Sometimes I feel like the worst parent in the world. I have a six-year-old boy who has been experiencing behavioural issues since he was three. He has been kicked out of two different daycare programs, suspended from school, and considered for a special behavioural program for kindergarteners. We have taken him to doctors, psychologists, social workers, and an occupational therapist. We have filled out more paperwork about him than all of the tax returns I have ever completed in my life. We live in a constant state of on-edge…will we get a call from school today? Did he kick someone in the face? Is he trashing the grade one classroom? Will I have to leave work….again…to pick him up because he threw his shoe at the principal? Did I mention he is SIX?
And here’s what really gets me. Anyone who has a kid knows that you can’t control the way he or she turns out. You have a significant influence, yes, but there are some things that just can’t be controlled. But deep down, I think that a lot of parents, teachers and even friends who see the way my son behaves or hears about his actions blame us. I mean, really…we ARE the main influences in his life, right? If he is messed up, it must be our fault.
And maybe it is our fault, to an extent. Maybe we are too hard on him sometimes. Maybe we shouldn’t let him watch cartoons in the morning. Maybe we should make him eat more vegetables. Who knows. But I wish that other people also knew how unbelievably hard we try to help him….how many nights we spend in tears, how many hours I spend searching Google, trying to match his symptoms to some rare disorder that might have a cure, how many days we have spent trying desperately not to get angry and frustrated with him, because we know that doesn’t help anyone.
People tell me that one day, we will look back and laugh at these times…like the time he convinced his friend to pee on the bathroom wall (OK that one was actually amusing). Because one day, he might have “real” problems, like knocking down a stop sign with our car, or not getting into the university of his choice. All I can think is, I just want to get through the next month, or week, or day without messing him up too badly. We’ll worry about the “real” problems when they come. For now, I just want to help him to be a content, fulfilled six-year-old.
So the next time you see a child throwing a fit at the mall, or your kid comes home and tells you that a “bad boy” in their class said mean things to them, do me a favour: don’t blame the parents, and offer a bit of sympathy if you can. You never know when you might need the favour returned.