Wednesday, February 24, 2010

An Unreliable Source

One of the challenges that we've been grappling with lately —and most definitely one playing some role in the backslide in Blink's behavior — is a major conflict/bullying situation Blink's in the middle of at school. Another child (with special needs of some kind) has been targeting him physically and verbally, to the point that Blink was completely stressed out and started lashing out physically toward the child on a preemptive basis. That, it seems, is what got the school's attention.

I feel like they should have done more, earlier. However, I wasn't much better in recognizing the severity of the situation. Blink could go on for hours about "bullying" that was nothing more than another child tiring of being bossed around.  So it's hard to know when to take him seriously.

I checked in with him today about his encounters with said child. He informed me that the child said something mean to him at lunch.  I asked him what he did and he told me he went up to a teacher, told her, and asked her to go insult him(!).  Ha.  Oh, Blink.  He did laugh about it at dinner. "That was a little bit silly, asking her to insult him," he said.  I was so happy that he got a teacher rather than exploding, but inside I was boiling in that Mama Bear kind of way that this child was calling my son names and thinking I ought to check with the teacher, etc.  And then Blink offers up, "Well, I might have kind of made [other child] call me names."  When asked for clarification he says, "Well, I might have thought that he insulted me when he walked in the room, but maybe I was wrong."  I asked him if he said anything mean to the kid.  He said no but then faltered and admitted he "got mad" and I wasn't able to get to the bottom of the matter.  His daily report has a smiley face for lunch, so....perhaps it was a minor blip.

I swear, it's enough to make a mama want to send her child to school with a hidden camera.  I find it so hard to advocate for him when my only source is so unreliable.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Two Steps Forward....

The last month or so has been so lovely around here. Things have been going so well with Blink. Peaceful, even. I found myself relaxing, letting down my guard, truly enjoying life with Blink.

And now, it seems we're sliding backwards into more disequilibrium. More panicked screaming and getting stuck. More angry yelling. More aggression.  More gritting my teeth and trying to get through the day. Many more negative reports from school.

I always find myself trying to analyze the factors responsible for an upswing or a downward cycle. The answers almost always are illusory. This time, however, I think it's clear that a bully/conflict situation has stressed him out incredibly and though the school has taken some steps to stop the situation the effects are going to reverberate for a while.  (As an aside:  can I tell you how angry I am that this had to happen just when he was doing far better than I can ever recall?  Aaauugh.)

As always, I find myself, well, emotionally blindsided by this downturn. It's not like I consciously think we have moved past a challenge like the public meltdown, but on an emotional level....I do.  This weekend, we went snow shoeing and halfway through, Blink got stuck on the idea of cross-country skiing. Right. That. Second.  Which so wasn't going to happen.  I thought maybe he could pull himself out of it, but that was that.

Some time later, everyone safely in the car, our excursion cut short, I couldn't contain the tears spilling down my cheeks. I was so disappointed. Later, I told my partner, "I thought we were past that." And as I said it, I smiled because it obviously isn't a realistic expectation.

Challenging moments like this bring out a primitive narrative that plays in my subconscious. Underneath all of the thinking and the planning and the hoping and the worrying, there's just a mama who is heartbroken that her son's life is so hard and would do anything to change that.  And her anguish bubbles up in times like this.

"The long and winding road" by the Beatles keeps playing in my head. I need to remember that the path of growth isn't straight. That's ok. (Well, it doesn't always feel ok, but I can work on finding ways to roll with it.)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Moment to Savor

This morning, when Blink and I were dropping his sister off at preschool, he spied the big construction paper heart in the hallway where people were invited to write down the names of those they love.  I said, "Who do you love, Blink?  You can write it down." To my surprise, he eagerly grabbed the marker and wrote his sister's name and signed his own, adding that he is her big brother in parentheses. 

I have really been trying to hang onto moments like this, to let them shore up my emotional reserves for the more challenging moments. (Like his schooling....but that's another post altogether.)  Moments like this remind me that Blink is full of feeling and empathy; it's just that he has difficulty expressing it in the manner most people expect. But even so, it's clear he's making progress.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Blink is laughing a lot more these days. This is wonderful in so many ways. One interesting side effect has been a window into his burgeoning sense of humor, which seems to me to have a decidedly Aspie flair. The image above is from Blink's Valentine's Day card to me. This was the inside.  Apparently, after he made it he was rolling with laughter. "Get it?  Get it?" He demanded of his audience.  It makes me smile.