Posts tagged Attachment

The Dreaded Phone Call

Yesterday, I was sitting in my snazzy new office space with an unfamiliar feeling- maybe it was stability or contentment or some amalgamation of the two. I had half-finished a blog post about how great T did at Thanksgiving, how much progress we’re making, how much healing we’re seeing in his trauma-related behaviors (you see where this is going, right?).

And then…the dreaded number lit up the cell phone. The call from school in the middle of the day.

T bit someone. Again. The last time it happened, I marched in there and said, this is not going to happen again; he’s not a danger to other kids; this incident was an anomaly. I’m embarrassed that I was wrong. But mostly, I’m just panicked about what happens now. He’s home today and we have a meeting with the school tomorrow afternoon and I’m having one of those hopeless moments. I find myself thinking- I have been praying and reading and googling and arranging meditation lessons and OT sessions and martial arts and therapy. What now? Where do we go from here?

I deleted the whole Thanksgiving post, but I’m kind of sorry that I did, because that day happened (it did! it was awesome! I was there!) and I could probably benefit from reading my own words about it right now. We have been having so many days lately that end in overwhelming gratitude, as opposed to crushing anxiety. Even in my despairing moments, I try to remember that we’re making progress. Healing rarely happens in a linear way. For him or for us.

Right now I’m vascillating between feeling bad for him (he loves that school) and being so pissed (he knows better than this! wtf are we gonna do now?). I’m semi-successfully trying to not to take my anger out on him. Really, I’m angry at my own helplessness in the face of his hurt and fear. My instinctual reaction is, how could you do this. That’s a pretty sucky reaction. I can do better than that. At the very least, I can tell him, I know we’re all upset, but we’re going to work this through together. It lets him know he’s not alone on this journey.

Memories of…

T is still unexpectedly napping in the car and I’m sitting a few feet away in the dappled shade under our camphor tree, having one of those quiet moments that seem deliciously stolen out from under the day. I suppose I should wake him but I just can’t bring myself to do it.

I’m thinking about an afternoon few days ago, when Tariku made friends with a group of older boys at the beach and told Scott to vamoose, saying, “You can stand over there near my mom.” This was a first. T is not a kid who likes to be without one of us for even five minutes. He insures that we’ll be glued to his side by doing things like “cleaning up” by dumping a glass of water into the DVR player while I’m making dinner. So it seems like a huge step that he wanted to fly solo with his new friends.

Of course, we were by the water so we were only about ten feet away, but it was still kind of amazing to watch the boys show him how to dig for sand crabs. You should have seen his delight when they dumped a few of the hapless creatures into his outstretched hands. I didn’t even know we had sand crabs in Malibu. I’ve only ever seen them at the Jersey Shore, where I summered as a kid.

What struck me was that many of my dearest memories of growing up don’t involve my parents. All of my most secret and treasured discoveries happened by myself or with friends. What I most remember about the shore was being part of a wild wolf pack of kids, running over the burning hot sand, holding crumpled dollar bills for Creamsicles from the ice cream truck. I remember the orange-stained tongues, the sand-scrubbed sunburns from burying each other up to our necks. I remember I first held a boy’s hand at the amusement park there. I know that my parents were nearby, because I was nine, but I have no memory of that. Just the whirling lights, the smell of the sea air, the tentative press of palm to palm.

I wonder what T will remember. I spend my days so obsessed with his every move that I often forget- if he somehow remarkably remembers those sand crabs, I won’t be in the picture at all. I find it liberating to think that his interior world is entirely his own. One day he’ll discover a band that blows his mind. One day someone will break his heart. These will be the moments that grow to define him, and in his memories of them, his mom will be rightfully absent.

I try to remember that I’m just here to love him like crazy and figure out how to stand far enough away to pretend I’m invisible, but close enough to protect him when the water gets too rough.

Back to School

I’ve been woefully remiss about blogging because it’s been a heck of a back to school/life/reality couple of weeks around here. So far T is hanging in there at his new school. It’s the longest we’ve lasted yet, and I have to say that I’m touched and encouraged by the level of care and commitment the school has put into helping him transition successfully. He’s had a few incidents of aggression and one dazzling escape attempt. I’ve spent every morning with my stomach in a knot, trying to not let the other moms see me tearing up behind by giant sunglasses as I drop him off at class. But he seems to be making friends and each day has gotten a tiny bit better. He’s a warrior, my son. He is so frightened and he’s doing it anyway. He should get a medal for how hard he’s trying. Instead, I’ve given him a brachiosaurus, some green goo, thirty-two g/f chocolate chip cookies and two wooden swords. Not all at once, of course.

Thanks to all my friends, bloggy and otherwise who have been rooting for us, sending love, inquiring after his progress. I sometimes wonder if people with fewer challenges get to really experience how much support surrounds them. I feel truly lucky today.

Conscious Chaos

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In spite of my no-resolution resolution, the beginning of the year finds me at the beginning of a couple of new-ish endeavors. I’m once again in front of the blank page with a new creative project and it feels both familiar and frightening, both electric and exhausting. I confess, I love this part. The ideas are zinging around and waking me up in the middle of the night. I’ve done this enough times now to know that the ones I think are the treasures are usually the ones that wind up in the trash and vice versa. So I try not to attach too much to a day’s work, try to let the chaos unspool around me and then wait for the muses to show up and start to organize the post-its into something resembling structure.

I’ve also been trying to show up for my parenting in a more conscious way. I’m leaving my cell in the car and re-focusing on all that good ol’ attachment-promoting behavior with which I was so engaged the first few months T was home with us. I’m not sure exactly what’s going on with T’s behavior right now, but I know for certain that if I can be more present and connected, it might help us find our way to some solutions.

Guess which project is easier?

I challenge any Tibetan lama to maintain eye-contact and active listening through an entire dinner with a toddler. I actually had a friend (clearly a better person than me) say to me a couple of months ago, “I can’t believe I ever worried that motherhood was going to be boring!” Really? You can’t? Perhaps you’d like to talk to my kid for an hour about whether the bouncy house down the street is BIG or FLAT. Or, slightly more interesting but trickier in a crowded restaurant, who, out of everyone we know, has a PENIS and who has a VAGINA. All this punctuated by a running dialogue about why it’s not advisable to eat fries off the floor or launch cutlery at the next table over.

But I know that the writing will also hit a spot at which it becomes mind-numbingly boring. And parenting will have its thrills and chills. I spend a lot of time complaining about balancing the two, but they do act as effective counterpoints to one another.

I hear the wee monster stirring in his crib. I now close up my computer in anticipation of an afternoon of eye contact and choo choos and tantrums and penis talk. All without a texting break. Bring it on; I ain’t afraid.

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