have support?

    And the aide. Do you tell her?

    Big (hugs) and support. You are a good mom. A good person. A good writer.

  3. I’m so sorry. I have no advice but I have a few tears in my eyes reading this.

  4. You’re a very good mother. I know you know that but I also know there I times where it doesn’t hurt to hear it. Things will click into place for Zach at some point, I’m sure of it. He’s lucky to have you on his side.

  5. Ditto what everyone has said. ((((((Emily)))))) –which is me sending cyber hugs.

  6. Oh honey. I wish I could help. I wish I knew the perfect therapist and just the right thing to say and how to find your house. Oy.

  7. i’m so sorry, em. hug that scared boy for me. and hang in there. if you need to talk, you know where to find me.

  8. Sending you strength.

  9. oh, I’m sorry. Henry has had some bad times like this. He has no idea how to relate socially & tends to get crazy if all the ducks are not lined up perfectly, the starts aligned and no ill wind blows. It sucks, it just does & much as we try to fight the anxiety, it often rules him. Thus far we have managed to be med free, believing it is good for him to learn to cope, cope, cope, but God sometimes I wish I could get him to chill out.

  10. Oh honey, I’m s sorry. All I can say is huge hugs. I know that doesn’t do anything really, but I do mean it.

    I hope he finds his way soon.

  11. I’m so sorry. I don’t know what to say that would be helpful, but I am thinking of you and sending positive thoughts your way!

  12. Oh, Em. It’s so hard, isn’t it? When you know they are struggling and nothing is making any difference.

    Oh. And the aide. I’ve dealt with more than one of her kind, smugly listing offenses and being a general twerp. Kind of makes you want to scream, “Oh, thank God you were here to point out all his faults! I HAD NO IDEA HE POUTED!”

    You’re a good mom. Zach will figure it out eventually, though I know that’s cold comfort now. I don’t blame you for crying. I wish I was closer so I could offer more than these words, but they will have to do for now.

    Hang in there.

  13. I’m sorry, Em. I’m just sorry.

  14. my ‘gawd that has to hurt’ will have to stand in for all i don’t know how to say here.


  15. You rock in everything you do for all of your kids. I am so sorry about all of this.

  16. First — hugs, lots of them for you, J, Zach and the littler ones.

    Second — you can cry when you need to. It is so, so, so very hard to know you are trying to do all the right things and not see any real change (I know). When you said “chasing our tails” I couldn’t help but get a wry grin — we know just how that feels.

    I’m hoping the new therapist works out. Are you talking to anyone (I know, like you have the time or money, right?). But are you? I hope you have an outlet, and I’m here any time.

  17. I can only speak of what I know. My son still misses the friendship of yours, even though it has been six months since they were last together. That kind of positive feeling and memory speaks volumes to me about how special and sweet your boy is, even though it may not be coming through so much right now.

    Much love and hugs…

  18. Aw, this sucks. It really, really does. I hope that you find your house soon, and you can put down roots, and that brings all of you some stability. It sounds like you need it.

  19. It sounds like a more permanent residence and a new therapist may be the best you can do right now. How difficult, I’m sorry.

  20. I wish I could say something to make you both feel better, but all I can offer is this: I wish my mom had been like you. I am so sorry you all have to go through this.

  21. Echoing everything above. It’s so hard, it’s SO HARD sometimes and we all want to help so much. There’s a lot of love and good feeling out there for you and your family from people who have never met you but, through your writing, have come to care. I know it doesn’t fix anything but maybe, at least a little, it helps.

  22. I’m so, so sorry. It sounds like you’re doing everything you possibly can. Thinking of you.

  23. hugs to you. i stop in here (and the whole blogosphere) so infrequently i’m not very familiar with zach. both my boys struggle with sensory issues. speech therapy. i’ve seen my oldest struggle with situations that other kids zoom through. it’s painful. i have seen him grow out of a lot of it and i’ve learned to just wait. but i’m still scared. i hope you find a new therapist or the current one clicks.

  24. I don’t know what Zach’s exact issues are, but based on the intelligence and the social skills issue, my guess is that it make take him a really long time to find his niche. And that is hard has a parent.

    I have a 7th grader I am working with at my school who is taking classes at our high school. He also has Asperbergers. And he HATES talking about the Autism, even though he knows, logically that it affects everything.

    Kids accept him, and his differences. And we have made some efforts to buddy him up with kids who maybe are not quite as exceptional in so many ways, but who face similar issues with the asynchronous development of highly gifted children.

    But, he told me a week or so ago, that he wishes that he wasn’t “Special” and didn’t have these gifts and could just be a “normal” 7th grader. And it was heartbreaking, because there is no way we can ever make that happen for him. And this brings his mom to tears, because she has worked so hard, for so many years (most of them as a single parent) to do the right thing for the social and emotional and intellectual challenges that come with parenting her son.

    All we can do as parents is to keep on trying. One foot in front of the other. And you ARE doing your best. And you are giving him every opportunity that you can. But, no one promised us that parenting would be easy…