Grace slid slowly down the wall, closing in on herself. Tears no longer come out of her eyes, her soul is dry, she’d done this too many times. Instead she just picked up the pieces of her broken heart.
This is her journal:
The day I said yes to this boy coming into our home was all balloons and rainbows in my mind. I was doing a kingdom thing, I was rescuing an orphan, it would be glorious and heaven would applaud. The balloons popped and the rainbows turned into tornadoes without delay.
I will admit right now that we did a lot of things wrong. We were ignorant of how to handle the behavioural issues we were presented with. None of the things that we had learned in our parenting classes applied to the current situation. How could things possibly have gone so wrong.
Once he started pre-school it gave this mama a much needed break from the stress of dealing with the emotional trauma that was our son. Yet another storm was brewing, school seemed to exacerbate the problem. We found ourselves having to restrain Brian to the point of sitting on our son until he wore himself out from crying and screaming. If we didn’t restrain him it was like letting the Tasmanian Devil loose, everything that wasn’t nailed down was thrown or destroyed.
When I was pregnant with our fourth child I could no longer restrain Brian so I needed to lock him in his room in order to prevent him from hurting myself or the other children. When he calmed down we would find the walls ripped apart, the window broken or the furniture destroyed or at the very least, thrown around.
We thought that maybe, the new baby would calm the storm. He was so excited about it. We couldn’t have been more wrong! Our third son was born with a condition that required a lot of our time and attention. Brian became jealous and started throwing things into the crib and trying to hurt his new brother. Soon all that was left in his room was a mattress on the floor.
While the school tried to help us as much as possible we decided to try home education, perhaps all he needed was a lot more time and love, surely that would be the answer. While there was merit to this idea it was exhausting to have him home all the time, especially since we were now dealing with a demanding newborn, a one year old with a medical condition and our two older kids.
One thing that home education showed us was that there was the distinct possibility that Brian had a learning disability. We knew from many hours of experts and testing and counselling that were other problems. They suspected FAS, determined developmental delays and we were working with a therapist or two for speech and the anger issues.
Somewhere along the line someone told us that our best bet for him would be to move him out of the city. We weren’t too excited about that idea because we had a well developed support system in place. Church family and relatives that lived close by knew our situation intimately, did not judge and supplied helping hands and respite. However, God had other plans for us, out of the city.
When we moved to the country we were in the middle of an educational psych testing to determine the extent of the learning disability we were dealing with. The grace of God supplied us with a small school and an angel in the disguise of an educational assistant who loved Brian and taught him to read. The small school environment and country life provided a good place for him to run off energy, however, it also represented a change and he did not do well with change.
We had lived in the country for about three and half years when I realized I just couldn’t do this anymore. We had replaced so many windows and doors and doorknobs. We had said good-bye to every clock we hung on the wall and most of our picture frames. When we came back from a much needed holiday and I said we had brought some things back to hang on the empty walls my eldest son’s first question was, “Is it breakable?”
Moving out to the country had come at the expense of losing our much loved support system, we did not realize how necessary respite had become and I was exhausted. We made the hard decision to have him go live with relatives for a period of six months, they were safe, people he was actually attached to. After he left, the eerie quiet that came over all of us was unnatural. I tried to speak to the children about why we had sent Brian away. It broke my heart when I realized that they didn’t know that the life they were living wasn’t normal.
Normal families don’t have ‘rage plans’. Normal families do not have key locks on bedroom doors. Normal families don’t refrain from hanging clocks and breakable items on the wall. Normal families don’t buy solid core doors for their bedrooms. We were NOT normal.
Not long after he moved back home my parents decided to move to a small town near us. We breathed a huge sigh of relief. Once again we would have respite. It wasn’t that we didn’t have family and friends nearby. They just didn’t know how to help us. They thought that if we were just better parents things would be fine. They did not understand what went on inside our walls even though we gave them graphic detail. It was our fault. We should just not allow such things to happen. They had no clue.
Social Sevices caught up with us one day when we finally got through to somebody that if they didn’t help us they would need to find a new home for Brian, we were in crisis. The system had left us alone for the last decade and we weren’t sure how to handle their involvement. They got us paid respite with extra days. They paid for recreational therapy, in the form of gymnastics and camp. And they had one important piece of paper that had somehow missed getting into our hands.
The report that changed everything hadn’t gotten to us through all our moving, but Social Services had been given a copy and when we were back in contact with them we received a copy. In it they suggested that Brian had reactive attachment disorder. We didn’t really know what that was but started researching it and a lot of pieces suddenly went together.
In our research we realized that all the parenting techniques that we had used were exactly the wrong ones for a kid like Brian, we had made the problem worse!! We felt like utter failures and cried many tears, we had no idea how much of the problem we now were dealing with was a result of a lack of information. So much could have been averted, but there was no way to undo that now, Brian was a teen-ager on the verge of puberty. We had to forgive ourselves and had to ask his forgiveness, also.
Knowing what we were really dealing with changed some things but not a lot. At least we knew what to call it and it did change how we parented our boy. It was easier to tell what was RAD and what was regular teen stuff. It gave us a framework of understanding that we hadn’t previously had.
Currently, Brian is a handsome fifteen year old and living at a boarding school. This has been a good decision for all of us. When he comes home he actually wants to be there. He is a little more patient with his siblings. His siblings are a little more happy to have him home, because they know he will go again. We still have issues to deal with and will continue to do so for the rest of his life. But for now, we aren’t picking up pieces, or at least a lot less!
**If you are new here you might want to know that this post is part of a series on hidden disabilities. I am going to be continuing this series for all of October as part of the 31 Days Challenge. You can see all of the amazing topics over at The Nester’s! To go back to the beginning of this series click on the Alphabet Soup tab and you can see the indexed list of chapters.