Updated: Jul 15
School starts for my son in two days. He is not ready. Oh, don’t get me wrong, we’ve done the back to school shopping, he has school supplies and new clothes, but he’s not ready. My husband and I started getting him to bed earlier and getting him up earlier so by the time school starts, he’ll be marginally able to get himself up and ready without too much drama, but he’s not ready for school to start. He has the same classroom as last year and knows where to go on his first day, but he’s not ready for school.
My son has been doing pretty well keeping himself under control. He has surprised my husband and me with how much he has matured in the past year, but there is a cycle he goes through, and the beginning of school has always been rough. So, for the past few weeks I’ve been mentally preparing myself for whatever comes, hoping that he’s matured enough that it won’t be quite as bad as previous years. The jury is still out on that last part, but the downward spiral has begun.
Reactive Attachment and Oppositional Defiant Disorder are rearing their ugly heads. Arguing in the morning and refusing to get out of bed in the morning. Arguing about anything and everything during the day. Refusing to do his chores and other scheduled work because he isn’t ready to be on a schedule. Swearing has made a comeback.
I’m typing this with shaky hands because I have adrenaline in my system after my son refused to do his work this morning and smirked at me as he refused. That’s all it took. I don’t understand adrenaline junkies, this crap is not fun and I wish it took a little more for it to appear. But that smirk, I know it all too well. It means there’s a pretty good chance we’re going to have to get physical with each other to come to an understanding.
A few minutes of Love and Logic skills later, and no results, he was escorted outside so he could think over the situation out of sight of me, whom he really wanted to get a reaction out of. Most of this was typed while listening to pounding on the door, swearing, and the door bell ringing. Luckily for me, he had to go to the bathroom which created a sense of urgency for him to get back in the house by whatever means possible. AKA, promising to get his work done or else.
I said before that I’ve been mentally preparing myself for all of this for weeks. I have not been caught off guard by any of it which is good. It’s good because expecting it means I can focus on my heart. My heart tends to get hard in these moments. I tend to hold on to the insults and close myself off from him.
It’s hard because there is a fine line between getting back to the day and making things worse. I can’t hug and cuddle him after an incident like this one, I can’t give him a big smile and say encouraging things. Those have to come much later, like the next day. If I seem too happy about the situation being over, Reactive Attachment and Oppositional Defiant Disorder kick in and we start all over again. On the other hand, if I stay too negative and too harsh, that can also cause a flare-up.
So, while my hands shake, my heart pounds, and all I really want to do is scream and yell and throw my own tantrum about how unfair it all is, I have to look and act nonchalant like the whole thing was no big deal. It’s hard to protect your heart in the midst of that. It’s hard to let go of the adrenaline fueled anger and remind myself that the child I’m seeing is not really who my son is. To remind myself this is only a bad moment, to remember there are underlying causes making him anxious (school starting).
Writing this in the midst of the situation has helped me get my mind off the anger and I’m no longer shaky, so I may employ this tactic in the future. At the moment, my heart seems to be alright, but if you think about me today, I’d appreciate your prayers.
As a side note, my son spent about fifteen minutes outside. When I let him in, he went to the bathroom, changed into clothes suitable for mowing the lawn and is currently outside completing that task. If that isn’t impressive to you, mowing the lawn was optional for him today and I’m incredibly amazed that he decided to go do it after the defiance he showed. I honestly expected him to do the least amount of effort required of him. That is something I can smiled about. That is, while he’s outside and can’t see me.
To learn more about RAD and ODD and the struggles parents face, check out the great articles I have posted from other great bloggers here.