All eyes on me.. - by Christy Smith

Published on 16 November 2021 at 08:57

As if getting to the clinic without having a meltdown was not difficult enough, if you live this life, you will understand what that means. For those who don't, it is a long, exhausting battle with words.   You must creatively direct your child to get from point A to point B.  You will either be late, miss it entirely, or if you are successful with your creativity, you go on as planned until the next cling up.  This life is full of rescheduling and cancellations because your time is dictated by your child's ability to process and regulate what is going on at the moment. 

  I called and informed the school that I would be taking my children in for flu vaccinations today.  They felt compelled to inform my children, ages 18, 8, and 12-year-old Mr. I, of the reason for their departure from school.  I can sense the stress as I load them into the vehicle to head that way. I decided I needed to start talking about what was going to happen and try to reduce the fear and tension. I asked my kids who wanted to go first.  At the time, that felt like the right thing to do.  Mr. I jumped in and yelled, "Forget it; I will go first. I just want to get this over with. Just stop talking about it." I thought to myself, "Oofta, okay." On second thought, that seemed like a better plan. Silence filled the air for the rest of the ride.  

  We arrived, checked in, and then sat in the waiting room. To my surprise, everything seemed to be running smoothly. My oldest was watching a video on his phone, while the two youngest were playing with one another. The nurse stepped out and called my oldest in first.  I am sitting there screaming to myself, "No! No! No!"  "This cannot be good." It did not take long before he returned to the waiting room. My oldest is still unsure of what should and should not be said in order to escalate situations for Mr. I.  Heck, I do not always know, but over the years and with the help of counselors and therapists, I have learned different approaches to Mr. I that allow him to regulate and process more easily.  My oldest son's first words after walking out the door are, "She hit a blood vein."  "It would not stop bleeding."  Mr. I jumped up, dashed toward the door, and yelled, "F##k this. I am not doing this. No way in h#ll!" I dislike these types of words and behavior, but I have no control over his actions or his mouth. I can only help him navigate as he regulates and processes again, no matter how stressful the situation is.  All eyes are on me.  I could feel them burning holes in my face, waiting for me to take control of my child.  I looked at the woman sitting next to us in the waiting room.  As parents of children with disabilities, we see this face all too often.  You would think after all these years, I would be used to it, but it still hurts.  If only we as parents could show the world how hard we work. If only they knew how hard we work to raise our children and teach them how to cope in this judgmental, uneducated world. 

It took a minute to process what had happened and take action. I soon followed Mr. I out the door. I gave him time to cry and express himself. He had reached his limit and needed to regulate safely outside.  A year ago, before he discovered the right combination of medication and therapy to stabilize his moods, this scenario would have included flipped chairs, head slammed into the wall or windows, and possibly physical aggression toward me, in addition to the very colorful words he chooses to use to express how he is feeling inside. After giving him time to process, I suggested we go inside and watch his younger brother get his vaccine.  Mr. I agreed. We watched little brother receive a vaccine without flinching.  Mr. I then jumped into his seat and said, "OK, let us get this over with."  We left feeling successful, despite a few setbacks. Every day brings new opportunities for growth.  

The judgmental eyes are the reason I am making time in this crazy, exhausting world to share and discover my voice. Education is essential.  A bad kid? I think not. He is UNIQUE, AMAZING, BLESSED, and LOVED. You can not accurately assess a situation based on what meets the eye. Step into his shoes for a day and see how far he has come.