Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I Think I Might Be Missing Breaking Bad, But I Thought I Was Writing About Cole

I possess a great amount of terror about 18 year old Cole.  What if we spend the next 10-15 years going through phases of difficulty, each one wearing his self esteem down in a different way because I'm handling it so poorly that before I know it he's the Jesse Pinkman of Round Rock, TX and his slimy, but extraordinarily witty, lawyer are tricking Alex and me out of our house so he can move in and make more meth?

No, I don't think I've watched too much Breaking Bad, why do you ask?

Could Jesse build this?  I think not.

We're in a rough patch with Cole.  We've been through it before, you can read an example of that here, and here we are again.  Thankfully not quite as bad as it's been in the past, but it's rough.

Today was light years better than the last five or six days, but I've been a Mom long enough now to know that there is no better way to curse his upswing than to publicly proclaim he's out of it. 

It's just like talking about how great a sleeper your baby is, that's a fast track to a night of three hours sleep.  It's some sort of kid voodoo.

Whenever we are in one of these phases with Cole I feel plagued with worry about how to handle him.  He refuses to cooperate.   He's grumpy and negative about every aspect of everything.

(And doesn't show an ounce of sarcasm in all his complaining to make it a bit more amusing.)

He doesn't sleep.  He doesn't allow me to sleep. 

He cries and screams instead of vocalizing nearly any need large or small, and something as small as the socks I hand him to wear can turn in to the greatest tragedy of all time.

It's exhausting.  It's emotionally and physically so draining that I find myself going through the same stages of coping each time.

First, I'm shocked.  I'm always surprised when these phases appear out of seemingly nowhere.  We can go months in between these times then just get struck down by the wrath of Cole.

Then, I'm encouraging and thoughtful about how to remedy any issues.  I'm all sticker charts and positive reinforcement. This is the book reading phase.  I have a collection of "make your kid better" sorts of books and I always get behind all their good ideas for at least a solid day, maybe even two.   

After a while though I become snippy and sink closer to his level, mocking all suggestions I've found in books and feeling sparks of rage at suggestions from anyone.   (This is actually when I'm in my sarcastic prime so I make a good person to go have a cocktail with, but not so much a stellar Mom and person in general.  I really walk a slippery slope during this stage.) 

Next, I'm straight up pissed off.   I'm determined that I can turn this around and we're going to have a change in behavior.  This is when I irrationally threaten things like taking away his room, or the majority of his clothes.  Thankfully most of these irrational threats are never verbalized to Cole so I don't have to actually implement some of the worst parenting ideas ever thought of by a loving Mom.

Then the worst of it comes, I find myself teetering on apathetic.  There is zero funny in that.

I could think of nothing worse than feeling apathetic about one of my children.  It terrifies me.

To be clear, I'm not there.  I am not apathetic about Cole, I don't think I ever could be.  I pray I never feel that way, but I dabble in it and that's scary enough for me.

I get to the point when I just can not fight him anymore though.  I am baffled by his attitude and frustrated that we keep cycling back to times like this.  I feel like a failure, because surely I'm jacking this up or things would be different. 

I'm emotionally intelligent enough to come up with a whole list of possible reasons we go through these times.  I also know that staying true to our rules and expectations of behavior, while fiercely loving him, is the only real path out of each of these times, along with a giant bucket of prayer.  He doesn't have an "issue." He isn't diagnosed with a particular behavior challenge, and believe me, the behavior therapist and I went through all sorts of options last year.

He's just Cole. He's strong willed, but sensitive. He's funny and an entertainer, but he's also very shy. He's sweet and loving, but he's also five. He's just five.

He's super cute too.

I bet he couldn't even shake and bake without serious problems.

Fine, maybe I'm thinking a little too much about Breaking Bad.

This will all be better soon. If it weren't for the voodoo I would say it could potentially have passed by his behavior today, but I would NEVER say that because of the respect I have for the voodoo. 

He will be back to being himself more often than not, and I'll go back to thinking I'm an awesome, fine acceptable, Mom.  Right now though, I just don't want to feel frustrated with him anymore.  I don't want to feel as though I have to back off or doom him to a life of drug abuse. I want to love on my kid and have some good days and some bad ones and feel that whole thing is going to be fine, because most likely it will be.

Unless he has a really good, but terminally ill chemistry teacher....then I'll have to take drastic measures to save him.


Maggie May said...

I hope this doesn't make you unsarcastically role your eyes :) because I know you said you took him to the therapist and no diagnosis was given, etc. But. There are two things this makes me think of. One is serious food allergies, dye allergies. No eye rolling! I'm not crazy, these things can make kids act nuts. I knew a little boy who was having this kind of behavior in preschool, and his parents were at wits end. He was in therapy, they had done supplements, etc, nothing worked. Long story short, he was profoundly allergic to red and blue dyes in food, and had gluten intolerance. I wasn't close to them so I don't remember how they found out, but once they removed these things he never had these kind of outbursts again.

The other thing this reminds me of is bipolar. I have four kids and I know that crazy behavior is part of childhood- to a point. If a child is not sleeping, and is cursing and screaming instead of talking, then those are warning flags for something else going on. Bipolar unfortunately runs in my family and I am all too familiar with it. The long periods of being OK, the sudden stopping of sleeping, the screaming, the sudden meanness and hatefulness out of a normally kind hearted kid, the way the other family members feel trapped by the child's behavior- all classic bipolar symptoms, to a tee.

I hope this isn't making you angry. I'm just a mom who is overwhelmed with sympathy when I hear what you are saying- for you and for your guy. I hope you find the right answers for you two.

Missy at Its Almost Naptime said...

I would bet you any amount of money that it is food related, Leslie.

Feingold. Changed. Our. Lives.

I'm here when you have questions.

Sara @ Domestically Challenged said...

My 10 year old is a terror at times like this too. I know the feeling, and fell the pain. These hard times are just a b*tch to get through, aren't they?

Lynda Otvos said...

Leslie, I have no advice, just a hug and letting you know I am here for you if you need to write.

Anonymous said...

My boys have very similar phases and reading this is like a reading a chapter out of my own thoughts! Let me know if you find a solution. I can sympathize.

Anonymous said...

My boys have very similar phases and reading this is like a reading a chapter out of my own thoughts! Let me know if you find a solution. I can sympathize.